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Feb 10, 2023

ليس (laysa) – a particle used primarily to negate nominative sentences.[1] For a long time, it was considered borrowed from West Semitic in South Semitic languages, but al-Jallad convincingly showed the particle appears in Safaitic, however, in the biliteral form *ls. This is by no means accurate for Quranic Arabic, where the particle is most likely borrowed from Aramaic.[2]

لوقعتها (liwaqʿatihā). Particle ل (lam) is multifunctional in Arabic. Despite the fact that the main function of the particle is possessive predication, which corresponds with general usage in Safaitic, Classical Arabic developed other forms of application.[3] In our case, given the context of the verse, as well as the presence of the three predicates following, it is clear enough this is the meaning being used here.

كذبه (kāḏiba) – a feminine verbal noun of كذب‎ (kaḏaba) – to lie. Identical to Biblical Hebrew usage of כזב (kāzab, “to lie, be a liar”)[4]:

2 Kings 4:16:  האלהים אל־ תכזב בשפחתך(hāʾĕlōhîm ʾal-tǝkazzēb bǝšipḥātekā)

“…of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid” KJV.

Another use found in the Qur'an is when the second consonant gemination is employed, the meaning changes “to deny”. Which is reflected in Targumic Aramaic:

TgJ Jer5:12: כדיבו במימרא דיוי‏‏ (kadîbuw bǝmêmǝrāʾ daywy‏)

“they denied the word of the Lord.”[5]

[1] Fischer, A Grammar of Classical Arabic (J. Rodgers, Trans.), p. 171

[2] Al-Jallad, The earliest attestation of laysa and the implications for its etymology, p. 116.

[3] Al-Jallad, An Outline of the Grammar of the Safaitic Inscriptions, p. 144

[4] SH 3576

[5] Kaufman, Targum Jonathan to the Prophets, 5:12.

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