Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The root-verb אור ('or) means to be light or to give light; shine. The Bible uses this verb in all the expectable ways (sunlight, daylight etcetera) but often also metaphorically. Many Biblical light-metaphors have been incorporated into our own language, such as the light of understanding or wisdom. Even a lit-up face comes from the Bible (Job 29:24, Numbers 6:25, Ecclesiastes 8:1).
This verb's derivatives are:
- The masculine noun אור ('or), meaning light. Like the verb, this noun is used in all expectable ways, from the light of creation (Genesis 1:3) to the light of the sun (Isaiah 30:6), the light of instruction (Proverbs 6:23), the light of one's face (Proverbs 16:15), and the light of God (Psalm 4:6, Isaiah 10:17).
- The feminine equivalent of the previous masculine noun: אורה ('ora). This noun is a late invention, and occurs sparsely in the Bible (Psalm 139:12, Esther 8:16, Isaiah 26:19 only).
- The identical noun אורה ('ora), which denotes some kind of herb, probably with bright flowers or something like that. This noun occurs only in 2 Kings 4:39.
- The masculine noun אור ('ur), meaning flame (Isaiah 50:11, Ezekiel 5:2).
- The masculine noun מאור (ma'or), which is the Bible's common word for luminary: the moon (Psalm 74:16, mentioned along with the sun), the seven lamps of the tabernacle's lamp-stand (Exodus 35:14), the eyes (Proverbs 15:30), and the face or presence of God (Psalm 90:8). Note how oddly the sun is never called a מאור (ma'or). The only time it hints at the sun being a luminary is in Genesis 1:14-19, but the sun is never mentioned, and here at Abarim Publications we believe that the fourth day, the Day of Lights, is not about the sun, moon and stars (see our survey of Genesis 1).
- The feminine noun מאורה (me'ura), a curious word which only Isaiah uses as something that belongs to a viper and to which a child will stretch out its hand without risk (Isaiah 11:8). Traditionally, this word is interpreted as the viper's den but that doesn't seem to cut it. Since the masculine version of this word may denote a person's eyes, perhaps Isaiah had the snake's fiery stare in mind.