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

שור

There are three separate roots שור (shur), although their meanings are not all that far diverging:


שור I

The verb שור (shur I) is shrouded in mystery. It occurs only twice in the Bible. In Ezekiel 27:25, ships of Tarshish do "something" with goods. In the cognate languages this verb means to travel or journey, so many translators have the ships of Tarshish "travel" with goods. In Isaiah 57:9, we see folks "travel" with oil to the king.

However, this verb yields the derivative תשורה (teshura), and that word occurs only in 1 Samuel 9:7, where Saul wants to inquire of Samuel about his donkeys, and wonders with what to pay him because he has no teshura. What's a theshura? A gift certificate from a travel agency? Probably not.

Theshura means gift, says BDB Theological Dictionary, as in a "thing brought or offered," but admits that this is "very dubious". Both traveling and giving are frequently undertaken in the Bible and if these words simply mean either, we would expect them to occur more often. And although the cognate languages have similar verbs that mean to travel, the Hebrew verb obviously veered off the collective meaning and adopted a different meaning. It's much more likely that this verb, and its derivative, essentially covers some kind of presentation. In Ezekiel 27:25 the ships present good. In Isaiah 57:9 folks present oil, and in 1 Samuel 9:7, Saul wonders what to present Samuel with.

שור II

The verb שור (shur II) means to see, behold or observe. Its derivative שורר (shorer) means watcher. This root occurs slightly more in the Bible; a total of twenty-three times (Number 23:9, Hosea 13:7, Psalm 56:3). But again, seeing and observing is done quite a lot in the Bible. This word is reserved for a specific kind of watching.

שור III

The assumed root שור (shur III) has equivalents in cognate languages, where it means to become raised or exited. In the Bible only the derivatives occur:

  • The masculine noun שור (shor) means ox or bull, or rather a singe head of cattle (Hosea 12:2, Exodus 21:28).
  • The masculine noun שור (shur) means a wall (Genesis 49:22, Job 24:11).
  • And the feminine noun שורה (shura) means a row of probably vines or olives (Jeremiah 5:10).

Note: These three roots seem to have in common an element of sudden appearance that sets these words apart from the more common semi-equivalents; a surprise gift in case of shur I, a surprising stalker in case of shur II, and the animal or wall rising up from the country side in case of shur III.

Also note that on occasion the verb סור (sur), meaning to turn aside, is spelled שור, which obviously brings it in close vicinity to our root group above.


Associated Biblical names

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