Genesis 17:3 - Then Abram fell facedown and God spoke with him Numbers 20:6 - Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown Joshua - 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord[a] have for his servant Matthew 26:39 - 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

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    Wow what a great question. I think it is very humbling to do this, if your heart is totally transparent and honest in all things the physical body position is a humbling attitude. Very curious to know the answers too.
    – snoopy
    May 2 '20 at 19:24
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    I revised your question. Please roll-back if you disagree with the edit. May 2 '20 at 23:31

In fact, you are correct.

In his commentary on Psa. 95:6, David Kimchi wrote,1

“Come! Let us worship…” – A man shall say this to his brothers, “Come! Let us worship,” because we are obligated to give thanks to Him and to bow before Him in all kinds of bowing. “Let us worship” (נשתחוה) refers to the flattening of the entire body on the ground, stretching out the hands and feet. “And let us bow down” (ונכרעה) refers to the bowing of the head with a part of the body, like when we bow during blessings. “Let us kneel” (נִבְרְכָה) refers to the bowing down of the knees on the ground, like (2 Kings 1:13), “…and he bowed down upon his knees…”; (Jdg. 7:6), “…they bowed down upon their knees…”

באו נשתחוה. יאמרו איש לעחיו בֹּאוּ נִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, כי חייבים אנו להודות לו ולכרוע לפניו בכל מיני כריעות. נשתחוה, הוא שִׁטּוּחַ כל הגוף בארץ, פִּשׁוּט ידים ורגלים. ונכרעה, כריעות הראש עם קצת הגוף כמו שאנו כורעים בברכות. נִבְרְכָה היא כריעת הברכים בארץ, כמו (מ"ב א יג) ויכרע על ברכיו, (שופטים ז ו) כרעו על ברכיהם.

Kimchi describes three verbs: הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה, which means “to prostrate,” כָּרַע, which means “to bow” (or “bend”), and בָּרַךְ, which means “to kneel.”

Similarly, in Mishneh Torah, Moshe ben Maimon wrote,2

“Kneeling” (כְּרִיעָה) in every place mentioned is upon the knees; “bowing” (קִדָּה) is upon the face; “worship” (הִשְׁתַּחֲוָיָה) – this is the stretching out of one’s hands and feet until one is situated flat upon his face on the ground.

כְּרִיעָה הָאֲמוּרָה בְּכָל מָקוֹם עַל בִּרְכַּיִם קִדָּה עַל אַפַּיִם הִשְׁתַּחֲוָיָה זֶה פִּשּׁוּט יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם עַד שֶׁנִּמְצָא מֻטָּל עַל פָּנָיו עַל הָאָרֶץ

the Hebrew verb הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה, often translated as “worship,” means to prostrate one’s body upon the ground, with the arms and legs stretched out. It is the most humble form of submission that can be physically demonstrated by the body.


The Hebrew verb כָּרַע, often used in conjunction with the word בֶּרֶךְ (“knee”), means to bow down upon one’s knees toward the ground. Although rarely used in the same sense, the Hebrew verb בָּרַךְ is a synonym of כָּרַע.


Finally, the Hebrew verb קָדַד means to bow one’s head towards the ground.

bow down


Kimchi, David (דוד קמחי). Peirush al Sefer Tehillim (פירוש על ספר תהלים). Jerusalem: 2003.

Moshe ben Maimon (משה בן מימון). Mishneh Torah (משנה תורה). Jerusalem: Mechon-Mamre, 2020.


1 Folio שעה
2 Mishneh Torah, Sefer Ahavah, Hilkhot Tefilah uVirkhat Kohanim, Chapter 5, Halakha 13

  • Thank you very much exceptionally good answer, however the sketches look very much like how the Muslims pray May 2 '20 at 22:10
  • @anothertheory—What is your point? May 2 '20 at 23:27
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    @anothertheory—Rather than suggesting that such positioning could not represent worship because it resembles what Muslims do, perhaps simply let the Bible speak for itself. May 2 '20 at 23:35
  • Think the one is "bowing low" and the other one is "bowing down" (body language for belittling oneself). The bible does not really cover that, because the topic are rather Abrahamic religions, which share a lot of concepts and customs.
    – user35809
    May 3 '20 at 4:10
  • @DerÜbermensch it’s was more an observation rather then a point I agree with everything stated, maybe I used the wrong word ‘however’ no dispute very happy with the answer May 3 '20 at 14:31

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