Word of the
Month - שאול (She'ol)
Jeff A. Benner
The word she'ol is often
understood as hell, the place of the damned or the underworld. How
did the Ancient Hebrews perceive she'ol? As I have said before, in
order to better understand a word it is essential to look at its
root and other related words.
The verbal root sha'al is used
almost 200 times and is usually translated as "asked" such as in
Genesis 24:7 - "and I asked her and said..." Why do we ask
questions? We are looking for information that is currently unknown
to us. This word, "unknown," is the key to understanding the root
sha'al and all the words derived from it.
The word she'eylah,
a noun derived from sha'al is used in Job 6:8 where it is translated
as a request. "O that I might have my request, and that God would
grant my desire" (RSV). A request is to ask for something that
is not possessed. As it is not possessed it is an unknown. How many
times have we asked for something that we knew we needed but when we
received it we found out it was not what we thought it would be. In
other words, we thought we knew what we were missing but it turns
out that what we were requesting was an unknown.
she'ol, also derived from sha'al, was understood as the place where
one goes when they die. The question is, did they understand this to
be simply the grave one is buried in or another place one goes after
they die? This is a difficult question to answer as the Hebrew Bible
never really defines she'ol. There is evidence however that they
understood it to be more than just the grave. First, the word qever
is the Hebrew word meaning grave and therefore it is possible that
she'ol was understood as something other than the grave. Second,
most scriptures using the word she'ol imply a place other than the
grave. An example is Genesis 37:35 All his sons and all his
daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted,
and said, "No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning." Thus
his father wept for him (RSV). In this account Jacob believed
his son Joseph had been eaten by a wild beast. As Joseph's body
could not possibly be in a grave, Jacob knew that he would be with
him somewhere - she'ol.
The Ancient Hebrews did not know
where or even what she'ol was. To them it was an unknown place
hence, the use of a word related to sha'al meaning "unknown." It
should also be noted that the Ancient Hebrews never speculated on
something unknown, it was simply not known and left at that. It is
only the Greek mind that desires to know the unknown. It is our
Greco-Roman western mindset that needs to know where and what she'ol
Name of the
Month - עשתרות קרנים (Ashterot Qarnayim)
By: Jeff A. Benner
This place name only occurs
once in the Hebrew Bible - Genesis 14:5. It is composed of two words
the first being Ashterot (ash-te-rot). The "ot" is the feminine
plural suffix, the singular form is Ashter meaning "the young one of
the flock," the plural form Ashterot meaning "young ones of the
flock." This is also the name of the Canaanite goddess as seen in
Judges 2:13. This same goddess was called Ishtar in the Babylonian
mythology and is the origin of the word "Easter".
Qarnayim (qar-nah-yim) is also a plural word, the singular form
being qeren meaning horn. The Hebrew word qeren is the origin of our
English word crown. In ancient times a crown was made of "horns" and
the pointed tips of the crowns we are familiar with today represent
those horns. The word qeren is also a feminine word and its plural
form is qarnot. Notice that the plural form of the word Qarnayim
uses the "yim" suffix instead. The "yim" suffix is what is called
the dual plural and is used for things that come in pairs such as
hands (yadyim) or ears (az'nayim). The word qarnayim then means "two
When these the two words, Ashterot Qarnayim, are
combined we have the meaning "the young ones of the flock of the two
the Month - Will I better
understand the Bible by learning Hebrew?
By: Jeff A. Benner
There is no argument that
reading any work in its original language will provide a better
understanding of that text. For instance, to really understand the
works of Martin Luther it is best to read it in German and the works
of Plato in Greek. This also applies to the Hebrew of the Tenach/Old
Testament. Just as one example the phrase "sha'alu shalom
yerushalam" is translated as "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" but
much of the Hebraicness of the verse is missing. The word sha'alu is
the verb sha'al meaning to ask or make a request and the suffix "u"
identifies the subject of the verb as plural. The word shalom more
specifically means completeness or to be in health and prosperity.
The name Yerushalem is a combination of the word Yeru meaning teach.
Shalem which is identical to shalom meaning completeness. The full
Hebraic understanding of this verse is "All of you make a request
that the ones who teach shalom/completeness will be given health and
It should also be understand that learning
Hebrew will not always bring out the original intended meaning of a
word or phrase. The problem is that we think from a western
perspective and this is also true for those who speak Hebrew today.
For instance the word tsadiyq is usually understood as "righteous"
as identified in all modern lexicons and dictionaries of the
Biblical Hebrew language. While we are comfortable using abstracts
in our modern western minds, the Ancient Hebrews always understood
things through the concrete. The word original concrete meaning of
tsadiyq "to remain on the correct path".
learning Hebrew will enhance ones understanding of the Biblical text
but the Hebrew must be learned through ancient Hebraic mind and not
the modern Hebrew mind.
Verse of the
Month - Exodus
By: Jeff A. Benner
לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים על פני
You shall have no other gods
before me. (RSV)
This word means "no" or "not" and often precedes a verb
to negate the action of that verb.
The base word is היה (hayah)
meaning "to exist." The prefix י (y) identifies
the subject of the verb as third person, masculine and singular (he)
and the tense of the verb as imperfect. This word would be
translated as "he exists."
The ל (l) is a prefix meaning
"to" or "for." The ך (k) is a suffix meaning
(e-lo-hiym)Other ones of power and
authority will not exist for you over my
The base word אלוה (e-lo-ah)
is commonly translated as "God" or "god," but more literally means
"one of power and authority." The suffix ים
(iym) is the masculine plural. This noun is the subject of the verb
היה (hayah), the "he" of "he exists."
The base word is אחר
(a-hher) meaning "other" or "another." This is an adjective
describing אלהים. The gender and
number of any adjective will match the noun it describes, therefore
the same plural suffix is added to this adjective.
This is a very common word meaning "over" or "above."
The base word is פנה (panah)
meaning "face". But also includes two suffixes, ים (iym) the masculine plural suffix and י (y) the first person possessive pronoun meaning "of
me." In order to explain the formation of this word let me write
this word as פנה-ים- י (panah-iym-iy). When a
suffix such as ים (iym) is added to a
noun ending with the letter ה (h), the ה is dropped so now we have פנ-ים-י (pan-iym-iy). When a plural noun is suffixed
with a possessive pronoun such as the י (y),
the ם (m) is dropped so now we have פנ-י-י (pan-iy-iy). The two יs
are then combined into one and pronounced "ai" (like the "i" in
bike) - פני(pan-ai). This Hebrew word meaning
"face" is always idiomatically written in the plural form but should
not be understood as more than one face.
The following is a literal
rendering of this verse from its Hebraic meaning.
Translation Excerpt - Genesis
For details on this new
translation see the MTHB web site.
1. and it came
to pass that the human caused to pierce to increase in number upon
the face of the ground and caused to give birth to daughters for
them 2. and the sons of the powers saw the daughters of the human
that they were functional and took for them the women from which
they chose 3. and Yihweh* said my wind will not moderate in the
human to an ancient time whereas he is flesh and his days will exist
a hundred and ten years 4. the Nephilim existed in the land in the
days of them and also after so which the sons of the powers come to
the daughters of the human and they gave birth to them, they are the
courageous ones which are from an ancient time, men of the character
5. and Yihweh saw that the dysfunctions of the human in the land
were abundant and all the thought of inventions of his heart were
only dysfunctional all the day
* - In our western culture we
are comfortable using names, such as Jehovah/Yahweh, that have no
meaning but this is not true with the Ancient Hebrews where every
name was a word with meaning. The name Jehovah/Yahweh is written in
Hebrew with four letters (YHWH). These four letters, as a Hebrew
word, can only be the third person, masculine, singular, imperfect
tense of the verb HWH. Therefore the word YHWH would mean "he
exists" and would be transliterated as "yihweh". As a comparison,
the third person, masculine, singular, imperfect tense of the verb
HYH (whose meaning and use is identical to HWH) is YHYH, also
meaning "he exists," and is pronounced yihyeh.
AHRC Web Site
Excerpt - Hebrew
In the world, past and present,
there are two major types of cultures; the Hebrew (or eastern)
culture and the Greek (or western) culture. Both of these cultures
view their surroundings, lives, and purpose in ways which would seem
foreign to the other. With the exception of a few Bedouin nomadic
tribes living in the Near East today, the ancient Hebrew culture has
What happened to this ancient Hebrew thought and
culture? Around 800 BCE, a new culture arose to the north. This new
culture began to view the world very much differently than the
Hebrews. This culture was the Greeks. Around 200 BCE the Greeks
began to move south causing a coming together of the Greek and
Hebrew culture. This was a very tumultuous time as the two vastly
different cultures collided. Over the following 400 years the battle
raged until finally the Greek culture won and virtually eliminated
all trace of the ancient Hebrew culture. The Greek culture then in
turn influenced all following cultures including the Roman and
European cultures, our own American culture and even the modern
Hebrew culture in Israel today.
As 20th Century Americans
with a strong Greek thought influence, we read the Hebrew Bible as
if a 20th Century American had written it. In order to understand
the ancient Hebrew culture in which the Tenack was written in, we
must examine some of the differences between Hebrew and Greek
Article continues at the AHRC Web Site
Corner - בשל (Bashal)
Donnee's Corner is a new
feature of the Ancient Hebrew Research Center's
e-zine. This column will review a word, its meanings,
and usage to verify by research. This column will start with a
in-depth look at a featured Hebrew word followed by various tools
for a deepen understanding. As well as e-Sword formatting in order to clip
and paste into e-Sword, enabling the mouse-over
advantages of e-Sword. These various tools will
follow the review in order to assist in your research of Ancient Hebrew.
discusses “bashal” . This Word begins with the ”bet” for “house” meaning “IN”, followed by
”shin” for “two teeth” meaning to “CHEW”, as in
“PARTICIPATE/INVOLVED” and finally the ”lamed” for “STAFF” meaning authority which
can mean “TO RULE OVER/UPON”. Meaning to “saturate” as in:
Joel 3:13, Put you in the sickle, for the harvest is
ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats
overflow; for their wickedness [is] great.
Collectively to be “ruled while in participation”. The
“bet” () showing it is “housed”, the “shin” () showing it is “active” and the “lamed” () showing it is under “authority” and not of
authority, but actually ruled-over while active in the
process. Therefore whatever is contained is under direct authority
by and with its involvement. This involvement is a mutual
interactivity causing the subject to become altered during this
process. Showing that it is being “of subject by its activity”. For
example, clothing becomes wet and saturated becoming subject to the
rules of its environment. This is desired when washing clothes as it
assists in cleansing by removing dirt. The dirt is removed as water
saturates the threads lifting the dirt and moving it to another
This process is accelerated by being
“with fire” and is required during certain events. As in when Tamar
2Sa 13:8, “so Tamar went to her brother
Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded
[it], and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the
The cooking process, with fire, causes more
swelling and alterations while being within the authority of heat
and water. This presents a difficulty when translating , bashal, into other languages. As seen in the two Quotes
above it is difficult to render it correctly with a single word
while maintaining flow and comprehension. This is seen in:
Deut 16:7, “And you will <bashal> and eat
[it] in the place which YHUH your Elohim will choose and you
will turn in the morning, and go to your tents.”
The use of
the word “roast”, by most translations actually deny the meaning of
this word. This is easily seen when carefully comparing its usage
and relative words to support context. This is seen when one
compares Ex. 12:9 to Dt. 16:7, one is left with scratching their
head trying to understand how most translations come to use both
“boil” AND “roast” as bashal. We will look further into this
term, its usage and relative context in a future
A primitive root; properly to boil
up; hence to be done in cooking; figuratively to ripen:
- bake, boil, bring forth, is ripe, roast, seethe, sod
boil, cook, bake, roast, ripen, grow
to grow ripe, ripen
1c1) to be
1c2) to be
brought to ripeness
Part of Speech:
Same Word by TWOT Number:
AHLB Definition: 2043: , (בשל BShl)
co: Meat ab: ?: The boiling of meat over a fire.
(V) I. Boil: To boil a meat
in water. II. Ripe: [freq. 28] (vf: Paal, Hiphil,
Pual, Piel) |kjv: seethe, boil, sod, bake, ripe, roast|
(Nm) Boiled: A
meat that has been in water. [freq. 2] |kjv:
seethe, 9: Exo_16:23
(2), Exo_23:19, Exo_29:31, Exo_34:26, Deu_14:21,
2Ki_4:38, Eze_24:5, Zec_14:21
Exo_12:9, Lev_6:28 (2), 1Sa_2:15,
boil, 4: Lev_8:31, Eze_46:20,
boiled, 2: 1Ki_19:21,
ripe, 2: Gen_40:10,
baked, 1: Num_11:8
brought, 1: Gen_40:10
1: Gen_40:10 (2)
sod, 1: 2Ch_35:13
Language Detective - רכש (Rekhesh)
An interesting phrase
appears in Megilat Esther: רוכבי הרכש - rokhvei harekhesh -
translated as "riding steeds" (Esther 8:10). Rekhesh here
certainly seems to be referring to a type of horse. But what is the
connection between rekhesh and rekhush רכוש -
Horowitz points out (p. 61), that cattle and horses
were among the most common forms of wealth. Besides rekhesh
and rekhush, we have the following:
- mikne מקנה - cattle has the root kana קנה -
- segula סגולה - property comes is related to the
Akkadian word sugullu - herd of cattle ·
- nekhesim נכסים - property is related to the Aramaic
root for killing נכס - and meant "cattle to be slaughtered"
The word rekesh is also
related to the root רכס - "to bind, to fasten", which was of course
done to cattle, horses and camels. We see the verb in this weeks
parsha (Tetzaveh) וירכסו את החושן - "the breastpiece shall be held
in place" (Shmot 28:28). This root gives us the word rekhes
רכס - for mountain ridge (the mountains are fastened together), and
rokhsan רוכסן - zipper.
There is one more related word
that is used so frequently in modern Hebrew that I would guess most
of you would assume it has ancient roots - I know I did. The word
merkaz מרכז center only entered Hebrew in the Middle Ages.
According to Klein, it derives from the Arabic markaz -
meaning foothold, stand, center, which in turn comes from the
Semitic root רכס - to bind. The root רכז came later, as a back
formation of מרכז.
Detective - Mila Yomit (Daily
The following is Word One
from an ongoing Hebrew word by Hebrew word cyber learning journey
and is being presented to you here as an introduction. For
additional information on the 'MILA YOMIT: The Torah, Word By Word'
and its author, Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein, click here. For a more detailed file
on the word below, click here. To receive more of
these, contact Rabbi Itzchak at email@example.com.
In the beginning
OTIOT -letters of BREISHIT are:
Bet ( corresponds to Letter B)-House, a vessel defined by a floor, a
roof and a wall with an open side. This is similar to our universe
which provides us with a floor, a roof, and a wall allowing for
verticality and an open future. That which is next in time is open;
is ours to fill.
- Bet is the first of the seven double letters, those letters
that can be pronounced both hard and soft.
- As seven they each represent a day of the week and reflect the
duality of our daily experience.
- Bet corresponds with the first day, Sunday.
- The quality of Chachma-wisdom or its transposition
'avlat-folly'. Its numerical value 2- representing the first
emergence of two, the Creator and the Created.
- Its Sefira Correspondence is Chesed-Love.
- The creation is an act of
The Resh-(corresponds to Letter R) is 'head', beginning',
representing the process of emerging understanding.
- Also one of the seven double letters, it is related to the
sixth day, Friday.
- Its quality is shalom:peace or its transposition,
- Its numeric value is 200.
- Its sefira correspondence is Yesod-foundation.
- The experience of
Aleph (corresponds to Letter A) and means 'master, teaching,
- It is the first of the Three Mother Letters.
- It is the element of light, of air.
- Its form represents the light that shines in all directions,
teaching us that as above, so below.
- It is a silent letter whose numerical equivalence is One.
- Teaching us of The Silent Infinite One out of which the other
emerges while always remaining connected.
- Its sefira correspondence is Keter-Crown, the seat of unity,
Shin (corresponds to Letter S) -meaning change, a tooth,
representing the symmetrical eternal flame rising to the heights.
- The third of the mother letters.
- It is the element of fire.
- Correspondence to bina.
- Numerical equivalence is
Yod (corresponds to Letter I) -meaning hand, or to thrust, formed by
the smallest point and representing the first particle of creation
out of which all else emerged, (the point out of which the big bang
- Numerical equivalence is 10.
- Dominant over action, one of the 12 ' pshutot-simple letters.
- Corresponding to
Tav (corresponds to letter T) -meaning seal, impression, the last
letter representing the seal of creation.
- The Seventh of the double letters, related to Shabbat.
- Numerical equivalence is
days of creation
(collection of oral teachings) notes that BREISHIT begins with the
letter BET .
“Why was the world created with a ?
- Just as the BET is closed on all sides and only open in front
(at which point the Torah begins), so too you are not permitted to
speculate on what is above and what is below, what is before and
what is behind, but only on the day of creation and onwards.
- To teach you that there are two worlds - this world and the
world to come (the world that is coming).
- Just as the BET has two projecting points, one on its top
pointing upwards and the other, at its bottom, pointing backward,
so when it is asked, 'Who created you?' it intimates with its
upward point, 'He who is above created me.' And if it is further
asked 'What is His name?' it intimates to us with its back point
'YHVH is His name.''
WORDS CONTAINED WITHIN:
Bara - Created
Berosh - in the head, in the beginning
Next letter Yod - (perhaps in the Head was the Yod - the principle
of tiny point expanding through the power of the ten)
Bar Esh - a pure fire
First two letter and last two letters make up the word BRIT:covenant
and the middle two letters is AISH:fire.
BREISHIT - Our created
home, a covenant of fire that emerged from the Divine Mind.