Sh’mot — a new way to be mindful

As was true with the book of B’raeshit, the allegory of Sh’mot is about mentally processing what is encountered in experience. Each of the cast of characters represents a different aspect of one person’s mind. The narrative opens reminding us that the behaviors of making a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience (Children of Yisrael)1 have come into the acts of feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in from experience (Mitsraim)2. In so doing, sometimes the person attempts to see the entire overwhelming scene (R’uvaen),3 sometimes becoming startled in acknowledging G-d’s bringing forth of existence (Y’hudah),4 sometimes taking stock of particular things (Asher),5 and sometimes being mentally ever present with what is encountered in experience (Binyamin)6 — all in the service of making an investigation of what comes around in experience (Yaaqov).7 The task quickly becomes overwhelming and burdensome, with the person’s behaviors of making a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience (Yisrael) ever-increasing to the point that the person’s disposing of oneself in experience (land)8 becomes full and exhausting.

The allegory of this story rests on an understanding of a few keywords. First there is the verb SaRaH (שרה) which is the basis of the word SaR (שר) and Yisrael (ישראל). The verb, used to describe Yaaqov’s wrestling with a mal’akh, literally means “to visually or physically fix upon someone or something.” It is related to the words ShuR (שור – (to hold firmly in one’s sights) to get a fix on (to see)), ShaRaR (שׁרר – (to hold firm in intention / direction) to direct (Jb37:3)) and ShaRiR (שׁריר – (to hold firm) muscle (Jb40:16)). Therefore, a SaR is not a prince (as implied in being the masculine of Sarah), but rather an overseer such as the overseers of the bakers, the butchers and the cup-bearers (Gen 40). The word MeLeKh (מלך – king), not only means ruler, but as can be seen in the associated Akkadian verb (מלך – to consider, discuss, advise, look after, mind, and confer), can also mean “one who deliberates.” The Egyptian word Pharaoh, meaning “great house,” is used in Hebrew to coincide with the unrelated Semitic roots PaRa\ and PaRa\g (פרע) thus rendering the allegorical meaning of Pharaoh as “a person’s attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions.” The associated verb is used twice in the Exodus narrative to mean “to cause chaos and disorder” – when Moshe and Aharon first confront Pharaoh (Ex5:4) and second when Aharon makes the golden calf (Ex32:25). Finally, the word \aM (עם – people) 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.

In order to cope with the proliferation of Israelites (symbolizing the burden of surveying too much of experience), the person brings in a new way of deliberating over experience (a new king). Which after conferring with its way of being mindful (עם – people), wisely decides to place overseers (שרים) over the process of making a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience (Yisrael). But the task of stringently loading up details (חמר – mud)9 and layering out priorities (לבנים – bricks)10 continues to embitter their lives. So the person’s deliberating over experience (king) urges the mental faculties that assist in delivering up particular things encountered in experience (midwives),11 saying “If when looking upon the many things sticking out prominently in experience (stones),12 there is an activity that has pushed through (boy)13 then completely drawn it out (making it manifest), but if it is a thing that requires a more decisive effort (girl),14 it will remain lively (not engaged).” But the mental faculties that assist in delivering up particular things encountered in experience (midwives) were in awe of G-d’s guidance found in experience (Elohim)15 and they recognized that the person’s acts of passing through experience (Hebrews) were lively, generating lots of things to be mindful of. This was in contrast to the person’s acts of specifically focusing upon things narrowing in from experience (Egyptians).

So another way to cope with the proliferation of things to survey in experience had to be found. The word Levi (לוי) represents “a person’s mentally clinging to a scene, and thus generating an awareness of many startling things.”16 The story about Moshe’s birth and his being found by the daughter of Pharaoh is allegorically complex. In simplifying 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.” But to simplify it, let’s call him: “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience.” After all, the verb MaShaH (משה) simply means “to draw out.” The stories that follow serve to hone Moshe as a mental faculty.

First Moshe goes out to his brethren, symbolizing the many things pointing the way for him regarding experience.17 There, Moshe sees two ways of choosing what to engage in experience. The Egyptian represents a narrowing of his focus upon a particular thing (מצרי); whereas the Hebrew represents the wandering of his focus (עברי – to pass through > wander). Since the Egyptian was striking down his wandering eye (Hebrew), Moshe struck upon the Egyptian, the act of narrowing in upon a particular thing, thus allegorically choosing it. By hiding him in the sand, he was squeezing it (his narrowed focus) into what was pervasive of experience (חול – sand, common).

However the second day, Moshe saw that the mind could not decide between two ways of applying oneself (אנשים – men)18 wandering (Hebrews), representing two less definitive options that were struggling with one another. However, one was “exerting its power over the other”19 (הרשע – the wicked one), while the other was also well received (רע – friend).20 When challenged, Moshe realized that the decision had already been made: נודע הדבר “the matter was (already) acknowledged.” The way of applying oneself that was exerting its power over the other (הרשע – the wicked one) was allowed to over power the other that was also well received (רע – the friend), hence Moshe took no action.

Next, the mental faculty referred to as Pharaoh also seeks to utilize the mental faculty called Moshe. Since Pharaoh represents the mind’s chaotically trying to attend to many things, Moshe goes to extremes (ברח – lit. to go clear through)21 and settles in with the act of contemplation (Midian – מדין),22 upon the act of elucidating things encountered in experience (באר – well, to clarify and elucidate). There Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience) contemplates experience with precise and mindful intention (כהן – priest,23 of Midian), considering the many things taken notice of in experience. After fighting off some mental distractions (רעים – shepherds, lit. scatterers),24 the ability to narrow in and focus in on particular things (איש מצרי) settles in. He is given a flood of things to consider (Tsiporah)25 and it generates for him, an act of drawing into (גור) things in experience that are put forth and imposing (שם) (Gaershom – גרשם), things that are unfamiliar (foreign – נכרי).

Because allegorically someone’s death has the paradoxical meaning of fully manifesting something in experience,26 the stated death of the king of Mitsraim tells us that the deliberation over experience (king) became fully manifest. Therefore, the many acts of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward (Yisrael) cry out for G-d’s guidance. And so G-d remembers the agreement that was made with our ability to spread out into experience so as to take notice of many stirring things (Avraham),27 and with our ability to bring things to light in being meticulously alert to what’s around (Yitschaq),28 and with our ability to investigate what comes around in experience (Yaaqov).

Additionally, because the deliberation was fully manifest, Moshe leads the consideration (צאן)29 of his incessantly tracing what was strung together and excessive (Yitro),30 things that were subduing him(חתנו – his father-in-law),31 the performing with precise and mindful intention in contemplating experience (priest of Midian). Furthermore, Moshe drives the consideration of experience (flocks) beyond what was driving directly forward (midbar)32 such that he was coming into the act of bringing to light (mountain)33 G-d’s guidance found in experience, moving toward what was ravaging in experience (Choraev).34 Here he was able to see what was sent forth (mal’akh)35 of G-d’s bringing forth of existence within the layers36 of being mentally persistent (fire)37, as a result of what was pushing through of the act of sifting through and clarifying experience (מתוך הסנה).38 The sifting and clarifying of experience was without end. From what was pushing in of the act of sifting through and clarifying, G-d’s guidance was calling to him. G-d told Moshe that he saw the affliction of the acts of being mindful of what crowds in of Him from experience (עמו – is people), in their attempting to focus upon the many things narrowing in from experience (Mitsraim). To remedy this, Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience) will be sent to Pharaoh (the faculty attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions), so that he will bring out the being mindful (עם – people), the behaviors of making a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience (Yisrael), away from the acts of feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in (Mitsraim). So that the being mindful can devote itself to G-d’s guidance found in experience, upon the act of bringing to light that which is most apparent in experience (ההר הזה – this mountain).

Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience) inquires: “I will come into the children of Yisrael and I will say to them, G-d’s guidance (of-resulting from) your taking notice of things (fathers) has sent me to you. And they will say to me, ‘What is His name?’” Since the word for name (שם – ShaeM) comes from the verb שום (SuM); to put, place, assign and apply, allegorically ShaeM means a way for a person to put oneself forth or apply oneself in experience. G-d’s responds saying that his name is both /eH’YeH (אהיה) meaning “I exist” or even “I am existence,” and the related word YHWH, which as a piel verb would mean G-d’s bringing forth of existence. Additionally, G-d says to Moshe: כה תאמר “So you shall say…” However, allegorically this means “An impression (of existence), you shall make explicit.” Finally, G-d says: זה שמי לעולם וזה זכרי לדר דר “This is my name, forever. And this is my remembrance for generation (to) generation.” The word ZeH (זה – this), allegorically means “what is visually radiant or apparent,” from the root ZaHaH (זהה – to be radiant or exude light).39 The word ZaeKheR (זכר – remembrance) literally means “what is clearly manifest.”40 Therefore, G-d’s name, what is put forth of G-d is “that which is visually apparent in experience.” Similarly, what is clearly manifest of G-d is also “what is visually apparent in experience.” In other words, Moshe (the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience) is to report his impression, his experience of what G-d’s Guidance found in experience is. It is what is put forth in experience by G-d’s Guidance – the thing in experience that is visually apparent, the thing in experience that is clearly manifest. This is the thing that the mental faculty of Moshe draws out from experience for a person to engage.

However, the full meaning of Moshe is “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.” Therefore, in order to determine what is most visually apparent, our Moshe faculty must gather together the acts of clearly visualizing things of the making of a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience (זקני ישראל)41 and say to our faculty of deliberating over experience, of the acts of focusing upon the many things narrowing in (מלך מצרים), “G-d’s bringing forth of existence (YHWH), G-d’s guidance resulting from the many acts of wandering about experience (אלהי העבריים) happened upon us that now we shall go, little by little, threshing through what dangles of many stirring things, into the barrage of experience driving directly forward….” In other words, finding what is visually apparent in experience takes quite a bit of effort. Furthermore, from the acts of focusing upon the many things narrowing in of experience, our conducting through experience must request “containings of what makes lasting impressions” (כלי כסף)42,43 and “containings of what makes many fleeting impressions” (כלי זהב)44 and the things that are engulfing of experience (שמלת).45

Because of this daunting task, Moshe feels overwhelmed and is in doubt of our faith in his ability (as our mental faculty) to see G-d’s bringing forth of existence. So he is shown signs to convince us. First, Moshe is instructed to take his staff (מטה – his way of leaning in toward experience)46 cast it toward the earth (the disposing of oneself)47 such that it becomes a snake (נחש – an act of feeling about experience).48 He then sends forth his hand (reach-power) and holds firmly upon its tail49 (the flailing about of the act of feeling about) such that it becomes regarded as a staff (a way of leaning into experience) in his palm (within his being forceful).50 This sign teaches Moshe (and us) that by leaning into experience and by disposing oneself to experience, one can feel their way around, and then through the use of their power utilize this exploration of experience to point the way (אות).

Next, Moshe is told to bring his hand (reach-power) into his chest (חיק). This word literally means groove or channel; allegorically it represents the ability to channel oneself in experience. When he brings it out (without being instructed to do so), his hand (reach-power) is narrowed in like a thing suspended (leprous as snow).51,52 The verb YaTsa/ (יצא – to bring out) is most probably related to NaTsaH (נצה – to strive). After the first occurrence of this verb, the word for chest (חיק – channel) is absent, indicating that he is striving to bring out his reach without channeling it. Therefore, in striving to bring it out or extend its effect, he becomes narrowed in by too much information and thus his effectiveness ceases – held in suspense. Then he is told to return his hand to his chest (channeling). And so he does settle in his powerful reach toward his channeling. This time when he brings it out from ( = as a result of) his channeling, it has returned as his flesh. The word for flesh (בשר) literally means “what is driven into” most probably referring to the removal of meat from the bone. Allegorically, it means “one’s ability to drive in or one’s confidence.”53 As long as Moshe settles in and brings out his powerful reach with his channeling of himself in experience, he will confidently drive into experience. However, if he strives to bring it out without channeling himself, his powerful reach will be narrowed in and held in suspense.

Finally, if they-we do not have faith in Moshe as a result of these two things and do not listen to his voice, then Moshe, in his role as the mental faculty that draws out a particular thing from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience, is to take from the water in the Nile (what is stirred up of what emanates outward in experience)54,55 and pour it toward the dry land (יבשה). The word YaBaShah (יבשה – dry land) is directly related to the verbs BuSh (בוש – delay > to be embarrassed) and BaShaSh (בשש – to delay), in that it takes a delay in time for something organic to dry up. Therefore, allegorically YaBaShah (יבשה – dry land), is used to signify a person’s delaying. By pouring what is stirred up (water) onto a person’s delaying, it will become regarded as a flowing forth against a person’s delaying (blood on the dry land).56

At this point, Moshe argues with HaShem that he is heavy (כבד) of mouth and of tongue. In a sense, what he is saying is that what there is to process of experience is too intense (כבד). After further complaint, Aharon is introduced. The name Aharon (אהרן) 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). 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. Therefore, Aharon means “the mental faculty bringing things to light.” Like Moshe, Aharon is a Levi (לוי) – a faculty of mentally clinging to a scene, and thus generating an awareness of many startling things. His role is to limit the number of things encountered in experience (brought to light) so that Moshe (the mental faculty that draws out a particular thing from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience) can then make a decisive decision from among them. Aharon is the mouth (פה – the coming in of information),57 whereas Moshe is to be regarded as the Elohim (אלהים – means of guidance).

Now that he has been taught the signs and told of the support to be given by Aharon, Moshe returns to what must be processed of experience that is subduing him (חתנו – his father-in-law) due to its being excessive (יתר – YeTeR). His job is to stringently load up all the details about experience (חמור – donkey), see all of the wonders (מופתים – persuasive things, יפת), and perform them before Pharaoh (the faculty attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions). In this way, our faculty called Pharaoh will send forth the people (עם – the acts of being mentally present), so that they can serve (עבד – devote themselves) to HaShem, G-d’s bringing forth of experience. However, while threshing through experience (דרך), Moshe lodges (lingers) at the lodge (מלון) which also represents his complaining (hiphil of לון). So HaShem seeks to kill him (המיתו) or allegorically “to completely drawn him out (into experience).” Tsiporah (צפה > צפר; overflow > vacate-evacuate), representing a flooding of experience, takes a flint (צר – what narrows in of experience) and cuts off the \oRLaH of (ערלה – covering, what makes inaccessible) her son. The word BeN (בן – son) represents one’s taking action. Her throwing it at his feet (רגל – to go about on foot), symbolizes a way for him to take action. She indicates that Moshe was being a groom of bloods (חתן דמים), meaning one subduing acts of flowing forth.

Finally, now that the mental faculty of Moshe is passed his concerns, complaints and delays, he meets up with Aharon, whose purpose is to assist him in processing experience so that it may be presented to our Pharaoh. The goal, of course, is to counter the chaotic acts of our Pharaoh, so that instead he might send forth the people (being mindful) and the children of Yisrael (behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience). However, Pharaoh (our chaotic central processor) is simply not interested in sending forth the being mindful (people) to serve HaShem, G-d’s bringing forth of existence. After all, in dealing with experience chaotically, he does not acknowledge (ידע) G-d’s bringing forth of existence. He simply does not understand why the mental faculties of Moshe and Aharon would make the people (the being mindful) even more chaotic (תפריעו את העם). So Pharaoh decides that the people (the acts of being mindful) are too lazy, too widely dispersed in experience. However, to be clear, it is precisely because Moshe and Aharon (as mental faculties engaging experience) have caused the people (the acts of being mindful) to chaotically go about experience, and be exposed to more information, that the people (being mindful) will no longer be given straw (תבן – what to mix in with)58 of experience. Instead, they will now have to gather, straighten out, and firm up what there is to mix with and engage with of experience themselves. In this way, they can make bricks (לבנים – layers, stratifications). So that they (the acts of being mindful) can stratify experience and set priorities.

Notes:
1 – 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.”
2 – 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
3 – R’uvaen (ראובן) “the initial attempt at making an extreme and tenacious examination (of G-d’s bringing forth existence) by persistently looking upon an overwhelming scene” כי אמרה כי ראה יהוה בעניי כי עתה יאהבני אישי
Because she said (made a tenacious examination – Akk.), because HaShem looked upon what afflicts-overwhelms me.
4 – Y’hudah: from הפעם אודה את יהוה “This time, I shall praise HaShem (G-d’s bringing forth of existence).” Generally understood to mean Ya or G-d’s bringing forth of existence is praised. But /oDeH (אודה – I shall praise), comes from the YaDaH (ידה – to point out) which has neutral, positive and negative connotations. In a neutral context, it means to acknowledge. While in a negative context, YaDaH (ידה) means to blame or acknowledge guilt. Additionally, even though Pa\aM (פעם) means once or this time, its verb means “to startle / be startled.” So in the context of his feeling overwhelmed by all of the instruction coming in from experience, Y’hudah means “his becoming startled in acknowledging G-d’s bringing forth of existence.” It is for this reason that Y’hudah’s first three children are named annoyed-irritated (ער – \aeR), complaining-reluctant (אונן – /oNaN) and indifferent-apathetic (שלה – ShaeLaH)
5 – Asher (/aShaeR – אשר) There are two unrelated Semitic roots spelled /aShaR (אשר). One, meaning “to go directly,” evolved from ShuWR (שור – to see, get a fix on). The other, meaning “to confirm, be supportive of, validate and congratulate” evolved from /uSh (אוש – to make persistent). When naming Asher, the peshat uses the latter meaning, while the allegory utilizes the former. Allegorically Asher (/aShaeR – אשר) means “a person’s intently driving into experience, taking stock of what exists” from the Hebrew, “to go or drive directly with intention;” and the Akkadian, “to review and take stock.”
6 – Binyamin (בנימין) – from YaMyN (ימין) meaning ever present / dominant side. A righty puts Tefillin on the left arm (non-dominant) while a lefty puts his Tefillin on his right arm. YaMyN (ימין) evolved from /aMaN (אמן – true, real, believe) means to trust in something’s being ever present. It evolved from /uM (אום – substance, bulk) which literally means “ever present existence.” It also evolved into /iM (אם – if or the possibility of presence) and mother (/aeM – אם) which literally means “who or what that is ever present.”
7 – Yaaqov (יעקב) from the root \aQaBh (עקב) which essentially means “to twist around.” Across the Semitic languages, this root is used to mean “to constrain, to follow, to come after, to trace, to approach closely, to investigate, to criticize, and to grab the heel (supplant)
8 – land (ארץ – /eReTs) 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)
9 – morter (HhoMeR – חמר) is related to HhaMoR (donkey – חמור) acts of conscientiously loading up details. From HhaMaR (חמר – to heap up, load), but also related to the Talmudic word HhuMRaH (חמרה – a stringent, fastidiousness and attention to details)
10 – brick (לבן) also means both white and Lavan. The verb means to layer bricks. A comparison of related words indicate that this root means to layer out and stratify things such as LaBhaSh (to layer clothing – לבש), LaBhaBh (to layer a cake – לבב), ShaLaBh (to join layers, rungs of a ladder – שלב), HhaLaBh (milk, what layers out – חלב) and L’BhoNah (frankincense, what layers out – לבונה). In Arabic it means undertaking, enterprise, object, wish, aim, and goal.
11 – midwives (מילדות) mental faculties that assist in delivering up particular things encountered in experience. The verb YaLaD (ילד – to bear a child) evolved from LuD (לוד – to cram or squeeze through). As can be seen in Arabic (to bear, generate, produce, cause occasion, conceive an idea / plan), it can also be used to refer to the generation of other things. Allegorically, YeLeD (ילד – child, thing squeezed through, generated, an occasion) means “a thing appearing or squeezing in from experience” in a way analogous to the word molad (מולד) which is used to refer to the new moon. The piel refers to the actions of a midwife, one who assists in the generation of a new appearance of a child or a thing in experience.
12 – stone (/eBheN – אבן), from the root BuN (בון – to be or project between), literally means “what sticks out prominently.”
13 – son (BeN – בן), from the related roots BuN (בון – to be or project between) > BaNaH (בנה – to push between > bear a child or to build). Therefore, a son (BeN – בן) is one pushed through
14 – daughter (BaT – בת) technically comes from the feminine of son (BeN – בן), hence (BeNt – בנת). However, the nun drops out. However, the allegorical meaning for daughter comes from a different, rarely used root BuT (בות) which in Arabic means “cut off, sever, complete, finish, achieve, carry out, fix, settle, decide, determine; final decision.”
15 – Elohim (אלהים) plural of Eloah (אלוה) – Although most derive it from El (אל), I believe that the word evolved from LaWaH (לוה) meaning to escort and guide. Hence, initially the word Elohim (אלהים) referred to the pantheon of gods, whose purported purpose was to guide and escort humanity. With the advent of monotheism, the word was used with a singular verb to represent G-d, but continued to be used to represent the pantheons of others, a council of judges and people of similar purpose.
16 – 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
17 – 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.
18 – men (/aNaShim – אנשים) from the noun /eNoSh (אנוש), evolved from the root /aNaH (אנה) meaning to impose or apply oneself. Therefore the meaning is those applying-imposing themselves in experience
19 – the wicked one (רשע – RaSha\) literally means “to exert power over.” Its evolution: YaRaH (ירה – to aim > penetrate) > YaRaSh (ירש – to drive in, take possession, to dispossess) > {presumed RaShaH (רשה – to drive into)} consider the following from Akkadian רשׂו RaShu – to strike, smite, while in Arabic {RaSa/ – רשׂא to be firm, stable, steady, anchor; RaSaCh – רשח firmly established, deeply rooted; RaSaPh רשׂף to be bound, moored, shackled; RaShaQ – רשק – RaSaQ to pelt, throw at, fasten, fix}. Therefore, RaSha\ (רשע) literally means “to drive into another individual so as to behave wickedly.”
20 – 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).
21 – escape, flee (ברח – BaRaHh) literally means “to go clear through” hence both escape and bar. While in Syriac it means transparent (go clear through) and in Arabic it means “to continue to be; beset, harass, molest; violent.” 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)
22 – contemplation (Midian – מדין) an allegorical explanation based on the roots DuN (דון – to abide with) and דין (DYN – to judge, contemplate). Also Proverbs 19:13 מדיני אשה arguments-contentions of a woman.
23 – priest (כהן – KoHaeN) related to the noun KaWaNaH (כונה – mindful intention); used as a verb not related to priestly duties (piel) to set / fix in place precisely (Is61:10).
24 – mental distractions (רעים – shepherds, lit. scatterers) shepherd (Ro\eH – רועה) literally means one who scatters about. Rua\ (רוע) evolved from RuaHh (רוח), both mean to spread out across the horizontal plain. Therefore, haRya\ (הריע – to scatter sound), YaRa\ (ירע – to move back and forth (Is15:4)), and all verbs Ra\aX meaning vibrate > shatter (רעע), thunder (רעם), irritate (רעם), tremble (רעד), quiver (רעל) and quake (רעש). Some of these the ayin evolved into ghayin. Ra\aH (רעה) means to shepherd, lead, graze, to put out to feed.
25 – a flood of things (צפרה – Tsiporah) from צפר (TsiPaeR – (to overflow out of) > to evacuate, to bail out from (Jd7:3), which evolved from TsaPhaH (צפה – to overflow). TsiPoR (צפור – bird) literally means “the one that evacuates, flies away.”
26 – die (MuT – מות) has the paradoxical meaning of “to be completely drawn out,” or fully manifest. Its essential meaning of extending something in space or time can be seen by examining the related roots MaTaQ (מתק – to savor), MaTaiy (מתי – (drawn out to) when), and MaTaHh (מתח – to draw, spread out)
27 – Avraham (אברהם) a person’s spreading out so as to take notice of and willingly give forth of oneself to experience, comes from /aBhaR or /eBaeR (אבר – to extend outward, spread wings, take flight) + HaMoN (המון), those that are stirred up, from HaMaH (המה – to stir up). Also the name contains hints of the verb /aBhaH (אבה), meaning “to willingly give forth of oneself” in Hebrew and “to take notice” in Arabic.
28 – YiTsHhaq (יצחק): derived from the root TsaHhaH (צחה) meaning to be bright or clear. Unlike most roots in Hebrew, the root Ts.Hh.Q. (צחק) exhibits consonantal fluidity in both Hebrew, Ugaritic and Arabic. In more than half the cases, this root is spelled with a letter Sin (ש) instead of a Tsade (צ) in Hebrew. Similarly in Arabic can be found S^aHha/ (become clear, bright, aware, alert); D^aHha/ (become visible, appear, bring to light); D^aHhaK (to jeer, scoff, mock, scorn, fool, laugh). As an archetypal behavior, it results from one’s ability to focus (Sarah) with one’s spreading out so as to take notice of and give forth to things stirred up (Avraham) – meaning “one’s bringing things to light in being meticulously alert to what is around.”
29 – TsoN (צאן – flock) essentially means “what holds back”. Cognate with Arabic S^WN-S^/N (to protect / guard/ safeguard, preserve, conserve, sustain; seclude o.s, protect o.s, be chaste); Th^N ((regard = re – guard >) to think, believe, deem, suspect, suppose, consider, presume); and D^N (to keep back, be stingy, thrifty, meager >) in due consideration of
30 – YiTRo (יתרו), “his incessantly tracing what was strung together-excessive.” The Hebrew noun means excess, abundant and remnant, from the verb YaTaR (יתר) which in Arabic means “to string, string up, wrong, harm, (string along) cheat, dupe; pull taught, stretch, draw tight, to continue / follow in uninterrupted succession, perform at intervals; uneven, odd#, string, tendon, manner, mode, way.” It evolved from NaTaR (נתר – be drawn out, draw out).
31 – ChoTaeN (חותן – father-in-law) / ChaTaN (חתן – groom). These are the signatories (ChoTaeM (חותם – signatory) of the marriage contract, the word from which it evolved. These roots are related HhaTaH (חתה – to push down) ChaTaT (חתת – broken down, to subdue, frighten). Allegorically “what subdues him..
32 – miDBaR (מדבר) In most Semitic languages the root DaBaR (דבר) means to drive at and to direct. Even in Hebrew, the same piel form of the verb that usually means to speak means “to drive over, barrel down, to kill” (CrII22:10). The word DeBheR (דבר) means plague for this reason. Although miDBar may simply mean “a place requiring direction or guidance,” the fact of geography and the frequent occurrence of flash floods suggests to me otherwise.
33 – 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. 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).
34 – Choraev (ChoRaeBh – חרב) the verb means to be hot, heat, dry, but also make desolate, devastate (Jd16:24)(KgII19:17)(Is42:15) and to be de-vastated (emotionally) (Jr2:12), therefore allegorically: ravaging in experience.
35 – angel (מלאך – mal’akh) from the verb La/aKh (לאך) Ugaritic and Syriac – to send a messenger, a message.
36 – layers (לבה – heart, layer) A comparison of related words indicate that this root means to layer out and stratify things such as LaBhaSh (to layer clothing – לבש), LaBhaBh (to layer a cake – לבב), ShaLaBh (to join layers, rungs of a ladder – שלב), HhaLaBh (milk, what layers out – חלב) and L’BhoNah (frankincense, what layers out – לבונה)
37 – /uSh (אוש – to make persistent, to go on and on, be lengthy, make a steady noise (Jastro)) is one of the building blocks of the Semitic languages; like /uR (אור – light, emanation, radiation), /uL (אול – advancing forward), /uM (אום – ever present existence), HaWaH (הוה – to be / exist) and /aBhaH (אבה – to be willing) – all are derived from /aWaH (אוה) meaning to point to something that exists that one wants. From thus evolved words about pointing-advancing-radiating, existence, and wanting. From /uSh (אוש – to make persistent) evolved /aeSh (אש, fire, persistent existence)
38 – thorn bush (סנה – S’NeH) literally meaning sharp thing, related to SaNaN (סנן – sharp, bright, (to sharpen) to refine, filter, strain).
39 – From unattested ZaHaH (זהה – exude light), see Syriac cognate ZaHa/ (זהא – shining, glorious, splendid, resplendent) and in Arabic (radiant, shine brightly, be haughty)
40 – male (זכר – ZaKhaR) literally means to be clear, hence to remember (be clear in mind) from ZaKhaH (זכה
– (to be clear) be pure, free of guilt, right / justified, innocent, be acquitted / right, to be privileged. Also note (Syriac – (manifest something with clarity) use magic arts; bring up a familiar spirit; divine using a spirit).
41 – elders of Yisrael (זקני ישראל) allegorically “the acts of clearly visualizing things of the making of a sustained survey of what advances forward in experience” from (זקן – (be clear) beard, old), related to ZuQ (זוק – (Arb- (make clear in the mind) to visualize) and ZaQaQ (זקק – (to make clear / purify) to distill).
42 – K’Li (כלי) – container, tool, utensil, weapon; from KaLaH (כלה) to contain, restrain, hold back
43 – silver (כֶּסֶף – KeSePh) evolved from the root K.S.H (כסה) which means “to make marks, cuts, impressions and to cover over.” Over time, silver tarnishes. K.S.Ph. Silver, literally means “that which is marked up (tarnished)
44 – 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
45 – garment (שמלת – SiMLaH) evolved from SuM-SYM (שום – שים to put, place, impose, label). The Arabic cognate: cloak, turban, enclose, engulf, contain, comprise, comprehend, imply, implicate, pervade, prevail
46 – staff (מטה – MaTeH) from NaTaH (נטה – to stretch, incline)
47 – land (ארץ – /eReTs) 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)
48 – snake (נחש – NaHhaSh). It evolved from the verb HhuSh (חוש) to sense, feel, experience, and hasten” and in Arabic, “to grope.” The verb NaHhaSh (נחש) in biblical Hebrew means to divine and in modern Hebrew, to guess. With regard to meaning snake, it literally means “one who feels about.”
49 – ZaNaBh (זנב – (flail) > tail) from ZuN (זון) which evolved into ZaNAH (זנה – (to flail) > prostitute), which evolved into ZaNaBh (זנב – (flail) > tail) and /oZeN (אזן – (flail) > non human ear) and sustenance (maZoN – מזון) literally means “what is thrown about > distributed.”
50 – palm (כף – KaPh) related to the verb KaPhaH (כפה) to bend, to bring under control (Pr21:14); KaPh (כף) power, force, might, coercion (Cb2:9)
51 – leprous (צרעת – TsaRa\aT) Sabaic cognate: to damage, defeat, humiliate, bring s.o to submission; related to TsuR (צור – narrow in)
52 – snow (שלג – SheLeG) Literally means “what suspends.” The most roots Sh.L.literally mean “to suspend, dangle.” For example, שולים – skirt, train, abdomen; שלה – to be lax, relax; שלל to let fall; שלח – to let loose (Syr – slough off) > send forth > שלך to cast; שלם – to suspend > complete, submit to > peace, compensate.
53 – confident (בשר – BaSaR). The word almost always means flesh, but literally “what is driven into with confidence,” probably alluding to removing meat from a bone. The Arabic cognate means “to peel, scrape / shave off, grate, shred, come in contact, sexual intercourse, apply oneself.” Also note probable mis-translation of (Ec2:3) תרתי בלבי למשוך ביין את בשרי Conventionally translated as: I sought in my heart to draw out with wine, my flesh. But more correctly translated as: I sought in my heart to draw out with wine, my confidence
54 – Nile (יאור – Y’/oR) – derived from the root uR (אור – light, what emanates outward). Consider S’uR (שאור – remnant, leaven, what overflows)
55 – water (מים – maYiM) from YaM (ים – sea, what is stirred up) from HaMaH (המה – to stir up).
56 – blood (דם – DaM) allegorically means “what flows,” evolved from DaWaH (דוה – to flow). Incidentally, not related to DuM (דום – still, silent) which evolved from DaMaH (דמה – to cease, be still) make disorderly), BuM > BuN (בום – to force in between > בון to force in between). This root (פה – PeH) thereafter evolves into meaning edge, periphery, distinction etc
58 – straw (תבן – TeBheN) “what to mix with” from BuN (בון – to force in between)

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

Hans Wehr. Ed by J Milton Cowan (1979) Hans Wehr A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. Ithaca, NY: Published in the United States by Spoken Languages Services, Inc with permission of Otto Harrassowitz

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.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments