Our Aramaic term for “propitiatory”, חסא, had no connotation of “viewing” or “appearing”. However, in the Hellenistic milieu and especially in a text with preponderance of Hebrew over Aramaic the situation might be different.
First of all, in Hebrew, the verb חסה (root Hws) that is the exact equivalent of Aramaic חסא, has not only a general meaning of “to pity”, but especially “to look with pity”. So, it is normally used together with words “eye” and “upon”. However, these words are sometimes disappearing in ellipsis, like in 1 Sam 24:11 (for the ellipsis of the word “eye”: ^yl,_[' sx'T'äw:).
Taking into account that the language of AA was closer to Hebrew than to Aramaic, we have to admit that our term חסה “propitiatory” was to be appreciated with some visual connotations, notwithstanding the lack of such connotations in the original Aramaic term.
These connotations might be enforced by a phenomenon attested quite well in the Hellenistic Semitic texts, while, alas, not properly described and interpreted by the linguists. I mean the interchange between s and z in the Semitic proper names. (As it goes without saying, the very specific Aramaic technical term for “propitiatorium” was to be treated rather as a proper name, especially within a mainly Hebrew context).
We have, from the Hellenistic epoch, a number of examples of the interchanges between s and z in the Semitic (Hebrew and Aramaic) proper nouns. (An Aramaic term for “propitiatorium” is also to be considered as something like a proper noun.)
So, in Aramaic fragments of 1 Enoch, we have the name cAsa’el in two forms: עשאל and עסאל, on the one hand, and עזזאל and עזאזל, on the other. The latter spelling is the same as in Leviticus 16.
Dealing with the Greek transliterations, we have even more representative corpus of the interchange between s and z in the Semitic proper nouns.
In the same 1 Enoch, 1 En 6, 7 (and cf. 1 En 69, 2): the Aramaic equivalent to Greek form Σαριήλ is זהריאל. The editor supposes some mistake in the order of the names, but there is no need in such a supposition.
The magic texts are very reach in such interchanges. For instance, the same name Σαριήλ having its Hebrew equivalent in זריאל, and the name Ζαλαμαρλαλιθ whose Hebrew original is supposedly reconstructed as שלם אור לילית (“Peace [upon you], light of Lilith [or “of the Night One”]”), but, in any case, it is clear that the first element of the reconstruction should be read as שלם.
These interchanges between s and z are hardly explicable from the Greek of the Hellenistic epoch, but do have correspondence in some cases on the Semitic ground.
In this case, our term חסא might be read as a derivate of a root with middle z instead of middle s. For instance, in Aramaic, חזיא “mirror”, an exact “parallel” to our reconstructed form *חסיא, and even חזה that Jastrow lists as an alternative form to חוזי “view, appearance”. There are some other Aramaic words with the same root which are of interest to us, such as or חזיון “vision, prophetic revelation” (the same spelling in biblical Hebrew where only the vowels can differ).
Let us sum.
In the Hellenistic epoch our Aramaic term חסא, especially within a text with preponderance of Hebrew over Aramaic, might be read as an equivalent of חזה and comprised as “view, appearance, vision”.
So, the Greek translator was able to render it by some word (probably, several slightly different words) with the same basic meaning, that, in turn, was rendered into Slavonic as образование or образ.
The above linguistic considerations are not sufficient to proof that the device in question is the propitiatorium, but only have value of a decision nihil obstat issued by a linguistic censorship.
The final decision belongs to the analysis of the apocalyptical tradition. If it will be not in contradiction with the above linguistic conclusions, then, we will obtain a decisive argument to proof both our main hypothesis and its linguistic part.
J. Levy, Neuhebräisches und Chaldäisches Wörterbuch über die Talmudim und Midraschim. Bde I-IV. Leipzig 1876-1889 [thereafter: Levy], s. v.
Levy II, 85-86.
Levy II, 28-29.
M. Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature  () [thereafter: Jastrow] 4308.
Levy II, 29.
F. Brown, S. R. Driver, Ch. A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament with an Appendix containing the Biblical Aramaic based on the Lexicon of William Gesenius as translated by Edward Robinson (Oxford etc., 1966), 299.
M. Black, The Book of Enoch or I Enoch. A New English Edition with Commentary and Textual Notes by Matthew Black in consultation with James C. VanderKam with an Appendix on the “Astronomical” Chapters (72—82) by Otto Neugebauer (Leiden, 1985) (SVTP, 7) 121.
M. A. Knibb in consultation with E. Ullendorff, The Ethiopic Book of Enoch. A new edition in the light of the Aramaic Dead Sea fragments. Vols.1-2 (Oxford, 1978). Vol.2, 71.
Ibid., p. 74-75.
M. Schwab, Vocabulaire de l’angélologie d’après les manuscrits hébreux de la Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris, 1897) [Extrait des Mémoires présentés par divers savants à l’Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres. 1re sér., t.X, 2e partie] 306 , 288 .