Hebrew Word of the Week

tear_face_by_e5therThe word עֶ֫צֶב (generally translated “pain”) occurs only 7 times in the whole of Scripture, making it fairly easy to pin down its meaning based on context.  It is sometimes translated “sorrow” or “grief.”  The passages, for the sake of reference, are: Genesis 3:16; Psalm 127:2 (in the plural form); Proverbs 5:10;   10:22; 14:23; 15:1; and Jeremiah 22:28.

As these passages are all poetic, it seems that this term is one principally devoted to poetic language, so some variety is to be expected in its usage and semantic range.  In the Jeremiah passage, most translations yield “idol” rather than anything related directly to grief, sorrow, or heartache… but it might be argued that the worship of idols is a cause of such emotions for HaShem.

The word “pain” in Genesis 3:16 “And I will greatly increase your pain in child-rearing” is עֶ֫צֶב (‘étzev) in Hebrew… which means “emotional travail; heartache.” I think what it is really focused on is that parenting sometimes hurts.

There is no greater sorrow than that of a mother grieving for  her deceased child.  As the protoeuangelion (first iteration of the Gospel) precedes Genesis 3:16 by only 1 verse… it is possible that this verse is likewise prophetic, looking ahead to the grieving mother of Yeshua after the Execution Stake.

Scarlett Stough expounds:

Parents suffer for and with their children throughout their lives. The concern and empathy they feel does not end when their children grow up and leave home. The responsibilities may change and end, but the love never does.


image information: “tear face” by e5ther (deviantart)


Hebrew Word of the Week

kallahIt is interesting that in Hebrew, the word for “bride” (כַּלָּה; pronounced “kallah”) comes from the primitive shoresh (root) כָּלַל, which means “to complete” or “to perfect.”  We can see, then, that in Hebraic thought, the very word “bride” implies that this is the person who completes the picture of who the groom is; he is considered incomplete until he finds his bride.  This certainly gives us a deeper dimension to the verse “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and has obtained favor from HaShem” (Proverbs 18:22).

מָצָ֣א אִ֭שָּׁה מָ֣צָא טֹ֑וב וַיָּ֥פֶק רָ֝צֹ֗ון מֵיְהוָֽה׃


Hebrew Word of the Day

YHWH EloheinuWe’ll cover two today, since we’re coming into Shabbat and do not make posts on Shabbat.

The first is the Covenant Name of Hashem (YHWH), which is traditionally not pronounced.  Hundreds of years ago, the Masoretes gave us “ketiv qere” indicators to tell us what words to substitute for the Covenant Name (aka “tetragrammaton“).  “Ketiv qere” means “written (differently than) read.”

When the niqqudot (vowel points) from the title “Adonai” (L-RD) are placed under the Name, it is traditionally read Adonai instead of attempting to pronounce YHWH and guessing at what vowels go there; and when the niqqudot from the title “Elohim” (G-D) are present, we substitute Elohim for the tetragrammaton.  We do this out of reverence for the Holy One, blessed be He, and in obedience to the 3rd Commandment of the Decalogue: “You are not to take up the name of YHWH your God for emptiness, for YHWH will not clear him that takes up His name for emptiness” (Shemot/Exodus 20:7 TSB*).  For another nuance to this discussion, see Prof. Brian Tice’s article on the historical use of nominae sacrae.

In many of our prayers, we here the juxtaposition of two titles of Hashem: “Adonai Eloheinu” (L-RD our G-D).  It has been observed that in their contextual usage, the tetragrammaton appears in Scripture when the 13 attributes of mercy are being emphasized (grace, mercy, compassion, etc.), and the title Elohim (the lexical form from which Eloheinu comes) is used when the attributes of Judge and Creator are in view.  When both are used in conjunction, both sets of attributes are in view.**


*TSB = Everett Fox, The Schocken Bible: The Five Books of Moses (New York: Schocken Books, 1995; used with permission).  This translation was chosen for its diligence in preserving not only the literal meaning of the Hebrew text, but also the original rhythm of the text.  It is a masterful translation, and highly recommended.