[b-hebrew] "Mind" in Hebrew and Aramaic

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Apr 6 22:16:58 EDT 2006

Dear Albert,
>  > Hebrew words for mind include (without taking time for a search):
>>  yetser maHshavot ('organ for thoughts' 1or2Chronicles)
>>  Heshbon ('calculation', 'ability to think' DIALOGISMOS BenSira 9,15,
>    I happen to have a copies at hand at the moment)
>>  da`at ('knowing', especially in contexts refering to the
>    ability to know, Qumran serex ha-YaHad column 1. Cf. madda`,
>    modern for 'science'.)
>>  hon (see Even Shoshan milon/DICTIONARY [not Bible concordance] for
>    rabbinic uses)
>>  tvuna, bina ('understanding, discernement',
>    again, in contexts where the ability is in focus rather than the
>    results or quality, e.g. BenSira 15:15, 44:3)
>>  ra`yonot ('thoughts')
>  > maHshavot ('thoughts')
>>  and of course,
>    lev//levav 'heart' in contexts of thinking.
>>  sexel 'understanding', in contexts where the ability to think is in
>    focus, led to a medieval development of a technical term that is
>    'mind, mental' today in modern Hebrew. 
>OK. So there are more words that can mean mind in Hebrew than just 
>lev. But it seems to me that (a) none of these words reference the 
>mind very specifically and (b) the overwhelming predominance of 
>references in the OT to the mind per se use lev. However, in Greek, 
>there are a number of words that much more directly refer to the 
>mind than does kardia (i.e. nous, dianoia, psuche). Hence, a Greek 
>speaker might not see so clearly, if they read "heart, soul, and 
>might", that the mind was involved; whereas to a Hebrew speaker it 
>would be more obvious. My explanation for the addition to Mark 
>12:30, therefore, is that it represents an attempt to clarify the 
>text for Greek speakers.

HH: I ran across an interesting phrase in Luke 1:51, which makes one 
wonder what the Hebrew or Aramaic original was. Mary says that God 
scattered "ones proud in the mind of their hearts." The word "mind" 
is DIANOIA, which can also mean intention, purpose, thought, 
attitude, or understanding, according to the dictionary that comes 
with the UBS text. It is translated "imagination" by the KJV. So it 
could have been a word like maHshavot ('thoughts'), as you have it 

Harold Holmyard

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