Know (To) - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words

Usage Number: 1
Part Of Speech: Verb
Strong's Number: H5234
Original Word: nakar

Usage Notes: "to know, regard, recognize, pay attention to, be acquainted with." This verb, which is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew, occurs approximately 50 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first time is in Gen. 27:23: "… he did not recognize him" (rsv).

The basic meaning of the term is a physical apprehension, whether through sight, touch, or hearing. Darkness sometimes makes recognition impossible (Ruth 3:14). People are often "recognized" by their voices (Judg. 18:3). Nakar sometimes has the meaning "pay attention to," a special kind of recognition: "Blessed be the man who took notice of [kjv, "took knowledge of"] you" (Ruth 2:19, rsv).

This verb can mean "to be acquainted with," a kind of intellectual awareness: "… neither shall his place know him any more" (Job 7:10; cf. Psa. 103:16).

The sense of "to distinguish" is seen in Ezra 3:13: "… The people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people…"

Usage Number: 2
Strong's Number: H3045
Original Word: yada‘
Usage Notes: "to know." This verb occurs in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, Arabic (infrequently), biblical Aramaic, and in Hebrew in all periods. This verb occurs about 1,040 times (995 in Hebrew and 47 in Aramaic) in the Bible.

Essentially yada‘ means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. The first sense appears in Gen. 8:11, where Noah "knew" the waters had abated as a result of seeing the freshly picked olive leaf in the dove's mouth; he "knew" it after observing and thinking about what he had seen. He did not actually see or experience the abatement himself.

In contrast to this knowing through reflection is the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing). Consequently yada‘ is used in synonymous parallelism with "hear" (Exod. 3:7), "see" (Gen. 18:21), and "perceive, see" (Job 28:7). Joseph told his brothers that were they to leave one of their number with him in Egypt then he would "know," by experience, that they were honest men (Gen. 42:33). In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the tree whose fruit if eaten would give them the experience of evil and, therefore, the knowledge of both good and evil. Somewhat characteristically the heart plays an important role in knowing. Because they experienced the sustaining presence of God during the wilderness wandering, the Israelites "knew" in their hearts that God was disciplining or caring for them as a father cares for a son (Deut. 8:5). Such knowing can be hindered by a wrongly disposed heart (Psa. 95:10).

Thirdly, this verb can represent that kind of knowing which one learns and can give back. So Cain said that he did not "know" he was Abel's keeper (Gen. 4:9), and Abram told Sarai that he "knew" she was a beautiful woman (Gen. 12:11). One can also "know" by being told, in Lev. 5:1 a witness either sees or otherwise "knows" (by being told) pertinent information. In this sense "know" is parallel by "acknowledge" (Deut. 33:9) and "learn" (Deut. 31:12-13). Thus, little children not yet able to speak do not "know" good and evil (Deut. 1:39); they have not learned it so as to tell another what it is. In other words, their knowledge is not such that they can distinguish between good and evil.

In addition to the essentially cognitive knowing already presented, this verb has a purely experiential side. The "knower" has actual involvement with or in the object of the knowing. So Potiphar was unconcerned about (literally, "did not know about") what was in his house (Gen. 39:6), he had no actual contact with it. In Gen. 4:1 Adam's knowing Eve also refers to direct contact with her, in a sexual relationship. In Gen. 18:19 God says He "knows" Abraham; He cared for him in the sense that He chose him from among other men and saw to it that certain things happened to him. The emphasis is on the fact that God "knew" him intimately and personally. In fact, it is parallel in concept to "sanctified" (cf. Jer. 1:5). A similar use of this word relates to God's relationship to Israel as a chosen or elect nation (Amos 3:2).

Yada‘ in the intensive and causative stems is used to express a particular concept of revelation. God did not make Himself known by His name Jehovah to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did reveal that name to them, that He was the God of the covenant. Nevertheless, the covenant was not fulfilled (they did not possess the Promised Land) until the time of Moses. The statement in Exod. 6:3 implies that now God was going to make Himself known "by His name"; He was going to lead them to possess the land. God makes Himself known through revelatory acts such as bringing judgment on the wicked (Psa. 9:16) and deliverance to His people (Isa. 66:14). He also reveals Himself through the spoken word, for example, by the commands given through Moses (Ezek. 20:11), by promises like those given to David (2 Sam. 7:21). Thus, God reveals Himself in law and promise.

"To know" God is to have an intimate experiential knowledge of Him. So Pharaoh denies that he knows Jehovah (Exod. 5:2) or that he recognizes His authority over him. Positively "to know" God is paralleled to fear Him (1 Kings 8:43), to serve (1 Chron. 28:9), and to trust (Isa. 43:10).

Usage Number: 3
Part Of Speech: Noun
Strong's Number: H1847
Original Word: da‘at

Usage Notes: "knowledge." Several nouns are formed from yada‘, and the most frequently occurring is da‘at, which appears 90 times in the Old Testament. One appearance is in Gen. 2:9: "…and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." The word also appears in Exod. 31:3.

Usage Number: 4
Part Of Speech: Particle
Strong's Number: H4069
Original Word: maddûa‘

Usage Notes: "why." This word, which occurs 72 times, is related to the verb yada‘. The word is found in Exod. 1:18: "… Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive"

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words