Daily Archives: March 29, 2011

The pot may be calling the kettle black

KLY Website - Dutch society for Old Testament Studies.The Dutch society for Old Testament study (OTW), after ten years of planning and work, has put online a research project to “elucidate the names of utensils in biblical Hebrew making methodical use of partially new approaches.”

The new web site, KLY, is written in the Dutch language, but there is an introduction in English. Here is a portion of it:

The problem with identifying utensils in the Hebrew Bible is that their common everyday use made it superfluous to provide detailed descriptions of the vessels or implements in written form. Everyone knew from experience what was meant. As a result dictionaries of biblical Hebrew often have to content themselves with non-descript generalizations like “bowl”, “jar”, “pot”, “knife”. Mostly the shape and purpose of a given utensil can not be established on the basis of context alone because the number of occurrences is too low. Archaeology has brought to light large quantities of pottery and implements, but in many cases we do not know which word in ancient Hebrew was used for the object unearthed.

Meanwhile the possibilities for resolving such problems have increased dramatically. Not only archaeology, but also comparative linguistics, iconography, anthropology, improved understanding of the ancient versions of the Bible have enhanced our chances to come closer to the precise nature of the objects.

Some knowledge of Hebrew will be helpful, but English-only readers will be able to go to the KLY database, click on a Hebrew letter, and see the terms considered with the English usage. From there you can move to the dictionary entry on the term. The entries are in Hebrew and English. Distribution of each term in the Torah (Law), Nebiim (Nevi’im, prophets), and Ketubim (Writings) is given.

As a future project, an English Index could make this an extremely valuable  project for many more readers.

MB2 Pottery from Jericho. Vatican Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

MB2 Pottery from Jericho. Vatican Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It would be possible for an energetic person to download all of the PDF entries and compile them into one document. This would make for easy searching.

If our Dutch friends and colleagues miss the English idiom used as a title for this blog, the definition is given here.

Idiom Meaning — Accusing a person of a misdemeanour whilst the accuser is guilty of the same thing.

I am using the title to suggest we may be using the wrong term for certain biblical pots and pans. The KLY Database of Utensils in the Hebrew Bible will help us not to make the mistake again.

Thanks for the help.

: J.P. van de Geissen, Aantekeningen bij de Bijbel