David Kolinsky
David Kolinsky

Tazria: Scattering about and becoming shook up

So much of ancient Judaism concerns itself with the opposite concepts of being ritually impure (טמא TaMae/) and ritually pure (טהור TaHoR). Although many modern Jews continue to maintain a distinction through kashrut and taharat mishpachah (family purity); the absence of a red heifer, a centralized holy temple and a dedicated priestly class, makes our concern for these concepts less pressing. In Judaism, ritual impurity is imparted through contact with a dead body, when experiencing certain discharges of bodily fluids, and through a mysterious condition called TsaR\aT (צרעת) which can be found in the skin, in clothing and in the walls of one’s home. Additionally, certain animals are considered to be pure or impure as specified by the laws of kashrut. Because Miriam was afflicted with tsara’at after speaking poorly of her brother Moshe’s wife, this condition is highly associated with speaking lashon ha-ra\, (with) an evil tongue. However, although I agree that not speaking badly of others is of utmost importance, this midrash does a disservice to the relevance of tsara\at to our lives today.

The word for being ritually impure (טמא TaMae/) comes from the roots TuM (טום) and TaMaH (טמה) that are unattested in Hebrew. The root TuM (טום) means “to flood, inundate, and be overwhelming” in Arabic; and “to stop up, block, be closely packed, solid, dense, opaque, to repress, to restrain; be repressed, and be coerced” in Syriac. In Akkadian, it means “to spin or plait (squeezed together).” Essentially, this word means to squeeze in or hold in tightly. Also in Akkadian, the related root TaMu (טמו) means “cleverness, forethought, planning, understanding, instruction, reason, rational thought, opinion, and judgment.” This variation of the root also essentially means “what is held in tightly (within one’s mind).” Having evolved from these roots, the word for being ritually impure (טמא TaMae/) again essentially means “to be squeezed in and overwhelmed,” but allegorically it is most easily understood as “a person’s being mentally unavailable.” In contrast, the word for ritually pure, TaHoR (טהור), evolved from the root Ts.H.R (צהר) meaning “so narrow as to be visually clear.” From this idea come the words TsoHaR (צוהר window), YiTsHaR (יצהר clear oil), and TsoHaRayiM (צהרים afternoon (time of visual clarity)). Allegorically, TaHoR (טהור ritually pure), means “mentally clear.” So just as these words in the peshat represent the opposites of ritually impure versus pure, allegorically, they represent the opposites of being mentally unavailable versus being mentally clear.

Our parshah discusses a number of conditions that make a person TaMae/ (טמא), ritually impure. The first topic mentioned is that of the ritual impurity imparted to a woman after she has given birth. Although, the idea of conceiving a child is usually conveyed using the verb HaRaH (הרה), literally meaning to bring to light,1 the verb used here is HaZRya\ (הזריע), to shed or scatter seed. The Hebrew word for seed is Zera\ (זרע). Like ZaRaHh (זרח to shine, break out), ZeReD (זרד be brave, valiant) and ZaRaZ (זרז to speed up, urge and stimulate); it evolved from ZaRaH (זרה) meaning to scatter. A seed, Zera\ (זרע), is picked up and thrown into the air by a Z’Roa\ (זרוע) – a person’s arm. It then falls onto the ground, wherever the breeze, physics and God will it to. It inserts itself there and grows, perhaps fulfilling its potential – accorded to it by God, its DNA, and the environment upon which it lands. Allegorically, a human being can also be as a seed. But the degree to which we grow and shine in reaching fulfillment depends not only on God, our DNA, and the environment upon which we land, but also bravery, and the degree to which it is urged, sped up and stimulated. Allegorically, the verb
HaRaH (הרה to conceive) implies an act of bringing something to light, while HaZRya\ (הזריע) implies a person’s scattering a midst many aspects of experience, for the purpose of engaging what is encountered.

When a person scatters about experience like a seed (תזריע TaZRia\), she may bring about an occasion that is clearly manifest (זכר, male)2 or one that must be deeply delved into (נקבה, female).3 In either case, things will happen and she will be squeezed in and mentally unavailable to other things (טמאה). In the case of an experience that is clearly manifest, there will be a bubbling up of many stirring things (שבעת ימים seven days).13,11 But the degree to which she becomes filled up (טמא) by the experience, depends on the flowing forth of her espying with a resourceful eye (נדת דותה).4 Were she to exude into the experience (שמיני Sh’MiNi, eighth) like oil (שמן SheMeN)5 exudes out from its source, then that which could be confidently driven into (בשר flesh)6 of what seems otherwise inaccessible of it (ערלתו its sheath)7 could be engaged (ימול circumcised).8 She would then settle into what flows forth (דמי bloods)9 of the experience as a consequence of becoming mentally clear (טהרה) – many things dangling (opportunities) of what is stirring in experience (שלשים יום), a dangling (opportunity) of many stirring experiences (ושלשת ימים) – thirty three days.10,11 Nevertheless, she still cannot actually touch anything brought forward in experience (קודש holy),12 nor shall she come into the dedication to advance forward into the experience (מקדש sanctuary), until the stirrings of her becoming mentally clear have been fulfilled (ימי טהרה days of her purification).11 This last point may seem odd, but it is simply a consequence of the fact that the child is not female, which allegorically signifies an occasion not delved into.

On the other hand, were she to deeply delve into the experience (נקבה, female),3 she would then be filled up by the experience and unavailable to other things (טמאה) – being doubly satiated and satisfied (2 weeks – שבעים)13 – in accordance with her flowing forth into the experience (כנדתה).4 She would then settle in upon what flows forth of (דמי)9 the experience as a consequence of being mentally clear (טהרה) – getting carried away by what is stirring in experience (ששים יום), getting carried away by many stirring experiences (וששת ימים) – sixty six days.14,11 In order to understand the significance of the disparate number of days (33 vs 66), it is important to understand that allegorically what is important is not the length of time, but rather the metaphorical significance of those words – sixty six being the better of the two.

Chapter 13
The central part of the parashah is about the condition called tsara\at (צרעת). Although this skin condition is often referred to as leprosy, whatever it is can also affect the fabric of one’s clothing and the walls of one’s home – which leprosy does not. Related to the word TsaRaH (צרה narrow), this root (צרע TaRa\) literally means “to narrow in upon or to be narrowed in.” In Sabaic, it means “to damage, harm, defeat, humiliate, and to bring someone to submission.” While the two cognates in Arabic mean: “to throw down, bring to the ground, wrestle, have a seizure, be crazy, and to succumb to something” and “to be humble, be submissive, beg, and to abase oneself.” Allegorically, the condition of tsara\at refers to a situation or an experience that narrows in upon a person, in such a way as to cause a mental affliction referred to as a NeGa\ (נגע). This word comes from a verb that means: “to reach, touch, thrust upon, plague or have an affect.” Although in the peshat, the NeGa\ is a type of skin affliction, allegorically it refers to a person’s becoming mentally thrust upon, struck or shook up. Sometimes when a person gets mentally shook up it blocks further thinking, while other times it causes a person to focus more clearly on what caused the mental jolt – this is the basis of declaring a person mentally unavailable (ritually impure) or mentally clear (ritually pure).

The first grouping discusses three types of lesions that could be in the skin of the flesh of a human. The phrase used to mean “skin of the flesh” allegorically means “the prodding-awakening of one’s confidence to drive into experience.” This can be so because there are two different words or homonyms spelled עור (\uR) – one meaning skin and the other meaning “to prod, stir, and awaken.” The word BaSaR (בשר flesh), literally means “what is confidently driven into” as can be seen in the Arabic cognate meaning “to peel, scrape, shave off, grate, shred, come in contact, engage in sexual intercourse, and to apply oneself.” The three lesions are an inflammation (שאת) representing a getting emotionally carried away,15 a scab (ספחת) representing an emotional surge,16 or a bright spot (בהרת) representing a being dazzled by something overwhelming in experience.17 These represent interruptions of the person’s thought processes in that the word /aDaM (אדם human, literally thinker) evolved from the verb DaMaH (דמה) meaning “to think and to make comparisons.”18

The situation is then brought for evaluation to the person’s mental faculty of giving something mindful attention (כהן KoHaeN).19 Since the word for hair Sae\aR (שער), literally means “what is stirred up” and is cognate with an Arabic word that means to take notice of something (in being stirred up), its presence represents an awareness of the situation.20 A hair can either be white (לבן LaBhaN), which signifies its being given priority,21 or black (שחור ShaChoR), signifying that the awareness has broken through.22 A lesion can be described as deeper than the skin (עמוק מן העור) signifying its being considered more profound or of greater relative importance as compared to the prodding or awakening (of one’s confidence to drive in). But it can also be “lower than the skin” (שפל מן העור) signifying a meekness23 as a result of the prodding-awakening. Additionally, the mental effect that a lesion has on a person can be described as spreading (פשה), dulled or mitigated (כהה), or revived or sustained (מחיה granulation tissue). As is usual for the allegorical interpretation, the kohaen (priest) represents a mental faculty of the same individual that is afflicted; he represents the higher mental function of he who is otherwise mentally affected.

13:1 – 8
Regarding one who is mindfully absorbed in a scene (\aDaM), if the being mindfully attentive (kohaen) sees that with “the being shook up” the awareness (hair) has turned into a priority (white) and that it is more profound (deeper) than the prodding or awakening of his confidently driving into experience, then it is declared a being shook up as a result of what narrows in. The kohaen declares him mentally unavailable (טמא) to engage experience. On the other hand, if the being dazzled (בהרת) by something in experience is given priority (white), it is not more profound than the prodding or awakening, and the awareness of it (hair) has not been given priority, then he is closed in for seven days. This represents a challenge to his ability to deal with experience because allegorically it means “a being drawn in upon – many bubblings of stirring experience.”11,13,24 The affliction is then looked at again. If it remains in his eyeings, but has not spread, then he is challenged again with more bubblings of stirring experience. If upon being examined again, the affliction has dulled (כהה) and has not spread with the prodding of experience (skin), then he is declared mentally clear and focused (טהר) and the lesion is referred to as a MiSPaHhaT (מספחת), an irritation. He then cleans his clothes, representing a pressing into (כבס washing)25 the many acts of bringing up and revealing things in experience (בגד clothes)26 – this being a mental engagement of experience. Finally, if the irritation is found to spread thereafter, it is declared a being shook up as a result of what narrows in – he is declared ritually impure – emotionally overwhelmed and mentally unavailable.

13: 9 – 17
Furthermore, if there is already a being mentally shook up with a person’s being mentally absorbed with experience as a result of what narrows in and then there is a getting carried away emotionally (שאת) that is given priority (white) with the being prodded by experience. And the awareness of this is given priority (white hair) and there is a reviving-sustaining (מחית) of a confidence to drive into experience that is wildly lively (חי) with the getting emotionally carried away – this is considered a narrowing in by experience that is old and repetitive. He is mentally unavailable (טמא) and there is no point in further challenging him by exposing him to further bubblings of stirring experience. However, if the narrowing in of experience shall blossom with the prodding of experience, then the person will become all consumed by what is narrowing in upon him from experience – from his seeing (head)27 and unto his traipsing about (legs).28 Because the experience that is narrowing in upon him completely covers over and makes innumerable impressions29 upon his confidence to drive into the experience (flesh) and because all of it has been given priority (white) – he is now mentally clear and focused upon it (טהור). However, if there appears a confidence to drive in that is wildly lively (בשר חי), he is again considered to be mentally unavailable (טמא). Nevertheless, if this confidence to drive in that is wildly lively is given priority (white), then he is considered to be mentally clear and focused (טהור). פ

13:18 – :20
And regarding one’s confidence to drive into a situation (בשר flesh), that with its being prodded (עור skin) there is a bowing out (שחין boil)30 such that the confidence is eased (נרפא).31 But then in the place of the bowing out, there is a getting carried away (שאת inflammation) that is given priority (לבן white) or a being dazzled (בהרת bright spot) that is both prioritized (לבן) and partially thought through (אדמדמת reddish).32 But the appearance of it is meek (שפל below) as a result of the prodding (עור skin) and the awareness of it (hair) is given priority (white). Well how can a person function in such a situation? Clearly, he must be mentally unavailable (טמא). For a being shook up as a result of what narrows in has blossomed within the act of bowing out (שחין boil).

13:21 – :23
However, if the awareness (hair) of the above situation is not given priority (white) and there is no meekness (שפל) as a result of the prodding (to act), then the mental affliction has been mitigated (כהה). At this time, the person can again be challenged with a drawing in of the bubblings of stirring things (7 days). If it shall spread out with the prodding (to act), then again he is mentally unavailable (טמא). However, if in its place, there shall remain the being dazzled (בהרת), then it is a reducing of the bowing out (צרבת השחין) and he is mentally clear (טהור). ס

13:24 – :28
And regarding one’s confidence to drive into a situation, that there shall be with its being prodded an impression as a result of an act of being mentally persistent (מכות אש burn of fire),33,34 such that there will be a sustaining (מחיה) of the impression – a being dazzled that is given priority and partially thought out or just prioritized. And there is with the being dazzled by something in experience, an awareness that is given priority and the seeing of it is more profound than the being prodded (to act). It is what narrows in through the blossoming of an impression. He is mentally squeezed and mentally unavailable (טמא). However, if in being mentally present (הנה),35 there is no awareness given priority with the being dazzled and there is no meekness as a result of the being prodded (to act), then it is mitigated. He will then be challenged by a drawing in of a bubbling of stirring things (7 days). If it spreads out with the being prodded, then he is mentally unavailable (טמא). If, on the other hand, instead of it, the being dazzled by something in experience shall remain such that it didn’t spread with the being prodded (to act), then it has been mitigated. It was a getting carried away as a result of the impression. And he is mentally clear because of the reducing of the impression (צרבת מכוה). פ

13:29 – :37
And regarding an act of being mentally persistent (man – focused on a scene)36 or an act of conducting oneself through a scene (woman),37 that there shall be with it a getting shook up through an act of seeing something (ראש) or through an act of clearly visualizing something (זקן).38 If in being mentally present, the seeing of it is more profound than the being prodded (to act) and with it there is an awareness that stands out (צהב)39 particularly examined (דק),40 then he is mentally unavailable (טמא). It is an act of taking a step back (נתק oozing scab) (so as to take stock).41 It is a being narrowed in as a result of seeing something (head) or as a result of clearly visualizing something (beard). If, in being mentally present, the seeing of it is not more profound than a being prodded (to act) and there is not of it a breaking through of awareness (black hair), then he should be challenged with the bubblings of stirring things (7 days). After doing so, if the stepping back has not spread and there is not with it a breaking through of awareness and the seeing of the stepping back is not more profound than the being prodded (to act), then the person will expose himself (shave) such that the person’s stepping back (to take stock) shall be drawn in upon by bubblings of stirring things (7 days). After that, if the stepping back (to take stock) has not spread further and the seeing of it is not more profound than the being prodded (to act), then he is mentally clear. He can press into his acts of bringing up and revealing things about experience (כבס בגדיו). However, if the stepping back (so as to take stock) spreads out with the being prodded (by experience) after his being declared mentally clear, then the act of giving something mindful attention (kohaen) should not search for an awareness of what stands out – he is mentally unavailable. But if in his making observations, the stepping back (so as to take stock) remains and there is a breaking out of awareness that has sprouted through it, then the stepping back is eased. He is mentally clear. ס

13:38 – :39
And regarding an act of being mentally persistent (man) or an act of conducting oneself through a scene (woman), that there shall be with the prodding of their confidently driving into experience, a being dazzled – a being dazzled given priority (בהרת לבנת). And in being mentally present (הנה), with the prodding of their confidently driving into experience, a being dazzled mollified, given priority. It is a being illuminated (בהק),42 blossoming with the prodding. He is mentally clear. ס

13:40 – :46
And regarding an act of being mentally persistent (man – focused), that his seeing (head) shall be gone over and plucked through. It is an act of getting in very close for the purpose of exposing and clarifying (קרחת baldspot).43 It is an act of being mentally clear. And if from the place of distinguishing its many aspects (פאת פניו edge of his face),44 his seeing shall be gone over and plucked through. It is an act of confronting something and heaping up details (גבחת bald forehead).45 It is an act of being mentally clear.

And given that there shall be with the act of getting in very closely so as to expose and clarify or with the act of confronting something and heaping up details, a being mentally shook up that is given priority, somewhat thought about. It is a being narrowed in, blossoming with the act of getting in very closely so as to expose and clarify or with the act of confronting something and heaping up details. And then the act of giving something mindful attention will look and in being mentally present, there is a getting emotionally carried away (שאת) as a result of the being mentally shook up, given priority, somewhat thought about (reddish) with the act of getting in very closely so as to expose and clarify (קרחת) or with the act of confronting something and heaping up details (גבחת) – in accordance with a seeing of what narrows in will be a prodding-awakening of one’s confidently driving in. It is an act of being mentally persistent (man), narrowed in. It is a being mentally unavailable. The act of giving something mindful attention shall declare him mentally unavailable, his being mentally shook up is with his seeing of something. And the person narrowed in upon that with it is the being mentally shook up, his bringing up and revealing of things (clothes) shall be mangled (פרם), and his seeing (head) shall be chaotic in attempting to attend to many things (פרוע),46 and upon the pouring forth of them (their lip)47, he shall swoop.48 Alone he shall sit. Outside from mentally attending to what is common and prosaic (camp)49 will be his settling in.

For those of you with the perseverance to arrive to this point: unfortunately, reviewing the entire double portion would take too much time for one blog. Perhaps, I can complete the task in a year when Tazria and M’tsorah are separate parshiot.

Notes:
1 – the verb HaRaH (הרה) means “to conceive.” By doubling this root, evolved the related verb HaRHaeR (הרהר), it refers to one’s ability to conceive of something in mind (not in the womb). Literally both verbs mean “to bring to light.” 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.
2 – male (זכר – ZaKhaR) literally means “one clearly manifest” (referring to evident genitalia) from the verb “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).
3 – female (נקבה N’QaeBhaH) Allegorically: being receptive (to things found in experience). Related to NaQaBh (נקב socket, to penetrate, pierce, bore into-out) from QuBh (קוב to make a vault, receptacle)(which is related to QaBhaL (קבל to receive, accept)).
4 – menstruation, lit: the flow of one’s afflictions-sicknesses (נדת דותה NiDath D’WotaH) Allegorically: the flowing forth of her espying with a resourceful eye. The word NiDaH (נדה) means “flowing forth” and is used to refer to a woman’s menstruating. The word DaWaH (דוה) means sickness or illness. Its Arabic cognate means “wilt, wither, fade, wear away, disappear.” A related Arabic root, DaHaY (דהי) means “to come over someone, overtake, hit, befall, strike; artful, clever, cunning, wily.” All three of these roots literally mean “to flow.” Jastro indicates that DaWaH (דוה) means both: “to grieve, feel affliction” and “to espy, look out for,” hence espying with a (cunning) resourceful eye.
5 – oil (שמן – SheMeN) & eight (שמונה – Sh’MoneH) literally mean “what exudes outward.” It evolved from the verb MaNaH (מנה) – to distribute, count, assign, classify. The number is possibly based on the image of putting the two hands together palms down, with the thumbs tucked under the palms with eight fingers splayed out like the exuding of oil (or maybe not).
6 – flesh (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.
7 – sheath, uncircumcised, covered over (ערל – \aRaeL) a person who remains inaccessible to experience. This is a common metaphor “a person of uncircumcised heart.” Consider: (niphal) to be covered over (in shame) (Cb2:16)
8 – The removing of the foreskin through circumcision is discussed in the Torah utilizing the niphal or passive form of the verb MoL(מול), literally meaning to make a frayed edge. Coincidentally, this form is identical to the paal imperfect form of the verb MaLaL(מלל), meaning “to join, tap or engage together.” The intensive form of this verb means to speak and converse. Therefore, although the phrase: והמול לכם כל זכר means “And each male will be circumcised for you” on the pashat; allegorically it means, “For your sakes, each thing that is clearly manifest will be engaged.” And while בהמולו בשר ערלתו means “in his being circumcised, the flesh of his foreskin,” allegorically it means, “in his becoming engaged, an act of confidently driving in to what was otherwise inaccessible to him.” This is how one attains a clear understanding with G-d.
9 – 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) to duck under, gloomy, potter), QaDaHh (קדח – (drop the head) > to bore into, pierce), ShaQaD (שקד – watch intently, be watchful of, be vigilant, be determined), \aQaD (עקד – to draw the head toward the feet; fix the eyes on s.th, be deter-mined to do s.th (Arb)) The root QaDaSh (קדש) fundamentally means to advance something forward (so as to dedicate for sanctified use)
13 – two weeks (שבעים Sh’Bhu\ayim) Allegorically: being doubly satiated and satisfiedץ 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 (admittedly) 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.”
14 – sixty six days (ששים יום וששת ימים) Allegorically: getting carried away by what is stirring in experience, getting carried away by many stirring experiences. From six (שש – ShaeSh) Allegorically: being elated and getting carried away. The probable literal meaning of six is “carried over (to other hand (when counting)).” It is related to other roots meaning “to lift and carry” originally from NaShaH > NaSa/ (נשה > נשא). They are ShuS (שוש – to lift something, to rob) ShuS (שוס – to lift > plunder), SuS (שוש – uplifted, joyful) > SuS (סוס – horse, one who rears upward).
15 – an inflammation (שאת SaeT) Allegorically: a getting emotionally carried away. From “to lift and carry” originally from NaShaH > NaSa/ (נשה > נשא).
16 – scab (ספחתc SaPhaHhaT) Allegorically: an emotional surge. As related to SaPhyaHh (ספיח) (swell) surge (of the ocean) (Jb14:19), nature’s bounty, natural grow of food crops (Lv25:5,11)(KgII19:29), and מספחה (what is blown) veil (Ek13:18,21)
17 – bright spot (בהרת), Allegorically: a being dazzled by something overwhelming in experience. See the Arabic cognate: glitter, shine, dazzle, pant, flaunt, show off.
18 – 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.”
19 – 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).
20 – hair (שער Sae\aR) related to the roots Sh\R (שער) and S\R (סער) – which all mean “to stir up” in one way or another. Also related to a similar Arabic root meaning to take notice of things (in being stirred up)
21 – Lavan (לבן) means both white and brick. 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; thus indicating that it also means “what layers to the top” or is given a priority (aim / goal).
22 – ShaChaR (שחר – dawn). This word evolved from one of the related Ch-R roots (חור חרה חרר) all essentially meaning (to prod) to poke through, make a hole, puncture. It represents the breaking through of first light at dawn.
23 – lower, below (שפל ShaPhaL) Allegorically: meekness. This root evolved by adding a prosthetic letter shin (ש) to the verb NaPhaL (נפל to fall). The cognates are: (Arabic) be low, below s.th, base, despicable, abase oneself, go from bad to worse; (Syriac) weary, give way, faint, humble, cast down, take the trouble; be/come low, deep, sunken, reach lowest point, humble oneself, depressed, suppress. שפלות = laxity, idleness (Ec10:18)
24 – to close in (סגר SaGaR) Allegorically: to draw in upon. Roots derived from GuR (גור – sojourn) literally meaning “to draw into something, somewhere, somebody.” גור to sojourn, gather together, be afraid (draw inward), incite; GaRaR (גרר) to drag along, saw, draw up cud; GaRaBh (גרב) to scrape; GaRaPh (גרף) to scrape up, sweep away; GaRaM (גרם) to draw along, carry with, to gnaw on or crush bones; GaRa\ (גרע) to drag away, reduce, diminish; Ga\aR (גער) to draw into, rebuke; GaRaSh (גרש) to drive into so as to drive out / divorce
25 – wash (כבס KaBhaS) literally means: to push down-press into. Related to other roots with K.B. (כב) all meaning “to press down upon” such as KaBhaH (כבה) to extinguish, snuff out; KaBhaL (כבל) to fetter, shackle; KoBha\ (כובע) helmet; KaBhaR (כבר) compress, to press through a sieve, to press through; KaBhaSh (כבש) to subdue, conquer; footstool, furnace; KaBhaS (כבס) to wash; KaBhaD (כבד) be heavy-intense, honor, take seriously.
26 – clothing (בגד BeGeD) Allegorically: to deliver up basic facts and information. From the (probably unrelated) root BaGaD (בגד) meaning “root, source, what is real, basic fact in Arabic; to betray, give up information, be a traitor, unfaithful, faithless, in Hebrew.
27 – head (ראש – Ro/Sh) possibly derived from Ra/aH (ראה – to see) which explains the vestigial aleph. Contextually, this always works allegorically as well.
28 – leg (רגל – ReGeL) From the verb RaGaL (רגל) to walk about, traipse, spy
29 – to cover (כסה KaSaH) means “to make marks, cuts, impressions and to cover over.”
30 – boil > ulcer (שחין) Allegorically: a bowing out. From the root ShaHhaH (שחה) to lower oneself, to lay oneself out
(Is51:23)(Ps44:26)(Pr2:18) and related to ShuHhaH (שוחה) a pit. The hitpael of the verb means “to prostrate” and it further evolved to שחח (ShaHhaHh) to stoop, bend low
31 – healed (נרפא) Allgorically: eased. (רפא – RaPha/) to heal evolved from RaPhaH (רפה – to release, dissipate, loosen, let down, make lax > relax, make weak, to leave, forsake, abandon). While often (רפא – RaPha/) means to heal, it also means to release (from back sliding, from responsibility) and to make relax, feel at ease.
32 – reddish (אדמדמת /aDaMDeMeT) Allegorically: partially thought through. Based on the word /eDoM (אדום red) which evolved from the word DaM (דם blood). It is not related to /aDaM (אדם human) – that association is simply a play on words. But the allegory is based on making that same false association.
33 – burn (מכוה MiKhWaH) Allegorically: an impression. Derived from KaWaH כוה (to press a point > make an impression) to sear, scald, cauterize.
34 – Fire /aeSh (אש, fire, persistent existence) from /uSh (אוש – to make persistent, to go on and on, be lengthy, make a steady noise (Jastro)). Allegorically, it can be used to mean persistence or “mental persistence.”
35 – Behold, see here (הנה HiNaeH). Allegorically: in being mentally present. It evolved from HoN (הון – substantial > wealth) and its hiphil (ההין to make/be present, make/be ready; (Dt1:41)), HaeN (הן – here) and HiNaeH (הנה – see here (be present)).
36 – man / husband (איש – /eeSh). Originally meaning husband, meaning one who persists, it evolved to mean man. It is related to /aeSh (אש – fire) meaning persistent existence. Allegorically, it means (mental) persistence.
37 – Perhaps, wife-woman (/eeShaH -אשה) is related to its plural (NaShiM – נשים). This word is related to NaSa/ (נשה) which like NaSa/ (נשא) means to lift up and carry along. Thus wife-woman (/eeShaH -אשה) could mean “one who lifts up and carries.” Allegorically, based on this and context, it means “one’s conducting oneself through experience.”
38 – elder > beard (זקן ZaQaeN) allegorically “the acts of clearly visualizing things” 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)
39 – yellow (צהוב TsaHoBh) Allegorically: what stands out. According to Jastro, there is a verbal form of this root meaning: to be defiant, jealous, angry, grieve, and provoke. It would have evolved from an unattested TsuBh (צוב) which would be related to TsaBhaH (צבה to swell upward), derived from NaTsaBh (נצב to stand upright-defiantly-straight). Putting all this together, it is likely that the root means “to stand out, be ardent.”
40 – thin (דק DaQ) Allegorically: particularly examined. It is derived from the verb DaQaQ (דקק to beat into particles > to crush > be-make thin) which in turn evolved from the root DaQ (דק to pound, beat, powder, particulate, particular, punctilious, examine carefully).
41 – oozing ulcerative scab (נתק NeTeQ) Allegorically: a stepping back (so as to take stock). Based on a root that means “to pluck out, tear away, draw away, cut off,” but also “to secrete and ooze (Klein).”
42 – shiny-glittering spot (בהק BoHaQ) Allegorically: being illuminated. From the verb meaning: pale light, glisten, be white. According to Klein: to shine, glow, and glitter AND to appear behind the clouds (Arabic).
43 – baldness (קרחת QaRaHhaT) one’s getting in very close and festering over a particular thing so as to expose and clarify. Roots based on the biliteral root Q.R. essentially mean “to get in very close”: קרה to come upon, happen occur; קרא to call closer, call out to, meet, call and read; קרב to approach; קרם to cover closely, membrane, encrust, plate; קרן horn, to project; קרע (get closely into) to tear into, to put on eye liner; קרש to contract, gnash, bite into; קרס to stoop; קרץ to pinch off, squint, purse; נקר to gouge, chisel; שקר to gouge > deceive, lie. In Arabic, the root קרח means to wound, fester, ulcerate. From the idea of fester over something it also means to think up, propose, invent, and improvise. In Sabaic, to inflict a wound. In Syriac: to become bald, (?be clear >>) expose, divulge, disclose, declare expressly, make clear, evident, specify). This idea of baldness which predominates in Hebrew comes from wound > ulcerate > clear out / away > bald, ice/ frost, inside lining (of clothing).
44 – edge of his face (פאת פניו) Allegorically: the place of distinguishing its many aspects. From Pae/aH (פאה edge) which evolved from PeH (פה mouth) and evolved into Pa/aR (פאר) meaning “to go to the edge, go over the edge, make an extreme effort with, branch out, set apart, be set apart, to distinguish, adorn, beautify.” And from PaNim (פנים face) but literally meaning faces (because a person has many presentations in one’s face), from the root PaNaH (פנה – to face > turn). Allegorically meaning: many faces > aspects > presentations.
45 – baldness of forehead (גבחת GaBaHhaT) Allegorically: act of confronting something and heaping up details. Roots with גב G.B: GaB (גב) – back (arched, humped); platform; GaBaH (גבה) – high, tall, lofty – In Arabic: to meet, face, confront, show a bold front, oppose, defy; GaBaHh (גבח) – forehead (Arb – hive); GaBaL (גבל) – (arched up-high) boundary, mold, form; GaBa\ (גבע) – (arched up) goblet, hill, turban; GaBaR (גבר) – to prevail over; NaGaB (נגב) – Akk: to pile up; In Aramaic and Hebrew to be dry (probably because the NeGeB is dry); in Arabic – highborn, high minded > noble; (hover over) > to pick, choose, select, distinguish; \aGaB (עגב) – to dote over; ShaGaB (שגב) – well fortified, secure. So the sense of the root is to confront (גבה GaBaH) and to heap up. Which fits nicely with the allegorical context.
46 – unruly (hair) (פרוע) one’s chaotically attempting to attend to too many things in experience. From (Ex5:4)(CrII28:19) from PaRa\ (פרע) disengage, cause disorder, chaos
47 – their lip (שפם SaPhaM) Allegorically: the pouring forth of them. From SaPhaH (שפה to pour, lip). The suffixed possessive pronoun (their) is in error for it should be “his.” However, “their” can apply to “his clothing” footnote 26.
48 – shall cover (עטה \aTaH) Allegorically: shall swoop down upon. There are two roots spelled the same way, but they would not have been homonyms when the text was written because one was pronounced with a ghayin (ע) – to cover, while the other with an ayin (ע) (slip over) to swoop upon (SmI14:32;15:19)(Is22:17).
49 – outside with respect to the camp (מחוץ למחנה) Allegorically: outside with respect to the mentally attending to what is common and prosaic (camp). From 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 (הן – here) and HiNaeH (הנה – see here (be present)). Evolved from (חנה – HhaNaH) is HhaNaN (חנן – presence > grace).

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

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.

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

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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