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 '19 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 '19 at 22:11
  • Of course, "הוּא אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ הַמֹּלֵךְ מֵהֹדּוּ וְעַד־כּוּשׁ". In Hebrew there are two forms of פעל, like לגדול - הוא גדל או הוא גודל. Same can be applied to למלוך - הוא מלך או הוא מולך. – Al Berko Oct 2 '19 at 22:39
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    @AlBerko How are you vowelizing הוא גדל? – Joel K Oct 3 '19 at 3:44
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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 '19 at 18:00

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 '19 at 22:52
  • @DoubleAA Most likely, yes. However, as we know, numerous Hebrew words (Hava, for example) are originally Aramaic. – DanF Oct 3 '19 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. – Yaacov Deane Oct 4 '19 at 19:23

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