Language Studies

Hebrew Thoughts Archives

November 9, 2013
The word tôrâh (Strong's #08451) means more than just 'law', its usual simplistic translation (always 'law' in the KJV 219x). It derives from yrh yârâh (Strong's #03384) meaning 'to shoot out the hand as pointing, to show, indicate', 'to teach, instruct', 'to lay foundations', 'to sprinkle, to water', 'to shoot…
November 2, 2013
The phrase בְּרֵאשִׁית opens the Hebrew Bible. It is not one word but composed of the preposition בְּ be "in" and the word רֵאשִׁית rê’yshîyth "beginning" (Strong's #7225) from ר·אשׁ rô’sh "head, chief, foremost" (Strong's #7218). The word רִאשׁוּן ri’shôwn "first, primary, former" (Strong's #7223, x185) is similarly derived from…
October 26, 2013
This week's column is brought to you by the letter 'Aleph and the number 1 (with apologies to Sesame Street!). Hebrew 'aleph is the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet and and originally this letter represented an ox head and was similarly portrayed in Phoenician and Ancient Greek as well as Ancient Hebrew. The name for the first letter…
October 19, 2013
The Hebrew verb lâmadh (Strong's #3925, x86) begins with the picture letter l, pronounced lâmedh, of an ox-goad, used for disciplining and training an animal or soldiers. The shape of the Phoenician letter, like the Hebrew, also resembles an ox-goad. Hence, we get the once-used mal'mâdh an "ox-goad" (Strong's #4451), in Judges 3:31, of Shamgar…
October 12, 2013
Amos 3:7 must be one of the most beautiful pictures of the early relationship between the prophet and God. A proper understanding of the picture language that Hebrew is able to portray enhances the full meaning of this verse. The word çôwdh, usually rendered 'secret' in this passage is not done justice…
October 5, 2013
The word ‘êdhen and its feminine counterpart ‘edhenâh (Strong's #5730) occur just four times. Despite the masculine word being spelled the same as the word used for the Garden of Eden, it is not certain that the two are related. Eden, used 14 times from Genesis 2:8 onwards, describes a place, which may truly have described as a garden of…
September 28, 2013
The root verb ‘âram עָרַם (Strong's #6191, x5) can be taken two ways. It only occurs 5 times, twice in Proverbs (15:5; 19:25) where it is used to good intent as prudent wisdom and twice in 1 Samuel 23:22 and Psalm 83:3 where the import is negative and conspiratorial…
September 21, 2013
The word פּוּת pôth (Strong's #6596, x2) is very rare occuring just twice, each of which is untranslatable. The most likely root verbs are פָּתָה pâthâh (Strong's #6601, x28) and the more common פָּתַח pâthach (Strong's #6605, x144) both meaning…
September 14, 2013
The word חוּל chôl "common" (Strong's #2455, x7) meaning "unholy, profane" or simply "common" in translation derives from חָלַל châlal (Strong's #2490, x141) which seems to have at its root the idea of opening through piercing, hence to begin…
September 7, 2013
The word for female נְקֵבָה neqêbhâh (Strong's #5347, x22) is relatively rare compared to the high incidence of אִשָּׁה 'îshshâh "woman" (Strong's #802, x780) which is just the feminine form of "man" אִישׁ 'îysh (Strong's #376, x2180), just as we have…
August 31, 2013
The word עֲרָפֶל 'arâphel (Strong's #6205, x15) "dark cloud" appears to be a rare 4 consonant Hebrew word. Most, if not 99%, of Hebrew words derive from 3 letter triconsonantal roots. The famous Hebraist and lexicon author Gesenius regarded it as a blend of two…
August 24, 2013
The word תּועֵבָה tôw'êbhâh (Strong's #8441, x117) is consistently translated by the strong word "abomination" in all its KJV uses. It is first used not of God declaring a thing forbidden but of the Egyptians refusing to dine with Joseph's brothers, "for that is an abomination to them" (Genesis 43:32), along with shepherds, especially…
August 17, 2013
The word nâzal (Strong's #5140, x16) "flow, pour, gush, drop, trickle", is hardly a trickle in its first use. In Exodus 15:8 the Song of Moses describes how the waters of the Red Sea were stood upright in a heap, not even a trickle seeping forth! In another song, that of Deborah, Judges 5:5, the mountains are said to "gush, melt, quake,…
August 10, 2013
shâkhan 'to dwell' שָׁכַן (Strong's #7931) The word שָׁכַן shâkhan (Strong's #7931, x129) is the verb behind the well known but non-biblical term שֱׁכִנָה shekhinah, used for the presence of God, a feminine word often seen as describing the Spirit or glory of God. The first use of the verb is God's "placing" or "causing to dwell" cherubim at the eastern edge of Eden to guard against man's return to the Tree of Life
August 3, 2013
bên 'son, child, grandson' (Strong's #1121) from bânâh (Strong's #1129) would normally be a noun of the form bêneh but which has lost the weak final 'h'. The very first use in Genesis 3:16 is the plural bânîym (as if the singular were bân) meaning both 'sons and daughters'. [Arabic uses ’ibn, Phoenician b-n, but Aramaic has bar…