Ancient Hebrew Research Center
Biblical Hebrew eMagazine
Dec, 2017
Issue #081
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In This Issue

Biblical Hebrew Word - Earth
Modern Hebrew Word - Airport
Featured AHRC Product - A History of Hebrew
Name Study - Og
Verse Study - Genesis 3:15
Q & A - Yehovah
In the News - Naboth's Vineyard
MT Excerpt - Genesis 19:21-28
AHRC Excerpt - Mine Entrance Inscription
AHRC Updates
Comments & Editorial

Biblical Hebrew Word - Earth

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The Hebrew word translated as "earth" is ארץ (erets, Strong's #776). While this word can mean the whole "earth," it is usually used in the context of a "land" or a "region" and for this reason; in my Mechanical Translation I translate this word as "land." The King James Version of the Bible will translate this Hebrew word as; land (1543 times), earth (712), country (140), ground (98), world (4), way (3), common (1), field (1) and nations (1).

This word is derived from the parent root רץ (rats, Strong's #7518) meaning a "fragment," as in a piece of broken pottery, which was commonly used to write messages. In the image below is such a fragment, which is a receipt for a 3 shekel donation to the "House of Yahweh."

House of Yahweh Inscription

A "land," such as the "land of Israel," had defined borders, and all of the "lands" are pieced together, much like a shattered piece of pottery that has been glued back together. It is interesting to note that the English word "earth" appears to be closely related to the Hebrew word erets.

Broken pottery

Modern Hebrew Word - Airport

The Modern Hebrew word for an "airport" is שדה תעופה (sadeh t'uphah). The Hebrew word שדה (sadeh, Strong's #7704) means "field," and תעופה (t'uphah), which is a Modern Hebrew word, means "aviation." This Modern Hebrew word is derived from the Biblial Hebrew verb עוף (Ah.W.Ph, Strong's #5774) meaning "to fly." Therefore, a more literal translation of שדה תעופה (sadeh t'uphah) would be "aviation field."

Featured AHRC Product - A History of Hebrew (DVD)

A History of Hebrew-DVDThis 83 minute video explores the history of the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament by Christians and the Tanakh by Jews, and its language and philosophy. The Hebrew Bible is an Ancient Near Eastern text, which was written millennia ago within a time and culture that is vastly different from our own. The authors' perspectives on life and the world around them are steeped with their own traditions, lifestyles, manners and thoughts. When reading and studying this text we cannot interject our own cultural perspectives into the text. To do so would bring about interpretations and conclusions that are far removed from the authors intended meaning.

We will be examining the Hebrew alphabet, language, philosophy and culture to uncover the evidence that supports a perspective of these ancient Near Eastern texts that is very different from the way they are normally perceived, and we will dig into the deeper meanings of these texts from an ancient perspective.

Order the DVD

Name Study - Og

And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. (Numbers 21:33, ASV)

In Hebrew, this name is written as עוג ('og, Strong's #5747). This name is derived from the Hebrew verb עוג ('ug, Strong's #5746), which means "bake," but probably more specifically "to bake round breads on hot stones." Derived from this verb is the noun עוגה (ugah, Strong's #5692) meaning "baked bread," or more specifically a "round bread" that is baked on hot stones. The masculine form of this noun is עוג (og) and is the source for the name עוג ('og, Strong's #5747). The meaning of this masculine noun is unknown, but most likely has the same or similar meaning as the feminine form of the noun. If that is the case, the meaning of the name of Og, the king of Bashan that fought with Israel in Deuteronomy 3 and was defeated, means "a lump of dough thrown on the hot coals."

Verse Study - Genesis 3:15

וְאֵיבָה אָשִׁית בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב׃
and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (ASV)

וְאֵיבָה (v'ey'vah) This is the noun איבה (eyvah) meaning "hatred" with the prefix ו (v) meaning "and" – and hatred.

אָשִׁית (a'siyt) This is the verb שית (S.Y.T) meaning to "set in place" or "put." The prefix א (a) indicates that the verb is in the imperfect tense – will put, and the subject of the verb as first person, singular – I will put.

בֵּינְךָ (beyn'kha) This is the word בין (beyn) meaning "between" with the suffix ך (kha) meaning "you" – between you.

וּבֵין (u'veyn) This is the word בין (beyn) meaning "between" with the prefix ו (u) meaning "and" – and between.

הָאִשָּׁה (ha'i'shah) This is the noun אשה (ishah) meaning "woman" with the prefix ה (ha) meaning "the" – the woman.

וּבֵין (u'veyn) This is the word בין (beyn) meaning "between" with the prefix ו (u) meaning "and" – and between.

זַרְעֲךָ (zar'a'kha) This is the noun זרע (zera) meaning "seed" with the suffix ך (kha) meaning "you" – your seed.

וּבֵין (u'veyn) This is the word בין (beyn) meaning "between" with the prefix ו (u) meaning "and" – and between.

זַרְעָהּ (zar'ah) This is the noun זרע (zera) meaning "seed" with the suffix ה (ah) meaning "her" – her seed.

הוּא (hu) This is the pronoun meaning "he."

יְשׁוּפְךָ (y'shuph'kha) This is the verb שוף (Sh.W.Ph) meaning "crush." The prefix י (y) indicates that the verb is in the imperfect tense – will crush, and identifies the subject of the verb as third person, masculine, singular – he will crush. The suffix ך (kha) means "you" – he will crush you.

רֹאשׁ (rosh) This is the Hebrew noun meaning a "head."

וְאַתָּה (v'a'tah) This is the pronoun אתה (a'tah) meaning "you" with the prefix ו (v) meaning "and" – and you.

תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ (t'shu'phe'nu) This is the verb שוף (Sh.W.Ph) meaning "crush." The prefix ת (t) indicates that the verb is in the imperfect tense – will crush, and identifies the subject of the verb as second person, masculine, singular – you will crush. The suffix נו (nu) means "him" – you will crush him.

עָקֵב (a'qeyv) This is the Hebrew noun meaning a "heel."

The following is a literal rendering of this verse from its Hebraic meaning.

And I will put hatred between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, he, he will crush you, a head, and you, you will crush him, a heel.

Note that for the end of this verse most translations read, "He will crush your head and you will crush his heel," but this is grammatically incorrect for the Hebrew. If in fact this was what the author intended to say, it would have been written as, ישוף רושך ותשוף עקבו (yeshuph rosh'kha v't'shuph eqevo).Young's Literal Translation reads, "he doth bruise thee--the head, and thou dost bruise him--the heel." With that said, what do the words "head" and "heel" mean in this context? The word rosh (head) can mean "first" (see the KJV translation of 1 Chronicles 12:9) and the word eqev (heel) can mean "last" (see the KJV translation of Genesis 49:19). With these interpretations, the final part of this verse could be translated as, "he will crush you first and you will crush him last."

Q & A - Yehovah

Q: Is the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton Yehovah?

A: The pronunciation of the third letter in the Tetragrammaton, the letter vav, as it is known today, has been debated for a long time by many people. There are some, myself included, who believe that the original name of this letter was waw and as a consonant it had a "w" sound and not a "v" sound as it does today in Modern Hebrew.

In a video interview with Michael Rood, Nehemiah Gordon presented his research into the original pronunciation of the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the letter ו (vav/waw). Before I go any further I need to mention that I have a lot of respect for Nehemiah and I look to him as one of my teachers. So while we may have differing opinions on this issue, I still hold his perspectives in high regard.

One of the evidences that he presented was that the Hebrew word for a "back" can be spelled as גב (see Ezekiel 10:12) or גו (see Ezekiel 23:35), both of which are pronounced gav. The Hebrew letter ב (beyt) can have a "b" sound or a "v" sound, depending on its position within the word. His argument is that if the Hebrew word gav could be spelled with a beyt or a vav, and we know for certain that the beyt has a "v" sound, then the vav must also have a "v" sound.

The first thing that I want to point out is that we do not know if in ancient times the letter beyt was pronounced with a "v" when at the end of a syllable, we only know that it is pronounced this way in modern times. The second thing I want to point out goes a little deeper into these two words.

The word גו (Strong's #1458) is used in the Hebrew Bible only three times, 1 Kings 14:9, Nehemiah 9:26 and Ezekiel 23:35 and in each case this word is translated as "back" and always in the context of "behind the back."

The word גב (Strong's #1354) is used thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible; six of these times are in the book of Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 1:18 it is translated in the KJV as "ring," in Ezekiel 10:12 as "backs," in Ezekiel 16:24, 16:31, 16:39 as "eminent place" and in Ezekiel 43:13 as "higher place." In other books of the Bible this word is translated as; naves, eyebrow, bodies and bosses. In other translations the word גב is translated as; arch, spoke and rim. This word is translated as "backs" only once (Ezekiel 10:12), The word גב does not mean "back," but instead means "arch," which may be the "back" (as when bent over) or something else that has the shape of an arch.

My conclusion is that גב and גו are two very different words, one meaning "arch" (גב), which is pronounced gav, and the other meaning "back" (גו), which may be pronounced as gav or gaw.

I also had a question for Nehemiah concerning the use of the "o" in Yehovah and emailed him. Below is my question, but I am adding some clarifications for your benefit in brackets.

I have noticed that words in the Masoretic text that include the nikkud cholam [The nikkud are the dots and dashes added to Hebrew words in the Masoretic text. The cholam is a single dot placed above a letter to represent the "o" sound] are spelled with a vav in the Dead Sea Scrolls. For instance, אלהים includes the cholam in the Masoretic text, but in the Dead Sea Scrolls it is spelled אלוהים [In the Masoretic text this word is written as אֱלֹהִים, with the cholam above the letter ה (h)]. The same can be seen in the name יעקוב, the word כול, and many others.

If in fact "The Name" is pronounced Yehovah, then this name must include the cholam, but we never see a double vav in "The Name" in the Dead Sea Scrolls. [The pronunciation Yehovah would be written as
יְהֹוָה. If this were the pronunciation we would expect to see it written as יהווה in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but we do not.] Based on this, my assumption has been that Yehovah (or any other form that includes the vowel "o" or "u" and the consonant "v") could not be the pronunciation as the Dead Sea Scrolls always show only one vav and therefore can only be pronounced as the vowel "o" or "u" *OR* as the consonant "v."

The following is Nehemiah's response.

Regarding the double Vav, this is an interesting suggestion. The Qumran scrolls are not consistent about inserting Vavs to indicate Cholam or Shuruk/ Kubutz. In the case of the Name, the matter is complicated by the fact that it would produce a double Vav. I would be very surprised to find such a thing in Qumran. In the Masoretic Text we find these double Vavs representing the sound Vo (as in Avon, Mitzvot, etc.) and Vu (as in Yishtachavu, Nilvu). That means the double Vav in the hypothetical form יהווה* might be pronounced YHVuH or YHVoH. I checked Hovah (usually translated "ruin"), since this has a similar consonant and vowel pattern. The way it appears at Qumran is quite interesting. It is written as HVYH in 1QIsa-a, which presumably is Hoyah, a linguistic variant to Hovah, and identical to what we find in the Masoretic Text in Ex 9:3.

If you suggestion is correct, I would expect to find a double Vav in another instance where cholam is followed by consonantal Vav: -ov-. Here are some examples I found that should employ a double Vav if your suggestion is correct:

Isa 24:2 KaLoveh
כַּלּוֶֹה MT; 1QIsa-a כלוה (not כלווה)
Isa 49:23 Kovay
קוָֹי MT; 1QIsa-a קוי (not קווי).
Ps 69:7 Kovecha
קוֶֹיךָ MT; 4Q83 f19ii_20:28 קויכה (not קוויכה)

These are the only examples I could find in the Tanakh of Cholam followed by Consonantal Vav where the text was also preserved in the DSS. I actually had no idea what I would find until I looked and the evidence seems to disprove your suggestion or at least not support it. There were three opportunities for the DSS to use a Vav to mark a Cholam followed by a consonantal Vav and in all three case it failed to do so.

I searched for Kubutz followed by consonantal Vav and only found one example in the Tanakh (Nu 26:23), but this word is not preserved in the DSS.

And here is my response back to Nehemiah

How confident are you that the nikkudot preserve the original pronunciation of Hebrew words? I ask because I have the opinion that while they do preserve the pronunciation fairly well, history suggests that the pronunciations of words do change over time, especially from one dialect to another. So, while כלוה (Is 24:2) is pronounced "kalovah" in the Masoretic text, could it have originally been "kalavah" (or something similar)?

And that is where we are at on this issue at this time.

In the News - Naboth's Vineyard

Archaeologist Uncovers Clues Pointing towards Evidence of Naboth's Vineyard (From Breaking Israel News)

And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab, king of Shomron." II Kings 21:1 (The Israel Bible)

Painting of Naboth

Using laser technology, an archaeologist has discovered that the Biblical story of Naboth's coveted vineyard is quite probably a factual account describing conditions that did exist at the time. Her findings suggest a slightly different reading of the story, which not all Bible scholars may agree with.

Dr. Norma Franklin, one of the heads of the Jezreel Expedition, recently reported on some of the remarkable archaeological discoveries made in the Jezreel Valley. The expedition established that the valley was a major wine producing area in Biblical times. This opens up speculation as to the veracity of the Biblical story of Naboth's vineyard, which was said to have taken place in the Jezreel Valley.

The clues to the Biblical connection originally came to light in 2012 when a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scan, using pulsed lasers, revealed several features that had remained hidden for centuries. Several wine and olive presses were discovered including the largest ancient winepress in Israel found to date. The survey also revealed over 100 bottle-shaped pits carved into the bedrock. Dr. Franklin theorized that many of these pits were used to store wine.

As a result of her findings, Dr. Franklin is convinced that the Biblical story of the conflict between Naboth and King Ahav over a vineyard in the Jezreel Valley could very well have taken place precisely as described.

LiDAR map of Jezreel area. Winery is in Area K. (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)
LiDAR map of Jezreel area. Winery is in Area K. (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)

"As an archaeologist, I cannot say that there was definitely a specific man named Naboth who had a particular vineyard," Dr Franklin told Breaking Israel News. "The story is very old but from what I have found, I can say that the story as described in the Bible quite probably could have occurred here in the Jezreel."

Despite technological advances in recent years, archaeology still has limitations. Vineyards do not leave behind any lasting signs, so it is impossible to determine the exact site of Naboth's vineyard. A soil analysis by the Kibbutz Yizre'el did discover an area of land with the ideal qualities for growing grapes.

It was difficult to determine the construction date of the winepress, which measures at about 12 meters square, since it was carved into the bedrock. Based on the structure of the press, Dr Franklin suggested the site was established before 300 BCE, a timeframe that would certainly allow for Naboth to be producing wine at that site.

 The area of the discovery (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)
The area of the discovery (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)

The discovery of wine-related artifacts and their important role in Biblical narrative comes as no surprise. Grapes are one of the seven species that bear a special blessing in the land of Israel.

A land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey; Deuteronomy 8:8

In fact, this blessing has a practical benefit in that wine production has always been prominent in Israel, constituting one of the major exports of in ancient times. This blessing was unrealized for centuries while the region was ruled by Muslims, who forbid the consumption of alcohol.

But Dr. Franklin's discovery bears special significance since nowhere is the Biblical significance importance of vineyards more evident than in the story of Naboth and King Ahav. The Biblical narrative takes place in the fertile Jezreel Valley, an agricultural center to this day. According to the 21st chapter of the Book of Kings, Naboth owned a vineyard on the eastern slope of the hill of Jezreel near the palace of King Ahav. The king coveted the land but Naboth did not want to sell the plot, and since it was an inheritance, Torah law forbade him from selling it outright. Queen Jezebel intervened, staging a mock trial in order to seize Naboth's property. The prophet Elijah confronted Ahav, who repented.

According to the Bible, King Ahav wanted to turn the vineyard into a vegetable garden.

And Ahab spoke unto Naboth, saying: 'Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs.' (I Kings 21:2)

Dr. Franklin doubts the precision of several aspects of the narrative.

"This makes no sense when we know the importance of viticulture at that time and likely points to it having been a later addition to the narrative," she told Breaking Israel News, noting that a king of that time had special needs for large quantities of wine for entertaining and for his troops.

Dr. Franklin noted that Naboth probably did not live in the Jezreel.

 Treading floor draining to into vat 1 (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)
Treading floor draining to into vat 1 (Photo: Jezreel Expedition)

"Calling him a Jezreeli implies that he was from there but he did not live there," said Dr Franklin. "Owning a vineyard would make him wealthy since wine was an important commodity. I reckon that since he was from the aristocracy he probably lived in Samaria and had more than one vineyard. This would give a slightly different picture than the Bible, which implies, though does not state explicitly, that he was a poor man being abused by the wealthy king."

Dr. Franklin also suggested an alternative interpretation of another aspect of story.

"Most Biblical scholars agree that the story was written down after the return from Babylon which coincides with Nehemiah telling Israel to turn away their foreign wives," Dr. Franklin said. "It could be that the story of Jezebel, painting her as a horrible woman, made her appear worse than she really was. In some sense, she was a good wife, helping her husband who was sulking and depressed."

Not religious in her personal life, Dr. Franklin reads the Bible with a critical eye. Nonetheless, she does see the Bible as having relevance for her research in Israel.

"There is no doubt that the Bible is a useful source," Dr. Franklin said. "All archaeologists use the Bible, but some use it more cautiously."

MT Excerpt - Genesis 19:21-28

19:21&and he said to him, look, I lifted up your face also to this word for I will not overturn the city which you spoke, 19:22&hurry, slip away unto there given that I will not be able to do a word until you come unto there, therefore he called out the title of the city "Tso'ar [Tiny]", 19:23&the sun went out upon the land and "Loth [Covering]" came unto "Tso'ar [Tiny]", 19:24&and "YHWH [He exists]" caused to precipitate upon "Sedom [Secret]" and upon "Ghamorah [Rebellion]" brimstone and fire from "YHWH [He exists]" from the sky, 19:25&and he overturned these cities and all of the roundness and all of the settlers of the cities and the spring up things of the ground, 19:26&and his woman stared from behind him and she existed as a post of salt, 19:27&and "Avraham [Father lifted]" departed early in the morning to the place where he stood there with the face of "YHWH [He exists]", 19:28&and he looked down upon the face of "Sedom [Secret]" and "Ghamorah [Rebellion]" and upon all of the face of the land of the roundness and he saw and look, a smoldering of the land went up like a smoldering furnace,

AHRC Excerpt - Mine Entrance Inscription

Mine Entrance Inscription

Description: Drawing of a steliform rock panel near a mine entrance showing Proto-Sinaitic inscription, No. 349.

Era: Early Semitic Script

Image Credit: William Foxwell Albright

Date of Inscription: c. 1500 BCE

Location of Discovery: Sinai Penninsula

Date of Discovery: Early 20th Century

Translation: "Thou, O offerer, (or) chief miner, an offering prepare for Ba'alat, on behalf of Ahena- O offerer,- an offering of a wild ewe. On behalf of his son, [Elya]tu (?), give, O offerer, a wild ewe for [Ba'alat (?)]." Translation by William F. Albright

AHRC Updates

New web content, articles, books, videos and DVDs produced by AHRC as well as any new events.

Covenants from a Hebrew Perspective - 11/11/2017

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