About One Iranism in the Classic Hebrew

The research of Iranian-Semitic linguistic relations has a long-standing tradition in Georgian orientalism. It is enough to name Acad. G. Tsereteli’s and Acad. K. Tsereteli’s studies as well as Prof. H. Chkheidze's works, where due to the links between these two worlds and their importance for our history, the emphasis is put on Iranian-Aramaic linguistic contacts.

In ancient and middle Aramaic languages, we have a broad range of the borrowings from the  Iranian languages ​​that have extensive semantic range [Chkheidze, 2003:61-62].

A number of Iranisms from Aramaic, which since the 6th century had more and more intense influence on Hebrew, entered the post-Biblical, more precisely, the Rabbinic Hebrew. For example, qušpaqā “royal ring” (anguštapăna).

The oldest trace of Iranian is shown in the Bible. In the biblical works of the post-Babylonian captivity, we find not only the Persian proper names ("Ester's Book"), but also the titles of the officials and some other words ("ganz" treasure, gizbar "treasurer", dark'mōn "dariki", the Persian gold coin). Chronologically, in the same period i.e. in the era of the Achaemenid Empire, the classical Hebrew borrowed the word of our interest -  pardēs  ("a park, a garden"), which belongs to the smallest Indian, Egyptian and Persian realities of the Bible with the original foreign language names [Gézenius, 1874:7]. Hebrew pardēs (compare: Greek paradeisos, Armenian pardez, Syrian pardīsā = “garden, park”) derived from Avest pairidaeza, the “confined, fenced place”, which occurs twice in Zend-Avesta and consists of two components: the preposition pairi "around, round" and daêza (<masdari daez) "a wall erection" (also meaning of "collecting, gathering, piling up" [Borhān-e, 1455]. Compare: with Gamkrelidze-Ivanov Avest. daēzayeiti «строит вокруг стену» [Гамкрелидзе-Иванов, I, 1984:94]. Old Indian pari and old Greek peri are related to the first element pari / pairi, pairī (Sokolov, 203).

The second element (daeza) also has parallels in ancient European dialects: ancient Indian dehī "wall", ancient Persian didā "fortress", hom. Greek teichos "wall" [Гамкрелидзе-Иванов, II, 1984:707].

 It is worth mentioning that Avest. pairidaēza and its reflexes – ancient Percian paridaidā, mid. parindaiza (according to Benedict, it is of the Midian origin (Borhānw Qāte, 1456.) The same semantic archetype occurs in the words denoting a "garden" and more widely in the words meaning a "protected place" in the history of Indo-European dialects, from which we can only name: Alb. "gardh place ", Lit. gar̄das "fence", "bounded place", Got. gards "house", "fenced area”, Eng. geard “fence”, “garden" (Eng. yard, old German garto "Garden"(Ger. Garten), [Гамкрелидзе-Иванов, II, 1984:744].

 It is known that in the Persian Empire, whose province was Judea throughout the whole period of the reign of the Achaemenid Empire, cultivation of the gardens reached the highest peak of development. Specially cultivated, symmetrical gardens with decorative pools and pavilions were the mandatory attributes of the King's Palace.

The Greek Parádeisos (first observed in Xenophon’s work (approximately 430-355 B.C.) and brought from Persian by him) was initially used in the sense of a "hunting park". This word was used by the Greek author for the description of the hunting park of King Cyrus and his retinue [Elizbarashvili, 2009:247].

Besides practical aspects and aesthetic or carnal pleasures associated with the garden, the royal gardens also represented the embodiment of the political, philosophical and religious symbolism. The King, who creates a rich garden from an infertile land, brings symmetry and order in the chaos and turmoil and builds the Divine Paradise on the earth, symbolizing authority, fertility and legitimacy.

The idea of ​​the earthly paradise coming from the Achaemenid Empire is extended to the languages ​​and literature of the peoples with other cultural traditions. Parádeisos, the word of the Iranian origin, acquires in Christianity the function of the Garden of Eden and Paradise, but at the same time, it denotes the Byzantine garden, which is perceived as an allegory of the earthly paradise [Elizbarashvili, , 2009:248]. In the Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament it has the definition of the highest, innocent people in the heaven - ‘paradise’.

Like Greek paradeisos, which is regularly used in The Septuagint, Lat. paradī shows us both meanings: 1) A big garden, park (Augustine); 2) Paradise garden, paradise, Eden (Vulgate) [Дворецкий, 552]. From Latin it came into European languages, namely, Eng. paradise, Fr. paardis, Germ. paradies, etc. The English paradise also means a “decorative garden”, in slang  - a „henhouse“ (at the theatre). The latter is confirmed in the French language too (Compare Russ. раёк).

The garden, as an allegory of the earthly paradise and a gardener with its semiotic function moved from the Christian into the Muslim world. The Christian image of a gardener was one of the central figures in the medieval Iranian culture and in the eschatological impressions (Шукуров, in Koran, 225-6). Firdaws “garden, scarcity“, which originated from Farsi, was twice observed. According to G. Tsereteli Arab. Firdaws, pl. fārādīs (“paradise”) might originate from Greek (Tsereteli, 182).  In Girgas Dictionary only the form with an article is given as the meaning of “paradise” (Compare Arab. ğanna and ’al-ganna (’al-fordaws, (Гиргас, 609).

In Persian there is the Arabized form ferdoûs ("paradise", "vineyard, garden") from which the literary pseudonym of the famous author of „Shahnameh“ was derived  -  ferdousī (Nisbir) "from paradise", "of Paradise" (Vullers, 654; Kobidze, 142).

In Hebrew of the Bible pardēs is lacking a symbolic meaning and fully repeats the meaning of its Iranian prototype (word “garden”, a “confined place”). In Old Testament the analyzed word is detected three times (The Song of Songs: 4,13; Ekklēsiastēs: 2,5; Neem. 2,8) and in three cases it means a park, a garden. For the illustration we refer to one article (Ekl. 2,5), in which pardēsīm (pl.) is used together with the Hebrew word meaning a “garden” (gan, pl. gannōt) עָשִׂיתִי לִי גַּנּוֹת וּפַרְדֵּסִים וְנָטַעְתִּי בָהֶם עֵץ כָּל פֶּרִי/ I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted in them all sorts of fruit trees”.

In general, the common Semitic word gan and its variety formgannā (compare: Aram. gīnna, ginntāUg.gn, Arab. ğanna, Acad. ganna, Ethiop. ganat) used in the above-mentioned citations denote a “garden”. It is noteworthy that the post-Biblical Hebrew borrowed from Farsi one more word denoting “garden” (bustān), which can be borrowed from Aramaic (compare: Aram. būstānā). It seems that the Iranisms detected in the Biblical Hebrew (firstly, in “Ester’s Book”) entered through Aramaic (Greenfield, 257).

The above mentioned gan (gan (ēden) was used to denote the garden of Eden i.e. the earthly Paradise, where "the Lord God made every tree sprout, to see and to eat, and in the midst of Eden the tree of life and kind and of comprehending of evil" (Gen. 2,9). The garden of paradise in the Old Testament also includes the following names: gan haššēm, gan )elōhīm (God's Garden).

Ben Sira (Sirach of Georgian culture) calls it gan (ēden b rāxā (“Eden of blessing”, “Blessed Eden”) [Lecixon Biblicum II,  1965: 688].

Gan (ēden can also be found in the Hebrew translation of the New Testament in the sense of "the kingdom of the heaven, the heavenly paradise". It is interesting that in F. Delich’s translation pardēs is confirmed with the meaning of the Spiritual Paradise, that seems stipulated by the influence of the Greek original: ’ašer ho(ālā ’el-happardēs wayyišma( dvārīm nistārīm  )ašer nimna‘ mē’īš lemalelēm (2 Cor. 12,4). In the new translation (published in Israel in 1976), pardês – meaning “fruit trees”, mainly, “a garden of citruses (an orange, a lemon, a grapefruit)” - is replaced by its equivalent gan (ēden, which is more comprehensible for the modern Jew. Nowadays, pardês is considered as an organic element of the vocabulary of the Jewish language. Its derivatives are: pardesan “an owner of a citrus plantation” and pardesanut “citriculture”. Plural pardes produces pardesī and pardisōt (Mishnah). City pardes hana is also known.

It has already been mentioned that in the Hebrew Bible pardës of Iranian origin does not carry a symbolic connotation, but in the post-Biblical period it gains a figurative (metaphorical) significance and denotes an esoteric (mythical) philosophy (Klein, 523) under the influence of Hellenistic religious-philosophical views (similarly to Mazdaism), which made a serious impact on the ideal content of Judaism, especially, on the eschatological conceptions of the future life (Токарев, 1976:371-3). The abbreviation prds (read as pardes) belongs to the same period. It combines the initial letters of four different interpretations of the Bible books: pšāt (= literary understanding), ramez (= symbolic), drūš (homoletical), sōd (= esoteric) [Klein, 523; Even-Šošan, 1329-1330]. In Rabbi Hebrew pardēs is the allegory of the Center for Religious Studies or Theological Science (Even-Šošan. 1329-1330). It was already mentioned that the Byzantine monastic gardens, called Paradeisos, are often metaphorically identified with the Garden of the Paradise and there are well-known monastery books Paradeisos, which seem identical to Limonarium. Limonar ("The Paradise") is the title of the work of John Moses [Sophocles, 841]. It is noteworthy that in the last decade of the 19th  century (in 1892-1896) in Odessa the literary collections entitled Pardes were printed, which introduced the artistic and publicist works filled with  the Zionist spirit [Еврейская Энциклопедия, Vol. II].

This work of Iranian origin is included in almost all Semitic languages: Acad. pardesu, Syr. pardīsā, Arab. firdaws, Aram. pardsa (the latter must be taken from Hebrew) (Klein, 523, Sokoloff, 73).

In Farsi Avest. paridaiza (old Persian paridayda) is preserved through the form of pālīz (palez), which belongs to New Persian and means  a "vegetable garden". Today it often denotes an "intersecting parcel" [Eilers, 392, Barthlomae, 865] (its original meaning is the "bounded place").

Sometimes it is difficult to determine the origin of a word. For instance, the mid. Per. gund "army, army" can be linked to gunda's - "army" (comp. Syr. qudda, gdd). Therefore, the Semitic word was borrowed by the mid. Persian and from there it entered Armenian and Georgian. Th. Nöldeke and S. Shaked support its Semitic origin. It is treated as Iranian by S. Shaked, who considers the Semitic form as the Persian borrowing [Chkheidze, 2003: 62].

The French Semitologist (M. Masson) believes that during the discussion of the origin of the words of the controversial etymology, the famous Hellenists (Frisk, Chantrain, etc.) are not limited to the influence of the Semitic, but systematically distinguish non-Semitic, in particular, Iranian etymons [Masson,1989-1992:127].

The Iranian primary source of paradeisos established in Greece (fixed in Avestus as pairi-daeza) makes no doubt. At the same time, there are late Biblical Hebrew pardes, Jude.-Aram. pardes and Acad. paradisu. The controversy could raise only the way of borrowing this Iranism in Greek. It is not excluded that it did not enter Greek directly from Iranian, but through Semitic. However, the initial Iranian origin of this word is absolutely reliable. According to M. Masson's view, pardes and pardisu are completely isolated in Semitic, while Avest. pairidaeza consists of Iranian elements pairi + daeza, which are related, accordingly Greek peri and teikhos [Masson, 1989-1992:141].

The reliability of the arguments that pardes and perdisu are completely isolated in Semitic, somehow weakens the existence of such roots as prd ("separation") and prs ("cutting off, breaking off")  in Hebrew and in the related languages​​.

It is noteworthy that John. Simonis' Georgian Dictionary created in Latin of Hebrew and Aramaic reveals the Iranian origin of the word pardes and presents the assumption about its connection with the above mentioned synonymous roots. More precisely, the Hebrew word is interpreted as the combination of prd and prs (contamination) (Simonis, 1316).

In the last decade, a special attention is paid to the Persian period of Jewish history and the cultural and theological innovations associated with it. The solid collection entitled Approaching Jehund printed by Brill Publishers (New Approaches to the study of the Persian Period  demonstrates a significant interest in this topic.

Our paper reflects this problematics and presents a small feature to illustrate the impact of this period on the Biblical language and literature.


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