top of page

Hebrew 38
Still on I Ki. 22:34

As an earlier lesson discussed, Job 40:10, in six short words, gave us four priceless word to describe the glory of God.  I often have a hard distinguishing meaning of “splendor” and “glory” or “majesty” in English, and so I won’t easily be able to distinguish the underlying Hebrew terms, but together they contribute a symphony of terms to enrich our understanding of the literature and, for some people, of God.  But haphak won’t completely let me go, and so I want to return, at first, to some of the fascinating words that emerge from I Ki 22:34, where we last saw haphak.  


Let’s begin with mashak, which appears in this verse.  In this case it means to “draw” a bow.  But the root sound ma is used in an even more noted passage in the Bible, where Moses’ midwife, after giving him over to the daughter of Pharaoh, said she named him Moses (משֶׁה) because she drew him out (מָשָׁה, mashah) of the water (mayim).  That mashah never really caught on in ancient Hebrew is evident when we see it only appears two other times, and they “copy” each other, and both relate to drawing out of “many waters” (mayim rabbim; II Sam. 22:17; Ps. 18:16).  Thus, we have to go with mashak (36x). In I Ki. 22:34 we have someone “drawing (mashak) a bow (qesheth).”  


Mashak also appears in Gen. 37:28, where the “Midianite (מִדְיָנִי) traders (סָחַר, sachar is the verb meaning “to trade/travel about.  Functioning as a noun it means “merchants”) passed by (abar) and they drew up (mashak) and lifted up (alah) Joseph from the pit (bor) and sold (makar) him. . .” Note that two verbs were supplied for the act of “lifting up.” Mashak also appears in Deut. 21:3, the passage which discusses what to do with a dead body that has been found.  “And it will be (hayah) that the city (iyr) nearest (qarob) to the slain person (חָלָל, chalal can mean “to kill” or “to profane”). . the elders (zaqen) take a heifer (עֶגְלָה, eglah) which has not been worked (abad) and which has not drawn (mashak) with a yoke (עֹל, ol). . “  Then the judicial procedure continues.  We could take trips down all of those words, but hasten back to mashak.  In Josh. 6:5, we have instructions preparatory to taking the town of Jericho.  “And it will be (hayah) in drawing air/sounding (mashak) with the horn (qeren) of the ram (יוֹבֵל, yobel), and when one hears (shama) the sound (qol) of the trumpet (שׁוֹפָר, shophar) all the people (am) shall shout (רוּעַ, rua) with a great (gadol) shout (תְּרוּעָה, teruah), and the walls (חוֹמָה, chomah) of the city (iyr) shall fall (naphal).”  I have just realized that I could go on nearly forever with mashak, which is only one word in I Ki. 22:34, and that was only one example of haphak, and I might never return.  Twelve new words so far.


Thus, let’s move on to another word from I Ki. 22:34. The word tom appears in Gen. 20:5 where we meet a recurrent problem for the Patriarchs in Genesis—trying to pass one’s wife off as one’s sister.  Part of the verse has:  “in the integrity (tom) of my heart (leb) and innocence (נִקָּיוֹן, niqqayon) of my hands (yad) have I done (asah) this (zoth). The word “innocence” is derived from the verb נָקָה, naqah (“to be innocent or clean or pure or  clear or free”).  One can, for example, be “free from” (naqah) an oath (שְׁבוּעָה, shebuah; Gen. 24:8).  The Psalmist can say:  “As for me (ani), in my integrity (tom) you uphold/support (תָּמַךְ, tamak) me; you have set (natsab) me before you (panim) forever (olam).”  One other Psalm reference will be enough:  “But I will walk (halak) in my integrity (tom). Redeem (פָדָה, padah) me and be gracious (חָנַן, chanan) to me.” While we are on “redeem,” we should note that “redemption” is פְדוּת (paduth; Ps. 111:9; 130:7).


We can do more with the words of I Ki. 22:34 (Note that this inclination to “explore” is really at the heart of the learning endeavor. There certainly is what you might call “ordered” or “focused” learning, but this way to master words encourages a willingness to make distant journeys that don’t always appear to have a fixed goal. Yet, we are making it to complete knowledge of Biblical Hebrew. . .)  Let’s look at “armor” (shiryon). Shiryon is prominent in the narrative of David and Goliath (I Sam. 17). Goliath is described as follows:  “He had a bronze (nechosheth) helmet (כּוֹבַע, koba) on his head (rosh) and with armor (shiryon) with scales (קַשְׂקֶשֶׂת, qasqeseth) was he attired /armed (labash), and the weight (mishqal) of the armor (shiryon) was five (chamesh) thousand (אֶלֶף, eleph) shekels (shekel). . .” The word qesqeseth just rolls off your tongue; it really points to the scales of fish, but that it can be used to describe armor is an added bonus.


A few more verses with shiryon might be helpful. We may get no words out of this verse, but the combination of equipment in II Chron. 26:14 helps us:  “Uzziah (עֻזִּיָּה) prepared/established ( כּוּן, kun) for them (hem), for the entire (kol) army (tsaba) shields (magen), and spears/lances (רֹמַח, romach) and helmets (koba) and armor (shiryon) and bows (qesheth) and stones (eben) for slinging (קֶלַע, qela’).”  See how many words we know from this list?  Impressive. The word rendered “slinging” is usually translated “hanging” in the Bible, but the modern meaning (if Google Translate can be trusted) is “slingshot.”  Perfect.


We conclude with one final verse, where shiryon is used metaphorically.  In Is. 59:17 we are told, “For he clothed himself (labash) with righteousness (צְדָקָה, tsedaqah) as armor (shiryon) and a helmet (koba) of salvation (יְשׁוּעָה, yeshuah) for his head (rosh) and he put on (labash) garments (beged) of vengeance (נָקָם, naqam) for clothing (תַּלְבּשֶׁת, tilbosheth; a hapax, but it is easy to see its derivation), and he was clad/wrapped himself  (עָטָה, atah) with zeal (קִנְאָה, qinah) as a cloak (meil, which we have seen).  Welcome to the language, which you are impressively mastering each day!  More than 30 new words today. 

Hebrew 39

Back to Biblical Hebrew Page 

bottom of page