Having words, calling names

What does an IDF captain have in common with a tyrant?

February 5, 2018 22:36
IDF training

IDF soldiers in training . (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)


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The rank of captain in the IDF is “seren” in Hebrew. This is a borrowed word from the dialect of ancient Greek spoken by the Philistines. “Syrenos” (the form may not be exact) was the title of the rulers of the five Philistine cities. That word, in another and eventually dominant version of ancient Greek, “tyrannos” – ruler – later came to convey all the negative connotations of “tyrant.”

In the Bible, the term is used in the plural: “the rulers of the Philistines” in Hebrew “sarnei plishtim.” (The five Philistine cities were Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath.)


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