Do מהומה and המם have the save same shoresh?

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    QUESTION: Do מהומה and המם have the save same shoresh?

    ANSWER: Rashi holds that these two words –although spelled identically- derive from separate roots, as does Radak in his Shorashim:

    #הים# וְהָמָם מְהוּמָה גְדֹלָה (דברים ז, כג), משפטו הִימָם, והמ”ם האחרונה סימן הרבים. והאות, כי המ”ם הראשונה קמוצה כדרך כל פְּעָלָם ואלו היתה שרש היתה פתוחה כדרך כל פָּעַל. והשם: מְהוּמָה גְדֹלָה (שם ז, כג), כִּי הָיְתָה מְהוּמַת מָוֶת (ש”א ה, יא), ענינו כענין שבר.
    וענין אחר, הפעל הנוסף: אָרִיד בְּשִׂיחִי וְאָהִימָה (תהלים נה, ג), תְּהִימֶנָה מֵאָדָם (מיכה ב, יב). והנפעל: וַתֵּהֹם כָּל הָעִיר (רות א, יט), ענינם ענין הֶמְיָה ושאון.

    #המם# וְהָמַם גִּלְגַּל עֶגְלָתוֹ (ישעיה כח, כח), אֲכָלַנִי הֲמָמַנִי (ירמיה נא, לד), וְהַמֹּתִי אֶת כָּל הָעָם (שמות כג, כז), בָּרָק וַיָּהֹם (ש”ב כב, טו), וַיָּהָם ה’ אֶת סִיסְרָא (שופטים ד, טו), וַיָּהָם אֵת מַחֲנֵה מִצְרָיִם (שמות יד, כד). לְהֻמָּם וּלְאַבְּדָם (אסתר ח, כד), וַיְהֻמֵּם ה’ (יהושע י, י), כבר פירשתי ענינם בשרש הים בענין הראשון.

    This, in contrast to e.g. Rashbam in Eikev, who holds that the root of both is המם, explaining that had the final mem (in the occurrence in Eikev) been intended to indicate “them” (he will confound them), it should have been written והממם.

    Rashi (and Radak et al) would answer that the intention in Eikev is certainly confusion (given the following word מהומה), whereas in Isaiah the context is crushing and shattering, thus they are two separate roots, and the punctuation further supports this notion, given that the final kamatz in Eikev usually signifies a reference to the plural third person.

    As to why Rashi refers to the mem in Isaiah as being part of the “yesod” in contrast to the only one of the lameds in יללה being of the yesod, I’m not sure there’s a simple answer. Of note though, is that Menachem in face listed the word as having a unilateral root:

    ל הילל ברוש כי נפל ארז , כי יילילו על משכבותם , הרה ללת – לשון אניניות.

    Unfortunately, Menachem didn’t list either of the והמם words in his lexicon, but he did list a good number of words related to מהומה, confusion (listed under הים according to Radak and הום according to Ribag), under the root הם. But none of the words listed under המם by Radak or Ribag is found in Menachem. I’m left just to guess therefore that although Rashi normally follows Menachem’s approach of ignoring “כפולים” (double letters ending three-letter roots), counting them as a single letter of a two-letter root, in this case Rashi is using the term “yesod” in a relative sense. That is, in contradistinction to the final mem in Eikev which (to his thinking) is indisputably extraneous to the root, the final mem in Isaiah is a root of the כפולים genre, which, as stated, some consider to be trilateral roots – all yesod. And I’m relatively certain about this guess.

    Yehoshua (Jeremy) Steinberg

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