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

Usage Number: 1
Part Of Speech: Verb
Strong's Number: H5186
Original Word: nat?â
Usage Notes: "to stretch forth, spread out, stretch down, turn aside." This verb also occurs in Arabic, late Aramaic, and post-biblical Hebrew. The Bible attests it in all periods and about 215 times.

Nat?â connotes "extending something outward and toward" something or someone. So God told Moses: "… I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments" (Exod. 6:6). This is a figure of God's active, sovereign, and mighty involvement in the affairs of men. So this phrase means "to stretch out" something until it reaches a goal. The verb can also mean "to stretch out toward" but not to touch or reach anything. God told Moses to tell Aaron to take his staff in hand (cf. Exod. 9:23) and "stretch it out." This act was to be done as a sign. The pointed staff was a visible sign that God's power was directly related to God's messengers: "… Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds…," over all the water in Egypt (Exod. 7:19). God "stretched out" (offered) 3 things to David (1 Chron. 21:10); this is a related sense with the absence of anything physical being "stretched out."

This verb may connote "stretch out" but not toward anything. When a shadow "stretches out," it lengthens. Hezekiah remarked: "It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees…" (2 Kings 20:10), to grow longer. Nat?â may be used in this sense without an object and referring to a day. The Levite was asked to "comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon [literally, the "stretching" (of the day, or of the shadows)]…" (Judg. 19:8). "To stretch out" one's limbs full length is to recline: "And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar…" (Amos 2:8). This is a figure of temple prostitution. This verb may also mean "to extend" in every direction. It represents what one does in pitching a tent by unrolling the canvas (or skins sewn together) and "stretching it out." The end product is that the canvas is properly "spread out." Abram "pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east…" (Gen. 12:8, the first appearance of the word). This act and its result is used as a figure of God's creating the heavens: "… Which alone spreadeth out the heavens…" (Job 9:8). This verb also implies "stretching down toward" so as to reach something. Earlier in the Bible Rebekah was asked to "let down thy pitcher,… that I may drink" (Gen. 24:14); she was asked to "stretch it down" into the water. This is the nuance when God is said to have "inclined [stretched down] unto me, and heard my cry" (Psa. 40:1). Issachar is described as a donkey which "bowed his shoulder to bear [burdens]" (Gen. 49:15). In somewhat the same sense the heavens are bowed; the heavens are made to come closer to the earth. This is a figure of the presence of thick clouds: "He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet" (Psa. 18:9). The somewhat new element here is that the heavens do not touch the speaker but only "stretch downward" toward him.

This verb may mean "to turn aside" in the sense of "to visit": "… Judah went down from his brethren, and turned in to [visited] a certain Adullamite…" (Gen. 38:1). Another special nuance appears in Num. 22:23, where it means "to go off the way": "And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way…, and the ass turned aside out of the way…." Applied to human relationships, this may connote seduction: "With her much fair speech she caused him to yield…" (Prov. 7:21).

Usage Number: 2
Part Of Speech: Noun
Strong's Number: H4294
Original Word: mat?t?eh

Usage Notes: "rod; staff; tribe." This noun occurs about 250 times. In Gen. 38:18 the word refers to a shepherd's "staff": "And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand." The word is used to refer to a number of kinds of "rods": A "rod" which symbolizes spiritual power, such as Moses' rod (Exod. 4:2), Aaron's rod (Exod. 7:9), and the sorcerers' rods (Exod. 7:12), and rods symbolizing authority (Num. 17:7). This noun is often used elliptically instead of "the rod of the tribe of"; the word signifies "tribe" (cf. Exod. 31:2). Mat?t?eh is also used in the phrase "the staff of bread," of staves around which loaves are suspended to keep them from mice (Lev. 26:26).

Some other nouns are related to the verb nat?â. Mût?t?ôt occurs once (Isa. 8:8) and refers to the "stretching out" of wings. Mit?t?â occurs about 29 times and means something which is stretched out. Mit?t?â is used of a couch (Song. 3:7) and of a metal framework (Esth. 1:6). Mit?t?â may also refer to a room, a bedchamber (2 Kings 11:2).

Usage Number: 3
Part Of Speech: Adverb
Strong's Number: H4295
Original Word: mat?t?â

Usage Notes: "downwards; beneath." This word occurs about 17 times. It means "beneath" (Deut. 28:13), "downward" (2 Kings 19:30), and "underneath" (Exod. 28:27).

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words