Three Memorable Verbs
The three verbs I will begin to focus on today come out of the previous essay and are simply too good to let go: ramas (“crawl/creep”), ragaz (“trouble/quake/rage”), and raash (“shake/tremble”). Let’s begin with ragaz because it takes us immediately into the deep and alluring world of Job.
The word in Job that first caught my attention is the noun rogez (רֹגֶז) which can mean “agitation” or “raging/quaking.” Though I was aiming for Job 3:26, I noted it first appears nine verses earlier where Job soliloquizes about how much better it would be for him to be dead. “There (sham) the wicked (rasha) cease (חָדַל, chadal) from their raging (rogez) and there (sham) the weary (יָגִיעַ, yagia) of strength (koach; i.e., those that have no strength) find rest (נוּחַ, nuach).” With that as an eloquent background, we then meet rogaz in 3:26, where Job sums up his distress with like eloquence and brevity: “I am not (lo) at ease (שָׁלָה, shalah), nor am I quiet (שָׁקַט, shaqat); I have no (lo) rest (nuach), but trouble (rogez) comes (bo).” All of these verbs beg for more careful consideration, but after making one more reference to rogaz, I will just pause for a bit on the verb form of rogez, which is ragaz (רָגַז), and a bit on “rest” (nuach).
The only other mention of rogaz I want to make here is from Job 14:1, “Man/humans (adam) born (yalad) of woman (ishshah) is few/short (קָצֵר, qatser) of days (yamim) but they are full (saba) of trouble (rogez). The verb form of qatser is קָצַר, qatsar, which not only means “to be short” but is most frequently used in the “cut short/reap” meaning. See, especially Lev. 23:22, where a person “reaps” (qatsar) the harvest (קָצִיר, qatsiyr) but is told not to fully (כָּלָה, kalah, “to come to the end/complete”) reap (qatsar) the corner/side (פֵאָה, peah) of the field (sadeh).. . “
The notion of periodic resting is essential in human cultures, and Israel is no exception. We know the command: “Six (shesh) days (yamim) shall you do (asah) your work (maaseh) but on the seventh (שְׁבִיעִי, shebii) you shall rest (שָׁבַת, shabath) so that (maan) your ox (shor) and donkey (chamor) may rest (nuach) and be refreshed (נָפַשׁ, naphash—we are familiar with the common nephesh, or “soul/life”; Ex. 23:12). Fourteen new words so far.
Let’s return briefly to ragaz. In Miriam’s “Song of the Sea” (Ex. 15), she says, “The people (am) will hear (shama) and be afraid (ragaz). Sorrow/anguish (חִיל, chil) has seized (ahaz) the dwellers (yashab) of Philistia (פְלֶשֶׁת, Pelesheth). In Deut. 2:25 we have people who will tremble (ragaz) because God has put dread (pachad) and fear (יִרְאָה, yirah) in the surrounding people. Finally, there is a lot of trembling going on in I Samuel, because there are lots of enemies being defeated by the Israelites, and I Sam. 14:15 is rich in words and concepts: “And there was (hayah) trembling (חֲרָדָה, charadah; this comes from the verb חָרַד, charad, “to tremble,” which appears 39x) in the camp (machaneh) in the field (sadeh) and among all (kol) the people (am). The garrison (מַצָּב, matstsab, derived as we see from natsab, which is familiar to us as something that “stands up”) and the destroyers (a participial form from שָׁחַת, shachath, which means “to destroy/corrupt”) trembled (charad); also they (הֵם, hem) quaked (ragaz). . . “
We certainly won’t get through the other two verbs I started with (raash/ramas), but let’s conclude with a few sentences to show at least one of them at work. Is. 14:16 hits us with it jarring force, “Those who see (raah) you will gaze (שְׁגַח, shagach) at you and discern (bin) them (saying), ‘This is the man who made the earth (erets) tremble (ragaz); kingdoms (מַמְלָכָה, mamlakah) shook (raash).” The grammatical construction is a bit more complex than my translation, but this gives you the words. We see the parallelism between ragaz and raash. Then, Prov 29:9 is too good to miss. Though there is no “if” in the text, I think it is safe to say it is implied, “If a wise (chakam) man (ish) goes to judgment (shaphat) with a foolish/silly man (אֱוִיל, evil), and he rages (ragaz) and mocks/laughs (sachaq) then there is no rest (נַחַת, nachath—we can see the nuach root in this word).
Eccles. 4:6 will finish our quest today, though we finish it on nachath. It is better (tob, but the comparative is implied) to have a handful (כַּף, kaph, though this can also be a “hollow/socket” of a thigh or the “sole” of the foot) of quietness (nachath) than the hands/hollows of hands (חֹפֶן, chophen) filled (male) with trouble (עָמָל, amal) and striving/grasping (רְעוּת, reuth—the word behind this is רֵעַ, rea, which means “thought” or “purpose”) for wind (ruach).”
Wonderfully rich day, with more than 30 new words, and we still haven’t done justice to raash and ramas.
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