Hebrew Word of the Day

Hebrew Word of the Day (mishpat)The Hebrew word מִשְׁפָּט comes from the shoresh (root) שָׁפַט (to judge), so the most logical and common translation is “judgment” or “ruling”.  It can also convey the nuance of “justice” and is so used in:

  • לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט לְמַ֗עַן הָבִ֤יא  (Genesis 18:19)
  • לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה מִשְׁפָּֽט׃ (Genesis 18:25)
  • … and often.

Another nuance is the idea of “regulation” or “ordinance,” as seen in:

  • ל֛וֹ חֹ֥ק וּמִשְׁפָּ֖ט וְשָׁ֥ם נִסָּֽהוּ׃ (Exodus 15:25)
  • וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּשִׂ֖ים (Exodus 21:1)
  • … and often.

Looking at the specific construction of the word classes it among other words of the same mem-hiriq (מִ) + shoresh pattern, where the mem-hiriq prefix often means “point or place of,” e.g.:

  • מִקְדָּשׁ (sanctuary; lit. “point or place of holiness”) results from the מִ prefix attached to קֹ֫דֶשׁ (holy, set apart).
  • מִזְבֵּ֫חַ (altar; lit. “point or place of sacrifice”) comes from attaching the מִ prefix to זָבַח (to sacrifice).
  • מִדְבָּר (wilderness; lit. “point or place of the Word”) is derived from the מִ prefix attached to דָּבָר (word or speech) to describe the place where Hashem took Israel to “school” her for 40 years, i.e. to refocus her on His Word, before allowing entry into the Holy Land.

… so, perhaps the plainest meaning is that a מִשְׁפָּט (judgment) is where a person can find justice after being victimized by a Torah-breaker… an ordinance or ruling that serves as a “place or point (or means) of justice.”


Hebrew Word of the Day

Hebrew Word of the Day (besorah)A recent video interview features a rabbi claiming that the root of בְּשׂוֹרָה is בְּשַׂר (flesh).  The standard Hebrew reference volumes do not connect it this way (suggesting a separate root with the same consonantal spelling — בָּשַׂר: to bear tidings)… but it is an interesting premise.  Consider this possible connection in light of Yeshua’s statement, “This is my body [בְּשַׂר in Hebrew or בָּשָׂר in Aramaic; flesh]; take and eat [proclaim the בְּשׂוֹרָה?] in remembrance of Me.”


Hebrew Word of the Day

Hebrew Word of the Day (tiqvah)In ancienter Hebrew (e.g. Biblical), the pronunciation would have been tiqwah, but all dialects of Modern Hebrew (and Liturgical/worship Hebrew too) treat the letter waw like a German w (v sound).

The shoresh (root) of this word is קוה, which means “wait, look for, hope.”  TWOT says,

“This root means to wait or to look for with eager expectation…. Waiting with steadfast endurance is a great expression of faith.  It means enduring patiently in confident hope that G-d will decisively act for the salvation of His people (Gen. 49:18).  Waiting involves the very essence of a person’s being, his soul (nephesh; Ps 130:5).  Those who wait in true faith are renewed in strength so that they can continue to serve the L-rd while looking for His saving work (Isa. 40:31).  There will come a time when all that G-d has promised will be realized and fulfilled (Isa. 49:23; Ps 37:9).  In the meantime the Believer survives by means of his integrity and uprightness as he trusts in G-d’s grace and power (ps. 25:21).”

The National Anthem of Israel is titled HaTikvah (The Hope) and was written over 60 years before Israel was restored as a political “state” (a nation/people with a defined land possession).  The author of the song was Naftali Hertz Imber.

There is an identical shoresh (also spelled קוה) which means “collect, gather” and is the root of the word miqweh/mikveh (immersion pool).  Be careful not to confuse the two shoreshim (roots) or try to make them into a single shoresh.


Hebrew Word of the Day


Word of the Day (kippah)

Kippah (כִּפָּה‎ or כִּיפָּה) is from the root  כפף, which means “to bend,” as in:

סוֹמֵ֣ךְ יְ֭הוָה לְכָל־הַנֹּפְלִ֑ים וְ֝זוֹקֵ֗ף לְכָל־הַכְּפוּפִֽים׃

 “HaShem upholds all who are fallen and He raises up all who are bent.” (Psalms 145:14; v. 13 in Hebrew)

The alternative (Yiddish) name for the Jewish skullcap or kippah comes from Aramaic — yarmulke (יאַרמולקע) — and is a compound word combining yarma (fear/awe) and mulka (king): “awe of the King.”  This reflects Talmud Babli tractate Shabbat 156b, which reads,

“Cover your head in order that the awe of heaven may be upon you.”

Biblical references for the command to cover the head in G-d’s presence (i.e. in times of prayer, including worship, meals, and in some interpretations any activities of the day) include the following:

  • The Torah command for Aharon and his sons to wear head coverings in the Tabernacle (Exodus 28:4, 36-43; 29:6; 39:30-31; Leviticus 8:9, 13; 21:10).
  • 2 Samuel 15:30 & Psalms 140:7 in re: King David wearing a head covering
  • Ezekiel 44:18
  • Zechariah 3:5

The democratization of the Priesthood from just the Cohenim to all Israel (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6) would extend this requirement upon all Believers.

Other related words:

  • kaf  “palm / hollow of the hand/foot,”  the letter kaf (sofit), “(table)spoon”
  • kappit “teaspoon”
  • kappah “palm branch”
  • kfafot “gloves”

Recommended reading for older students: C. Welker, “Let’s Talk about Men’s Head Coverings,” The Refiner’s Fire (online: http://www.therefinersfire.org/kippa.htm).


Hebrew Word of the Day

Hebrew Word of the Day (כֵּן)The word כֵּן is an interesting one in that it has a different meaning (somewhat) in the Bible than it does in Modern Hebrew.  You might know it as the Modern Hebrew word for “yes,” but when it appears in the Tanakh, the meaning is “thus” or “so” (as in “it is so”) as an adverb or “right, honest” as an adjective.

For more advanced students, Balashon (tr. “in the tongue/language”) has a very good article covering both of these meanings and how they likely connect.