ne nel ("knee," berekh; Aramaic 'arekhubbah; gonu; "kneel"; barakh; Aramaic berakh; gonupeto):
Most of the uses are obvious, and the figurative use of "knees" as the symbol of strength (Job 4:4; Hebrews 12:12, etc.) needs no explanation. The disease of the knees mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:35 is perhaps some form of leprosy. In Job 3:12 the "knees" seem to be used for the lap, as the place where a child receives its first care. Three times in Ge the knees appear in connection with primitive adoption customs. In 30:3 a fiction is enacted that purports to represent Rachel as the actual mother of Bilhah's children. By a somewhat similar rite in 48:12, Jacob (the "knees" here are Jacob's, not Joseph's) adopts Ephraim and Manasseh, so that they are counted as two of the twelve patriarchs and not as members of a single Joseph tribe. In the same way Machir's children are adopted by Joseph in 50:23, and this is certainly connected with the counting of Machir (instead of Manasseh) as one of the tribes in Judges 5:14. See TRIBE; and for the idea underlying this paternal adoption, compare THIGH. From among classical instances of the same customs compare Homer, Odyssey, xix. 401, where Autolukos, grandfather of Ulysses, receives the newborn grandchild on his knees and gives him his name. Thus also we have to understand the numerous representations in Egyptian sculpture, showing the king as an infant on the knees or the lap of a goddess.
Kneeling was less commonly an attitude of prayer among the Jews than was standing, but references to kneeling are of course abundant. For kneeling (or prostrating one's self) before a superior, see ATTITUDES, 2; SALUTATION.
Burton Scott Easton
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