Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine (March)

Ancient Hebrew Research Center Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine
March, 2006 Issue #025

Issue Index
Word of the Month: She'ol
Name of the Month: Ashterot Qarnayim
Question of the Month: Will I better understand the Bible by learning Hebrew?
Verse of the Month: Exodus 20:3
MT Excerpt: Genesis 6:1-5
AHRC Excerpt: Hebrew Thought
Donnee's Corner: Bashal
Hebrew Detective: Rekhesh
Guest Article: Mila Yomit: Breisheet

Word of the Month - שאול (She'ol)
By: Jeff A. Benner

The word she'ol is often understood as hell, the place of the damned or the underworld. How did the Ancient Hebrews perceive she'ol? As I have said before, in order to better understand a word it is essential to look at its root and other related words.

The verbal root sha'al is used almost 200 times and is usually translated as "asked" such as in Genesis 24:7 - "and I asked her and said..." Why do we ask questions? We are looking for information that is currently unknown to us. This word, "unknown," is the key to understanding the root sha'al and all the words derived from it.

The word she'eylah, a noun derived from sha'al is used in Job 6:8 where it is translated as a request. "O that I might have my request, and that God would grant my desire" (RSV). A request is to ask for something that is not possessed. As it is not possessed it is an unknown. How many times have we asked for something that we knew we needed but when we received it we found out it was not what we thought it would be. In other words, we thought we knew what we were missing but it turns out that what we were requesting was an unknown.

The word she'ol, also derived from sha'al, was understood as the place where one goes when they die. The question is, did they understand this to be simply the grave one is buried in or another place one goes after they die? This is a difficult question to answer as the Hebrew Bible never really defines she'ol. There is evidence however that they understood it to be more than just the grave. First, the word qever is the Hebrew word meaning grave and therefore it is possible that she'ol was understood as something other than the grave. Second, most scriptures using the word she'ol imply a place other than the grave. An example is Genesis 37:35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, "No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning." Thus his father wept for him (RSV). In this account Jacob believed his son Joseph had been eaten by a wild beast. As Joseph's body could not possibly be in a grave, Jacob knew that he would be with him somewhere - she'ol.

The Ancient Hebrews did not know where or even what she'ol was. To them it was an unknown place hence, the use of a word related to sha'al meaning "unknown." It should also be noted that the Ancient Hebrews never speculated on something unknown, it was simply not known and left at that. It is only the Greek mind that desires to know the unknown. It is our Greco-Roman western mindset that needs to know where and what she'ol is.

Name of the Month - עשתרות קרנים (Ashterot Qarnayim)
By: Jeff A. Benner

This place name only occurs once in the Hebrew Bible - Genesis 14:5. It is composed of two words the first being Ashterot (ash-te-rot). The "ot" is the feminine plural suffix, the singular form is Ashter meaning "the young one of the flock," the plural form Ashterot meaning "young ones of the flock." This is also the name of the Canaanite goddess as seen in Judges 2:13. This same goddess was called Ishtar in the Babylonian mythology and is the origin of the word "Easter".

The word Qarnayim (qar-nah-yim) is also a plural word, the singular form being qeren meaning horn. The Hebrew word qeren is the origin of our English word crown. In ancient times a crown was made of "horns" and the pointed tips of the crowns we are familiar with today represent those horns. The word qeren is also a feminine word and its plural form is qarnot. Notice that the plural form of the word Qarnayim uses the "yim" suffix instead. The "yim" suffix is what is called the dual plural and is used for things that come in pairs such as hands (yadyim) or ears (az'nayim). The word qarnayim then means "two horns".

When these the two words, Ashterot Qarnayim, are combined we have the meaning "the young ones of the flock of the two horns."

Question of the Month - Will I better understand the Bible by learning Hebrew?
By: Jeff A. Benner

There is no argument that reading any work in its original language will provide a better understanding of that text. For instance, to really understand the works of Martin Luther it is best to read it in German and the works of Plato in Greek. This also applies to the Hebrew of the Tenach/Old Testament. Just as one example the phrase "sha'alu shalom yerushalam" is translated as "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" but much of the Hebraicness of the verse is missing. The word sha'alu is the verb sha'al meaning to ask or make a request and the suffix "u" identifies the subject of the verb as plural. The word shalom more specifically means completeness or to be in health and prosperity. The name Yerushalem is a combination of the word Yeru meaning teach. Shalem which is identical to shalom meaning completeness. The full Hebraic understanding of this verse is "All of you make a request that the ones who teach shalom/completeness will be given health and prosperity."

It should also be understand that learning Hebrew will not always bring out the original intended meaning of a word or phrase. The problem is that we think from a western perspective and this is also true for those who speak Hebrew today. For instance the word tsadiyq is usually understood as "righteous" as identified in all modern lexicons and dictionaries of the Biblical Hebrew language. While we are comfortable using abstracts in our modern western minds, the Ancient Hebrews always understood things through the concrete. The word original concrete meaning of tsadiyq "to remain on the correct path".

In summary, learning Hebrew will enhance ones understanding of the Biblical text but the Hebrew must be learned through ancient Hebraic mind and not the modern Hebrew mind.

Verse of the Month - Exodus 20:3
By: Jeff A. Benner

לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים על פני
You shall have no other gods before me. (RSV)

לא (lo)
This word means "no" or "not" and often precedes a verb to negate the action of that verb.

יהיה (yih-yeh)
The base word is היה (hayah) meaning "to exist." The prefix י (y) identifies the subject of the verb as third person, masculine and singular (he) and the tense of the verb as imperfect. This word would be translated as "he exists."

לך (le-kha)
The ל (l) is a prefix meaning "to" or "for." The ך (k) is a suffix meaning "you."

אלהים (e-lo-hiym)
The base word אלוה (e-lo-ah) is commonly translated as "God" or "god," but more literally means "one of power and authority." The suffix ים (iym) is the masculine plural. This noun is the subject of the verb היה (hayah), the "he" of "he exists."

אחרים (a-hha-riym)
The base word is אחר (a-hher) meaning "other" or "another." This is an adjective describing אלהים. The gender and number of any adjective will match the noun it describes, therefore the same plural suffix is added to this adjective.

על (al)
This is a very common word meaning "over" or "above."

פני (pa-nai)
The base word is פנה (panah) meaning "face". But also includes two suffixes, ים (iym) the masculine plural suffix and י (y) the first person possessive pronoun meaning "of me." In order to explain the formation of this word let me write this word as פנה-ים- י (panah-iym-iy). When a suffix such as ים
(iym) is added to a noun ending with the letter ה (h), the ה is dropped so now we have פנ-ים-י (pan-iym-iy). When a plural noun is suffixed with a possessive pronoun such as the י (y), the ם (m) is dropped so now we have פנ-י-י (pan-iy-iy). The two יs are then combined into one and pronounced "ai" (like the "i" in bike) - פני(pan-ai). This Hebrew word meaning "face" is always idiomatically written in the plural form but should not be understood as more than one face.

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

Other ones of power and authority will not exist for you over my face.

Mechanical Translation Excerpt - Genesis 6:1-5

For details on this new translation see the MTHB web site.

1. and it came to pass that the human caused to pierce to increase in number upon the face of the ground and caused to give birth to daughters for them 2. and the sons of the powers saw the daughters of the human that they were functional and took for them the women from which they chose 3. and Yihweh* said my wind will not moderate in the human to an ancient time whereas he is flesh and his days will exist a hundred and ten years 4. the Nephilim existed in the land in the days of them and also after so which the sons of the powers come to the daughters of the human and they gave birth to them, they are the courageous ones which are from an ancient time, men of the character 5. and Yihweh saw that the dysfunctions of the human in the land were abundant and all the thought of inventions of his heart were only dysfunctional all the day

* - In our western culture we are comfortable using names, such as Jehovah/Yahweh, that have no meaning but this is not true with the Ancient Hebrews where every name was a word with meaning. The name Jehovah/Yahweh is written in Hebrew with four letters (YHWH). These four letters, as a Hebrew word, can only be the third person, masculine, singular, imperfect tense of the verb HWH. Therefore the word YHWH would mean "he exists" and would be transliterated as "yihweh". As a comparison, the third person, masculine, singular, imperfect tense of the verb HYH (whose meaning and use is identical to HWH) is YHYH, also meaning "he exists," and is pronounced yihyeh.

AHRC Web Site Excerpt - Hebrew Thought

In the world, past and present, there are two major types of cultures; the Hebrew (or eastern) culture and the Greek (or western) culture. Both of these cultures view their surroundings, lives, and purpose in ways which would seem foreign to the other. With the exception of a few Bedouin nomadic tribes living in the Near East today, the ancient Hebrew culture has disappeared.

What happened to this ancient Hebrew thought and culture? Around 800 BCE, a new culture arose to the north. This new culture began to view the world very much differently than the Hebrews. This culture was the Greeks. Around 200 BCE the Greeks began to move south causing a coming together of the Greek and Hebrew culture. This was a very tumultuous time as the two vastly different cultures collided. Over the following 400 years the battle raged until finally the Greek culture won and virtually eliminated all trace of the ancient Hebrew culture. The Greek culture then in turn influenced all following cultures including the Roman and European cultures, our own American culture and even the modern Hebrew culture in Israel today.

As 20th Century Americans with a strong Greek thought influence, we read the Hebrew Bible as if a 20th Century American had written it. In order to understand the ancient Hebrew culture in which the Tenack was written in, we must examine some of the differences between Hebrew and Greek thought.

Article continues at the AHRC Web Site

Donnee's Corner - בשל (Bashal)
By: Donnee

Donnee's Corner is a new feature of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center's e-zine. This column will review a word, its meanings, and usage to verify by research. This column will start with a in-depth look at a featured Hebrew word followed by various tools for a deepen understanding. As well as e-Sword formatting in order to clip and paste into e-Sword, enabling the mouse-over advantages of e-Sword. These various tools will follow the review in order to assist in your research of Ancient Hebrew.

This issue discusses “bashal” LamedShinBeyt. This Word begins with the Beyt ”bet” for “house” meaning “IN”, followed by Shin ”shin” for “two teeth” meaning to “CHEW”, as in “PARTICIPATE/INVOLVED” and finally the Lamed ”lamed” for “STAFF” meaning authority which can mean “TO RULE OVER/UPON”. Meaning to “saturate” as in:

Joel 3:13, Put you in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness [is] great. (KJV)

Collectively to be “ruled while in participation”. The “bet” (Lamed) showing it is “housed”, the “shin” (Shin) showing it is “active” and the “lamed” (Lamed) showing it is under “authority” and not of authority, but actually ruled-over while active in the process. Therefore whatever is contained is under direct authority by and with its involvement. This involvement is a mutual interactivity causing the subject to become altered during this process. Showing that it is being “of subject by its activity”. For example, clothing becomes wet and saturated becoming subject to the rules of its environment. This is desired when washing clothes as it assists in cleansing by removing dirt. The dirt is removed as water saturates the threads lifting the dirt and moving it to another objective location.

This process is accelerated by being “with fire” and is required during certain events. As in when Tamar made bagels:

2Sa 13:8, “so Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded [it], and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes." (KJV)

The cooking process, with fire, causes more swelling and alterations while being within the authority of heat and water. This presents a difficulty when translating LamedShinBeyt, bashal, into other languages. As seen in the two Quotes above it is difficult to render it correctly with a single word while maintaining flow and comprehension. This is seen in:

Deut 16:7, “And you will <bashal> and eat [it] in the place which YHUH your Elohim will choose and you will turn in the morning, and go to your tents.”

The use of the word “roast”, by most translations actually deny the meaning of this word. This is easily seen when carefully comparing its usage and relative words to support context. This is seen when one compares Ex. 12:9 to Dt. 16:7, one is left with scratching their head trying to understand how most translations come to use both “boil” AND “roast” as bashal. We will look further into this term, its usage and relative context in a future issue.

Strong's Definition: H1310
בשל ba-shal baw-shal'
A primitive root; properly to boil up; hence to be done in cooking; figuratively to ripen: - bake, boil, bring forth, is ripe, roast, seethe, sod (be sodden)

BDB's Definition:
1) to boil, cook, bake, roast, ripen, grow ripe
   1a) (Qal)
      1a1) to boil, cook
      1a2) to grow ripe, ripen
   1b) (Piel)
      1b1) to boil
      1b2) to cook
   1c) (Pual)
      1c1) to be boiled
      1c2) to be sodden
   1d) (Hiphil)
      1d1) to ripen
      1d2) ripen, brought to ripeness

Part of Speech: verb

Same Word by TWOT Number: 292

AHLB Definition: 2043: LamedShinBeyt, (בשל BShl)
ac: Boil co: Meat ab: ?: The boiling of meat over a fire.
   (V) I. Boil: To boil a meat in water. II. Ripe: [freq. 28] (vf: Paal, Hiphil, Pual, Piel) |kjv: seethe, boil, sod, bake, ripe, roast| {str: 1310}
   (Nm) Boiled: A meat that has been in water. [freq. 2] |kjv: sodden|{str. 1311}

Total KJV Occurrences: 30

seethe, 9: Exo_16:23 (2), Exo_23:19, Exo_29:31, Exo_34:26, Deu_14:21, 2Ki_4:38, Eze_24:5, Zec_14:21

sodden, 5: Exo_12:9, Lev_6:28 (2), 1Sa_2:15, Lam_4:10

boil, 4: Lev_8:31, Eze_46:20, Eze_46:24 (2)

boiled, 2: 1Ki_19:21, 2Ki_6:29

ripe, 2: Gen_40:10, Joe_3:13

bake, 1: 2Sa_13:8

baked, 1: Num_11:8 (2)

brought, 1: Gen_40:10

forth, 1: Gen_40:10 (2)

roast, 1: Deu_16:7

roasted, 1: 2Ch_35:13

seething, 1: 1Sa_2:13

sod, 1: 2Ch_35:13

Hebrew Language Detective - רכש (Rekhesh)
By: David Curwin

An interesting phrase appears in Megilat Esther: רוכבי הרכש - rokhvei harekhesh - translated as "riding steeds" (Esther 8:10). Rekhesh here certainly seems to be referring to a type of horse. But what is the connection between rekhesh and rekhush רכוש - property?

Horowitz points out (p. 61), that cattle and horses were among the most common forms of wealth. Besides rekhesh and rekhush, we have the following:

  • mikne מקנה - cattle has the root kana קנה - acquire ·
  • segula סגולה - property comes is related to the Akkadian word sugullu - herd of cattle ·
  • nekhesim נכסים - property is related to the Aramaic root for killing נכס - and meant "cattle to be slaughtered"

The word rekesh is also related to the root רכס - "to bind, to fasten", which was of course done to cattle, horses and camels. We see the verb in this weeks parsha (Tetzaveh) וירכסו את החושן - "the breastpiece shall be held in place" (Shmot 28:28). This root gives us the word rekhes רכס - for mountain ridge (the mountains are fastened together), and rokhsan רוכסן - zipper.

There is one more related word that is used so frequently in modern Hebrew that I would guess most of you would assume it has ancient roots - I know I did. The word merkaz מרכז center only entered Hebrew in the Middle Ages. According to Klein, it derives from the Arabic markaz - meaning foothold, stand, center, which in turn comes from the Semitic root רכס - to bind. The root רכז came later, as a back formation of מרכז.

Hebrew Language Detective - Mila Yomit (Daily Word)
By: Rabbi Itzchak

The following is Word One from an ongoing Hebrew word by Hebrew word cyber learning journey and is being presented to you here as an introduction. For additional information on the 'MILA YOMIT: The Torah, Word By Word' and its author, Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein, click here. For a more detailed file on the word below, click here. To receive more of these, contact Rabbi Itzchak at

BREISHIT- In the beginning
The OTIOT -letters of BREISHIT are:
Bet ( corresponds to Letter B)-House, a vessel defined by a floor, a roof and a wall with an open side. This is similar to our universe which provides us with a floor, a roof, and a wall allowing for verticality and an open future. That which is next in time is open; is ours to fill.

  • Bet is the first of the seven double letters, those letters that can be pronounced both hard and soft.
  • As seven they each represent a day of the week and reflect the duality of our daily experience.
  • Bet corresponds with the first day, Sunday.
  • The quality of Chachma-wisdom or its transposition 'avlat-folly'. Its numerical value 2- representing the first emergence of two, the Creator and the Created.
  • Its Sefira Correspondence is Chesed-Love.
  • The creation is an act of love.
The Resh-(corresponds to Letter R) is 'head', beginning', representing the process of emerging understanding.
  • Also one of the seven double letters, it is related to the sixth day, Friday.
  • Its quality is shalom:peace or its transposition, milchama:war.
  • Its numeric value is 200.
  • Its sefira correspondence is Yesod-foundation.
  • The experience of passionate-creativity.
Aleph (corresponds to Letter A) and means 'master, teaching, thousand, oxen'.
  • It is the first of the Three Mother Letters.
  • It is the element of light, of air.
  • Its form represents the light that shines in all directions, teaching us that as above, so below.
  • It is a silent letter whose numerical equivalence is One.
  • Teaching us of The Silent Infinite One out of which the other emerges while always remaining connected.
  • Its sefira correspondence is Keter-Crown, the seat of unity, vision and will.
Shin (corresponds to Letter S) -meaning change, a tooth, representing the symmetrical eternal flame rising to the heights.
  • The third of the mother letters.
  • It is the element of fire.
  • Correspondence to bina.
  • Numerical equivalence is 300
Yod (corresponds to Letter I) -meaning hand, or to thrust, formed by the smallest point and representing the first particle of creation out of which all else emerged, (the point out of which the big bang banged).
  • Numerical equivalence is 10.
  • Dominant over action, one of the 12 ' pshutot-simple letters.
  • Corresponding to Virgo.
Tav (corresponds to letter T) -meaning seal, impression, the last letter representing the seal of creation.
  • The Seventh of the double letters, related to Shabbat.
  • Numerical equivalence is 400.
Six letters-six days of creation
The Midrash (collection of oral teachings) notes that BREISHIT begins with the letter BET .

“Why was the world created with a ?
  • Just as the BET is closed on all sides and only open in front (at which point the Torah begins), so too you are not permitted to speculate on what is above and what is below, what is before and what is behind, but only on the day of creation and onwards.
  • To teach you that there are two worlds - this world and the world to come (the world that is coming).
  • Just as the BET has two projecting points, one on its top pointing upwards and the other, at its bottom, pointing backward, so when it is asked, 'Who created you?' it intimates with its upward point, 'He who is above created me.' And if it is further asked 'What is His name?' it intimates to us with its back point 'YHVH is His name.''
(Midrash Rabba)
Bara - Created
Berosh - in the head, in the beginning
      Next letter Yod - (perhaps in the Head was the Yod - the principle of tiny point expanding through the power of the ten)
      Bar Esh - a pure fire
      First two letter and last two letters make up the word BRIT:covenant and the middle two letters is AISH:fire.
BREISHIT - Our created home, a covenant of fire that emerged from the Divine Mind.

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Ancient Hebrew Research Center

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