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On some readings and interpretations in the Aramaic incantation bowls and related texts *

  • Matthew Morgenstern (a1) and James Nathan Ford (a2)

This study takes a new look at a number of obscure passages in the Aramaic incantation bowls and related texts discussed in Christa Müller-Kessler's article “More on puzzling words and spellings in Aramaic incantation bowls and related texts”, published in BSOAS 75/1, 2012, 1–31. Among the words discussed are ברזא ‘wild boar’, מנוביא ‘wailing’, מסחיפתא ‘overthrower (type of demon)’, ספסיפא ‘burning’ and פרהזני ‘protectors’, all new to the Jewish Babylonian Aramaic lexicon, ככא ‘tusk’ and תברי “‘broken’ sounds of the shofar (as a maleficent force)”, which show new meanings for previously attested lexemes, and the new plural form שולניתא ‘maidservants’. Additional evidence for the words or expressions פגיתא ‘attack (a type of demon)’, אידיורא ‘helper’ / אידיורותא ‘help’, חי חי מץ (a divine epithet), מרוביא (a type of demon), נירבא (a hard metal) and שיפורי ‘shofars (a type of demon)’ is also adduced and a preliminary edition of the magic bowl Nippur 12 N 387 is presented.

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Bowls labelled JNF, Wolfe, Davidovitz, DS, DCG and PC are in various private collections and are being prepared for publication by J.N. Ford. All are presently unpublished unless otherwise noted. We would like to thank the present or former owners for access to the texts and, in particular, Ms Lisa Marie Knothe, Mr L. Alexander Wolfe, Mr Gil Davidovitz and Ms Ester Davidovitz and Mr David Sofer. We would also like to thank Prof. Shaul Shaked for permission to quote from unpublished bowls in the Martin Schøyen collection (labelled MS) and the late Dr Shlomo Moussaieff for access to the bowls in his collection (labelled Moussaieff). The photographs of the unpublished bowls in the aforementioned collections were taken by M. Morgenstern with the exception of Figs 2 and 11 (L.M. Knothe) and 12 and 54 (J.N. Ford), as were the photographs of the bowls in the British Museum (published with the permission of the trustees) and the Frau Hilprecht Collection, Jena (published with the permission of Prof. Manfred Krebernik), and the photographs reproduced here from the Moussaieff Collection. We wish to thank Dr Dan Levene for providing us with the photographs of bowls in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (published with the permission of Prof. Joachim Marzahn), the family of the late Professor Joseph Naveh for the original photographs of the bowls published in Naveh and Shaked 1985, and Prof. Tapani Harviainen for original photographs of the Borsippa bowl. Prof. Shaked also provided us with several additional photographs of bowls in the Moussaieff Collection. CAD = Ignace J. Gelb et al. (eds), The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (Chicago, 1956–2010). The research of Matthew Morgenstern for this article was supported by the Israel Science Foundation grant No. 38/10, while that of James Nathan Ford was supported by the Israel Science Foundation grant No. 1306/12.

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