The vocabulary of the English language has only two dimensions, meaning that each word within the English language has one definition, the first dimension, but can be used in a variety of applications, the second dimension. As an example, the definition of the word “train” is “a procession traveling together.” A line of railroad cars is called a train because they travel together in procession. The trailing part of a wedding dress is called a train because it travels in procession with the bride. The verb “train” means to “teach,” but in the sense of causing the student to follow in procession with the teacher.
The Hebrew language however, is multi-dimensional. Like in English, each Hebrew word has a literal meaning as well as extended meanings. However, unlike English, Hebrew words are derived out of a specific root whose meaning is closely related to the word and this root may have other words derived out of it, also with a similar meaning to that root. Many of these roots are also derived out of another root, which may have multiple roots derived out of it.
Let’s use the Hebrew word אבן (even, Strong's #68) to demonstrate. This word literally means a “stone,” such as you might find in a creek or field, but can also be a “weight” used in a balance scale, as it is made from a stone or a block within a building that is made of hewn stones.
This Hebrew word is derived out of the parent root בן (ben, Strong's #1121). In the original Hebrew alphabet, this word was written as . The first picture (on the right) is a picture of a tent, our house. The second picture is a germinating seed, but can also mean to “continue” as a seed continues the next generation. When combined these letters mean “continue the house” and is the Hebrew word for a “son,” the one who continues the line of the house.
From the parent root בן (ben) come several other roots, and the words derived out of them. These roots and words are closely related to the concept of “continuing the house.”
בנן (B-N-N): beniyn–a building
אבן (A-B-N): even–a stone; ovehn–a stool (made from stone)
הבן (H-B-N): hovehn–ebony (a hardwood used in building)
בהן (B-H-N): bohen–thumb (called “the builder” as it is needed for building)
בנה (B-N-H): banah–to build; beniyah–a building; mavenah–structure
בון (B-W-N): tevunah–intelligence (needed to build)
בין (B-Y-N): beyn–understanding (needed to build)
לבן (L-B-N): lavan–a brick (as used like stone to build)
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Related Pages by Jeff A. Benner
|Ancient Hebrew Dictionary (Book)|
This Biblical Hebrew dictionary contains the one thousand most frequent verbs and nouns found within the Hebrew Bible.