Worship, bow down

Hebrew In Israel | Worship? – Learn Torah

Yoel Halevi No Comments

Probably one of the more misunderstood Hebrew verbs is להשתחוות.  This verb has been translated as “to worship”, which has spun many ideas which are not true.  The verb’s root is debated, varying from שחה to חוה.  The main issue is the context this verb appears in.  It is true that as a general idea the verb can be used as “to worship”, however it actually means “to bow down”.  Cases where the verb would mean “to worship” are only if it is used as a lone verb of worshiping, and when it is directed to God.  Any other case only means “to bow down”.

Solet, Flour in the bible, fine flour

Hebrew In Israel | Flour – Learn Torah

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While preparing for my weekly Tanakh class, I came across a word which had an interesting memory for me.  The word is סלת-Solet, and is associated mostly with Temple service.  In modern Hebrew Solet usually means Semolina, however in the past it probably had a different meaning.  As I have demonstrated in the past, words can change meaning as time progresses.

One Flesh

Hebrew In Israel | One Flesh (Gen 2:24) – Learn Torah


I was asked the following question about the relationship between man and woman in the context of Gen 2:24, and the meaning of the words בשר אחד.

Hebrew In Israel | All Ye of Black Hair – Learn Torah

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An interesting term found both in ANE text and Jewish sources is “Black headed peoples”. This term is found in Sumerian poetry and legal documents, and seems to relate to humans as a subject of any specific case discussed.  It is uncertain if it means all humans, and it might be used differently in each document.  We will look at two examples used in ancient sources and see how they are used.
Cain and Abel

Hebrew In Israel | One Verb – Learn Torah

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A Biblical text can be a field of land mines which can create many arguments over what is actually being said.  This has been the main issue in biblical interpretation for the last 2500 years, and has created many interpretations to text which can be read in different ways.  One of the mechanisms used is a very close reading of what is being said, and when the text does something unexpected we look for a reason.  In some cases the reason can be very simple, and in some complex.  The approach depends on what the reader is seeking, and how they want to read the text.  The following is an example of such a case where someone proposed an idea, and I presented a different way of reading.

Olam, World, Universe, forever

Hebrew In Israel | The World – Learn Torah

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The word Olam עולם is one of those words that keeps on showing up.  Most commonly it is known from the blessings used in Judaism “אלהינו מלך העולם”-Elohenu Melekh HaOlam (Our God, King of the Universe).  However, Olam in Biblical Hebrew actually has a temporal meaning.  Originally, it actually meant “eternal”, such as the combination of לעולם ועד-LeOlam Va’ed (forever).  It can be used to indicate the past such as כל ימי עולם-all the days of the past, or future as the example given above.  In Ugaritic we find combinations such as “mlk ‘lm-eternal king” or ” ‘m ‘lm-to eternity”.
Sources:  Kedari.M, BH Dictionary pp.782-783Gordon.C, UT 1858, pp.456-457


Originally Published:  1 August 2016

Hebrew In Israel | Kerem – Learn Hebrew Online

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The prophet Yisha’ayahu tells the story of a vineyard:

אָשִׁירָה נָּא לִידִידִי, שִׁירַת דּוֹדִי לְכַרְמוֹ:  כֶּרֶם הָיָה לִידִידִי, בְּקֶרֶן בֶּן-שָׁמֶן
I want to sing a song for someone I love, a song about my loved one and his vineyard.  My loved one had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.”  Isaiah 5:1

The section in question is a parable where the prophet compares Israel to a vineyard with a high potential for growth.  The owner, who is very devoted to his field, does every action possible to help his investment to grow.  This investment is one of the most important plants in the Mediterranean, and functioned as a catalyst in generating surplus and wealth.  However, the translation “vineyard” can be incorrect, and we might be looking at a late interpretation of the word כֶּרֶם-Kerem.

Hebrew In Israel | House of God – Learn Torah

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In Biblical Hebrew there are two basic forms to describe the temple: Heykhal YHWH and Beyt YHWH.  Heykahl is derived from the Sumerian word E-GAL, and by most means a large structure.
peace of jerusalem, pray for the peace of jerusalem, psalm 122,

Hebrew In Israel | Peace of Jerusalem – Learn Torah


One of the most common verses on FB is the following from Psalms 122:6:

שאלו שלום ירושלם, ישליו אהביך
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, those who love you shall be at peace”
Like many of the discussions I have about verses, there are several questions about the correct translation of individual words.  Besides the questionable translations I see for the second part of the verse, we also have a case of contextual translation in the first word of the verse.

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Hebrew In Israel | Compassion/Rachamim – Learn Torah

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A word which keeps on coming up in conversation with friends and students is the רחמים- Rachamim -mercy/compassion from the root רחם.  What is interesting about this word is, that the root is used in other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and can mean “to love”.  As always we have to be very carful in comparing words, but I still find it interesting that compassion and love have a close relationship.  Even if the ח is historically different in these two words, we can still find a connection between them.

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