"The original Hebrew for this idiom, in all but Zechariah 2:8, was 'iyshown 'ayin (אישון
עין), and can be literally translated as "Little Man of the Eye."
is a reference to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other people's pupils. Other KJV translations of the
word 'iyshown include dark and obscure, as a reference to the darkness of the pupil.
This Hebrew idiom is surprisingly close to the Latin version, pupilla, which means a little doll, and is a diminutive form
of pupus, boy, or pupa, girl (the source also for our other sense of pupil to mean a schoolchild.) It was applied to the dark
central portion of the eye within the iris because of the tiny image of oneself, like a puppet or marionette, that one can
see when looking into another person's eye.
In Zechariah 2:8, the Hebrew phrase used is bava 'ayin (בבה
עינ). The meaning of bava is disputed. It may mean "apple"; and if so, the phrase used in Zechariah
2:8 literally refers to the "apple of the eye." However, it appears that most Hebrew scholars think this Hebrew
phrase communicated the meaning conveyed by the English word, "eyeball" (E.g., see The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon
of the Old Testament, vol. 1, p. 107).
The earliest recorded use in Modern English is in Sir Walter Scott's Old
"Poor Richard was to me as an eldest son, the apple of my eye."
The five Apple of the/his/thine eye verses are so wonderfully full of deep meaning.
9 For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness;
he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her
wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god
13 He made him ride on the high places of
the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the
14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep,
with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the
pure blood of the grape.
Psalm 17:7-9: (King
David) (Prayer for protection)
7 Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which
put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,
9 From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.
Proverbs 7:1-3: (King Solomon) Exortation to love God's
7 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.
2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine
3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them
upon the table of thine heart.
Lamentations 2:17-19: (A heart wrenching reflection following God's
terrible judgement of his own people Israel.) How tough for God knowing how he cherishes Israel.
Lord hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled
his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy
to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.
Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter
of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye
19 Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning
of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord:
lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
Zechariah 2:7-9: (God's serious prophetic warning to
7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
8 For thus saith the Lordof
hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple
of his eye.
9 For, behold, I will shake mine
hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me.