The Hebrew Connection between the ‘Two Great Lights’ and the Israeli Government

Yesterday we talked about the creation of the ‘great lights’ as can be found in the Book of Genesis:

“And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.” (Genesis 1:14-17)

In the original Hebrew the term ‘to rule’ appears as ‘Le-Memshelt'{לממשלת} and this unique Hebrew word comes from the old root ‘M-Sh-l’ {מ-ש-ל} which means ‘to rule’ or ‘to govern.’ Interestingly, the ‘Vulgate’ (the old Latin translation of the Bible) translated the original Hebrew word ‘Le-Memshelt’ as ‘praeesset’ which means ‘to rule over’ and is the origin of the English verb ‘to preside’ and of the well-known term which is in used in many languages ‘president.’

This Hebrew root (‘M-Sh-L’) is close in its meaning to another old Hebrew root ‘Sh-T-R’ {ש-ט-ר} whose initial meaning is ‘bill’ and refers to the legal authority that was given in the hands of the ‘Shoter'{שוטר} – Hebrew for police officer.

That is why it comes as no surprise to discover the Hebrew word ‘Moshel’ {מושל} means ‘governor’ as can be found a few times in the Hebrew Bible as well as the accepted Modern Hebrew term for a ‘state governor in the U.S.’

When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, the newly born political entity was in search of original political terms in Hebrew – since Hebrew did not have political terms because of the long exile of the Jewish people and the loss of Jewish sovereignty. 

In other words, when the first Israeli government was elected it did not have an original Hebrew name to describe the political term ‘government.’ Consequently, they had a look at the first chapter of the Hebrew Bible, in the part which tells about two great lights, and found the Hebrew root for ‘to rule’ was ‘M-Sh-L’ and from this old root the Hebrew word ‘Memshalah’ {ממשלה} – ‘government’ – was created.