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In Berakhot 56b, two different reasons are brought as to why seeing a camel in one's dream is a sign of being spared from death. Both reasons are scriptural verses:

Rabbi Hama bar Rabbi Hanina quotes Genesis 46:4, "אנכי ארד עמך מצרימה ואנכי אעלך גם עלה";

Rabbi Nahman bar Yitzhak cites 2 Samuel 12:14, "גם ה' העביר חטאתך לא תמות".

As to why the first of these verses alludes to camels, Rashi states that גם עלה is close to the notarikon for camel (גמל), but offers no explanation for the second verse. We could assume that the reason is the same, but only if Nahman bar Yitzhak is pronouncing God's name as (something like) allah.

This is a pre-Islamic text, and I know of no evidence for Jews pronouncing God's name in this way at such a time, but without it the relationship between 2 Samuel 12:14 and camels is pretty hard to establish.

Is it possible that Rabbi Nahman bar Yitzhak is making his drosh solely on the basis of the word גם? Or is it possible that his pronunciation of God's name allows for the missing /lamed/?

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    Perhaps a title like "how does this relate to camels" would be better, if your focus is on understanding the exegesis, with the allah suggestion in the post – Double AA Nov 30 '16 at 5:13
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Dec 1 '16 at 1:21
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While you offer an interesting insight and suggestion, even if they did have a word for God approximating Allah, the word in the pasuk would still have been read by them as Adonai (or else YKVK, not Allah). So I don't think this gets you anywhere.

אלה (Elah) is valid Aramaic for God. See for instance here, in a Samaritan Targum. So you don't need to go to Arabic for this.

However, you don't need to go so far. Dream interpretation is by mind-association, and a mere "gam" in the pasuk would be suggestive of the gamal. Further, Maharsha explains this "gam" as referring to the Greek letter gamma (which Chazal called simply "gam"), which in turn corresponds to the Hebrew letter Gimmel, which in turn corresponds to "gamal", a camel. I would add that once we say this for the second pasuk, we could say this for the first pasuk.

  • its not ellah is aloho or alo. there isnt a dageish on the laam – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Dec 1 '16 at 3:20
  • see jastrow on the bottom cal.huc.edu/J/0066.gif alo aloho or eilah which in hebrew corresponds to alowah – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Dec 1 '16 at 3:23
  • OK, changed. yes, indeed, corresponds to the Hebrew. – josh waxman Dec 1 '16 at 3:54
  • Thanks, Josh - that makes sense (even if it's a little bit contrary to what Rashi suggests about the first of the two pesukim). – Shimon bM Dec 1 '16 at 22:51
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Jews in Arab lands from the most common person to the greatest sages often referred to God as Allah once. The Rambam wrote most of his works in Arabic and so he was someone who frequently referred to God as Allah. Even until modern times, Jews in Arab lands have had an Arabic version of Echad Mi Yodea that has the words Allah Hu! Allah Hu! ‏אללה הו! אללה הו!‏

Source: Yemenite Version of Echad Mi Yodea

Note: The term Arab lands denotes a geographical area where Arabic became the standard language.

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    Were Jews living in Arab lands when Berakhot 56b was recorded? – Monica Cellio Nov 30 '16 at 16:01
  • No, but the OP said: " I know of no evidence for Jews pronouncing God's name in this way at such (or any) time, " and the reality is there is so much evidence that it's worth establishing this is a common Jewish practice. Also the main title question is "Did Jews EVER refer to God as Allah?" – Aaron Nov 30 '16 at 18:15
  • @Aaron of course they did. its even mentioned in gamaro a few times... drive.google.com/file/d/0B8F_PW9P6dqlWTBCV2thZXJ2dzA/… – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Nov 30 '16 at 20:32
  • @MoriDowidhYa3aqov What i meant to say was "I don't know." Since there have always been Arabic speakers, but I always heard of them being mentioned as a Caravan type people, not necessarily a nation Jews found themselves in where the language of the land was Arabic. – Aaron Nov 30 '16 at 21:02
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    Note edits to the question came while this question had score zero. – Double AA Nov 30 '16 at 21:21

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