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Thread: Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

  1. #1

    Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

    Thought it'd be helpful to share these resources.

    Old Testament Hebraisms:
    Hebrew Bible idioms and other figures of speech
    compiled by Wayne Leman

    This webpage may be copied or its contents adapted if its title and compiler are cited. The following list consists of figures of speech in the Hebrew Bible, such as idioms, euphemisms, metaphors, metonymy, synecdoche, and personification. Figurative meanings are given after the literal translations. Our suggestion of the type of figure of speech (open to debate in several cases) is given in parentheses.
    Gen. 4:1 know someone = have sex with someone (euphemism)
    Gen. 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD = God was pleased with Noah (idiom)
    Gen. 15:15 you will go to your fathers = you will die (euphemism)
    Gen. 18:27 I am nothing but dust and ashes = I am not worth much (metaphor)
    Gen. 20:6 touch = harm (metonymy)
    Gen. 26:8 laughing intensely with =sexually caressing, perhaps even, having sex with (euphemism)
    Gen. 27:38 lift up voice = vocalize (idiom)
    Gen 27.41 said in heart = thought / said to self (metonymy)
    Gen. 29:1 lifted his feet = began a journey (metonymy)
    Gen 40.13 lift up your head = restore to honor (metaphor)
    Ex 3.8 flowing with milk and honey = fertile (idiom)
    Ex 7:22 Pharaoh's heart was hardened = stubborn (metaphor)
    Ex 13.2 open the womb = be born (metonymy)
    Deut 15.7 close hand = selfish (metonymy)
    Deut. 15:9 evil eye = stingy (metaphor)
    Deut 20.8 heart melt = lose courage (metaphor)
    Judges 3:22 the dirt came out =his bowels emptied (euphemism)
    Ruth 3:7 feet = genitals (metonymy)
    1 Sam. 24:3 covered his feet = relieved himself (metonymy?)
    1 Sam. 25:22 any that urinates against the wall = any male (metonymy)
    1 Kings 11:9; Psalm 76:7 God's nostils enlarged = God became angry (metonymy)
    1 Ki 2:10 slept with his fathers = died (euphemism)
    2 Ki 4.29 gird up your loins = get ready (metonymy)
    2 Ki 19.26 small of hand = weak (metonymy)
    2 Chr 36.13 stiffened his neck = became stubborn (metonymy)
    Esther 1.7 open hand = generosity (metonymy)
    Job 20.20 knew no quiet in their bellies = greedy (metaphor)
    Job 23.16 soft heart = fearful (metaphor)
    Ps 5.9 their throat is an open grave = they speak deceitfully (metaphor)
    Ps 6.7 eye is consumed = vision is blurred (metaphor)
    Ps 7.9 hearts and kidneys = mind thoughts and heart emotions (metaphor)
    Ps 12.2 double heart = duplicitous (metaphor)
    Ps. 12:3 cut off all flattering lips = bring the flattering to an end (idiom)
    Ps 17.8 little man of the eye = pupil (metaphor)
    Ps 24.4 clean hands = act purely (metaphor)
    Ps 25.1 lift up my soul = pray (idiom)
    Ps 27.8 seek my face = seek me (metonymy)
    Ps 33.18 eyes are upon = watches over (metonymy)
    Ps 41.9 lifted heel against = turned against (metonymy)
    Ps 73.9 tongue struts through the earth = arrogantly order everyone (personification)
    Ps 75.5 lift horn = defy God (metonymy)
    Ps 80:3 face shine = show favor to (metonymy)
    Ps 89.13 right hand = might (metonymy)
    Ps 89.22 son of wickedness = wicked person (metaphor)
    Ps 90.12 number days = use time wisely (idiom)
    Ps 94.9 planted = created (metaphor)
    Ps 102.2 hide your face = refuse to answer (idiom)
    Ps 121.1 lift up eyes = look up toward (metaphor)
    Pro 17.22 dries bones = drains strength (idiom)
    Pro 18.20 fruit of the mouth = what someone says (idiom)
    Pro 22.9 good eye = generous (idiom)
    Pro 24.20 lamp will go out = will die (idiom)
    Song 2.4 his banner over me is love = he loves me very much (idiom)
    Song 2.17 until the day breathes = until dawn (personification)
    Is. 3:16 stretched forth necks = haughtiness (metonymy)
    Is 14.12 son of the morning = morning star (idiom)
    Is 35.10 joy will crown their heads = they will be joyful (idiom)
    Is 60.16 suck the milk of nations = receive the wealth of other countries (idiom)
    Jer 4.4 remove the foreskin of your heart = dedicate yourselves fully to God (idiom)
    Jer 4.19 walls = pain (metonymy)
    Jer 5.5 broken the yoke = rejected God's authority (metonymy)
    Jer 6.10 ears are uncircumcised = don't listen (idiom)
    Jer 7.12 where I caused my name to dwell = where I chose to be worshiped (metonymy)
    Jer. 15:16 eat = understand (metaphor)
    Jer. 25.15 wine of wrath = my anger (idiom)
    Jer 50.33 sons of = people of (metonymy)
    Ezek 3.7 hard forehead = stubborn (idiom)
    Ezek 16.25 spread feet = offer self for sex (euphemism)
    Ezek 16.26 big of phallus = lustful (metonymy)
    Jonah 3:3 a city great to God = very large (idiom)
    Jonah 4:9 angry unto death = very angry (idiom)

    New Testament Hebraisms:
    New Testament idioms
    compiled by Wayne Leman

    (This webpage may be copied or its contents adapted if its title and compiler are cited.) An idiom is an expression in a language which has a unique meaning which cannot be understood from the meanings of its parts (some English idioms are "It's raining cats and dogs", "Are you pulling my leg?" and "He flew off the handle"). Many NT Greek idioms are literal translations of Hebrew idioms. The boundary between idioms and other figures of speech is not always clearcut in the literature on NT Greek. In many cases, what are called idioms should, technically, often be analyzed as other figures of speech, such as metonymy, euphemism, etc. Perhaps this is to be expected, since idioms often derive from dead metaphors. Compare the New Testament figures of speech page.
    (Resources used to help make this collection included the Greek lexicon by Barclay Newman which accompanies the UBS Greek New Testament. A number of the idioms here were first pointed to me by an e-mail friend, Brent Hudson, who searched the L&N lexicon for NT Greek idioms. Abbreviation L&N = Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, by Louw & Nida)
    (literal English translations with idiomatic meaning in parentheses):
    Mt. 1:18 EN GASTRI EXOUSA: she having in the belly (=she was pregnant)
    Mt. 3.8 POIEW KARPON: to make fruit (=to produce results)
    Mt. 6:22 if your eye is good (=if you are generous)
    Mt. 6:23 if your eye is evil (=if you are stingy)

    Mt. 8:12 TO SKOTOS TO EXWTERON: the outer darkness [=a place which is dark and removed (from where righteous ones are)]

    Mt. 10:27 what you hear in your ear (=what you hear in secret)
    Mt. 10:38 he who does not take his cross (=be prepared to suffer, including die)
    Mt. 11:15 whoever has ears, let him hear (=everyone should listen carefully)
    Mt. 22:16 you do not look at the face of men (=you do not judge on the basis of external appearances)
    Mt. 23:32 Fill up the measure of your fathers! (=finish what your ancestors began)
    Mk. 1:32 those having badly (=those who were sick)
    Mk. 2:19 sons of the groom (=guests of the bridegroom)
    Mk. 3.21 hOI PAR' AUTOU: those beside him (=his family)
    Mk. 9:1 taste death (=die)
    Lk. 3:5 EIMI EIS "to be into" (=to change into)
    Lk. 16:22 KOLPOS ABRAAM: Abraham's bosom (=be with Abraham, heaven)
    Jn. 1:16 grace upon grace (=one blessing after another; blessed time after time)
    Jn. 2:4 what to me and to you? (Hebraism; =what does that have to do with us?)
    Jn. 9:24 DIDWMI DOXAN TW QEW: give glory to God (=promise under oath to tell the truth)
    Jn. 20:26 Peace be to you! (=Hello; a literal Greek translation from the most common Hebraic greeting, "shalom")
    Acts 11:22 News of this came to the ears of the church (=the church heard about it)
    Acts 15:10 placing a yoke on the neck (=burdening with obligations)
    Acts 17:21 doing/making time (=spending time)
    Acts 18:6 Your blood be upon your heads! (=You yourselves must take the blame for it!)
    Acts 18:14 to open the mouth (=to speak)
    Acts 20:33 ARGURION KAI CRUSION: silver and gold (=money)
    Acts 22:14 to hear the voice (sound) of his mouth (=hear him speak)
    Acts 26:14 PROS KENTRON LAKTIZEIN: kick against the goad (=to hurt oneself by active resistance)
    Acts 28:27 they hear heavily with their ears (=be slow to understand)
    Acts 28:27 hear with their ears (reflects Hebraic "cognate" construction; =to listen intently)
    Rom. 1:17 from faith to faith (=faith from start to finish; see Benware article in The Bible Translator journal for this meaning)
    Rom. 12:9 AGAPH ANUPOKRITOS: let love be not speaking from underneath (a mask) (=love without hypocrisy)
    Rom. 12:20 you will heap burning coals on his head (=you will be very kind to him)
    1 Cor. 7:35 BROCON EPIBALW: throw a bridle on (=restrict, control, impose restrictions)
    1 Cor. 14:9 EIS AERA LALOUNTES: talking into the air (=talking with no one understanding)
    1 Cor. 15:40 SWMATA EPOURANIA: heavenly bodies (=celestial objects)
    2 Cor. 3:18 are being transformed from glory to glory (=are becoming ever more glorious)
    Eph. 1:23 the fullness of him who fills all in all (uncertain meaning)
    Col. 1:23 hUPO TON OURANON: under the sky (=on earth)
    2 Thess. 3:12 eat their own bread (=work for a living)
    Heb. 8:9 I took them by the hand (=I carefully guided them)
    Heb. 12:28 Let us have grace (=Let us be thankful)
    James 1:23 TO PROSWPON THS GENESEWS AUTOU: the face of his birth (=his natural face)
    James 3:6 TON TROCON THS GENESEWS: the wheel of birth (=the cycle of life)
    1 Peter 1:13 gird up the loins of your minds (=prepare your minds for action)
    Jude 13 hO ZOFOS TOU SKOTOUS: the gloom of darkness (=gloomy hell)
    Rev. 16:3 YUCH ZWHS: living soul (=living creature)
    Rev. 20:10 LIMNH TOU PUROS: lake of fire (=great expanse of fire, place of destruction)

    Tit 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Blog Entries

    Re: Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

    Thank you for sharing these.
    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Rm 8:35-39

  3. #3

    Re: Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

    Quote Originally Posted by doug3 View Post
    Thank you for sharing these.
    you're most welcome.
    Tit 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

  4. #4

    Re: Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

    Yes Thank You, ThyWordIs Truth, I really appreciate these.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    In the land that is desperate for PEACE
    Blog Entries

    Re: Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

    Reviving an amazing thread
    The LORD is my Miracle

    G_d was gracious He has shown favor

    Hope is a seed
    God plants in our hearts
    to remind us
    there are better things ahead.
    -Holley Gerth

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Re: Understanding Hebrew idioms and figures of speech

    Hi Ta-An

    Thanks for bringing this back up = resurrecting this thread.
    "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
    C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."

    "Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years"
    "Sometimes the sky rains night after night, When will it clear?"

    "But our Hope endures the worst of conditions"
    "It's more than our optimism, Let the earth quake"
    "Our Hope is unchanged"
    "Our Hope Endures" Natalie Grant

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