Gazing into a Hebrew Root

Above is a photo of Isaiah 1:1 from the Dead Sea Scrolls. I’m having fun with Isaiah 1:1 in Hebrew.  The JPS or KJV says:

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz,
which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem,
in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

חזון ישעיהו בן־אמוץ אשר חזה על־יהודה וירושלם בימי עזיהו יותם אחז יחזקיהו מלכי יהודה׃

Vision” in Hebrew is Xhazon–it begins with that sound that you use to clear your throat, like in Bach.  You can actually see the word on the parchment above.  It’s the very first word.  Don’t you feel very cool right now?  You can read some of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  (Remember to read Hebrew from right to left).

Now Isaiah just didn’t see.  There is a regular verb in Hebrew for “to see” which is ra-ah. The name Rueben uses it.  Rueben means “See!  a son!”  You use this verb if you are looking around, seeing stuff.  But Isaiah didn’t use this verb.  He used a verb that comes from the Hebrew word for vision–xhazah!  I like the sound of that word–it sounds like you found something–ha-Hah!!!

Like many Hebrew words, xhazah has a spectrum of meaning that I’m just learning about.  That’s the fun of learning Hebrew words–the more you learn, the more you need to learn.  Xhazah can mean to gaze.  Could English have evolved its word from the Hebrew?  After all, gaze and xhazah are not that far apart.

When you xhazah, you are seeing beyond the physical.  This is how prophets see.  You are perceiving, going beyond a quick glance. For instance, perhaps you saw someone yesterday, but you perceived they were sad.

Anyway, it’s an interesting word to study.  Whoever wrote Isaiah on the parchment–did he have a vision that some day, 2,000 years later, people would be reading what he wrote?  Maybe 2,000 years from now, someone will be reading this blog.  If so, I speak to that someone:  I hope you have a xhazon!


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