Saturday, 15 November 2008

Mabruk, Baruch!

B-R-K is found in Hebrew too, most notably in the name Baruch - equivalent to Arabic mabruk, which means 'congratulations' (on your blessed good fortune!). Baruch ben Neriyah was the name of Jeremiah's secretary, who helped to edit and possibly in part to write sections of several books of the Bible - Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel I and II, Kings I and Jeremiah. One of the most extraordinary archaeological finds ever made was a clay seal impression of this Baruch. Nothing to do with Obama of course, but a nice reminder of the close kinship of Hebrew and Arabic and the respective peoples who speak them.

Perhaps I should add my personal theory that the ten 'lost tribes' of Israel are to be found among the Palestinians. After the destruction of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria, there is no reason to suppose that the rural population fled. They were peasants attached to their fields, and the Assyrians needed them to pay taxes. According to the Bible, many of them were already polytheists before the Kingdom collapsed. They later converted to Christianity, and still later many of them became Muslims. Their descendants are the cousins of the Israelis. It's time they were treated as equals in their own country.

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