A Women’s Lectionary Christmas Day
A “rejoice” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
B “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
C “righteous” = tsaddiq. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, just cause, vindication; that which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense; abstractly equity; figuratively prosperity). This is just, innocent, righteous, righteous one, or lawful.
D “praise” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). 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.”
E “befits” = naveh. 10x in OT. From naah (to be at home and so pleasant, beautiful) or naveh (home, place where shepherd or sheep live; at hme implies a lovely place or a place of satisfaction); from navah (home, beautify, praise). This is beautiful, becoming, fitting, worthy of praise.
F “upright” = yashar. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous). This is straight, right, level. Also, it is pleasing, whether pleasing God or pleasing other people. So, it is upright or righteous.
G “praise” = yadah. From yad (hand). This is to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise. So, it is to praise, give thanks, or make a confession.
H “lyre” = kinnor. Root may be to twang. This is a lyre or harp.
I “make melody” = zamar. Perhaps from zamar (to trim or prune). This is making music. It is used specially of music to worship God. So, music with singing, singing praise, or singing psalms.
J “harp” = nebel. From nabel (to fall away, faint, wither, languish, sink; figuratively, being senseless, foolish, or wicked; to despise, disgrace, or fall to nothing, to be seen with contempt). This is a vessel, perhaps made of skins for holding liquids. It could be a skin, vase, or lyre as having a similar shape.
K “new” = chadash. From chadash (to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild). This is something fresh or new.
L “play” = nagan. 15x in OT. This is to strike a stringed instrument, to pluck or play it. It can also refer to a musician or a melody.
M “skillfully” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.
N “loud shouts” = teruah. From rua (to break or destroy something so figuratively, an ear splitting sound such as a call of alarm or a joyful sound). This is an alarm, trumpet sound, battle cry, rejoicing, joyful shout, or jubilee.
O “word” = 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.
P “work” = maaseh. From asah (to do, make, accomplish, become). This is a word – any action whether positive or negative. It can also be a transaction, construction, activity, property, or something that is produced.
Q “faithfulness” = emunah. From aman (to believe, endure, fulfill, confirm, support, be faithful, put one’s trust in, be steadfast. Figuratively, this is to be firm, steadfast, or faithful, trusting, believing, being permanent, morally solid). This word is literally firmness, but figuratively fidelity, faithfulness, honesty, responsibility, trust, truth, steadfastness. This word shares a root with the word “Amen.”
R “righteousness” = tsedaqah. Related to “righteous” in v1. From the same as tsedeq (see note C above). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
S “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
T “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
U “is full” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
V “steadfast love” = chesed. 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 favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
W “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.
X “made” = asah. Related to “work” in v4. See note P above.
Y “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.
Z “breath” = 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.
AA “gathered” = kanas. 11x in OT. This is to gather, assemble, enfold.
BB “sea” = yam. Root may mean to roar. This is the sea, often referring to the Mediterranean. It comes from the root in the sense of the roar of crashing surf. This word is sometimes used for rivers or other sources of water. It can mean to the west or to the south.
CC “bottle” = ned. 6x in OT. From nud (to nod, waver, wander, flee, show grief, disappear; nodding the head as a sign of sympathy or consolation; tossing one’s head to show contempt or to taunt). This is a heap or mound – it can imply a wave.
DD “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.
EE “storehouses” = otsar. From atsar (to store up, hoard). This is treasure or the place where one keeps treasure – a depository, storehouse, armory, cellar.
FF “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
GG “inhabitants” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
HH “world” = tebel. From yabal (to lead, bring, carry, conduct; properly, to flow; to bring or lead with fanfare). This is world, confusion, inhabited part of the earth, but also used for the whole world.
II “stand in awe” = gur. Properly, this is the act of turning off the road for any reason. So, it means sojourning, becoming a guest. It can mean being fearful since one is outside of home territory. It can also mean dwelling, living, or inhabiting if one has turned off the root to encamp for a longer duration. This word is where the Hebrew “ger” comes from, which is the word translated “stranger” or “resident alien.”
JJ “commanded” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).
KK “stood firm” = 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.
Image credit: “Pharaoh’s Army Engulfed by the Red Sea” by Frederick Bridgman, 1900.