Rashi in several places (Gen. 41:6; Ex. 12:7, 21:25; Lev. 26:36) writes that משקוף ("lintel") is related to the Aramaic root שקף ("beat"), "because the door beats against it."

How so? Doesn't the lintel lie above the door, as in modern doorframes? (If I'm understanding correctly Rashi's description in Pesachim 94b, ד"ה אי נמי, the door's upper pivot fits into a hole in the lintel - implying that they are stacked vertically.) It wouldn't seem, then, that the door "beats against" the lintel any more than against any other part of the frame.

(Or perhaps indeed משקוף means a combination lintel-doorstop of some kind - say a piece shaped like a ר in cross-section, which would be used to prevent a pivoted door from swinging in one direction. In that case, are there indeed any known examples of such construction from Biblical times?)

  • 1
    I would have guessed משקוף derives from the hebrew להשקיף 'to gaze' because it has a nice view from on top of the door.
    – Double AA
    Feb 14, 2012 at 4:30
  • 3
    @DoubleAA, indeed, Rashi cites Menachem (ben Saruk) as saying so, in his commentary to Ezek. 40:16. (Rashbam and Ibn Ezra to Ex. 12:7 say the same thing too - in fact, Rashbam rejects Rashi's derivation from Aramaic, on the grounds that at least the earlier books of Tanach would be expected to use Hebraic roots.)
    – Alex
    Feb 14, 2012 at 4:42
  • How do you know "lintel" is the correct translation into modern English for the Biblical משקוף? Maybe it refers to the socket combination of the overhead doorjamb, sill, head, lintel, etc., which keeps the door from swinging through, if the hinge is in the center of the side jamb, or from breaking the door off after repeated swinging, if the hinge is on the outer side of the jamb.
    – Seth J
    Mar 15, 2012 at 15:13
  • @SethJ, isn't that basically the same thing as the "combination lintel-doorstop" that I mentioned in the question?
    – Alex
    Mar 15, 2012 at 15:18
  • Alex, the entire combination I'm referring to also includes that strip of material (generally the same as the door frame) that sits below what you are calling the "lintel" (as defined in that Wikipedia entry), and is struck by the door as it swings shut, and which stops the door in the shut position (or causes it to bounce back a bit if there is no doorknob and if it has the right velocity).
    – Seth J
    Mar 15, 2012 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


This is a guess.

If an arched doorway has a correspondingly arched-topped door in it, then, as the door opens, each part of the door will move, in a head-on view, to the side, toward the hinges, so that the middle and hingeward half of the door will move to be under the shorter ceiling closer to the hinges and thus hit the ceiling. (Of course, if the doorway is short (in its depth, by which I mean its dimension room inside the room to outside it), then very little such "striking" will occur, but some will, anyway, unless the lintel and door are designed to avoid it; in a longer doorway, that avoidance needs to be more pronounced.)


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