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Abstract

It is generally believed that the psalm is an intimate communication between the individual and God The interdisciplinary semiotic approach reveals a string of meanings and conditions for the Hebrew text: 1. In Hebrew the word psalms [tehilìm] derivates from the root He-Lamed-Lamed that produces the words to praise; to shine, i.e. the root of the Hebrew words for shining and psalms includes instructions for those who intend to sing psalms: the psalmist must flash forth light; 2. From the perspective of semiotics of colors, every time the root He-Lamed-Lamed is used, the text radiates macro-white. It is because light is a prototype for white; 3. The Hebrew Word View (Hebrew language and Hebrew spelling) presents a warning. In Hebrew there exists a very similar root, Het-Lamed-Lamed, generating the words [halàl] to profane, to defile, to pollute, to desecrate, to wound, to kill. Thus the border between to shine, to praise and to profane, to defile, to desecrate is very thin-just as the border between the short [h] and the non-short [h]. This warning is not passed into the Indo-European and the Finno-Ugric texts the way it is in Hebrew, because of the interlinguistic dissymmetry. 4. Another case of interlinguistic dissymmetry is the Biblical basic color term for blue [tehèlet], which has non short [h] spelled with the letter Haf. Numbers 15:38-40 commandment to meditate on the blue color [tehèlet] of tassels (during the worshiping) helps to obey the commandments and to accomplish the state of emission of spiritual light when singing psalms [tehilìm]. 5. These signs are now decoded and this allows for a better understanding of the Bible and hermeneutic interpretation.
Lexia. R ivista di semiotica, 11–12
Culto
ISBN 978-88-548-5105-4
DOI 10. 4399/97888548510548
pag. 169–190 (giugno 2012)
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
Mony Almalech
italian title:Che significa “salmo” in Ebraico?
abstract: It is generally believed that the psalm is an intimate communi-
cation between the individual and God. The interdisciplinary semiotic
approach reveals a string of meanings and conditions for the Hebrew
text: 1. In Hebrew the word psalms [tehilìm] derivates from the root
He–Lamed–Lamed that produces the words to praise; to shine, i.e. the
root of the Hebrew words for shining and psalms includes instructions
for those who intend to sing psalms:
the psalmist must flash forth
light
;2. From the perspective of semiotics of colors, every time the root
He–Lamed–Lamed is used, the text radiates macro–white. It is because
light is a prototype for white; 3. The Hebrew Word View (Hebrew lan-
guage and Hebrew spelling) presents a warning. In Hebrew there exists
a very similar root, Het–Lamed–Lamed, generating the words [halàl] to
profane, to defile, to pollute, to desecrate, to wound, to kill. Thus the border
between to shine, to praise and to profane, to defile, to desecrate is very thin
— just as the border between the short [h] and the non–short [h]. This
warning is not passed into the Indo–European and the Finno–Ugric
texts the way it is in Hebrew, because of the interlinguistic dissymmetry.
4. Another case of interlinguistic dissymmetry is the Biblical basic color
term for blue [tehèlet], which has non short [h] spelled with the letter
Haf. Numbers 15:3840 commandment to meditate on the blue color
[tehèlet] of tassels (during the worshiping) helps to obey the command-
ments and to accomplish the state of emission of spiritual light when
singing psalms [tehilìm]. 5. These signs are now decoded and this allows
for a better understanding of the Bible and hermeneutic interpretation.
keywords:psalm; to praise; to shine; to pollute; to desecrate; blue color; light;
word view.
169
 Mony Almalech
1. Psalms and the roots He-Lamed-Lamed llh and Het-Lamed-
Lamed llx
Regardless of what kind of psalm is present, it is generally ac-
cepted that the psalm is an intimate communication between the
individual and God. As an intimate communication with God,
every kind of psalm is a kind of worship.
The psalms are another important example of a signicant
string of contents that has remained hidden in the Hebrew text
because of interlingual asymmetry and dissymetry.
My understanding of the role and place of the Hebrew lan-
guage and spelling in a semiotic approach to the Bible is explicitly
presented in sucient details (Almalech 2011). It is based on my
uent knowledge of Modern Hebrew, on decades of research on
Hebrew grammar, as well as on decades of study of academic
biblical studies and theological literature, on the practical work
on Bulgarian-Hebrew Dictionary (Almalech 2004b) and the Bul-
garian-Hebrew phrase book (Almalech 2002). Hebrew grammar
and spelling are used to decode the original message of the Old
Testament. Hebrew grammar and spelling are used to decode the
original message of the Old Testament. Semiotics of color has an
important role in my approach (Almalech, 1996, 2004a, 2006a,
2006b, 2007, 2010, 2011), as well as the cognitive aspects of the
theory of prototypes of colors (Rosch 1972, 1973, 1975a, 1975b,
1975c, 1977, Rosch et al 1976; Lako 1978).
Decoding Hebrew text works for a better understanding of
the Bible and, ultimately, for Biblical hermeneutics.
Psalms, book of the Old Testament, is composed of sacred songs or of
sacred poems. … titles of many individual psalms contained the word
mizmor, meaning a poem sung to the accompaniment of a stringed
instrument. The Greek translation of this term, psalmos, is the basis
for the collective title Psalmoi found in most manuscripts, from which
the English name Psalms is derived. … Rabbinic literature uses the title
Tehillim (“Songs of Praise”), a curious hybrid of a feminine noun and
a masculine plural ending. (EB)
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
In approximately one hundred appearances of the Noun
Phrase “Psalm of David” the word psalm stands for the Hebrew
lexeme rAmz>mI [mizmòr]. The word rAmz>m [mizmòr] derives from
the root Zain-Mem-Reish rmz which is found in the wordssing, sing
praise, make music rm:z“ [zamàr]; song, psalm rm:z“ [zamàr]; playing mu-
sic, singing.
The name of the book of Psalms in Hebrew is ~yLIhiT. [te-
hilìm] (“Songs of Praise”) but not “mizmôr”. As is noted in the
Encyclopædia Britannica, the word ~yLIhiT. [tehilìm] is a “curious
hybrid of a feminine noun and a masculine plural ending”. The
lexeme ~yLIhiT. [tehilìm] is derived from the root He-Lamed-Lamed
llh.
The root He-Lamed-Lamed llh denotes the paradigm of praise,
shine, psalm, to radiate light, to shine. The noun hL”hiT. [tehilà] means
praise. In gender it is feminine, and its regular form for plural is
tALhET. [tehilòt]. Namely this is the form used in Psalms 22:3:
`laer’f.yI tALhiT. bveAy vAdq’ hT’a;w>
(WTT Psalm 22:4)
Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.
(NAU Psalm 22:3)
The Indo-European translations convey the meaning of the
word tALhiT. [tehilòt] in dierent ways. The preferred solution is
praises but not psalms. This example is evident for the normative
use of the feminine plural form tALhiT. [tehilòt] of the singular
feminine hL”hiTEE [tehilà].
However, the title of the book Psalms in Hebrew is ~yLIhiT. [te-
hilìm] which is a plural masculine form of hL”hiTE [tehilà].
We can see that the traditioncalls for the masculine form as a
title of the whole book. In a written culture of long standing such
as the Jewish one, the number and the gender of a form is signi-
cant, especially if the regular form for plural is feminine, but the
name of the book of Psalms is masculine. Hence the need for a
 Mony Almalech
careful examination of the extended semantics of hL”hiTE. [tehilà],
by checking the derivative potential of the root.
If the derivative territory of the Hebrew root He-Lamed-Lamed
llh includes to sing praises, to sing psalms, psalm, praise, to radiate
light, to shine, the root is one of the Hebrew ways of semantically
transforming of the idea of light in the text and into the reader’s/
listener’s linguistic conscious and unconscious states.
The term “Semantic Transformations of the Idea of Light”
refers to the macroimpact of the text of the Old Testament.
The term “transformations of the idea of light” unites more
than 22 dierent Hebrew notions of light. Every single notion of
light has its corresponding Hebrew root and extended semantics.
This Hebrew way of signcation remains hidden and untrans-
latable in any Indo-European language. The paradigm of the root
marks the semantic territory in the system of the Hebrew lan-
guage which is asymmetrical to Indo-European and Finno-Ugric
languages, because in these languages to shine, and to praise, psalm
are not derivates of one and the same root. The root of the He-
brew words for shining and singing psalms includes instructions for
those who intend to sing psalms: the psalmist must be pure, clean
and immaculate.
The root He-Lamed-Lamed llh is involved in the forming of
macrolight white in Hebrew. The term macrolight is used in
the sense of Witkowski and Brown 1977, pp. 50-57 and Anna
Wierzbicka, 1990.
At the same time the root He-Lamed-Lamed llh also has its
“dark”, desecrating antonym which is also a paronym – the root
Het-Lamed-Lamed llx that occupies the paradigm to profane, to
dele, to pollute, to desecrate; to wound (fatally), to bore through, to
pierce; to slain; window. See ll;x’ in Gesenius 1996.
From a linguistic point of view, the two roots’ similarity and
opposition is based on the fact that the dierence between them
is the invariant of the sound h. In He-Lamed-Lamed llh there is a
short h h, while in Het-Lamed-Lamed llx there is a non-short h x.
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
Perfect articulation habits are necessary for making this dif-
ference in usage. I know that for people whose mother tongue
is Bulgarian it is very dicult to pronounce the short Hebrew h
correctly (aspiration) because there is no such sound in Bulgar-
ian. They would be well advised not to try to pronounce it at all.
These two counterpart roots are interesting for a number of
reasons:
There is phonetic similarity based on the sound h and its al-
lophones. There is also an orthographic similarity – He h and Het
x. At the same time the roots build semantic opposition: to sing
songs of praise, to shine, to praise (He-Lamed-Lamed llh) – to profane,
to desecrate, to slain (Het-Lamed-Lamed llx).
He-Lamed-Lamed llh makes up part of the picture of the world
(Worldview) by signifying one of many dierent kinds of light
created by the Hebrew language. (Almalech, 2010)
The artifact window !Alx: [halòn] (Het-Lamed-Lamed llx) is in op-
position to psalm, shine, praise (the root He-Lamed-Lamed llh), but
at the same time the function of the window is to provide light.
The root He-Lamed-Lamed llh takes part (explicitly and impli-
citly) in the naming of the basic semantic features of the protot-
ypes of white (light, snow, milk, see E. Rosch) – ‘pure’, ‘pureness’,
‘clean’, ‘immaculate’.
1.1. Data on the root He-Lamed-Lamed llh from BibleWorks 98
With a view to the fact that an interlinguistc dissymmetry exists
between Hebrew and Indo-European languages, it is appropriate
to indicate the functional semantics of the verb to praise ll;h[halàl].
This will appear in about 200 uses when the explicit meaning is to
praise, whereas the implicit one is to shine ll;h[halàl]. In Indo-Eu-
ropean languages to praise (Bul.1 ) and to shine (Bul.
1 The examples for Bulgarian translations (Bul.) are from  1940,
 1992,  2001,  2002.
 Mony Almalech
 ) are not of the same root and
the implicite suggestion of ‘to shine’ does not exist when the text
says to praise. In other words, in Indo-Europeian languages there
is no derivative connection between to praise (Bul. )
and to shine (Bul.  ) while in He-
brew in both cases we read and write ll;x[halàl].
In English and in Bulgarian the word psalm () has no
association and no logical connection evolved from the deriva-
tive relationship to light and to shining. The data from TWOT
in BibleWorks98 shows clearly that the situation is the opposite
in Hebrew, i.e. when we say praise hL”hiT. [tehilà] or the book of
Psalms ~yLIhiT. [tehilìm], it implies to shine ll:h“ [halàl]:
ll:h“ (h¹lal) I. shine.
lleyhe (hêl¢l) Helel. This proper name is a hapax legomenon describ-
ing the King of Babylon (Isa 14:12). L.J.C. (N.A., M.A. - actually the
proper name is pronounced [ilel]).
ll:h“ (h¹lal) II. praise, boast (only in Piel, Pual and Hithpael).
lWLhi (hillûl) rejoicing, praise.
ll’h]m; (mah¦l¹l) praise.
hL’hiT.. (t®hillâ) praise.
Our root occurs 206 times. (TWOT)
1.2. Verbs
– To ash forth ll:h‘ [halàl] (Bul.) ( Job 41:10/18);
to give/to ash forth WLhey“ [iahelù] their light (~r’Aa) (Job 29:3; 31:26;
Isaiah 13:10) Most of the uses of the verb are in the context of
comparison between the monotheistic God and mythological
creatures – the Leviathan, the sun and the moon as pagan sym-
bols. In Isaiah 13:10 English and Bulgarian need an aproximate
description (give/ash forth and the Bulgarian equivalent of to
give –.) to deliver the original sense. Only 
2001 resolves the problem with a semantically close verb –
(radiate). This Bulgarian verb does not contain the
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
semantic feature ‘light’ while the Hebrew WLhey“ [iahelù] neces-
sarily includes ‘light’ in its semantics. The situation varies in
other Indo-European languages: LXX dw,sousin; VUL expand-
ent; IEP brillare; BFC scintiller; RST ; BTP jaĞniały and
BKR svítiti are equivalents of to shine.
– The verb lLeh;l. [lehalèl] is innitive form and is translated in a
variety of ways: to sing praise; leading the praise; leading in the
celebration (Bul.  ;; 
; ). The Russian text prefers
 (2 Chronicles 23:13).
Non-standatrd meanings: Wll.Aht.yI [itholelù] – shall rage/race
madly/rage; Bul. , , ; but not
to shine (Nahum 2:5); in Psalm 75:4/5 the verb WLhoT‘ [taholù]
is translated as foolishly; boast; deal boastfully; transgress (Bul.
 ;  ; ).The other In-
do-European translations present a large variety – d’arrogance;
d’insolence; glories etc.
1.3. The proper name Hilel lleyhe – Lucifer
Isaiah 14:12 tells us about the king of Babylon lleyhe [ilèl],
which is a derivate from the root He-Lamed-Lamed llh. The name
is related to the verb to shine ll:h“ [halàl]. Some translations (KJV)
use the proper name Lucifer to transmit the Semitic proper name
lleyhe [ilèl]. Others use loan translation and the result is star of the
morning (NAU). The Bulgarian word  means exactly star
of the morning. The other Bulgarian version is , lit.
Shining star; the Septuagint’s e`wsfo,roj is morning star. The BTP
JaĞniejący is a Slavic word which is a loan translation of Lucifer;
Vulgata – the common name lucifer; IEP – astro del mattino; BFC
l’astre brillant; TOB – Astre brillant; FIN – kointähti; EST –hom-
mikutäht.
Helel lleyhe [ilèl] is a popular Semitic proper name but it is also
symbolical according to the Biblical principle “such as the man
 Mony Almalech
– such is the name”, e.g. Jacob becomes Israel, and vise versa:
“the name creates the man as the name is”. Obviously the idea
of the “fallen Lucifer” ts into this ancient logic. In Isaiah 14:12
the symbolism is directed towards the fallen angel: “How you are
fallen from heaven, O Lucifer” recalls to the fallen angel Lucifer.
One more argument for the angelic symbolism is the second part
of the verse – “How you are cut down to the ground, You who
weakened the nations!”.
1.4. Halleluyah
The Hebrew sentence “Praise God” Hy” Wll.h; [halelù iàh] is very
popular in Christianity in the form of one word – “Hallelujah”.
Actually Wll.h; [halelù] is an imperative form of the verb ll:h” [ha-
làl]. “Praise God” Hy” Wll.h; [halelù iàh] appears 35 times in the Old
Testament. Wikipedia presents objective and good quality infor-
mation in the article Hallelujah:
Hallelujah, Halleluyah and the Latin form Alleluia are transliterations of
the Hebrew word Hy”Wll.h;; meaning “Praise Yah”.
(Wikipedia)
The article on “Hallelujah” in the Macmillan Dictionary and The-
saurus is meaningful for those who are not familiar with the role
and place of the psalm and the ‘psalm-worship’ relation. (Hallelu-
jah in MD) What is missing is the connection of Hallelujah to the
emission of light. Especially in the context of the fact that there
are 22 dierent Hebrew roots, which denote, in fact, 22 kinds of
light, see Almalech, 2010.
For the linguistic consciousness of an educated and sensiti-
ve Hebrew reader hallelujah implies radiating light. For an une-
ducated and insensitive Hebrew reader the word-derivative
relation ‘light-hallelujah’ works at the level of linguistic subcon-
sciousness.
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
1.5. Translation of words derived from He-Lamed-Lamed llh
The examination of the root He-Lamed-Lamed llh shows that in
the Hebrew text there are more than 300 uses of the derivates from
this root. These appearances of the root are cognitively related to
macrolight white, despite the fact that most of the words do not
explicitely designate shine. The cognitive presence includes all cases
when, in English, we have to praise, rejoicing, praise, psalms or even to
boast. All 300 uses of the derivates of He-Lamed-Lamed llh appear
to be Hebrew associations of the transformations of the concept
of light denoted by He-Lamed-Lamed llh. They work at the Hebrew
linguistic conscious and subconscious levels. Such derivative mo-
tivated associations do not exist in the Indo-European languages.
1.6.Data on the root Het-Lamed-Lamed llx from Bible Works 98
According to TWOT, the semantics of the root Het-Lamed-
Lamed llx is:
ll;x‘ (μ¹lal) I. wound (fatally), bore through, pierce.
ll’x‘ (μ¹l¹l) slain, fatally wounded.
hL’x; (μallâ) cake (if pierced).
!ALx; (μallôn) window.
lylix’ (μ¹lîl) ute, pipe.
ll;x’ (μ¹lal) play the pipe.
hL’xim. (m®μillâ) hole.
ll;x(μ¹ll) II. 1. profane, dele, pollute, desecrate; 2. begin (Hiphil only).
hL’xiT.. (t®μillâ) beginning, rst.
lxo (μœl) profaneness, commonness.
ll’x’ (μ¹l¹l) profaned, dishonoured, unhallowed.
hl’ylix’ (μ¹lîlâ) far be it (from me etc.), God forbid that emphatic sub-
stantive used as negative particle or interjection. (TWOT)
There is a strong level of phonetic and spelling closeness be-
tween ll:h” [halàl] and ll:x” [halàl], but on the level of semantics
the verbs ll:h” [halàl] and ll:x” [halàl] are antonyms:
 Mony Almalech
‘to praise the God of Israel ll:h“ [halàl]’ vs. ‘to profane God of Israel
ll:x” [halàl]’;
‘to praise the God of Israel ll:h“ [halàl]’ vs. ‘to desecrate the God of
Israel ll:x“ [halàl]’;
‘to shine ll:h“ [halàl]’ vs. ‘to pollute ll:x” [halàl]’
The meanings of the verb in Paal ll:x” [halàl] are wound (fa-
tally), bore through, pierce (Bul. ; ).
The meanings of the verb in Piel llExI [hilèl] are profane, dele, pol-
lute, desecrate; (Bul. , , ),
related to the profanisation of the contract with God.
1.7. Conclusions.
The relationships between the roots He-Lamed-Lamed llh and
Het-Lamed-Lame llx as well as the conclusions are mine. They can
be perceived as a hypothesis.
Classical knowledge on the essence of the psalm comprises the
following: being sincerely and deeply thankful for and/or satis-
ed in lauding a superior quality(ies) or great act(s) of the object;
delight and rejoicing. The psalm reects very important personal
feelings and, in addition it was especially uniquely congregational;
the strong relationship between praise and intellectual content.
Out of this classical knowledge on the essence of the psalm
some new ndings have emerged.
Dierent features of the psalm are pointed out by root seman-
tics analysis:
The root He-Lamed-Lamed llh marks the direction ‘from man
to God’, i.e. the semiotic axis ‘from below upwards’.
The psalm should be a transformation of the idea of light but
not an act of desecrating the God.
The signicance of the Hebrew praise/psalm of God is an as-
sociative fact of root semantics of He-Lamed-Lamed llh where the
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
psalm is a derivate of shine and vice versa. The psalm in Hebrew
linguistic presentation/categorization of the world should be a
leakage of light in the form of spiritual shining. All of 57 Hebrew
uses of praise hL”hiT. [tehilà] carry the semantic clue ‘shine’ in He-
brew, missing in Bulgarian, English, Estonian and other texts.
Of course such radiating of moral purity is possible only if
the behaviour of the psalm singer before the psalmody and the
prayer is clean and immaculate.
The signicance of the Hebrew-specic fact is that every
praise of God should be a leakage of light in the form of shining.
This Hebrew regulation disappears in the Indo-European and in
the Finno-Ugric texts of the Bible because of the interlinguistic
dissymmetry.
TWOT aptly indicates that the psalm, as an activity and as a
state, is not only a joyful and ecstatic emotion but also “the strong
relationship between praise and intellectual content”. It is widely
acknowledged that psalmody is an intimate contact between the
individual and God.
Now it should be stated clearly that the intimate conversation
and turning to God is impossible without the element ‘shine’ (‘ra-
diating strong light’) which is the result of moral, spiritual andbe-
havioral purity. All this is despite the burden of the Primeordial
sin. In Hebrew, every time praise and psalm are given when via the
word hL”hiT.. [tehilà], in an associative way the idea of ‘shining’ and
‘giving light’ is expressed.
In Biblical and Modern Hebrew there is a paronymic relation
between the roots He-Lamed-Lamed llh and Het-Lamed-Lamed llx.
The resemblance is on the formal level – a phonetic and ortho-
graphical similarity based on the sound h and its allophones– the
short [h] h and the non-short [h] x. There is a semantic opposition
under the similarity of the form. At the same time, the slight dif-
ference between He-Lamed-Lamed llh and Het-Lamed-Lamed llx
is essentially the dierence between He h and Het x, i.e. the dier-
ence between the short [h] h and the non-short [h] x.
 Mony Almalech
The phonetical similarity and the semantic dierence between
the two roots could be interpreted as ‘danger and warning to ev-
ery human person that if the praise of God is legalistic, not clean
enough as the light is, the praise may become a profane, a dele,
polluted, desecrated act’. Thus, if the short h h from shine, praise
ll:h“ [halàl] turns into the non-short h x (this is not hard at all),
shine and praise turn into profane, dele, pollute, desecrate ll:x” [halàl]
God.
In that way the praise and the light could be transformed to
profane; the shining light disappears and an important mechanism
of the transformation of the idea of light (the psalm) could disap-
pear from the human life and acts.
– In the terms of linguistic relativity, the Hebrew linguistic pre-
sentation of the world is untranslateable into languages of dif-
ferent families.
– In terms of Lotman’s Semiosphere, the Hebrew phonetic simila-
rity stays out of the semiosphere organized by Indo-European
and the Finno-Ugric languages. The Hebrew language based
wisdom that ‘when one sings psalms it is presumptive that he
should be clean and radiate light’ also stays behind the border
of the Indo-European and the Finno-Ugric semiosphere, and
had never been absorbed in any way.
– Under the similarity of the form (He-Lamed-Lamed llh vs. Het-
Lamed-Lamed llx) there is a Hebrew semantic opposition and
warning: In Hebrew the boundary between to shine; to praise
and to profane, dele, pollute, desecrate, to wound, to kill is very
thin – just as the boundary between the short [h] and the non-
short [h]. This warning is not passed into the Indo-European
and the Finno-Ugric texts the way it is in Hebrew due to of the
interlinguistic dissymmetry.
– Worship with psalms bears a very specic Hebrew linguistic
representation of the moral warning which remained hidden
for centuries but is now revealed.
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
2. Psalms and the blue color
2.1. The blue color and another letter, Haf k, for the non short [h].
The biblical term for the color blue is tl,keT. [tehèlet] and it is
phonetically close to psalms ~yLIhiT. [tehilìm].
The letter Kaf k is used in cases where the non short[h] chan-
ges in derivative words to [k], e.g. king $l<m< [mèleh], kingdom tWKlm;
[malkùt]. The letter refers to the non short[h] and to [k]. That is
why we call the letter Kaf/Haf. If the letter Kaf/Haf K/k is the
last letter in the word, then it is called Kaf Sot and is written in
another way – &/$. This does not change of the letter’s referent.
Theoretically, there is a dierence between the Het x and Haf k
but practically the referent of the letters is non short [h].
2.2. The blue color and the commandment from Numbers 15:38-40.
The color blue tl,keT. [tehèlet] is a part of the sacred four color
unit, which is an obligatory part of the interiors of the tabernacle
and the rst temple. Blue has a special role in the 613 command-
ments:
38 Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for them-
selves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their genera-
tions, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.
39 It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the command-
ments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart
and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 40 so that you may
remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.
(NAU Numbers 15:38-40)
Ben Zion Bokser gives an example of the importance of this
commandment in the post Talmudic era:
Through the commandment of the fringes, declared Rabbi Ahai Gaon,
the children of Israel are given the means of seeing God “at every
 Mony Almalech
hour,” thereby freeing them from the limitation pronounced in Exod.
33.20, that “man cannot see Me and live.”
(Bokser 1963, p. 30)
The hue should be produced by marine animals but never
from plants.
Another element of special interest in the color blue was the delicacy
of the operation by which the blue dye was prepared. It was extracted
from a species of shellsh, called in the Talmud halazon, and found on
the coast of the Mediterranean. The halazon was apparently the murex.
Tyre was the center of the dye industry and coins minted in Tyre carry
frequently the decoration of a murex shell.
(Bokser 1963, p. 2)
In Rome purple was the favorite dye, and it was also made from the
murex. The continued decline of the Mediterranean world which fol-
lowed the Islamic conquests in the seventh century destroyed the mol-
lusc based dye industry and the thread of blue nally fell into obsole-
scence.The disappearance of the thread of blue did not put an end to
speculations on the subject.
(Bokser 1963, 29-30)
2.3. The root of Biblical blue tl,keT. [tehèlet]
There is no agreement on therootof the word. One hypoth-
esis is that the root comes from tl,kev. [šhèlet] which means oniha
– marine mollusk (murex, shell sh), which is an ingredient of
incense, made only for the Lord. Another hypothesis connects
tl,keT. [tehèlet] to the root Kaf-Lamed-He hlK because of the words
tylIkT; [tahlìt] (perfection, comletion) and tl,keAT [tohèlet] (hope, ex-
pectation).
2.4. The color blue, the sapphire of Chariot of God and their interpretation.
Scholars agree that Jewish tradition (Josephus, Rabbi Meir
in Talmud, the Zohar) permanently associates tl,keT. [tehèlet] at
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
Numbers 15:38-40 to the divine level and to the mystical and ma-
gic powers of the sapphire of the Chariot of God (Exodus 24:10;
Ezekiel 1:22-26).
and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to
be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.
(NAU Exodus 24:10)
And above the rmament over their heads there was the likeness of a
throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a
throne was a likeness as it were of a human form.
(RSV Ezekiel 1:26)
Then I looked, and behold, in the expanse that was over the heads of
the cherubim something like a sapphire stone, in appearance resem-
bling a throne, appeared above them.
(NAU Ezekiel 10:1)
Bokser connects the meanings of the color blue with the pro-
totypes of blue long before the theory of prototypes (Eleonor
Rosch, 1976 et al) appeared.
Apart from its intrinsic aesthetic appeal as a color, blue carries an added
interest; it resembles the color of the sea and the sky. In all cultures of
antiquity the sky is conceived as the special abode of the deity, and this
led to a closer association of the color blue with the deity. The thread
of blue was, in other words, a link with the deity, and, gazing on the
blue, one was really, by a chain of associations, gazing on the divine.
(Bokser 1963, p. 1)
The same is in Talmudic speculations:
Rabbi Meir’s statement is: “Why was the color blue singled out from
all other colors? Because blue resembles the sea and the sea resembles
the sky and the sky resembles the throne of divine glory.”
(Bokser 1963, p. 3)
 Mony Almalech
Bokser’s analyses leads to important conclusions which sup-
port my hypothesis:
The thread of blue was, in other words, a link with the deity, and, ga-
zing on the blue, one was really, by a chain of associations, gazing on
the divine. … The law of the fringe has now gone through a radical
transformation. Its essence is not in the fringe itself but in the thread
of blue which, by a series of associations, is said to oer man the very
greatest prize of the religious life, admission to God’s presence. The-
re are four elements in the chain of associations through which the
color blue becomes a reminder of the “throne of divine glory,” the
blue thread, the sea, the sky, and the divine throne. The link between
the thread, the sky, and the divine throne is understandably important.
… The resemblance between sea and sky was a demonstration of the
link between the earthly and the heavenly and the blue fringe was a
precious carrier of this mystery.
(Bokser 1963, p. 4-5)
For details and bibliography on biblical blue color, the sapphire
of the Chariots of God and their interpretation, see Almalech
2010, 372-410, Bokser 1963, Scholem 1979.
2.5. Conclusions.
The relationship between psalms, the blue color and the
sapphire from Chariot of God as well as the conclusions, are
mine. They can be perceived as a hypothesis.
Genuine achievement of the light through psalms is a very dif-
cult action, but the psalm still remains one of the easiest ways
of access to the macro light blue (sapphire) of the Throne of the
Lord.
Vise versa – Numbers 15:38-40 commandment to meditate on
the blue color tl,keT. [tehèlet] of tassels (during the worshiping in
the Temple) helps to obey the commandments and to accomplish
the state of emission of spiritual light when singing psalms ~yLIhiT.
[tehilìm].
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
The blue color tl,keT. [tehèlet] helps to avoid desecrating (ll;x’
[halàl]) God and to achieve the state of radiating spiritual light
(ll;h’ [halàl]) in singing psalms ~yLIhiT. [tehilìm].
3. General Conclusions.
The Hebrew language and alphabet possess a complex system
of concepts that promote logical thinking. This system has cogni-
tive aspects such as the Hebrew wordview, dierent spelling of
similar phonemes, the notion and vision of color. A remarkable
feature of this system is the hermeneutic aspect held by language
and spelling which works at the level of linguistic consciousness
and subconsciousness.
The name of the book of Psalms ~yLIhiT. [tehilìm] is just an
example of the sophisticated mental systems existing in the He-
brew text of the Old Testament which are untranslatable into
Indo-European and Finno-Ugric languages.
Bibliographic references.
Almalech M. (1996), Balkan Folk Color Language. Signicance of Col-
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——— (2001),   :  
 .   .
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——— (2002), - : 
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——— (2006 ),     -
 (,  ).
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Abbreviations.
 (1940): !!
". #$
, , , 1924,
The Bible League, South Holland, IL 60473, , PICORP,
1995.
 (1992): !
#", . -
, , 1991.
 (2001):   !  
!". !, 
$. %$

$     ,
&'(, !
)$!-*$, $$
1871 . #.
, , 2000, ”. -
. , 2001, ”.
 (2002): !!
". #$.
What Does “Psalm” Mean in Hebrew?
  $   
 — UBS. , 2002
BibleWorks98 – BibleWorks4, Copyright © 1998 BibleWorks, LLC.
P.O. Box 6158Norfolk, VA 23508.
BFC – French Bible «en français courant», édition révisée, 1997,
Société biblique française.
BHS – Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, fourth corrected edition,
ed. K. Elliger and W. Rudoph, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft,
Stuttgart, 1990.
BKR – Czech Bible Kralická. Bible svatá aneb všechna písma Starého
i Nového zákona podle posledního vydání Kralického zroku
1613.
BTP – The Polish Millennium Bible 1984, 4th Ed.: Polish Biblia Tysia-
clecia, Wydawnictwo Pallottinum, Poznan.
DRB – The French Version Darby 1885, Bible et Publications Chre-
tiennes, Valence, France, 1991.
EB – Encyclopedia Britanica, http://www.britannica.com/ July
2011.
EST – Estonian Bible, from the program Bible-Discovery.
FIN – The Finnish Pyhä Raamattu 1933/1938 käännös (FIN), Vanha
Testamentti XI 1933 / Uusi Testamentti XII 1938 taken with
permission from Online Bible as published in 1993 by Stichting
Publishare, The Netherlands.
IEP – The Italian Nuovissima Versione della Bibbia (NVB), San Paolo
Edizione. San Paolo Edizione, Roma Italia, 1995-1996.
KJV – King James Version, 1769 Blayney Edition of the 1611 King
James Version of the English Bible.
LSG – The French Louis Segond Version 1910 Copyright by the Onli-
ne Bible Foundation and Woodside Fellowship of Ontario, Ca-
nada, 1988-1997.
LXX – Septuaginta, ed. A. Rahlfs. Württembergische Bibelanstalt
/ Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, 1935.
MD – Macmillan Dictionary and Thesaurus: Free English Dictiona-
ry Online. July 2011.
 Mony Almalech
NKJ – The New King James Version, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 501
Nelson Place, Nashville, Tennessee.
NAU – The New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1986 by The
Lockman Foundation.
NRS – The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright
1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of
America.
RST – The Russian Synodal Text of the Bible (Orthodox Synodal
Edition 1917).
TOB – French Traduction œcuménique de la Bible, édition à notes
essentielles, Copyright © 1988, Société biblique française &
éditions du Cerf.
TWOT – The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, by R. Lai-
rd Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, originally
published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois, 1980.
VUL – Biblia Sacra Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem, edited by R. Weber,
B. Fischer, J. Gribomont, H.F.D. Sparks, and W. Thiele [at Beu-
ron and Tuebingen] by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German
Bible Society), Stuttgart, 1969, 1975, 1983.
Mony Almalech
New Bulgarian University
... Both types of terms are examined systematically in all of my books on colour in the Bible (Almalech, 2010(Almalech, , 2013(Almalech, , 2014. And what is more, non-basic colour terms have been analyzed in a number of publications (Almalech, 2011b(Almalech, , 2012a(Almalech, , 2012b(Almalech, , 2012c(Almalech, , 2013(Almalech, , 2014. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study contains a brief overview and comments on some basic texts on the semiotics and semantics of colour. It presents my view on the basic semiotic status of colour as a communication system and on the grammar features of colour language.
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The article presents a new and complex approach to colors in the Bible. The demonstration of the method requires defining the distinction between verbal and visual color as feasible sign systems. No such distinction has been made up to now. This method serves one major goal: a better understanding of ‎biblical texts originally given in Hebrew, with a focus on hermeneutics. A subsidiary ‎aim is the disclosure of the various structures of color presence in biblical ‎texts. This also involves a detailed semiotics of color, including a complex ‎method based on both the achievements of other scholars and a specific ‎proposal to treat colors as a language, as a sign system. The semiotics of ‎color in the Bible includes four principal areas: color as a sign in general, ‎color semiotics in the Bible and their specificities in both Hebrew and ‎translations in different languages. As a case study, the article focuses on ‎one verse, Song 1:5, treated as a “semiotic iceberg,” i.e., a structure with a ‎visible semantic level supported by “submerged” or less apparent ones.¹ ‎Presenting this method cannot be short and simple because, on the one hand, ‎it is complex, holistic and interdisciplinary, and on the other, there are many ‎novelties in the analysis, including new terms and hypotheses that we must ‎connect with existing terminology in color research. As such, we provide ‎clarification for a number of terms, such as verbal and visual colors as signs, ‎color language and color speech, semio-osmosis, color as a cultural unit, the ‎inner form of the word, mega-color, basic color terms (BCT), prototype ‎Terms (PT), rivals for prototypes (RT) and basic features of prototypes ‎‎(BFPT).
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This paper argues that color concepts are anchored in certain “universals of human experience”, and that these universals can be identified, roughly speaking, as day and night, fire, the sun, vegetation, the sky, and the ground. Although our color sensations occur in our brains, not in the world outside, and their nature is probably determined to a large extent by our human biology ( which links us, in some measure, with other primates), to be able to communicate about these sensations, we project them onto something in our shared environment. Kay and McDaniel (1978: 621) have claimed that the semantics of basic color terms in all languages directly reflects the existence of pan-human neural response categories. But how can language be directly” linked to neural responses? Language reflects conceptualizations, not the “neural representation of color … in the pathways between the eye and brain” (Kay and McDaniel 1978: 617). The link between the neural representation of color and the linguistic representation of color can only be indirect. The way leads via concepts. Sense data are “private” (even if they are rooted in pan-human neural responses), whereas concepts can be shared. To be able to talk with others about one's private sense data one must be able to translate them first into communicable concepts. This paper argues, then, against the current accounts of color semantics such as those proposed by Kay and McDaniel (1978) or by Rosch (1972); and it proposes a new interpretation of the evolutionary sequence discovered by Berlin and Kay (1969).
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Specific physiological perception mechanisms account for some of the regularities associated with the lexical encoding of basic color terms described by Berlin and Kay (1969). This paper, however, focuses upon those regularities explained through reference to certain general principles of naming-behavior which are also pertinent to domains other than color. [cognitive anthropology, folk classification, language change, language universale, naming-behavior]
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Conducted 9 experiments with a total of 663 undergraduates using the technique of priming to study the nature of the cognitive representation generated by superordinate semantic category names. In Exp I, norms for the internal structure of 10 categories were collected. In Exps II, III, and IV, internal structure was found to affect the perceptual encoding of physically identical pairs of stimuli, facilitating responses to physically identical good members and hindering responses to identical poor members of a category. Exps V and VI showed that the category name did not generate a physical code (e.g., lines or angles), but rather affected perception of the stimuli at the level of meaning. Exps VII and VIII showed that while the representation of the category name which affected perception contained a depth meaning common to words and pictures which enabled Ss to prepare for either stimulus form within 700 msec, selective reduction of the interval between prime and stimulus below 700 msec revealed differentiation of the coding of meaning in preparation for actual perception. Exp IX suggested that good examples of semantic categories are not physiologically determined, as the effects of the internal structure of semantic categories on priming (unlike the effects for color categories) could be eliminated by long practice. (57 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Used the technique of priming to study the nature of the mental representations generated by color names. The logic of the technique is that a prime can only facilitate a response if it contains some of the information needed for the response. The name of a basic color category, in primed trials, and the word blank, in unprimed trials, were presented to Ss in advance of a pair of colors. 6 experiments were conducted, employing a total of 190 undergraduates. In Exps I and III, it was found that for responses of same to physically identical colors, a prime presented 2 sec in advance of a color pair facilitated responses to good and inhibited responses to poor members of basic color categories. In other experiments the amount of practice and the interval of time between the prime and presentation of the stimulus were varied. It is concluded that the cognitive representation of color categories contains information used in encoding physical color stimuli and that the representation reflects the prototype structure of color categories. (34 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
— : . , ( " Suggestions for Color in the Pentateuch and National Mentality. On Hebrew, Bulgarian, and Other Languages
——— (2004 a), . (, .). — :., ( " Suggestions for Color in the Pentateuch and National Mentality. On Hebrew, Bulgarian, and Other Languages ", in Stefana Dimitrova (ed.) Language and Mentality, Military Publishing House, Sofia, 141-250).