THE HEBREW VERB ROOT, DON
Our examination of the Don rivers and Don titles was limited to the Indo-European world until we encountered the Don name in Hebrew. Our study then carried us over into Semitic lands and stretches of time which predate the development of Rome and supposed sources in the Latin language. Since the Hebrew Don and Don+el denote judgment and wisdom, a condition which closely parallels the social position of the Don titles in Europe, from whence does that meaning derive?
It comes out of an ancient Semitic verb, Don. It remains intact in Hebrew.
Hebrew verb roots have an organized and consistent pattern of sound inflections, the linguistic manner of denoting different shades of meaning. We know such inflections in English swim, swam, swum, and came, come. The vowel changes in these words denote different actions in time, in place, and so on. In English we also change the beginning or ending of words to alter their meaning. These affixes, (prefixes and suffixes), are illustrated by denote and connote, and by work, worked, working, works, and so on.
English is a bastard language, deriving originally from Anglo-Saxon but also influenced by Keltic, Latin, Greek, French, and Norse. As a result of these many influences it lost the regular system of inflections known in Anglo-Saxon times, and became highly irregular. On the other hand Hebrew verbs follow rigid patterns of inflection with vowel changes, and with affixes for different person (I-you-he), tense (past-present-future), sex (male-female), and so on. These patterns are illustrated in the conjugation of the Hebrew verb don.
|Person & Number||Singular||Plural||Singular||Plural|
|Kal form: don, deen -- "to judge," "to sentence"|
|I (we) |
|Ni'fal form: nadon, hiddon -- "to be judged," "to be punished"|
|Pi'el form: diyan, dayen -- "to argue," "to discuss"|
Explicit listing of the parallels will demonstrate the strength of the relationship.
The numbers behind the words show some of the names, titles, and honorifics we encountered in preceding discussions.
1) Don is in the third person, past and present of the Kal: “he judged” or “he judges.” It implies rulership, administrative capacity, or wisdom. In Europe it meant “Lord” or “Master.”
The Hebrew root is the male singular past tense of the Kal. All other inflectional variations come out of that root. For our immediate interest this is the word don, and don is the prominent form for the river and place-names, and for the titles of Europe. A phonetic shift is found in dam/dom but don remains the base for all other words.
2) Intimately associated with don is dona, the female counterpart. The tabulation shows the female Dona title of Europe. In Hebrew it means “she judges”; in Europe it meant a “Lady” or “Mistress,” one who was socially superior.
These two words found side by side in the tabulation, male and female, are echoed in the European titles found side by side, male and female.
3) Deen is the imperative of the Kal: “Judge!” This is the word found in Universities and as a title of respect for someone who is senior in a profession. He is given this title because he is the administrative superior, or outstanding authority, an experienced individual in any field. One is judged by such a superior.
4) Adon is the singular of the future of the Ni’fal, literally, “I shall be judged!” This is the origin of the Hebrew Adon, Lord or Master, used so prevalently in the Bible. When someone addresses another as Adon he acknowledges literally that “he shall be judged,” a unique and powerful technique for showing subservience to another.
5) The plural form of the Kal past tense is danu, a word we encountered several places in preceding discussions. It illustrates a common inflection from Northwest Semitic which affected wide areas of our planet.
The Hebrew verb tabulation offers keen insight into the nature of our query. It is hardly possible the European names, titles, and social honorifics are not related to the Hebrew verb. The correspondence and parallels are much too strong to be accidental, or to be denied.
Spanish and Portuguese Dons and Doms are Lords and Masters; the English university Don is regarded as a Master; the university Deans are superiors. Latin Dominus is Lord or Master. Hebrew Adon is also a Lord or Master. Without the “a” prefix the more simple Don is one who judges.
Since the phonemes are identical between the titles of Europe and the Hebrew Don verb, including even the Dean-deen inflection and the Don-Dona male-female parallel, with some n-to-m phonetic shift universally accepted as a valid linguistic phenomenon, and also in the dropping of an initial “a,” we then have an undeniable tie between the Semitic Hebrew verb and the social honorifics of Europe now recognized by linguistic scholars as of Indo-European origin. The literal meaning of the Hebrew verb has an intimate connection with the Lords and Masters of Europe, those who are superior in wisdom and administrative authority.
The evidence is clear and unequivocal: either Hebrew or some other Near East tongue, such as Phoenician, is the source of the words and titles in Europe, or an unidentified Semitic source is the origin independently of both the Hebrew verb and the European usage. If the latter it would be of great antiquity, predating any recognized common cultural influence.
The assignment of the don and dom titles to Latin is due to their geographical proximity in France, Italy, Sicily, Spain and Portugal, areas that were subject to known historical Roman influence. But we cannot realistically continue to maintain Latin as the source of the titles. Rather, Latin shows the same outside influence as the other European languages; the title developments in Latin parallel those of the rest of Europe. Traditional etymologies are inadequate to explain this linguistic evidence. Although the Don titles are limited to Latin and English countries, the Teutonic -dom, spread across Germanic countries, suggests the same wide and ancient influence as the titles.
This conclusion is strengthened by our modern word doom, meaning judgment event, from the earlier Anglo-Saxon dom. The Oxford English Dictionary lists numerous changes in meaning:
|Written Record |
|825 AD||1||Statute, law, enactment, decree|
|825||8||Justice, equity, righteousness|
|900||2||Formal judgment of decision|
|1000||9||Power or authority to judge|
|1200||6||The last judgment of the world|
|1300||3||Private judgment, opinion|
|1374||3b||The faculty of judging; discrimination|
Obviously the Teutonic -dom has origin in some source connected to judging or judgment. The word has both phonetic and semantic relationship to the Hebrew don that cannot be ignored.
Near East scholars, familiar with the Semitic tongues, have not recognized these connections. Or if they do recognize such connections they do not publish them or admit them, as far as I know. Any phenomenon, so obvious, is neglected either because of the isolation of one class of scholars from another, or because fundamental assumptions condition their thinking to cause them to be blind to the evidence. If this one word and its derivatives, so apparent, is wrongly assigned in origins, how many other words are wrongly assigned? Can we trust scholarly premises and conclusions about the origins of people or language? We need loftier views of world history.
The Hebrew verb is basic to the Hebrew language. It is not a word that might have slipped into the language from some passing cultural contact. It is definitely not a loan word, and no Semitic scholar has questioned that the don verb had origins different from the Semitic tongue itself. If it came from Indo-European sources, those sources have not been identified. The form of the verb, with the Semitic root structure, fits easily into the context of the Semitic language. While many don forms exist in Europe there is no clear Indo-European verb root that would explain the titles, nor would any Indo-European root explain the Hebrew verb. It is conceivable that some influence could cause the don names and titles to derive from the Semitic root but it is not reasonable that the Semitic root could have derived from the don names and titles.
The cross connections, so clearly evident, show potent ties among diverse people. From the literal significance of the Hebrew words we can see that some phenomenon not recognized by modern studies gave rise to the European customs centered around nobility and that the application came either from Hebrew, from a related language, or from a parent tongue. The pronunciation of the names and titles in Europe has remained unchanged since the time of the common ties; otherwise we would not recognize the Semitic connection. Whatever the nature of the influence the phonetic changes are minor and the essential meanings have been preserved.
Where and when did the social and linguistic connections exist? They are not recognized in historical times but show an influence upon Rome. Therefore, they must predate the founding of Rome.
If we would assign the influence to either the Phoenicians or the Hebrews from the time of the kingdom under Saul and David, coincident with the supposed migration of the Phoenicians across the Mediterranean around 1100 BC, we would be faced with at least two major problems.
First, it would mean that a social custom was transmitted from Semitic people to European countries. This custom entailed high social recognition and status among European ruling classes. Therefore, it was not a custom to be transmitted easily, as words in commerce and trade are transmitted. Ruling classes do not indiscriminately borrow the titles of foreign people; they have their own rigid and hallowed traditions. Such a strong practice could be absorbed into European nobility only if the ruling class itself came from the Semitic ruling class. But this seems impossible. We have no known historical records to show the ruling classes of either the Hebrews or the Phoenicians becoming European administrators. On the contrary, we know the Phoenicians settled extensively throughout the Mediterranean and fought with Rome in the Punic wars. We have sufficient records from those times to know that neither Phoenicia nor Israel could have produced such influence. How could the ruling classes of Phoenicia, or of Israel, become the Roman ruling classes when they were enemies to one another? If such absorption did take place it must long predate the Punic era.
Second, we find no evidence of the Don and Dona titles among the Semites, either Phoenician or Hebrew. They used the Adon title, and then only in the male form. If the custom was borrowed by the Europeans they would have used Adon and not Don and Dona. Also, the Adon title dates to very early times in the Near East, certainly before Abraham. Therefore, the cross connection must predate the earliest historical Near East period.
From this limited evidence it appears there was an influence which extended down into Europe through a tradition that remembered the Semitic Don, while a separate tradition preserved the verb root in the Semitic languages. In the first case the connection with the language was lost, while in the second the Don title was lost. Therefore, it seems separate traditions came out of some much older common culture, predating any exclusive Hebrew or Phoenician influence.
That influence must be Semitic. How would the Hebrew verb today so well illuminate the don names and titles in Europe unless they derived from a Semitic source? That ancient influence must be Semitic and predate historical times.
Furthermore, we cannot neglect the geographical place names in our attempts to understand these phenomena. Since they are so widespread, beyond Indo-European and Semitic lands, they must be very ancient. It does not seem reasonable that we can divorce the place names from the titles and social honors, although we do not have a semantic connection.
Greater understanding comes when we consider the traditions of the folk origins of these same people. Many Caucasians believed they were descended from a god and goddess named Don and Dona.
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