In his commentary on Bava Metzia 21b, Rashi describes זוטו של מים as "לשון גודל ושירוע בלשון יווני"; i.e. a Greek word for size or expanse. But what is this Greek word, exactly, and how is it spelled? I can't seem to find it in any reference.

1 Answer 1


Rashi himself doesn't know Greek but, as he writes, is basing himself on a gemara in Megillah 9a that says that in the Targum HaShivim (Septuagint) to Shemot 24:11, instead of וְאֶל־אֲצִילֵי֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל, they translated it as זַאֲטוּטֵי, and so too to Shemot 24:5, instead of sending the ne'arim, they send . The present Septuagint has επιλέκτων, the chosen ones for 24:11 and νεανίσκους, the young men, for 24:5, so perhaps that is what the speculative zatutei means, elected. Sifrei has one of the Temple scrolls having זַאֲטוּטֵי instead of נערים.

Jastrow has an analysis by which this is an Aramaic word, but the two Greek translations are because the typical παιδές could imply slaves, so they chose εανίσκοι. If so, it isn't actually a Greek word.

So, I don't know how strong of an "answer" this is, in that I haven't pointed to a concrete Greek word with this root, and am suggesting that Rashi didn't know Greek to have a specific Greek word in mind either.

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