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Language Studies

Hebrew Thoughts Archives

 

  • The word לָקַח lâqach "to take" (Strong's #3947, x965) occurs frequently in the Hebrew Bible, some 965 times. Most of the time it simple means "to take", often with or by the hand, other forms of the verb can mean to "take away", "take in hand/receive", "take get/fetch/bring", even to "take a wife/marry". The expansion of its meaning is generally derived from context and parallels with other verbs…
    June 20, 2015
  • The rarely used and thus difficult to translate verb הָדַר hâdhar (Strong's #1921, x7) occurs just 7 times. Its first use in Exodus 23:3 is translated variously by "favouritism, partiality, countenance, honour, adorn, embellish". It can be hard to see how the translators arrived at those translations except contextually, rather than literally.

    The root idea of the verb seems to be "to enlarge, make large, swell" - and by application "to be proud, raised, honoured". How this applies to the verse above seems to be in the sense of "magnify", i.e., not bigging up someone's legal…
    June 13, 2015
  • The root verb ישַׁר yâshar (Strong's #3474, x27) has the base idea of that which is "level, straight, even, upright". The verb can mean to direct as in the direction of something, be that a water course like a river (2 Chronicles 32:30), to order or send the thunder (Job 37:3), practically of being instricuted and directed (Isaiah 45:13) or morally, to direct one's paths and walk uprightly…
    May 30, 2015
  • Whilst the seven-fold use of "good" טוֹב tôwbh (Strong's #2896, x559) in the Genesis 1:4-31 Creation narrative is fairly familiar, its parent verb - or perhaps the noun came first, is less well known. יטַב yâtabh (Strong's #3190, x107) is variously translated, principally by to be or do "well" x35, "good" x21, "please…
    May 23, 2015
  • רָעַע râ‘a‘ (Strong's #7489, x83) is the root verb behind the more common and familiar "evil" רַע ra‘ (Strong's #7451, x663). Both "peace" שָׁלוֹם shâlôwm (Strong's #7965, x236) and "good" טוֹב tôwbh (Strong's #2896, x559) appear as opposites to רַע ra‘ as they do to some extent with the verb רָעַע râ‘a‘ (Jeremiah 40:4) and with יָטַב yâtabh (Strong's #3190, x107) "to be…
    May 9, 2015
  • עַיִן ‘ayin is both the name of the 16th Hebrew letter and the word for "eye" (Strong's #5869, x887). The letter ע ‘ayin originally represented an "eye", as is quite obvious from the evolution of its character depiction through many ancient alphabets. It is pronounced almost like 'eye-in' but with a guttural throaty sound at the beginning.

    The European words for eye retain more than the English and have the historical guttural sound: ojos (Spanish), yeux (French), augen (German). Middle English, though, had…
    April 25, 2015
  • אִישׁוֹן ’îyshôwn "little man, manikin" (Strong's #380, x5) is the diminutive of the familiar Hebrew word אִישׁ ’îysh "man" (Strong's #376, x1638), although Delitzsch and others reject the suffix as indicating a diminutive at all and prefer the translation "man image". As in many languages the diminutive can mean small of size but also affection, as with several of its Hebrew uses. In this case it appears to be both in idiomatic…
    April 18, 2015
  • מַלְאָך mal'’âkh (Strong's #4397, x214) is thought to be from an unused Hebrew root לָאַך lâ’akh which appears similar to הָאַך hâlakh (Strong's #1980, x500) "to go". "Messenger" feels too weak a translation and "angel" too strong an interpretation. Somewhere in between would seem to be the meaning, a deputised official with some authority which could cover everything from a messenger, to a prophet, priest or angelic…
    April 11, 2015
  • עֶבֶד ‘ebhedh (Strong's #5650, x800) is a simple and yet broad word taking in all kinds of servitude from service to slavery, from high ranking military or ministerial duty to the lowest bonded servant. It includes the worshipper and the worker, the prophet (Amos 3:7, Zech 1:6) and the priest, right up to princes, kings and the messianic ambassador…
    April 4, 2015
  • Song of Songs 1:5: "I am black, but comely...as the tents of Kedar" describes an appearance that is as black as the tents of Kedar קֵדַר qêdhar "dark, black" (Strong's #6938, x12). Kedar was a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13) and father of a tribe that came to do service for many Arabians generally (cf. Ezekiel 27:21) and in the Rabbinic era of the Arabic language…
    March 28, 2015
  • Hebrew has several words to describe being dark or black, whether of face, skin, hair, mood or the weather. One such is שָׁחוֹר shâchôr "black" (Strong's #7838, x6) coming from שָׁחַר shâchar "to be black" (Strong's #7835, x1) which only occurs in Job 30:30, "My skin is black…
    March 21, 2015
  • מוּת mûwth " be dead, die" (Strong's #4191, x835) is a common Semitic and Phoenician root word meaning "death". The middle root letter וּ appears to be a softening of a 'liquid' ר over time, so that the original word might have been מרת m-r-t.

    This is evident in both ancient and modern words like mortal, French mort, Latin mortis and Greek μορτος Compare also, with the 't' hardened to a 'd', the old German mord used of death and…
    March 14, 2015
  • דָּמַע dâma‘ "to weep" (Strong's #1830, x2) occurs in just one Hebrew Bible verse, Jeremiah 13:17, where it is in fact intensified by repetition - hence the two instances. It might be literally translated as וְדָמעַ תִּדְמַע vedhâmoa‘ tidh'ma‘ "and weeping it will weep coming down tears of my eye", but more idiomatically…
    March 7, 2015
  • The word בַּעַל ba‘al (Strong's #1167, x82) comes from the root verb בָּעַל bâ‘al (Strong's #1166, x16) "to rule, own" which could encompass possession or even marriage, since a wife was more property than partner. Translations vary across a range taking…
    February 28, 2015
  • The word בַּעַל ba‘al (Strong's #1167, x82) often translated as simply "man" x25, "husband" x15, but more accurately and simply as "lord, master or owner" x26 appears in Genesis 20:3 together with its root verb בָּעַל bâ‘al (Strong's #1166, x16). Whilst the verb occurs…
    February 21, 2015

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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KJ Went has taught biblical Hebrew, hermeneutics and Jewish background to early Christianity. The "Biblical Hebrew made easy" course can be found at www.biblicalhebrew.com.

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