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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Hebrew word: אנה
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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary

אנה

There are three roots of the form אנה ('nh), which formally have nothing to do with each other, but which, to the poetic eye, may all relate a kind of supply-and-demand:


אנה I

The root אנה ('ana I) is a bit of a strange one. It's commonly understood to mean to mourn, but it occurs so infrequently in the Bible (where so much mourning and lamenting goes on) that it quite possibly denotes a special form of lamentation, the nature of which can now only be guessed at.

As verb, אנה ('ana I) occurs a mere two times: In Isaiah 3:26 the prophet predicts that the gates of the daughters of Zion will mourn (אנה, 'ana) and lament (אבל, 'abel), and in 19:8 he says that fishermen will mourn (אנה, 'ana) and net-casters will be feeble (אמל, 'amal).

This verb has two derivatives, namely the feminine nouns אניה ('aniya) and תאניה (ta'aniya), which both mean mourning (albeit the latter as more intense or complete) and which only occur in the construct תאניה ואניה, meaning something like: a mourning of great mourning (Isaiah 29:2 and Lamentations 2:5 only).

Note the loose similarity with the fortified particle on entreaty אנא ('anna'), meaning "ah, now!" or "we beseech thee!"

אנה II

The root אנה ('ana II) isn't used as verb in the Bible, but in Assyrian it occurs yielding nouns that have to do with vessels and utensils. In Hebrew the derived nouns have to do with ships:

  • The masculine noun אני ('oni), meaning fleet (1 Kings 9:26-10:22, Isaiah 33:21).
  • The feminine noun אניה ('oniya), meaning ship (Deuteronomy 28:68, Jonah 1:3, Psalm 104:26). The fleet of Israel was mostly Phoenician, but ships are mentioned as early in the narrative as Genesis 49:13, where Jacob assigns Zebulun the northern coast of Canaan, where Israel would border Phoenicia. Another word for ship is צי (si I).
אנה III

The root-verb אנה ('ana III) means to be opportune or to encounter opportunely; to happen upon someone in such a way that it yields an opportunity to do more than just meet (and that mostly in a negative way, like, say, start a quarrel or beat someone up). It occurs only four times in the Bible: Exodus 21:13, Psalm 91:10, Proverbs 12:21 and 2 Kings 5:7. Its derivatives are:

  • The feminine noun תאנה (ta'ana), meaning occasion or opportune moment (Jeremiah 2:24 only).
  • The virtually identical feminine noun תאנה (to'ana), also meaning occasion or opportune moment (Judges 14:4 only).

Note that even in English there exists an intuitive connection between ships and opportunity (which is a noun that derives from the noun port).


Associated Biblical names

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