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

זור

There are three different roots of the form זור (zwr) used in the Bible, the meanings of which aren't all that far apart. In essence, all these three verbs have to do with the (intended or desired) expulsion of something discordant.


זור I

The root-verb זור (zur I) means to be a stranger. It's used in the sense of to become estranged (the wicked from the womb; Psalm 58:3) but mostly as a participle meaning strange, stranger or foreign, foreigner: to the family (Deuteronomy 25:5), to another person (Proverbs 14:10), to the land (being foreign; Hosea 7:9, Isaiah 1:7, Ezekiel 7:21).

Note that the Law of YHWH dictates an attitude of kindness towards foreigners (Exodus 20:10) but the words used in those contexts come from the root-verb גור (gur), which focuses on a being dragged away from home or even in prolonged transit. Our verb זור (zur I) emphasizes disruption and evacuation.

The verb זור (zur I) is also used to indicate "strange" incense (Exodus 30:9) or "strange" fire (Leviticus 10:1), although it's not clear what that might mean. Perhaps this kind of strangeness had to do with the origin of the incense or fuel for whatever was burning, or perhaps with the liturgic or procedural methods with which common incense or fuel was added to the existing offering.

זור II

The root-verb זור (zur II), meaning to be loathsome, may not actually have existed in Hebrew (although it does in cognate languages). If it did, it's only used in Job 19:17 (and note that זור (zur I) is used in Job 19:13). In Job 19:17, the modern translations of NAS and NIV have Job say, "My breath is offensive . . . " but KJV, ASV, Darby and Young have, "My breath is strange . . . " JSP reads "My breath is abhorred . . . " But whether or not this verb should be considered separate from זור (zur I), these usages of the form זור (zwr) show that to the Israelites, strangeness wasn't an exiting novelty, but rather an offensive disruption; something that causes disgust or revulsion. Our verb yields one noun of this same inclination:

  • The feminine noun זרא (zara'), meaning a loathsome thing. Curiously enough, it refers to not something strange but something exhaustively familiar: having to eat the same thing over and over (Numbers 11:20).
זור III

The root-verb זור (zur III) means to press down and out. It's used only four times: In Judges 6:38, Gideon presses his fleece to drain the water out. in Job 39:15 the Lord speaks of an ostrich who forgets that a stumping foot may crunch and drain her egg. The prophet Isaiah uses this verb in a medical sense when he speaks of pressing out a wound (Isaiah 1:6), and uses it to describe how a crushed snake's egg brings forth a snake (Isaiah 59:5). This verb's derivatives are:

  • The masculine noun זר (zer), meaning circlet or border. BDB Theological Dictionary suggests that originally this word may have denoted something that pressed or bound. This noun occurs only in Exodus, where it denotes golden borders laid around various elements of the tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant.
  • The adjective זרזיר (zarzir), meaning girded or girt. It occurs only once, in Proverbs 30:31, in combination with the word for loins (which is a word that also means either confidence or stupidity; see כסל, kesel). The context suggests we're looking at some kind of animal (one with its loins girded; which either means "one who's ready for battle," "one who struts about confidently" or "one who walks as if his testicles are in a pinch"), and we have no idea what to make of that: NAS and NIV cheerfully propose "a strutting rooster", KJV and ASV see "a greyhound", Darby reads "a [horse] girt in the loins" and Young has simply (and most literally) "a girt one of the loins".
  • The masculine noun מזור (mazor), meaning wound, and particularly a wound that requires pressing out (Hosea 5:13, Jeremiah 30:13 and Isaiah 1:6 only).

Associated Biblical names

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