Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
Dictionaries list three separate roots נוה (nwh), but on closer scrutiny these roots blend together in a fundamental meaning of government, and the beauty and eminence that follows from a country that is properly governed — as opposed to a country that is plagued by anarchy and gangs and gangster governments.
Students of the Word of God need to understand that compared to Christianity, Judaism is far less a religion and far more a system of government. In fact, the separation of church and state that occurred within Christianity, and which conveniently separated enterprise-based governments from their social conscience, is impossible within Judaism, since proper government is the ultimate function of Biblical theology (Isaiah 9:6, 1 Corinthians 15:24).
The root נוה (nwh I) isn't used in the Bible, but a similar verb exists in Arabic, where it means to be high or eminent. This root's sole derivative is the masculine noun נה (noah), meaning eminency or distinction. It's used only once, in Ezekiel 7:11.
The root נוה (nawa II) exists in the Bible only as the verb נוה (nawa), meaning to beautify, which appears to be either a by-form or a derived form of the verb נאה (na'a), meaning to be beautiful (see below). The verb נוה (nawa) occurs only once, in Exodus 15:2. In Jeremiah 6:2 occurs the identically spelled adjective נוה (naweh), meaning beautiful, but this word is probably an alternative form of the adjective נאוה (na'weh), which derives from the verb נאה (na'a).
The root נוה (nwh III) has to do with abodes and being in one. It has the following derivations:
- The masculine noun נוה (naweh), meaning abode (of animals: 2 Samuel 7:8, Jeremiah 23:3; of shepherds: Jeremiah 33:12), or pasture (Hosea 9:13), or habitation or country or area of residence (Exodus 15:13, Job 5:3).
- The above noun used as a verb: נוה (nawa), meaning to dwell or abide (Habakkuk 2:5 only).
- The noun used as adjective נוה (naweh), meaning abiding (Psalm 68:12 only).
- The feminine noun נוה (nawa), meaning pasture or meadow (Amos 1:2, Psalm 23:2, Lamentations 2:2).
The verb נאה (na'a), meaning to be beautiful, is closely related to the verb נוה (nawa II), to beautify. It's used only three times, once in the famous "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news" (Isaiah 52:7). Once this verb describes the cheeks (לחי, lehi) of the Bride (Song of Solomon 1:10) and once it appears in the magnificent statement לביתך נאוה־קדש יהוה (le bayitek na'weh-qodesh yhwh) or "holiness is beautified onto your house, YHWH" which obviously envisions a government by the Creator (Revelation 21:22-24).
From this verb derives the adjective נאוה (na'weh), meaning beautiful or becoming (Song of Solomon 1:5, Jeremiah 6:2, Psalm 33:1).