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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Right Hand

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Yâmı̂yn (יָמִין, Strong's #3225), “right hand.” This word has cognates attested in Ugaritic, Arabic, Syriac, Aramaic, and Ethiopic. It appears about 137 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

First, the word represents the bodily part called the “right hand”: “And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand …” (Gen. 48:13). Ehud was “bound as to his right hand”; he was lefthanded: “But when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded …” (Judg. 3:15). Yâmı̂yn may be used in a figurative sense. God’s taking one’s “right hand” means that He strengthens him: “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not: I will help thee” (Isa. 41:13). The Bible speaks anthropomorphically, attributing to God human parts and, in particular, a “right hand” (Exod. 15:6). The Bible teaches that God is a spirit and has no body or bodily parts (cf. Exod. 20:4; Deut. 4:15- 19). This figure is used of God’s effecting His will among men and of His working in their behalf (showing His favor): “And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High” (Ps. 77:10).

Second, yâmı̂yn represents the direction, to the “right.” In this use the word can specify the location of someone or something: “But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left” (Exod. 14:29). In other contexts yâmı̂yn signifies “direction toward”: “Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left” (Gen. 13:9— the first biblical appearance).

Third, yâmı̂yn can be used of bodily parts other than the right hand. In Judg. 3:16 the word is used of one’s thigh (literally, “thigh of the right hand”): “But Ehud made him a dagger which had two edges, of a cubit length; and he did gird it under his raiment upon his right thigh.” The word is used in 1 Sam. 11:2 in conjunction with one’s eye and in Exod. 29:22 with a thigh.

Fourth, this word is used to mean “south,” since the south is on one’s “right” when he faces eastward: “Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strongholds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?” (1 Sam. 23:19).

Yemânı̂y (יְמָנִי, Strong's #3233), “right hand; on the right side; the right side (of one’s body); southern.” This noun appears 25 times in the Old Testament. Yemânı̂y means “right hand” in Exod. 29:20, the first biblical occurrence. In 1 Kings 7:21 the word refers to the “right side” in regard to a location. Yemânı̂y appears in Ezek. 4:6 with the meaning of the “right side” of the body. The word implies “southern” in 1 Kings 6:8: “The door for the middle chamber was in the right side [southern side] of the house.…”

Têymân (תֵּמָן, Strong's #8486), “south; southern quarter; southwards.” This noun makes 22 biblical appearances. In its first biblical occurrence (Exod. 26:18), the word refers to the direction “southward.” Têymân can mean “south” or “southern quarter” as in Josh. 15:1.

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Right Hand'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

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