Blaz0ej S0trba, «hn#$w#$ of the Canticle», Vol. 85 (2004) 475-502
The term hn#$w#$ is revisited
primarily in the Canticle of Solomon. The most ancient translation –– "lily" ––
of this flower though questioned in recent decades is still widely used. The
LXX’s rendering kri/non is examined and found as the
best translation for the lexeme N#$w#$ –– meaning
"lotus" –– being an Egyptian loan word. This translation fits to the OT
references better than "lily". The textual employment of
hn#$w#$ in the poetry of the Canticle is a chief and commanding proof for
"lotus". The "lily" translation for both hn#$w#$
and kri/non for the majority of the OT cases is seen
as incorrect since it does not pay due attention to the literary and historical
context of the Canticle.
of the Canticle 481
NT (Lk 8,3). The name Susanna does not reflect the person inhabiting
the city of Susa either. Her presentation as being â€œnamed Susanna ...
a very beautiful womanâ€ (SusTh 2) may give an indication for its
meaning (30). Susanna, as presented in the narrative, in spite of being
brought up according to the law of Moses and fearing the Lord, was
condemned to death. Daniel opposed the unjust process and helped to
prove her innocence and â€œnothing shameful was found in herâ€ (SusTh
Why does this beautiful woman, faithful wife and very religious
Jewess carry such a name? Although this is not our major interest in
this paper, yet this name will be treated once more briefly in the con-
cluding paragraph. I assume that her name was chosen on purpose (32).
II. hnvwv in the MT
1. The etymology
The word hnvwv is a feminine form of Ë†vwOv/Ë†vWv, coming from Ë†vv I.
This lexeme is not a Hebrew word, nor does it come from another
Semitic language, even though Zimmern (33) makes a reference to the
Akkadian substantive Ï€eÏ€anu. The substantive Ï€iÏ€nu/Ï€iÏ€anu refers to a
kind of plant name (34) or bush, which can be found in the list of
plants (35), but it does not have a connotation of the name of a flower.
This root is reflected in the other Semitic languages such as Aramaic
(Ï€wÏ€anâ€™/Ï€wÏ€ntâ€™), Syriac (Ï€auÏ€antË), Nabatean (Ï€wÏ€nt) and Arabic
(30) ENGEL, Susanna-ErzÃ¤hlung, 92-93.
(31) His charge challenged the statement of the two elders, who were both
judges: â€œHave you condemned (katekrivnate) a daughter of Israel without
examining (oujk ajnakrivnante") and without learning the facts (oujde; to; safe;"
ejpignovnte")?â€ (Sus 48). hnvwv of the Canticle may give quite a different flavour
to Danielâ€™s judgment: â€œbeauty has deceived you (to; kavllo" se hjpavthsen)â€
(Sus 56) â€œand lust perverted your heartsâ€, (SusTh 56). For the critical edition,
see J. ZIEGLER (ed.), Susanna â€“ Daniel â€“ Bel et Draco. Versionis iuxta
â€œTheodotionemâ€ fragmenta; iuxta LXX interpretes textum plane novum
(Septuaginta XVI,2; GÃ¶ttingen 1999) 216-233.
(32) There are several women in the OT, among which the mothers of Samson
or of Maccabbees (LXX), who played important roles in the relative narratives,
but yet their names remain unknown.
(33) H. ZIMMERN, Akkadische FremdwÃ¶rter als Beweis fÃ¼r babylonischen
KultureinfluÃŸ (Leipzig 1915) 58.
(34) AHw III, 1250b: Ï€iÏ€nu (Ï€iÏ€anu): Lieschgras.
(35) CAD âˆ3, XVII, 126: Ï€iÏ€nu (Ï€iÏ€anu, Ï€eÏ€anu): (a rush); plant list.