Hebrew Research Center
April, 2004 Issue #002
Word of the Month – Davar
Name of the
Month – Israel
Biblical Word of the Month - Davar
By: Jeff A. Benner
Last week’s word of the day
"dor" introduced the Biblical Hebrew concept of "order". In
this week’s issue we will examine the Hebrew root דבר
(davar). Notice that the same rd parent root
meaning, "order" is also found within this "adopted root"
(a three letter root derived by placing another consonant within the parent
The word "davar" is commonly found in the Biblical text meaning
"speak" as in the phrase "vayidaber YHWH el moshe
l'mor" (and YHWH spoke to Moses saying). The ancient Hebrew
understanding of "speaking" or a "speach" is an ordered
arrangement of words. The feminine form of this word is דברה (devorah) and is the name
Deborah, but also means "bee". A bee hive is a colony of insects that
live in a perfectly ordered society.
Another common word derived from the root davar is מדבר (midvar) meaning a
"wilderness". In the ancient Hebrew mind the wilderness, in contrast
to the cities, is a place of order. Many people today live in the cities, a
place of hurrying, rushing and busying ourselves with all the day-to-day tasks
and high crime. The city can easily be seen as a place of chaos.
On the other hand, when we want to
"get away from it all" and slow down and really rest we go out to the
"wilderness" to camp. We take walks out into the woods or sit by a
lake and feel the peace in these places. These are places of order where all of
nature is in a perfect balance of harmony.
The word דבר (davar)
may better be translated as "order" as in the phrase "And YHWH
gave orders to Moses saying". A commanding officer does not speak to his
troops. he has formulated his action plans and has determined the best means to
have these plans carried out. Once all of this is determined, he gives his
"orders" to his troops. These orders are "an ordered
The phrase "Ten Commandments" does not actually appear in the Hebrew
Bible, instead it is aseret hadevariym" and is literally translated
as "ten orders". The "Ten Commandments" are our orders from
God (the general). They are an ordered arrangement of ideas that if followed
will bring about peace and harmony.
of the Month - Israel
By: Jeff A. Benner
This name has been
translated several different ways including "he wrestles with God",
"Prince of God", "he struggles with God", and several
others. The name "Israel" is actually a
complete sentence in one word. The name has three components - Y, SR and AL.
The "Y" is a prefix meaning "he". The "AL" usually
pronounced as "el" is the Hebrew word for "God". The
"SR" is the part that seems to cause most of the problems in
The Hebrew word "SR" literally means "turn the head". It is
often translated as "prince" or "ruler", one who turns the
head of the people. The feminine form of this word is "SRH" or
"Sarah". Abraham's wife Sarah was very beautiful and probably
"turned the head" of the men who saw her. Another word related to
"SR" is "yasar" meaning "discipline". When you
discipline your children you are turned their head from a path of bad to a path
Because the "Y" is in front of the word "SR" we know that
this is a verb and not a noun (this is standard Hebrew grammar) and can
literally be translated as "he turns the head of God". The way I like
to understand this is that when Israel (either Jacob or his descendents) speaks
to God, God, the father of Israel, stops what he is doing and turns to his son
and says "What do you want my son".
Copyright © 2004
Jeff A. Benner
Ancient Hebrew Research
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