Language Studies

Hebrew Thoughts Archives

July 27, 2013
This letter 'ayîn is the 16th letter of the Hebrew alphabet preceding the letter "p", where we have the letter "o". It temporarily becomes the 17th letter in the acrostic chapters of Lamentations 2 through 4 where 'ayîn and pê' are transposed, despite being in the correct order in chapter 1 and all the acrostic Psalms. It originally represented…
July 20, 2013
The word zâqên (Strong's #2204, x27) may be a primitive root verb of itself, though some regard it as being a derivative of the noun zâqân "bearded chin" (Strong's #2206), rather than vice-versa. In Arabic daqan means "chin" and duqûn "beard", as does the ancient Ugaritic d-q-n. At its simplest this verb may just mean the stage of life…
July 13, 2013
The word pethach (Strong's #6607) means the actual doorway, entrance or space which is closed by a door, rather than deleth (Strong's #1817) which refers to the physical door or hanging itself. It is derived from the root verb pâthach "to open or loose" (Strong's #6605). Its first few Biblical uses are quite interesting…
July 6, 2013
gebher (Strong's #1397),emphasises man in his might and strength or warrior-like ability to fight, and occurs just 68 times. Other words for man such as 'îysh (Strong's #376), occur 2180 times and 'âdhâm (Strong's #120) over 550 times, these concentrate on man generically, or in relation to woman, or in respect of man's…
June 29, 2013
This letter s[h]în (a dot on the top right of the letter as opposed to top left distinguishes between the two pronunciations: shîn / sîn) originally seems to have represented a pair of sharp front teeth. The Hebrew word for 'teeth' is shên (Strong's #8127) from a verb 'to sharpen'. Ancient Hebrew scripts represented the letter by a much…
June 22, 2013
This word, lebhâbh (Strong's #3824, pronounced: levav) and also lêbh (Strong's #3820, a variant form) means more than just 'heart'. It derives from a root verb lâbhabh (Strong's #3823) meaning 'to be hollow'. Lebhâbh means 'heart', 'soul or life' (as nephesh), the emotions, affections, the mode of thinking and acting, the centre…
June 15, 2013
'âmên (Strong's #543, x30) is the adverb of ('âman (Strong's #539) "to confirm, support, believe, be faithful" and means "affirmation, acceptance" or "adherence" of the certainty of a pronouncement. It properly signifies the acceptance of a covenant, more often than not, of the terms of a curse (e.g., Deuteronomy 27:15-26 of the "confirmation" of…
June 8, 2013
The familiar word "parable" comes from the Greek parabolê (Strong's #3850) which in turn represents the Hebrew mâshâl (Strong's #4912). Most modern translations suggest that there are just 3 uses of this word: Psalm 78:2; Ezekiel 17:2; 24:3; however, the KJV translates it as "parable" some 18 times and "proverb" 19 times; in fact, there are 39 instances…
June 1, 2013
The word râph⒠(Strong's #7496, x8) actually only occurs in its plural form rephâ’îym and is almost universally translated by the "dead" in the King James Bible, apart from one instance in Isaiah 26:14 where to vary the poetic parallelism with the more common word for death, mâvôth (Strong's #4191, x835; used three times with…
May 25, 2013
The word 'at (Strong's #328, x6) is first used in Genesis 33:14 of Jacob saying to Esau that he would follow "softly" according to the pace of the cattle, although the text does not mention herds other than contextually in the previous verse, it simply says at "the pace of the work". Translating as "softly", as the AV does in 3 of its…
May 18, 2013
The word (’ôwbh (Strong's #178, x17) is difficult to translate and harder still to tie down its origins. Some such as Hoffner (TDOT I, pp.131-33) have related it to a word not in the Bible but reputedly referring to a "ritual hole in the ground" out of which spirits may have been summoned. Countering this, and suggesting his own solution…
May 11, 2013
bâsâr (Strong's #1320, x270+) derives from bâsar "to be fresh, full of life, rosy and cheerful, carry news" (Strong's #1319, x26). This root verb is used of bringing or carrying fresh news from the battlefront or as in Isaiah of the heralding of "good news" (Isaiah 52:7, mebhassêr). The messenger was usually "fresh-faced" or "flushed"…
May 4, 2013
Strictly speaking Biblical Hebrew has no word for "faith" as modern Christians understand the word, hence the question mark. "Faith" as Hebrew understands it is always an active verb, nor does it describe an action, but the characteristic of a person. The closest Hebrew comes to "faith" is (’emûn (Strong's #529, x5) and (’emûnâh (Strong's #530, x49) meaning…
April 27, 2013
neshamah (Strong's #5397) means "breath" and is sometimes used in place of nephesh or rûach (see below), it derives from nÓ nâsham "to pant or blow away" (Strong's #5395). This root verb only occurs in Isaiah 42:14 where it is paired with shâ’aph "to inhale, pant after, covet, crush or destroy" (Strong's #7602). Genesis 2:7 is the memorable…
April 20, 2013
In October 2001 scientific researchers claimed to have found a gene for speech and language. Children can be taught to do many things but that which comes most naturally, although not entirely unaided, is speech. Perhaps this is one of the genetic markers that we have of being made in God's image and is part of…