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A follow up question to this one about my ancestor's gravestone. The bottom two lines of the inscription have a mysterious (to me) reference to Hillel ben Shahar, and unfortunately are partially cut off in the picture. I cannot make sense of all the words in the last two lines. (Nir'achta?) Can anyone help me figure out what those lines are saying and what they mean? Also, why the mention of Hillel ben Shahar?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The full two lines are:

הילל בן שחר איך נדעכת
איש חמודות אן הלכת ???

As Barry and YDK said, הילל בן שחר means a bright star. איך נדעכת means "how is it that you were dimmed?" - the root דעך appears half a dozen times in Tanach, most familiarly in Hallel (דעכו כאש קוצים).

I can't make out the first word on the second line (its first letter looks like א), but the rest means "beloved man, where have you gone?" The expression איש חמודות comes from Dan. 10:11,19.

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The last line's first word looks like it may be איפה, which would make it "Where is the [beloved man?]? Where have you gone?". –  msh210 Jun 16 '11 at 7:12
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Heileil ben shachar is a reference to a verse in Yeshaya (14:12)

איך נפלת משמים הילל בן שחר נגדעת לארץ חולש על גוים

Rashi translates as a lamentation about the falling of a great star, alluding to Babylon. Others explain that it refers to Nebuchadnezzar, and the prophet is exclaiming about how far he has fallen.

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Adding to @Barry, the reference is to a star (more likely a reflecting planet) that's light was so bright, it could be seen in the daytime.

It is pronounced Heilel.

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