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The following discussions are directed towards the elucidation of 
some of the obscure or doubtful expressions of the Assyrian texts, 
as well as towards the establishment of their etymological relations. 
Those passages or word-forms which, though obscure or misinter- 
preted at the time of the publication of the respective texts, have 
been since, within the writer's knowledge, satisfactorily explained, 
will, of course, not be touched. 

The following is the transcription of those sounds about whose 
representation Assyriologists are not at one : n h, ts t, 3 k, C ^ 
(after Schrader), i' s, p k, z s (after Schrader). The syllable-sign 
which the English and French schools represent by e, Schrader by 
/, Haupt by 2, and Pognon by /, I shall indicate by 2, as Friedrich 
Delitzsch also represents it in his latest work. 

"IE?3, to bind, join together. Representatives of this root are 
not numerous in Assyrian, but there seems to be sufficient evidence 
of its existence. We have first a common word for bonds, fetters : 
kasritu. Norris (I 127) reads this biritu (the ideogram of the first 
syllable representing both kas and bi), and compares the Hebr. 
■ r,, "i? covenant. The same form is adopted by Smith (e. g. Hist, 
of Asurbanipal 26, 1 ; 44, 1 ; 66, 2). But since "12 ]> !"H? 
does not mean to bind, the reading biritu is without etymological 
support. Oppert and Menant accordingly read kasritu, Inscrip- 
tion de Khorsabad 1. 112: bi-ri-tav, but in the commentary p. 
284 : kasritav. So also Schrader, Keilinschriften u. d. Alte Testa- 
ment 172, 15 (cf. vocabulary) ; 184, 34; 243,8; 260,3. These 
authorities compare "i2?p to bind, supposing that kasritu is written 
for kasritu. A corresponding verb-form is apparently used in the 
sense of fastening together or repairing, as in another passage cited 
in KAT 37, 21. 22: li-bi-it-ti ku-um-mi-sa u a-gur-ri ta-ah-lu- 
ub-ii-'sa ab-ta-a-ti 2-ik-si-ir. This Schrader renders : " besserte 
ich die Backsteine seines Gebaiides und die Ziegel seiner Be- 
dachung zu festverbundenem Mauerwerk aus," and connects (40, 
37) 2-ik-si-ir with Hebr. "i??| "to be straight, right." That this 
special association with 1B3 is wrong is clear from the fact that the 


latter does not mean to be straight or right either in its noun or 
verb forms. This meaning has been attributed to it from the 
notion that it was cognate with ysti and -,•£■'!• But this is impos- 
sible, if only for the reason that 3 is not used as a predeterminative 
(see my " Aryo-Semitic Speech," 1881, p. 98 ff.; m f.) Its 
proper meaning is to be fitting or advantageous, a notion derived 
from that of joining together, just as Skr. yujyate, it is fitting,-^ yuj to 
join. It is akin to 12?p, and hometymous with Targ. "fl2?3, Syr. k'stird, 
a beam (cf. Miihlau and Volck on "1273 in Gesenius' Hebr. Hand- 
worterbuch, 8. ed. ) ; cf. Arab, k-th-r to be many. How the notion 
of joining together leads to that of repairing may be seen from the 
use of Hebr. Y£p in Neh. 3, 38. 

The question arises whether these forms are to be assigned to 
■)2?p or to 1273. Decisive proof cannot be gained from the words 
just cited, since ik and ik represent the same sign, and kas might 
be written for kas, inasmuch as the latter syllable has no special 
sign. Other words, however, may perhaps help to settle the ques- 
tion. In Asurb. 24, 3. 4 ; 42, 3. 4 we read mi-lik la ku-sir im-li-ku 
ra-man-su-un, which Smith translates : " evil counsel they counselled 
among themselves," relying upon the supposed sense of Hebr. 
TM and the Aramaic usage of V?2. I venture to offer the following 
rendering : royal authority without restraint (limit) they invested 
themselves with ; cf. the correct rendering of 25, 3. 4 ; 43, 1.2: and 
let there not be within our border any rival lord. Besides this kusir, 
the word kisurru boundary (cf. English confine as noun and verb) 
points to the same conclusion. Of the meaning of this word there 
seems to be little doubt. In Khors. 1. 82, e. g. we read u-rap-pi-sa 
ki-sur-ri mat su-a-tu : I extended the boundaries of that country; 
cf. 1. 136, and Norris II 624 f. 

It would seem therefore that the Assyrian root is Y£3 and not 
I2?p. Moreover, there is no antecedent reason for assuming the 
existence of the latter, since ibjj in the sense of joining or binding 
is only Hebrew, while "i£?3 is, in the same sense, Proto-Semitic. 

ma — The origin of the frequently occurring form biritu is 
obscure. The word itself is used in various senses, but it is not 
difficult to perceive that they are all derived from the general notion 
of a border, which is its prevailing usage when employed strictly 
as a noun, e. g. in an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I (V 68, see 
Schrader, Keilinschriften u. Geschichtsforschung, p. 266) bir-ti mat 
E-la-mu-ni . . . lu a§-bat : I took (my course along) the border 


of the country Elamuni ; ' cf. Ill 41, and Norris I 126 f. where 
some of the passages cited are misconceived. With a preposition 
preceding we have the phrase ina birit: within the borders or limits 
of. So in the great inscription of Asurnasirpal (I 60 ; cf. Schrader, 
KGF, p. 145, and Menant, Manuel de la langue assyrienne, 1880, p. 
341, 1) ; cities of the land of Kirhi sa ina bi-rit, which are 
within the limits (of the mountains Usu, etc.). Hence ina birit 
came to mean simply within, in the midst of, and also towards, i. e. 
to the midst of (cf. the usage of kirib) as in the passage cited by 
Schrader, KGF 215, 70; cf. 217 note, where an instance is adduced 
from Asurn. II, 66 of i-nabir-ti being used as a variant of ana bi-rit. 
It is also even used to mean through (KGF, 215, 79. 80). Its 
prepositional use (without a preceding preposition) naturally comes 
next. So it means beside, i. e. along the border of (e. g. Asurb. 
220, 4) ; near (e. g. Asurb. 130, 6) ; within, in the midst of or among 
(e. g. Asurb. 267, 7 f 294, 2). 

The proper sense of the word is therefore border. As to the 
root, Schrader (KGF 217 note) conjectures that it is "01> "so that 
6irtu=T\l2(S) =tra.nsitus, Grenze, Gebiet (fines)." But it is ques- 
tionable if Proto-Semitic 3? as first radical ever dropped its 
vowel in Assyrian in noun-formation, and we naturally look for a f{-> 
root. A masculine form of the noun, if it exists, would throw light 
on this question, and I would suggest that such a form is perhaps 
to be found in Asurb. 25, 1. 4; 42. 9; 43. 2. The whole passage 
is: su-lum-mu-u ina bi-ri-in-ni lis-$a-kin ma ni-in-id (v. dag)-ga- 
ra a-ha-mis mat a-h£-£n-na-a ni-zu-us ma ai ib-ba-si ina bi-ri-in-ni 
sa-nu-um-ma bi-lum. This I render : may an alliance within our 
border be established and we will help (?) one another ; the country 
on this side 3 [of our border] we will strengthen, and let there not 
be within our border any rival lord. Smith translates ina bi-ri-in- 
ni in the first instance : " by this treaty," and in the second : " in 
this treaty." If the fitness of the proposed translation is admitted, 

1 Schrader seems scarcely right in translating (p. 267) asbat: " nahm ich ein." 
That word is often used of taking one's way over, without the word for way 
being expressed, as Schrader himself elsewhere observes. 

2 In this interesting and linguistically instructive passage Lenormant (Etudes 
sur quelques parties des syllabaires cuneiformes, p. 130) reads our word kasru. 
But this is due to a mistake of Smith in transcription, the signs for ru and rit 
being nearly alike. In the parallel passage cited above, the correct reading is 
given by Smith. 

3 Cf. Schrader, Assyrisch-Babylonische Keilinschriften p. 370, on the form 


it is plain that we have a form yielding the oblique case biri, and 

accented on the second syllable, as the repeated n before the suffix 

shows. This points to a To root. Such a one seems to be indicated 

in the following passage, Sarg. 21 : in the midst of the sea the 

Ionians i-ba-ru-u ' he drove out. In II R 48, rev. 35 ba-a-ru is 

given as a synonym of haluba to glide away. ~"D is thus one 

of the many forms used to indicate motion, springing from the 

root "Q of which Hebr. and Arab. n"D are among the nearest 

representatives. The border is thus named as the place of 

going forth or out, and it finds an illustration in the Hebrew >"!S2 ; 

Assyr. patu ^> padu, {e.g. Hist, of Esarhaddon ed. Budge, 70, 33 ; 

118, 16) a border; pMu an entrance (Del., Assyr. Lesestiicke, 2. 

ed. p. 19, nr. 174). In the same way nirib <^ y\S, properly an 

entrance, is used in a sense similar to that of our word, as in Asurb. 

258, 10 ; Asurn. I, 59. Thus both the place of going in and the 

place of going out gave rise to a word for border, with its associated 


J. F. McCurdy. 

1 See Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies ? p. 248, where the whole 
passage is explained in connection with the relations between the Assyrians 
and Ionians ; cf. KGF 238 and the footnote. For other examples of this root 
see KAT 64, 20; 219, 22.