Occurs 7 times in the King James Version: Genesis 18:6; Psalms 102:3; Isaiah 30:14; Jeremiah 36:22,23 bis; Zechariah 12:6; 4 times in the Revised Version: Leviticus 6:9; Isaiah 30:14; Ezekiel 43:15,16 ("altar hearth"); compare also Isaiah 29:1 the Revised Version margin. It will be noted that the renderings of the two versions agree in only one passage (Isaiah 30:14).
(1) The hearth in case of a tent was nothing more than a depression in the ground in which fire was kindled for cooking or for warmth. Cakes were baked, after the fashion of Genesis 18:6, in the ashes or upon hot stones. In this passage, however, there is nothing in the Hebrew corresponding to the King James Version "on the hearth." In the poorer class of houses also the hearth consisted of such a depression, of varying dimensions, in the middle or in one corner of the room. There was no chimney for the smoke, which escaped as it could, or through a latticed opening for the purpose (the "chimney" of Hosea 13:3). While the nature of the hearth is thus clear enough, more or less uncertainty attaches to specific terms used in the Hebrew. In Isaiah 30:14 the expression means simply "that which is kindled," referring to the bed of live coals. From this same verb (yaqadh, "be kindled") are formed the nouns moqedh (Psalms 102:3 (Hebrew 4)) and moqkedhah (Leviticus 6:9)) which might, according to their formation, mean either the material kindled or the place where a fire is kindled. Hence, the various renderings, "firebrand," "hearth," etc. Moreover, in Leviticus 6:9 (2) the termination -ah of moqedhah may be taken as the pronominal suffix, "its"; hence, the Revised Version margin "on its firewood."
(2) Two other terms have reference to heating in the better class of houses. In Jeremiah 36:22,23 the word ('ach) means a "brazier" of burning coals, with which Jehoiakim's "winter house" was heated. The same purpose was served by the "pan (kiyyor) of fire" of Zechariah 12:6 the Revised Version (British and American), apparently a wide, shallow vessel otherwise used for cooking (1 Samuel 2:14, English Versions of the Bible "pan"), or as a wash basin (compare Exodus 30:18; 1 Kings 7:38, etc., "laver").
(3) Another class of passages is referred to the signification "altar hearth," which seems to have been a term applied to the top of the altar of burnt offering. The moqedhah of Leviticus 6:9 (2), though related by derivation to the words discussed under (1) above, belongs here (compare also Ecclesiasticus 50:12, "by the hearth of the altar," par' eschara bomou). Again in Ezekiel's description of the altar of the restored temple (43:15,16), he designates the top of the altar by a special term (the Revised Version margin, ariel), which is by most understood to mean "altar hearth" (so the Revised Version (British and American)). With this may be compared the symbolical name given to Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:1), and variously explained as "lion (or lioness) of God," or "hearth of God."
Benjamin Reno Downer
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