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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Words



Tree
By Jeff A. Benner

עץeyts

then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. (RSV, Leviticus 26:4)

The Hebrew word for a tree is עץ (eyts, Strong's #6086). In the passage above, the context clearly shows the word is used in a plural sense (trees). However, in the passage, the word is written as עץ, the singular form. In Biblical Hebrew, the word עץ can mean a tree (singular) or trees (plural), while the plural form of this word, עצים (eytsiym), always means "wood," such as in the verse below.

make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.. (RSV, Genesis 6:14)

This allows for an interpretation of the "tree of life" and the "tree of knowledge," different from how we have previously interpreted them. The Hebrew can just as easily be translated as the "trees of life" and the "trees of knowledge."

The word עץ is a parent root (a two letter root) from which a couple of other words are derived. The verb עצם (Ah.Ts.M, Strong's #6105) means strong and mighty, as is a tree. Derived from this verb is the noun עצם (etsem, Strong's #6106), meaing bones, the "strong tree" of the body. Also, the verb יעץ (Y.Ah.Ts, Strong's #3289) means counsel, to give support to another as the tree trunk supports the branches and leaves.




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