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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Modern Hebrew Words

Dead Sea Scrolls

By Jeff A. Benner


The Hebrew for the "Dead Sea Scrolls" is מגילות ים המלח (magilot yam hamelahh). The word מגילות (magilot) is the plural form of the noun מגילה (m'gilah, Strong's #4040), which means "scroll." The Hebrew word ספר (sepher, Strong's #5612) also means "scroll," but in Modern Hebrew, sepher is generally used for a "book" and m'gilah for a "scroll." Because m'gilah is a feminine noun, the feminine plural suffix ות (ot) is used rather than the masculine plural suffix ים (iym).

The word ים (yam, Strong's #3220) means "sea." The word המלח (hamelahh) is the word מלח (melahh, Strong's #4417) meaning "salt" with the prefix ה (ha) meaning "the." So המלח (hamelahh) means "the salt." But when Hebrew puts two nouns together they are usually in the construct state, which means that we would put the word "of" between the two nouns. Also, when the prefix ha, meaning "the," is prefixed to the second word in the construct, the translation "the" is added to the beginning of the first word in the construct in English. So the phrase ים המלח (yam hamelahh) means "the sea of salt" not "sea of the salt." I should also note that the Hebrew name for the "Dead Sea" is the "Salt Sea."

When we put all of this together, the phrase מגילות ים המלח (magilot yam hamelahh) means, "scrolls of the sea of salt." Note that there are three nouns put together, which means that we have two constructs in this phrase; "scrolls of..." and "the sea of salt."




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