NABOKV-L post 0026539, Sat, 17 Oct 2015 15:40:46 -0700

Re: Botkin as prisoner of Zembla in Pale Fire
On Oct 17, 2015, at 1:00 AM, Alexey Sklyarenko wrote: The god’s name
means in Hebrew “Almighty” and brings to mind Shade, the poet who
is killed by Gradus (as he is called by Kinbote, the mad commentator
of Shade’s poem who imagines that he is the last self-banished king
of Zembla, Charles the Beloved).

Dear Alexey,

El (god) Shaddei (the destroyer) is sometimes translated as God
Almighty - but that is a loose translation. ƒor those interested I
copy part of Wikipedia's discussion of the question below. I
personally doubt that VN was thinking of this (but see reference to
mountain) when he named his poet Shade, but you never know. I
similarly doubt that VN had Gilgamesh in mind - he really never showed
much interest in the Semitic side of literature or linguistics and his
philosemitism probably did not extend that far. By the way, in the
Heine poem the word Adonay (or Adonai) is the most usual word for God
in Jewish religious use - it is a euphemism meaning "my lord." The
orthodox go further and use the euphemism of the euphemism ha shem,
meaning "the name."


El Shaddai (Hebrew: אל שדי‎, IPA: [el ʃaˈdːaj]) is one of the
names of the primary Judaic God. El Shaddai is conventionally
translated as God Almighty but while the translation of El as "god" or
"lord" in Ugarit/Canaanite language is straightforward, the literal
meaning of Shaddai is the subject of debate.
According to Exodus 6:2, 3, Shaddai (שַׁדַּי) is the name of the
god known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The name Shaddai is again used
as the god's name later in the Book of Job.
Shaddai meaning destroyer[edit]
The root word "shadad" (שדד) means "to overpower" or "to destroy".
This would give Shaddai the meaning of "destroyer", representing one
of the aspects of the god, and in this context it is essentially an
epithet. The meaning of Shaddai may go back to the original sense of
"shadad" which was "to be strong" akin to Arabic "shadiid" (شديد)
"strong".[1] The termination "ai", typically signifying the first
person possessive plural, functions as a pluralis excellentiae like
other titles for the Hebrew deities, Elohim ("gods") and Adonai ("my
lords"). The possessive quality of the termination had lost its sense
and become the lexical form of both Shaddai and Adonai, similar to how
the connotation of the French word Monsieur changed from "my lord" to
being an honorific title.[2]
Another theory is that Shaddai is a derivation of a Semitic stem that
appears in the Akkadian shadû ("mountain") and shaddā`û or shaddû`a
("mountain-dweller"), one of the names of Amurru. This theory was
popularized by W. F. Albright[citation needed] but was somewhat
weakened when it was noticed[by whom?] that the doubling of the medial
‘d ’ is first documented only in the Neo-Assyrian period. However,
the doubling in Hebrew might possibly be secondary. According to this
theory, the god is seen as inhabiting a holy mountain, a concept not
unknown in ancient West Asian mythology (see El), and also evident in
the Syriac Christian writings of Ephrem the Syrian, who places Eden on
an inaccessible mountain-top.

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