The Words of Job 40:10
Job 40:10 arrested my attention when I first read it. In seven short words (one of which is na --“then”) and a chiastic construction, it brought me into the language of clothing/adornment and glory and honor and majesty and splendor and beauty. I was transfixed by the way that language of vestments could be used with words of honor to communicate meaning, about God or the world. And, I lost myself in the words for a minute. I have looked at labash (“array” [yourselves]) elsewhere, but here here I would like to begin to examine adah (“adorn”) and hod (“glory”) and hadar (“beauty”) and ga’own (“excellence”) and gobah (“splendor”).
Let’s begin with adah. Ezek. 23:40 speaks about sending messengers but then closes with these five words: “And you washed (רָחַץ, rachats), painted (כָּחַל, kachal, a hapax) your eyes (ayin) and adorned yourself (adah) with ornaments (עֲדִי, adi).” Biblical Hebrew is hard because often the same word is translated in fully different ways, and adi can be rendered “years” (Ps. 103:5), though it usually is “ornaments.” Adah appears also in Ezek. 16:11 where God is speaking: “I adorned (adah) you with ornaments (adi) and gave (natan) bracelets (צָמִיד, tsamid; the verb צָמַד, tsamad, which appears 5x, means to “fasten” or “join,” which is what a bracelet does) upon your hands (yad) and a chain/necklace (רָבִיד, rabid) upon your neck (גָּרוֹן, garon).
Hos. 2:13 also has the verb adah. It says, “And I will visit/punish (paqad, it appears more than 300 times, and so has tons of meanings, including, “visit” and “number” and “muster” and “appoint” and “to take care of/be concerned about”) her for (al) the days (yom) of the Baalim (בַּעַל, baal, which we have seen for “lord,” but this is a proper name, and so it gets its own entry!) to which (asher) she burned incense (קָטַר, qatar; the noun form, meaning “incense” is קְטֹרֶת, qetoreth) to them and she adorned (adah) herself with her rings/earrings/nose rings (נֶזֶם, nezem) and jewelry (חֶלְיָה, chelyah. This is an OT hapax, but is the same word as the 2x-appearing חֲלִי, chali), and she went (halak) after (achar) her lovers (אָהַב, aheb) but me she forgot (shakach), says (neum) the Lord.”
One more verse including adah is Is. 61:10. And here we are led into a good world, the world of rejoicing. “And I will greatly rejoice (שׂוּשׂ, sus) in the Lord (yahweh); my soul (nephesh) shall be joyful (גִּיל, gil) in my God (elohim) because (kiy) he has clothed (labash) me with the garments (beged) of salvation (yesha) and he has covered (יָעַט, yaat, a Biblical hapax) me with a robe (meil) of righteousness (tsedaqah) as a bridegroom (chathan; we saw previously how this can also be father-in-law or to intermarry) adorns himself (כָּהַן, kahan; but this really can’t properly be translated as “adorns himself” since it is derived from the concept of serving as a priest, a kohen, and this is the only instance where it is rendered this way—but maybe a bridegroom, in his attire, is similarly dressed to a priest) with ornaments (פְאֵר, p’er, which can be rendered as “beauty” or “headdress” or “garland,” as here) as a bride (kallah) decks herself (adah) with ornaments (keli).” We have the pleasant euphony of kallah/keli in the last phrase, and several words for adorn/ornament. Nineteen new words so far.
Well, let’s move on to the word hod. We smile as we look at the various ways people have translated it: “splendor, majesty, honor, authority, glory, beauty,” and even “vigor.” We chuckle not only because this leads to all kinds of questions about how to establish meaning in words and in life, but also because we might just have fully ransacked the English-language dictionary on the subject. So, we are “aiming” at the concept, even though we might never really get there. But it appears 24x in the Bible. One quick example is I Chron. 16:27, “hod and hadar are before him (liphne); strength (oz) and joy/delight (חֶדְוָה, chedvah) are in his place.” We see that our Hebrew word list of the “big four” (Job 40:10) can be expanded, with oz and chedvah being worthy additions.
From I Chron. 29:11, we have a wonderful list of things God does or is, “To you (lak), O Lord (yahweh) is the greatness (גִּדוּלָה, gedullah) and the strength/power (גְּבוּרָה, geburah) and the beauty/glory (תִּפְאָרָה, tipharah; this word is derived from פָאַר, paar, “to beautify/glorify”) and “victory/success” (נֶצַח, netsach; we have seen the verb natsach, with the same consonants and meaning the same, previously) and the hod because (kiy) all (kol) in heaven (shamayim) and on earth (erets) is yours. Yours is the kingdom (מַמְלָכָה, mamlakah) and you are exalted (nasa) over all (kol) as head (rosh).” Phew! What a wonderful verse, so full of useful words. This also is more than enough for the day, giving us 26 new words.
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