Passing Phrase - www.learnhebrew.org.il

Mishenet Hakaneh Haratsuts

Literally: A flimsy reed backrest
Idiomatically: Can't trust his word / unreliable

This beautifully descriptive phrase comes from the Bible (Kings II 18:21). There it refers to someone who is relying on something fragile like a reed. In the Bible it is referring to a conversation between the emissary from the king of Assyria and king Hezekiah regarding an alliance with Egypt.

To break it down, a "Mishenet" is something you lean upon, such as a backrest, from the word "נשען" ("nish-an"). The reed or "kaneh" is a wonderful metaphor for Egypt where it is found in abundance. It is hollow but strong so you can lean upon it. But if it is cracked or bent, it becomes flimsy and you can get hurt. The word "ratsuts" means broken or rickety which is almost broken. It comes from the root ר'צ'ץ resh-tsadik-tsadik. According to the Hebrew academy for languages you can switch (between Aramaic and Hebrew) the 2 letters tsadik for 2 letters ayin (a switch between Aramaic and Hebrew) and you get the word רעוע "ra'u'ah" also meaning rickety or broken (Psalms 2:8; Kelayim 3:8).

כדאי להפנים שהמעצמות עליהן ישראל נוטה לסמוך הן משענת קנה רצוץ.

"Kedai lehafnim shehama'atsamot she'aleihen Yisrael nota lismoch hen mishenet hakaneh haratsuts."

It’s worthy to internalize that the powers on whom Israel tends to depend are unreliable.


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