Hamas [חמס]

October 23, 2023 | Daniel L. Segraves, Ph.D.

Today, as I continued my long journey to finish volume two of my commentary on Psalms, I noticed the use of the Hebrew word חמס [hamas] in a couple of verses.

Psalm 73:6 reads, “Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment” (NKJV). Hamas is translated “violence.”

Psalm 74:20 is translated, “Have respect to the covenant; For the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty” (NKJV). Hamas is translated “cruelty.”

Various forms of חמס appear in the Old Testament sixty-three times, including eleven times in the Book of Psalms. The word speaks of the “act” of violence in fifty-one places. Five times, it describes the “state” of violence. Four times, it speaks of “wrongdoing.” The remaining three use Hamas to identify a “malicious witness.” In the rest of the Psalter, חמס is used in 7:16; 11:5; 18:48; 27:12; 55:9; 58:2; 72:14; 140:1, 4.