WayiGaSh – Closely Approaching – probing in Goshen

There are times when we are too afraid to engage all that life is throwing at us. There is a fear that a calamity might befall us. In the previous parshah, miqaets (מקץ), because Yaaqov was concerned that a calamity (אסון – /aSoN) might befall Binyamin, he did not send him to Mitsraim with his brothers. Allegorically, Binyamin (בנימין) represents a person’s being ever presently mindful.1 By not sending it forth, by not being mindful, we aim to retract from situations that make us feel an aversion. To make this point, words related to the root QuTs (קוץ – to feel aversion, but literally meaning to shrink, shrivel or cut back) were used in the opening segment of the previous parshah. It stated: And it was miQaeTs Sh’NaTayim YaMim (מקץ שנתים ימים), “at the end of two years,” Pharaoh was dreaming. As an archetype, Pharaoh represents a person’s attempting to attend to many things encountered in experience, by chaotically going in many directions.2 His dreaming, represents our attempting to muse over and reflect upon (חולם) a situation, from which we retract (miqaets – מקץ) – a situation of repetitive impositions (שנתים) of stirring things (ימים)3 encountered in experience. Furthermore, after each act of reflecting (dream), he awoke (vayiqats – וייקץ). Although this word probably means “to be in a shriveled state,” it implies that upon awakening, he shrunk back with his spirit being agitated (ותפעם רוחו).

In contrast, the title of this week’s parshah, vayigash (ויגש – and he was drawing closer) alludes to the exact opposite. Here the archetypes of Y’hudah (one’s becoming startled in acknowledging G-d’s bringing forth of existence), Yaaqov (one’s investigating what comes around in experience), and the brothers (the mental faculties pointing things out regarding experience) come in to Mitsraim (acts of focusing upon the many things narrowing in from experience).4 For the purpose of processing what is encountered in experience, they will live in Goshen (גושן), the place of repeatedly exploring and groping through experience, from the verb GaShaSh (גשש) to feel, grope and explore.

But we have gotten ahead of ourselves. First Y’hudah has to draw closer to Yoseph to justify to him as to why, as brothers, they had failed him, deviating from their task of pointing things out regarding experience. Initially, Y’hudah equates Yoseph5 (one’s repeatedly gathering things in from experience) to Pharaoh (the act of attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions). This indicates Y’hudah’s concern of being overwhelmed by all that might be encountered in experience. Y’hudah’s speech, although very complicated allegorically, delineates the inter-relationships between a number of mental faculties: the ability to contemplate experience (/aDoN – אדון, lord), the act of devoting attention to experience (\eBheD – עבד, servant), the act of taking notice of things (/aBh – אב, father), the act of being ever present (/aeM – אם, mother), the act of becoming mentally stirred by particular things in experience (Na\aR – נער, lad), and the ability to point things out (/aCh – אח, brother).6

Here is an allegorical summary of Y’hudah’s attempt at justification: My contemplation inquired of its ability to devote attention to experience, does there exist to you a taking notice of things or an ability to point things out regarding experience? Essentially, he wants to know if the basic functions required to contemplate experience exist. The response: the ability to take notice of things does exist, but the ability to point out particular things does not, because what pushes in from experience is excessive. But the ability to contemplate makes it clear that if there is no pointing out of particular things, then contemplation cannot occur. In rebuttal, the ability to take notice of things pointed out that there was just too much, and that he was being ravaged by experience. Therefore, the ability to remain mentally sharp had left and that it would not be seen again until mental presence had returned. He then considered probing experience just a bit, but in rebuttal, it was pointed out that there was no reason to do so, if it were not to lead to the ability to point things out. He then considered to instead encountered experience boldly, but in rebuttal stated that surely a calamity would occur, leading to the dissolution of the ability to take notice of things. He understood that the acts of devoting attention to experience, taking notice of things in experience, and the becoming mentally stirred with particular things are all tied together. In the absence of the ability to become mentally stirred with particular things, a person’s taking notice of experience, in general, veers about this way and that, missing all the things that are stirring in experience. Finally, the proposed solution was to ease into experience: in being aligned with experience, were one to devote attention to experience, little by little, for the sake of contemplating experience, then gradually both the ability to become mentally stirred with particular things will increase, along with the ability to point out particular things.

At the end of the previous parshah, after it was discovered that Binyamin (the act of being ever presently mindful) had the goblet (what was compelling in experience)7 and that only he would be made Yoseph’s servant (his means of devoting attention to experience), Y’hudah asked: מה נצטדק meaning both “how can we justify ourselves” and “how can we correct ourselves.” The appropriate correction was the above recognition that the way to deal with an overwhelming amount of things encountered in experience was to deal with all of it step by step – neither a little bit at a time, nor to boldly throw oneself headlong into it. This correction brought them in alignment with Yoseph’s role as the act of repeatedly gathering in another thing jabbing of G-d’s bringing forth of existence, in exploring while roaming about, being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance found in experience. Furthermore, Y’hudah established his importance as a person’s becoming startled in acknowledging G-d’s bringing forth of existence, by providing this correction and by guaranteeing the lad, the ability to become mentally stirred with particular things (נער, lad).

Now that the brothers (the mental faculties pointing things out regarding experience) are in alignment with him, Yoseph is unable to handle all of the information coming in from them about experience. As the text said: ולא יוכל יוסף להתאפק לכל הנצבים עליו “And Yoseph was not able to channel and compose himself for all of what was defiantly standing about him (from experience).” But Yoseph gave forth his channeling (קל – voice) by welling forth (בכי – crying).8 As a consequence, the text says: ולא יכלו אחיו לענות אתו “And his brothers were not able to answer him…” which allegorically means that “the mental faculties pointing things out to him (his brothers) were not able to overwhelm or afflict him (l’anot vs la’anot). Subsequently, Yoseph says G’Shu (גשו – come close), thus opening up the communication between Yoseph (the act of serially gathering in from experience) and his brothers (the mental faculties pointing things out to him regarding experience). They are no longer spies (m’RaGLim – מרגלים), those delivering false reports about experience.

Yoseph acknowledges to them that G-d’s guidance (Elohim)9 had sent him to Mitsraim first, so that through his role of step by step gathering in from experience, he could revive them from the feeling alarmed about experience (Ra\aBh – רעב, the famine).10 For when we feel alarmed about experience, we retract from experience, such that there is no processing of experience – no scratching of the surface of experience (HhaRySh – חריש, plowing) and no harvesting of information from experience (QaTsiR – קציר). But by taking in one piece of information at a time and then repeating, sifting through experience step by step (Yoseph), the flow of data can be controlled and one’s ability to handle it can be maintained. In this way, Yoseph is the father for Pharaoh (לאב לפרעה) (the way of taking notice of things for one’s attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions), the lord for all of his house (אדון לכל ביתו)(the means of contemplation for all that comes in of it), and the controller over all of the land of Mitsraim (משל בכל ארץ מצרים) (the controller over all of one’s disposing of oneself to the distractedly focusing upon the many things narrowing in).

In order to obtain the data from experience, the children of Yisrael (behaviors of focusing upon the many things advancing forward in experience)11 were given \aGaLot (עגלות – wagons). This word is related to the root \aGaL (עגל) which in Arabic means to rush around and descend upon swiftly. It represents a means of obtaining information from experience. Furthermore, for his father (his taking notice of things) were sent donkeys (HhaMoRim – חמרים, acts of conscientiously loading up details) and she-donkeys (/aToNot – acts of remaining in alignment with experience) carrying grain (BaR – בר, what is sifted through of experience), and bread (LeHheM – לחם, what is engaged of experience), and sustenance (maZoN – מזון, what is thrown about, distributed about experience).12

To counter the feeling alarmed that comes from such an endeavor, they were told: אל תרגזו בדרך “Preclude from becoming agitated upon the way,” or preclude from becoming agitated with the act of threshing through experience (DaRaKh – דרך). Nevertheless, when they come into Yaaqov (the act of investigating what comes around of experience) “his heart (will) was going out, because he was not being ever present (believing)13 with respect to them.” But his spirit was revived upon seeing the wagons (the ability to rush around and descend upon things swiftly).

This method of swiftly gathering in the information from experience enables Yisrael (the focusing upon the many things advancing forward in experience) to come in toward B’/aeR SheBha\, the act of elucidating what bubbles up in experience.14 There Elohim reassures him of the following: that He is the G-d (האל – the one who initiates what advances forward in experience)15 that provides Guidance for his taking notice of things (/eLohae /aBhikha – אלהי אביך); that by descending into Mitsraim (the acts of distractedly focusing upon the many things narrowing in), G-d’s Guidance will make him into a great nation, a means of greatly and passionately drawing into things (גוי)16; and that Yoseph (the act of serially gathering in from G-d’s bringing forth of existence, by being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance) shall set its power upon his making observations (eyeings) of experience. This was followed by the statement: “And the children of Yisrael were carrying Yaaqov, their father, and their dependents, and their wives on the wagons that Pharaoh sent to carry him.” This has the allegorical meaning: “And the behaviors of focusing upon the many things advancing forward in experience were drawing out-lifting up-carrying the ability to investigate what comes around in experience, their taking notice of things, and their mincingly and fastidiously roaming about experience,17 and their conducting themselves through experience,18 upon the acts of swiftly rushing around and descending upon things – that the act of attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions had sent in order to carry him.”

The text next gives a list of the children of Yisrael – representing a very elaborate list of a person’s behaviors of focusing upon the many things advancing forward in experience. These are the behaviors that a person uses when focusing upon the many things narrowing in from experience (Mitsraim), so that a person can investigate what comes around in experience (Yaaqov). To give the details of this list would take an enormous amount of space and time. The behaviors (sons) associated with Yoseph have already been described in my last blog. Those of Y’hudah were described in the blog before that. Here I will address only the sons of Asher (/aShaeR – אשר) to provide a further example. 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).19 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.”

Here is the Hebrew and the English: ובני אשר ימנה וישוה וישוי ובריעה ושרח אחותם ובני בריעה חבר ומלכיאל “And the children of Asher were Yimnah, and Yishwah, and Yishwi and B’ry\ah and Serach, their sister. And the children of B’ry\ah were Chebher and Malki’ael.” And here is the allegorical translation: “And the behaviors of intently driving into experience, taking stock of what exists were recounting and classifying things (ימנה), and making comparisons (ישוה), and determining a thing’s value (ישוי), and undertaking to deal with a particular thing (בריעה); and the allowing oneself to become distracted (שרח) is what subdues them (אחותם). And the behaviors of undertaking to deal with a particular thing (בריעה) were: the sticking with and restricting oneself to one thing so as to get to know it well (חבר) and the act of deliberating over what advances forward (מלכיאל).20

Having established by name all of the behaviors utilized by a person to investigate the many things found experience. The text returns to Y’hudah (a person’s becoming startled in acknowledging G-d’s bringing forth of existence), because this mental faculty is the one sent forward (by a person) to reveal and instruct about what can be found in experience. They all now come into Goshen, one’s repetitively probing experience. The flow of information initiates with the probing of experience (Goshen – גשן), where the acts of applying oneself in experience (men) acquire information through consideration (צאן – flocks) and investigation (בקר – cattle).21 Then the mental faculties that point things out (אחים – brothers) and what comes in of the taking notice of things (בית אביו – house of his father) come into Yoseph (the act of serially gathering in from experience) which introduces this data to Pharaoh (one’s attending to many things in chaotically going in many directions).

However, before introducing his family to Pharaoh, Yoseph makes a rather enigmatic statement. Even though he tells his family that he will tell Pharaoh that “the men are shepherds of flocks, given that they are men of livestock;” he instructs them to say that “Men of livestock were your servants from their youth…for the sake that you shall settle into the land of Goshen, because an abhorrence of Mitsraim are all shepherds of flocks.” The word for shepherd (Ro\eH – רועה) literally means one who scatters about.22 An Arabic cognate of the word for flock (Tso/N – צאן) means to consider (from a distance). Therefore, a shepherd of the flock, allegorically is one scattering about experience and considering things from a distance. On the other hand, the word for cattle (miQNeH – מקנה) comes from the verb QaNaH (קנה – to acquire), representing one’s (visually) fixating on particular things.23 Mitsraim allegorically represents one’s focusing (narrowing in) on many things narrowing in from experience. The word generally translated as abhorrent (Tu\aeBhah – תועבה) also means “nuisance, troubling, and detestable.” In Arabic, the related verb (תעב – Ta\aBh) means “to trouble, work hard, toil, drudge, and wear oneself out.” While Yoseph brings information about experience into Pharaoh serially, as shepherds of the flock (those scattering about and considering things), his brothers bring in that information in parallel. That would be a drudgery that wears out a person’s attempting to focus upon the many things narrowing in (Mitsraim).

Soon after, when Yaaqov met with Pharaoh, he was asked “How many are the days of the years of your life?” Yaaqov’s response was that the days of the years of his sojournings were…few and poor…that did not reach the days of the years of the lives of my fathers…” Since Yaaqov represents “one’s investigating what comes around” and his fathers represent “his acts of taking notice of things,” allegorically Yaaqov is saying that his ability to investigate, was insufficient relative to the quantity of things taken notice of – that there was still much in experience that alluded his ability to investigate. Since the verb BaRaKh (ברך – to bless)24 also means to shower with abundance and make excel, Yaaqov’s blessing Pharaoh twice indicates that he sought to augment the amount of experience being processed.

Following that, Yoseph settled them in, giving them: אחזה בארץ מצרים במטיב הארץ בארץ רעמסס “a possession in the land of Mitsraim, in the best the land, in the land of Ra\m’saes (רעמסס).” A composite of the root Ra\aM (רעם), meaning to irritate in Hebrew and to coerce in Arabic, and the fragment SaeS (סס), meaning what rears upward, Ra\m’saes (רעמסס) means that they were becoming irritated and coerced by things rearing up in experience. Therefore, although Yoseph (the step by step gathering in from experience) was able to give them acts of engaging things closely (לחם – bread) for their mincingly and fastidiously roaming about experience (טף – their dependents), there did not exist a close engaging of things otherwise…because the feeling alarmed (רעב – famine) was very intense. And so their disposing of oneself (ארץ – land)25 to experience was languishing.

At this point in the peshat of the story, Yoseph exchanges with the Egyptians various things in order to obtain bread. The order in which this occurred was first their silver, then their livestock, and lastly themselves and their land (ground). Although Yoseph then moves the people into the cities, the priests were allowed to keep their land and seed was given to the people to sow their land. Recall that allegorically Pharaoh represents a person’s attending to something in experience and Yoseph controls the flow of that information by serially gathering in from experience which enables a person to restrict and regulate what would otherwise be too overwhelming. Since bread represents a persons ability to close engage experience, the order of things exchanged for the bread represents the order of things prioritized that are found in experience. First, those things in experience making a lasting impressions (כסף – silver). Then when that is sparse, they closely engage with the things in experience that they visually fixate upon (מקנה – livestock) – those things rearing up in experience (סוס – horses), and by considering experience (צאן – flocks), by investigating experience (בקר – cattle) and by being conscientiously attentive to things (חמר – donkeys).26

It was in the second year (baShaNaH haShaeNyt – בשנה השנית), that they offered to exchange their bodies and their land (ground) for bread. Both words – year (ShaNaH – שנה) and second (ShaeNyt – שנית) – are derived from the root ShaNaH (שנה – to sharpen > repeat), which evolved from the root /aNaH (אנה – to impose). Allegorically, baShaNaH haShaeNyt means through the act of repetitively imposing or applying of oneself. Furthermore, they say: לא נכבד מאדני “We shall not withhold from my lord” which allegorically means that they will not withhold from the act of contemplating experience. In not withholding from contemplation and by repetitively applying themselves, they would be able to engage with things in experience by excitedly drawing into experience (גויה – bodies) and by being mentally absorbed with experience (אדמה – ground).27 They also ask for seed (זרע – ZeRa\), allowing them to disperse throughout experience as one sows seed.

The only group excluded from this arrangement were the priests, the kohanim (כהנים). The text states: רק אדמת הבהנים לא קנה “Only the ground of the priests, he did not acquire.” Instead of having to go through Yoseph, they were given their allotment directly from Pharaoh. Related to the word KaWaNaH (כונה – mindful intention), the word kohaen (כהן) means “one’s performing with precise and mindful intention.” Even when confronted with an overwhelming amount of things to process, it is not necessary to utilize the process represented by Yoseph (the act of serially gathering in from G-d’s bringing forth of existence, by being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance), because processing with precise and mindful intention works better. As an archetype of our behavior, Yoseph commands respect, nevertheless above it, we are to be a kingdom of priests, those who perform with precise and mindful intention.

However, in its absence, the process represented by Yoseph (the act of serially gathering in from G-d’s bringing forth of existence, by being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance) is the one of the best ways to sustain one’s ability to observe experience, to contemplate experience, to devote attention to experience, to attend to an abundance of experience when that abundance necessitates one’s chaotically going about in many directions. (Well…..at least until the book of Exodus, when “there arises a new king (way of deliberating over experience)28 that does not know Yoseph – וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ עַל-מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע אֶת-יוֹסֵף – then we will need a different mental faculty, called Moshe.)

Notes:
1 – Binyamin (בנימין) – further note about 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.
2 – Pharaoh (פרעה) one’s chaotically attempting to attend to too many things in experience. From (Ex5:4)(CrII28:19) from PaRa\ (פרע) to cause to disengage, cause disorder, chaos and Arabic > to be free, available, collect one’s thoughts, devote and apply oneself, and do one’s best. In Arabic PaRa\ evolved into PaRa\
3 – dream (HhaLaM – חלם), in Arabic, also means to reflect upon and muse over
year (ShaNaH – שנה), two years (שנתים) from ShaNaH (שנה – to sharpen > repeat), from /aNaH (אנה – to impose)
days (ימים) from YoM (יום – day), from HaMaH (המה – to stir up), literally means “time period causing a stirring”
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)
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)
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.
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 “distractedly” because the king of Mitsraim is Pharaoh
5 – Yoseph (יוסף) In naming Yoseph, the text says that G-d’s guidance (Elohim) was remembering (being clear minded), attentive to and opening the womb of Rachel and gathering in (/aSaPh = אסף) [her] censure-taunt-sharply jabbing. The word ReHheM (רחם – womb), from the root RaWaHh (רוח – wide) means facilitating expansiveness for someone or something. These are the supplemental behaviors that allow roaming about to be an effective way of gathering in information. Therefore, allegorically Yoseph means “a person’s repeatedly gathering in another thing that is jabbing of G-d’s bringing forth of existence, in exploring while roaming about, being clear minded, attentive and receptive to G-d’s guidance found in experience.”
6 – Adon (/aDoN – אדון), lord, comes from the verb DuN (דון) to abide (in contemplation) which comes from DuM (דום – to be still, silent). Furthermore, from DuN (דון) to abide (in contemplation) comes DYN (דין) to judge
slaves / servants (עבדים – \aBhaDim) from the verb \eBheD (עבד). Originally meaning slave, the verb evolved to mean to work, serve, worship and devote
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.”
mother (/aeM – אם) 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) and /aMaN (אמן – true, real, believe)
lad, young man (Na\aR – נער, lad) evolved from the verb \uR (עור – to stir up, awaken), allegorically means the act of becoming mentally stirred by particular things in experience mostly based on allegorical context.
(/aCh – אח, brother) the ability to point things out, see third entry in note 4
7 – goblet (גביע – G’Bhia\) what is compelling. In Sabaic, the verb GaBa\ (גבע) means to impose and force, to compel
8 – voice (קל – QoL) allegorically means “channeling” because it evolved from QaWaH (קוה – to channel)
(בכי – crying) from BaKhaH (בכה) to cry, weep, vent and trickle evolved from NaBhaKh (נבך) (welling up) spring, source (Jb38:16). BaKhaH (בכה) also evolved into BaKhaR (בכר) to bud (well up) to be born first
9 – Most derive Eloah (אלוה) / Elohim (אלהים) from אל. But 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
10 – hunger, Ra\aBh (רעב). This root evolved from Ra\aH (רעה) meaning poor, bad, weak and fragile. In Arabic, the most immediate evolved form, spelled with an ayin, Ra\aBh (רעב) does not mean “to be hungry” but rather “to be afraid, scared, alarmed, and terrified.” From there, the ayin evolved into a ghayin, so that Ra\gaBh (רעב) means to want, wish, crave, covet, and appetite in Arabic and to be hungry in Ugaritic and Hebrew.
11 – Yisrael (ישראל) from the verb Sarah (שרה) which 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.”
12 – donkey (HhaMoR – חמרים) 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)
/aToN (אתון – she donkey, one who walks in alignment), it evolved from the rarely used verb /aTaH (אתה) meaning to come, from which also evolved eT (את – (be aligned) with); /ayTaN (איתן – well aligned, perpetual flow)
grain (BaR – בר) what is sifted through, from the verb BaRaR (ברר – to sift through, make clear)
bread (לחם) is related to the word MiLHhaMah (מלחמה – to engage in battle). Both words derive from LaWaHh (לוח – to join together and to be well joined). In Arabic, לחם means to cling, join, solder, get stuck, engage in battle
sustenance (maZoN – מזון) literally means “what is thrown about > distributed” 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).
13 – /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.” /aMaN (אמן) evolved into YaMyN (ימין) meaning ever present or dominant side.
14 – B’/aeR SheBha\, the act of elucidating what bubbles up in experience. From (B’/aeR – באר, well), derived from the word BoWR (בור) pit = clearing. The verbal form Ba/aeR (באר) means to clarify, declare clearly and elucidate.
Sheva/ (שבע). Although with a shin, this word appears to have been derived from the similar root with a letter sin, SaBha\ meaning 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
15 – El (אל) G-d, meaning one advancing forward with initiative such as in el (אל) to, toward; El (אל) G-d (=one advancing forward experience); ayil (איל) ram forward; Ya/aL (יאל) to endeavor to advance forward etc
16 – nation (GoY – גוי) and body (G’WiYaH – גויה) both derived from the root GaWaH (גוה) literally meaning “to draw in,” in Arabic גוי means to be passionately stirred (love / grief), passion. In Syriac GaWaH means to take / bring in, admit, innermost
17 – dependent, young children (TaPh – טף)allegorically means “one’s mincingly and fastidiously roaming about” from TaPhaPh (טפף) to make the rounds, go about in a delicate affected manner, walk mincingly (Is3:16)
18 – 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.”
19 – /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)
20 – ובני אשר ימנה וישוה וישוי ובריעה ושרח אחותם ובני בריעה חבר ומלכיאל “And the children of Asher were Yimnah, and Yishwah, and Yishwi and B’ry\ah and Serach, their sister. And the children of B’ry\ah were Chebher and Malki’ael.”
– recounting and classifying things (ימנה – Yimnah) from the verb MaNaH (מנה) – to distribute, count, assign, classify
– making comparisons (ישוה – Yishwah) from the verb ShaWaH (שוה) – be equal, equivalent, worth, compare in value
– determining a thing’s value (ישוי) from the verb ShaWaH (שוה) – be equal, equivalent, worth, compare in value
– undertaking to deal with a particular thing (בריעה) from the Arabic verb BaRa\ (ברע) – undertake, to be ready / at hand, prepared, volunteer, contribute; to excel, surpass, distinguish oneself, be skillful, proficient
– allowing oneself to become distracted (שרח) – Arabic to roam and wander & Syriac to roam, w/o restraint, indulge
– what subdues them (אחותם) – sister (אחות – /aChoT) technically derived from (אח – /aCh, brother). However, the allegorical use is not related to this etymology. Instead, it is based on the root ChaTaT (חתת) meaning to press down upon, to subdue, and to frighten. Therefore, the allegory means “what subdues in experience.”
– the sticking with and restricting oneself to one thing so as to get to know it well (חבר), from Hebrew and Arabic
– the act of deliberating over what advances forward (מלכיאל) see notes #28 and #15
21 – 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
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
investigation (בקר – cattle), from the verb meaning “to investigate, search”
22 – 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.
23 – cattle (miQNeH – מקנה, possession) comes from the verb QaNaH (קנה – to acquire), representing one’s (visually) fixating on particular things, it literally means “to fix in place.” It evolved into QaNa/ (קנא) be visually fixated on > jealous, zealous
24 – bless (BaRaKh – ברך) 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).
25 – 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)
26 – 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)
livestock (מקנה – miQNeH) visually fixate upon, see note #23
horse (סוס – SuS) things rearing up in experience. Related to ShuS (שושׂ) (to lift up / draw off from) > to lift something, to rob (Is10:13) and שוס שאס שסס? to plunder / loot; and שׂישׂ to be joyous-jubilant – all essentially meaning “to lift up.”
TsoN (צאן – flock) 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
cattle (בקר – BaQaR) investigating experience from the verb meaning to search, investigate
being conscientiously attentive to things (חמר – donkeys).
27 – bodies (גויה – G’WiYaH) excitedly drawing into experience, see note #16
ground (/aDaMah – אדמה) comes from the root DooM (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.”
28 – King (MeLeKh – מלך) from the verb MaLaKh (מלך) to rule, it evolved from MaLaHh (מלח) to balance > to sail. It is more appropriately translated as to deliberate > to act deliberately. But also means to deliberate, as can be seen in the Akkadian to consider, discuss, advise, look after, mind, and confer.

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.
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