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

חלק

There are two roots of the form חלק (hlq), which don't seem to have anything to do with each other, but the similarity didn't escape the Hebrew poets. The prophet Isaiah writes בחלקי־נחל חלקך, which uses both roots and possibly literally means: among the smooth things of the torrent is your portion, and figuratively: you habitually wheedle (Isaiah 57:6).


חלק I

The verb חלק (halaq I) means to divide, share or apportion, and the emphasis appears to lie on the assigning of a part of something divided, rather than the actual dividing. Out verb is most often used of assigning parcels of land, via lot (Numbers 26:53), or inheritance (Proverbs 17:2), but also of assigning parts of food (2 Samuel 6:19), clothing (Psalm 22:18), spoils (Proverbs 16:19), duties (1 Chronicles 23:6) and even of establishing cooperating military contingents (Genesis 14:15) or opposed factions (1 Kings 16:21). This verb comes with the following derivations:

  • The masculine noun חלק (heleq), meaning portion (Genesis 14:24), or tract of land (Joshua 19:9), or reward (Job 31:2). It may even be used to indicate one's mode of life (Psalm 50:18, Isaiah 57:6). Note that this word is identical to the noun חלק (heleq), meaning smoothness or seductiveness of speech (see below).
  • The feminine noun חלקה (helqa), which is the equivalent of the previous noun but solely used to mean field (Genesis 33:19, 2 Samuel 23:11, Amos 4:7). Note that this word is identical to the noun חלקה (helqa), meaning smoothness (see below).
  • The feminine noun חלקה (haluqqa), meaning part or portion. This noun is perhaps the same as the previous but for some reason the Masoretes marked it differently. It occurs only in 2 Chronicles 35:5.
  • The feminine noun מחלקת (mahaloqet), meaning division as part of a larger organization. It's used for sections of land relative to the whole of it (Joshua 11:23, Ezekiel 48:29), and in the later writings also as a term of organization of Levites and priests (1 Chronicles 23:6, Nehemiah 11:36).
חלק II

The verb חלק (halaq II) means to be smooth or slippery. It appears to originally have denoted a physical smoothness (of stones and pebbles in river beds) but is in the Bible predominantly used for smooth speech, that is flattery or seductive wheedle. The verb is used only seven times, but almost only in the Psalms (5:9, 36:2) and Proverbs (2:16, 7:5, 28:23, 29:5). Once it occurs in Isaiah where an idol maker hammers his artifact smooth while talking encouragingly to a colleague (which obviously closely relates this hammering to the seduction an idol is designed to perform). Its derivatives are:

  • The masculine noun חלק (heleq), meaning smoothness or seductiveness of speech (Proverbs 7:21 only). Note that this word is identical to the noun חלק (heleq), meaning portion.
  • The adjective חלק (halaq), meaning smooth. This adjective may describe a smooth person (Jacob) as opposed to a hairy one (Esau; Genesis 27:11, although Jacob was obviously also a smooth talker), or a smooth mountain (namely Mount Halak, although that name may suggest more than just a description of a barren hump; Joshua 11:17), or stones in a dry river bed (Isaiah 57:6, which, as noted, is also highly allegorical). Otherwise, this adjective means seductive and slippery talk (Proverbs 5:3) or pseudo-pious mumbo-jumbo (Ezekiel 12:24).
  • The feminine noun חלקה (helqa), meaning smoothness (Genesis 27:16), slipperiness (Psalm 73:18), flattery (Psalm 12:3) or pleasant nonsense (Isaiah 30:10). Note that this word is identical to חלקה (helqa), meaning field.
  • The adjective חלק (halluq), meaning smooth (1 Samuel 17:40 only).
  • The feminine noun חלקה (halaqqa), meaning smoothness or flattery. It occurs only in Daniel 11:32.
  • The feminine plural noun חלקלקות (halaqlaqqot), meaning smoothness, slipperiness or flattery (Psalm 35:6, Jeremiah 23:12 and Daniel 11:21 only).
  • The feminine plural noun מחלקות (mahleqot), meaning either smoothnesses (if taken from חלק II) or divisions (if taken from חלק I). It appears to be a regular feminine plural, prefixed with the letter מ (mem), which establishes an agent or place-of-doing of the verb. This word occurs only as part of the proposed name Sela-hammahlekoth in 1 Samuel 23:28.

Associated Biblical names

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