The oxen likewise and the young asses that till the ground shall eat savory provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fork. (ASV, Isaiah 30:24)
In the verse above is the Hebrew noun אלף (eleph, Strong's #504) meaning oxen. Oxen are the largest of the Ancient Hebrews' livestock and were most frequently used for plowing the fields, usually in pairs. An older ox would be yoked to a younger one in order for the older one to teach the younger through association. This same noun is also found in Judges 6:15 where it is translated as "family." In a family, the children learn from the parents, in the same manner as the oxen, through association.
The verbal root of this word is אלף (A.L.Ph, Strong's #502) and means "learn," but more literally, to learn through association, as can be seen in the following verse.
Make no friendship with a man that is given to anger; And with a wrathful man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn this ways, And get a snare to thy soul. (ASV, Proverbs 22:25)
As oxen are "very large" animals, the word אלף (eleph) is also used for a "thousand," a "very large" number. (While this is the same word discussed previously, Strong's dictionary has assigned this word the number 505 when used for a "thousand.") From this aspect of the noun, a second verb is formed. Normally, Hebrew nouns are derived out of verbs, however on occasion, a verb is derived out of a noun, and this verb is called a demonstrative verb. The demonstrative verb formed out of אלף (eleph) is אלף (A.L.Ph, Strong's #503) meaning to "give a thousand."
In summary, the Hebrew word אלף can be;
- A verb meaning to learn by association.
- A noun meaning oxen, a large beast, which learns through association.
- A noun meaning family, through the idea of association.
- A noun meaning a thousand, a large number.
- A verb meaning to give a thousand.
One other note about the word eleph, it may be the origin of the word elephant, a "very large" beast.
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Related Pages by Jeff A. Benner
|Ancient Hebrew Dictionary (Book)|
This Biblical Hebrew dictionary contains the one thousand most frequent verbs and nouns found within the Hebrew Bible.