A Women’s Lectionary – Fifth Sunday in Lent
1 PraiseA the Lord!B
Praise the LordC from the heavens;D
praise him in the heights!E
A “praise” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
B “Lord” = Yah. From YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; God, Lord; the self-existent or eternal one); from havah (to become) or hayah (to be, become, happen)}. This is Lord or God – a shortened form of God’s most holy name.
C “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
D “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
E “heights” = marom. From rum (to be high, rise, exalted, become proud, display, offer, present, set apart, extol; to rise in a literal or figurative sense). This can be height, high place, or lofty. It can be either exalted or haughty/proud. It can refer to dignity or to heaven.
2 Praise him, allF his angels;G
praise him, all his host!H
F “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
G “angels” = malak. This is a messenger, an angel, or a deputy of some kind. Can be used for human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God. Also used for supernatural messengers i.e. angels.
H “host” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.
3 Praise him, sunI and moon;J
praise him, all you shiningK stars!L
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,M
and you watersN above the heavens!
I “sun” = shemesh. This is sun or toward the east. Its root may mean being brilliant. Figuratively, this could be a ray or an arch.
J “moon” = yareach. Perhaps from the same as yerach (month). This is moon.
K “shining” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.
L “stars” = kokab. Perhaps from the same as kavah (to prick, blister, burn, scorch). This is a star as shining, stargaze. Figuratively, can mean prince.
M “highest heavens” = shamayim + shamayim. Literally, “heavens of heavens.” Same as “heavens” in v1. See note D above.
N “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
5 Let them praise the nameO of the Lord,P
for he commandedQ and they were created.R
O “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
P “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note C above.
Q “commanded” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
R “created” = bara. This is to create, shape, choose, or select. It is the word used in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth.
6 He establishedS them foreverT and ever;U
he fixedV their bounds,W which cannot be passed.X
S “established” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
T “forever” = ad. From adah (to advance or continue; to take away or remove; adorning oneself with ornaments). This is old, perpetuity, eternity. It is a duration going back or forward.
U “ever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
V “fixed” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
W “bounds” = choq. Form chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
X “passed” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
7 Praise the LordY from the earth,Z
you sea monstersAA and all deeps,BB
Y “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note C above.
Z “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
AA “sea monsters” = tannin. From the same as tan (jackal, dragon, whale). It may stem from a root meaning elongate. It is some kind of monster of land or sea like a jackal or a sea serpent.
BB “deeps” = tehom. Perhaps from hum (to roar, murmur, cause an uproar, agitate; to defeat in battle, destroy). This is the deep or the abyss. Either understood as a formless empty place of nothingness or as a place of confusion filled with water – the deep the feeds the waters of the earth.
8 fireCC and hail, snowDD and frost,EE
CC “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
DD “snow” = sheleg. 19x in OT. Perhaps from shalag (to snow, to be white). This is snow or snowy.
EE “frost” = qitor. 4x in OT. Perhaps from qatar (to smoke or burn; especially of sacrifice – the fragrance of the offering); perhaps from qetoreth (smoke, incense, the scent of the sacrifice as it burned) or perhaps from Qatar (to shut in or join). This is smoke, clouds, vapor.
stormyFF windGG fulfillingHH his command!II
FF “stormy” = saar. From sa’ar (to storm, scattered by a storm, blow away, rage, storm tossed; this is to toss in a literal or figurative sense). This is a storm or whirlwind. It can also be stormy.
GG “wind” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
HH “fulfilling” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
II “command” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
9 MountainsJJ and all hills,KK
fruitLL treesMM and all cedars!NN
JJ “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
KK “hills” = gibah. From the same as Geba (Geba or Gibeah; hillock); from the same as gabia (cup, bowl, flower; root might mean being convex). This is hill or little hill.
LL “fruit” = peri. From parah (to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase; bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense). This is fruit or reward.
MM “trees” = ets. Perhaps from atsah (to shut, fasten, firm up, to close one’s eyes). This is tree or other things related to trees like wood, sticks, or stalks. It can also refer to wood products like a plank or staff or gallows. Additionally, this can refer to a carpenter.
NN “cedars” = erez. Perhaps from araz (made from cedar; to be firm, strong). This is cedar or a cedar tree as strong.
10 Wild animalsOO and all cattle,PP
creeping thingsQQ and flyingRR birds!SS
OO “wild animals” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
PP “cattle” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.
QQ “creeping things” = remes. 17x in OT. From ramas (gliding swiftly, moving with quick steps or crawling; to swarm or prowl or move about). This is things that move rapidly or creep such as reptiles.
RR “flying” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.
SS “birds” = tsippor. From tsaphar (to skip about, maybe to depart). This is a little bird like a sparrow – a little bird as one that hops about.
11 KingsTT of the earth and all peoples,UU
princesVV and all rulersWW of the earth!
TT “kings” = melek. From malak (to be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned; by implication, to take counsel). This is king or royal.
UU “peoples” = leom. Root may refer to gathering. This is people, a community, or a nation.
VV “princes” = sar. This is chief, leader, ruler, lord, official, governor, prince, military leader. It refers to someone at the top of a rank or class.
WW “rulers” = shaphat. This is to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, or govern. It can refer to God judging or to human judges. This is pronouncing a verdict in favor or against so it implies consequences or punishment. It can also mean to litigate or govern as one with authority.
12 Young menXX and womenYY alike,
oldZZ and youngAAA together!
XX “young men” = bachur. From bachar (to choose, appoint, try, excellent). This is choice, chosen, selected. It is a youth or young man.
YY “women” = bethulah. This is virgin, maiden, or bride. Can also be used figuratively for a place.
ZZ “old” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old, aged, or elder.
AAA “young” = naar. May be from na’ar (to shake, toss up and down, tumble around). This is a child or a servant. It is a child in their active years so they could be aged anywhere from infancy to adolescence.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,BBB
for his name aloneCCC is exalted;DDD
his gloryEEE is above earth and heaven.
BBB “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note C above.
CCC “alone” = bad. From badad (to divide or be separated; alone, solitary, lonely, isolated, straggler). This is apart, alone, separation, body part, tree branch, except. It can also be a city’s chief.
DDD “is exalted” = sagab. This is to raise, lifted, high, set secure on high, excellent, or strong. It is inaccessibly high in a literal and figurative sense. It implies something that is safe and, therefore, something that is strong.
EEE “glory” = hod. This is grandeur, beauty, glory, honor, or authority. It emphasizes a form or appearance with gravitas.
14 He has raised upFFF a hornGGG for his people,HHH
praiseIII for all his faithful,JJJ
FFF “raised up” = rum. Related to “heights” in v1. See note E above.
GGG “horn” = qeren. This is horn or hill. It can be a flask or cornet, ivory, altar corner, mountain peak, or figuratively power.
HHH “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
III “praise” = tehillah. Related to “praise” in v1. From halal (see note A above). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
JJJ “faithful” = chasid. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is faithful, kind, pious, merciful, or gracious. It can also refer to godly or pious people. This is where Chasidic Jews take their name from.
for the peopleKKK of IsraelLLL who are close toMMM him.
Praise the Lord!NNN
KKK “people” = am. Same as “people” in v14. See note HHH above.
LLL “of Israel” = ben + Yisrael. Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Yisrael is from sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
MMM “close to” = qarob. From qarab (to come near, offer, make ready). This is near whether nearby, related, near in time, or allied.
NNN “Lord” = Yah. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note B above.
Image credit: “Beneath Sipadan Island” in Malaysia by Johnny Chen, 2016.