A large glandular organ in vertebrate animals and man that plays a role in digestion and blood chemistry; in man, the largest of the glands. The Hebrew term for the liver (ka·vedhʹ) comes from a root meaning “be heavy.” The Hebrew Scriptures use the word “liver” most frequently with reference to the livers of animals prepared by the Israelites for sacrifice. (Ex 29:22; Le 3:4, 10, 15; 4:9) It was “the appendage upon the liver” that was made to smoke on the altar. (Ex 29:13) The Commentary on the Old Testament, by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, describes this portion of the liver as “the liver-net, or stomach-net . . . , which commences at the division between the right and left lobes of the liver, and stretches on the one side across the stomach, and on the other to the region of the kidneys. . . . This smaller net is delicate, but not so fat as the larger net; though it still forms part of the fat portions.” (1973, Vol. I, The Third Book of Moses, p. 300) In Rashi’s comment on Leviticus 3:4, it is defined as “the protecting wall (membrane) over the liver.”—Pentateuch With Targum Onkelos, Haphtaroth and Rashi’s Commentary, translated by M. Rosenbaum and A. Silbermann.
King Solomon’s account of the inexperienced youth who succumbs to the enticement of the immoral woman concludes: “All of a sudden he is going after her, . . . until an arrow cleaves open his liver, . . . and he has not known that it involves his very soul.” (Pr 7:21-23) This is a very appropriate description, for medical doctors have found that in advanced stages of syphilis (as is true of many other diseases), bacterial organisms overwhelm the liver. The organism (gonococcus) responsible for gonorrhea, another sexually transmitted disease, also in some cases causes severe inflammation of the liver. Severe damage to the liver can, of course, result in death. The liver’s vital role to life is acknowledged in that it is used figuratively in depicting profound sorrow.—La 2:11.