Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
עדה יעד עוד
The small cluster of roots עדה ('dh I), עדה ('dh II), יעד (y'd), and עוד ('wd) look like they are closely related in form. And while they look alike, and some of their derivations are identical, their meanings also seem to converge somewhat:
The root-verb עדה ('ada I) means to pass on or by, or to advance. It's used only twice in the Bible: Job 28:8 speaks of an advancing lion, Proverbs 25:20 speaks of a garment that's being passed by. This root's three derivations are in fact three times the same word but used in three distinct categories:
- The masculine noun עד ('ad), also spelled ועד (w'ad), literally meaning advancing time. This word is usually translated with perpetuity or forever: of past time (Job 20:4), but most often future time (Psalm 21:6). In the latter case the form is usually לעד (l'ad), literally for always.
- The identical masculine noun עד ('ad), literally meaning that upon which one advances: prey or booty (Genesis 49:27, Isaiah 33:23).
- The identical preposition or conjunction עד ('ad), also spelled עדי ('ady), meaning as far as, until, up to, while, to the point that, etcetera. This multifarious word occurs frequently in the Bible.
The other root-verb עדה ('ada II) means to ornament oneself (Isaiah 61:10, Hosea 2:15), or someone else (Ezekiel 16:11). It's used eight times in the Bible, and half of these depict Jerusalem as accessorized woman.
None of the consulted sources hints at a relation with the previous root, but perhaps these two words came to be spelled alike because ornaments are worn close to the body, and may even augment (i.e. like a furtherance) the personality of someone.
This verb yields only one derivation, but it looks similar to the secondary spelling of the preposition listed above: the masculine noun עדי ('adi), meaning ornaments, collectively. This word is mostly applied to the ornamentation utilized by women (2 Samuel 1:24, Isaiah 49:18), but also of men (Exodus 33:4).
The meaning of the assumed root עדד ('dd) is obscure. Perhaps it has to do with an Arabic verb that means to count, reckon or number, or with the Aramaic noun עדנא ('dn'), meaning time. In the Bible only one derivative remains: the feminine noun עדה ('idda). And that word is used only once, in one of Isaiah's signature-brilliant but hard-to-comprehend verses. In Isaiah 64:6 the prophet compares the best deeds of guilty people to a garment that's been affected in some way, namely in the way of our noun עדה ('idda).
Scholars assume that the noun may mean menstruation, since it seems to be connected to time or periods. Here at Abarim Publications we doubt that. This noun may have to do with time and periods, but there's no hint at either blood or a failure to conceive in Isaiah's text. In fact, it speaks of withering leafs and being carried away by wind: all symbols of worn and wasted things. Isaiah compares the best deeds of guilty people to an old and worn garment.
The verb יעד (ya'ad) means to appoint, and is perhaps not fully unlike the previous two roots עדה ('ada).
Our verb is used to designate a time (2 Samuel 20:5), a place (Jeremiah 47:7), even a concubine (Exodus 21:8). It's frequently used to describe a scheduled meeting between God and people (Exodus 29:42), or a scheduled gathering of people for some kind of purpose (Joshua 11:5). Its derivations are:
- The feminine noun עדה ('eda), which looks a lot like the previous roots, meaning congregation. It's used mainly to indicate Israel as an appointed congregation, but it may also mean a swarm of bees (Judges 14:8), animals in general (Psalm 68:30), or even angels (Psalm 82:1).
- The masculine noun מועד (mo'ed), meaning appointed time (Genesis 18:14) or place (Lamentations 2:6). This word also features in the phrase אהל מועד ('ohel mo'ed), which is commonly translated as 'tent of meeting' but which rather should be known as the 'tent of the schedule' (Exodus 33:7, Numbers 12:4). Unlike every other contemporary theology, the Hebrew model dictated that in stead of by meddling deities and wily spirits, the observable world was governed by fixed laws — natural laws that always work everywhere the same, that can not be broken, and upon which everything, including humanity, operates (Isaiah 28:10, Matthew 5:18; see our articles on the names Logos and Torah).
- The similar masculine noun מועד (mo'ad), meaning appointed place in some kind of hierarchy. This word occurs in Isaiah 14:31 only.
- The feminine noun מועדה (mu'ada), meaning appointed. This word only occurs in the phrase ערי מועדה ('iry mu'ada), literally meaning cities of appointment (Joshua 20:9)
The verb עוד ('ud) occurs all over the Semitic language spectrum, in meanings such as to return or repeat. In the Bible it occurs only four times (only in the Psalms) and tends to mean to encircle (Psalm 119:61), or restore (Psalm 146:9). This verb's derivations occur much more frequently:
- The substantive עוד ('od), expressing addition or repetition (Genesis 7:4), or continuance (Genesis 18:22).
- The masculine noun עד ('ed), meaning witness (Exodus 20:16, Job 16:19 ).
- The feminine noun עדה ('eda), meaning testimony or witness (Genesis 21:30).
- The denominative verb עוד ('ud), meaning to bear witness (1 Kings 21:10, Isaiah 8:2), or to protest or warn (Jeremiah 6:10, Amos 3:13).
- The feminine noun עדה ('eda), meaning testimony. This word only occurs in plural: עדת ('edot; Deuteronomy 4:35, Psalm 25:10).
- The feminine noun עדת ('edut), also spelled עדות ('edut), meaning testimony, and that usually of the Law (Exodus 31:18, Psalm 19:7).
- The feminine noun תעודה (te'uda), meaning testimony (Isaiah 8:16) or attestation (Ruth 4:7).