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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words

By Jeff A. Benner


The Hebrew word איל (ayil, Strong's #352) means a “buck,” the male of the flocks.

And he said to him, Take for me an heifer of three years, and a she goat of three year, and a buck of three years, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (Genesis 15:9)

However, this very same Hebrew word is used for a post and a chief.

And he made posts of thirty cubits and to the post of the court all around the gate (Ezekiel 40:14)

Then the captains of Edom were amazed, the chiefs of Moab were trembling… (Exodus 15:15)

Hebrew nouns are descriptive of character rather than appearance. Therefore, a Hebrew noun is oftentimes used for different things that are related in character. To understand the character of the word איל (ayil) we need to look at its root which is the word אל (el, Strong's #410). While this word is frequently translated as God or god, it literally means might, mighty or mighty one as can be seen in the following passage.

Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand. (KJV, Deuteronomy 28:32)

From this we can gather that איל (ayil) literally means “one that stands tall in might,” like a buck, a post or a chief.

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