Week of March 22 - 28, 2015
shâchôr 'black, dark'
$Fxr (Strong's #7838)
shâchôr 'black, dark' $Fxr (Strong's #7838)
"I am black, but comely" (Song of Songs 1:5, JPS)
Hebrew has several words to describe being dark or black, whether of face, skin, hair, mood or the weather. One such is $Fxr shâchôr "black" (Strong's #7838, x6) coming from $FxAr shâchar "to be black" (Strong's #7835, x1) which only occurs in Job 30:30, "My skin is black...burned with heat".
Hebrew's words for colours are not concrete chromatic colour charts but poetic terms derived from nature. Indeed, most ancient cultures lacked a word for blue at all. Even the biblical "blue" is more violet, somewhere between red and purple - T:k"lEt tekhêleth "blue-violet" (Strong's #8504, x50).
Other words translated as "black" include: KFmAr kâmar "black" (Strong's #3648, x4) from the idea of the heat of the sun, used in Lamentations 5:10; qFdAr qâdar "be dark, mourn" (Strong's #6937, x17) translated as "darken, blacken" sometimes and often used of moods, mourning, or the weather; another is sOxErEt çôwchereth "black" (Strong's #5508, x1) used of a type of onyx black marble, only used in Esther 1:6.
$Fxr shâchôr is also related to another word spelled the same as $FxAr shâchar "to be black" which is "to seek early, earnestly" (Strong's #7836, x12). The similarity probably relates to an earlier affinity between the words meaning dawning of the sun, that period of darkness that begins to be illuminated, and indicates again that $Fxr shâchôr means tanned, darkened by the sun.
$Fxr shâchôr is used of the priests checking for leprosy, looking for "black" hairs in a scab (Leviticus 13:31,37) and of the black-haired chariot horses described in Zechariah's vision (Zech 6:2,6).
Song of Songs 5:10-11: "My beloved is white and ruddy...His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are curled, and black as a raven" - here, $Fxr shâchôr is used for hair that is "black as a raven" and cAx tsach "white" (Strong's #6703, x4) from cFxAx tsâchach "to glow whiter" (Strong's #6705, x1) is used of the beloved's visage, more his brightness, for he is also described as "ruddy" (Fde ’âdhôm "reddish" (Strong's #122, x9).
Song of Songs 1:5-6: "I am black, but comely...Look not upon me, that I am swarthy, for the sun has tanned me" - so render the JPS, NAS but the KJV has "black" and NKJ "dark", instead of "swarthy", the Hebrew in the first instance is $Fxr shâchôr but in the second, is the related $:xAr:xr shechar'chôr "blackish" (Strong's #7840, x1). The rendering "black but comely/beautiful" is slightly misleading for the Hebrew word translated as "but" is more commonly the word "and".
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