QUESTION: What is the connection between קד and קדם?

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    QUESTION: Qedem means “in front”. Picture someone facing east (if you need to get ORIENTed). Qedem is east, teiman is on his yemin (right). Similarly, qedem is the past and achor, the future, if behind you. After all, you can see the past, but not the future. (In English, it’s “before” and “after” that use the metaphor of the future being behind the present.)

    When Tanakh wants to refer to the east by calling it the place where the sun rises, the word is mizrach (מזרח). And it shares the leading mem as maarav (מערב), where the sun is when it is erev (ערב).

    The shoresh of מוקד is \יקד\, not \קדמ\. As in Vayiqra 6:6, “אש תמיד תוקד על המזבח”.

    Micha Berger

    ANSWER: Of course קדם has other meanings and nuances, and I’m certainly not saying that קדם is synonymous with מוקד any more than any other of the words that share the letters קד have identical meanings. Each of the triliteral words on the list including קדם clearly has its distinct meaning; no one would ever claim otherwise.

    What I am suggesting is that upon examination, there appears to be a motif, a common theme of sorts, in which each of the words containing these two letters bears a connection to the core concepts of focus/centrality and/or leading figure or entity. The word קדקד included as Menachem’s second entry of biliteral קד root derivatives is a good example embodying both of these core concepts. קדקד is usually used to denote the skull, the seat of the brain, the hub of human thought and action. But it is also figuratively used interchangeably with ראש, which fundamentally means beginning, front, inception (e.g. Gen. 49:26), because these concepts are overlap and are inter-dependent.

    Radak lists many of the verses in which קדם is used to mean east:
    נקרא פאת המזרח קדם כמו שנקרא כנגדו פאת מערב אחור ואחרון. גַּן בְּעֵדֶן מִקֶּדֶם (בראשית ב, ח), מִקֶּדֶם לְגַן עֵדֶן (בראשית ג, כד), הֵן קֶדֶם אֶהֱלֹךְ (איוב כג, ח). קֵדְמָה מִזְרָחָה (שמות כז, יג), כפול לבאר, כי יותר מבואר וידוע לשון מזרח מלשון קדם. וכן נגבה תימנה והצפיר השעיר. קִדְמַת אַשּׁוּר (בראשית ב, יד). אֶל הַגְּלִילָה הַקַּדְמוֹנָה (יחזקאל מז, ח), המזרחית. וכן נקרא רוח פאת המזרח קדים וְרוּחַ הַקָּדִים (שמות י, יג), יַסַּע קָדִים בַּשָּׁמָיִם (תהלים עח, כו). ומה שאמר וַיְנַהֵג בְּעֻזּוֹ תֵימָן (תהלים עח, כו), יתכן שהיתה הרוח מזרחית דרומית. וכן נקרא הים המזרחי אֶת פָּנָיו אֶל הַיָּם הַקַּדְמֹנִי וְסֹפוֹ אֶל הַיָּם הָאַחֲרוֹן (יואל ב, כ).

    Yes, מזרח is an alternative word for קדם, but each has its unique, nuanced emphasis as well. מזרח obviously derives from זרח, shining, because the rising light of the sun is its most recognizable characteristic. But, as you note, east also signifies the beginning -the head- of the day as well as the “home station” of the sun, just as the קדקד is the ראש and the seat of the brain.

    Rabbi Yehoshua (Jeremy) Steinberg

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