[b-hebrew] "The eye of the earth"

B. M. Rocine brocine at twcny.rr.com
Sun Jun 27 19:00:02 EDT 2004

Hi Yigal,

You wrote:

Shalom Y'all,

In Balak's message to Balaam (Num. 22:5), which he repeats to God in verse
11, he refers to the Israelites as "there is a people come out from Egypt,
behold, they cover )t (YN H)RC (et `ein ha-arec)". This is usually
translated as "the face of the earth". The general meaning is clear, they
are so many that they cover the whole land.

However, an (YN, literally "eye", is usually something small and localized.
It's most common use outside of anatomy is for "spring" or "well".

So what exactly is "the eye of the earth"? Why should "eye" mean "face"?


"Face of the earth" seems to be an attempt at expressing a Hebrew anatomical
idiom with an English anatomical idiom.  That's ambitious, but maybe a
little too ambitious.  I think `ayin does not mean "face" here.  I think it
means "what one sees (with the eye)."  So I think the idea is that the
people were so numerous one couldn't "eye" the earth.  hinneh kissah 'et
`eyn haa'rec translated literally, would be "behold, it has concealed the
view of the earth."


B. M. Rocine
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

ph: 315.437.6744
fx: 315.437.6766

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list