Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The verb υω (huo) means to rain, which was used in classical Greek the same way as in English (it rains), German (es regnet) and French (il pleut), namely as a third person singular verbal expression that tells of the acts of an unspecified he or it. This verb does not occur in the New Testament — instead the verb βρεχω (brecho) is used — but from it come:
- The adjective υγρος (hugros, hence our English prefix "hygro-"), meaning moist or sappy, the opposite of ξηρος (xeros), dry. It's used in Luke 23:31 only.
- The noun υδωρ (hudor), meaning water, but refers mostly to fresh water and not so much to sea water (hence our English prefix "hydro-"). In the Jewish world, rain and water were closely associated with learning; the noun מורה (moreh) both means rain and teacher, and cultures were reckoned by the rivers they formed on — hence the prominence of the Nile, Jordan and Euphrates rivers, and the notion that the Garden of Eden was endowed with four rivers that together encompassed the entire known world from Ethiopia to the Indus Valley.
Water was also recognized as cleaning agent, and since cleanness and survival went hand in hand, water became associated with salvation (see our article on the verb βαπτιζω, baptizo, to baptize). For a closer look at the link between cognition and the hydrological cycle, see our articles on the words ארץ ('erets), meaning land, or νεφελη (nephele), cloud. Our noun υδωρ (hudor) meaning water occurs 79 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
- Together with the particle of negation α (a), meaning without: the adjective ανυδρος (anudros), meaning waterless, arid. Water is crucial because it washes away contaminants and waste products. That means that a lack of flowing water ultimately leads to death by intoxication. Likewise a mind that is not exposed to the occasional shower of fresh new things will wither and turn into a mental desert in which only very few life forms can survive. This word is used 4 times; see full concordance.
- The noun υδρια (hudria), which describes a water vessel like a jar or pot (John 2:6, 2:7 and 4:28 only).
- Together with the verb πινω (pino), meaning to drink: the verb υδροποτεω (hudropoteo), meaning to drink water (1 Timothy 5:23 only).
- Together with the noun ωψ (ops), meaning eye or appearance: the adjective υδρωπικος (hudropikos) meaning hydropic or edemic (Luke 14:2 only). Hydropsy or edema is an abnormal accumulation of fluids under the skin, often associated with a damaged lymph system. What lymph nodes are to the body, so wisdom centers are for society. Since resistance usually comes from intellectuals, the Romans tended to destroy these wisdom centers, or at least replace the priests with marionettes, which in turn led to a social form of lymphedema: the stagnant retention of "water" where there shouldn't be any. Luke seems to imply that the man whom Jesus cured was an unemployed man of wisdom, who sat by the road mulling over his knowledge, while the proverbially ignorant Pharisees prevented him from applying or sharing it (see for more on social lymphedema our article on δουλος, doulos, meaning employee).
- The noun υετος (huetos), meaning rain in the sense of a heavy shower (rather than continuous rain or a drizzle). This word in plural appears to denote the periods of the agricultural year during which rains were more common: the rains or rainy seasons (Acts 14:17). This noun is used 6 times; see full concordance.
The adjective υγιης (hugies) means healthy, whole or sound — our English adjective "sound" means whole or healthy, and comes from the same Germanic root as the cheerful interjection gesundheit!. All these words are not unlike the sentiments expressed by the familiar Hebrew noun שלום (shalom), which means peace or completeness, and stems from the less familiar verb שלם (shalem), to be or make whole or complete. In the classics our adjective υγιης (hugies) may describe soundness of body as well as of mind (and even, in rare occasions, of opinion, view or logic).
Our adjective ultimately stems from the Proto-Indo-European root "hyugwih", which refers to a good or long life, as it in turn is based on the more fundamental root "hey-", which describes the concept of life or some vital life-force, which in sentiment is not unlike rain (or the whole hydrological cycle, rather) and in form rather reminds of חי (hay), meaning life or living.
Somewhere in the mists of time there arose a Proto-Germanic root "hugiz-", but linguists are for complicated and perhaps somewhat reaching reasons not convinced of a natural bridge to the PIE root "hyugwih". This PG root "hugiz-", however, means mind, thought or understanding, and gave the world the names Hugo, Hugh, Huguenots (from "-genoten", from Dutch for members of a fellowship: mates, as in room-mates), and of course the inescapable English verb to hug (i.e. to embrace, to hold dear, to comfort, to have warm thoughts about).
Our adjective υγιης (hugies), meaning physically whole or mentally sound, also has nothing to do with the verb we discuss above, namely υω (huo), to rain, or its adjective υγρος (hugros), moist, at least not via any technically solid etymology. Poets and others of merry ways are of course more than free to associate whatever they fancy (Matthew 18:18), which is what we here at Abarim Publications suspect the authors of the New Testament did routinely. Our adjective is used 14 times, see full concordance, and from it comes:
- The verb υγιαινω (hugiaino), meaning to be whole, healthy or sound of body or mind. It's used 12 times; see full concordance.