Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The verb בוא (bo') is the fourth most frequently occurring verb in the Bible, and it means to come.
In English the verbs "to come" and "to go" describe an equal motion and merely differ in regard to the perspective of the observer (an item can be "going" to one observer while at the same time "coming" to another), but in Hebrew there is an additional difference. In Hebrew a coming describes a motion from a situation of dispersion towards one, usually specified focal point, which could be a place, person or situation. This means that in Hebrew a coming describes a motion which is related to gathering (gathering harvest; Leviticus 25:22). Going, on the other hand (יצא, yasa') describes a motion away from a focal point and towards dispersal.
Our verb can often be translated as to come (Genesis 16:8, 1 Samuel 20:1, Nehemiah 6:17), but sometimes more fitting English would be: to go, arrive or enter (Genesis 6:18, Exodus 28:29, Jonah 1:3). It's used to describe dying (a "coming" to the fathers; Genesis 15:5, 1 Kings 13:22), and engaging in coitus (a coming into or entering one's wife; Deuteronomy 22:13, which obviously also indicates exclusivity) or entering into a specific relation or modus operandi; to become (come into blood-guiltiness, 1 Samuel 25:26; come into ignorance, Isaiah 60:20; come under siege, 2 Kings 24:10). It's used to describe the setting of the sun (Genesis 15:12), as opposed to its rising (יצא, yasa'; going out), or to specify something/someone per definition or name (1 Chronicles 4:38).
Our verb expressed in grammatical constructions that convey a causing, and which create the meaning of "to cause to come" may often be translated with to lead, to send or to bring (Genesis 6:19, Numbers 27:17, 1 Kings 17:6).
Our verb frequently occurs with the prefix ל (le), meaning to, towards, or in order to. The compound לבוא (lebo') occurs six times in the Book of Genesis alone: denoting an approaching of some place (Genesis 12:11), a sunset in progress (Genesis 15:12), having the purpose of going into (a woman, Genesis 19:31; a place, Genesis 31:18), having to traverse before arriving (Genesis 35:16), so that came true (Joseph's predictions; Genesis 41:54).
Note that our verb frequently occurs in the compressed form בא (b'; Genesis 6:13, 7:1, 7:13 and so on), including the compound with the prefix ל (le): לבא (lebo; Genesis 48:7, which is also accidentally spelled the same as the root לבא, lb').
Derivations of our verb are:
- The feminine noun באה (bi'a), meaning entrance or entry (Ezekiel 8:5 only).
- The masculine noun מבוא (mabo'), denoting the act of entering (2 Samuel 3:25, Ezekiel 26:10), or the place where the verb is performed, namely an entrance (Judges 1:24, 2 Kings 11:16, Jeremiah 38:14), or specifically the setting of the sun (Psalm 104:19), synonymous with the west (Deuteronomy 11:30, Joshua 1:4).
- The feminine noun תבואה (tebu'a), denoting the items that undergo the verb, and more specifically: a field's produce to be harvested (Exodus 23:10, Leviticus 25:12, 2 Kings 8:6), and secondarily: income or revenue (Job 31:12, Proverbs 10:16, Jeremiah 2:3).