Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
Scholars don't agree on how many separate roots רמה (rmh) there are, but there are either two or three:
The verb רמה (rama I) means to throw or shoot, and occurs a mere three times in the Bible. In Exodus 15:1 Moses and Israel sing how YHWH hurled a horse and rider into the sea. In Psalm 78:9 and Jeremiah 4:29 this verb is used to depict shooters of the bow.
The identical root רמה (rama II) is sometimes split in two. Hence the older BDB Theological Dictionary lists three different roots רמה (rama), yet the younger HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament rejects this and groups all following meanings under the same header. But whatever the philological deliberations may entail, there are obviously two major groups of meanings contained in this second root:
The verb רמה (rama II) means to beguile, deceive or mislead. It occurs eight times (Genesis 29:25, Joshua 9:22). HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament lists the feminine noun רמיה (remiya), slackening, deceit, under this root, but BDB Theological Dictionary supposes the existence of an unused verb רמה (rama III), meaning to loosen, and lists two separate nouns, one meaning deceit and the other meaning laxness or slackness.
Other derivatives are:
- The feminine noun מרמה (mirma), meaning deceit or treachery (Micah 6:12, Psalm 120:2).
- The feminine noun תרמה (torma), meaning treachery (Judges 9:31 only).
- The feminine noun תרמית (tarmit), meaning deceitfulness (Jeremiah 8:5, Zephaniah 3:13).
The controversy surrounding this root (or these roots) illustrates marvelously the evolution of theological thought and linguistic theory through the centuries. Classic scholars marked one root that covered to deceive and to loosen, but more recent scholars thought there were two different roots (which means two different ideas accidentally named the same, like our words trunk and trunk), and most recent scholar are back to one root.
The solution lies in the notion that in the Bible the ideas of deception and loosening are similar, simply because exercising truth leads to stronger relationships. Where we differentiate between deceit and looseness, the Bible doesn't. A group that is of one mind (Acts 2:42-47; Ephesians 4:3-6) can not be loose, can not practice deceit, and can not be united by anything other than truth (Psalm 15:2, Proverbs 12:19). And since truth sets free (John 8:32) we are at once struck by the difference between the Bible's definitions of freedom and looseness. An arrow that is shot away is by no means free.
Note that the verbs רמה (rama I and II) are identical to the noun רמה (rama), meaning height or high place, from the root רום (rum), meaning to be high.