E 0031 ANGEL

The word " angel " is, via Old French and Latin, of Greek origin .Latin

H 0583 ך א ל מ

H 0583 כ ה א ל מ

Concept of root : messaging

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

ך א ל מ

כ ה א ל מ

male’akh;

mel’akh

messenger, angel;

work, service, task

Related English words

angel, from Greek

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

ך א ל מ

-

כ ה א ל מ

male’akh;

-

mel’akh

messenger, angel;

work, service, task

m . l ' . kh

Greek

αγγελος

angelos

messenger, angel

(a) g . l

Hittite

halugas

halugas

messenger

h . l . g

Old Persian

aggaros

aggaros

messenger

(a) g . r

Hebrew

ך ל ה

ח ל ש

ך א ל*

halakh; shalagh, *la'akh

to go; to send, entrust

h . l . kh; sh . l . gh; l . '(a) . kh

 

 

Proto-Semitic *MALĔ'AK --- *AGGEL-OS Greek

 

 

A comparison between Greek "aggelos" and Hebrew "male’akh" immediately points out the difference in sequence : "G L" in Greek against "L KH" in Hebrew. Can we see a metathesis and consequently presume a common origin ? In order to define this we have inserted the Hittite word "halugas" that has the same sequence as Hebrew "L G". Hittite was an Indo-European language and this proves that somewhere sometime a metathesis has taken place between "L" and the "K- or G- sound".

 

Note:
  • Greek "aggelos" often is seen as a loanword from Old Persian, that is an Indo-European language. If this would be right, a similarity of Hebrew with Persian still remains a similarity between Indo-European and Semitic. The Persian word that is referred to is "aggaros", meaning a postal messager on horseback for the government of the Persian empire. But this hypothesis is plainly wrong for the following reasons.

     

    First of all "aggelos" and the related verb "aggello" are present in Homeros, centuries before there were contacts, and especially big wars, between the Greeks and the Persians. Secondly Greek , besides " aggelos = messenger, emissary" with a number of derived words, in classic Greek indeed also used the word " αγγαροσ, aggaros" just as in Persian for " horse-back messenger ". And with several derived words.

     

    The obvious explanation seems that this "aggaros" was a Persian word the Greeks liked , perhaps because it referred to a specific use less common among the Greeks. So it was loaned for a more specialized meaning , besides and in addition to the existing Greek " aggelos".

 

Note:
  • English together with most European languages has loaned this word from the Greek translation of the Bible. It came from Greek via Latin "angelus" and Gothic "angillus". The change in the opening vowel, from "A" to "E" in Germanic languages is usually explained by the early date of introduction of the word into German, but that is very uncertain as Middle Dutch still used "angel" besides "engel" and "ingel".

 

Note:
  • Hebrew. We will look into three hypothesizes . In all three the initial M is seen as a prefix , which it doubtlessly is.

     

    1. Hebrew has used the word for "messenger" also for the messengers of God that came to Abraham and others. Messengers inevitably are sent by somebody, and the common word for "to send" in Hebrew is " ש ל ח , shalagh ". To send is also "to make go". To analyse this we remark that the first letter, the "ש " , may have been placed in front of older, shorter roots, either to indicate "which, that" as the subject or object of the action, or simply to emphasize the meaning. So "shalagh" would have originated from "*which sends" or "*certainly, decidedly sending", using for such a not uncommon development a prefix : "ש".

     

    There is also a difference between a final "ח" and "ך", but this not necessarily significant as the two sounds when alphabetic spelling began, were sufficiently similar to cause different choices of spelling. The main problem is that we do not find the Aleph that is present in the words of this entry. But there are more examples in which an Aleph in developing roots has disappeared or on the contrary been newly introduced.

     

    2. Another supposition is that the origin is in a concept of "that goes ", with the silent understanding of having been sent. Also the M, the first letter of our word "male’akh" could have as its origin the word for "who" or "that", as is very frequently the case in Hebrew. Thus it would be "he who goes", with the silent understanding of having been sent. This silent understanding , if our hypothesis does not run too far, may have been expressed by creating a shift in value through inserting the א in the root, as a stop in the flow of sound that introduced a new vowel. Also this is not uncommon in the growth of the language. None of these suppositions can be certain if we do not find a two-consonant-root meaning "to send" or "to go". And this we can find in analysing the verb/root " ה ל ך , halakh " = "to go". We see that the imperative of this verb sounds just " ל ך , lekh", without using the ה (h). The combination of the various factors leads to the conclusion that our angel is "he who goes (as having been sent)" Also here we have the problem that the Aleph lacks, which still may be a decisive difference.

     

    3. The third hypothesis is based on a hypothetical Hebrew verb and root "*L . Aleph K ". The supposition is that this root would mean " to send". This verb indeed is found in Ugaritic, Arabic and Ethiopian. Therefore it is quite acceptable to suppose that it has existed in Hebrew. The prefix "M- " is very frequently used for the shaping of nouns. What is common in both nouns of this entry is that they deal with a task. The second one, me'alakh stands for "task", and the first one, "male'akh" is a person, the angel who has been sent to perform a task. One may define this in English as a "mission", but that does not imply that the hypothetical verb would have stood only for " to send". Instead it would also mean " to charge, entrust". The angel is entrusted with a task, which is not always a message, as seen in the couple of angels who went to Sodom and Gomorra. And the Lord performed his self-imposed "task" when creating the world.

     

    This third hypothesis is indeed the most convincing one.

     

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic. Sisters of the Hebrew word "male'akh = angel " are found in Phoenician " מ ל א ך = messenger", Aramaic " מ ל א כ א,male'akh = messenger, angel" and Syriac " מ ל א כ א, mal'akha = messenger, angel". Ugaritic uses the same root and meaning. Arabic "malak" and Ethiopian "mal'ak" mean "Messenger of God" and this induces some people to consider them loanwords from Aramaic.

     

    This supposition can not seem right, because in Aramic and in Hebrew the final " K " had become to be pronounced as " KH", while Ugaritic, Ethiopian and Arabic had the original " K ".

     

    . Certainly Proto-Semitic was : "* מ ל א ך , M L Aleph K" , " with the original " K ".

 

Note:
  • Hittite was an Indo-European language, spoken in the Near-East. The limited geoghraphical distances in the region guaranteed frequent contacts between Indo-European- and Semitic- speakers. But already much earlier, during the development of both groups, those same limited distances may have been a factor that excluded a fully rigorous split among the speakers of the unknown common predecessors of the two language-groups.

     


    This kind of situation may be one of the explanations why we find similarity and evident common origin between Germanic and Hebrew or Greek and Hebrew roots, of which there is no trace in other Indo-European sub-groups.

     

     

    Comparing our Hittite word with the Hebrew verb "halakh" we find very similar roots, with their meanings fitting into the pattern that we have supposed in this entry ! This is just another indication that the split between Semitic and Indo-European languages has not been a clear-cut immediate one like that between two English brothers emigrating, one to America and the other to Australia .

     

    The normal human condition is that nations live together in peace, but war is remembered more. Hittites also lived in the same country with Abraham, who bought from one of them the burial site for Sarah.

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 28/01/2013 at 15.32.38