Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
There are two root-verbs עצב ('asab), which mean different things. However, their meanings are clearly attuned to each other, and either explains a lot about the other:
The root-verb עצב ('asab I) means to grieve or vex, both physically (Ecclesiastes 10:9) and emotionally (Genesis 45:5, 1 Kings 1:6, Isaiah 54:6). Once it's used to describe a twisting (literally: hurting) of one's words (Psalm 56:5), and in several instances this verb is employed to describe God's sentiments concerning the doings of mankind (Genesis 6:6, Isaiah 63:10).
This verb's derivatives are:
- The masculine noun עצב ('eseb), meaning sorrow, pain or great trouble or toil (Genesis 3:16, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 14:23).
- The masculine noun עצב ('oseb), meaning pain (1 Chronicles 4:9, Isaiah 14:3).
- The masculine noun עצב ('aseb) or עצב ('assab), meaning toiler (Isaiah 58:3 only).
- The feminine noun עצבת ('assebet), meaning injury, wound or pain (Proverbs 10:10, Job 9:28).
- The masculine noun עצבון ('issabon), meaning sorrow or toil (Genesis 3:16-17, Genesis 5:29 only).
- The feminine noun מעצבה (ma'aseba), literally meaning place of pain or terror (Isaiah 50:11 only).
The root-verb עצב ('asab II) means to form or fashion. It's used only twice in the Bible. Job declares YHWH formed him (Job 10:8), and Jeremiah writes about women making images of a goddess (Jeremiah 44:19). In both cases, something is fashioned in the image of something else, with the intent of forging an emotional bond with that creation.
The derivatives of this verb are:
- The masculine noun עצב ('eseb), literally meaning something fashioned. It's used only once, in Jeremiah 22:28, where the prophet speaks of king Coniah (=Jehoiachin) as a despised vessel.
- The masculine noun עצב ('oseb), meaning idol (Isaiah 48:5 only).
- The masculine noun עצב ('asab), also meaning idol (Isaiah 10:11, Jeremiah 50:2, Hosea 4:17). This word occurs always in plural.