The connection between the idea of “measuring” or “weighing” and the idea of “meaning”—and what that may imply for the interpretation of Biblical symbolism

I suggested in a previous post that there might be an etymological relation between the English word “meaning” and the English word “moon.”  The reason why there would be a relation between these words might not seem immediately clear; but I think a nexus between the two can be found in the idea of “measuring,” since for ancient peoples the cycles of the moon were the primary means of measuring time.[1]  And the connection between the ideas of “measuring” and “meaning” will, I hope, be made more clear in what follows.

It is thought by scholars that in the ancient Sumerian language, the word ma-na means “a unit of weight measure,” apparently being related to the later Akkadian word manum, meaning “to count.”  And both of these words appear to be related to the Aramaic noun mene, which means “a weighing, a measurement, an accounting, a numbering, a reckoning,” as well as to the Aramaic verb menah, which means “to weigh, to measure, to number, to reckon, to count, to enumerate, to appoint, to assign” (both of which Aramaic words are found used in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament).

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