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Words Denoting Protection in Some Middle Eastern Languages

The Hebrew word מָגֵן, which has meanings related to protection and defense including "shield", is found in the Bible 63 times. Moreover, this word is obviously shared with Phoenician. The Phoenician word 𐤌𐤂𐤍 has the same meaning and pronunciation, but it is written using a different script, of course. Its perceived equivalents in Classical Arabic, معن ،مغن, seem to having encountered a sound shift as well as a meaning shift.

Arabic seems to have borrowed words from Persian to indicate what is related to military protection because words like ترسانة, ترس, which mean respectively, "shield" and "arms" are rooted seemingly in Persian. We find these words (ترس، ترسان) in Persian but they are associated with fear. I do not find traces of the root (t.r.s) in any of the Semitic languages and finding it in Persian leaves almost no doubt about its origin. There are other words in Arabic used for protection like (درع، زرد) but they refer rather to the chain mail.

Clearly, Hebrew preserves the Canaanite culture and language much more than Arabic does. However, this hypothesis needs further support.

Rami Ibrahim ©

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