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When and under what circumstances did the word "halakhah" (also spelled "halacha", "halachah" or, in Hebrew, הלכה) come to mean Jewish law?

  • 1
    I think at least some (if you don't want all) of those verses from your comment should make their way into your question, if they are part of the basis of the question. But that's just my opinion, do what you want. – Shokhet Oct 14 '14 at 14:40
  • In fact, they are not part of the basis nor motivation for my question. I simply realized today that we use the word "halakhah" (הלכה) so freely and that I have no idea how that word came to mean "Jewish law". – Lee Oct 14 '14 at 16:35
  • All right, then. I thought you meant it as part of your question. – Shokhet Oct 15 '14 at 1:10
  • Interestingly, הלכה sometimes means "correct" in other ways. Consider אדיר במלוכה, בחור כהלכה.. הדור כהלכה... חסיד כהלכה – Ypnypn Sep 8 '15 at 2:42
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I assumed it is based on the word הלך, going. Much as we would say inn English, 'I'm going with him' as a term of agreement. I checked Jastrow and he seems to take this route as well. First writing הלך as the שורש, than comparing it to מנהג and translating it accordingly. Practice, adopted opinion, rule. He does the same for הלכתא. He even quotes a Targum on Mishlei which uses הלכתיה to mean walking.

  • While this may explain the etymological source for הלכה to mean "law", I don't see how this definitively answers "when" or "under what circumstances" the word was attributed that meaning. – Lee Oct 15 '17 at 8:44
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It is a common talmudic expression (see e.g. Brachos 6b).

  • While this is certainly an early source for הלכה to mean "law", I don't see how this definitively answers "when" or "under what circumstances" the word was attributed that meaning. – Lee Oct 15 '17 at 8:44
  • Not sure what you mean by under what circumstances. It is present in the earliest rabbinic literature. I will edit in tannaic sources. It's just a word in rabbinic Hebrew, and not a particularly strange one. Not sure what more you want. – mevaqesh Oct 15 '17 at 8:48

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