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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words

By Jeff A. Benner


The second most common Hebrew word in the Bible (the first being the word את et) is the verb אמר (A.M.R, Strong's #559), meaning “to say,” and is found 5,379 times (5,308 in the Hebrew text and 71 times in the Aramaic text) in the Hebrew Bible.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (ASV, Genesis 1:3)

This verbal root is a child root , where the letter א (aleph) has been added to the two –letter parent root, which would appear to be מר (MR). However, the parent root מר, a root meaning “bitter,” is not the parent root of אמר, מל (ML), a parent root meaning “word” or “comment” is its root. Over time, words evolve and letters are often interchanged with other letters which are formed in the same region of the mouth. While there are countless examples of this in English, let’s just look at the English words “pedal” (a device on a bicycle for the foot) and “pedestrian” (a person on foot). These two words come from the Greek word “ped” meaning “foot.” The English word “foot” is an evolved form of the word “ped” through the exchange of the “p” with the “f” and the “d” with the “t.” Therefore, the original spelling of the verb אמר is אמל.

While the parent root מל (ML) is not found in the Biblical text, its feminine form, מלה (milah, Strong's #4405), is and it is used 38 times, most frequently in the book of Job.

Thy words have upholden him that was falling, And thou hast made firm the feeble knees. (ASV, Job 4:4)

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