Ancient Hebrew Research Center

Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine

June, 2004 Issue #004

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Biblical Word of the Month Eder

Name of the Month Abraham

Question of the Month Book Names?

Copyright

 

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Biblical Word of the Month - Eder

By: Jeff A. Benner

 

Continuing the Hebraic view of "order" we will examine the Hebrew root עדר ('eder - the apostrophe represents the silent letter ayin). Again we see the parent root דר (DR) meaning order in this word.


"And as for all the hills which used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not come there for fear of briers and thorns; but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread" (Isaiah 7:25). In this passage the "to be hoed" is the Hebrew verb עדר meaning "hoe", "rake" or "dig. The concept behind this word is the cultivating of a field, the removal of the weeds so that a crop can grow. This action is seen as bringing the field into order. The noun מעדר (m'ader) is formed by placing the letter מ in front of the root; this is a common way of building a noun out of a root. When a root has this new letter placed in front of it, it means "what ...." (What does the action of that root). In this case it means "what hoes" and can be any implement used in hoeing, raking or digging.


Removing what is unnecessary brings about order. In the case of a field it is the removal of the briers and thorns. In the case of a battle it is the removal of fear which is seen in I Chronicles 12:33. "Of Zebulun, such as were able to go out in the host, that could set the battle in array, with all manner of instruments of war, fifty thousand, and that could order the battle array, and were not of double heart". In this passage the word עדר is translated as "order the battle array". The phrase "not of double heart" (b'lo lev v'lev - with no heart and heart) means "no fear" in the sense that part of their heart was set on what was at home and the other heart was set on the battle. They were able to totally focus with their whole heart on the battle. They had removed all that could hinder them from the coming battle.


This concept of removing what is unnecessary in order to bring about order can also be seen in the Flood account. The world was full of sin and in order to bring about order again, the flood came to "weed out" the bad and begin again with a new crop, Noah and his family.

 

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Name of the Month - Abraham

By: Jeff A. Benner

 

Abraham was originally named by his father as אברם (Abram) and later changed to אברהם by God. As every Hebrew name has a meaning, always related to the character of the person, it is important to know what their names mean. In the case of Ya'acov (Jacob - he grabs the heel) it was changed by God to yisrael (Israel - turns the head of God). As there was a change in character, there is also a change in the name.


While many suggest that Abram means "exalted father" and Abraham means "father of a multitude", both names in fact mean exactly the same thing "father lifted up" or "exalted father". The beginning of both names is אב (AB) meaning "father". The "ram" in Abram is דם meaning "lifted", a parent root. The "raham" in Abraham is רהם also means "lifted", a child root derived from the parent root Mr.


It does not make much sense to change a name if the new name means the same thing. This is why many attempt to make a change in meaning. But, to understand the real meaning behind a name change is important for understanding why God changed his name and the names of others such as Jacob to Israel.


In Genesis chapters one and two we have the naming of all of creation. We find that Adam named Eve, his children and all of the animals, while God named the light, darkness, sky and land. From this we find something very interesting. Adam had authority over his wife, children and the animals, while God has authority over the light, darkness, sky and land. If you have authority over something, you have the right and responsibility to name it. Abram was named by his father Terah, the one who had authority over him. But, when Abram left his father's house and headed out on his own, God, who respected the authority of Terah previously, now takes the role of his authority and changes his name indicating a change in authority, not necessarily a change in character.

We see the same scenario with Jacob, who after leaving his father's house had his name changed by God to Israel. Jacob not only had a change in authority but also in character.

 

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Question of the Month Book Names?

By: Jeff A. Benner

 

Q: What do the Hebrew names of the books of Torah mean?

 

A: The English names of the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy come from the Greek names of the books. Genesis means origins, Exodus means coming out, Leviticus from the Levites, Numbers from the numbers of the tribes and Deuteronomy means second law. While the Greek names are derived from what the book is about, the Hebrew names are the first principle word of the book. Bereshiyt means "in the beginning", Shemot is "names", Vayikra is "and he called", bemidvar is "wilderness" and devariym is "words". While the Greek name for these five books is pentetuch, meaning five, the Hebrew name is chumash, also meaning five but in Hebrew. They are also called the "Torah" (usually translated as law but meaning "teachings") because contained within these five books are the "teachings" of God to Israel.

 

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Copyright 2004

Jeff A. Benner

Ancient Hebrew Research Center

 

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