Arabic "Haram" related to Hebrew "Herem"?

Discussion in 'Languages' started by JTB.SDG, Jul 31, 2018.

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  1. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore


    I'm studying Joshua 7 and meditating on the ways Achan is set forth as a type of Adam; he alone sins but the whole camp is cursed on account of it. I'm no Hebrew scholar and need some help. I vaguely remember the discussion of "the ban" in seminary days but am a bit rusty. I looked up the uses of the word, and was surprised to find first, that it's the same word used for the camp of Israel becoming "accursed": IE, Achan took some of the things under the ban and so the whole camp of Israel itself became "banned." (There's a reason I'm sharing all this, please be patient). Well, I was also surprised to find that the Hebrew word used for both "the ban" and "accursed" is (transliterated): "Herem" or "Harem". I serve in a majority Muslm country and this immediately stood out to me, as foods and other things that are the most strongly prohibited in Islm are considered "Haram". I know there are very close similarities between Hebrew and Arabic but I don't know enough of the details. When I looked up the Arabic understanding of Haram it's almost identical to the Hebrew understanding of Herem/Harem. But I'm no expert. Can we be sure there's a relation?

    PS, the reason I added all the other stuff is if there IS indeed a connection, I find this significant in general and also in witnessing to Muslms: Achan took what was Harem, and what it did is made the whole camp of Israel Harem. With many other parallels from Joshua 7 to Adam's sin in Genesis 3, there is already a strong connection with the doctrine of imputed sin. But it strikes me as a wonderful way to explain the gospel to our Arabic friends: What Scripture teaches is that it's not only certain sinful activities that are "haram"--we ourselves naturally, every one of us--is haram before God.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
  2. Timotheos

    Timotheos Puritan Board Freshman

    Have you checked any Hebrew lexicons? Decent ones will tell you if it is a loan-word or one with a shared semantic domain with other Semitic languages.
  3. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    The root does occur in Arabic, so the lexical connection is certainly plausible.

    But even without that, I think you could make the connections. If you were on a remote island and found a practice that mirrored important OT concepts, you would use in making your Gospel message clear, even if there were no way to show a common ancestry between the language or concepts used on that island and those in Scripture. So here, if Islamic haram parallels something in the Bible and you can use that as a bridging concept, I think that would work even without an etymological or historical connection.
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