Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Hebrew verb נשׂא (naśaʾ, pronounced na-SA) means "to lift, carry, bear, or take." For instance, the aphorism in Lamentations 3:27 reads: "It is good for one to bearשּׂא) the yoke in youth." In Genesis 4:13, Cain complains about his punishment from God: "My punishment is greater than I can bearנשׂא)." Interestingly, the verb נשׂא (naśaʾ) is also the word used to prohibit the misuse of God's name in swearing oaths. Exodus 20:7 literally begins, "You shall not lift up (נשׂא) the name of the LORD your God in vain." It can also be used to mean "to strike, take action," as in Psalm 10:12: "Rise up, O LORD; O God, lift up (נשׂא) your hand; do not forget the oppressed."

Interestingly, the noun form of נשׂא, the word נשׂיא (naśiʾ, pronounced na-SEE, meaning "one lifted up"), became a word for "leader," as in Exodus 22:28: "You shall not revile God, or curse a leader (נשׂיא) of your people." In the Second Temple period, נשׂיא (naśiʾ) became one of many synonyms for the expected messiah, where it took on the meaning of "prince" as in Ezekiel 34:24: "And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince (נשׂיא) among them; I, the LORD, have spoken."

One easy way to remember that נשׂא (naśaʾ) means "to lift up" is that for many years NASA lifted things up into space using rockets.