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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Palm (of the Hand)

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palm ( כּף , kaph ): The Hebrew word which is used in a variety of senses (see HAND ; PAW ) is usually translated "hand" in English Versions of the Bible, but the translation "palm" is found in 5 passages of the Old Testament, in 3 of which the Hebrew text adds the word יד , yādh ("hand," 1 Samuel 5:4 ; 2 Kings 9:35 ; Daniel 10:10 ). It would properly mean the "hollow hand" (root kāphaph , "to bend," "to curve"), which receives or grasps things. It is therefore used in reference to filling the priest's hands with sacrificial portions (Leviticus 14:15 , Leviticus 14:26 ). The palms of the hands of Dagon are mentioned as cut off, when the idol was found mutilated in the presence of the ark of Yahweh (1 Samuel 5:4 ), from which may be inferred that this idol probably was represented with hands spread out in blessing, as we find in numerous Babylonian representations of divinities.

In a beautiful metaphor God answers the repentant people of Jerusalem, who thought Yahweh had forgotten and forsaken them: "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16 ; see also Ecclesiasticus 18:3). Daniel is touched upon the palms of his hands to wake him from sleep (Daniel 10:10 ).

In the New Testament we find the phrase, "to smite with the palms of the hands," as a translation of the Greek verb ῥαπίζω , rhapı́zō ( Matthew 26:67 ; see also Matthew 5:39 and Septuagint Hosea 11:4 ; 1 Esdras 4:30), and, derived from the same verb, ῥάπισμα , rhápisma , a blow of the palm on the cheek, etc. (Mark 14:65 ; John 18:22 ; John 19:3 , where, however, in English Versions of the Bible the word "palm" has not been given). The marginal translation "to smite or strike with rods" (Matthew 26:67 ; John 18:22 ; John 19:3 ) and "strokes of rods" (Mark 14:65 margin) does not seem to be applicable to the Greek text of the Old Testament and New Testament, while it is a frequent meaning of the words in classical language. It would therefore be better to eliminate these marginal additions.

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Palm (of the Hand)'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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