Hebrew In Israel | Malqosh – Learn Torah

Malqosh, Latter rain, merism, biblical hebrew,

Hebrew In Israel | Malqosh – Learn Torah

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This week I woke up to a rainy day which is expected at the beginning of Spring here in Israel.  This rain, if it is the last of the season, is known as the מַלְקוֹשׁ-Malqosh.  We can find this meaning in Deuteronomy 11:14 where the text uses the merism יוֹרֶה וּמַלְקוֹשׁ to indicate the first and last rainfall.  

The name is derived from the agricultural concept of לֶקֶשׁ-Leqesh which is the grass which grows after the harvest.  An example of this can be found in Amos 7:1

כֹּה הִרְאַנִי אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה וְהִנֵּה יוֹצֵר גֹּבַי בִּתְחִלַּת עֲלוֹת הַלָּקֶשׁ, וְהִנֵּה לֶקֶשׁ אַחַר גִּזֵּי הַמֶּלֶךְ

“Here is what YHWH Elohim showed me: he was forming a swarm of locusts as the late crop was starting to come up, the late crop after the hay had been cut to pay the king’s tribute.”

The prophet sees a locust (Govay) horde appear at the time of the late sowing (Leqesh) after the king takes his tribute.  This is a very clear depiction of the agricultural reality of Israel during the 8th century.   Not only does it show us the double sowing and harvesting system used back then, but also the taxation practices of the kings.  Kings would have taken directly from the crops, and didn’t wait for the people to finish the harvest.  This seems to be a violation of land rights, which seem to be a common problem with the kings and reminds us of the acts of Achav and the field of Navot.

It is important to point out that the Leqesh is not a given, and depends on whether to not we get rain after the harvest.  At the moment, the only harvest done is that for animals, and the main harvest will only happen after the feast of Chag Hamatzot (feast of unleavened bread).

The Gezer Calendar

Another appearance of the word can be found in an external Hebrew source from Biblical times. The term Leqesh is found in the famous Gezer calendar in the second line ירחולקש.

ירחואספ|ירחוזBiblical calendar, new moon calendar, jewish calendar, archaeology, moon sighting, passover month,







אבי (ה)

  • Two months gathering אספ
  • Two months planting זרע
  • Two months late sowing לקש
  • One month cutting flax עצד פשת
  • One month reaping barley קצר שערמ
  • One month reaping and measuring grain קצר וכל
  • Two months pruning זמר
  • One month summer fruit קצ

The end of the document seems to have a signature of the person who wrote it, אבי, which has been understood as being the name אביה-Aviyah, translated “my father is Yah”.

Every one of the agricultural references is a combination of the word ירחו-Yercho from the root ירח (moon-month), with the suffix-O which some think is a dual which means “two months”.  Others believe it is a suffix to indicate the Genitive principle of “of”, meaning “month of”.  The second word is is the actual act, and for our discussion it is the word לקש.  This term/phrase appears after the ירחוזרע-Month of seeding.  This depiction would actually mean that the Leqesh is not the final rain, but the rains in overall which bring the sprouting of the grass.  Some see this meaning in the Gezer calendar to mean a second seeding season after the initial rain.

Languages as a rule, and especially dialects, tend to change the meaning of words throughout time or place.  It is possible that the term Leqesh received a different meaning in time, and was used in later stages of Hebrew or different dialects to mean the last rain.  The cases of Amos and the Gezer calendar might support this difference, where it is clear we are dealing in each case in a different stage in the agricultural time frame.  Whatever the case may be, the general idea of rain which brings grass has been preserved in the overall appearance of the word in Hebrew.

I pray we have a healthy harvest time, and that we will be able to return to the thanksgiving to YHWH at his temple with our first fruits.

Happy New Biblical Year! 

Gezer Calendar Photo Attribute: By User:Yoavd (File:Gezer Calendar – Replica.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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