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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words



Unclean
By Jeff A. Benner

טמאtamey

To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten. (KJV, Leviticus 11:47)

The Hebrew word טמא (tamey, Strong's #2930) means “unclean.” Something that is “tamey” is dirty or “polluted.” This can be a literal pollution as from eating something that can bring on a disease or illness or it can be a moral pollution such as through sexual immorality as we see in Genesis 34:2 where the word “tamey” is translated as “defiled.”

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. (KJV)

Interestingly, both words, tahor (clean) and tamey (unclean), begin with the same letter, a tet (ט). The ancient pictographic picture for this letter is a picture of a basket - and can mean “surrounding” or “contained.” Do we surround ourselves with cleanness or dirtiness?




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