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

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Mon Jun 28 02:07:44 EDT 2004

On Sunday 27 June 2004 15:29, Harold R. Holmyard III wrote:
> Dear Yigal,
> >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"?
> HH: It seems to be a meaning derived from the eye as giving what
> one's sees or what is visible. This sense also occurs in Ex 10:5, 15.
> (YN in the plural in the phrase "in his eyes" means something like
> "in his viewpoint" in Lev 13:5, or "as he sees it." We speak of
> checking out the "look of the land." (YN as "eye" functions like
> "look" in speaking of the appearance. Somebody "casts as eager eye"
> at something by giving it an avid look. We speak of having an "eye
> for beauty," a good recognition of beauty. To "catch somebody's eye"
> is to capture their attention. Beauty is "in the eye of the
> beholder," the estimation of the onlooker. To be "under the eye of"
> one's superior is to be under his supervision. Doing something with
> an "eye to public opinion" is to do it with consideration of how the
> public will look at it. These examples from the dictionary shows the
> extended use that the word "eye" can have in English, and it was
> apparently this way with biblical Hebrew.

These examples don't really seem to address the Hebrew phrase, as none of them 
relates to a meaning "entire" as in the Balaam text.  I doubt whether English 
idioms are going to go very far in explaining this one...

Dave Washburn
Learning about Christianity from a non-Christian
is like getting a kiss over the telephone.

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