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The Derivation of Abraham's Name (Gen 17:5) / 'ה"א לכם זרע': מדרש השם של אברהם (בר' יז 5) בין תופעה לשונית לתחבולה ספרותית

נועם מזרחי and Noam Mizrahi
Tarbiẕ / תרביץ
כרך עא‎, חוברת ג/ד‎ (ניסן-אלול תשס"ב), pp. 337-352
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23603302
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Derivation of Abraham's Name (Gen 17:5) / 'ה"א לכם זרע': מדרש השם של אברהם (בר' יז 5) בין תופעה לשונית לתחבולה ספרותית
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Abstract

The paper explores the exegetical possibilities of utilizing an insight originating from historical linguistics, namely, that many folk-etymologies are actually motivated by the morphological process of metanalysis or re-analysis, in which — in the speaker's consciousness — the morphological analysis of a word is blurred and the boundary between morphemes shifts its position. The case discussed is the change of Abraham's name (Gen 17:5) that signifies a major theological event in Israelite history according to P. The common interpretations of this name derivation as based on either an acronym or mere paronomasia are found to be unconvincing, and it is suggested that the name derivation is based on an intentional metanalysis of the -h(a)- in 'Abraham' as part of an ancient plural morpheme (rather than the dialectal realization of a weak radical which it actually is). This metanalysis is designed to fit the thematic context of Genesis 17, which repeatedly expresses the divine promise to Abraham of a numerous progeny.

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