Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The verb געל (ga'al) means to loathe or abhor. This verb is used frequently, and mostly to describe God's reaction to man's infractions (Leviticus 26:11, Jeremiah 14:19). Its sole derivation is the masculine noun געל (go'al), meaning a loathing. This noun occurs only once, in Ezekiel 16:5.
The first of two identical verbs גאל (ga'al) means to redeem, to pay someone's debt or alleviate someone's guilt. It could be used in the sense of buying a land back (Leviticus 25:25), or buying the freedom of a slave by his next of kin (Leviticus 25:28), and note the link with the noun כפר (koper), which describes the actual price (hence the names Cyprus and Yom Kippur, or day of Atonement).
But our verb could also describe the removal of guilt by removing (i.e. killing) the perp, which was done by a so-called redeemer-of-blood (Numbers 35:12). The participle גאל (go'el) means Redeemer. Job makes use of this word in his harrowing exclamation: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will take His stand on the earth, at the last" (Job 19:25), and so do Psalm 19:14, 78:35, Proverbs 23:11, Isaiah more than a dozen times from Isaiah 41:14 to 60:16, and Jeremiah 50:34. With this the prophets emphasize not only that God pays humanity's price, but that he does it as a kinsman. From this verb derive:
- The masculine noun גאולי (ge'ulay), meaning redemption (Isaiah 63:4 only).
- The feminine noun גאלה (ge'ulla), which either describes the act of redemption (Leviticus 25:24), the price of it (25:26) or the right to redeem (25:29), in which case it may be used as synonym for kin or kindred (Ezekiel 11:15).
The second of two identical verbs גאל (ga'al) means to defile or pollute (Isaiah 59:3, Zephaniah 3:1, Ezra 2:62, Daniel 1:8), which at first glance appears to be the opposite of גאל I (ga'al I), to redeem. Still, redemption in the theological sense can only follow one's declaration of guilt — one has to let one's kinsman know that one is in trouble, or else he wouldn't know that he should come to his kinsman's rescue, willing to pay the price. A comparable dichotomy occurs with our verb's synonym, חלל (halal II), to profane, and its identical twin חלל (halal I), to bore or pierce (indicative of one's willing enslavement: Exodus 21:6, although this reference does not use this verb). From this verb derive:
- The masculine noun גאל (go'el), meaning a defiling or defilement (Nehemiah 13:29 only). Note that this noun is spelled and pointed (by the Masoretes) identically to the participle גאל (go'el), mean Redeemer (see above).