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Meaning of "bowel" in Tanach


Rabbi David Sperling

Av 7, 5779
Shalom Rav, In yirmiah perek 31 and pasuk 20 there is a word מעי . What does that mean ? Why is Ha-hem love to Ephraim through bowels ?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The verse you are referring to is in Yirmiahu chapet 31, verse 19 “Is Ephraim a darling son unto Me? Is he a child that is dandled? For as often as I speak of him, I do earnestly remember him still; Therefore My heart yearneth for him, I will surely have compassion upon him, saith the Lord.” The term “Maii”, which you translated as “bowels”, is translated here as “heart”, although your translation is more literal. When we say “my heart yearns for” or “I had a gut reaction” and similar phrases, we use words that talk about our physical inner bodily organs – but what we really mean is an emotional state. So here, in our verse, we are referring to a strong emotions yearning. In english we say “my heart longs for”, and in Hebrew we could use the “bowels” as the referring to this strong inner longing. Blessings.
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