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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Hebrew word: אצל

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/Dictionary/a/a-ts-l.html

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary

אצל

The root-verb אצל ('sl) isn't used in the Bible, but it's probably comparable to a similar Arabic verb that means to join. In the Bible the following derivatives occur:

  • The preposition אצל ('esel), which expresses proximity and is commonly translated with beside (Genesis 39:10, Deuteronomy 11:30, Jeremiah 41:17)
  • The denominative verb אצל ('asal), literally meaning to approximate. This verb may express bringing something close from a position of afar: to reserve (Numbers 11:17), but it mostly expresses the creating of a narrow space where there formerly wasn't one: a splitting of a continuum into autonomous parts. Translations often interpret this word as 'to deliver' but it really describes only the breaking of direct bonds, not the getaway (Joshua 24:10, Judges 6:9).
  • The masculine noun אציל ('asil), which is of unclear meaning. It occurs only twice in the Bible and both times in plural. In Exodus 24:11 it denotes the seventy-four elders of Israel who had a meeting with YHWH on the mountain. In Isaiah 41:9 it occurs in conjunction with the "ends of the earth" from which the Lord calls those He made strong. Translators and lexicons commonly interpret our word in Exodus with chiefs or nobles (BDB Theological Dictionary explains: "perhaps as sides, supports," which would mean that the seventy-four were reckoned as something like adjutants. BDB also mentions an Arabic verb that means to be rooted. These seventy could thus be men of acknowledged pedigree, which seems superfluous since pretty much everybody in Israel knew their ancestry). The occurrence in Isaiah is commonly interpreted to mean the opposite of our root meaning, namely "sides [of the earth]" or "remotest parts". Here at Abarim Publications we see no need for all these acrobatics. The seventy-four who met with YHWH were simply "nearies" (or perhaps better: proxenetes; also see our article on the name Azel) because they were among the very few humans ever to come that physically close to God. And in Isaiah 49:11, the Lord simply states that He will gather His strong ones from everywhere, near and far; from next door and overseas, from hood to horizon.
  • The similar feminine noun אצל ('assil), meaning a joint or joining (Jeremiah 38:12, Ezekiel 13:18, 41:8).

Associated Biblical names