We continue with the text of Jonah 1:4, which reads, “But Yahweh sent out/hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great tempest in the sea, and the ship was thought to be/about to be shattered.”
We have already seen the verb shalach for “sending out” but in this case it is the single-syllable verb טוּל (tul) that expresses that idea. The verb appears 14x in the Bible, with four of them in Jonah 1 alone. It is Jonah’s go-to verb for tossing people or things into the sea, as well as, in this case, a great wind being hurled by the Lord. Prov. 16:33 talks about the “lot” (goral) being “tossed” (tul) into the “bosom” or “lap” (חֵיק, cheq) but every judgment (mishpat) is from יְהוָֹה (Yahweh). Saul hurled (tul) his spear twice (I Sam. 18:11; 20:23). A comforting thought in the Psalms is that though a person may “fall” (naphal), he will not be utterly cast out (tul) because the Lord “upholds” (סָמַךְ, samak) him/her (Ps. 37:24). In a chilling judgment statement from Ezekiel, we have that the Lord will “forsake” (נָטַשׁ, natash) the people in an open field and cast them out (tul). God will “fill them" (שָׂבַע, saba) with all the living things (chay) of the erets.
The great tempest is a סַעַר (sa’ar). A sa’ar took Elijah up to heaven (II Ki. 2:11); God spoke to Job out of this tempest or whirlwind in Job 38;1; 40:6. In his indignation, the Psalmist says, “so (כֵּ֭ן, ken), pursue (רָדַף, radaph) them with your sa’ar and “terrify” (bahal) them with your “storm” (סוּפָה, suphah). The Book of Job certainly likes the idea of the storm/suphah. He speaks of those who are “like straw” (תֶּבֶן, teben) before the “wind’ (ruach) and “like chaff” (מֹץ, mots) that the suphah “steals away” (ganab). One more Joban reference shows us that book’s eloquence. In 37:9 it says, “From the chamber (of the south) (חֶדֶר, cheder) comes the suphah, and from the “scattered winds” (of the north) (מְזָרֶה, mezareh) comes the cold (קָרָה, qarah).”
Pausing on the Book of Job
We need to look a little more precisely at a few of these words in Job. He is so eloquent and, at times, so elusive, that one just has to mull over the text to see if there is any meaning at all. Naturally, there is but here, for example, we see that the directions are contrasted, but not by the usual words for “north” or “south” but with a metonymy, where “chamber” (cheder) stands for “south” and “scattering” stands for “north.” We have already seen one of the usual words for south—negeb, but it can also be תֵּימָן, teman. Likewise, the typical word for “north” is צָפוֹן, tsaphon.
But let’s examine those two words that Job found helpful to describe directions—the “scattering” of the north (mezareh) comes from the verb זָרָה, zarah, to “scatter/fan/winnow.” One verse in which zarah appears is Ex. 32:20, where the powder/dust of the golden calf is scattered over the people. More specifically, the text says, “And he took (laqach) the calf (egel) which (asher) they had made (asah) and burned it (saraph) with fire (esh) and ground it up (טָחַן, tachan) to (עַד, ad) a powder (דָּקַק, daqaq). The word daqaq is actually the verb “to crush/pulverize,” but needs to be read as a noun here) and scattered it (zarah) over the face (panim) of the water (mayim) and made the sons of Israel (יִשְׂרָאֵל) drink (shaqah) it.” At this point in our Hebrew learning we see how we often know about half of the words of a sentence. Certainly, there will be issues about word order and conjugation of verbs, but this is, in my judgment, a good method for trying to decipher the meaning of sentences.
Conclusion on Cheder
One word on cheder, which was the “chamber of the south” in the above quotation but really is a “bedroom” or “chamber.” One of the most moving, and memorable, appearances of cheder in the Bible is when Joseph retreats to one to avoid having his brothers, to whom he has not yet revealed himself, see him weep. So, the text says (Gen. 43:30) that “Joseph” (יוֹסֵף) made haste (מָהַר, mahar) because he yearned/was deeply moved over (כְּמַר, kamar) and had compassion on (racham) his brothers, and he sought (בָּקַשׁ, baqash) a place to weep (בָּכָה, bakah) and he went into his chamber (cheder) and wept (bakah) there (sham). A beautiful story to end our day, with 25 or 26 more Biblical Hebrew words.
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