Ki Tisa You Shall Not See My Many Faces and Be Lively

In Judaism, the two most common names for God are Elohim and the tetragrammaton (Y-H-W-H). The word Elohim (אלהים) is the plural for Eloah (אלוה) which evolved from the root LaWaH (לוה – to join, escort, guide). In Ugaritic, a Northwest Semitic language very closely related to Hebrew, Elohim means “pantheon,” a grouping of gods that they looked to for guidance. Likewise, in the Tanakh, Elohim also refers to the pantheons of other peoples. However, Elohim can also refer to a group of human counselors or judges in an analogous way. Since in Judaism there is only one God, this plural word is used with singular verbs to represent the one God. Since Elohim means counselors, allegorically, Elohim represents God as the source of infinite guidance that is interwoven into our everyday experience. On the other hand, the tetragrammaton (Y-H-W-H), is a verb used as a proper noun based on the verb HaYaH (היה – to be, exist). Based on its form, it is most likely the piel or intensive form of the verb whose meaning is roughly God’s continuous bringing forth of existence. Even though the tetragrammaton (Y-H-W-H) refers to all of God’s moment to moment creation, it is used allegorically to represent what a person is experiencing in a given moment. In a metaphorical way, one can view Elohim as all of the cars going both ways on a particular stretch of road where you intend to catch your ride, while the tetragrammaton (Y-H-W-H) represents not only your ride, but also the cars of similar appearance that you must investigate and sift through.

As Jews, committed to monotheistic principles, we do not usually distinguish between the different names of God found in the Tanakh. However, on few occasions the Torah does. For example, in parashat Mishpatim the text says: זבח לאלהים יחרם בלתי ליי לבדו “One making an offering to the Elohim, shall be excommunicated-destroyed; excepting to HaShem, him alone.” The verb ZaBhaHh (זבח – to offer), having evolved from the verb ZaBhaH (זבה – to flow), allegorically represents a person’s flowing forth to experience and making observations for the purpose of engaging something. Although posed as an admonition, the same sentiment can be seen in a statement by Avraham back in Genesis, chapter 20: ויהי כאשר התעו אתי אלהים מבית אבי “And it was as that Elohim had caused me to wander from the house of my father.” Since BayT (בית – house) represents “what comes in from experience”1 and Abh (אב – father) represents “one’s willingly giving of oneself in such a way as to take notice of things,”2 allegorically this means; “And it was as that God’s guidance found in experience had caused me to wander as a result of what comes in from experience, as a result of my taking notice of things.” This is one of the few instances where Elohim, the God of monotheistic belief, is joined with a plural verb so as to emphasize the plurality of God’s guidance found in experience.

In this week’s parashah, parashat Ki Tisa, the tetragrammaton is used fifty eight times while Elohim refers to God only eight times. Also in this parashah, the word Elohim is used a few times to refer to the golden calf and the pantheon of the Canaanites. In all cases, Elohim represents the same – “the plurality of guidance found in experience.” The principle challenge is to find God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H) a midst the abundance of God’s guidance found in existence (Elohim), while being able to distinguish and avoid the other forms of guidance (Elohim) that are false and misleading. Moshe and the Yisraelites were confronted with a similar challenge in parashat Yitro. There the name Elohim was used almost exclusively. In that case, the abundance of guidance coming forth from Elohim necessitated that Moshe assign overseers (שרים) to reduce his workload. Yitro referred to the tetragrammaton only in praising God for saving the people from a similar abundance of guidance, from Mitsraim, the feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in from experience.3 In the allegory, while there are numerous archetypes (Aharon, Chur, Yisrael etc)4 representing various mental faculties that enable us to see God’s handiwork more clearly, only Moshe, “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience,”5 is able to see God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H), Panim el Panim (face to face). On the other hand, the archetype of Yisrael – one’s making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience – (representing both Yaaqov at P’nuel and the people descended from him) is only able to see the abundance represented by God’s guidance found in experience (Elohim), Panim el Panim (face to face).

Herein lies the conflict found in this parashah that leads Aharon and the Yisraelites to build the golden calf. Upon completing to speak with Moshe, God gives him: שני לחת העדת לחת אבן כתבים באצבע אלהים “the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone written by the finger of Elohim.” The word for tablet (לוח – LuaHh) literally means “what gets in very close.”6 As described in my previous blog, the testimony (עדת – \aeDuT) represents the things that are evident in experience.7 While the word for stone (אבן /eBheN) literally means “what sticks out prominently.”8 So Moshe is given “things getting in very close of what is evident (in experience), things getting in very close of what sticks out prominently (in experience), impressed by the finger of God’s guidance found in experience.” As in all cases, the amount of information that must be processed from God’s guidance found in experience (Elohim) is excessive. Therefore, Moshe “our mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience” is delaying (בושש – BoShaeSh).

If our Moshe cannot process all of this information, then perhaps other mental faculties can do better. To this end, the ability to be mindful of the many things crowding in from experience (עם – \aM, people)9 convoke around Aharon, the mental faculty bringing things to light,4 imploring him to make for them an alternate source of guidance (Elohim). Unlike the laser focus of Moshe, Aharon requires from the people “the mutterings of many fleeting impressions” (נזמי הזהב – (nose) rings of gold)10 that can be found with their flailings (אזני – ears).11 By plunging in headlong and embarking rashly (חרט – engraving tool),12 Aharon fashions a calf of mingled elements (עגל מסכה). Like a calf (עגל \eGeL) who appears to flop about in its attempts to catch up with the rest of the herd, the calf represents a person’s “meandering, wallowing and rushing about experience in order to swiftly descend upon things,”13 in their attempts to process the guidance that can be gleaned from experience. The word MaSaeKhaH (מסכה), usually translated as molten, comes from the verb NaSaKh (נסך to mix, mingle (wine), cast metal). The calf is also referred to as אלהי מסכה or allegorically “guidance of minglings.”

Whereas Moshe is described as an /eeSh (איש husband > man) allegorically representing “one’s being mentally persistent”14 mindfully working through the various elements of God’s guidance, the molten calf represents a person’s chaotically rushing about experience – meandering, wallowing, and mingling with little direction. This is conveyed in various ways. As he tells Y’hoshua, there are not voices responding of strength (גבורה), nor of weakness (חלושה Chalushah). But simply voices responding (to anything). Additionally, according to Jastro, חלושה (Chalushah) also means “assigned.” So the point is doubly made that the person’s ability to be mindful is aimlessly running about responding to anything that it encounters. Furthermore, when Moshe approaches the camp, he sees the calf and the dancing. This dancing, M’ChoLaH (מחולה), represents their “writhing with experience” from HhaLaL (חלל – to throw about), evolving into ChoL (חול) / ChaLaL (חלל) “to dance, tremble, and writhe in giving birth.” Finally, when Moshe confronts Aharon, he asks “What did this people (being mindful) do to you that you brought upon it a great veering off (sin)?” Such that “Moshe was seeing the people (the being mindful) that it was parua\ (פרע chaotic-disordered) because Aharon (the act of bringing things to light) had made it chaotic and disordered (p’ra\oh) “with respect to the tiniest taint of experience (שמצה) a midst the many things confronting them (in experience).”

Of course, Moshe, “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience,” does what he can to resolve the veering off of the being mindful (the sin of the people). First, “he casts (שלך – ShaLaKh) from his hand the tablets (things getting in very close from experience) and smashes (שבר – ShaBaeR) them under the mountain (הר – HaR).” In Arabic, the first of these verbs, (שלך – ShaLaKh), means “to thread through, travel along and to clarify.” While (שבר – ShaBaeR) literally means “to go clear through”15 and is thus etymologically related to SaBaeR (שבר) meaning “to analyze, interpret, examine and contemplate.” Thus he clarifies and analyzes the things getting in very close of experience (tablets), under the influence of the act of bringing things to light (mountain).16

As for the process of “meandering, wallowing and rushing about experience in order to swiftly descend upon things (calf),”…he was burning (שרף SaRaPh) (it) with fire and milling (טחן TaHhaN) (it) until that it was particulate (דק), then he was scattering upon the surface of the water and was giving water the children of Yisrael.” In Arabic, a cognate of SaRaPh (שרף) means “to oversee.” While DaQ (דק) meaning particulate is related to the Arabic D/Q (דאק) meaning “to perceive.” Therefore, Moshe transformed it from an act of wallowing, into an act of overseeing and milling over details by virtue of the fact that he is “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience.”

Finally, Moshe gathered together the Levites representing “a clinging upon a scene with mental persistence, generating an awareness of many startling things.”17 With its ravaging (sword),18 upon its endurance (thigh),19 they passed through from one act of taking notice of what was stirring in experience (gate)20 to the next, musing over things (הרג – killing)21 – an act of being mentally persistent (/eeSh (איש husband > man)) with what points things out for it regarding experience (אחיו – brothers),22 with what it perceives (רעהו – friend)23 and with what it approaches (קרבו – close relative).24

Nevertheless, even what is encountered of God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H) is too intense. So as to avoid overwhelming the person’s ability to be mindful (people), God will send forth before them a MaL\aKh (מלאך – angel). Because this word literally means “what is sent,” 25 allegorically it represents an aspect of experience sent forward, as opposed to one’s encountering the full force of God’s bringing forth of existence. Not all of the responsibility sits with the intensity that is God, additionally the people are “a people of stiff (firm) neck.” The verb associated with the word used here for neck, \oRaePh (ערף) means “to let loose, release, break the neck and paralyze.” However, since it essentially means to let loose and release, in Arabic it also has the meaning to spread out > be aware, perceive and recognize. So fundamentally, human beings are both difficult to paralyze and our being mindful of the many things crowding in (people) is firm of being aware and perceiving things (of stiff neck). Therefore, were the full force of God to be with us, it would consume us. Analogous to God’s sending a malakh to mitigate what is overwhelming of experience, the Israelites put aside from themselves that which was enduring for them of experience (עדים – ornaments), from the act of bringing to light what was ravaging of experience (mount Choraebh).

Furthermore, because of the intensity that is God’s bringing forth of existence, the ohel moed (tent of meeting) could no longer remain within the camp. The word for camp, (מחנה MaHhaNeH), literally means “the place of establishing presence.”26 Allegorically, it represents a person’s being mentally present with experience in general. From this point forward, encounters with God’s bringing forth of experience (Y-H-W-H) would no longer be within the realm of usual experience. By placing the act of becoming familiar with something (אהל – ohel)27 outside of the realm of usual experience (camp) such encounters are noth more intentional and more limited. This is where Moshe, our mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience, goes when someone seeks out God’s bringing forth of experience. During such encounters each of our acts of being mindful of the many things crowding in from experience (people) stand still (קום – QuM) and each act of being mentally present (man) strives to remain firm (נצב – NiTsaBh) (at) the opening of its becoming familiar with something in experience. God’s bringing forth of experience speaks to our Moshe (our mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience), face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Even though, eventually we must return to the being mentally present with experience in general (camp), Y’hoshu (יהושע) “one’s dwelling upon the extensiveness of G-d’s bringing forth of existence,” remains as a look out, never drawing away from what might forcefully push inward of experience (תוך – ToKh)28 as a result of one’s becoming familiar with something (tent).

As much as we may think otherwise, encounters with HaShem, with God’s bringing forth of experience, are not for some ethereal or metaphysical high. Rather the purpose of such an encounter is to direct us and propel us along our paths. Moshe says, “You are saying to me elevate this people, but you have not made known to me that which you shall send with me.” Allegorically, Moshe is not looking for an assistant, rather as a mental faculty that interfaces between God and us, Moshe wants to know which direction to take us in experience.” He is not looking for a who, but rather a what – what experience, which way shall we go in life.” Moshe implores HaShem “make known to me your way (of threshing though experience).” Furthermore, he says: אם אין פניך הלכים אל תעלנו מזה “If there does not exist your many presentations (faces of experience) advancing forward, preclude from making us ascend from this.” Twice HaShem says “I acknowledge you by name (שם – ShaeM).” From the verb SyM (שים) meaning to put forth, assign, impose and label; allegorically the word for name implies “that which is put forth or imposed (by God) in experience.” But for Moshe (our mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience) feeling imposed upon by God’s bringing forth existence is not enough, he tells God, “Show me your intensity (כבד glory).” In other words, Moshe wants God to make His presence in our every day experience obvious for us, so that we might know for sure that we are following the path that God intends for us. But this is not possible. As God says allegorically, “You shall not be able to see my many presentations (faces). Because one who is thoughtfully absorbed with experience (אדם – a human),29 may not see me and remain lively.”

Once again, the allegory is pointing out that God’s bringing forth of existence is overwhelming. No person can be thoughtfully absorbed with experience, see the many things being brought forth by God (faces) and still be able to engage with experience. Instead, God proposes that Moshe be with Him at haMaQoM (המקום), the place. From the verb QuM (to stand firmly, arise and establish), allegorically haMaQoM (המקום) represents what arises and is firmly confrontational of experience. In this case, it also refers to “a cleavage of the boulder” (נקרת הצור – NiQRaT haTsuR). The word for boulder, TsuR (צור), most probably literally means “form or formation.” It is etymologically related to the verb TsuR (צור) which means to form or shape, but literally means “to narrow or close in upon something.” Allegorically, a boulder represents sort of a motivational target for a person to narrow in upon. The word for cleavage, (נקרה – NiQRaH), literally means a “what is gouged out or gotten into very closely.”30 Neither we, nor Moshe (our mental faculty) can experience the fullness of God’s bringing forth of experience. However, if we get in very closely with a particular experience, a target within experience upon which we narrow our focus, then we can experience the forcefulness (כף)31 of God’s passing (עבר) and then see that that was the hand of God in retrospect. As God says: ושכתי כפי עליך עד עברי והסרתי את כפי וראית את אחרי “And I will snugly cover my palm upon you until my passing and then I will remove my palm and you will see my back (what comes after of me).”

Our encounters with HaShem are through our encounters with experience. Moshe is instructed to chisel new tablets, again representing “what gets in very close of the many things sticking out prominently in experience.” Then, in the time of making an investigation (morning),32 he ascends into the act of bringing things to light of showing restraint in filtering and clarifying experience (mount Sinai).16,33 Then God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H) passes before Moshe, declaring His characteristic traits of compassion and kindness. Having heard these reassuring words, Moshe entreats God to advance forward (in experience) in our midst, while also forgiving our inevitable iniquity and acts of veering off. For his part, God states that he will delineate an agreement (ברית – B’RyT),34 allegorically a clear understanding, as well as do wonders, these being the activities of God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H). However, God also admonishes Moshe not to reach any understandings with the inhabitants of the land. This seems to be somewhat of a non sequitur, until one realizes that allegorically this phrase (יושב הארץ) means “one settling down, of the act of disposing oneself to experience.”35,36 What God wants above all else is for us to be attentive to the wonders that are created for us and for us to engage them. So God admonishes us not to become ensnared by the act of relentlessly examining experience (Amorite),37 nor the feeling subdued by the many things drawing in on us (Kanaanite),38 nor the feeling frightened and intimidated (Chittite),39 nor the remaining detached while sorting through experience (P’rizite),40 nor the act of recoiling and curling up (Hhiwite),41 nor the (necessitating of our) being driven into so as to be instigated by experience (Y’busite).42 We must never flail after (זנה) the guidance associated with these acts.43

Instead, we must perform acts of drawing in (חג – pilgrimage)44 toward the experiences created for us: an act of drawing in of many acts of striving (מצות – MaTsot, unleavend bread)45 in the time of our springing forth into experience (אביב – aviv);46 an act of drawing into the many things bubbling up in experience (שבעת Sh’vuot),47 the things welling up as a result of one’s harvesting experience (בכורי קציר),48 of acts of leaning in (חטים);49 and an act of drawing in of the act of heaping up from experience (האסיף) – the act of wrapping around what is repetitively imposed (תקופת השנה).50 Furthermore:

You will not lean into experience,51 upon feeling over heated, angry, violent and belligerent….52
לא תשחט על חמץ
(You shall not slaughter (the blood of my offering) upon unleavened bread)

The flowing forth53 of the act of drawing into experience44 as a result of the act of taking a leap54 (into experience) – shall not be made to linger for the purpose of making a thorough investigation.32
ולא ילין לבקר זבח חג הפסח
(The offering of the pilgrimage of Pesach shall not remain for the morning)

You shall bring in – what is seen55 of the things welling up in experience48 that result from your being mentally absorbed with experience29 – what comes in1 of God’s bringing forth of existence, God’s guidance being provided to you in experience.
ראשית בכורי אדמתך תביא בית יי אלהיך
(The first of the first fruits of your ground, you shall bring in – the house the HaShem, your Divine Guide.)

You shall not stew over a new and fortuitous development,56 through the being deceptively captivated and beguiled57 as a result of the being mindful of it.58
לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו
(You shall not stew a young goat in the milk of its mother.)

Notes
1 – house (בית – BayiT) from Bo/ (בוא – to come in). Technically, it means “place of coming in” but based in context the allegory uses it as “the coming in of something from experience” or “what comes in from experience.”
2 – father /aBh (אב) derives from /aBhaH (אבה) which in Hebrew means “to be willing to give forth of oneself,” whereas in Arabic it means “to take notice of.”
3 – Mitsraim (מצרים). This word for Egypt probably was derived from there being two narrow (צר) strips of arable land on either side of the Nile river. The allegory is based on the idea that narrowing in upon something can have a visual component. Evidence for this can be seen in the evolved words צוהר window; צהרים (time of clarity) before and after noon; יצהר (transparent) oil and the related Arabic ד’הר to be / become visible, perceptible, distinct, clear, apparent, appear, know, learn, noon. Therefore, MiTsRi (מצרי – Egyptian) allegorically represents one’s visually narrowing in upon something. The doubling in Mitsraim (מצרים) suggests a person’s viusally narrowing in upon what narrows in upon the person. I added “feverishly” because the king of Mitsraim is Pharaoh, chaos.
4 – Aharon (אהרן) “the mental faculty bringing things to light;” from the verb HaRaH (הרה – to conceive), but like the related verb HaRHaeR (הרהר), it refers to one’s ability to conceive of something in mind (not in the womb). Also related to these words is the noun HaR (mountain – הר) which literally means “the place of bringing things to light,” a place where one can see and conceive of what is coming due to its elevated perspective.
– ChuR (חור) > to make clear and evident
– Yisrael (ישראל) from the verb Sarah (שרה), from which comes the name Yisrael (ישראל). It does not exactly mean to wrestle, nor does its associated noun exactly mean princess. It means to fix on something either visually or physically. When to fix on something physically, it could be used to mean wrestle. When to fix on something visually, its male counterpart, Sar (שר), means an overseer, a member of the court. Additionally, El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward allegorically can be used to mean “what advances forward” and “one’s advancing forward.”
5 – Moshe (משה) allegorically complex, with all of the details of the story, the archetype of Moshe means: “A behavior of being mindfully present with many startling things coming in from experience, in mentally clinging to a scene, sucking up some details and looking them over, considering the many possible directions that one particular thing may go, being more mindful of it, channeling this one particular thing while subduing the thoughts about the others, and in showing resolve and being decisive in attending to this one particular thing, making it a priority, thus drawing it out from a midst the many other stirring things found in experience.” Simplied: “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience.” The verb MaShaH (משה) simply means “to draw out.”
6 – board, plank (לוח LuaHh) This root meaning “to join together and to be well joined” evolved from (לוה – LaWaH) meaning “to cling to or join to” as a verb it is used to mean “to escort, guide and to lend.”
7 – testimony (עדות – \aeduT); enduring (עד – \aD); evident-witness (עד – \aeD); endure, meet, appoint (יעד Ya\aD) > meeting (מועד Mo\eD); these related terms all essentially mean “to endure in place or time.”
8 – stone (/eBheN – אבן), from the root BuN (בון – to be or project between), literally means “what sticks out prominently.”
9 – people (עם – \aM) allegorically means “being ever presently (mindful) of what crowds in.” It comes from the related roots \aMaH – \aMaM (עמה – עמם) literally meaning to be ever present with. However, when something is ever present with something else, it can be close or too close. Therefore, the words derived from this root reflect closeness: with (עם – \iM), people-crowd (עם – \aM), and connecting (עמה – \uMaH); and those representing being too close: covered over, suppress, ignorant, dim, dark, and blind. In ancient Hebrew and in those Semitic languages retaining the ghayin variant of ayin, the latter words are spelled with ghayin, but are nevertheless etymologically related.
10 – (nose) rings of gold (נזמי הזהב) “the mutterings of many fleeting impressions”
– nose ring (נזם – NeZeM) evolved from ZuM (זום to murmur, to muzzle). In Akkadian, NeZeM (נזם) means “to grumble, moan, and complain.”
– gold (זהב – ZaHaBh) literally means “of fleeting impressions.” From unattested ZaHaH (זהה – exude light), see Syriac cognate ZaHa/ (זהא – shining, glorious, splendid, resplendent) and in Arabic (radiant, shine brightly, be haughty). Also Arabic cognate of ZaHaBh means to take leave, vanish, to take with, lead or conduct, to allow the imagination to wander > think, believe; gold, going, passing, manner, opinion, belief, ideology, orientation
11 – ear (אוזן – /oZeN) literally meaning “what turns back and forth > flails” initially referring to the movements of a non human ear such as a dog. Derived from ZuN (זון – to distribute) which evolved into ZaNAH (זנה – (to flail) > prostitute), which evolved into ZaNaBh (זנב – (flail) > tail) and distribution > sustenance (maZoN – מזון).
12 – engraving tool (חרט – CheReT) Allegorically “plunging in headlong and embarking rashly” from Arabic (חרט – to strip (leaves), pull off, lathe, brag, boast, lie, exaggerate, to plunge headlong, embark rashly). Note also that this root means “to regret,” perhaps suggesting Aharon’s perspective on his act.
13 – calf (עגל \eGeL) Allegorically “meandering, wallowing and rushing about experience in order to swiftly descend upon things.” Related to the Arabic: rush, urge, hurry, impel, expedite; catch up, descend upon swiftly, wheel; cart, calf, worldly & Syriac: to roll round / away / about violently, writhe, wallow.
14 – husband > man (איש – /eySh) from /uSh (אוש – to make persistent, to go on and on, be lengthy, make a steady noise (Jastro)). Initially meaning husband (one who persists with a wife), it later came to mean man. Allegorically, it is always used to mean “mental persistence.”
15 – to break (שבר – ShaBaeR) literally means “to go clear through.” Most of the roots with BaR (בר) literally mean to make a clearing, to clear away, or to go clear through, hence בור (clearing > pit), באר (clearing > well, to clearly elucidate), בער (to clear away > clear a field, burn), ברר (to clear away > sift), ברא (to clear away > to sculpt, create, carve, cut down), ברח (to go clear through > escape, bar), ברך (to go clear through > to excel, be / declare excellent; to make a clearing > kneel, pool), ברק (to go clear through > lightening)
16 – mountain (הר HaR) which literally means “the place of bringing things to light,” a place where one can see and conceive of what is coming due to its elevated perspective. It comes from the verb HaRaH (הרה – to conceive), but like the related verb HaRHaeR (הרהר), it refers to one’s ability to conceive of something in mind (not in the womb).
17 – Lewi – Levi (לוי) from LaWaH (לוה) to take around, escort to, to follow, to cling to, join company of, be attached. In naming him: עתה הפעם ילוה אישי אלי כי ילדתי לו שלשה בנים. Allegorically, the words Pa\aM implies startling, LaWaH implies clinging, \eeSh implies mental persistence, SheLoShaH implies dangling-suspending, BaNim implies activities. Therefore: mentally clinging to a scene, and thus generating an awareness of many startling things
18 – sword (חרב – CheReBh) the verb means to be hot, heat, dry, but also to make desolate, to devastate (Jd16:24)(KgII19:17)(Is42:15) and to be devastated (emotionally) (Jr2:12), therefore allegorically: ravaging of experience.
19 – thigh (ירך – YaRaKh) literally means “long part.” It evolved from (ארך /aRaKh) to be long, prolong
20 – gate (Sha\aR – שער ) Although not at all related to the roots Sh\R (שער), S\R (סער), and Sae\aR (שער – hair) which all mean “to stir up” in one way or another, but allegorically the word for gate is used that way as a play on words. Also related to a similar Arabic root meaning to take notice of things (in being stirred up)
21 – to kill (הרג – HaRaG) allegorically meaning “to muse over something.” Tirliteral roots with R.G.(רג) generally meaning “to go back and forth.” רגג to swoon after; הרג to kill (make go back and forth), in Syriac and Arabic to muse over, blur the mind; רגל walk about, spy out, to slander; שרג to slip back and forth, entangle; שׂרג to swing back and forth, slip; רגב clod, make clods; quiver, be afraid; רגף to shake, stir; רגם to throw at, pelt at, Akk- shout at, persecute raise claim against, accuse; Ugr – to communicate, say, tell, announce, inform, answer; Amh- to curse, wish evil upon; Arb- to stone, curse, revile; shooting stars, meteorites; רגע to swing back and forth, roll; רגש to surge together, rage; רגז to deviate from side to side, wander about, get lost; ארג to weave
22 – brother (אח – /aCh) most probably was derived from the root ChaWaH (חוה) which in Arabic means to join someone and to join the company of. Usually the allegorical meaning of a word is based on this type of etymological connection. However, sometimes the Torah makes up an artificial folk etymology. Because Hebrew uses the same letter symbol, ח, for two different consonantal sounds (Hhet and Chet), there is another חוה in Hebrew, (HhaWaH) which means to point out and instruct. Based on context, the allegorical meaning of the word brother (אח) comes from the similarly spelled root HhaWaH (חוה) and not the etymologically correct root ChaWaH (חוה). Allegorically, a brother is one who points something out or points the way.
23 – friend (רע – Ra’a\) from the verb Ra\aH (רעה – to welcome, to receive) which evolved from Ra/aH (ראה – (be penetrated) to see, perceive) from YaRa\ (ירא – (be penetrated) > be in awe, be afraid) from YaRaH (ירה – to aim > penetrate). Note also רע (perception) thought (Ps139:2) and רעא (Syr- think, be minded, be of opinion, reason, purpose).
24 – one close to him, relative (קרבו – Q’RoBho) Roots based on the biliteral root Q.R. (קר) essentially mean “to get in very close”: KaRaH (קרה to come upon, happen occur); QaRa/ (קרא to call closer, call out to, meet, call and read); QaRaBh (קרב to approach); QaRaM (קרם to cover closely, membrane, encrust, plate); QaRaN (קרן horn, what approaches more closely); QaRa\ (קרע (get closely into) to tear into, to put on eye liner); QaRaSh (קרש to contract, gnash, bite into); QaRaS (קרס to stoop, clasp); QaRaTs (קרץ to pinch off, squint, purse); NaQaR (נקר to gouge, chisel); ShaQaR (שקר to gouge > deceive, lie).
25 – angel (מלאך – mal’akh) from the verb La/aKh (לאך) Ugaritic and Syriac – to send a messenger, a message.
26 – camp (חנה – HhaNaH), essentially meaning “to establish a presence” and allegorically “a mental presence.” It evolved from HoN (הון – substantial > wealth) and its hiphil (ההין to make/be present, make/be ready; (Dt1:41)), HaeN (חן – here) and HiNaeH (הנה – see here (be present)). Evolved from (חנה – HhaNaH) is HhaNaN (חנן – presence > grace).
27 – tent (אוהל – /oHaeL) allegorically “an act of becoming familiar” from the Arabic meaning “to take a wife, be familiar, inhabited; enable, qualify, competence, aptitude.” Additionally, Job25:5, the only verbal use of the root, may mean “to be familiar.”
28 – in the middle of, midst of (תוך – ToKh) comes from the verb TaWaKh (תוך – to push or force inward).
29 – human (אדם – /aDaM) evolved from DaMAH (דמה – to make comparisons, to think) which evolved from DuM (דום – be still, silent). Also related ground (/aDaMah – אדמה) comes from the root DuM (דום) which means to be still. In Arabic אדם means to enrich bread with food / fat / condiment; fatty / shortening; dyed leather; hide; skin; surface, earth), In Akkadian אדם means to be engaged in conflict whereas in Amharic it means plot, conspiracy, coup d’etat, strike, boycott. Similarly, in Ugaritic the verb is used in the following line: “the cow lows for her calf (..) as they lament.” Based on comparitive Semitics, I believe lament is best replaced with “are intensely concerned, absorbed, preoccupied, obsessed, engrossed together.” Lastly, the related root דאם in Arabic means “to remain, persist, last, go on, continue, persevere, be devoted, permanence, incessant.”
30 – cleavage (נקרה – NiQRaH) NaQaR (נקר to gouge, chisel). Roots based on the biliteral root Q.R. (קר) essentially mean “to get in very close”: KaRaH (קרה to come upon, happen occur); QaRa/ (קרא to call closer, call out to, meet, call and read); QaRaBh (קרב to approach); QaRaM (קרם to cover closely, membrane, encrust, plate); QaRaN (קרן horn, what approaches more closely); QaRa\ (קרע (get closely into) to tear into, to put on eye liner); QaRaSh (קרש to contract, gnash, bite into); QaRaS (קרס to stoop, clasp); QaRaTs (קרץ to pinch off, squint, purse); NaQaR (נקר to gouge, chisel); ShaQaR (שקר to gouge > deceive, lie).
31 – palm (כף – KaPh) from the verb KaPhaH (כפה (bend, curve) to bend, to bring under control (Pr21:14)) there is also the noun KaPh (כף) meaning pressure (Jb33:7) and power, force, might, coercion (Cb2:9)
32 – morning (בוקר – BoQaeR, time of investigation). From the root BaQaR (בקר) meaning “to investigate, search.”
33 – Sinai (סיני) Allegorically: showing restraint in filtering and clarifying experience. From SaNaN (סנן (impose >) to be bright, sharp & to filter, refine, strain) from ShaNaN (שנן – to sharpen, hone, teach) &/or ShaNaH (שנה – to sharpen > repeat), from /aNaH (אנה – to impose)
34 – BriT (ברית) Usually translated covenant, technically it means “clear agreement.” Most of the roots with BaR (בר) literally mean to make a clearing, to clear away, or to go clear through, hence בור (clearing > pit), באר (clearing > well, to clearly elucidate), בער (to clear away > clear a field, burn), ברר (to clear away > sift), ברא (to clear away > to sculpt, create, carve, cut down), ברח (to go clear through > escape, bar), ברך (to go clear through > to excel, be / declare excellent; to make a clearing > kneel, pool), ברק (to go clear through > lightening
35 – inhabitant-settler (יושב – YoShaeBh) Allegorically, “one who settles down.” This verb evolved from ShaBhaH (שבה – to settle back a captive) which evolved from ShuBh (שוב – to settle back > return, do again, stay, remain). It is related to ShaBhaHh (שבח – to settle down, still) and the root (שבת – ShaBhaT) meaning (to settle down) > cease, rest.
36 – land (ארץ – /eReTs) Allegorically: “one’s disposing onself to experience.” It evolved from RaTsaTs (רצץ to run upon / crush), which evolved from RuTs (רוץ to run) > RaTsaH (רצה to run toward, show favor). The allegory comes from a related noun /aRTsuT (ארצות one’s disposition, how a person runs-shows favor)
37 – /aMaR (אמר) to say (explicitly), Amorite. This root evolved from מר (pouring) a drop (Is40:15) and מור myrrh (sticky and bitter). Most Semitic words of the /aMaR (אמר) root mean sticky, or to stick with. Arabic: constantly urging > command; spirit, soul, mind; pericardium, characteristic; Ugaritic: look at, be seen; order, demand; lamb (matted); Akkadian look at, see, inspect, examine, catch sight of; Syriac: muse, preach, expound, say, speak, renounce (declare away from), tell affirm, assert, intend, chant; predict
38 – Canaanite – from the root KaNa\ (כנע) meaning to subdue or oppress. A comparison with related roots such as KaNaS (כנס to enter), KaNaPh (כנף wing, (what is drawn in)), KaNaN (כנן to wind around), and KineReT (כנרת the lake, ?drawn into) suggest that literally it means to draw in upon. So Canaan allegorically means one’s being subdued by the many things drawing in from experience from context.
39 – Chittite (חתי) based on the root ChaTaT (חתת) meaning to press down upon, to subdue, and to frighten.
40 – P’rizite (פרזי)Allegorically: detached, sorting through experience, based on the verb PaRaZ (פרז) which in Arabic means: set apart, detach, isolate; to sort through, classify, examine, screen, select, distinguish
41 – Hhiwite (חוי) Allegorically: an act of recoiling and curling up. From the verb HhaWaH (חוה)> In Hebrew, this root means to point toward, to point out, instruct. However, in Arabic it means: to collect, gather, contain, hold, unite, clasp, encompass, include, coil, curl up; convolution, intestines and evolved from this ChaWaH (חוה) means hungry, desolate, waste, empty, bare, dreary
42 – Y’busite (יבוסי) Allegorically: the being driven into so as to be instigated. This is the pual form in which BuS (בס) and BaSaS (בסס) would require two samakhs. This leaves only BaSaH (בסה) as the appropriate verb. Jastro indicates that this root means both “to trample” and “to drive and instigate.”
43 – ZaNAH (זנה – (to flail) > prostitute), which evolved into ZaNaBh (זנב – (flail) > tail) and distribution > sustenance (maZoN – מזון) and ear (אוזן – /oZeN) literally meaning “what turns back and forth > flails” initially referring to the movements of a non human ear such as a dog.
44 – pilgrimage (חג – HhaG), “an act of drawing in” from the verb HhaGaG (חגג) to make a pilgrimage; from HhuG (חוג) to draw inward > make a circle; from HaGaH (הגה – draw inward > ponder); from GaWaH (גוה draw inward)
45 – unleavened bread (מצות – MaTsoT) The plural of MaTsaH, spelled without vowels the same as MiTsWoT-MiTsVoT (מצות) commandments. The words TsiWaH (צוה – to command) and MaTsaH (מצה – unleavened bread) evolved from the former, NiTsaH (נצה – to strive). TsiWaH (צוה) evolved from NiTsaH (נצה) by dropping the initial letter nun. Whereas the verb MaTsaH (מצה) evolved from NiTsaH (נצה) by converting the nun to the letter mem. Of the two forms of the noun MaTsaH (מצה), the one meaning unleavened bread comes from either the verb MaTsaH (מצה) meaning to wring out or MaTsaTs (מצץ) to drain, a derivative of the former. The noun MaTsaH (מצה) meaning strife / quarrel comes from the verb NiTsaH (נצה) to strive / struggle. Of course, the noun MiTsWaH (מצוה) commandment comes from the verb TsiWaH (צוה), to command. However, the essential meaning of all of these verbs is to strive.
46 – spring (אביב – /aBhiBh) derived from the root /aBhaH (אבה – to willingly give forth of oneself, yield)
47 – Sh’vuot (שבעת) Allegorically: things bubbling up in experience from Sheva/ (שבע). Although with a shin, this word appears to have been derived from the similar root with a letter sin, SaBha\ understood as satiated, it derives from either NaBha\ (נבע – to swell or well up) or Ba\aH (בעה – to bubble up, boil). Perhaps it means the number seven because it fulfills a period of one week, although this too is not completely clear. Metaphorically, from context and this etymology it means “being satiated by what bubbles up” or just “a bubbling up of something.”
48 – first fruits of the harvest (בכורי קציר) Allegorically; “the things welling up as a result of one’s harvesting experience” כרםצ first born (בכור – BaKhuR) from BaKhaR (בכר – to bud (well up), to be born first), which evolved from BaKhaH (בכה) to cry, weep, vent and trickle; which evolved from NaBhaKh (נבך) (welling up) spring, source (Jb38:16)
49 – wheat (חטים – ChiTim)Allegorically: “acts of leaning in” from the verb HhaTaH (חטה to lean, incline)
50 – circling around of the year (תקופת השנה) Allegorically: “the act of wrapping around what is repetitively imposed”
– circling around (תקופה) technically meaning “wrapping around > pulling in” related to QoPh (קוף – monkey, of prehensile tail) > QaPhaH > QaPha/ (קפא) to congeal; yet in Arabic: to (/send to) follow (s.o tracks), rhyme, follow up, pursue, follow s.o example, imitate; occiput)
– year (שנה ShaNaH) Allegorically: “what repetitively imposes-is imposed” from ShaNaH (שנה – to sharpen > repeat), from /aNaH (אנה – to impose)
51 – slaughter (people or animals) (שחט – ShaChaT) from HhaTaH (חטה – to incline, lean into) > ChaTa/ (חטא – to veer off, sin). Compare cognates: Ugaritic: butcher, slaughterer; Arabic: be annoyed / displeased / angry, to resent, wrath; exasperation; Syriac: to harm, mar, abuse, impair, vitiate, infringe, violate (law / woman)
52 – leavened bread (חמץ – chamaets). The same root as the word chomaets (חומץ) meaning a violent person (Ps71:4). The root ChaMaTs is closely related to the words ChaMaS (חמס) meaning violent / belligerent and ChaeMaH (חמה) meaning anger.
53 – offering (זבח – ZaBhaHh) Allegorically refers to the way in which a person flows forth. The verb ZaBhaHh (זבח – make an offering, sacrifice) evolved from ZaBhaH (זבה – to flow), perhaps due to the flowing of blood that occurs with ritual offering.
54 – leaping (פסח – PeSaHh) see (KgI18:26)
55 – the first of (ראשית – Rae/ShyT) Allegorically: “the seeing of > what is seen of” from head (ראש – Ro/Sh) possibly derived from Ra/aH (ראה – to see) which explains the vestigial aleph. Contextually, this always works allegorically as well.
56 – young goat, kid (גדי – G’Dy). Allegorically: spontaneously occurring development From the root GaDaD (גדד – to draw off from). The Arabic: new (factor), innovative, luck, recent development, recently become fact, grave, take s.th seriously, strive earnestly. Amharic: luck, strange, monster, flutter about, group
57 – milk (חלב – HhaLaBh) from the Arabic root (חלב = ChaLaB – to seize with claws, cajole, coax, beguile, fascinate, captivate; gripping, captivating, attractive, tempting)
58 – mother (/aeM – אם) Allegorically: being mentally present. It literally means “who or what that is ever present” It evolved from /uM (אום – substance, bulk) which also evolved into /iM (אם – if or the possibility of presence); /aYaM (אים) foreboding literally means “an ever present feeling,” and m’/uMaH (מאומה) something literally means “a thing of that is ever present” and /aMaN (אמן – true, real, believe).

A.F.L Beeston, M.A. Ghul, W.W. Muller, J. Ryckmans (1982) Sabaic Dictionary. Publication of the University of Sanaa, Yar

Ernest Klein (1987) A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company

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Jeremy Black, Andrew George, Nicholas Postgate, eds., A Concise Dictionary ofAkkadian, 2nd corrected printing (Santag Arbeiten und Untersuchungen Zur Keilschriftkunde, 5; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000)

Marcus Jastrow (1996) A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushlami, and the Midrashic Literature.New York: The Judaica Press

J. Payne Smith’s (1999) A Compendious Syriac Dictionary. Published by Wipf and Stock

David Kantrowitz (1991 – 2009) Judaic Classics version 3.4. Institute for Computers in Jewish Life, Davka Corp., and/or Judaica Press, Inc.

G. del Olmo Lete & J. Sanmartin (2003) A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition. Leiden: Brill. Translated by Wilfred G.E. Watson

Wolf Leslau (1976) Concise Amharic Dictionary. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles.

H.W.F. Gesenius (1979) Gesenius’ Hebrew – Chaldee Lexicon. Baker Books. Grand Rapids.

About the Author
David Kolinsky is a retired physician born and raised in Monsey, New York. While living in Monterey California, David initially lived as a secular, agnostic Jew. However, in his spare time, he delved into twenty years of daily study of Hebrew etymology and Torah study culminating in the writing of an etymological dictionary of Biblical Hebrew and a metaphorical translation of Torah. Abandoning his agnostic views, David was simultaneously a spiritual leader of the world's smallest conservative synagogue, a teacher in his local reform synagogue, and a gabbai at Chabad. He is currently sheltering in place with his family in his new home in Plano, Texas.
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