Untangling Hebrew

prosetry blank other blank

Please click on buttons above to go to our corresponding sites
PROSETRY - Prosetry and Fairy Tales
THRILLING WONDER STORY - our other blog; it includes other writing, music, artwork, photos

Friday, December 22, 2006

Two Kings

Name studies are always fascinating, and there's always more than meets the eye with Hebrew names. From Adam (meaning man, dirt) and Chavah (or Eve, meaning life) to the kings Sha'ul (or Saul, "asked", from which we get the saying, be careful what you wish for; you just might get it :)), David ("beloved"), and Shlomo (or Solomon, "his peace").

This study looks at the next two kings, Jeroboam ירבעם (YIRAV'AM) and Rehoboam רחבעם (R'KHAV'AM. Jeroboam is the man who took over ten tribes from Rehoboam, after Rehoboam refused to diminish the heavy taxes and labor which Solomon had imposed on Israel.

Jeroboam is composed of two words. עם 'AM which means "people", and ריב RIV which means "to grapple, to contend" and as a noun means "quarrel or dispute". So his name means "the people will contend". He was the leader of the delegation which requested a lighter burden from Rehoboam.

Rehoboam is also composed of two words. עם again and רחב RACHAV which means "broaden or make large". His name means "a people made large". However what he made large was the burden on the people, and his people were lessened immensely, as he was left with only Judah and Benjamin.

רחב is related to רחוב R'CHOV which means "street". Pl. רחובות

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Long String

Today I will attempt to illustrate a beautiful Hebrew circle of thought. My only problem is knowing where to slip into the circle so the teaching will be seamless... So I think I will begin with one of those verses which are mysteriously hard to understand, but seem like they shouldn't be.

Psalm 19:4 "Their line has gone out through all the earth..." (NASB) (the context is, "The heavens declare the glory of God...") Line here is from the Hebrew קו (KAV) - a line or cord. The root of this is קוה(KAVAH) - to bind together, collect, expect; hope; linen yarn. What do hope and a rope have to do with each other? When I say to someone, "Throw me a line!" I am (usually) speaking figuratively and I mean, "Give me some hope here!"

תקוה (TIKVAH) is a common derivative of this root, meaning "hope". There is another interesting derivative: מקוה (MIKVEH), which is translated as "hope" in passages such as Jeremiah 17:3 "O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You will be put to shame..." (NASB). There are several other instances in Jeremiah where מקוה (MIKVEH) is found in the same phrase. The interesting thing is, a "mikveh" is more commonly known as a pool of water where one becomes ceremonially clean (i.e. like a full-dunk baptismal, except you immerse yourself; the attendant is only a witness.) So not only is it a hope, but a cleansing.

Is this a stretch? Consider then Ezra 10:2 which reads, "We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this." Same word, mikveh, and the context is that of cleansing the people from sin. So the Hope of Israel is also the Cleanser of Israel, a Mikveh into which we must immerse ourselves to find freedom from sin.

Bringing us back to Psalm 19:4, what is the "line" or "rope" of the Heavens? The Messiah, the Hope of Israel, who cleanses us before God. Perhaps it was this concept of which Paul was thinking when he wrote in Romans 8:20-21 "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." (NASB) The Heavens also wait in hope for the Messiah to come and restore it to its former glory.

A few more notes on Psalm 19: Verse 3 is translated in the NIV "There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard" however a more accurate translation would be "There is no speech and there is no language, their voice is not heard." (this is mentioned in the footnotes of the NIV - a better place would be the text) This actually makes more sense- people who think they hear stars talking are usually locked up (unless they are astrologers, then they get away with it somehow).

In verse 7, David begins "The law of the Lord is perfect..." He is not changing topics. The declaration of the heavens is mute and easily misunderstood, so he contrasts their glory with the glory of the Torah, which is perfect, and enlightens even the simple-minded. He also asks in vs. 12 that God will keep him from hidden faults and errors, and willful sin - something to remember for those who like to look to the heavens to find signs and some "deeper knowledge" of God from them. It is very easy to slip into grave error if the heavenly host becomes more important to one's theology than God's written word.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets)

L'shanah Tovah!

Today I will examine some interesting translations of a simple and difficult Hebrew phrase... (aren't they all?) But the only difficult thing about this phrase is that it contains the word "atonement" (coined by John Wycliffe) and although this is a basic theological concept it is really amazing how few translators really seem to understand what it means when they try to write "simpler" translations of the Bible.

לכפר עליכם "L'KHAPPER ALEIKHEM" (Num. 29:5) is translated, for a sampling, (NASB) "to make atonement for you", (NLT) "to make atonement for yourselves", (MESSAGE) "as an Absolution-Offering to atone for you", (NIRV) "It will pay for your sin", (New Life Version) "to pay for your sins". The best translations stick to Wycliffe's word, "atonement", to translate the Hebrew "L'KHAPPER", which had (and apparantly still has) no exact equivalent in English.

עליכם "ALEIKHEM" is an inflected pronoun, in which the prefix על (AL) means on, upon, or above. the suffix KHEM כם- means second person, plural (ie. you)

The word כפר "KAPPER" means more "a covering", which seems to elude most modern translators. I would simply translate it, "for a covering over you", keeping in mind the context of the goat being a sin-offering (חטאת "KHATAT", which we learned last time). The goat does not "pay for your sins" (Hebrews 10:4) and you don't "make" atonement (especially not "for yourselves"). The worst of them all, however is the Message's use of "Absolution" which was a term Wycliffe rejected. It does not mean the same thing at all. Church leaders were the ones who "absolved" penitents from sin- and then assigned penance and sold them indulgences so they could avoid purgatory. They twisted the meaning and used the word to suit themselves.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Today's study will be on a single letter, ח chet with an illustration from Psalm 51:7 (verse 9 in the Hebrew).
"Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean..." The root of "purge" is חטא (CHATAH): "to miss, to sin, bear the blame, cleanse" and the noun is חטא (CHET): "a crime or its penalty". A few other related words make it clear; חטא (CHET) means the sin or the sin offering, depending on the context and conjugation.

The concept here looks forward to Yeshua, such as in 2 Cor. 5:21 - "He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." David knew that the punishment for both adultery and murder was death, and he was asking in this verse that God would make that sacrifice for him, remembering the Passover lamb (the blood of which was applied to the doorpost with hyssop) and that death passed over because of that blood. With incredible insight and faith, he trusted the one who would become the sin and the sin offering, purging his heart and making him a new creation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today's Hebrew Word is from Isaiah 55:6- "Seek the Lord while He may be found..."
"Seek" is from the word דרש DARASH: "to tread or frequent, follow (in pursuit or search), seek or ask, spec. to worship." It is active seeking such as the famous verses from Matthew (ask, seek, knock). It is contrasted with another word which is used in the same verse: "Call on Him while He is near." which is from the word קרא KARA': "to call; to read"

It is one thing to think that "God is my co-pilot" and if something goes wrong I just call and He's there to take over. It's a different mental state, knowing I am a passenger on a ship which God is steering and I'm welcome to come up to the bridge and pester the captain with questions.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hebrew Word of the Day

Today's Hebrew word is from Walk Genesis by Jeffrey Feinberg. I don't normally take the Hebrew word from someone else's research but as this word is related to our first word מולדת (MOLEDET)it seemed appropriate. It is also the title of this week's parasha, so I decided, well, why re-invent the wheel...

תולדת(TOL'DOT) - generations, history, family
Genesis 25:19 - "These are the generations of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham gave birth to Issac." This word is also used in Gen. 2:4 "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens." So it means more than just familial descent. There is another word for that, דור (DOR). In fact, Gen. 6:9 makes use of both words: "These are the generations תולדת(TOL'DOT) of Noah; Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations דור (DOR) , and Noah walked with God."

This word is also a derivative of ילד (YALAD) - beget or give birth. Other related words are:
תולדן (TOLADAN) - historian, chronicler
תולד (TOLAD) - derivative
ילדות (YALDOOT) - childhood

Monday, November 21, 2005

Hebrew Word of the Day

Today's Hebrew word leads us across all kinds of little rabbit trails... and, ok, we're not in this parasha anymore but I'm still thinking about it so we'll follow these trails for another day.

Gen. 21:1 "ADONAI remebered Sarah as he had said, and ADONAI did for Sarah what he had promised."

פקד PAKAD - "visit, appoint, command"
So our verse might be better translated, "Adonai visited Sarah..." This is the same word which is used in 1 Sam. 2:21- "So ADONAI took notice of Hannah, and she conceived and bore three more sons and two daughters." (This happened shortly after she fulfilled her vow and brought Samuel to the tabernacle to be raised by Eli the priest.)
This word is also used in Ps. 8:4- "What is man, that you remember us, and the son of man, that you visit us?"

There are two other related words we'll look at today:
פקוד PAKOOD- "appointed mandate, commandment, precept."
Such as found in Ps. 19:8 (v. 9 in the Hebrew)- "The precepts of ADONAI are right, rejoicing the heart." and in Ps.119:4- "You laid down your precepts for us to observe with care." So what do we learn from this? That not only are "pakood" precepts and commands, but also our mandate, and indeed the result of an intimate visit from God. No wonder they bring such joy to the heart, and we observe (heb. "guard") them carefully.

פקיד PAKEED- "a superintendent, governor, or officer"
Gen. 41:34- "Pharaoh... should appoint supervisors over the land..."
This facet of "pakad" reminds me of when Paul wrote that the Torah is a "tutor" to lead us to Messiah...
All this from one little word, "visit"- into a wide spectrum of words which have a common base of meaning. This is why I love Hebrew!