Sounds of Silence in Biblical Hebrew: A Lexical Study
Abstract This article explores the semantic resources of biblical Hebrew, when it comes to speaking about silence. The aim is to reach more clarity concerning the sense and function of pertinent lexemes, and to contribute to a better understanding of the “semantic field” of silence. It is demonstrated that biblical Hebrew had several verbs with the sense “to be silent” (= abstain from speech), but no noun corresponding to the English word “silence” (denoting a situation characterized by the absence of speech or by the complete lack of audible sounds). However, the domains of silence and stillness overlap. Thus, when the biblical writers wanted to describe a situation of “silence”, they could choose one of several words associated with the wider concept of stillness.