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[Updated: 2023.05.16]

Kneeling, Bowing & Prostrating

"[Ta•na״khꞋ] mentions the Semitic practise of setting one's foot upon the neck of the conquered foe ([Yᵊho•shuꞋa 10.24; Tᵊhil•imꞋ 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 προσκύνησις, 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."

cBCE841 Yeihu surrenders to Shalmeneser 3rd (black obelisk)
Click to enlargecBCE841 𒅀𒌑𒀀 𒈥 𒄷𒌝𒊑𒄿 (YeiꞋhū [Bën-Yᵊhō•shã•phãtꞋ], of the Ãmᵊri Dynasty) pays annual national tax to 𒀸𒋩𒆠Shūlᵊm•ãnū Ashar•ēdō (Neo-Assyrian Empire)  3rd (black obelisk in British Museum)

"It is difficult to interpret the posture described in [Mᵊlãkh•imꞋ ÃlꞋëph 18.42], where [Eil•i•yãhꞋu] at prayer is represented as "וַיִּגְהַר, and put his face between his knees" (compare [Ma•sëkꞋët Ta•an•itꞋ 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•sëkꞋët Bᵊrãkh•ōtꞋ 34b). Probably the passage, Shᵊmu•eilꞋ Beit 7.18—where it is stated [Then came ha-MëlꞋëkh Dã•widꞋ וַיֵּשֶׁב before [י‑‑ה]—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 (Mᵊlãkh•imꞋ ãlꞋëph 8.54; ËꞋzᵊr•ã 9.6, and other passages). But the passage in [ Mᵊlãkh•imꞋ ãlꞋëph 19.18], referring to kneeling down before BaꞋal, 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•imꞋ], toward whom the hands were to be raised in the direction of heaven whither the seat of [Ël•oh•imꞋ] had been transferred ([ Mᵊlãkh•imꞋ ãlꞋëph 7.22, 54; Eikh•ãhꞋ 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•imꞋ] ([Mᵊlãkh•imꞋ ãlꞋëph 8.48; Dãn•iy•eilꞋ 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•ãhꞋ] Form of Adoration was the favorite one in the Second [Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdãshꞋ], and in accordance with the pharisaic love of minutiæ the number of bows in the [Beit ha-Mi•qᵊdãshꞋ] 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 ([MiꞋshᵊnãh Shᵊqal•imꞋ] 6.1, 3; To•sëphꞋᵊtã ibid.] 2.17)…"

Synonyms Compared & Contrasted

The Ram•ba"mꞋ, the Tei•mãn•imꞋ No•sakhꞋ Ba•lad•iꞋ Dor DaꞋim and the Nᵊtzãr•imꞋ all advocate restoring this ancient practice.

Rainbow Rule

Pay it forward! Quote & Cite:

Ben-David, Yirmeyahu. Netzarim Jews World Headquarters, Ra'anana, Israel. www.netzarim.co.il. Kheeling, Bowing & Prostrating. Today's date.

© 1996-present by Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben-David,

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