Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
Some scholars (HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) say there are two different roots חנך (hanak) - one having to do with the mouth and the other with to dedicate or inaugurate - while others (BDB Theological Dictionary) insist that there's only one super-root of which the meaning was lost. According to BDB, the super-root חנך (hnk) also pops up in cognate languages, but not so that a meaning can be extracted. Its derivatives are:
- The masculine noun חך (hek), meaning mouth or palate (Job 29:10, Proverbs 5:3). Another, more common word for mouth is פה (peh), which emphasizes the mouth's opening or edges; our noun חך (hek) emphasizes taste and particularly discernment via taste, which is the first kind of discernment a baby learns to master. Note that our modern take on wisdom is very comfortable with comparing knowledge with light and sight, and ties hearing to obeying, but acknowledges very little connection between taste and early learning. The Bible, on the other hand, places great emphasis on a proper inauguration to wisdom via the sense of taste: Sin entered the world via eating (Genesis 3:6), and participation in the body of Christ is initiated via eating (John 6:54). Canaan was a land proverbially of milk and honey, which of course discusses wisdom rather than cuisine (Ezekiel 3:3, 1 Corinthians 3:2). "Does not the ear test words, as the חך (hek) tastes food?" (Job 12:11, 34:3); "How sweet are Your words to my חך (hek)!" (Psalm 119:103).
- The verb חנך (hanak), meaning to inaugurate, train or dedicate. BDB says that this verb came from the preceding noun, through the custom of midwives teaching newborns how to suck by rubbing their palate with chewed dates. The verb is used in the sense of to train (Proverbs 22:6) and to dedicate (1 Kings 8:63).
- The adjective חניך (hanik), meaning trained or experienced (Numbers 26:5 only).
- The feminine noun חנכה (hanukka), meaning dedication (Psalm 30:1, Numbers 7:10, Nehemiah 12:27). This noun returns in the name of the Feast Of Dedication: Hanukkah (John 10:22).
- The feminine noun חכה (hakka), meaning hook, and specifically a hook fastened in a jaw; a fish hook (Job 41:1, Isaiah 19:8).
Spelled the same as the previous noun, the verb חכה (haka) means to wait or await for. Perhaps the similarity with the previous is accidental but more likely this verb speaks of a waiting the way a hunter or fisherman waits for his prey, or a baby waits for its mother's milk: a waiting specifically for sustenance. Hence the servant of Elisha was to do his business and not wait for any reaction or confirmation (2 Kings 9:3), and a band of raider waits for a man with the distinctive aim to feed on his resources (Hosea 6:9).
Specifically, most of such waiting is done for YHWH, which obviously speaks of the benefit and sustenance gained from knowledge of creation (Psalm 33:20, Isaiah 8:17, Zephaniah 3:8). And in turn "The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you" (Isaiah 30:18).