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Original Research

Deathly silence and apocalyptic noise: Observations on the soundscape of the Book of the Twelve

Aaron Schart

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 31, No 1 (2010), 5 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v31i1.383

Submitted: 01 April 2010
Published:  13 July 2010


This paper proposes a reading of the Book of the Twelve (used interchangeably with ‘Twelve’ and ‘Book’ for convenience) that concentrates on the sound that is included in the description of the world of the text. Three onomatopoeic devices are singled out. First, the mourning cry hôy is considered. This interjection is used differently in several of the writings: in Amos (5:18; 6:1) the prophet cries out in compassion with the addressees. By contrast, in Nahum 3:1 and Habakkuk 2:6–19, hôy is uttered in a mood of mockery. In Zechariah 2:10 a third, joyful hôy is used. It appears that the different usages cohere nicely with the overall structure of the Book of the Twelve. Secondly, the interjection has likewise shows different usages. In Amos 6:10 and 8:3, it simulates the last breath of Israelites dying when the land is devastated. By contrast, in Habakkuk 2:20, Zephaniah 1:7 and Zechariah 2:17, the addressees are directed to be silent before YHWH. This command should be perceived as an act of reverence. Again, the sequence of the occurrences coheres with the overall structure of the Book of the Twelve. Of special relevance is that the last three instances build a frame around the Babylonian exile, which lies between Zephaniah and Haggai. The third example is the phrase hamônîm, hamônîm in Joel 4:14. The author employs an irregular double plural to construe this place as the loudest spot (‘apocalyptic noise’) within the Twelve.

Setu sa go tiba le modumo wa aphokhaliptiki: Ditemogo ka medumo ya Puku ya ba Lesomepedi

Pampiri ye e šišinya go balwa ga Puku ya ba Lesomepedi (yeo e ka nogo bitšwa “Lesomepedi” goba “Puku” go bebofatša ditaba) ka go gatelela modumo wo o lego ka gare ga tlhaloso ya lefase la go tswala dingwalo tše. Ditsela tše tharo tša onomathopoiki di bewa pepeneng. La mathomo, go šetšwa sello sa mahloko sa h?y. Lelahlelwa le le šomišwa ka go fapana mo dingwalong tše mmalwa: go Amosi (5:18; 6:1) moprofeta o lla ka kwelabohloko go bangwalelwa ba gagwe. Go fapana le seo, mo go Nahume 3:1 le Habakuku 2: 6-19, h?y e tšweletšwa ka moya wa dikwero. Mo go Sakaria 2:10, go dirišwa h?y ya boraro e le ya lethabo. Go bonala nke ditšhomišo tše tharo tše tša go fapana di nyalelana gobotse le sebopego sa Puku ya ba Lesomepedi. Sa bobedi, lelahlelwa has le lona le laetša ditšhomišo tša go fapana. Mo go Amosi 6:10 le 8:3, le tsošološa mohemo wa mafelelo wa Baisraele ge ba ehwa ka go bona go senywa ga naga. Go fapana le seo, ka go Habakuku 2:20, Tsefaya 1:7 le Sakaria 2:7, bangwalelwa ba laelwa go homola pele ga YHWH. Taelo ye e swanetše go kwešišwa e le tiro ya go laetša tlhompho. Gapegape, tatelano ya ditiragalo e nyalana gabotse le sebopego sa Puku ya ba Lesomepedi. Se maleba le go fetešiša ke gore mabaka a mararo a mafelelo a aga freime go tiragalo ya bothopša bja Babilonia, bjoo bo welago magareng ga Tsefanya le Hagai. Mohlala wa boraro ke sekafoko hamônim mo go Joele 4:14. Mongwadi o diriša sebopego sa go se tlwaelege sa bobedi mo bontšing go laetša lefelo le e le la modumo wa go feta yohle (‘modumo wa apholiphtiki’) mo go Lesomepedi.

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Author affiliations

Aaron Schart, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany


Book of the Twelve; mourning rite; onomatopoeic words; silence; soundscape


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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