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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Hebrew word: בלל

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

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary

בלל  יבל

The two root-verbs בלל (bll) and יבל (ybl) both have to do with a flowing or a conveying. Officially they're not related but their forms are certainly adjacent, and they produce similar derivations:


בלל

HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says about the use of the Hebrew verb בלל (balal) in the Bible: "A ritualistic term used of mixing oil into the flour or meal of the cereal offering until every particle of flour was mingled or anointed with oil".

All but one of the occurrences of this verb have to do with mingling or mixing, and that usually of oil with flour (Exodus 29:2, Leviticus 2:4, Numbers 8:8). Only once is this verb used in the sense of anointing a human person: in Psalm 92:10 the Psalmist cries out, "Thou has exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil".

A curious and quite poetic usage occurs in Hosea 7:8, where Ephraim mixes himself among the peoples". Another off-par usage occurs in the tower of Babel cycle, where God "anoints" (or traditionally: confuses) the languages of the people (Genesis 11:7).

The derivatives of this verb are:

  • The masculine noun בליל (belil), meaning fodder (Isaiah 30:24, Job 6:5).
  • The verb בלל (balal), which is derived of the preceding noun and means to give fodder (Judges 19:21 only).
  • The masculine noun שבלול (shabbelul), meaning snail (Psalm 58:8). BDB Theological Dictionary suggests that the snail was known by this word on account of the oily residue it leaves where it goes, but it seems more likely that the snail was named after its combining seemingly dead material into the tissue of its living body. Or else, if its house was recognized as an exoskeleton, as an "inside-out" or "reversed" creature. Words formed by sticking the letter ש (shin or sin) in front of a root are rare.
  • The masculine noun תבל (tebel), meaning confusion or perversion (Leviticus 18:23 and Leviticus 20:12 only).
  • The masculine noun תבלל (teballul), meaning confusion or obscurity (Leviticus 21:20 only).

יבל

The root-verb יבל (yabal) means to produce or denotes a being carried or dragged along by some greater force. It's used for offerings that are being carried along with the worshippers of YHWH (Zephaniah 3:10), or the "feet" or Tyre, that used to carry her to distant places (Isaiah 23:7). Returning exiles are lead home (Jeremiah 23:8, Isaiah 55:12) and Job laments him being carried from womb to tomb (Job 10:19).

This verb's derivatives are:

  • The masculine noun יבל (yabal), meaning water course or conduit. This word is used only in plural (Isaiah 30:25 and 44:4).
  • The masculine noun יובל (yubal), meaning stream (Jeremiah 17:8 only).
  • The masculine noun יבול (yebul), denoting produce from the soil (Deuteronomy 32:22, Habakkuk 3:17).
  • The masculine noun בול (bul), meaning produce or outgrowth (Job 40:20 and Isaiah 44:19 only).
  • The masculine noun יובל (yobel) or יבל (yobel), literally meaning "a carrier" or "a producer". It may denote a trumpet, i.e. ram's horn (Exodus 19:13, Joshua 6:5), but it may also denote the principle of Jubilee (because no, the year of Jubilee was not the year of the ram's horn, a ram's horn was a producer; Leviticus 25:13, Numbers 36:4).
  • The adjective יבל (yabbal), meaning running, in the sense of a running (suppurating) sore (Leviticus 22:22).
  • The masculine noun אובל ('ubal), meaning stream or river (Daniel 8:2-6 only; in reference to the river Ulai).
  • The feminine noun תבל (tebel), meaning world or land, probably primarily to be understood in the sense of its flows and currents; the economy, whether the natural or the financial one (Isaiah 24:4, Job 37:12, 2 Samuel 22:16). This word tebel is one of two regular words for world; the other is ארץ ('eres). In Isaiah 14:17 תבל (tebel) is used once as a masculine noun.

Note

Note the connection between this root verb יבל (yabal) and the root group אבל ('abal) and the root שבל (shabal).


Associated Biblical names