In today's Israel, it refers to ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose dour dress and fervid quaking before God hearken to bygone centuries and distant lands where their ancestors lived during two millennia of Diaspora

Does the bold line imply that the diaspora was longer than 2 thousand years?

  • 1
    It means that the diaspora lasted for (about) 2000 years. – The Photon Nov 19 '13 at 5:45
  • 1
    But "for two of us" implies more than 2. And "for the two of us" means "two in all." So in this case, this rule doesn't apply? – user2492 Nov 19 '13 at 6:07
  • 1
    no...for example, "For the six of us" means "six." But "for six of us" implies more than 6. – user2492 Nov 19 '13 at 6:14
  • 1
    OK, now I think I see your confusion...Unfortunately I'm not sure I can explain why "two millenia of diaspora" is different from "two of us". I will point out that while "two of us" might mean two taken from a larger group, it could also just mean there are only two people, for example you could say, "there are just two of us coming tonight." – The Photon Nov 19 '13 at 6:19

These are different senses of the word of.

When we say "two of us are coming tonight", of indicates " that someone or something belongs to a group of people or things" (the 2nd definition at Webster's Learner's Dictionary)

When we discuss "two millenia of diaspora", we are using the 8th definition, "used to indicate what an amount, number, etc., refers to". We are saying that the duration of the diaspora was two millenia.


Another way to look at this is, one meaning of diaspora was the time when Jews were prevented from living in Israel and spread around the world. But another meaning is the community of Jews around the world who continue to live outside Israel. In this sense the diaspora continues, so the two millenia of diaspora in the past is only a part of the "whole" diaspora that we can expect to continue into the future. So in this sense, the diaspora does indeed extend for more than two millenia.

Or, we could consider another sense of diaspora, which is not always used specifically in reference to Jewish history. There is also an Armenian diaspora, an African diaspora, etc. In this sense, the Jewish diaspora is only part of all the diasporas that have ever been, and so when we talk about "two millenia of diaspora" we could be talking about considering the Jewish diaspora as just one of many diasporas in history.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy