Hebrew In Israel | Gifts and Offerings – Learn Torah

Hebrew In Israel | Gifts and Offerings – Learn Torah

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An interesting thing about Biblical Hebrew is the specific use of words.  We are mostly exposed to the limited vernacular of Hebrew and the multiple meanings words may have.  However, in some cases we actually have specific words which are distinguishable in meaning from others. 

A resent example I dealt with are the words מנחה (Minchah) and משאת (Mas-et).  When these words are translated they usually appear as a gift or offering.  A מנחה is mostly known as the grain offerings mentioned in Lev 2, while משאת shows up for the first time in Gen 43:34.  Both words represent a gift of some sort, however there is an interesting possible internal meaning when we examine the use of these words.  The difference between the two words is that a מנחה is from a person to God/king, while a משאת is from the king to the person (we don’t find it with God to a man but a similar word is used in some cases for prophecy).

This point can be demonstrated from Gen 43:25 where it says:

וַיָּכִינוּ, אֶתהַמִּנְחָה, עַדבּוֹא יוֹסֵף, בַּצָּהֳרָיִם: כִּי שָׁמְעוּ, כִּישָׁם יֹאכְלוּ לָחֶם.

“And they made ready the present against Joseph’s coming at noon; for they heard that they should eat bread there”

And then it says in verse 34:

וַיִּשָּׂא מַשְׂאֹת מֵאֵת פָּנָיו, אֲלֵהֶם, וַתֵּרֶב מַשְׂאַת בִּנְיָמִן מִמַּשְׂאֹת כֻּלָּם, חָמֵשׁ יָדוֹת; וַיִּשְׁתּוּ וַיִּשְׁכְּרוּ, עִמּוֹ

“And portions were taken unto them from before him; but Benjamin’s portion was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.”

The same text clearly has a different word for each gift depending on the origins of the gift and to whom they are intended.  While the gift from the brothers is called a Minchah, the gift from Joseph is a Maset.

In English one can say “portion”, however this would be an over simplification of terms and the text uses a specific word used for each one of the gifts.



Originally Published:  18 March 2016

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