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Detailed Analysis of 'Radah'

The main page on the Hebrew word radah as used in Genesis 1:26-28 means ruling or managing the rest of creation with love and for its sake, rather than our own purposes, convenience or pleasure. Some Christians assume the latter view, which I believe is wrong, because radah that is harsh or self-centred is explicitly excluded in Ezekiel 34, where God condemns the 'shepherds of Israel' for using the sheep for their own purposes.

This page makes a full analysis of where radah is used, to show how I arrived at that conclusion.



Genesis 1:26-28 says [NIV], with radah translated as 'rule over':

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, overall the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he ceated them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

The crux of the argument, and why analysis is necessary, is that two interpretations of radah are going round:

The first is the interpretation I find. The second is one that has widely prevailed over the past couple of hundred years especially among Christians inspired by either Scholasticism or Humanism.

Here is the reason why it matters. Since radah is one of four words used to show the relation between humanity and the rest of creation, how we interpret it will affect how we believe humanity should treat the rest of creation.

Which interpretation is correct affects us in two ways. On one hand, our 'opponents': Lynn White has famously (among Christians at least) blamed (mediaeval) Christianity for what he saw as the environmental crisis, tracing it to the 'rule with force' interpretation of radah. This put the people of Christ on the defensive as far as the environment was concerned. On the other hand, some prosperous Christians argue that we can continue our affluent lifestyles and pleasures and conveniences because we have been given the right to exploit the rest of creation as we wish.

I believe both have got it wrong. However, if Scripture does really tell us that God expects us to exploit the rest of creation for our own purposes, then I must accept it.

So I decided to analyse the use of the word radah to see what was likely to have been intended in its use in Genesis 1. Analysis, however, brings its own challenges.

The Challenge of Analysing the Meaning of a Hebrew Word

The challenge is to find a way of understanding what the original authors, led by the Spirit of God, had meant in using the word we are interested in, radah.

Received or traditional interpretations will not do, because, as Walsh & Middleton point out in a section entitled 'Glasses that distort Scripture', [p. 103 of The Transforming Vision], our interpretations already presuppose certain theological assumptions. So we ought to hold our theological assumptions very lightly and be aware of what they are when reading Scripture as the Holy-Spirit-inspired Word of God.

There are three main levels of assumptions: those of our theological group, the worldview of translators and the ground-motives of lexicon compilers.

The first is the assumptions of our own theological or religious groups or traditions. We accept too easily how our group has taken certain passages, without questioning whether that is what the Holy Spirit intended. To overcome this we might look at several translations.

However, a second source is assumptions made by individual translators themselves. But even translations can be misleading, because they are made by people with a certain worldview, who often have certain theological positions, which, however honest they try to make their translations, still come through. Knowing this, analysts often resort to lexicons, like Genesius or BDB, and concordances like Young's or Strong's.

However, there is an even deeper source, of assumptions made by the compilers of lexicons, as well as translators. They worked within their own times and history, during which there were prevailing presuppositions about the nature of things, what the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd called 'ground-motives'. These are deep presuppositions about what is meaningful and are "spiritual driving force that acts as the absolutely central mainspring of human society" [Dooyeweerd, 1979,p.9]. A ground-motive is a deep, widely-shared presupposition about the nature of reality, including humanity, and how to understand good and evil. It is often so deeply tacit that is not only never questioned but not even recognised as happening, being taken to be self-evidently true by thinkers of varying worldviews. Dooyeweerd [1979] traced four ground-motives that have influenced Western thinking over the past 2,500 years; each tends to last hundreds of years.

At the time of the above-mentinoed lexicons and concordances, the Scholastic ground-motive was in the decline and the Humanistic ground-motive in the ascendency. Both of these elevate humanity, to the status of potentate, emphasising its difference from the rest of creation. Scholastic and mediaeval thought, based on Aristotle, saw human beings as above the rest of creation in an hierarchy of status and right to control. Humanism exacerbated this, treating all the rest of creation as mere resources to be exploited for humanity's pleasure or convenience, and in the pursuit of humanity's chosen purposes and agenda.

With Dooyeweerd, I question whether those presuppositions (of Scholasticism and Humanism) can be called Biblical. Instead, I take what Dooyeweerd called the Biblical ground-motive, which takes more notice of creation as well as fall and redemption.

With the influence of both these humanity-elevating ground-motives strong among thinkers at that time, it is no surprise to find that a word that is used in Scripture to speak of the relationship between humanity and the rest of creation, radah, being seen as having implications of a certain kind of 'dominion' that is exploitative.

Thus Young's, Strong's and Genesius all say that radah, has connotations of 'to tread down', which implies 'rule with force' rather than 'rule with authority'. If we recognise the influence of these two humanity-elevating ground-motives, we can question this connotation.

I do not feel bound to the interpretations of Genesius, Strong or Young where the support for their interpretations comes not from Scripture itself but from these human-potentate ground-motives.

Questioning the Connotation

The idea of radah as treading down seems to come mainly from just one verse, Joel 3:13. Here, radah, in its form of rdw, is associated with the winepress of God's wrath against the nations.

"Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes [rdw], for the winepress is full and the vats overflow - so great is their wickedness." (NIV)

The word rdw is translated "trample the grapes" in the NIV, but in fact grapes are not mentioned in the Hebrew. Here is the word-for-word translation (from my Interlinear:

let-them-be-roused and-let-them-advance the-nations into Valley-of Jehoshaphat for there I-will-sit to-judge all-of the-nations on-every-side. !swing sickle for he-is-ripe harvest !come !rdw, for she-is-full winepress they-overflow the-vats so great wickedness-of-them."

Notice: no mention of grapes. Grapes are presumed by the translators because it is known that grapes are trodden to make wine, but that presumption might be wrong. So we do not need to translate rdw as 'trample'.

And, if the winepress is already too full, why call for yet more grapes to be trodden?

The word rdw need not mean 'tread' even here. if, instead, rdw has the idea of 'manage responsibly' or 'have godly authority' (which I argue below is a better understanding), which can be uplifting rather than destructive, this verse still makes sense. It would say:

"Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come. Take godly authority. For the winepress is full and the vats overflow - so great is their wickedness."

Taking authority in godly judgement certainly makes sense in the context of great wickedness.

To maintain that rdw has the connotation of treading down seems to arise from a circular argument: From our ground-motives, we assume it might mean 'tread down', then we find this fits Joel 3:13, then we argue that because of Joel 3:13 it must have the connotation of treading down. However, as we have seen, it is not necessary for radah to have the connotation of 'tread down', even in Joel 3:13.

Where 'Tread down' Makes No Sense

There are several uses of radah where the idea of 'rule by treading down' makes little sense. For example, I Ki 9:23:

"550 officials supervising the men who did the work."

It makes no sense to think that the officials trod-down and crushed the craftsmen who did the work. However, the idea of authority comes through very strongly. So it seemed to me that the 'tread down' connotation needed to be scrutinized. The analysis below reveals other similar instances.

Other Hebrew Words

Moreover, there are other Hebrew words that would be more likely used if the intended meaning were to 'rule with force, treading down'.

Those who want radah to mean 'rule with force' in Genesis must explain convincingly why those other words were not used instead.


As a result of such things, it is necessary, not to take the presupposition of the lexicographers as given, but to investigate all the uses of this Hebrew word in its variants. Of course, it is used by different writers at different times, so is likely to have slightly different connotations. But it is useful, I believe, to gather together its constellation of uses, so as to find where the central meaning is.

To make the analysis, I found all the verses that Young's Analytical Concordance lists as having words translated from radah, adding some from elsewhere. These are analysed, to see how radah is used. I indicate in which ones I believe 'rule with authority' makes sense, and in which, 'rule with force' makes sense.

I type out their text below as translated in the NIV. Then I give the word-by-word translation of each Hebrew word.

I find that 'take authority' makes sense more often than does 'rule with force'. This directs us to consider the word in its wider semantic and pragmatic contexts. I compare it with other similar words, especially in On the Interpretation of Four Hebrew Words: Radah, Kabash, Abad, Shamar. In the main page of radah I discuss how the message harmonizes with the rest of Scripture.

(This approach is based on the assumption that Scripture is God's communication to humankind and hence has an harmonious message.)

The Analysis

The following table lists all the verses I have found that contain radah or similar, along with a phrase that summarises what the radah seems to be about. Column 2 indicates whether it can make sense to see radah as 'rule with authority, responsibly managing' in this verse, in its context. Column 3 indicates whether 'rule with force, treading down' can make sense. Column 4 indicates whether radah is used with normative force (as it is in Genesis 1, where God gives humanity a mandate) or merely descriptively or predictively.

Analysis of all uses of radah
Verse Meaning Rule with authority? Rule with force? Normative?
Genesis 1:26,28 Humanity's relationship to rest of creation Yes Claimed Normative
Leviticus 25:43 [1] Treat Hebrew slaves well Yes No Normative
Leviticus 25:46 [1] Treat Hebrew slaves well Yes No Normative
Leviticus 25:53 [1] Treat Hebrew slaves well Yes No Normative
Leviticus 26:17 If God's people don't listen, their enemies will rule over them Yes Yes Predictive
Numbers 24:19 Balaam's oracle on Israel: a ruler will come out of Jacob Yes Maybe Predictive
I Kings 4:24 Solomon ruled over many kingdoms Yes Maybe Descriptive
I Kings 5:16 Supervisors of workers Yes No Descriptive
I Kings 9:23 Supervisors of workers Yes No Descriptive
II Chron 8:10 Supervisors of workers Yes No Descriptive
Nehemiah 9:28 Confessing that because Israel did evil, God was right in letting their enemies rule over them Yes Yes Descriptive
Psalm 49:14 The upright will rule over the self-trusting Yes Maybe Predictive
Psalm 68:27 Benjamin leads the procession Yes No Descriptive
Psalm 72:8 Righteous king who brings refreshment will rule from sea to sea Yes No Predictive
Psalm 110:2 Messiah will rule in the presence of enemies Yes Yes Predictive
Isaiah 14:2 Israel, when restored, will rule over their oppressors Yes Yes Predictive
Isaiah 14:6 Babylon "subduing" the nations Yes Yes Descriptive
Isaiah 41:2 God brings kings into subjection to His servant (maybe Cyrus) Yes Possibly Predictive
Jeremiah 5:31 Ruling by own authority: horrible Possibly Possibly Descriptive
Lamentations 1:13 God sent down fire into (Jeremiah's?) bones No No Descriptive
Ezekeil 29:15 Egypt will never again rule over the nations Yes Possibly Predictive
Ezekiel 34:4 Shepherds are wrong to have ruled sheep with force and cruelty Yes No [1] Normative
Hosea 11:12 Judah rules against God Yes No Descriptive
Joel 3:13 God will judge the nations when wickedness overflowingly great Yes Yes
(trample grapes)

Notes from Table:

Leviticus 25:43,46,53. The text has the negative form "Do not rule over them ruthlessly ..." So some might argue that 'rule over' could indeed mean 'rule by treading down' ("Do not tread them down ruthlessly"). However if this is the case, why is it necessary to add the qualifying adverb "ruthlessly"?

Psalm 110:2. The Hebrew does not say rule over enemies, but rule in the midst of, or in the presence of enemies. For 'tread down' to make sense, the word needs to be 'over'.

Lamentations 1:13. 'Send down' seems to be a completely different meaning for radah. It is just possible that 'rule with authority' could by used: "By his authority fire entered my bones". But 'rule by treading down' is meaningless here.

Ezekiel 34:4. The text (NIV) says "Woe to the shepherds of Israel ... You have ruled them harshly and brutally." 'Ruled' could be 'ruled by treading down', but in this case, why would the two qualifying adverbs be added 'harshly' and 'brutally'? In any case, the message is clear: ruling by treading down is not what God intended of those with authority. For this reason I have said 'No' to 'rule by treading down'. What the verse seems to be saying is that the authority that shepherds rightly have over the sheep has been exercised in the wrong way, i.e. with force. The normative meaning that God gives to radah is to be that of the good shepherd who cares for the sheep and gives himself for them.

Joel 3:13. The NIV and lexicons like Genesius translate radah as "trample the grapes" or "tread". It may be that this is the verse that gave them the idea that rd means 'rule by treading down'. The NIV translates this verse as "Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow - so great is their wickedness!" The reference to winepress makes it not unreasonable to translate rd as 'tread down'. However, in the Hebrew there is no mention of the object, grapes. The transliterated Hebrew is

"!swing sickle for he-is-ripe harvest !come !rule / trample for she-is-full winepress they-overflow the-vats so great wickedness-of-them."
Had there been mention of grapes as the object of rd then the interpretation 'rule by treading down' would be valid while that of 'rule with authority by responsibly managing' would not be valid. So why have I made this interpretation 'Yes'? It is because there is no mention of grapes, nor in fact of any object of rd. So the call to 'rule with authority' can be valid, as in the verse somewhere that calls upon God to reign because of evil. Indeed, there is a slight practical objection to 'trample the grapes' in that, if the winepress is full, surely one would stop trampling. Rather, when a vessel is full, it is time to take charge. Moreover, it is in the context of Yahweh judging; harvesting is often used as a metaphor for judging.

Findings from Analysis in Table

Notice the following things:

1. 'Rule with authority by responsibly managing' makes sense of radah many more times than 'rule by treading down' does. 'Rule with authority' makes sense in every case bar one.

Implication: In general, it is far more accurate and justified to translate radah as 'rule with authority by responsibly managing' than as 'rule by tread down'.

2. Where the meaning is normative, i.e. indicating what God wants, it is clear that 'rule with force' is wrong, and against God's intention. In those, in the vast majority of cases 'rule by treading down'

Implication: Since its use in Genesis 1 indicates God's intention, it is not at all appropriate to see this as 'rule by treading down', but as 'rule with authority by responsibly managing'. Indeed, this puts it more in harmony with Imago Dei.

This is one line of evidence. Two further lines support it (a method of triangulation.)

Comparing with Other Words

That radah is intended to mean 'rule with authority by managing responsibly', rather than 'rule by treading down', is supported when we look at what other Hebrew words might have been used instead.

There is already a Hebrew word that means 'rule with force' and which implies 'treading down', mashal. From looking at where it has been used, Mashal seems to refer to the operation and result of ruling and of force as in God ruling over a sea that is raging [Psa 89:9]. Mashal is used to refer to the kind of cruel oppression that the Philistines exercised over Israel in Judges 14:4.

By contrast, where radah is used it refers to authority. Moreover, in most places radah authority is linked to, or within the context of, God's superior authority, to which we are subject, and which we are to mirror. God's authority seems not to be so true of the other words.

See On the Interpretation of Four Hebrew Words: Radah, Kabash, Abad, Shamar for the full comparison between these words.

This supports the argument from looking at radah itself, that it refers to 'rule with authority by managing responsibly' rather than 'rule by treading down'.

Harmony with Imago Dei

The first two lines of evidence are from the Jewish Scriptures only. This third line may be detected in them, but it is clearer if we take the Christian Scriptures as the word of God too. Those who do not wish to do so, need not read this section.

Imago Dei refers to the idea that humankind is intended to image God to the rest of creation. That humankind is made in God's image, in God's likeness, is placed alongside the rule that God gives humankind over the rest of creation. This suggests that they harmonize, that they both express God's intention for humankind.

As has been argued elsewhere, throughout history, and culminating in the coming of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit of God, it has been revealed that "God is love" [I John]. This revelation is unique to the revelation through Christ. Other religions see God as power, God as authority, God as mighty, God as all-knowing, and so on. Only in the Bible do we find God as love, with agape, self-giving love. For more, see main page on radah.

If radah is to harmonize with this, the implication is that humankind is to image this self-giving love in its relationship to the rest of creation. Radah seen as 'rule with authority by responsibly managing' can indeed harmonize with love, whereas seen as 'rule by treading down' cannot. Indeed, the 'responsible management' is no longer mere management, but something with love and care. That harmonizes further with the words used in Genesis 2 (see On the Interpretation of Four Hebrew Words).

This is a third line of evidence to support us seeing radah as 'rule with authority by responsibly managing' rather than as 'rule by treading down'.


From those three lines of evidence, looking at how radah has been used, and comparing it with mashal that could have been used, it is much more likely that radah should be translated as 'rule with authority by responsibly managing', than as 'rule by treading down'.


Texts with radah or similar
Verses NIV translation Direct from Hebrew Notes
1. Gen 1:26,28 "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he ceated them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." "Then-he-said God let-us-make man in-image-of-us in-likeness-of-us and-let-them-rule wy-rd-w over-the-fish the-sea and-over-bird-of the-air and-over-the-livestock and-over-all-of the-earth and-over-every-of the-crawler the-one-crawling along the-ground. so-he-created God *** the-man in-image-of-him in-image-of God he-created him male and-female he-created them. and-he-blessed them God and-he-said to-them God be-fruitful! and-increase! and-fill! *** the-earth and-subdue-her! and-rule! w-rd-w over-fish-of the-sea and-over-bird-of the-air and-over-every-of living the-one-crawling on the-ground." This is the usage we are trying to interpret.
Lev 25: 43 "If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. ... Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God." "not you-rule th-rdh over-him with-ruthlessness but-you-fear to-God-of-you."
Lev 25: 46 "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you ... you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." "and-you-can-will them [progeny of temporary residents] to-children-of-you after-you as-inheritance-of property for-life of-them you-can-make-slave; but-over-fellows-of-you sons-of Israel man over-fellow-of-him not you-must-rule th-rdh over-him with-ruthlessness."
Lev 25: 53 "you must see to it that his owner does not rule over him ruthlessly." "as-hired-man-of year by-year he-must-be to-him; not he-must-rule-him y-rd-nw with-ruthlessness before-eyes-of-you."
Lev 26:17 "But if you will not listen to me ... I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no-one is pursuing you." (14, 17) "and-I-will-set faces-of-me against-you so-you-will-be-defeated by being-enemies-of-you; and-they-will-rule w-rd-w over-you ones-hating-you and-you-will-flee when-he-is-not one-pursuing you."
Num 24:19 Part of Balaam's oracle: "Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city." (18, 19) "and-he-will-rule w-y-rd from-Jacob; and-he-will-destroy survivor of-city."
Judges 5:13 twice. "Then the men who were left came down to the nobles; the people of Yahweh came to me with the mighty." "then he-came-down y-rd one-left to-nobles people-of Yahweh he-came y-rd_ to-me with-the-mighty-ones." It may be that 'came' is a different meaning of rd, just as English 'lead' has two completely different meanings. However, rd as 'rule with authority' could fit here (KJV translates that as "ruled the nobles"), whereas 'rule harshly by treading down' makes little sense. The 'to-the-nobles' and 'to-me' have the preposition-prefix lamedh, which could mean 'for' or 'at' as well as 'to', with the connotation of approaching. So it could mean "ruled for the nobles" and "ruled for me". However, it is only 'could', and I bow to the translators here.
I Ki 4:24, "Solomon's daily provisions were thirty cors of fine flour and sixty cors of meal, ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty ofpasture-fed cattle and a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl. 24. For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the River, from Tiphsah to Gaza and had peace on all sides. During Solomon's lifetime, Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree." (24, 25) "for he ruling rdh | over-all-of west-of the-River from-Tiphsah even-to Gaza ..."
I Ki 5:16 "... thirty-three humdred foremen who supervised the project and directed the workmen." [ha-rodiyim, a noun with definite article, 'the ones supervising'.] "apart-from from-foremen-of the-ones-being-appointed to-Solomon who over the-project thre-of thousands and-three-of hundreds; the-ones-supervising h-rd-ym over-the-people the-ones-working on-the-project."
I Ki 9:23 "... 550 officials supervising the men who did the work." [ha-rodiyim] "... fifty and-five-of hundreds the-ones-supervising; h-rd-ym over-the-people the-ones-doing in-the-work."
II Chron 8:10 "250 officials supervising the men" [again ha-rodiyim] "... fifty and-two-hundreds the-ones-supervising h-rd-ym over-the-people."
Neh 9:28 "But as soon as they [the people of Israel] were at rest, they did again what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies to that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time." "but-as-to-the-rest to-them they-did-again to-do evil before-you; then-you-abandoned-them into-hand-of ones-being-enemies-of-them so-they-ruled wy-rd-w over-them when-they-did-again and-they-cried-out-to-you then-you from-heavens you-heard -and-you-delivered-them in-compassions-of-you many-of times."
Psa 49:14 "This is the fate of those who trust in themselves ... Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning, their forms will decay in the grave far from their princely mansions." (13-14) "like-the-sheep for-Sheol they-are-destined death he-will-feed-on-them and-they-will-rule wy-rd-w over-them upright-ones in-the-morning and-form-of-them to-decay Sheol from-mansion of-him."
Psa 68:27 "Your procession has come into view, O God, the procession of my God and King into the sactuary. In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the maidens playing tambourines. Praise God in the great congregation; praise Yahweh in the assembly of Israel. There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them, there the great throng of Judah's princes, and there the princes of Zebulun and Naphtali." (24-27) "there Benjamin little one-leading-them rd-m princes-of Judah throng-of-them princes-of Zebulun princes-of Naphtali."
Psa 72:8. "He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. The mountains will bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor. He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. In his days the righteous will flourish; prosperity will abound till the moon is no more. He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. The desert tribes will bow before him, and his enemies will lick the dust." (2-9) "he-will-flourish in-days-of-him righteous tsdyq and-abundance-of prosperity shlwm till no-more moon. and -he-will-rule wy-rd from-sea to sea and-from-River to ends-of earth." Note the character of the rule: right relationships among all things in the created order (see page on tsedeq), with prosperity and care for the needy and afflicted.
Psa 110:2 "Yahweh will extend your mighty sceptre in Zion; rule in the midst of your enemies." "scepter-of might-of-you he-will-extend Yahweh from-Zion rule! rdh in-midst-of b-qrv ones-being-enemies-of-you." This is addressed by Yahweh to the Messiah. It does not say "rule over your enemies" but "rule in the midst of your enemies". The Hebrew preposition used, b, means "in, with, by means of" rather than "to".
Isa 14: 2 "Yahweh will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Aliens will join them and unite with the house of Jacob. Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And the house of Israel will possess the nations as menservants and maidservants in Yahweh's land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors." (1-2) "and-they-will-take-them nations and-they-will-bring-them to place-of-them and-they-will-possess-them house-of Israel in land-of Yahweh as-menservants and-as-maidservants and-they-will-be ones-capturing of-ones-capturing-of-them and-they-will-rule w-rd-w over-ones-oppressing-them."
Isa 14:6 "On the day Yahweh gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! Yahweh has broken the rod of the wicked, the sceptre of the rulers, which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued the nations with relentless agression. All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. Even the pine trees and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you and say, 'Now that you have been laid low, no woodsman comes to cut us down.'" (3-8) "one-striking-down peoples in-anger blow-of not cesing one-subduing rdh in-fury nations aggression not he-relents." This seems at first sight to go against my interpretation, in that the radah referred to is the cruel fury of Babylon that oppressed nations. However, this cruel radah is seen as evil, as in Ezekiel 34:4, rather than as what is intended of radah.
Isa 41:2 "... let us meet together at the place of judgement. Who has stirred up one from the east, calling him in righteousness to his service? He hands nations over to him and subdues kings before him. He turns them to dust with his sword, to wind-blown chaff with his bow." "who? he-stirred-up from-eaat righteousness he-called-him to-foot-of-him he-hands-over before-him nations and-kings he-subdues y-rd he-makes as-the-dust sword-of-him as-chaff being-windblown bow-of-him."
Jer 5:31 and the priests bear rule by their means "A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way." "the-prophets they-prophesy about-the-lie and-the-priests they-rule y-rd-w by authorieis-or-them and-people-of-me they-love this-way; but-what? will-you-do in-end-of-her."
Lamentations 1:13 "From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet and turned me back. He made me desolate, faint all day long." "from-on-high he-sent fire into-bones-of-me and-he-sent-down-her wy-rd-nh; he-spread net for-feet-of-me he-turned-me back he-made-me one-being-desolate all-of the-day faint." 'Sent down' is an unusual translation of rd. It could be to do with authority of the Sender. But it is unlikely to be about treading-down. KJV translates as "prevaileth against me".
Ezekiel 29:15 "Egypt ... It will be the lowliest of kingdoms and will never again exalt itself above the other nations. I will make it so weak that it will never again rule over the nations." "more-than the-kingdoms she-will-be lowly and-never she-will-exalt-herself again above the-nations and-I-will-make-weak-them never to-rule rd-wt over-the-nations."
Ezekiel 34:4 "Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally." (2-5). "*** the-ones-being-weak not you-strengthened or the-one-being-sick not you-healed or-to-the-one-being-injured not you-bound-up and the-one-straying not you-bought-back or the-obe-being-lost not you-searched-for; but-with-harshness you-ruled rd-ytm them and-with-brutality."
Hosea 11:12 "Ephrain has surrounded me with lies, the house of Israel with deceit, and Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One." "they-surrounded-me with-lie Ephraim and-with-deceit house-of Israel; and-Judah still he-is-unruly rd, against God even-against Holy-Ones, one-being-faithful." I do not see why they translated rd as unruly rather than having-authority (even if pretend, setting oneself up as authority).
Joel 3:13 "Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow - so great is their wickedness." "let-them-be-roused and-let-them-advance the-nations into Valley-of Jehoshaphat for there I-will-sit to-judge all-of the-nations on-every-side. !swing sickle for he-is-ripe harvest !come !rule / trample rd-w for she-is-full winepress they-overflow the-vats so great wickedness-of-them." The NIV and others translate rd as 'trample', probably because of the reference to winepress. However, it could just as well be 'rule' because it is in the context of Yahweh judging. Harvesting is often used as a metaphor for judging.

If it had meant 'trample', would the word not have been drk rather than rdw? See Other Words.

Youngs also lists the following as containing radah, but that probably was in the old text from which the KJV was translated. The current text does not have it. They are not included in the analysis.
Genesis 27:40 "But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck." "and by-sword-of-you you-will-live and brother-of-you you-will-serve; but-he-will-be when you-grow-restless tryd then-you-will-throw yoke-of-him from-off neck-of-you." Note: This is included in Youngs, but the Hebrew is no longer thought to be 'rd', but 'ryd'. So this is not included.


From our analysis of the Hebrew Scriptures, radah means "rule" and has the connotation "rule with authority by responsibly managing" especially in relationship with or to God, and should not be thought of as having the connotation of "treading down."

This page is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 14 February 2016. Last updated: 27 March 2016 finished texts. 17 April 2016 better on Joel. 17 July 2016 title. 24 May 2021 slight clarification on Hosea 11:12; one-sentence conclusion.