Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The difficult verb פדה (pada) describes how one's submission to a common standard creates a much greater degree of freedom than that the absence or violation of that standard would. An obvious example of this principle is found in the establishment of a spelling standard against the liberty to spell phonetically. Establishing a standard takes some effort but the degree of precision will be unprecedented, and so will the ease of formation of words to describe ever increasingly specialized concepts. Another example of a strictly enforced standard is that of the mathematical notation of science. Mathematics takes some effort to get the hang of, but then any scientific contemplation or conclusion will be beyond the ambiguity that prose and poetry are heir to.
In the Bible this verb may describe the cultivation of a field from its wild state, or a change in cultivation from the standard adhered to by the old owner to the one of the new owner. It may also describe the transfer of a girl from the standard of her father's house to that of her new husband's house. To modern tastes this principle may seem horribly misogynistic, which is why we don't have words that describe it. In Biblical times, however, a young woman who neither enjoyed the protection of her father's house nor that of a husband's wouldn't live very long. Her submission to either standard guaranteed her safety and freedom of movement much more than an "escape" into the uncharted wild.
Because this verb describes an effort made, or a price paid, to obtain collective freedom, it's often translated with to ransom or redeem (Numbers 18:16, 2 Samuel 7:23, Isaiah 35:10, 51:11), while in the narrative the old standard is often portrayed as a captor, an abductor, or an evil slave-driving master. The famous invitation of Jesus to the heavy-laden to take up his yoke, speaks likewise of a light private load in return for a priceless collective rest (Matthew 11:29).
From this verb meaning to standardize comes a surprising broad array of ways to say the same thing — or perhaps it's an array that demonstrates a standard of subtleness that allows an even greater degree of precision once mastered:
- The masculine plural noun פדוים (peduyim), meaning ransom(s), or rather the many separate "coins" that add up to the single price of redemption (Numbers 3:46-49).
- The feminine noun פדות (pedut), meaning ransom or redemptive separation (Exodus 8:23, Psalm 111:9, Isaiah 50:2).
- The masculine noun פדיום (pidyom), also meaning ransom or redemption (Numbers 3:49).
- The masculine noun פדיון (pidyon) or פדין (pidyon), also meaning ransom or redemption (Exodus 21:30, Psalm 49:8).