Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
סכך שכך סוך שוך שכה
The following cluster of roots consists of a few roots that are obviously related, even the same in different spellings, and some others that look alike but have different meanings:
The root-verb סכך (sakak I) - corresponding with the verb שכך (sakak I) - basically means to cover, and as such it came also to denote to overshadow or screen protectively (Exodus 40:3, 1 Kings 8:7), Psalm 5:12). Its derivatives are:
- The masculine noun מסך (masak), meaning covering or screen (2 Samuel 17:19, Isaiah 22:8). This word occurs twenty-two times in the design of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:36, 27:16, 35:12).
- The feminine equivalent of the previous noun, מסכה (mesuka), meaning covering (Ezekiel 28:13 only).
- The masculine noun מוסך (musak), which is an architectural term that probably has to do with covering (2 Kings 16:18 only).
The root-verb סכך (sakak II) - corresponding with the verb שכך (sakak II) - means to weave together. It only occurs in Psalm 139:13, "thou hast woven me . . . ," and some scholars argue that this second root doesn't exist, and that this instance should be translated out of root I: "thou hast covered me . . . ".
The following derivations could be construed as things that are woven together, or else they are part of root I and basically mean things that cover or screen:
- The masculine noun סך (sak), meaning throng or multitude, either as 'an interwoven mass' (as proposed by BDB Theological Dictionary), or else a protective mass of people. It occurs only in Psalm 42:4.
- The masculine noun סך (sok), meaning thicket or lair from where a lion would lay in wait to pounce on a prey (Psalm 10:9, Jeremiah 25:38).
- The feminine equivalent of the previous noun, סכה (sukka), meaning lair in the same sense as previous (Job 38:40 only), or a protective booth or some rudimentary shelter woven from branches (for animals: Genesis 33:17; for soldiers: 2 Samuel 11:11). Isaiah uses this word also for a watchman's hut (Isaiah 1:8). This word is also used in the legislation concerning the Feast Of Booths (Leviticus 23:41-42, Deuteronomy 16:13).
- The masculine noun סכך (sokek), denoting some kind of structure that protected from the enemy storming a city; a mantelet (which is "A movable shelter or protective screen, esp. (Hist.) one used to cover the approach of soldiers when besieging a fortified place," says the Oxford dictionary). This word occurs only in Nahum 2:5.
The verb שכך (sakak I) - corresponding with סכך (sakak) - meaning to cover, occurs only once: in Exodus 33:22.
The verb שכך (sakak II) - corresponding with סכך (sakak) - meaning to weave, occurs only once: in Job 10:11, which is very much comparable to Psalm 139:13. It yields one derivation: the masculine noun שך (sok), meaning booth or pavilion. It's used only in Lamentations 2:6.
The unused root-verb שכך (shkk III) yields one derivation: the feminine noun משכה (mesukka), meaning hedge. This word is used only in Isaiah 5:5, and is with no stretch of the imagination connectable to the previous roots. The function of a hedge is to protect what it surrounds, and should be an interwoven mass to have any effect. Note that this word is also akin to the roots סוך (suk II) and שוך (suk II).
The root-verb שכך (shkk IV) isn't used in the Bible but in cognate languages it means to pierce. Its derivations are:
- The masculine noun שך (sek), meaning thorn (Numbers 33:55 only, where it appears in plural).
- The feminine noun שכה (sukka), meaning barb or spear (Job 40:31 only).
These latter words may indeed be entirely unconnected to the previous ones, but any member of a Hebrew audience with some sense of poetic reference would probably connect these items either to the idea of protection (weapons of defense) of root I, or else to the intertwined branches of root II.
In Proverbs 23:2 occurs the word שכון (sakkin), which is basically the word שך (sek) extended with the waw-nun couple that personifies or localizes the root. It literally means thorny-thing and is commonly translated with knife. Still, BDB Theological Dictionary states that this word is probably a loan word.
The verb סוך (suk I), which also occurs as סיך (syk I), means to anoint (Exodus 30:32, Deuteronomy 28:40, Ruth 3:3). HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states that this verb differs from the familiar verb משח (masah), the root of the word Messiah, in that the latter includes a spreading or smearing of oil. This verb's sole derivation is the masculine noun אסוך ('asuk), meaning flask (2 Kings 4:2 only).
The root-verb סוך (suk II), which also occurs as סיך (syk II), means to hedge or fence in (Job 3:23 and 38:8 only), and is obviously related to שכך (sakak III) and שוך (suk I). Its sole derivative is the feminine noun מסוכה (mesuka), meaning hedge (Micah 7:4 only).
The root-verb שוך (suk I) means to hedge or fence up. It's used only twice, in Job 1:10 and Hosea 2:8. Its sole derivation משכה (mesuka) means hedge (Proverbs 15:19 only). This root is obviously related to the roots שכך (sakak III) and סוך (suk II).
The root שוך (suk II) corresponds with root שכך (sakak) It's not used as a verb but its derivations are:
- The masculine noun שוך (sok), meaning branch (Judges 9:49 only).
- The feminine equivalent שוכה (soka), meaning the same (Judges 9:48-49).
Etymologically, the root-verb שכה (skhe) is not part of the above treated cluster but its form and derivations are similar enough to be mistaken for one. The verb is not used in the Bible but it shows up all over the Semitic spectrum with meanings of to look out, to keep watch and even to hope for. Its derivations are:
- The masculine noun שכוי (sekwi), denoting some kind of celestial appearance (Job 38:36 only).
- The feminine noun שכיה (sekiya), probably meaning image or appearance as well. It occurs only once, in Isaiah 2:16.
- The feminine noun משכית (maskit), meaning show-piece (Leviticus 26:1, Numbers 33:52) or imagination (Proverbs 18:11, Psalm 73:7).