75 words for 75 years of Israel – Mayim/Water

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

מַיִם

MAYIM

MAH-YEEM

WATER

“For your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill.” (Deuteronomy 8:7)

כי יהוה אלהיך מביאך אל ארץ טובה ארץ נחלי מים עינת ותהמת יצאים בבקעה ובהר.

“When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, who made him her son. She named him Moses, explaining, ‘I drew him out of the water.’” (Exodus 2:10)

ויגדל הילד ותבאהו לבת פרעה ויהי לה לבן ותקרא שמו משה ותאמר כי מן המים משיתהו.

Mayim, Hebrew word for “water,” first appears in the second verse of the Bible when “the spirit of God hovered over the water.” God does not explicitly command the creation of water, mysteriously present from the very beginning of time, reflecting its foundational role in the existence of all life.

Although water was used in many aspects of the Temple service, it was only brought as a stand alone offering to God during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Each morning throughout the holiday, water was drawn from the Siloam spring, brought into the Temple and then poured on the main altar. Afterwards, every night in the Temple courtyard, thousands of people gathered for the Simchat Beit HaShoeivah, “Rejoicing at the Place of the Water-Drawing,” a time of celebration, music and dancing.

The life of Moses, the greatest leader of Jewish history, is inextricably linked to water. When only a few months old, he was placed in a basket by his mother and set adrift on the Nile River in order to save him from Pharaoh’s evil decree. Miraculously, Pharoah’s very own daughter finds him, adopts him as her son and names him Moses, since she “drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10). 

After fleeing Egypt, Moses meets his wife by a water well. Years later, Moses hits the rock in order to provide the nation with water, instead of speaking to it as God had commanded him to do. Tragically, this mistake cost Moses the opportunity to enter the Land of Israel, the land of life. Water is the source of life, but only if used in the service of God’s will.

The Israel Bible Team

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