Yitro – Tracing thru Encounters with God at Sinai

Fundamentally, the purpose of Torah is to bring us closer to God. The allegorical understanding of Torah does this by showing us how to mentally process the enormous amount of information and experience that HaShem creates for us in our daily lives. As an archetype, Yitro (יתרו) whose name, based on Semitic roots, means ”his incessantly tracing what is excessive,”1 represents our attempts to process all of that information. As the priest of Midian (כהן מדין), his role is to perform with precise and mindful intention (כהן – priest) in contemplating (מדין)2 this abundance. However, in so doing, this process also subdues another one of our mental faculties, the one whose role is to draw out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience, our Moshe.3 Yitro returns with his daughter Tsiporah and her two sons – Gaershom (גרשם) and Eliezer (אליעזר). The name Tsiporah (צפורה) is derived from the verb TsiPaeR (צפר – to retreat, to evacuate), like a bird (ציפור – Tsipor) that retreats and flies away when approached. However, Tsiporah (צפורה) actually represents the overflowing of information that Yitro aims to process, like when a person bails out and vacates water from a sinking boat. Her son, Gaershom (גרשם), represents an act of drawing into (גר)4 what is put forth (שם) in experience that is unfamiliar (נכריה). And her other son, Eliezer (אליעזר) represents one’s advancing toward (אל) that aspect of experience that is more circumscribed (עזר).5 As the text explains: “Because God’s guidance attained in my taking notice of things (אלהי אבי)6 is all around me (בעזרי) and it saves me (ויצלני) from what is ravaging (חרב)7 of the chaotically attending to too many things (פרעה – Pharaoh).”8

Since all of these mental faculties work in concert to mentally process experience, they meet up in the midbar, where flash floods of information drive directly forward.9 There, Moshe had encamped in the mountain of Elohim. Since a mountain (הר – HaR) is an elevation upon which one stands “to bring things to light”10 and Elohim is G-d’s guidance found in experience,11 this tells us that Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) had established a (mental) presence12 with the act of bringing to light God’s guidance found in experience. The two mental faculties represented by Moshe and Yitro join forces when they enter into the tent (אהל), because the associated verb in Arabic means “one’s being (becoming) familiar with what is around.” Yitro is often described as Moshe’s ChoTNo (חתנו), father-in-law, and this would make Moshe the ChaTaN (חתן – son-in-law), because they seal (חתם – ChaTaM) the contract of marriage. However, allegorically ChoTNo (חתנו) also means his subduer (one who pushes down to make a contractual seal). This is because “his incessantly tracing what is excessive”(Yitro) subdues “his ability to draw upon particular things from experience” (Moshe). In order to become familiar, Moshe recounts all of the information with respect to what is subduing him in experience (חתנו – father-in-law).

For his part, Yitro (our tracing through what is excessive) becomes joyful concerning all of the good that HaShem had done for Yisrael. The verb HhaDaH (חדה) describes Yitro’s joy. Like the related verbs HhaDaD (חדד – to sharpen) and HhuD (חוד – to propose a riddle), HhaDaH (חדה – to be joyful) essentially means to be sharp or to sharpen. The first applies to metal (HhaDaD, חדד – to sharpen), the second applies to one’s cognitive abilities (HhuD, חוד – to propose a riddle), and HhaDaH (חדה – to be joyful) applies to one’s emotions. Therefore, Yitro’s joy represents his becoming mentally sharpened (joyful) concerning all that wells forth (טובה) that God’s bringing forth of experience (Y-H-W-H) had made for our making of a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience (Yisrael).13 Similarly, when the Torah introduced Tsiporah’s sons, they were both described as “the one” (אחד /eChaD). This was as opposed to being described as the oldest and the youngest, or the first and the second. The word for one (אחד /eChaD, sharpened) comes from HhaDaD (חדד – to sharpen). Both Gaershom (גרשם), one’s drawing into what is put forth in experience that is unfamiliar, and Eliezer (אליעזר), one’s advancing toward that aspect of experience that is more circumscribed, must be behaviors of being mentally sharp (אחד – /eChaD, one, sharpened).

Mental sharpness is the segue, transitioning us from the previous par’shah to this one, from our wandering restlessly (R’phidim),14 battling the eclipsing of our ability to be mindful (Amalaeq),15 into Yitro (our tracing through what is excessive in experience). Ultimately, it is mental sharpness that enables us to encounter God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H) and God’s guidance found in experience (Elohim). Through mental sharpness, Yitro acknowledges that HaShem is greater than all of the Elohim or pantheons. Allegorically, this acknowledges that the individual events that occur in our lives, as created for us by G-d’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H), “is greater than all of the guidance“ that can be otherwise obtained.

It is also our Yitro (our tracing through what is excessive in experience) that sees our Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) struggling, from the time of making an investigation (בקר – morning),16 unto the time of becoming confused (ערב – evening)17 in his attempts to make clear judgments regarding what we are mindful of that crowds in from experience (עם – people).18 Yitro’s recommendation to Moshe was to assign: men of strength, those who are in awe of Elohim, men of truth and those hating undeserved profit. Allegorically, this means: acts of applying oneself of endurance (אנשי חיל),19,20 acts of being in awe of God’s guidance found in experience (יראי אלהים), acts of applying oneself to what is truth (אנשי אמת),19 and those who hate split second conclusions21 (שנאי בצע). Since the word for head (ראש – Ro/Sh) evolved from the word to see (ראה – Ra/aH), they will be for ways of looking at experience and seeing (ראשים – heads). In this way they can be SaRim (שרים) or “overseers” for the thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. So that they can perform as overseers of the many things training through of experience (אלפים – thousands),22 overseers of things beckoning (מאות – hundreds),23 overseers of things taken in hand (חמשים – fifties),24 and overseers of things bearing down in experience (עשרת – tens).25 These will be the primary means for a person to process the information available in experience. However, when something seems to be particularly difficult, it will be for our Moshe. Based upon the allegory of the narrative in which Moshe is named, the fullest definition of Moshe is: our being mindfully present with the 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. In so doing our mental faculty called Moshe was sending away his father-in-law, or dispatching that which was subduing him in experience.

At the beginning of chapter 19, the people are described as coming into the midbar of Sinai, opposite the mountain. However, in the previous chapter, they were already there. The point is to emphasize that the previous events had prepared them to process the experience and information that follows. They are now in the midbar, the place of flash floods of what drives directly forward in experience. They are now in Sinai (סיני), a word from the root SaNaN (סנן), allegorically meaning “to be restrained while filtering and clarifying the information found in experience.”26 And they are opposite the mountain, a place of bringing things to light (הר).10 It is here that our Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) ascends to Elohim, G-d’s guidance found in experience. Here Moshe is told: that we are to be attentive to God’s voice (קול) or the way that God channels experience to us;27 and to observe the covenant (ברית) or the clear understanding28 that can be attained from observing God. In so doing, we can be a treasured people (סגולה – SeGuLaH). Interestingly, the cognate of this word in Arabic means “a contender – one who becomes involved in order to engage experience.” Furthermore, when we apply ourselves in experience, we will be a kingdom of priests and a nation of holiness. The word for kingdom (ממלכת) allegorically implies those who deliberate over things,29 while the word for priest (כהן) implies one who performs with precise and mindful intention.30 The word for nation (גוי) implies those who draw into experience with passion,31 while the word for holy (קדוש) implies being in the front or vanguard of society.32

The encounter at mount Sinai represents any and every encounter with God. We encounter God as two forms. First as Elohim, representing a plurality of guidance that can be found in experience. Secondly, as HaShem, the tetragrammaton, G-d’s bringing forth of existence that represents the exact experience intended for each individual in any given moment. Were we to be fully mindful of God and or the experience that God creates for us directly, we would become suddenly overwhelmed. The Torah describes this as SaQoL YiSaQaeL (סקול יסקל – stoned) or YaRo YiYaReH (ירה יירה – shot through). Allegorically, stoned implies put into a state of suspense33 and shot through represents being fully penetrated by the experience.34 Although the text says that herd animal (בהמה – B’HaeMaH) or man (איש – /eeSh) would not remain alive, allegorically this means that a person’s pushing in to make observations (herd animal)35 or a person’s being mentally persistent (man),36 would not be able to live detached by the experience. Instead, they would be fully consumed by it. In order to mitigate this, we need something to intercede on our behalf. That something is our Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) and our Aharon (our repetitively bringing things to light).37 The people (עם – \aM) represent our being mindful of the many things crowding in from experience.18 The priests (כהנים – KoHaNim) represent our engaging with experience with precise and mindful intention.30 The mountain (הר) represents the act of bringing things to light,10 upon which there are voice-like channelings of experience (קלות – thunder),27 things that are penetrating (ברקים – lightening),38 and an intense overbearing presence (ענן כבד – heavy cloud).39 Meanwhile, the many acts of being mindful of experience (people) tremble with excitement, subdued by the act of bringing things to light (under the mountain).

Despite, a person’s attempts to remain restrained, slowly filtering through and clarifying what comes to light of the experience (הר סיני – mount Sinai), it remains volatile (עשן – smoking)40 as God’s bringing forth of existence descends upon it with persistence (אש – fire).41 And that volatility ascends upon what the person experiences as the volatility of a pressure cooker (עשן כבשן). In order to protect our being mindful (עם – people) from all of this intensity, Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) acts as our go between – moving back and forth between our acts of being mindful (עם – people) and the act of bringing things to light (הר – the mountain). There, he is overwhelmed (יעננו)42 by the plurality of God’s guidance (Elohim), but communicates directly with God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H) when there is restrained filtering (Sinai) and the benefits of a direct gaze (ראש ההר – the head (seeing) of the mount).

Additionally, the degree of mindfulness was limited and bound as a result of God’s instruction to Moshe to set a boundary (הגבל). The intention was to prevent our degree of mindfulness (the people) from crashing through towards God’s bringing forth of existence. Additionally, while the people (the being mindful) were to be sanctified by Moshe, the priests were to sanctify themselves. Allegorically, sanctification represents one’s dedication to move forward.32 The process of drawing upon particular things from experience (Moshe) dedicates a person’s being mindful to move forward into experience. On the other hand, a person’s engaging with experience with precise and mindful intention dedicates itself to move forward into experience. While our Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) and our Aharon (our repetitively bringing things to light) ascend (increase), the many acts of engaging experience with precise and mindful intention (priests) and the acts of being mindful of what crowds in from experience (people) must preclude from crashing through toward God’s bringing forth of experience, lest It burst forth, scatter and dramatically increase itself, making a breach (פרץ) against them.

This brings us to the ten commandments. Although divided into ten separate commandments internally by eight setumah (ס)43 or closed breaks and one petuchah (פ) or open break, the existence of the one petuchah actually splits the ten commandments into two sections – made up of the first two commandments and the last eight. The first two commandments establish that the way God is experienced in our lives is as God’s bringing forth of existence (Y-H-W-H) and as God’s guidance found in experience (Elohim). These manifestations of God bring a person away from the disposing of oneself to the feverishly focusing upon the many things narrowing in (Mitsraim). Additionally, no other form of guidance shall exist. These manifestations of God all work together as a gestalt – one does not oppose another. We are not to make a fragmented distortion (פסל – graven images)44 nor an approximated appraisal (תמונה – likeness)45 of any of the reality that God creates. We are not to lay ourselves out to them, nor devote attention to them (עבד).46 Furthermore, no application or effect (שם – name)47 of God’s bringing forth of existence nor of God’s guidance found in experience shall be taken for granted, or considered naught (שוא).

While the first two commandments are about God’s impact in creating our experiences, the latter eight are about how we approach and process those experiences. Allegorically, the third commandment tells us to keep clear in mind (remember) that which settles in of experience (Shabbat),48 in order to bring it forward (sanctify it). In other words, for six days we live the experiences that HaShem creates for us, getting carried away (six)49 with those experiences, going off to do relevant tasks (מלאכה).50 However, on the seventh day, the day of being satiated51 with experience, HaShem ceases to create, we cease from going off to do tasks (מלאכה), and that time is used to process what we have already experienced. This also applies to your way of devoting attention (עבד – slave),46 and to your being mentally present (אמה – female slave),52 and to your way of pushing in (so as to make observations) (בהמה – herd animal),35 and to your way of drawing into something (גר – sojourner)4 that is with your taking notice of something in being stirred by it (שער – gate).53

The fourth commandment is about honoring your father and mother. This means to take seriously their weightiness, intensity, and importance. Allegorically, the word /aBh (אב – father) means “one’s taking notice of things,”6 while /aeM (אם – mother) means “one’s being ever presently mindful.”52 By taking seriously your ability to take notice of things and your ability to be ever presently mindful, there will be a prolonging of the many things stirring you in experience (ימיך – your days),54 upon the act of being mentally absorbed (אדמה)55 with the experiences created for you by God’s bringing forth of existence, God’s guidance found in experience.

“You shall not behave submissively in the face of your life experiences (רצח – murder).”
Because the word RaTsaHh also means “to behave submissively” in Arabic.

“You shall not hide your face from experience (נאף – adultery).”
Because the word Na/aPh (נאף) literally means “of covered face” from /aPhaH (אפה (cover face) > to bake).56

“You shall not obscure what is real or deceive yourself (גנב – steal).”
Because the word GaNaBh (גנב) literally means “to draw in around > cover over > steal and deceive.

“You shall not turn against your perceptions, (with) false or deceptive evidence (bear false witness).” Because the word for neighbor (רע) literally means “what you receive, or perceive, or delight in.”57

“You shall not become overly excited about what comes in from experience of what you perceive as delightful (covet).” Because the word for house (בית – BayiT) literally means “the place of coming in” from the word Bo/ (בוא – to come in) and neighbor (רע) literally means “what you receive, or perceive, or delight in.” Which is to say that your perceptions of reality should not be distorted because you like what you see.

“You shall not become overly excited about setting out with initiative, with something, if that something is something that you perceive as delightful. This is equally true of devoting attention to it (עבד),46 of being persistently mindful of it (אמה),52 of focusing upon it (שור),58 and of stringently sticking with it (חמר),59 and regarding anything that is for the sake of something that you perceive as delightful.” This is very similar to the previous one. The main point is to mentally process reality as it and not to have a distorted perception of something because it is pleasing to you or makes you feel good.

The allegory of this parashah closes discussing three related themes: how is God perceived, what of other impressions, and how do we appropriately give ourselves over to God. Hashem says to Moshe: כה תאמר אל בני ישראל “an impression (כה)60 shall you make explicit to the behaviors of making a sustained survey of the many things advancing forward in experience (בני ישראל).”13 But where does our Moshe (our drawing upon particular things from experience) attain such an impression? HaShem says “from the (two) heavens or skies, have I spoken with you (pl.).” This word, ShaMayim (שמים), a dual referring to both the daytime and nighttime skies, evolved from the verb SuM-SyM (שום שים) meaning “to put, place and arrange.” Allegorically, it refers to the many things put forth in experience by God. In addition to these impressions placed and arranged within life experience, there are many other things from which one might attain guidance. Allegorically, these are referred to as elohim acharim (other gods). When referring to the gods of others, the word elohim (אלהים) means pantheon. Based on the root LaWaH (לוה – to escort, guide) from which it evolved, a pantheon is a group of gods with the responsibility of guiding people through their lives. As the only true source of guidance in our lives, the one true God is also referred to as Elohim. Since our perceptions of God should be based on the experiences that God “puts forth before us,” it is also important that our perceptions not be distorted by guidance (elohim) based upon deteriorating impressions (silver)61 or fleeting impressions (gold).62

The word for altar, (מזבח – miZBae’aHh), allegorically refers to the way in which a person flows forth (ZaBhaH – זבה)63 in life as a means of perceiving God in experience. The most appropriate way for us to perceive and attained impressions is holistically, by our being mentally absorbed (אדמה)55 with experience. In so doing, one can meander about and busy oneself with particular things (עלה),64 submit oneself to things (שלם),65 consider things (צאן),66 and investigate things (בקר).16 However, if one wishes to approach experience in a non holistic way, flowing forth to particular things that stick out prominently (stones),67 one must not give each thing short shrift (גזית) or cut short the attention given it.68 Lastly, one must not flow forth in life by means of circumvention (מעל)69 – bypassing and avoiding things in experience that should be perceived.

Notes:
1 – 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)
2 – 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.
3 – Moshe (משה) allegorically complex, with all of the details of the story, the archetype of Moshe means: “A behavior of being mindfully present with many startling things coming in from experience, in mentally clinging to a scene, sucking up some details and looking them over, considering the many possible directions that one particular thing may go, being more mindful of it, channeling this one particular thing while subduing the thoughts about the others, and in showing resolve and being decisive in attending to this one particular thing, making it a priority, thus drawing it out from a midst the many other stirring things found in experience.” Simplied: “the mental faculty drawing out particular things from a midst the many stirring things encountered in experience.” The verb MaShaH (משה) simply means “to draw out.”
4 – sojourner, convert (גר – GaeR) from the root 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; SaGaR (סגר) to close in upon
5 – help (עזר – \aZaR) surround, around. This root evolved from /aZaR (אזר – to gird). Although it also means “to help” in Ugaritic and Akkadian, in Syriac it means “to entangle, involve, and swaddle.” Perhaps to help, is an extension of “swaddle?” In Hebrew, it also means “ledge and balcony,” in other words, surround.
6 – 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.”
7 – sword (חרב – CheReBh) the verb means to be hot, heat, dry, but also to make desolate, to devastate (Jd16:24)(KgII19:17)(Is42:15) and to be devastated (emotionally) (Jr2:12), therefore allegorically: ravaging of experience.
8 – Pharaoh (פרעה) one’s being in denial and thus chaotically attending to too many things in experience, branching out in many directions. From (Ex5:4)(CrII28:19) from PaRa\ (פרע) to cause to disengage, cause disorder, chaos. Also to refuse to accept (Pr1:25) and to avoid (Pr4:15;8:33;13:18). In Arabic: to be free, available, collect one’s thoughts, devote and apply oneself, and do one’s best, to put forth branches, to branch, to derive / deduce from ramification, concerning practical application. In Arabic PaRa\ evolved into PaRa\g
9 – 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.
10 – 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).
11 – 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.
12 – camp (חנה – HhaNaH), essentially meaning “to establish a presence” and allegorically “a mental presence.” It evolved from HoN (הון – substantial > wealth) and its hiphil (ההין to make/be present, make/be ready; (Dt1:41)), HaeN (חן – here) and HiNaeH (הנה – see here (be present)). Evolved from (חנה – HhaNaH) is HhaNaN (חנן – presence > grace).
13 – 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.”
14 – R’phidim (רפידים) Allegorically: the acts of restlessly roaming about. Essentially the root RaPhaD (רפד) means to spread out, from RaPhaH (רפה – release, dissipate). In Akkadian: (spread out) to roam, wander, keep moving, restless.
15 – Amalaeq (עמלק). \aM (עם) 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.LaeQ (לק), comes from the verb LaQaH (לקה) meaning to suffer, be afflicted, smitten, stricken, and eclipsed.
16 – morning (בוקר – BoQaeR, time of investigation) / cattle (בקר – BaQaR, those who investigates). From the root meaning “to investigate, search.”
17 – evening (ערב – \aRaBh) derived from \aRaH (ערה – to pour) > \aRaBh (ערב – to mix, confuse), evening being a time of mixing of day and night. From \aRaBh > \gaRaBh (ערב).
18 – people (עם – \aM) allegorically means “being ever presently (mindful) of what crowds in.” It comes from the related roots \aMaH – \aMaM (עמה – עמם) literally meaning to be ever present with. However, when something is ever present with something else, it can be close or too close. Therefore, the words derived from this root reflect closeness: with (עם – \iM), people-crowd (עם – \aM), and connecting (עמה – \uMaH); and those representing being too close: covered over, suppress, ignorant, dim, dark, and blind. In ancient Hebrew and in those Semitic languages retaining the ghayin variant of ayin, the latter words are spelled with ghayin, but are nevertheless etymologically related.
19 – 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
20 – army (חיל – HhaYiL) its show of endurance. Originally from HhoL (חול – sand, common) both of which mean to go on and on enduringly, pervasive, ubiquitous.
21 – undeserved profit (betsa\ בצע) Allegorically: premature conclusions. The original meaning of this root is “to split, slice / cut off.” It also means: to decisively conclude (Is10:12)(Zk4:9)(Lm2:17). So from context, I am presuming, premature conclusions.
22 – thousands (אלפים – /aLaPhim). From the root /aLaPh (אלף – to train, tame, domesticate, lead) which evolved from LuPh (לוף to join together, be connected). The idea of training through can be seen in the related word ChaLaPh (חלף pass by, sweep through). The progression: join together > lead > train / teach; train > pass through.
23 – hundreds (מאות – Ma/ot) from Mae/aH (מאה – hundred) which evolved from MaHaH (מהה – diffuse, dissolve, dilute). An Arabic word derived from its cognate: WaMa/ (ומא – to motion, signal, beckon, point, point out, indicate, make a gesture), seems to fit allegorical context consistently. It probable relates to the drawing away of a diluted particles in water, beckoning to follow.
24 – five (fingers) > fifty (חמש – ChaMaeSh) handed = armed (חמושים – ChaMuShim) which actually means “grasping or groping” from MuSh (מוש – to grasp, grope)
25 – ten (עשרה – \aSaRaH) metaphorically means “what bears down (upon a person).” This Semitic root consists of two etymologically unrelated homonyms. The number ten evolved from the root that means “to be well supported.” But the other homonym means to urge, force, compel, bear down, plight, and predicament in Arabic; and to put pressure on, demand, exact payment, constrict, enclose, and confine in Akkadian
26 – Sinai (סיני) from the root SaNaN (סנן – to strain, filter, refine). In the Talmud, Sinai is used as a characteristic type of scholar, one who is restrained and refined. As opposed to an \oqaer harim עוקר הרים “a mutilator / one who extirpates / pulls up by the roots of mountains.” But allegorically mountains (הרים – HaRim) represents acts of bringing things to light, (See note 10). So Sinai is a refined scholar who goes through the data slowly and methodically. Whereas, an oqaer harim is one who pulls up ideas (perhaps from nowhere) and throws them out into public view without much support.
27 – voice (קל – QoL) allegorically means “channeling” because it evolved from QaWaH (קוה – to channel)
28 – BriT (ברית) Usually translated covenant, technically it means “clear agreement.” Most of the roots with BaR (בר) literally mean to make a clearing, to clear away, or to go clear through, hence בור (clearing > pit), באר (clearing > well, to clearly elucidate), בער (to clear away > clear a field, burn), ברר (to clear away > sift), ברא (to clear away > to sculpt, create, carve, cut down), ברח (to go clear through > escape, bar), ברך (to go clear through > to excel, be / declare excellent; to make a clearing > kneel, pool), ברק (to go clear through > lightening
29 – kingdom (ממלכת) from 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.
30 – 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).
31 – nation (גוי – GoY) literally to draw inward, arch inward; Arabic cognate passionately stirred (love / grief)
32 – Holy (קדש – QoDaeSh) Related to the roots meaning to put the head forward – QaDaD (קדד – to bow), QaDQaD (קדקד – crown of head) and QaDaM (קדם to proceed, advance forward); QaDaR (קדר – to drop the head > 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).
33 – stoned (סקול יסקל – SaQoL YiSaQaeL). This verb evolved from QoL (קול – voice). That root evolves from voice to light weight and then to elevate.
34 – YaRo YiYaReH (ירה יירה – shot through). This root means first to throw into the light (from ארה, /aRaH), then to aim, and then to shoot, then to penetrate.
35 – herd animal (בהמה – B’HaeMaH) This word evolved from an unattested root BoowM (בום) whose approximate meaning was to push into / between. Related to this root: BaMaH (במה) most often translated as height, but more specifically means bulge, protrusion, or haunches (as in Psalms 18:34); YaBaM (יבם) which in a very loose sense means to push in or intercede in behalf of (if one could intercede in behalf of a deceased brother in order to ensure progeny in his name); B’HaeMaH (בהמה) meaning one who pushes in or herd-animal, (which explains why the related word behemoth has come to mean brutish). From allegorical context, it tends to mean to push in so as to observe.
36 – יusband > man (איש – /eySh) from /uSh (אוש – to make persistent, to go on and on, be lengthy, make a steady noise (Jastro)). Initially meaning husband (one who persists with a wife), it later came to mean man. Allegorically, it is always used to mean “mental persistence.”
37 – Aharon (אהרן) “the mental faculty bringing things to light;” from the verb HaRaH (הרה – to conceive), but like the related verb HaRHaeR (הרהר), it refers to one’s ability to conceive of something in mind (not in the womb). Also related to these words is the noun HaR (mountain – הר) which literally means “the place of bringing things to light,” a place where one can see and conceive of what is coming due to its elevated perspective.
38 – lightening (ברק – BaRaQ) Allegorically: what goes clear through, penetrates. 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
39 – (overcast) cloud (ענן – \aNaN) is derived from \aNaH to afflict, overwhelm, humiliate, rape, oppress.
40 – smoking (עשן \aShaN) Allegorically: volatile. Derived from \uSh (עוש (persist at) to set into motion, get moving, make haste).
41 – Fire /aeSh (אש, fire, persistent existence) from /uSh (אוש – to make persistent, to go on and on, be lengthy, make a steady noise (Jastro))
42 – he is overwhelmed (יעננו). Depending on the vowels, this could be read as “to answer” or “to overwhelm, afflict, humiliate, rape, oppress.” Usually, when “to answer” is intended in the peshat, to overwhelm is intended in the allegory.
43 – Setumah (סתומה – closed) / Petuchah (פתוחה – open). The written Torah scroll is separated into books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deutoronomy) by large (many lines) gaps in the text. Additionally, each book is visually divided into two types of paragraphs. The larger of these, Petuchah (פתוחה – open), appears like any English paragraph, a break after the words that ends midway in a line and then text resumes on the next line. The smaller, Setumah (סתומה – closed), is like a tabbed space within one line. Such as this > Both perform the same function as a paragraph break, but the change in idea is less dramatic with a setumah, than with a petuchah. Also there are times when there does not appear to be thematic consistency within one of these paragraphs. For example, Ex 22:17,18 are within the same small paragraph with a setumah on either side. They don’t appear to be thematically related (witches, sleeping with animals), but allegorically they are the same (drawing away from experience (witch), persistently observing without taking action (laying with animal).
44 – graven image (פסל – PeSeL) Allegorically: fragmented distortion. From the verb PaSaL (פסל to chip off, hew, chisel (stones, wood). Which evolved from PaSaH (פסה – to spread apart). In Akkadian: turn away, divert, reneg, distort; in Arabic it also means false and deceitful.
45 – (תמונה – likeness) Allegorically: approximated appraisal. From MaNaH (מנה – distribute, count, reckon, assign, class), which evolved from MaHaH (מהה – dissolve, dissipate), MaNaH (מנה) originally meant to draw off from hence the related words MiN (מן – from) and SheMeN (שמן – oil). Therefore (תמונה – likeness) is something that is drawn off from an original thing, but not quite the same as it, a reckoning, a likeness, an approxiamation.
46 – work-serve-slave-worship-devote (עבד – \aBhaD) Although the noun originally means slave, the verb evolved to mean to work, serve, worship and devote. Allegorically, it means “devote (attention).”
47 – name (שם – ShaeM) from SuM-SYM (שום – שים to put, place, impose, label). It has the allegorical meaning of the applying or application of something.
48 – Sabbath (שבת – Shabbat). This verb evolved from ShaBhaH (שבה – to settle back a captive) which evolved from ShuBh (שוב – to settle back > return, do again, stay, remain). It is related to YaShaBh (ישב – to settle back > sit, settle) and ShaBhaHh (שבח – to settle down, still). So the root (שבת – ShaBhaT) means (to settle down) > cease, rest, but allegorically also has a meaning of settling in.
49 – sixth (ששי – ShiShy) 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).
50 – task, work (מלאכה – mal’akhah), angel (מלאך – mal’akh) from the verb La/aKh (לאך) Ugaritic and Syriac – to send a messenger, a message. As work, it implies tasks that involve going away to do something
51 – SheBha\ (שבע) seven, Although with a shin, this word appears to have been derived from the similar root with a letter sin, SaBha\ understood as satiated, it derives from either NaBha\ (נבע – to swell or well up) or Ba\aH (בעה – to bubble up, boil). Perhaps it means the number seven because it fulfills a period of one week, although this too is not completely clear. Metaphorically, from context and this etymology it means “being satiated by what bubbles up” or just “a bubbling up of something.
52 – female slave (אמה –/aMaH). Allegorically: (your) being mentally present, from the unattested root /uM (אום) literally means “what is ever present.” Therefore, the word /aeM mother literally means “one who is ever present,” the word /aYaM (אים) foreboding literally means “an ever present feeling,” and m’/uMaH (מאומה) something literally means “a thing of that is ever present.”
53 – gate (Sha\aR – שער ) Although not at all related to the roots Sh\R (שער), S\R (סער), and Sae\aR (שער – hair) which all mean “to stir up” in one way or another, but allegorically the word for gate is used that way as a play on words. Also related to a similar Arabic root meaning to take notice of things (in being stirred up)
54 – YoM (יום – day), from HaMaH (המה – to stir up), literally means “time period causing a stirring.”
55 – /aDaMah (ground – 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.”
56 – bake (אפה – /aPhaH) evolved from the root /aPh (אף – nose, face, brow). That it means to cover the face can be seen in the evolved root /aPhaPh (אפף – to smother the face)
57 – neighbor, 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).
58 – ShuR (שור – Shur) Allegorical: fixing one’s gaze. This root (ShuR – שור), like with Yisrael, means to be fixed either physically or visually. Hence, physically (wall, ox, umbilical cord) and visually (to get a fix on (see) (Nm23:9,24:17)(Hs14:9)).
59 – 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)
60 – So (כה) literally an impression, derived from כוה (to press a point >) to sear, scald, cauterize
61 – 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)
62 – 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
63 – altar (מזבח – miZBae’aHh) Allegorically refers to the way in which a person flows forth. The verb ZaBhaHh (זבח – make an offering, sacrifice) evolved from ZaBhaH (זבה – to flow), perhaps due to the flowing of blood that occurs with ritual offering.
64 – elevation offering, burnt-offering (עלה – \oLaH) Allegorically: meander about and busy oneself with particular things. The verb comes from the root \aLaH (עלה to rise, ascend). There is however a root \aLaL (עלל to meander, perform, busy oneself) and another related word \oLaL (עולל to glean).
65 – peace offerings (שלמים) Allegorically: submit oneself to things; from the root ShaLaM (שלם suspend, complete, submit, make peace, make restitution)
66 – Tso/N (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
67 – stone (/eBheN – אבן), from the root BuN (בון – to be or project between), literally means “what sticks out prominently.”
68 – cut stone (גזית – GaZyt) Allegorically: cut short, to give short shrift, less attention. From GaZaH (גזה to cut off / short / across) (Jr7:29).
69 – circumvention (מעל – Ma\aL) similar to note 64, the word for steps is Ma\aLot (מעלות) from \aLaH (עלה to ascend). However, the word Ma\aL (מעל to circumvent) is related to \aLaL (עלל to meander).

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

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

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

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

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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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