Sunday, October 7, 2012


BASIL          BeeTSaiL           Bet-Tsadi-Lamed
BEE-TSAIL__  _____ בצל __  _____[B-(T)S-L]
ROOTS: BASIL is an herb whose leaves are used as seasoning. There is no  pretend Indo-European (IE) “root.” Old French basile, the basil plant, is thought to come from Greek basilikos, royal.  

There were onions long before there were kings, or palaces with onion-shaped domes.  An onion in Phoenician is basil. Basal is the Arabic. Obviously, the word for onion preceded one for kings. Insipid, Semitically-challenged etymologies like this could make a grown man cry.

בצל  B-(T)S-L is to flavor or spice (as with onions).  In Numbers 11:5 the freed Israelite slaves cry over not having onions:  "We remember the fish ... in Egypt . . . and the leeks, and the onions and the garlic."  It is easier to take people out of slavery, than slavery out of people.

The Hebrew root implies similar vegetables like the onion and shallot.
Onions almost peel themselves, thus the similarity between בצל  BeeTSaiL פצל PeeTSaiL, to peel or split.   Chopping and mixing the Bilabial-Fricative-Liquid etymon gets  תבלTeBHeL, spice.
Edenicist Al Ansley points out the crucial  צ-ל  Tsadi-Lamed sub-root. צל TSaiL means “shadow,” as in a protective shadow  (Genesis 19:8)  and in the shadow’s duplication (the artist shadowing divine design is Bezalel).  The onion is  בצע BeTS[A]h, broken down (Amos 9:1) , by these duplicate, “shadowed” ( צל TSaiL) layers of skin.

The protective onion layers resemble the skin-shedding snake, thus the BASILISK below, whose breath was as lethal as an onion eater.
Similar to פצל  PaTSaL (to peel off – Genesis 30:37) is  פסלPa$aL (to sculpt – Exodus 34:1), as the sculptor removes outer layers to reveal his artistic replica.  [Al Ansley]

The חבצלת [K]HaBHaTSeLeT of Songs 2:1 has been translated lily, crocus, tulip or rose of Sharon. It is a flower with overlapping petals patterned like the onion.
More on the צ-ל  Tsadi-Lamed sub-root of duplicate forms below.
BRANCHES:  The dictionary offers the puzzling term basileous ("king" in Greek) as the source for BASIL. Citing the mythical BASILISK snake only confuses the lexicographers still more. The eternal onion, where a mystery lies within a mystery , as endless layers are peeled off, inspired the sacred onion shape of domed Eastern European houses of worship.  (Also, secular power like the Kremlin.) Dig up the onion for the source of  BASILICA (via Greek).  The Rumanian word for church has undergone a conversion of liquids, from BASILICA to biserica.

צל  TSaiL is a shadow, a duplicate or shadow image (Genesis 19:8).  This sub-root has sacred implications since Genesis 1:27 where Man is fashioned in the צלם  TSeLeM, “image” or “likeness” of the creator  [Alejandro Soutric]. The sacred artist works in the shadow or duplication of the Creator: בצלאל  Bizalel (Exodus 31:2).   Another religious  צל TSaiL  of note is Psalms 121:5, where the Lord is one’ “shade” or protection.  On a deeper level, the Lord “shadows us,” returns the energy we put out, in Isaac’s Third Law of Theological Thermodynamics (for every action there’s… reaction).   An audible, rather than visual likeness, is צליל  TSiLeeYL, ring, sound, tone.

Getting back to our mundane onion, many tongues like the flavor of  בצל BeeTSaiL. An easy #1-#2 letter flip (M213 metathesis) of B/TS/L is TS/B/L. Here's the TSIBELE a Yiddishe mama cooks with, along  with the CIPOLLA, ZWIEBEL, CEBULA, and SIPULI (onions all) that Italian, German, Polish, and Finnish mamas have cried over for centuries.  In Estonia it’s sibul, while in Latvia it’s sipol.  One of the only fricative variations for the צ Tsadi not used above is seen in the Ukrainian onion:  tsybulnya.

Tipula is an onion in Basque, the language with "no affinities."   (This is not borrowed from Spanish cebolla  nor from  the French oignon.)  CHIVE is from Latin cepa (onion), ultimately from a shifted and reversed ב-צ Bet-Tsadi.  Dropping the  ב Bet instead of the ל  Lamed, Sol is an onion for Kiowa:Tanoan natives of central Amerind.

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