The Etymology of Aramaic (and Hebrew) √prns ‘to distribute, supply’

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Aaron Michael Butts



The Aramaic verbal root √prns ‘to distibute, supply’ is first attested in the Middle Aramaic period (Palmyrene Aramaic and Targum Jonathan). It is then widely attested across all of the dialects of Late Aramaic. Outside of Aramaic, the root √prns is also found in post-Biblical Hebrew. A number of proposals have been made for the etymology of this root, but there continues to be no consensus on this question. The present note argues that the verbal root √prns ‘to distribute, supply’ derives from Greek προνοῆσαι, the aorist infinitive of προνοέω ‘to perceive, foresee; to provide, take care of’. This etymology is compared with that of √pys D/C ‘to persuade’, which is also first attested in Middle Aramaic, also became productive in a number of the Late Aramaic dialects, and also derives from a Greek aorist infinitive (πεῖσαι).

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