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I have heard numerous rabbis connect verses about the fear of God to seeing God.

This always hinges on the fact that some of the conjugations of yirah (fear) look the same as some of the conjugations of raah (to see). For example, this weekend I've heard the first phrase in ps 111:10 translated as to see God is the beggining of wisdom (רֵ֘אשִׁ֤ית חָכְמָ֨ה׀ יִרְאַ֬ת יְהוָ֗ה, Psalm 111:10, MT) Logos Bible Software has יִרְאַ֬ת a feminine singular construct noun meaning fear of. The verb רָאָה meaining see begins with a yod in the imperfect (Impf. 3 ms. יִרְאֶה +, juss. יֵרֵא). How can one get a taw at the end of the conjugation of רָאָה?

My hebrew is not good enough to gauge how valid this translation is in this verse or in the many other verses that have variations of the phrase.

I think evaluating this may have interesting consequences. Proverbs annd Ecclesiastes contain many verses about being aware of things and the prophetic books put a huge emphasis on the apparent/inapparent or seen/unseen. If translating some of these verses as beeing about seeing rather than fear is supportable it could lead to an interesting way of reading large portions of scripture.

  • I have fixed the broken link to raah for you. I didn't notice any identical inflections between raah and yirah. Perhaps you could point these out for us. I would suggest you confine this question to a specific text (ideally one in which the inflection could be read as either word) otherwise the question could be voted for closure on the basis of being a 'topic' (which is, here, off-topic) rather than an inquiry about a text. – Nigel J Oct 24 at 9:29
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    If your question gets closed, you could ask it on Mi Yodeya judaism.stackexchange.com/questions – Perry Webb Oct 24 at 10:55
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    For this to word you would have to change יִרְאַ֬ת form a noun to an verb in the imperfect tense. – Perry Webb Oct 24 at 11:22
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    I haven't been able to get an exact match with the imperfect tense. – Perry Webb Oct 24 at 11:56
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    I've posted the question here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/118123/… – Perry Webb Oct 25 at 20:49
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Abijah, Do you understand enough from https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/118123/are-there-any-cases-in-the-tanakh-where-the-form-of-the-word-could-ambiguously-h? to answer your question? No one found a Hebrew word in the Tanakh (MT) that could ambiguously be a form of both yirah and raah. There were some textual variations that were ether one or the other. Basically you can trust the English translations.

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  • Excellent answer and excellently researched on the other site. First class. (Up-voted +1.) – Nigel J Oct 28 at 9:10
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Is the verb "יראת" [he/she Feared]; past 2nd-person singular, Synonymous with Seeing?

  • Wisdom (חָכְמָ֨ה) can be aquired without Eyes.
  • Fear of YHVH (יִרְאַ֬ת יְהוָ֗ה) is not linked with Seeing, but Understanding (בִּינָֽה).

Tehillim / Psalms 111:10 [MT]

"Beginning (רֵ֘אשִׁ֤ית) [of] Wisdom (חָכְמָ֨ה) [is] Fear (יִרְאַ֬ת) [of] Yehovah (יְהוָ֗ה)".

Mishlei / Proverbs 1:7 [MT]

"Fear" (יִרְאַ֣ת) [of] Yehovah (יְ֭הוָה) [is] Beginning (רֵאשִׁ֣ית) [of] Knowledge (דָּ֑עַת)".

Mishlei / Proverbs 9:10 [MT]

"Beginning (תְּחִלַּ֣ת) [of] Wisdom (חָ֭כְמָה) [is] Fear (יִרְאַ֣ת) [of] Yehovah (יְהוָ֑ה), And-Knowledge (וְדַ֖עַת) of Holies (קְדֹשִׁ֣ים) [is] Understanding (בִּינָֽה).


In conclusion the prophet Yeshayahu explains Seeing is not Understanding in Isaiah 6:9.

Yeshayahu / Isaiah 6:9 [MT]

"And He said, Go and say to this people, Indeed you hear, but you do not understand; indeed you see, but you do not know." (וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֵ֥ךְ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה שִׁמְע֚וּ שָׁמ֙וֹעַ֙ וְאַל־תָּבִ֔ינוּ וּרְא֥וּ רָא֖וֹ וְאַל־תֵּדָֽעוּ)

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  • Thanks, that looks really good, but could you unpack it a bit more? For example is the translation of ps 111:10 something you would reject on gramtical grounds? also how would you justify that? – Abijah Oct 24 at 15:19

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