lâqach - lFqAx (Strong's #3947)
lâqach 'take, receive' לָקַח (Strong's #3947)
"God took the man, and put him into the garden of Ede" (Genesis 2:15, JPS)
The word לָקַח lâqach "to take" (Strong's #3947, x965) occurs frequently in the Hebrew Bible, some 965 times. Most of the time it simple means "to take", often with or by the hand, other forms of the verb can mean to "take away", "take in hand/receive", "take get/fetch/bring", even to "take a wife/marry". The expansion of its meaning is generally derived from context and parallels with other verbs.
Some of the first uses range in meaning across the early chapters of Genesis from Adam's rib surgery (2:21-23); taking the forbidden fruit (3:6,22); creation from dust (3:19,23); Abel's murder and his blood being taken back by the earth (4:11); Lamech's taking two wives, the "sons of God" taking wives (6:2); God taking Enoch (5:24); Noah taking the animals for the Ark and for post-Flood sacrifice (7:2, 8:20).
There is an active force to the verb as in Jeremiah 23:31 when God is against the (false) prophets who "use their tongues and say 'thus saith'". "Use" is actually, "take" which demonstrates an active volition to metaphorically "take one's tongue" and use it in a particular way. Indeed, the previous verse 23:30 describes the false prophets as "stealing" God's words, using גָּנַב gânabh (Strong's #1589, x39).
Joshua 7:11 also uses לָקַח lâqach and גָּנַב gânabh in the same description of Achan's sin. 2 Samuel 21:12 describes David's "taking/stealing back" that which was "stolen", in this case the bones of Saul and Jonathan. Take and steal, in a positive sense of rescuing a king's son from being slain, using the same two verbs occurs in 2 Kings 11:2 // 2 Chronicles 22:11, where Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah had tried to slay all the royal offspring.
Another use, of old, that has a degree of force in its language that exceeds modern equalities, is the description of "taking a wife/wives" either for oneself, e.g., Abram in Genesis 11:29, or indeed choosing one for a son. As is still the custom in some places, love and romance came second at best to patriarchal desire or parental arrangement.
The same language is used of "taking goods" - that may not have been yours to take, i.e., theft. For example, Genesis 14:11-12 of the captivity of Lot and his goods, or Judges 17:2 of Micah's theft of silver from his mother. Lands and cities, also, were invaded and "taken" (Numbers 21:25).
The word could also be used of "taking in", for example, via the ear: Job 4:12 "a word was secretly brought to me, and my ear received a whisper of it", compare Proverbs 2:1: "My son, if you will receive my words" (cf. Proverbs 4:10, 24:32). Even God can "take" or "receive" in the sense of hearing with which the verb is paralled in Psalm 6:9 [Heb.6:10], "The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer".
This latter sense helps to explain the derivative לֶקַח leqach "instruction, knowledge" (Strong's #3948, x9) which occurs mainly in Proverbs (1:5, 4:2, 7:21, 9:9, 16:21,23) where it is paralleled with counsel, law, teaching, wisdom, discernment. Elsewhere it runs parallel with understanding in Isaiah 29:24 and speech in Deuteronomy 32:2.
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KJ Went has taught biblical Hebrew, hermeneutics and Jewish background to early Christianity. Their "Biblical Hebrew made easy" course can be found at www.biblicalhebrew.com.
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