[b-hebrew] Ps 40:6 (Isaac Fried)

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Sat Oct 20 19:19:16 EDT 2007


I wholeheartedly agree with you that the Hebrew word (EREK from the  
root (RK means 'value', no question about this. L-HA-(ARIK is  
commonly used today in the sense of 'to estimate, to fix a value'. My  
point was not the English equivalent of the root (RK but its  
etymology. The word 'value' is abstract and is certainly derived from  
a prior plainer word of more tangible or concrete meaning. English  
Etymology dictionaries are in agreement that 'value' [related to  
'volume' and 're-volve'] is derived from the Latin 'valere', 'to be  
big and strong' [like a whale or a wall or a ball or a swollen  
Hebrew L-HA-(ARIK of the root (RK is 'to find the extent or size of  
an object' and in this sense it is clearly related to the root )RK.  
The word )AROK, 'long' [related to 'link'?], from the root )RK is  
also abstract and needs to be made comprehensible in terms of a  
physically demonstrable situation. If five people stay in a line,  
then the line is )AROK. If five more people add themselves to the  
line, then the line becomes longer, YOTER )AROK; and if two hundred  
people form the line, then it is indeed )AROK M)OD. Here is what long  
is, and it is easy to estimate, L-HA-(ARIK, its )OREK. If twenty  
people form a compact cluster then the cluster is RAXAB, 'wide', but  
as soon as they uncoil the cluster and array themselves in a linearly  
serial formation it becomes instead )AROK.
All geometrical notions are based in Hebrew on the idea of an  
aggregate being dispersed. This is why the letter R is present in  
almost all of them, to wit: )AROK, KACAR, RAXAB, CAR, YA$AR, KAROB,  
RAXOQ, RAM, RADUD. In this sense the root )RK is closely related to  
the roots )RX [also to the Hebrew words RUAX, 'wind', REYAX, 'smell'  
and REYXAIYM, 'millstones'] and )RK. Then to the word RAK, 'soft,  
pliable, extensible'. Whatever is RAK can be made )AROK.
)RK is also related to the roots )RG, 'weave', (RG, 'linger, be long,  
be arrayed', [as the (ARUGAH, 'bed' of Song of Songs 5:13 is] and  
(RK, 'stretch' [see Job 30:17].
Thus, )EYN (AROK )ELEYKA of Psalms 40:7 is 'nothing measures up to you'.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Oct 19, 2007, at 10:11 AM, Yaakov Stein wrote:

>> Any suggestions on how to understand (and translate) the phrase at
>> the end of the second line of Ps. 40:6?
> On meaning of the root (RK is "worth"
> in particular to place a monetary value on something.
> For example, in Leviticus 27 there is a list of monetary values
> for people of various ages, for animals, and for real estate.
> The word used is (RKK, which is a somewhat strange form,
> but it clearly means the monetary value.
> In particular, when the priest estimates the value of each donation,
> it is the hiphil form of this word.
> The same word is used elsewhere in expressions such
> as to add one fifth to the value,
> and the value of clothes and food (Judges 17).
> Psalms 50:21 is probably also this meaning
> (I will tell you how much you are really worth)
> although the translations I have seen don't understand it that way.
> It is only a small step to use the root to mean
> to compare value. In fact, in later Hebrew "about the same (value)"
> is B(RK. A famous prayer based on the Psalms 40:6 wording
> says )YN (RK LK W)YN ZWLTK = there is no-one like you.
> Yaakov (J) Stein
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