English - Idea
#3045 - יָדַע
- To Know (yada)
דֵּעָה - #1844 - Knowledge (dea)
When I first opened this word, I did not know the depth I
would encounter in the study of its origin. The word Idea is only a
small window to a rich linguistic heritage that gave birth to the
languages. As with many of the words we examine in this study I must limit myself to a small slice of human history. Time does
not permit me to engage in a much more profound study. This word, its derivatives and cognates, covers a broad range of application.
any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental
understanding, awareness, or activity, to know.
a thought, conception, or notion:
That is an excellent idea.
3. an impression:
He gave me a general idea of how he plans to run the
4. an opinion, view, or belief:
His ideas on raising children
are certainly strange.
5. a plan of action; an intention:
the idea of becoming an
6. a groundless supposition; fantasy.
7. philosophy: a concept developed by the mind; a conception of what is
desirable or ought to be ideal.
8. a likeness, a mental image.
know, learn to know, good and evil Gn 3:22.
b. perceive Gn 19:33, 35.
find out and discern 14:38; 23:22
discriminate, distinguish, S 19:36.
e. know by experience, Jos
f. recognise, admit, acknowledge, confess Je 3:13; Is 59:12 ψ 51:5.
h. know a person, be acquainted with Gn 29:5, Ex 1:8, Jb 42:11.
i. know a person carnally, Gn 4:1, 17, 25; 24:16; 38:26.
j. know how to do a thing, be able to do it often.
have knowledge, be wise, Ec 9:11.
m. knowledge, opinion,
From Akkadian Dictionary:
idû: to know, to be cognizant, to be acquainted with, to experience, to know sexually.
Other Semitic dictionaries: Aramaic
ידע; Ethiopic (˒aydə˓a),
indicate, announce, narrate;
Note how close in pronunciation the Ethopic
is to the modern idea. Also note the
shows the initial sound as the
vowel "i", just as in idea.
The two Hebrew guttural letters,
aleph and, ע, ayin, fit exactly in the same position in ths ancient alphabet list
as they do in the modern English. Linguistic scholars universally
agree that the modern Western alphabet came through Greece from the
Phoenicians. However, I rarely hear a linguistic scholar admit that
the Phoenician language was very nearly the Hebrew language except
for a few minor dialectically differences. Because of the sacred
adherence to the Hebrews as a special people of God, even held by
godless scholars, they do not seem able to break down the barrier
that shows these two languages so closely related. We know from the
biblical accounts that the Hebrew tribes had a close cultural
relationship with the Canaanites, who were, again, linguistically
and otherwise, so closely associated with the Phoenicians. It would
be just as accurate to say that the modern alphabet came from
Hebrew. But it would be better to say that the modern alphabet came
from a Semitic source common to these different Semitic languages.
We do not know the ultimate origin of that Semitic source.
As a result of this alphabet coincidence I have asked if the
guttural sounds were once pronounced as our modern phonemes,
somewhere in the distant past. Then the "i" and "j" of the Hebrew
might very well have also followed more closely our pronunciation.
Did those two letters, which are now represented in English in the
same alphabetic position, sound the same as they do today? Then yohd
might be pronounced as "i" instead as "y". In fact, this Hebrew
letter until today is pronounced interior to a word as "i", as in
English sea. The letter for Hebrew yohd falls in the position
of the modern English alphabet "i", just prior to the letter "l".
Note that English has both "i" and "j". I am told by the internet source at Wikipedia
spelled Yud or Yod) is the tenth letter of many
Its sound value has an IPA
[j] in all languages for
which it is used; in many languages, it also serves as a
long vowel, representing IPA
This Semitic letter gave rise to the
From this line of reasoning and evidence the initial "j" of yohd
might have been pronounced as "i" to give us idah = to know.
Thus we come to the similarity of the Indo-European idea
and the Semitic idah, both meaning to know.
Notes On Indo-European Background
The word idea has roots in the
Indo-European and Semitic words for knowledge and sight. In the
course of time this word evolved out of Greek and Roman use to the form we know
today in English. As a result it shows the modifications in pronunciation and
meaning that came
with its cultural heritage. An idea of this evolution may be summed up by remarks made by John Calorusso of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. In a paper written in a
volume entitled Current
Trends in Caucasian, East European, and Inner Asian Linguistics:
Papers in Honor of Howard I. Aronson,
John Benjamins Pub Co (November 2003),
for his linguistic colleagues, More Pontic: Further Etymologies Between
Indo-European and Northwest Caucasian he said:
The application of
Hamp's law . . . explains a split in the behavior of */w-/ in Greek: some
reflexes show /hu-/ while others words simply drop */w/. The cases of simple
*w-dropping are instances of single initial */w/ in Greek, lost without leaving
an aspirated onset, such as in
[as in season] (PIE *wes-r-), Greek (w)ear,
(Armenian garun, Latin ver, Lithuanian vasara, Sanskrit
vasantah), or in
"to do" "work" (PIE *wer-g-, *wor-g-), Greek (w)ergon, (English work, Armenian
gorc, Avestan verez-), or in
"to know", "idea" (PIE
*wey-d-, *woy-d-, Greek eid-on, oid-a, id-men,
English wit, Sanskrit veda, Latin vid-, Armenian git-).
[I have slightly edited this statement to clarify the points.]
PIE means Proto Indo-European. Eric P. Hamp is an
American linguist, born in 1921, and long
associated with the University of Chicago.
The loss of the "v" ("w") created many modern words, including idea.
Originally this word meant to know. Note that English still retains
wit. We understand wit to mean the seat of consciousness, the mind,
the faculty of thinking and reasoning, mental capacity, understanding,
reasoning, and intellect.
The Sanskrit (Sanscrit) has a
complex verb system with many different forms expressing linguistic
nuances. It is not my purpose to provide a tutorial in this complex
system. I only provide some of the meanings of the words associated
with idea. We encounter many examples of how the "v"
("w") was dropped in other languages. One can see how easily (v)ideo
The closest we get directly to idea is found here.
dhii = imagination, intellect, thought,
mental attitude, intelligence, reflection, opinion, notion, intention,
knowledge, mind, art, science, wisdom, understanding.
An apparent connection with the concept that an idea
has birth in a flash of mental light is found in this word:
To kindle, light, set on fire, to be lighted, to blaze, flame.
On the other hand vid now appears strongly.
vaidyutaanala = fire of lightning
vidyut = lightning
vidyuddiipa = light
vidyullataa = lightning-flash
vid (with its many verb inflections)
= to know, understand, perceive, learn, become or be acquainted
with, be conscious of, have a correct notion of, with
infinitive = to know how to).
= to know or regard or consider as, take for, declare to be, call.
= to mind, notice, observe, remember.
= to experience, feel.
= to wish to know, inquire about, to make known, announce, report, tell.
= to teach, explain.
= to recognize or regard as.
= to feel, experience
= knowing, understanding, a knower.
= knowledge, understanding.
When the "v" is dropped from this root we have remaining the "id"
Late Latin idea (in Platonic sense), and Greek
look, semblance, form, appearance, configuration, shape, figure, species, kind, class, sort, nature, (in Platonic philosophy).
general or ideal form, type, model, from the root: to see
meaning to know, the word being thus
analogous in derivation and original sense to Latin species: to see,
sight, look, view.
Following are illustrations of the use of the
Greek word, and its many inflections and conceptual patterns.
= that which is seen, form,
shape, figure kind, sort, nature:
The look of a thing, as opposed
to its reality,
outward appearances cheat the mind, from Theognis:
Greek elegiac poet, 5th century.
ideas, they conceived two modes
echonta, what is their nature or
Greek author, 484-430/420BC.
eispherein, to bring in new fashions, from Euripides:
Greek playwright, c. 480-406 BC.
thanatou, every form
of death, from Thucydides:
Ancient Greek historians and
author, 460-404 BC.
a form, sort, particular kind or nature,
= a particular state of things or course of action, Thucydides.
= a class, kind, sort, whether genus or species,
1. to see, perceive, behold, Homer, etc.; after a
a marvel to behold,
2. to look at,
to look him in the face.
3. to look so and so,
4. to see mentally,
phresin "to see in his mind's eye," Homer.
videor, to be
astra = they are
visible, appear. (Note the result if the "v" of the Latin video is dropped
2. To appear or seem to be,
also with infinitive omitted, toge
he made a show of going.
3. In strictly middle sense,
Politêi, she made herself like
see, to be seen: but
in present sense, to know.
= see, perceive, behold,
idesthai, see before the eyes.
look at or towards;
look him in the face.
= see mentally,
phresin, 'to see in his
= I see with the
mind's eye, i.e. I know,
idmen, the first
we know of,
isthi, know well,
be assured of this,
fierceness in his heart,
lawlessness in his heart,
eideiê, if he were
kindly disposed towards me,
a debt to another, thank him,
The important concept behind
this word is that one sees with the mind, not with the eyes. We can trace
linguistic history, and the many people who used this word and its derivatives:
Weidos, Latin videre with Greek (W)oida,
compare Sanskrit véda, Gothic wait, OE wát = 'know'.
Sanscrit root vid-, vēda,= know; vindāmi
= find; cf. vēdas, sacred book; Greek root id, Wid-, in eidon
oida = know; German wissen; English
See also Latin: inf. viderier,
vidĕ, to see, perceive, with the eyes.
The word idea is found in Latin, together
with no dropped "v" as in video.
idea, feminine, = idea, a (Platonic) idea,
idoneus, adjective [Sanskrit root indh-, idh-, to
kindle; properly bright, conspicuous].
idiota , masculine, = idiôtês,
an uneducated, ignorant, inexperienced, common person: quidni et tu idem
illitteratum me atque idiotam diceres? Titus
Lucretius Carus (ca. 99 BC- ca. 55 BC)
idiotae, the common throng, the fickle mass, Quintus
(102 BC – 43 BC).
ideo, adverb, [this for this]. An appearance in sleep, vision,
apparition. A likeness, image, statue.
iduo, according to Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, a
philosopher who flourished during the reigns of
(395–423) stated that this was an Etruscan
word, dividere, from the root vid; whence viduus and
Here we see the first example of a tie to the root, vid.
videns , masculine, a seer, prophet (ecclesiastical Latin): eamus ad
videntem, Vulgate 1 Reg. 9, 9 : Samuel videns, id. 1 Par. 9, 22: Gad
Nathan propheta, id. 2 Par. 29, 25 et saep.
vīdī, vīsus, vidēre
[VID-], to see, discern, perceive.
Note how these approximate the Greek words if the "v" is removed.
e. to experience, V.--To see, look at, observe, note.
see what I have done! i.
e. is not this creditable?
look at me, i.
e. take courage from me.
Figurative: of the mind, to see, perceive, mark,
observe, discern, understand, comprehend, be aware.
1. To look at, look to, consider,
to think or reflect upon (cf.:
Plaut. Bacch. 4, 9, 118.
2. To look out for, see to, care for, provide:
4, 17, 38.
3. To take care, see to it, make sure,
with final clause:
Cic. Fam. 16, 1, 2.
4. To see, i. e. reach, attain,
From these examples we see how the Latin word emphasized the
mental capacity to understand, to see with the mind.
From Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
This root, occurring a total of 944 times, is used in every stem and
expresses a multitude of shades of knowledge gained by the senses. Its closest
bîn "to discern" and n'kar "to recognize." The root is found in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and the Qumran materials. In addition to "know," the KJV
uses the archaic forms "wot" and "wist."
y'd is used of God's
knowledge of man (Gen 18:19;
Deut 34:10) and his ways (Isa
48:8; Ps 1:6; 37:18), which
knowledge begins even before birth (Jer
1:5). God also knows the
fowl (Ps 50:11).
y'd is also used for man's
knowledge and for that of animals (Isa
The participle occurs in phrases describing skill in hunting (Gen
25:27), learning (Isa
29:11-13), lamentation (Amos
5:16), sailing the sea (2
Chron 8:18), and playing an
instrument (1 Sam 16:16).
In certain contexts it means "to distinguish." "To know good and evil" (Gen
3:5,22) is the result of
disobeying God. To distinguish between these is necessary for the king (2
Sam 19:36). A child cannot
distinguish between the left and right hands (Jonah
4:11) nor between good and
evil (Deut 1:39; Isa 7:15).
The context of the latter passage and the similar statement in Isa 8:4 may indicate that the reference is to
a child's not being able to distinguish what is beneficial and harmful. While
ordinarily gained by experience, knowledge is also the contemplative perception
possessed by the wise man (Prov
1:4; 2:6; 5:2; Eccl 1:18).
y'd is used to express
acquaintance with a person in such statements as "do you know Laban?" (Gen
29:5; Ex 1:8; 2 Sam 3:25).
The Pual participle designates kinfolk (2
Kings 10:11; etc.) and
acquaintances (Job 19:14;
Ruth 2:1; etc.). y'd is also used for the most intimate
acquaintance. God knows Moses by name and face to face (Ex
33:17; Deut 34:10). He
knows the Psalmist's sitting and arising (Ps
y'd is also used for
sexual intercourse on the part of both men and women in the well-known euphemism
"Adam knew Eve his wife" and its parallels (Gen
4:1; 19:8; Num 31:17,35; Judg 11:39; 21:11; 1 Kings 1:4; 1 Sam 1:19).
It is used to describe sexual perversions such as sodomy (Gen
19:5; Judg 19:22) and rape
In addition to knowledge of secular matters
y'd is also used of one's relation to the
divine, whether acquaintance with other gods (Deut
13:3,7,14) or with Jehovah
(1 Sam 2:12; 3:7).
The heathen do not know God (Jer
10:25) and neither does
Israel, according to the prophets (Jer
4:22). The plagues of Egypt
were sent so that the Egyptians might know that Jehovah is God (Ex
10:2; etc.). He will
destroy (Ezek 6:7)
and restore Israel so that they may know that he is God (Isa
60:16). The prophet
Ezekiel, in particular, uses the phrase "that you may know" in his threats (Ezek
d'a. Knowledge. This
feminine noun is translated gnœsis in the LXX,
and scientia in the Vulgate. The Lord is a
God of all knowledge (Job
36:4; 1 Sam 2:3). The
wicked question his knowledge (Ps
73:11). He is the object of
man's knowledge, and Isaiah envisions an earth full of the knowledge of the Lord
The prophet preaches knowledge (Isa
28:9) and the ideal ruler
rules by it (Jer 3:15).
The noun may be only another form of da'at (see below). The masculine noun d¢å is quite similar.
da'at. Knowledge, cunning
(ASV and RSV Similar). This feminine noun is from the root y'd "to know." The root expresses
knowledge gained in various ways by the senses. The noun occurs ninety-three
times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the wisdom literature, with
forty-one instances in Prov, ten in Job, and nine in Eccl. It is used forty-two
times in the Qumran materials and is also used in Ugaritic and Akkadian.
da'at is a general term for
knowledge, particularly that which is of a personal, experimental nature (Prov
24:5). It is also used for
technical knowledge or ability such as that needed for building the tabernacle
and temple (Ex 31:3; 35:31;
1 Kings 7:14). da'at is also used for discernment (Ps
119:66). Both deeds
committed unintentionally (Deut
4:42; 19:4; Josh 20:3,5; b®lî da'at)
and mistaken opinions are "without knowledge" (lœ̊
da'at, Prov 19:2).
da'at is possessed by God (Job
10:7; Ps 139:6; Prov 3:20),
from whom nothing can be hidden (Ps
139:1-18). He teaches it to
man (Ps 94:10; 119:66; Prov
2:6). It appears parallel
with wisdom (μœkmâ)
and understanding (t®bûnâ),
and law (tôrâ).
Wisdom is used in series with "science" (madd¹±, Dan 1:4)
and is the opposite of "folly" (̊iwwelet, Prov 12:23; 13:16; 14:18;
15:2). Hence da'at is the contemplative perception of the
wise man (Prov 1:4; 2:6;
5:2; Eccl 1:18).
da'at is also used for moral
cognition. Thus the tree in the Garden of Eden was a tree of the knowledge of
good and evil (Gen 2:9,17).
By eating its fruit man came to know in a way comparable to the knowledge of God
(see above). This important reference may also be taken as the figure of speech
known as merism to indicate objective awareness of all things both good and bad.
In this sense the sinful pain did become like God (Gen
3:22). Cassuto says,
"Before they ate of the tree of knowledge, the man and his wife were like small
children who know nought of what exists around them" (U. Cassuto, Genesis, vol.
I, p. 112).
Particularly distinctive is the prophetic concept of "knowledge of God" (da'at̊elœhîm) which is particularly
prominent in Hosea (Hos
4:1,6; 6:6; cf. Prov 2:5).
Knowledge of God is derived from those outstanding historical events in which
God has evidenced and has revealed himself to chosen individuals such as Abraham
and Moses. These revelations are to be taught to others, "Knowledge of God"
appears in parallel with "fear of the Lord" (yir'at YHWH Isa 11:2;
cf. Isa 58:2; Jer 22:16)
as a description of true religion. The man who has a right relation with God
confesses. him and obeys him. To do justice and righteousness and to judge the
cause of the poor and the needy is to know God (Jer
22:15-16). On the other
hand where there is no knowledge of God there is swearing, lying, killing,
stealing, committing adultery and destruction upon a people (Hos
4:6; cf. Isa 5:13).
Knowledge of God is more pleasing to him than sacrifice (Hos
6:6). The prophetic view of
the messianic age is of a time in which the knowledge of God covers the earth as
water covers the sea (Hab
2:14; cf. Isa 11:9).
yidd-œnî. Wizard (KJV
and some modern translations); fortune-teller (Berkeley Version, AR); familiar
spirit (JPS, NEB); spirit (NEB, NAB); magician (JB); and sorcerer (JB), Since
the root of yidd®±œnî is the verb y'd "to know," implied in the title,
therefore, is esoteric knowledge not available to the ordinary person.
yidd-œnî always occurs
ôb (witch, q.v.). It may be a description
of an ̊ôb or it may be thc masculine
counterpart. (Similarly, "witch" and "wizard" are a feminine and masculine pair
in English.) As the Hebrew word yidd®±œnî is related to knowledge, so the
English word "wizard" is related to wisdom.
God forbad his people to consult the yidd-œnî (Lev 19:31; 20:6,27; Deut 18:11) as well as other diviners. Despite the fact that Saul outlawed them, he still consulted an ôb "spirit" according to 1 Sam 28.
How the Israelite kings dealt with these spiritists was a significant factor in
characterizing the king as good or evil (2
Kings 21:6; 23:24; 2 Chron 33:6).
Isaiah spoke of them with utter scorn (Isa
mœda: Kinsman. The LXX
follows the Kethib, rendering this feminine noun as gnœrismos "acquaintance," from a Piel
participial form. The Vulgate and English versions follow the context where Boaz
is a kinsman (Ruth 2:1;
cf. Ruth 2:20; 3:2,12; 4:3). mœda± is used figuratively in Prov 7:4,
paralleling sister, to describe wisdom.
mœda'at. Kindred, kinsman.
The LXX renders this feminine noun as gnorismos "acquaintance," but the Vulgate
propinquus "kindred." The
English versions follow the Vulgate and context (Ruth
3:2; cf. 2:20; 4:3). For
the Levirate marriage custom, see Gen 38; Deut 25:5; Matt 22:23,
and cf. y'bam.
madda: Knowledge, science,
thought. This masculine noun is used in contexts with wisdom knowledge (2
Chron 1:10-12). The Hebrew
children surpassed others in knowledge (Dan
1:4,7; KJV and ASV,
"science"; RSV, "learning"). It is paralleled with that done in secret, hence
"thought" (Eccl 10:20).
It also occurs in Sir 3:13; Sir 13:8.
maddûa: Why? wherefore?
on what account? (ASV and RSV are similar.) BDB and KB suggest that it is a
mâ yadûa±what being known,"
i.e. "from what motive." It is variously translated in the LXX by tís, dia tí, hína tí, hína tí toûto, tí hotí, hôs
tí. Hence, this interrogative
adverb is used to inquire about a motive (cf. Gen 26:27),
as an indirect question (cf. Ex 3:3), or as a
rhetorical device, as in Isa
5:4ff, "When I looked for
good grapes, why did it only yield bad?" (NIV).