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Home > Weekly Columns > Hebrew Thoughts

Hebrew Thoughts
Week of January 25 - 31, 2015


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Author Bio
KJ Went has taught biblical Hebrew, hermeneutics and Jewish background to early Christianity. Their "Biblical Hebrew made easy" course can be found at

Why not consider Greek, Aramaic, Biblical or Modern Hebrew online, it's easier than you think.

BMSoftware, founded by KJ, offer a wide range of biblical, Hebrew, Greek and multilingual software for theological use.

nwach 'to to rest, settle'
   nWxA (Strong's #5117)

nwach 'to to rest, settle' nWxA (Strong's #5117)

"And the ark rested in the seventh month" (Genesis 8:4, JPS)

The root verb nWxA nwach (Strong's #5117, x64) "to to rest, settle" suggests relief and rest in the sense of being able to relax, take breath, and breathe out. A place of settled calm. A similar notion may be found in the root verb rWxA rwach (Strong's #7306, x11) which shares the same second syllable sound and means "to breathe" whether as exhalation from which we also get the word for "spirit, wind, breath" rWxA rwach (Strong's #7307, x378) or inhalation as in to smell.

Indeed, when God shared some of the rWxA rwach that was upon Moses and shared it also among the 70 elders, it says "when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied" (Numbers 11:25) using rWxA rwach and nWxA nwach together.

The image of a dove as figurative of peace and God's Rach or Spirit, is interesting in that it was also the bird sent out by Noah after the Flood to confirm the availability of dry land for a resting place. Initially, he sent a raven, then a dove on three occasions (Genesis 8:6-12).

Now, Noah's name in Hebrew is nxA nach (Strong's #5146, x46) or fully nOxA nwach (Strong's #5118, x4), from nWxA nwach and meaning "resting place". A prophetic word play on the sound of Noah's name when he was born was made by his 182 year-old father, Lamech, when "he called his name Noah, saying, 'This same shall comfort us' (Genesis 5:29). The word "comfort" is nxAe ncham (Strong's #5162, x108), which also means "to be sorry, repent, regret, have pity/compassion".

Another derived name is nOxAh nwchh (Strong's #5118), one of the sons of Benjamin (I Chronicles 8:2).

nWxA nwach is used of God's "resting" on the seventh day of creation, Exodus 20:11, and also of animals resting, whether the plague of locusts of Exodus 10:14 or of one's livestock (Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14) on the seventh day when one "rests" - it this case using shbhath (Strong's #7673, x73) "to rest, or observe the Sabbath".

In Arabic, the equivalent verb to nWxA nwach is n-w-h which means to rest, take up residence, and to make a camel kneel down. Whether the Hebrew verb is used of animals resting, or the Spirit coming down, there seems to be a gentleness attached to this verb. Given its association with breath, one can imagine it being used of a feather or leaf falling and landing on the ground. It is used of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, of when their feet "rested", literally when they were just "dipped in the brim" of the waters of the River Jordan, which caused the river to mount up allowing them to pass over dry (Joshua 3:13,15).

It is regularly used of the space and security of rest from one's enemies, indicating not just a temporary pause but a full break from threat or conflict. Indeed, it was prophesied of Solomon's birth, whose name -lmh shelmh (Strong's #8010, x293) means "peace", shlwm (Strong's #7965, x236) that he and Israel would receive rest, peace and quietness, in his days (I Chronicles 22:9).

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