In the Artscroll machzor (ashkenaz), in the Chazarat Hashatz for shacharit of Rosh Hashana, the piyut with the refrain "Hashem Melech, Hashem malach, Hashem yimloch le'olam va'ed" has a strange translation.

The second and third uses of the m-l-ch root are cited as verbs (reigned and will reign) but the first Melech, is translated as reigns. However, the word "Melech" as far as I can find, is always used as a noun ("king") and the present tense verb would be "molech" (as used in the first pasuk of megillat Esther).

In fact, the Artscroll Tanach has, as the translation of the phrase in the source pasuk (Tehillim 10:16) "Hashem is king" (as it does when citing that pasuk in Mashechet Rosh Hashana).

It could be said that there is no effective difference between "reigns" and "is king" (though I could make a contrary argument -- often the one who reigns is not king, and a king does not always actively reign) and that the Artscroll is trying to establish parallelism but I'm just curious: Is there any textual precedent to its use as a verb, or, lacking that, is there something deeper in the word "melech" that properly allows it to be translated as "reigns"?

[strangely, one of the machzorim available through Sefaria was all three as nouns (is king, was king, will be king)]

  • contextually, it sounds like the phrase is meant to be present, past, and future of the same concept. perhaps the author is limiting himself though to excerpts from scripture and/or avoiding a name of a foreign god.
    – Loewian
    Oct 2, 2019 at 14:02
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    FWIW, See 3rd paragraph in abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Melech.html#.XZUgIE2Wyic. It suggests an Aramaic cognate which seems to suggest its usage as a verb.
    – DanF
    Oct 2, 2019 at 22:11
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    @AlBerko How are you vowelizing הוא גדל?
    – Joel K
    Oct 3, 2019 at 3:44
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    @DoubleAA If what you report is accurate, then it emphasizes even more that moderators need to tread lightly in the moderation process. It can destroy legitimate hard work of other people. I would like my answer restored so it’s visible to the general public. Oct 4, 2019 at 15:54
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    @YaacovDeane Please don't interpret any of my suggestions as a request to increase the amount of text. What I'm trying to prompt you to do is focus on answering the question at hand, which is very explicitly about the word melech, vowelized exactly like that.
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 4, 2019 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


I have not been able to find a direct verb usage of melech. However, it's possible that the term means "takes advice / council". See Nechemia 5:7.

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    Nice, but this seems to be an Aramaic root, like we find in other contexts נמלך means something like to have change of intent
    – Double AA
    Oct 2, 2019 at 22:52
  • @DoubleAA Most likely, yes. However, as we know, numerous Hebrew words (Hava, for example) are originally Aramaic.
    – DanF
    Oct 3, 2019 at 1:35
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    @DoubleAA Radak says that both the Hebrew and the Aramaic can have a meaning of advising. See Shorashim l’Radak, pg 195 under the nifal binyan for מלך. Oct 4, 2019 at 19:23

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