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Kneeling, Bowing & Prostrating

"[Ta•na"kh] mentions the Semitic practise of setting one's foot upon the neck of the conquered foe ([Yᵊho•shua 10.24; Tᵊhil•im 110.1]), a custom also mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions. It was a sign of complete subjugation, and was expressed symbolically by the ceremony of proskynesis ("lying down"), as shown, for instance, by the tribute-bearing legates on the Assyrian bas-reliefs, and was commonly practised among the Hebrews toward people of rank, or in the presence of the idol to whom one wished to express complete subjection. That the prophets have no words of reproach for this form of adoration—so inappropriate to the invisible God whom no place could contain—shows only how deeply this religious form of reverence had taken root in the habits of the people."

Kneeling-Crouch Position
Kneeling-Crouch (sitting on one's heels) – the most likely position from which one who is crouching can place his face between his knees (Mᵊlâkh•im Âlëph 18.42)

"It is difficult to interpret the posture described in [Mᵊlâkh•im Âlëph 18.42], where [Eil•i•yâhu] at prayer is represented as ", and put his face between his knees" (compare [Ma•sëkët Ta•an•it 3.8])… That this was no unusual posture at prayer may be seen from the fact that it was practised among the Jews about the year 60 of the common era ([Ma•sëkët Bᵊrâkh•ōt 34b). Probably the passage, Shᵊmu•eil Beit 7.18—where it is stated [Then came ha-Mëlëkh Dâ•wid before [‑‑]—is to be similarly explained as referring to a peculiar and solemn mode of sitting."

"[Exilic and Post-Exilic Times] Influenced by the Assyrians, among whom the act of kneeling in token of submission was quite general—as shown in the Assyrian delineations of the kneeling envoys from tributary nations—the Jews adopted this form of religious adoration (Mᵊlâkh•im Âlëph 8.54; Ëzᵊr•â 9.6, and other passages). But the passage in [ Mᵊlâkh•im Âlëph 19.18], referring to kneeling down before Baal, must be understood as applying to prostrate adoration, which was preceded, as already stated, by a bending of the knee. About this time, too, the practise of spreading the hands wide at prayer was modified in consideration of the conception of the heavenly [Ël•oh•im], toward whom the hands were to be raised in the direction of heaven whither the seat of [Ël•oh•im] had been transferred ([ Mᵊlâkh•im Âlëph 7.22, 54; Eikh•âh 3.41]). A practise originating in the period of exile was that of turning the face during prayer toward the Holy Land, as the place favored by [Ël•oh•im] ([Mᵊlâkh•im Âlëph 8.48; Dân•iy•eil 6.11])."

"Egyptian Mode of Adoration The scanty literary remains of the last three pre-Christian centuries contain so little concerning the Forms of Adoration that it is probable no essential modifications were made in them. The old [hi•shᵊta•khaw•âh] Form of Adoration was the favorite one in the Second [Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdâsh], and in accordance with the pharisaic love of minutiæ the number of bows in the [Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdâsh] was exactly fixed. Every visitor to the sanctuary had thirteen to perform, with the hands and feet spread out and the face touching the ground ([Mishᵊnâh Shᵊqal•im] 6.1, 3; To•sëphᵊtâ ibid.] 2.17)…"

Another synonym is (to nod or bow the head). See also (kneel).

The Ram•ba"m, the Tei•mân•im No•sakh Ba•lad•i Dor Daim and the Nᵊtzâr•im all advocate restoring this ancient practice.

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