Friday, August 11, 2023

The Hebrew noun שׁמשׁ (shemesh, pronounced SHEM-esh) is the word for "sun." We see it famously in Ecclesiastes 1:14: "I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun (שׁמשׁ); and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind." Interestingly, the שׁמשׁ ("sun") isn't mentioned in the creation accounts by name; instead, Genesis 1:16 says "the greater light" was created to rule the day, and the "lesser light" was established to rule the night.

The word also happens to be the Hebrew name of the sun deity (known as Shamash in Akkadian), as in Deuteronomy 17:3: "by going to serve other gods and worshiping them—whether the Sun (שׁמשׁ) or the Moon, or any of the Host of heaven, which I have forbidden."