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Hebrew 2A

As I was rereading my essays, I realized I had forgotten to post this essay, which I wrote very early in my collection. I add it here, with 25 new words, that will bring our total to more than 100 new words.

Today I will give some Hebrew words I have been working on, in transliteration and the Hebrew.  That’s one way to learn the language.  My inspiration is volume 1 of my “learning Hebrew” series, using that as my basis and then going down the roads of language where that leads.  I am looking at the word “where” (אַי, ay; it can also appear as אַיֵּה, and that counts for another word!) and where it appears. In I Sam 26:22, it appears with חֲניִת, chanith, a sword/spear (47x).  Another word to describe a sword/spear is chereb (413x), which we have already seen. The phrase “sword or spear” is a common hendiadys in Hebrew. But, in the I Sam 26:22 passage, the sword was lying near a water bottle/jug, and that word is tsappachath (צַפחַת). That word only appears 7x, and its most famous appearance is in I Ki. 17:14 where it is traditionally translated a “cruse” (of oil). Another word for “jar” is kad (כַּד), easy to learn. In Gen. 24:14 Abraham’s servant is going to let down his water jar (kad) so he can drink (verb is shathah  (שָׁתָה).  The verb normally here translated “let down” your jar is natah (נָטָה), but it really is a much more supple verb, implicating the ideas of “pitching/stretching out” a tent (Gen. 12:8) or “stretching out” someone’s hand (Ex. 7:5). 


Often when someone asks for water (מַיִם, mayim). It is “a little” water (מְעַט, meat). This water can be carried upon a shoulder (שְׁכֶם, shekem). In fact, the first few appearances of “shoulder” and “water jar” have it “placed/put” (שׂוּם, sum/sim) on a shoulder. But water isn’t the only thing that can be laid on a shoulder; we can put a “garment/mantle” (שִׂמְלָה, simlah) on the shoulders, though if you are dyslexic you are in luck, since the garment also can be written שַׂלְמָה (silmah).  The Hebrew language would be a lot easier if all of the words could be written in different ways like that. 


We could really go crazy with Biblical words for skins/bottles/jugs/jars, but we only have to do a triad today, for this means we really are trying.  We have kad and tsappachath, but we need more.  Let’s go with nod (נֹאד), which appears 6x, but none so eloquently as in Ps. 119:83, where it is rendered “wineskin.” The Psalmist laments that he has become like a wineskin (nod) in the smoke (קִיטוֹר, qitor).  But qitor can appear in Ps 148:8 with other forms of vapor, clouds or mists, and we have more than a triad here, which no doubt will tax our mental resources.  But let’s try:  “fire and hail, snow and clouds (smoke), wind and storms.”  This is a wonderful harvest:  esh (אֵ֣שׁ); barad (בָרָד), sheleg (שֶׁלֶג), and we already have qitor for our “clouds/smoke.”  Then, we pick up ruach (רוּחַ) and conclude with searah (סְעָרָה) for a storm.   Thus, we have three words for jars or bottles or wineskins and six for describing certain meteorological phenomena.  We are incomparably richer for studying Biblical Hebrew!


But qitor has such a nice ring to it that I wanted to check out other places it appears.  Unfortunately, it only appears 4x, and we have already seen two of them. The other two are in the description of the destruction of Sodom (Gen. 19:28).  Smoke (qitor) ascends (עָלָה, alah), but then a nice image is used:  it ascends like the smoke of a “furnace” (כִּבְשָׁן, kibshan). The kibshan is also a “kiln” as well as a “furnace.”  Smoke also is associated with kibshan in Ex. 19:18, but in that passage the more common word for “smoke” is used:  עָשַׁ֣ן (ashan). We have a second word for “smoke/smoking,” ashen עָשֵׁן, in Ex. 20:18 where the mountain is “smoking.”  Interestingly, we have another word for “kiln” in Gen. 15, translated as a “smoking oven,” it is a תַנּ֤וּר (tannur) or “oven.


I think that is probably enough words for one day.  It is twenty-five new words.  I think thirty may be a bit too many, though in our eagerness to begin, we did that many.  But if you do this for a while, you will begin to see the language take shape before your eyes.  There will be time, of course, for learning all the complex forms of the verbs, and the details of sentence construction, but if you start to become comfortable recognizing words, you have started on your quest.  And you don’t have to worry about how many times the various words appear.  Just learn them, rejoice, use them, and realize that you are starting to utter the very words of God.  Three days, and 105 words.

Hebrew 3
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