Marginal Notes on: “BNʿTM ROCK INSCRIPTIONS AN ANALYTIC STUDY OF NEW DISCOVERED SAFAITIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM DEIR AL-KAHF IN THE NORTHEAST OF JORDAN”. By H. Qudrah, I. Sadaqah, and M. al-Zoubi, in: Acta Ant. Hung. 24, 2014 55-72

This belongs to a series of “marginal notes” I will post on recently published Safaitic inscriptions

The present edition of inscriptions was published without photographs or tracings so it is impossible to verify the readings from the rock. Nevertheless, two of the inscriptions can be read in a more satisfying way, and these can potentially shed light on a new shade of meaning for the word ṣrt ‘enclosure’.

Inscription 2

Ed. pro.: l bnʿtm bn qym twlh ṣrt

‘By PN (and he) deeply grieved and cried/afflict of grief’

 

Suggested reading and translation:

l bnʿtm bn qymt w l-h [h-]ṣrt

‘By PN and [the] enclosure is his’

twlh > w l-h: The edition took the four letters following the name qym as a T-stem verb derived from the root wlh ‘to grieve’, Classical Arabic waliha. This would be strange as the narrative is almost always connected to the name with a conjunction. It is more likely that the t belongs to the previous name, which the addition acknowledges but does not give as their primary reading. Thus, the name of the father would be qymt, which is well attested in Safaitic and found in Greek transcription as Καιαμαθος /qayyāmat/. The narrative would then give the common ‘building’ or ‘ownership’ formula, w l-h [h-]ṣrt.  The spelling of the clitic pronoun and following definite article with one h is common (Al-Jallad 2015:49).

 

Inscription 4:

Ed. pro.: w ndm ʿl- bnʿtm wlh ṣrt

‘and he anguished for Bnʿtm, (he) grieved and cried strongly’

 

Suggested translation:

w ndm ʿl- bnʿtm w l-h [h-]ṣrt

‘and he was devastated by grief for Bnʿtm, and the enclosure is his’

The referent of the clitic pronoun is unclear; it could be Bnʿtm or it could refer to the author, who has now claimed the enclosure.

 

Remarks on the meaning of ṣrt

Inscription 4 is a funerary inscription and so it could be argued that ṣrt ‘enclosure’ here functioned in a similar way to rgm, ‘funerary cairn’ (Al-Jallad 2015: 337). This would moreover suggest that inscription 2 was a burial text, so: for Bnʿtm son of Qymt is the burial (?) enclosure. The other texts published in this article contain expressions of grief for Bnʿtm, similar in fact to the types of rituals associated with the rgm and ṣwy, e.g. bny ʿl- Bnʿtm lit. ‘he built over/for Bnʿtm’

References:

Al-Jallad, A. 2015. An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions. (SSLL 80). Leiden: Brill.