For Isaac Mozeson. Isaac – in the context of Igbo and Hebrew language.

By

Sampson Iroabuchi Onwuka.

The Isaac of God and the Isaac of Mozeson.

 

(1) Isaac Mozeson is popular for Edenic, which is a collection of words from several languages and how these languages connect to each other. Mozeson has worked hard to show that human languages is a mono-genesis, began in one place mono-genetic, for instance in Eden and seem to have survived in different versions of current world languages. Mozeson has also argued that Hebrew was the language that most likely relate the very languages of Eden which God gave to man. In order words, he tried to show how some of these similar words appear in many languages of the word, how for instance ‘Isaac’ show a lineage in form or structure evident in many languages of world. Needless to say that these words and languages are quite related to Hebrew (ominous), that enormous talent and grace is necessary for attempting such feat in the first place.

 

(2) There is a second reason. We must be careful closing the meaning of some words in terms of the relationship to others. Sometimes, we are tempted to carry on a mistake from previous era, and try to stamp this meaning in whole new language and a whole new purpose. There is a word that amuses me sometime because of its meaning and application. That word is ‘Federal’, what  can we say about such a name than its relevance to national constitution. Yet, this term may have started its journey as Edda, Jedda, Qedda, Hedda, Vedda,  Federa, Rada, and in recent times we can still hear, Fedayeen, which some miraculously describe as the ‘Feather men’ . No relations whatsoever. We can try to ask the question, how does this set of words appeal to our argument? It delimits the knowledge of a word Fedda (Federa) to a language, and shows a conurbation of  consonants ranging from J (Arabic) to  Q (Hebrew, North Africa, Aramaic, Ge’ez) V  (Sanskrit) to F (Latin) to R (Russia) to H (Hebrew) to the bare body of word Edda (Igbo) . Each of these languages show a geographical distribution and separation that has a history, it spells a descent of word that is now a life of its own. Like in the word Federal, the highest constitution a country, the Al-Qedda is also a certain constitution. But there is a big difference between these two that they can be called different words in terms of our recent world, yet the idea that ‘feda’ and feather are remotely close is as comforting as the error of calling Isaac ‘laughter’.

 

 

(3) If we lead Mozeson’s argument that all languages converge in the tenets of Eden, then we suggest that the word-name ‘Isaac’ as a word that is supposed to mean ‘laughter’,  should at least find itself in much of the languages of the world – including Hebrew. In terms of Hebrew for a start, we have problems accounting for the name and meaning of the word ‘Isaac’ ‘Yishaq’ as remotely close to ‘laughter’ as a word in-of-itself. In essence, when we exhaust Hebrew and Greek, and throw in Aramaic and Arabic, is quite difficult to achieve Isaac as laughter in all of these languages – irrespective of the consonants and sound shift. Why? I personally think and therefore believe that Isaac as a word-name does not mean laughter.

 

 

(4) While Mozeson’s arguments are quite compelling, we are made to understand that history of language and language of history, assume that his Edenic philosophy is flawed. We are led by the evident nature of history to indicate that Mozeson’s arguments are not bereft of reasons, and are in fact correct to some extent, yet there are so many gaps in Edenic that should not travel to world of reasonable doubt to make the point. For the record, it is common sense to make the point that languages of the world, from written and spoken sources – did not begin in one place for instance in Eden, or in Babylon as aspersion would seem, neither did it converge in Hebrew as the affinity of written language would also seem? That some of his words are European and as well Hebrew, does not mean suggest a paternity to Semitic language, neither does it mean Hebrew ascendent. Some of these of words are notable induction but as Babylon it is not correct.

 

(5) There is a group of us who once suggested that some of these Hebrew words are also similar to Igbo words, that as many Igbos  study and understand Hebrew language, they will make a better comparison between Igbo and Hebrew languages and probably agree with us.

Some of us were able to point out that some of the Hebrew words and translations – in context of Igbo – are probably wrong. That for instance, Hebrew word for Judeah and Judah, may have alternate meanings, since in Igbo we have ‘uda’ referring to the word ‘loud’, a verb form of a term in Igbo that refers to praises, for instance ‘ude’, which is a form of praises and spreading of good news. In Igbo, Oolu-uda, means ‘loud’, a term which figures in the English word ‘loud’. The word in English ‘loud’ is perhaps derived from a ‘Portmanteau’ of two word ‘olu’ or similar term referring to the neck – as with the Igbo-, and the term ‘uda’ referring to high and haughty pitch of the voice. It is not quite the same as ‘ude’ as in Igbo, may therefore suggest that Yudah (Judah) as in Hebrew as different from Yudeh (Jude)in Hebrew. Apparently, the word-name ‘Jude’ or ‘Yude’ or even ‘Uday’ is the right name of the Hebrew Patriarch of Genesis and of Genesis 49. Prove of these difference will be the term ‘oiudas’ in class Greek, which some anthology render as the root or the Judah or similar veracity as in ‘order’.

 

(6) There was a host of other examples which we pointed out, including the particulars of the word Sabbath, which I personally mentioned denote ‘asaa’ (pronounced ashaa) in Igbo for Seven and ‘abaa’ or ‘obaa’, for ‘he father’ That this term possible means, Seventh for the father. Abba to be, is without doubt a reference to God as pe Hebrew and Jewish teachings, it may also take the form of the holy father which also refers to God. In the circumstance, Isaac Mozeson, who had earlier encouraged the efforts, placed doubts on the language parity. He even joked like his name Isaac, that in terms of Igbo and Hebrew comparative, that may be someday we will discover that Isaac is no longer word for laughter but something else. He was probably right.

 

(7) Today, I wish to address this issue that the Hebrew word ‘Isaac’ (English translation) does not mean ‘laughter’ in of itself, that based on the subtext or context of the word-name ‘Isaac’ in the Bible, Isaac refers to a whole sentence and is insubordinate to the word laughter. I will use Igbo language to demonstrate just that and I will use several citations from the Bible and from civilized sources sources as Jonathan Kirsch ‘The Woman who laughed at God; 2001’ to throw more light on the subject. I will begin with popular citation on this word ‘Isaac’ which Isaac Mozeson and his brother used in Edenic, which also appear elsewhere, and draw aside the specific corrections of these words. I will resolve the issue with Biblical quotation that tend to suggest that Isaac refers to statement and not one word.

 

(8) Jonathan Kirsch (The Woman who laughed at God: 2001), a book about Isaac and the ‘untold story of Jewish people’ and the ‘Chutzpah’ on a much comprehensive basis. That he mentioned in his book the root of Sabbath as word derived “from ‘Shappattu’, a Babylonian word that means “day of the quieting of the heart (of the god)…”, means that he is right there at the center of our puzzle about certain Hebrew words. In his book, he recites this incident between Sarah, Abraham and the Messengers of God, who were doubted by Sarah since she was old. Sarah laughed at some point in the course of the discussion and according to Kirsch, “The all-knowing and all seeing God of Israel is so taken that he is forced to ask why she is laughing at the solemn promise.” “And, as if to symbolize how little Sarah fears God, the child she bears in fulfillment of God’s promise is named Yitzhak (“I laughed”), a pun on the Hebrew word for laughter (tsa-hak)”

 

(9) In terms of the given name ‘Isaac’ as in many other sources, there is no short of the ‘Edenic’ comparative literature on Isaac. His Edenic Hebrew anthology for Isaac is ‘Yitskhat’, Yiddish ‘Yitskhok’, Tiberian ‘Yishaq’, Classic Greek ‘Isaak’, Latin ‘Isaac’, Arabic ‘Ishaq’, all of which amount to a parallelogram of the saying ‘he laughed’, ‘he shall laugh’ and ‘he laughs’, as if the name Isaac is same as saying ‘he laughed’ or ‘he shall laugh’. These comparative literature and etymology on Isaac appear elsewhere, but it is possible that these languages got it right on the translation but wrong on the parallel meaning of the word Isaac. Once more, it is common sense to indicate that Isaac is a total sum of a sentence and not one word.

 

B

 

(10) The Body of the subject which must use is Genesis 17; 17-22 and Genesis 18; 10-15 from the NIV; 2011, with particular reference to Genesis 17; 19, “Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[a] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” The Bible said here that “…Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac”, and goes on about the covenant that the lord wishes to establish with Abraham, Isaac and the house of Israel. Of course, the story is perhaps the work of a latter redactor – that is if we take the story from the populist point of view that Isaac of the Bible is the father of Jakob, who became Israel. We must maintain that the continuation of the story of Israel from Jacob started with Abraham – who was called by God and whose name changed from Abram to Abraham, to his son of promise called Isaac – who was so to speak called after ‘laughter’ and who defied death in the covenant making epic at the altar of Sacrifice. We move from here to meet Jacob whose name was also changed to Israel, whose father was Isaac.

 
(11) Genesis 32:28; “Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[a] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” (NIV). The above term show beyond doubt that Israel refers to a statement, like in the case of Isaac, it refers to the whole statement, that is, “your name shall no longer Jacob, but Israel”. The evolution of these words can also replaced with the translation, ‘you shall not be called Jacob (the cheat or con man who cheated his brother), rather, you are called ‘(‘no-cheat’, or ‘not cheat’, and you shall become one with your brother) – essentially the opposite of who he was. What we spy from here is the term ‘you are called’ which in Igbo would easily mean, i zara, and this term like the term concerning Isaac – if not actually about Sarah – concerning a name or a response, is rooted in the term ‘you are called’ or ‘your name is’…which if translated in Igbo, will also mean ‘i zara’ what ever they want to name you. There is no hiding that these terms ‘i zara’ in izrael (Israel), does not leave us with one end of the term el, or El, where as the term Isaac, leaves us with c or perhaps a ‘ch’ or k after ‘i zara’.

 

(12) To say to an Igbo, nna, i zara nkume, means you are called ‘rock’, i zara okwute means ‘you are called the stone’ – possibly from a time of the incident going forth. How will an Igbo man who is a ‘church father’ or ‘mother superior’ responds to a situation where a new convert (man or woman) is no longer a con artist but now new creature and become a new person. During the baptism of such a person, the Igbo church father or mother superior, or Reverend would say, you shall no longer be called ‘ Con Artist’ or ‘Cheat’, i-zara-ezi-okwu (you called truth). We must note that truth is ezi okwu, where izaraeziokwu, does not mean truth in of itself. The explication is the same with Jacob and Isaac.

 

(13) For sure, Yakob or Yako (nyarko), trickster,  which what it means in Igbo, refers to the following, that Jacob – who was the trickster and con artist in Genesis – possible a clever man as in Igbo ‘ako’, shall no longer be called Jakob – the low life or cheat, but shall be called after ‘el’ or in Igbo ‘elu’ means ‘high one;(onye elu)’, ”elevated’, or ‘exalted’. The root carnal of the word Israa-el, may mean the term ‘from’ in terms of m-izra-ayim, which means saved from the land of the rivers, or in terms of Elohist tradition, Israel, simply follows the same format as Isaac, that is, i zara el; ‘you are called elevated or most high’ or even in some weird connection ‘high and mighty’. This is actually powerful thing, that Jacob was born again after his encounter either a messenger of God or an angel of God. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel” why? he, Jakob (con artist or cheat) proved himself a man of God or changed man – he is no longer his past rather a name creature and would be called ‘elevated’ or ‘son of el/son of the most high’ or ‘man of God’ ‘man of honor’. There is also Isaac, or ‘i zara ochi’ by Igbo; you shall be called laughter, etc…

 

(14) For that we can also say, i zara ochi, may a theme within Elohist or Yahwist tradition if – or assuming if, we place the incident of Jacob who became Israel as Elohist or Yahwist. ‘I zara el’, was a name after a person in the Bible called Jacob which is Yako meaning in Igbo onye-ako> a con artist, who contended with an angel who blessed him by calling a new name ‘Israel’.

Genesis 17:17-22. New International Version (NIV)

“V.17, Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” V.18, And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!”

“V.19, Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac.[a] I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
“V.20, And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.”

“V.21, But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year.” 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God went up from him.”
Genesis 18:10-15; New International Version (NIV);2011.

“V.10, Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

“Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. V.11, Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.”

“V.12, So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

“V.13, Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

“V.15, Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

 

(15) These quotations are stated in full for it seems to me that very the meaning of the word ‘Isaac’ must be understood as a statement or a saying, and at no point does it mention the word ‘Isaac’ as same and similar to the word ‘laughter’. Therefore the root of the meaning of the word Isaac can be found in the word ‘name’ or the tautology > ‘he shall be called ‘Isaac’, disguising the word Isaac as equal to laughter, where ‘he shall be called laughter’ – the statement – is the total meaning of the word-name ‘I-saa-c’ (I-zaa-‘o’k, for Greek where ‘o’ is addition). Laughter therefore must mean something else in either Hebrew or similar languages such as Aramaic and Greek. If this is clear enough, we can hint that as far word is concerned, a ‘response’ in Igbo also means, I zara okwu.

 

(16) With Igbo language, we can the point quite clear that the laughter refers to ‘ochi’, rendered ‘ouch’ elsewhere, where the word ‘answer’ or ‘you answered, with laughter’, would in Igbo, ‘i za ram ochi’ which is clearly different from Igbo saying ‘i zara ochi’, shows an affinity of verb form ‘zara’ for you are ‘called’ or you ‘answered’….then ochi is laughter in Igbo, where as ‘okwu’ is word. Like Vocum in classic Latin which mean a saying or a spoken word, okwu in Igbo refers to spoken word, where as okuu in same as a ‘call’, slightly different from ‘eku’ which is within the meaning of the word ‘echo’, like a fan that transfer the sound of the voice. None of this is similar to the term ‘answer’ which in Igbo is ‘zaa,’ or ‘answer me’ for Igbo ‘zaa m’. Yet the phrase, ‘you answered’ will mean in Igbo ‘i zaara’ and if you then say ‘your answer is…’, it will mean in Igbo ‘i zara si’. O zara okwu (o-zara-okwu) is Igbo for English (”he/she responded to> the statement; or he/she answered to the word/postulate). And in Igbo, we may say ‘i zara okwu’ should also mean the following in English ‘you are called ‘word’ or ‘you responded with word’ ‘your name is word’.

 

(17) Alternately, these terms refer to same thing in Igbo for laughter, where as okwu for word, may be replaced with the term ‘ochi’ for laughter.

In the instance, we may have ‘i zara ochi’ (i-zara-ochi) may simply mean in English, ‘you are called ‘laughter’. Where as, the dialect in igbo or more plausible Igbo language, i sara ochi (i shara ochi>dialect) may strickly mean ‘i/you, saara;shaara/answered’, or i/you, shaara/’responded’, or your response was ‘laughter’. It does not mean name strictly speaking, neither does it mean, ‘you are called laughter’, the verb that qualifies it in Igbo is ‘zara’, suggesting as far the name Isaac, it must have to do with ‘zara’ what he is called, unless, the name ‘Sara’ has something to do with the whole passage.

 

(18) I, for one, encourage Hebrew and Jewish Theological students to take Igbo language very seriously. Besides the formally known languages such as Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, there is hardly any language on earth that comes close to classic Greek (Ancient Greek) as Igbo does. In fact, Hebrew, may yet benefit from Igbo, same goes for Classic Greek, since Latin and Arabic are abridged versions of the old, the Igbo will less rigor and less sound shift, still retain the original quality of Greek and Latin – at least in standard meaning. Classic Greek in terms of how it is understood today will pale in comparison when cast in the light of this new facility of Igbo. But this is besides the point of Hebrew in terms of Igbo, and we are only interested in these terms because it throws some light how these words are actually formed and meant to be understood. It thrown a new light, a lot of light on the subject of Hebrew language.

 

(19) If we for instance intend on finding the lasting meaning of some of the Greek words and some of the words in Aramaic and Hebrew, we must look at alternate sources that are found in India such as Sanskrit and in deep bottom of the African continent facing the Atlantic, such as the Nigerian Igbo, or Bini for that matter. The word-names, Isaac and eventually Israel, will make the point. Question is, what is the meaning of the word Isaac in context of Hebrew language? The answer will differ from one age to another but may lead us like Mozeson, into believing that Isaac means ‘laughter’. ‘Yah chia’ in Igbo should also mean ‘he/she laughed’.

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