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Nahash is a word that in several Semitic languages, means serpent.
It has long been thought to mean serpent in Ancient Hebrew, but it remains under debate (see below).
It has been used as both an epithet and a personal name, to suggest warrior-like abilities.
Nahash may thus refer to:

  • Nahash, king of Ammon - King of the Ammonites in the time of King Saul. The inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead, having been exposed to great danger from Nahash, sent messengers to Gibeah to inform Saul of their extremity. He promptly responded to the call, and gathering together an army, he marched against Nahash. "And it came to pass that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them [the Ammonites] were not left together" (1 Sam. 11:1-11).
  • Another king of the Ammonites of the same name is mentioned, who showed kindness to David during his wanderings (2 Samuel 10:2). On his, [Nahash's], death David sent an embassy of sympathy to Hanun, Nahash's son and successor, at Rabbah Ammon, The Ammonite capital. The grievous insult which was put upon these ambassadors led to a war against the Ammonites, who, with their allies the Syrians, were completely routed in a battle fought at "the entering in of the gate," probably of Medeba (2 Sam. 10:6-14). Again Hadarezer rallied the Syrian host, which was totally destroyed by the Israelite army under Joab in a decisive battle fought at Helam (2 Sam. 10:17), near to Hamath (1 Chr. 18:3). "So the Syrians feared to help the children of Ammon any more" (2 Sam. 10:19).
  • The father of David's sisters, of which one was the mother of Amasa, the commander-in-chief of Absalom's army (2 Sam. 17:25). Jesse's wife had apparently been first married to this man, to whom she bore Abigail and Zeruiah, who were thus David's sisters, but only on the mother's side (1 Chr. 2:16).

The name Nahshon is derived from the same root.

In the Aramaic Targums of Genesis, "serpent" is "hiwyah," similar to the name of Eve, "hawah."(TgOnq Gen 3:1)

Ancient Hebrew

According to Antoine Fabre d'Olivet, the proper translation from Ancient Hebrew of Nahash is closer to cupidity or original attraction.[1]

According to Eliphas Levi, "The word Nahash, explained by the symbolical letters of the Tarot signifies rigorously:

14 נNUN.-The power which produces combinations.

5 הHE.-The recipient and passive producer of forms.

21 שׁSHIN.-The natural and central fire equilibrated by double polarization.

Thus, the word employed by Moses, read kabalistically, gives the description and definition of that magical Universal Agent, represented in all theogonies by the serpent;"[2]

See also


This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.

  1. d'Olivet, Fabre (1921). The Hebraic tongue restored : and the true meaning of the Hebrew words re-established and proved by their radical analysis. New York and London : G.P. Putnam's sons. 
  2. Levi, Eliphas (1968). Transcendental Magic. Weiser Books. pp. 438. ISBN 0877280797. 

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