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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words

By Jeff A. Benner


The verb בוא (bo, Strong's #935) is a good example to demonstrate the vast difference between Hebrew and English. In the examples below are two different English words with opposite meanings.

As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. (RSV, Genesis 15:15)

Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?" (RSV, Genesis 26:27)

The English verb “go” generally means, to move from a position nearby to a position far away, while the verb “come” means, to move from a far position to a position nearby. An example would be, “I will go to the store then I will come home.” The context of this phrase implies that I am making the statement from home about leaving home for the store and then returning home.

In the two verses above, the one Hebrew verb bo is being translated into two different English words in order to translate the context of its use.

The verb bo does not mean “come” or “go” in the sense of direction but to “enter a void in order to fill it” in the sense of purpose. Because there is no English word with this meaning the words “go” and “come” are used instead, but unfortunately this erases the more Hebraic meaning behind the word.

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