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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The Hebrew word: נעם
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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary

נעם

Experts insist that there are two separate roots that are spelled נעם (n'm), but any observer will notice that these two roots are suspiciously adjacent in meaning. So adjacent even that one may wonder whether any original speaker of the Hebrew language realized that these roots were not the same but separate:


נעם I

The root-verb נעם (na'em I) and its derivatives occur in the Bible about two dozen times, and cover meanings such as sweet, good, lovely, pleasant and delightful. It's used to describe the qualities of people (2 Samuel 23:1), music (Psalm 81:2), bread (Proverbs 9:17), land (Genesis 49:15). It's also used in reference to words (Psalm 141:6), knowledge (Proverbs 2:10) and wisdom (Proverbs 3:17).

This verb is also used to ascribe an attribute to God, namely that of beauty or loveliness (Psalm 27:4, Psalm 90:17), and also to the worship of God, namely pleasantness (Psalm 135:3).

Derivatives are:

  • The masculine noun נעם (no'am), meaning pleasantness or beauty.
  • The adjective נעים (na'im), meaning pleasant, sweet or lovely.
  • The masculine noun נעמן (na'aman), meaning pleasantness.
  • The masculine plural noun מנעמים (man'ammim), meaning delicacies, dainties.
נעם II

The second root נעם (na'em II) does not occur in the Bible as verb, although the verb itself occurs in Arabic. And there it has a meaning of to speak in a gentle and low voice.

This root's sole derivative does occur in the Bible, and that only once or twice (Psalm 81:3 and perhaps 2 Samuel 23:1). It's the adjective נעים (na'im), meaning sweetly sounding or singing or musical.


Associated Biblical names

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