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Guide for the Perplexed, by Moses Maimonides, Friedländer tr. [1904], at


ORIGINALLY the Hebrew term makom (place) applied both to a particular spot and to space in general subsequently it received a wider signification and denoted "position," or "degree," as regards the perfection of man in certain things. We say, e.g., this man occupies a certain place in such and such a subject. In this sense this term, as is well known, is frequently used by authors, e.g., "He fills his ancestors' place (makom) in point of wisdom

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and piety"; "the dispute still remains in its place" (makom), i.e., in statu quo [ante]. In the verse, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place" (mekomo) (Ezek. iii. 12), makom has this figurative meaning, and the verse may be paraphrased "Blessed be the Lord according to the exalted nature of His existence," and wherever makom is applied to God, it expresses the same idea, namely, the distinguished position of His existence, to which nothing is equal or comparable, as will be shown below (chap. lvi.).

It should be observed that when we treat in this work of any homonym, we do not desire you to confine yourself to that which is stated in that particular chapter; but we open for you a portal and direct your attention to those significations of the word which are suited to our purpose, though they may not be complete from a philological point of view. You should examine the prophetical books and other works composed by men of science, notice the meaning of every word which occurs in them, and take homonyms in that sense which is in harmony with the context. What I say in a particular passage is a key for the comprehension of all similar passages. For example, we have explained here makom in the sentence "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place" (mekomo); but you must understand that the word makom has the same signification in the passage "Behold, a place (makom) is with me" (Exod. xxxiii. 26), viz., a certain degree of contemplation and intellectual intuition (not of ocular inspection), in addition to its literal meaning "a place," viz., the mountain which was pointed out to Moses for seclusion and for the attainment of perfection.

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