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Linen yarn?

Author Stephen Pidgeon - Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Recently, a friend of the Eth Cepher asked the following question: “I looked at 1 Kings 10:28. I looked up in a interlinear to see the comparison; I also looked at the Cepher app and [have] seen that it is not the same and that linen is added to the text. Why would you add to when it is not in there? We are not to add to it. Please explain why.”

“I do not understand by what language. But  English is what I know, just beginning to learn about Hebrew. I just do not understand why the Cepher community would add linen , or anything for that matter to any text. If it is not there, then we should not add to. Can you explain why you would add this word to this verse? Hope that you will. Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and concern about this.”

When looking at this verse, we do find something quite interesting, given the context.  To best understand, it is important to distinguish this phrase from most other phrases containing the word miqvah (מקוה).

In common usage throughout the Ivriyt text we find the word (מקוה) miqvah (Strong’s H4724) appearing and, being the feminine of H4723, it is construed as a collection, i.e. that of water, such as a reservoir or ditch. However, the masculine form miqvêh which is found in Melekiym Ri’shon (1 Kings) 10:28 and Divrei Hayamiym Sheniy (2 Chronicles) 1:16 is construed as linen yarn.

Melekiym Ri’shon (1 Kings) 10:28
And Shalomah had horses brought out of Mitsrayim, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn (ומקוה) at a price.

Divrei Hayamiym Sheniy (2 Chronicles) 1:16
And Shalomah had horses brought out of Mitsrayim, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn (מקוה) at a price.

This term is taken from the root word (קוה) qavah (Strong's H6960), which is the primitive root and which means to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. to collect; (figuratively) to expect; to gather together, look, patiently, tarry, or to wait on.

So when we construe the word properly as m’qavah, the underlying meaning is from the binding together, which arguably could mean either linen cloth, or linen yarn. However, the binding together by twisting infers yarn, rather than the textile cloth. Consider also that linen is usually created from flax; so the twisting together of the flax would create the yarn, and not the cloth. Should it not be twisted together, it would simply be flax, which in the Ivriyt is (פשתה) pishtâh. Were it linen cloth, the word (בּגד) beged would be found.

The interpreters over the years have construed this particular phrase, however, as being an abbreviation for the full phrase miqvêʼlemma, which was corrected to (מקוה) miqveh, to create however the same meaning, namely, linen yarn.

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