Biblical Hebrew eMagazine
Ancient Hebrew Research Center

August 2016        Issue #074

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    In This Issue of the BH eZine
Biblical Hebrew Word - Work (3)
Modern Hebrew Word - Police
Featured AHRC Book or DVD
Name Study - Ezekiel
Verse Study - Genesis 3:9
Q & A - Verb Tenses
In the News
MT Excerpt
AHRC Excerpt
AHRC Updates
Comments & Editorial



    Biblical Hebrew Word - Work (3)

The King James Version of the Bible translates thirteen different Hebrew words (listed below) with the word "work," but each one of these Hebrew words have a specific meaning that means more than just "work.


מלאכה (m'la'khah, Strong's #4399)
עבד (Ah.B.D, Strong's #5647)
עבודה (avodah, Strong's #5656)
עשה (Ah.S.H, Strong's #6213)
מעשה (ma'a'seh, Strong's #4639)
פעל (P.Ah.L, Strong's #6466)
פועל (po'al, Strong's #6467)
פעולה (p'ul'lah, Strong's #6468)
דבר (davar, Strong's #1697)
יגיע (y'gi'a, Strong's #3018)
יד (yad, Strong's #3027)
עליליה (a'li'li'yah, Strong's #5950)

In this issue we will look at the fourth and fifth words in the list above, the Hebrew verb עשה (Ah.S.H, Strong's #6213) and the noun מעשה (ma'a'seh, Strong's #4639).

The first use of the verb עשה (Ah.S.H, Strong's #6213) is in the first chapter of Genesis.

And God made the firmament… (KJV, Genesis 1:7)

This verb is used over 2,500 times in the Hebrew Bible and of these; it is translated as "make" or "made" about 650 times. But it is also translated as "do" or "did," about 1300 times.

And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?… (KJV, Genesis 3:13)

As you can see, "made" is a very good translation of עשה according to the context of Genesis 1:7, but "made" is not a good translation of עשה according to the context of Genesis 3:13. I am of the opinion that each Hebrew word has only one meaning (but different forms of a word, or when used in combination with other words, can change the meaning). Therefore, the best translation of עשה is to "do" something. A very literal translation of Genesis 1:7 would be "And God 'did' the firmament."

The word מעשה (ma'a'seh, Strong's #4639) is a noun derived from the verb עשה (Ah.S.H, Strong's #6213) by adding the letter mem (מ) to the root. The letter mem (מ) usually means "what," (from the Hebrew word מה (mah) meaning "what") when it is added to the root. So if the verb עשה means "do," then מעשה means "what is done," and is usually translated as doing, work, act or deed, things that are "done."

And Joseph said unto them, What deed (מעשה) is this that ye have done (עשה)? (KJV, Genesis 44:15)




    Modern Hebrew Word - Police

The Hebrew word מִשׁטָרָה (mishtarah) is the modern Hebrew word for "police" and is derived from the root שטר (Sh.T.R, Strong's #7860), which in Biblical Hebrew means to "dominate" or "rule over." In the Hebrew Bible this verb is always used in the participle form of שוטר (shoter). A verb participle is the simple action of the verb or someone who performs the action of the verb. So the participle שוטר can mean either "dominating" or a "dominator." In the KJV translation this participle verb is translated as "officer," "ruler" or "overseer."

The Modern word מִשׁטָרָה (mishtarah) is formed by adding the letter מ to the front of the root, which changes the meaning to "what" does the action of the root (which in this case is an "organization" that dominates/rules) and adding the letter ה to the end of the root, which makes this word a feminine word.




    Featured AHRC Book or DVD
A History of Hebrew: Its Language and Philosophy
Available through the Ancient Hebrew Bookstore

This video explores the history of the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament by Christians and the Tanakh by Jews and its language and philosophy. The Hebrew Bible is an Ancient Near Eastern text, which was written millennia ago within a time and culture that is vastly different from our own. The author's perspectives on life and the world around them are steeped with their own traditions, lifestyles, manners and thoughts. When reading and studying this text we cannot interject our own cultural perspectives into the text, to do so would bring about interpretations and conclusions that are far removed from the authors intended meaning.

We will be examining the Hebrew alphabet, language, philosophy and culture to uncover the evidence that supports a perspective of these ancient Near Eastern texts that is very different from the way they are normally perceived and we will dig into the deeper meanings of these texts from an ancient perspective.




    Name Study - Ezekiel

In Hebrew the name Ezekiel is written as יחזקאל (yehhez'qeyl, Strong's #3168). Interestingly, this name is Latinized as "Ezekiel" whenever it is being used for the prophet associated with the book of Ezekiel, but it is Latinized as Jehezekel when it is being used for someone else (see 1 Chronicles 24:16).

This name is a combination of two words, יחזק and אל. יחזק is the third person masculine singular, imperfect tense of the verb חזק (Hh.Z.Q, Strong's #2388) and means "he is strong." The word אל (El, Strong's #410) means "mighty one" or "God." When these two words are combined, they mean "God is strong."




    Verse Study - Genesis 3:9
וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶל הָאָדָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אַיֶּכָּה
But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" (ASV)

וַיִּקְרָא (vai-yi-qra) This verb root is קרא (Q.R.A) meaning "call." The prefix י (y) identifies the subject of the verb as third person, masculine singular and the tense of the verb as imperfect - he will call. The prefix ו (v) means "and,” but also reverses the tense of the verb – and he called.

יְהוָה (yhwh) This is the Tetragrammaton, the four letter name of the God of the Hebrews, usually pronounced Yahweh and is the subject of the previous verb.

אֱלֹהִים (eh-lo-hiym) The base word is אלוה (e-lo-ah), which is commonly translated as "God" or "god," but more literally means "one of power and authority." The suffix ים (iym) is the masculine plural so this word means “gods” or “ones of power and authority.” However, this plural noun is often used as a name for YHWH. Because this is being used as a name, it should be transliterated as “Elohiym” rather than translating it with the English word “God.” Whenever two nouns are put together they are always in the construct state. Therefore this and the previous noun should have the English word "of" placed between them.

אֶל (el) This word is a preposition meaning "to" or "toward".

הָאָדָם (ha-a-dam) The base word is אדם (adam) meaning “human.” The prefix ה means “the” – the human. While the word אדם can be used as a proper noun (Adam) for the first man, in this case, this cannot be due to the use of the prefix ה being prefixed, which indicates that this is being used as a noun and not a proper noun.

וַיֹּאמֶר (vay-yo-mer) The base word is אמר (A.M.R) meaning "to say". The prefix י (y) identifies the verb as third person, masculine, singular, imperfect tense and would be translated as "he will say" or "he says". The prefix ו (v) means "and" and when prefixed to a verb will usually reverse the tense, in this case from imperfect to perfect tense and would be translated as "and he said".

לוֹ (lo) The letter ל (l) is a prefix meaning "to" or "for." The letter ו (o) is a suffix meaning "him." Combined, these two letters mean "to him" or "for him."

אַיֶּכָּה (ai-ye-kah) The base word is the interrogative adverb אי (ey) meaning "where." The suffix כה (kah) means "you." A note of interest, the standard suffix meaning "you," is ך (ka), but in Dead Sea Scrolls this suffix is written as כה (kah). It appears that the word איכה preserves this ancient spelling.

The following is a literal rendering of this verse from its Hebraic meaning.

And YHWH of Elohiym called to the human and he said to him, "Where are you?"


In following issues we will continue with this chapter.




    Q & A - Verb Tenses

Q: How can I know if a verb is in the perfect tense or imperfect tense?

A: That is just a matter of learning the different forms of Hebrew verbs. But there is a general rule of thumb that will help make it a little easier. Specific letters are added to a verb to identify the number and gender of the subject of the verb. For instance, when the verb אמר (A.M.R/ to say) is conjugated as תאמר (tomer) it means that the subject is feminine singular and the tense of the verb is imperfect – "she will say." But when this verb is conjugated as אמרת (amarta) it means that the subject is feminine singular (same as before) and the tense of the verb is perfect – "she said." Generally speaking, when the number/gender letter (or letters) is added to the beginning of the verb it is in the imperfect tense, but when it is added to the end of the verb it is in the perfect tense. When this verb is conjugated as יאמר (yomer), it means that the subject is masculine singular and the tense of the verb is imperfect – "he will say." But when this verb is written in the masculine singular and perfect tense it is אמר (amar), there is no letter added to the end of the verb.

When I first started learning Hebrew I used an interlinear Bible with a dictionary and concordance (this was back in the day before computers were in every house) and looked up every instance of a given verb and wrote down the spelling and meaning. I found this to be a very useful tool for learning the different conjugations of verbs.




    In the News

Israeli Schoolboy Finds Ancient Figurine

A seven year old boy from Beit-Shin, Israel was walking around the Tel Rehov archeological site when he happened to discover a 3,500 year old clay figurine of a woman lying under a rock. The boy took the figurine who then reported it to the Israel Antiquities Authority who are unsure if the woman depicted in the figurine was that of a goddess, such as Astarte, or of a living person.

"Evidently the figurine belonged to one of the residents of the city of Rehov, which was then ruled by the central government of the Egyptian pharaohs," commented Amihai Mazar, professor emeritus at Hebrew University and expedition director of the archaeological excavations at Tel Rehov.

The Israel Antiquities Authority visited the boys classroom to show them the figurine and discuss it. Their teacher explained had recently been learning about Rachel stealing the idols from her father Laban.




    MT Excerpt

Genesis 17

01 and "Avram [Father raised]" existed a son of ninety nine years and "YHWH [He exists]" appeared to "Avram [Father raised]" and he said to him, I am a mighty one of "Shaddai [My breasts]" walk yourself to my face and exist whole, 02 and I will give my covenant between me and you and I will make you a very great increase, 03 and "Avram [Father raised]" fell upon his face and "Elohiym [Powers]" spoke with him saying, 04 look, I am here, my covenant is with you and you will exist for a father of a multitude of nations, 05 and your title will not again be called "Avram [Father raised]" and your title will exist as "Avraham [Father lifted]" given that a father of a multitude of nations I give you, 06 and I will make you reproduce very greatly and I will give you for nations and kings will go out from you, 07 and I will make my covenant rise between me and you and your seed after you to their generations for a covenant of a distant time, to exist for you for "Elohiym [Powers]" and for your seed after you, 08 and I will give to you and to your seed after you a land of pilgrimage, all of the land of "Kena'an [Lowered]" for a holdings of a distant time and I will exist for them for "Elohiym [Powers]", 09 and "Elohiym [Powers]" said to "Avraham [Father lifted]", and you, you will guard my covenant, you and your seed after you for their generations, 10 this is my covenant which you will guard between me and you and your seed after you, all of your males be circumcised, 11 and you will cut off the flesh of your foreskin and he will exist for a sign of the covenant between me and you, 12 and he that is a son of eight days will be circumcised for you, all of the males to your generations born of the house and acquired of silver from all of the sons of a foreign one which is not from your seed, 13 be circumcised, one born of your house and acquired of your silver, he will be circumcised and my covenant will exist in the flesh for a covenant of a distant time,

For additional details on this new translation, check out the MT Website.




    AHRC Excerpt

We have all heard the story of Cain and Abel. Two brothers bring their sacrifices to God; Abel's sacrifice is accepted, but Cain's sacrifice is not. Out of jealousy, Cain take's his brother out into the field and kills him. Because of Cain's sin, he is branded with a mark and sent away. However, if we carefully study the text, we find that there is much, much more, to this story.

Their Names

Let's begin with their names. The names Cain and Abel come from the Greek Septuagint, a 2,000 year old Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, where their names are written as "Kain" and "Abel." These names are the Greek transliterations of the Hebrew. In Hebrew, Cain is קין (qayin) and Abel is הבל (havel).

The word קין (qayin, from the root QN) means to acquire or possess something which is why Eve (chavah in Hebrew) said "I have gotten/acquired (qanah, also from the root QN) a man" (Gen 4:1). The word הבל (havel) means to be empty, often translated as vain or vanity in the sense of being empty of substance.

The Hebrew word for "name" is shem and literally means breath or character. In Hebrew thought, ones name is reflective of one's character and the Hebraic meanings of the names of "Cain and Abel" are windows into their characters. Cain is a possessor, one who has substance while Abel is empty of substance.

This may seem odd to us, because we have always assumed that Abel was the good guy and Cain the bad, but this is an oversimplification of the facts, as according to their names, a reflection of their character, Cain is what we would call "a man of character," but Abel is "vain."

Their Births

It is a well-known fact that Jacob and Esau were twins, but what is not commonly known is that Cain and Abel were also twins. In the normal Hebraic accounting of multiple births the conception then birth of each child is mentioned such as we can see in Genesis 29:32-33 where it states that Leah conceived and bore a son, and then she conceived again and bore a son. Note that there are two conceptions and two births. But notice how it is worded in Genesis 4:1-2.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain; And again, she bore his brother Abel. (RSV)

Notice that there is only one conception, but two births. The Hebrew word for "again" is asaph, meaning to add something, in this case the birthing of Abel was added to the birthing of Cain. Cain and Abel were twins.

Their professions

According to the Biblical text, Abel was a shepherd. The KJV uses the word "keeper," but the Hebrew word ro'eh means shepherd. Cain is a "tiller of the ground." The Hebrew word translated as "tiller" is o'ved, which literally means a "servant." The word o'ved, is the participle form of the verb avad and the verb avad is found in Genesis 3:23 where it states that when Adam was expelled from the garden he was sent to "till" (avad) the ground. Therefore, Cain, who is the older of the twins, takes on the profession of his father, a very common occurrence in the Hebrew culture. I should note that while Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel are not Hebrews by definition, they are the forefathers of the Hebrew people.

Their sacrifices

When the two boys brought their sacrifices to God, Cain, the farmer, brought fruit from the ground he worked and Abel, the shepherd, brought sheep from his flock. We are then told that God had respect for Abel's sacrifice, but not for Cain's, but we are not told why Cain's sacrifice was not respected.

Something of interest that can be gleaned from this story is that we often assume the first commands by God were given to Moses at Mt. Sinai, but this is evidently not the case, God gave his commands, or at least some of them, to Adam and Eve and their children and it is apparent from the narrative that Abel obeyed those commands, but Cain did not.

Because God did not respect Cain's sacrifice Cain was angry and sad. Then God gives him some instructions. The first of these is; " If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" God is telling him that he can overcome this; all he has to do in the future is bring the correct sacrifice, and all will be well. Then God says, " and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door." In other words, if you continue to bring me the wrong sacrifices, you will sin. Lastly God says, " And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." It is assumed by most that the "his" and "him" in this verse is "sin," however, this is impossible.

It is important to understand that in Hebrew all nouns are either masculine or feminine. For instance, the earth is feminine, but the sky (heaven) is masculine and the word for fish is feminine, but the word for bird is masculine. The Hebrew word for sin is hhatah, which is a feminine noun. If the "his" and "him," which by the way are the correct gender for the pronouns in the Hebrew text, were referring to "sin," then the correct pronouns would have been "hers" and "her." We can then conclude that the "his" and "him" are referring to something or someone other than sin.

To read the remainder of the article, click here.


    AHRC Updates

New web content, articles, books, videos and DVDs produced by AHRC as well as any new events.

Video - Ancient Hebrew Alphabet - Lamed

Video - Ancient Hebrew Alphabet - Kaph

Video - Ancient Hebrew Alphabet - Yud

How to use the AH Lexicon




    Comments & Editorial

Do you have a comment or personal insight into the articles in this issue of the E-Zine or found any errors needing correction? If so, let us know.


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