Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The root-verb חמד (hamad) occurs all over the Semitic spectrum but with slightly differing meanings; in Arabic it means to praise but in Hebrew it means to desire, to take pleasure in, or to find something precious, usually with the connotation of wanting to possess the desired thing or person.
Our verb is often translatable with to covet, and is applied to lands (Exodus 34:24), fields and houses (Micah 2:2), idolized gold and silver (Deuteronomy 7:25), loot (Joshua 7:21, Proverbs 12:12), the beauty of an adulteress (Proverbs 6:25), and of course: one's neighbor's wife (Exodus 20:17; in Deuteronomy 5:21 the verb חמד only applies to the wife, desiring other items is prohibited by means of the verb אוה, 'wh II).
Our verb may also mean (and probably does so primarily) to take pleasure or delight in: holy oaks (Isaiah 1:29), scoffing (Proverbs 1:22). God desires Mount Bashan as His abode (Psalm 68:16), and His laws are more desirable than gold (Psalm 19:10).
Often is spoken of the "desire" of a person, which usually denotes items the person desires or items of a person which other people desire; his valuables or precious things (Psalm 39:11, Lamentations 1:11 and probably also Haggai 2:7). Most strikingly, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would not be handsome so as to be desired (Isaiah 53:2).
This verb comes with the following derivations:
- The masculine noun חמד (hemed), meaning desire or delight, and used only for fields and vineyards (Isaiah 27:2, Ezekiel 23:6, Amos 5:11).
- The feminine and more frequently occurring equivalent חמדה (hemda), also meaning desire, delight or precious thing (2 Chronicles 21:20, Hosea 13:15, Nahum 2:10).
- The feminine plural noun חמודות (hamudot), meaning desirableness or preciousness (Genesis 27:15, Ezra 8:37, Daniel 9:23).
- The masculine noun מחמד (mahmad) — with the pre-fix מ (mem) literally denoting a place or agent of חמד (hamad) — meaning desire or desirable or precious thing (1 Kings 20:6, Song of Solomon 5:16, Hosea 9:6).
- The identically spelled but pronounced slightly different noun מחמד (mahmod), also meaning desire or desirable thing (Lamentations 1:7 and 1:11 only).