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Old Testament Hebrew Lexical Dictionary Hebrew Lexicon
Strong's #4101 - מָה
1) what, whatever
1b) whatever, what, whatsoever
1c) how?, why?, wherefore? (with prefixes)
1281) em (מה MH) AC: ? CO: Sea AB: ?: The pictograph m is a picture of water. The sea (Mediterranean) is a place of the unknown (what is beyond or what is below) . It is feared by the Ancient Hebrews because of its size, storms and fierceness. A hundred as an unknowable amount. This parent root is related to fm, imand me.
Nm) em (מה MH) - I. What:Something that is unknown, can also be why, when or how. [Hebrew and Aramaic] II. Water:From the sea. [This word always appears in the plural form, mim, when used for water] [df: Nys] KJV (625): what, how, why, whereby, wherein, how, water, piss, waterspring - Strongs: H3964 (מָא), H4100 (מֶה), H4101 (מָה), H4325 (מַיִם), H7890 (שַׁיִן)
Jeff Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center Used by permission of the author.
מָה , מַה־, מַה·, מֶה, מַ·, מָ (as to the distinction of these forms, see note).
(1) interrog. pron. used of things like מִי of persons: quid? Gr. τί; what (Syr. ܡܳܐ, Arab. مَا), in a direct interrogation, Genesis 4:10, מֶה עָשִׂיתָ “what hast thou done?” Isaiah 38:15, מָה אֲדַבֵּר “what shall I say?” and so very frequently; also in oblique interrogation, after verbs of asking, replying, saying, shewing. 1 Kings 14:3, “he will declare to thee מַה־יִּהְיֶה לַנַּעַר what shall be to the child.” Exodus 2:4. Also observe
(a) it is placed after in the genitive, Jeremiah 8:9, חָכְמַת־מֶה לָהֶם “the wisdom of what (thing) is in them?”
(b) it is put before substantives regarded as in the genitive, as מַה־בֶּצַע “what of profit?” Psalms 30:10, מַה־דְּמוּת “what of likeness?” Isaiah 40:18 which examples may be rendered in Latin, quale lucrum, quœ similitudo [or in English what profit, what likeness]: also followed by a plur. 1 Kings 9:13, מָה הֶעָרִים הָאֵלֶּה “what cities (are) these?” pr. quid urbium hoc? Questions of this kind are either of reproach (Isaiah 36:4 comp. letter C) or of aggravation (Joshua 22:16); or of extenuation, 1 Ki. loc. cit.; Job 6:11.
(c) מַה־לְּךָ “what to thee?” i.e. what willest thou, Judges 1:14, and followed by כִּי “what (is) to thee that (thou doest thus)?” Gr. τί παθὼν τοῦτο ποιεῖς; Isaiah 22:1 without כִּי Isaiah 3:15 (comp. Koran Sur. lvii. 8, 10).
(d) מַה־לִּי וָלָךְ “what (is) to me and thee?” i.e. what have I to do with thee? Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10, 19:23 2 Kings 9:18, מַה־לְּךָ וּלְשָׁלוֹם “what hast thou to do with peace?” without the copula, Jeremiah 2:18, מַה־לָּךְ לְדֶרֶךְ מִצְרַיִם Hosea 14:9 and followed by אֶת Jeremiah 23:28, מַה־לַּתֶּבֶן אֶת־הַבָּר “what (is) the chaff with the wheat?” what likeness have they? (Compare Arab. ما لى وما له, and Greek τί μάχαισι κἀμοί, Anacr. xvii. 4, comp. Matthew 8:29; Mark 5:7.)
(2) indefinite pron., anything, something, whatever, more fully מְאוּמָה for מָה וּמָה which see. (Arab. ما anything, whatever.) Proverbs 9:13, בַּל־יָֽדְעָה מָה “he doth not care for anything.” 2 Samuel 18:22, וִיהִי מָה אָרוּצָה “whatever there is, let me run.” Job 13:13, וְיַעְבֹר עָלַי מָה “and let there happen to me whatever (will).” Job 13:14. Followed by שֶׁ that which (Syr. ܡܳܐ ܕ) Ecclesiastes 1:9, 3:15, 22 6:10 7:24 8:7 10:14. Hence used also as
(3) relat. pron. Judges 9:24, מָה רְאִיתֶם עָשִׂיתִי “what you have seen me do;” was ihr fahet, daßich that. Numbers 23:3, דְּבַר מַה־יַּרְאֵנִי וְהִגַּדְתִּי לָךְ “what thing he sheweth me I will declare to thee.” LXX. ῥῆμα ὃ ἐάν μοι δείξῃ. Syr., Ch. ܕ, דְּ.
(B) adv. of interrogation
(1) wherefore? why? for the fuller לָמָּה, as in Gr. Lat. τί; quid? Exodus 14:15, מַה־תִּצְעַק אֵלַי “why criest thou to me?” Ps. 42:12.
(2) how, how much, in exclamations of admiration, as often the Arab. ما. Genesis 28:16, מַה־נוֹרָא הַמָּקוֹם הַוֶּה “how dreadful is this place!” Psalms 8:2, “how excellent is thy name!” Numbers 24:5, טֹּבוּ אֹהָלַיִךְ מַה־ “how goodly are thy tents!” Song of Solomon 7:2; Psalms 119:97, מָה אָהַבְתִּי תוֹרָתֶךָ “O how (how greatly) I love thy law!” Iron. Job 26:2, מֶה עָזַרְתָּ לְלֹא־כֹחִ “O how greatly hast thou helped the feeble!” Job 26:3.
(3) how? in what manner? Genesis 44:16, מַה־נִּצְטַדָּק “how shall we justify ourselves?”
(C) There are several examples in which מָה of extenuation and reproach (see above) has nearly a negative power; compare Lehrg. p. 834; and Lat. quid multa? for ne multa. Job 16:6, “If I speak, my sorrow is not assuaged, and if I forbear מַה־מִּנִּי יַהֲלֹךְ what goeth from me?” i.e. even so nothing of my sorrow goeth from me; Vulg. non recedit a me; Proverbs 20:24, אָדָם מַה־יָּבִין דַּרְכּוֹ “and man, how doth he know his way?” i.e. he scarcely knows it, he does not know it; Chald. לָא. Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with mine eyes, מָה אֶתְבּוֹנֵן עַל־בְּתוּלָה how shall I look upon a maid?” (LXX. οὐ, Vulg. non, Syr. ܕܥܳ). Song of Solomon 8:4, מַה־תָּעִירוּ וּמַה־תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת־הָאַהֲבָה “why awake ye … my beloved?” i.e. do not awake; comp. Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5 (where in the same context there is אִם); compare below בַּמֶּה Isaiah 2:22, and כַּמֶּה Job 21:17, and לָמָּה letter b. Here also I refer Proverbs 31:2. The Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, ܡܳܐ, ما have gradually adopted this negative power, the origin of which we see here clearly in the Hebrew.
(1) בַּמָּה, בַּמֶּה prop. in what? Exodus 22:26 in what thing? Genesis 15:8, and thus according to the varied use of the particle בְּ.
(a) for what (price)? see בְּ, B, 9 Isaiah 2:22, בַּמֶּה נֶחְשָׁב הוּא “at what price shall he be reckoned?” i.e. he is worth little, or nothing.
(b) on what account? why? (see בּ B, 10 ), 2 Chronicles 7:21.
(c) how? in what way? by what means? Judges 16:5; 1 Samuel 6:2.
(2) כַּמָּה (compare as to the article after כְּ of similitude, page 212 ); Syriac ܟܡܳܙ; Arabic كمْ; pr. as what? (wie was?), to what thing to be compared? It is applied
(a) to space, how great? Zechariah 2:6, כַּמֶּה רָחְבָּהּ “how great is its breadth?” also, how long? Psalms 35:17; Job 7:19.
(b) to number, how many? Genesis 47:8; 1 Kings 22:16, עַד כַּמֶּה פְעָמִים “how many times?” i.e. how often? Used not merely in an interrogation, but also in an exclamation, Zechariah 7:3, זֶה כַּמֶּה שָׁנִים “how many are now the years!” for, now so many years; also, how often? Psalms 78:40; Job 21:17 (where how often is the question of one in doubt, for seldom).
(3) לָ֫מָּה (Milêl, for לַמָּה), and לָמָ֫ה (Milra), the latter being used with few exceptions (1 Samuel 28:13; 2 Samuel 2:22, 14:31 Psalms 49:6; Jeremiah 15:18) before the letters א, ה, ע and the name יְהֹוָה (see Noldii Concord. Part. p. 904); three times לָמֶה 1 Samuel 1:8.
(a) wherefore? why? (compare לְ causal A, 6); Genesis 4:6, 12:18 27:46, etc., emphat. לָמָּה זֶּה and with Makk. לָמָּה־זֶה (see זֶה No. 1, ), why then? (Arab. ملا, لَِم emphat. ملاذا); Genesis 25:22, לָמָּה זֶה אָנֹכִי “why then am I?” why do I exist? the expression of an impatient woman. In oblique interrogation after a verb of knowing, Daniel 10:20.
(b) Sometimes amongst the later writers, where it is properly dissuasive and prohibitory, it passes over to a negative sense, like the Syr. ܠܡܳܐ, ܕܰܠܡܳܐ; Ch. לְמָא, דִּי לְמָא lest, lest perhaps; Ecclesiastes 5:5, לָמָּה יִקְצֹף הָאֱלֹהִים עַל קוֹלֶךָ “wherefore should God be angry because of thy voice?” for lest God be angry. Well in the LXX. ἵνα μή, Vulg. ne forte; Syr. ܕܰܠܡܳܐ, Ecclesiastes 7:16, 17 Nehemiah 6:3. To the Syriac form ܕܰܠܡܐܳ accurately answers שַׁלָּמָּה Song of Solomon 1:7 LXX. μή ποτε, Vulg. ne, and אֲשֶׁר לָמָּה, which, Daniel 1:10, is even put after a verb of fearing, just like פֶּן, “for I am afraid of my lord the king אֲשֶׁר לָמָּה יִרְאֶה וְגו׳ lest he see;” Theod. μή ποτε. (Arab. from לָמָה, لِمَ why? is shortened لَمْ not, like كَمْ from كَمَا כְּמָא, כַּמָּה.)
(4) לְמָה on account of (that) which, because that, from לְ on account of (A, 6), and מָה relat. So once, 1 Chronicles 15:13, where contr. לְמַבָּרִאשֹׁנָה for לְמָה בָרִאשֹׁנָה “because that from the beginning,” etc. (Compare לְמַדַּי enough, 2 Chronicles 30:3.)
(5) עַד־מָה (ἐς τί, Il. v. 465), how long, Psalms 74:9, 79:5 89:47 Numbers 24:22.
(6) עַל־מָה prop. upon what? Isaiah 1:5; Job 38:6 hence, wherefore? why? Numbers 22:32; Jeremiah 9:11 in oblique interrogation, Job 10:2; Esther 4:5.
Note. As to the use of the various forms, we should observe
(a) the primitive form מָה is found every where in pause, also before א and ר, whether Makkeph be inserted or omitted, as מָה־אֵלֶּה Zechariah 1:9 מָה רְאִיתֶם Judges 9:48 more rarely before הָ Joshua 4:6, 21 Joshua 4:21; Numbers 13:19, 20 Numbers 13:20; Deuteronomy 6:20 הַ Joshua 22:16; Judges 8:1 הֵ Genesis 21:29 הֶ 1 Kings 9:13 also עַ 2 Kings 8:13 עִ Genesis 31:32 (b) Very frequent is מַה־, before letters which are not gutturals, followed by Dag. forte conjunctive, as מַה־לָּךְ Judges 1:14 מַה־שְּׁמוֹ Exodus 3:13 מַה־יִּהְיֶה 1 Kings 14:3, and so very frequently; before the harsher gutturals, as ה, with Dag. occult, as מַה־הוּא Numbers 16:11 מַה־הִיא Numbers 13:18; Psalms 39:5 (although when followed by ה Kametz may also be used, see letter a).
(c) sometimes מַה־, followed by Dag. coalesces with the next word, as מַלָּכֶם for מַה־לָּכֶם Isaiah 3:15 מַזֶּה Exodus 4:2 מַתְּלָאָה Malachi 1:13 מַדּוּעַ (which see), and followed by a guttural, מָהֵם for מָה הֵם Ezekiel 8:6 (also the pr. names מַכְבַּנַּי, מַכְנַדְבַי).
(d) מֶה is put, followed by the letters ה, ע, ח, with Kametz (according to the known canon, Heb. Gramm. § 27, note 2, b), מֶה עָשִׂיתָ, מֶה חָדֵל Psalms 39:5, 89:48 Job 26:2 (מֶה עֲוֹנִי 1 Samuel 20:1); also very often before letters, not gutturals, especially as the beginning of a sentence (as to Segol being shorter than Pathach, see Gramm. loc. cit. letter a); מֶה מִשְׁפַּט הָאִישׁ 2 Kings 1:7; Psalms 4:3, 10:13 Isaiah 1:5 Jerem. 11:15 very often also as found with prefixes לָמֶה 1 Samuel 1:8 כַּמֶּה 1 Kings 22:16; 2 Chronicles 18:15; Zechariah 7:3 and בַּמֶּה Exodus 22:26, 33:16 Judges 16:5; 1 Samuel 6:2, 29:4 Malachi 1:7, etc. (this last is more used than בַּמָּה); followed by Dag. forte, בַּמֶּה־כְּ Judges 16:5.
מָה once מָא (which see), Ch.
(1) what? Daniel 4:32.
(2) whatever, Daniel 2:22, 4:32. מָה דִי what it is that, that which, Daniel 2:28.
With pref. כְּמָה how! how much! Dan. 3:33 לְמָה wherefore? used dissuasively; hence lest, Ezra 4:22 דִּי לְמָה id. 7:23. Comp. Heb. לָמָּה letter b.