Zakar – A Word Study … and Reflections on Manhood

Zakar’ – a primitive root; properly, to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication, to mention; also (as denominative from ‘zakar’ (2145)) to be male:–X burn (incense), X earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record(-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, X still, think on, X well.

Interesting thought on manhood I heard while going to a men’s service at Restoration Ministries last night. The sermon was on the ‘male man’ and the pastor spoke of Zakar being the Hebrew word for masculinity. He said that it had two meanings – the sharp male organ (sharp? Never thought about it as sharp….hehe, no pun intended) or to remember –  call to rememberance.

(Incidentally, the Hebrew for man speaks of his penis – and the Hebrew for woman means to pierce or bore through… look at this quote I found while trying to research what I was told at the assembly: Male” is the Hebrew zakar from the Arabic for penis, meaning to be sharp, and “female” is the Hebrew neqebah, which means perforata, from the Hebrew naqab, to bore through. ‘ 1 Interesting, huh?)

Calling to rememberance is linked to worship, as quoted in the Voice of the Sheep  blog (originally in an essay written by Timothy J. Ralston , Th.M., Ph.D., The Spirit’s Role in Corporate Worship)

To remember” invoked the existence of a binding covenant, calling all to recognize and fulfill their responsibilities, joining with all who ever participated in the same covenant as a single community under God’s rule.

Ralston comments that “Every festival, sacrifice, and memorial designed to promote the worship of God was instituted as a “memorial.”  He goes on to speak on Passover as Israel’s act of rememberance in the Old Testament, which affirmed God’s covenant with the people; the New Testament’s equivalent is the Lord’s Supper, commonly called communion.
The linking of the male to worship is interesting.  The pastor made the point that men are inherently made to worship.  Makes you wonder – traditonal ‘worship teams’ are at least 80-90% female…. men are not supposed to shy away from worship, as it is built into our DNA.  Food for thought…



11 Responses

  1. please email the hebrew term for zakar i don’t understand it what
    does it means in the Bible

  2. […] then eventually went silent –  and I just heard him say, “Zakar.”  Now, as I commented in an earlier post, one meaning for this word is “remember.”  Immediately after I heard that word, my […]

  3. […] There were so many parallels to where I am right now…  but what made me feel the wind of the Spirit around  me was at the end  when Simba had defeated his evil uncle Scar (who was a usurper to the throne) and started to climb Pride Rock to face his family as the rightful king.  Halfway up the rock he looks up and hears his father’s voice intoning “Remember who you are…. Remember… Remember…”  (This scene always reminds me of these two posts concerning remembering – read them here and here.) […]

  4. Almost… The verb root of zakar is “to remember.” The noun, in fact, does mean “sharp point” as in “erect penis.” Neqevah is “receiving hole” as in “receptacle.” God uses both in Genesis 1:27 “male and female He created them.” As is always with God, He uses names to describe in detail what He means. A man’s sexuality is bold and aggressive as he initiates sex with his wife. His wife is made to receive her husband’s sexuality. For men, God created us to be bold (an erect penis is rather bold), aggressive (a man’s sex drive is strong), and the initiators (a sharp point is made to penetrate for a purpose) in our lives. And its all from being zakar with and for neqevah. But, we cannot be zakar without the neqevah and visa versa (1 Corinthians 11:11-12). Zakar is helped defined in contrast with neqevah and neqevah is helped defined in contrast with zakar.

    • Thanks for that!

      • do not listen to that man. he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. please read my post to fill you in properly.

    • uh….no it doesn’t. hebrew verbs when they appear in the third person refer to some one in the third person doing something. in biblical hebrew zakar literally means ‘he remembered. this verb is in the perfect conjugation which means the act of remembering has already been completed. even in modern hebrew it still means he remembered such as in hu zakar. it never means sharpened or penis. sharp or sharpened is char. sharp point is niqorah char. neqevah does not mean recieving hole. naqav means to perforate. qavah mens to bind together. scholars aren’t sure which one neqavah actually comes from. most christians that naqav because it sounds perverted. most jews, like me (i’m sephardic) believe it comes from qavah means he bound together. hashem is doing the work here. he remembered adam and he bound them together as one flesh. in bereshit (genesis) 2:24 we are back to isha for woman, that is because the binding is already completed. shalom

      • Mmm. Zakar does in fact mean sharp point as in erect penis. You might just want to refer to Murtonen’s “Hebrew in Its West Semitic Setting: A Comparative Survey of Non-Masoretic Hebrew Dialects and Traditions” as we’ll as a number of other Hebrew historical linguistic works. Remember being Jewish doesn’t qualify one as an expert in Hebrew.

      • yirmeyahu, I think you are right when it comes to verbs in the third person referring to someone in the third person doing someone. I’ve heard this confirmed by other jewish people who actually know hebrew. That said, I do think you may be right about neqevah being from the verb qavah “to bind together”. I found some indirect sources where this idea comes from, but there is no room to get into it here. OTOH, you also stated that neqevah may come from qavah or naqav, but scholars aren’t sure. The hebrew word naqav (or naqab) also means “to name someone” or “to designate a leader”. In this case, neqevah may mean in the third person “He (God) designates the”. In other words, He remembered the male that he should not be alone, and He designated them (male and female) to have dominion over the earth as shown by the plural forms in Gen. 1:27 such as Let them have dominion…., etc. Either way can work. I agree with you that a lot of christian men look no further than a sexual meaning for neqevah. Yet, those same men go out of their way to develop the intellectual aspects of zakar over that of a penis. It actually makes me sick that so called Godly men still tend to view women as nothing more than what is between their legs so that it influences their interpretation of scripture. God Himself is not so narrow minded

  5. “‘Male” is the Hebrew zakar from the Arabic for penis, meaning to be sharp, and “female” is the Hebrew neqebah, which means perforata, from the Hebrew naqab, to bore through. ‘ 1 Interesting, huh?”

    Yes, the word neqebah has the same root as the hebrew word naqab “to pierce”, but this same root is found in arabic with the range of meanings Strongs 5344-Arabic perforate, pierce, scrutinize, etc., sagacity (acuteness of mental discernment and soundness of judgment.), (etc.; leader, chief (one who scrutinizes)); one who investigates—

    Dr. Thomas McDaniel at Palmer Theological Seminary also says that naqab is the same root for the arabic word naqibat which is a feminine word that means “mind”, “intellect”, “intelligence” (p. 172).

    Unfortunately, arabic does not have a word for female, but the word naqab is directly related to the hebrew word naqab that is the root of neqebah. If the hebrew word zakar ” to remember” is from an arabic word that means penis, the hebrew root for neqebah-naqab is directly related to an arabic word naqab that means intelligence, discernment, chief or leader as well as “to pierce”.

  6. “jews, like me (i’m sephardic) believe it comes from qavah means he bound together.”

    “That said, I do think you may be right about neqevah being from the verb qavah “to bind together” I found some indirect sources where this idea comes from, but there is no room to get into it here”

    Well, here it is:

    Targum neofiti is a jewish translation of the Hebrew torah to Aramaic. Its date of origin is uncertain, but scholars think it could be anywhere between the first and fourth centuries CE with geographical and linguistic references that may be closer to the first century. In general, a targum is used so that an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew torah could be read to Aramaic speaking jews who no longer understand Hebrew. In targum neofiti, some greek loans words were used to further clarify the Hebrew translation in Aramaic since greek was a language also widely understood and spoken. In Genesis 1: 27, the targum neofiti uses the phrase “ male and his female partner”. The word for “female partner” is a greek loan word. It is understandable that a greek loanword is used in an Aramaic translation because Aramaic, like Arabic, does not have a specific word that means “female”. The greek word that means female is theylys. However, the greek loanword that is translated “female partner” in targum neofiti is not theylys. Instead, the greek loan word translated “female partner” is based on the greek word syzeugnymi. Syzeugnymi in its feminine noun form can mean “female spouse or partner”, and another noun form of this word syzgy can refer to a line in the astronomical sense like the planets line up. In the verb form, syzeugnymi means to join or fasten together. Jesus uses this verb in Matthew 19:6:
    Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
    With all this in mind, why would the Aramaic translators in the targum neofiti translate the Hebrew word neqevah (female) with the noun form of syzeugymi that means “female partner” when the greek word theylys means specifically female? The greek word theylys female appears in Matthew 19:4:
    And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.
    Again, I ask, why didn’t the targum neofiti translators use the word theylys to translate the Hebrew word neqevah especially when Aramaic does not have a word that means specifically female? Obviously, the Aramaic audiences of the targum neofiti would have understood greek to understand the greek loan words in the Aramaic translation. The targum neofiti translators were known to reproduce the linguistic information in the Hebrew in an exact translation. Apparently, the Hebrew word neqevah has deep linguistic nuances that the greek word theylys (female) does not cover, and the Aramaic does not have a precise word that means female. Going back to what the Sephardic jewish commentator, he said that neqevah may be based on the Hebrew word qavah meaning “to bind together”. Qavah in its noun form can mean a line. The greek word syzeugnymi can mean “to fasten together” in the verb form, and it can mean “a line” and “female spouse or partner” in the noun form. It may very well be possible that the targum neofiti translators knew that neqevah is based on qavah, and they chose a greek loan word that represents the deeper linguistic nuances of the Hebrew than the regular greek word for female can. After all, the targum neofiti translators had a better understanding of ancient Hebrew, greek, and Aramaic than modern day scholars and translators. Yirmeyahu is probably right.

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