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Palm (Of The Hand)

PALM (OF THE HAND)

pam (kaph):

The Hebrew word which is used in a variety of senses (see HAND; PAW) is usually translated "hand" in English Versions of the Bible, but the translation "palm" is found in 5 passages of the Old Testament, in 3 of which the Hebrew text adds the word yadh ("hand," 1 Samuel 5:4; 2 Kings 9:35; Daniel 10:10). It would properly mean the "hollow hand" (root kaphaph, "to bend," "to curve"), which receives or grasps things. It is therefore used in reference to filling the priest's hands with sacrificial portions (Leviticus 14:15,26). The palms of the hands of Dagon are mentioned as cut off, when the idol was found mutilated in the presence of the ark of Yahweh (1 Samuel 5:4), from which may be inferred that this idol probably was represented with hands spread out in blessing, as we find in numerous Babylonian representations of divinities.

In a beautiful metaphor God answers the repentant people of Jerusalem, who thought Yahweh had forgotten and forsaken them:

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16; see also Ecclesiasticus 18:3). Daniel is touched upon the palms of his hands to wake him from sleep (Daniel 10:10).

In the New Testament we find the phrase, "to smite with the palms of the hands," as a translation of the Greek verb rhapizo (Matthew 26:67; see also 5:39 and Septuagint Hosea 11:4; 1 Esdras 4:30), and, derived from the same verb, rhapisma, a blow of the palm on the cheek, etc. (Mark 14:65; John 18:22; 19:3, where, however, in English Versions of the Bible the word "palm" has not been given). The marginal translation "to smite or strike with rods" (Matthew 26:67; John 18:22; 19:3) and "strokes of rods" (Mark 14:65 margin) does not seem to be applicable to the Greek text of the Old Testament and New Testament, while it is a frequent meaning of the words in classical language. It would therefore be better to eliminate these marginal additions.

H. L. E. Luering


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'PALM (OF THE HAND)'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.