Dissertation Weekly #2

13 04 2011

This week we have another quote from my historical geography chapter.  However, its content is quite different from last week.

Knauf suggests that Ṣâfûṭ was originally a Canaanite name similar to the Hebrew šāpôt or šôpet[1] meaning “judgment” or “judge” (1991: 36-37).


[1] By way of Aramaic transmission, using the qatol pattern for nomina agentis.

This sentence (and accompanying footnote) is part of my section on the toponymics of Safut.  It is possible that the site is biblical Nobah, mentioned in Judges 8:11 as Gideon chases the Midianites towards the Desert Highway.  He passes Nobah and Jogbehah, the latter we know is the modern town/collection of ancient ruins (including a rujm) called Jubeihat.  We also know the ancient road ran past Tall Safut and Jubeihat on the way to the Ammonite capitol.  So, it is possible that Safut is Nobah, but this is by no means a certainty.  This area of the Baq’ah Valley is largely absent from the ancient written record, and the modern name Safut has no direct meaning in modern Arabic, leaving the suggestion in the above sentence as a strong possibility.

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