Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Hebrew noun עין (ʿayin, pronounced AYE-yin) is the Biblical Hebrew word for both "eye" and "spring." While these two meanings seem far removed at first, they make sense when you consider that natural springs are where ancient peoples considered the earth to be crying and producing "tears"—where water comes forth from the ground. Because eyes naturally occur in pairs (on most animals), the plural of  עין (ʿayin), "eyes," appears in a special dual form as עינים (ʿeynayim, pronounced, eh-NYE-yim). The most famous uses of עין (ʿayin) as "spring" appear in the place names En Gedi (עין גדי‎) and Endor (עין דוֹר). As a reference to "eyes," we can find עין (ʿayin) in Genesis 6:8: "But Noah found favor in the eyes (בעיני) of the LORD."