The Hebrew verb abar = "to cross over," which was the source
of Eber and Iberi names, suggests other possible cognates
in the European languages, but some of the evidence is slim. For example,
did Latin arbor = "tree" come from this word, something which crosses
over head? A much stronger possibility is the Teutonic body of words which
gave English over.
Old English ofer.
Greek uper and
The strength of the Hebrew abar suggests that the Indo-European
cognates came from the older Semitic source. Since Sanskrit shows this
form, we cannot say if the Teutonic over came through the Indo-European
languages out of that older Semitic influence, or if it came through the
The many senses of the word suggest that its origins are not simple. OED uses five pages to list the various applications of the word, and more than fifty pages of the many compound forms. The main concepts are:
With sense of to or on the other side.
Being over in time.
These meanings compare with the many of the Hebrew abar. Refer
Brown, Driver and Briggs. The main senses are "Pass over, through, by,
1. "Cross stream, sea, etc." Josh 3:14 l'abor = "pass over" the
2. "Cross border or boundary." Num 20:17 esher-na'abor = "we
have passed" thy borders.
3. "Cross over intervening space." I Sam 14:4 l'abor = Jonathan
sought "to go over."
4. "Pass, or march over." Isa 51:23 na'aborah = "we may go over,"
and l'ebreem = "them that went over" captives prostrate on the ground.
5. "Overflow." Isa 8:8 abar = "he shall overflow" and go over.
6. "Pass or go over waves or one's head." Jonah 2:4 abaru = waves
"passed over me."
7. "Passing over head." Num 6:5 ya'abor = no razor "come over"
8. "Pass through and traverse." Num 21:23 abor = "pass through"
9. "Be past, over, of time, etc." Gen 50:4 ya'abru = When the days "were past."
These are only some of the uses of abar = over in the Bible. Compare them with similar meanings of English "over."
|The Word Come|
This is a strong Teutonic word that finds multiple applications in the
Old English com.
It is also found in Sanskrit as gam. Again this throws the question
into the domain of a more ancient Semitic influence, or does it come out
of the migrating Iberi tribes? OED offers the following uses:
Also said of the hitherward motion of involuntary agents.
Come may be used with many different prepositions to express various nuances of meaning. The most common is to. Others are into, unto, towards, against, on, upon, about, around, beside, near, above, beneath, before, behind, over, and under.
The notion is not limited to spatial or temporal sense.
Brown, Driver and Briggs define the Hebrew verb qam as arise, stand up, stand. They offer the following cognates in other Semitic tongues.
Arabic stand, arise.
Assyrian kumu = place, dwelling,
B-D-B offer the following applications:
While it is clear that there is a different basic meaning from the Teutonic
to the Hebrew qam there is also an overlapping in some of the senses.
They are both fundamental verbs of action commonly employed in everyday
I shall now tabulate parallel forms among Hebrew, English, and German.
Root word: Hebrew qam -- English come -- German kam.
Past, third person, singular:
Past, second person, between Hebrew singular qamt and German plural kamt.
Present, between Hebrew second person qamah and German first person komme.
Present, third person, plural between Hebrew qameem and German kommen.
Imperative between Hebrew qumee and German komme.
We come now to one of the more interesting linguistic phenomenon. In
the preceding chapter I tabulated Hebrew gerund forms for the world light.
For the Hebrew verb qam these are:
b'koom = in arising or standing
The first is reflected in English become and German bekommen.
The second is reflected in German gekommen, with a phonetic shift
from "k" to "g."
In all three languages they appear in gerund or participle forms, nouns
and adjectives formed from verbs. The "be-" and "ge-" appear in both Old
High German and Old English. Modern English has lost the "ge-" form.
The presence of the "ge-" form in Old English prevents linguists from
looking for the "be-" prefix in the verbs for existence, is, was,
and be. They accept become as a form with an independent
origin, and with cognates in German.
The "be-" sense of "in" is retained in both Hebrew and Teutonic. A similar
sense is found in the "ke-" or "ge-" prefix in both Hebrew and Teutonic.
This is an illustration of how Hebrew not only introduced vocabulary
into the European languages, but also grammatical forms.
It might be possible to determine more precisely the manner in which Hebrew affected the European languages by examining, for example, the loss of the "le-" and "me-" prefixes. However, such detail is beyond the scope of this work.
I shall go on to other cognates which are striking.
Two common everyday words which have their origin in Hebrew are sour
The first is found as sur in OE, OS, OHG, and ON. It is also
in Lithuanian suras = saltish or bitter, and in Old Slavonic syru
= moist, raw. (Note the "s" ending again in a eastern European language.)
OED states the ultimate origins of sour are uncertain.
The word comes from Hebrew sur5493, "to turn aside,"
"to turn off," "to deteriorate." It is translated in the Bible as "decline,"
Deut 17:11 in KJV, "leave undone," "put down," "turn aside," "degenerate,"
Jer 2:21, and "be sour," Hos 4:18 in KJV.
This word also probably gave us English sewer, from Old French seuwiere, although etymologists would derive it from Latin ex-awquare = "out of the water." The word was originally used in France to denote a drainage system for a swamp, and later for covered drains from houses and towns, hence our sewer.
English soap comes to us through OE sawp and Latin sawpo.
It is found in the Keltic languages as Gailic siabunn, Cornish seban,
Welsh sebon, and Manx sheabon.
The Hebrew zobe2100 from the root zoob, is
used to describe seminal or menstrual flux. Brown, Driver, and Briggs offer
a meaning of "flow" or "gush" for zoob. In Arabic it means "to melt,"
"to dissolve," and "to flow." Urine was once used to make soap, as a convenient
source of chemicals, and thus a direct connection to the Hebrew meaning.
The Teutonic cognates are ON supa, OHG sufan, OE sop,
sup, and seap. The word was also in the Romance languages as French
and Latin suppa and supe = "a piece of bread steeped in soup."
They became the modern English sop, or a slice of bread dipped in
gravy, as well as supper, sup, and sip.
When I traced this word I visualized many generations of European people who enjoyed their soup, their sop, and their supper, and afterwards washed themselves with the use of soap. And if they left their soup too long it turned sour.
This word is found in Teutonic as garda, Gothic gardo = "enclosure," and German garten = "enclosure" or "yard." With a slight metathesis it is from Hebrew gawdar1443, = "to wall in or around," "close up," "fence in." From it we get guard, = "to fence around," "protect," and through sound shifts we also received warden = "a keeper of an enclosure."
Awsham or awshame816 is a Hebrew root meaning "to
be guilty," or "to offend," "a fault," or "a trespass." See Lev 5:19 and
Num 5:7, awsham = "trespass," Jer 50:7, nesham = "we offend
not," Hos 4:15, el-yesham, = "let not offend," and so on. According
to Teutonic etymologies our words shame and ashamed came
through OE scom, and OS, OHG, and Gothic skama. The "a" prefix is
a common separate element widely attested in the Teutonic languages. Therefore,
linguists believe ashame is a formulation of a + shame. However,
this is an illustration once again how modern English has reverted to a
more original sound pattern found in Hebrew.
The word sham, which appears to be derived from shame, first appeared in English literature in the 17th century as a slang term.
Ravished River Ravines
The Hebrew words ravah and raveh7301, mean
"to be saturated," and "drink one's fill." Proverbs 7:18 says "come let
us take our fill (nirveh) of love." Isa 14:5 says "For my sword satiated
(ki-rivtha) itself in heaven." Isa 6:9 shows God's sorrow when he says
he shall "water (ehrayavek) thee with my tears." Other senses of the verb
are "to be intoxicated," "drench," "water abundantly," and "satiated."
Nouns and adjectives derived from this verb have the sense of "moisture,"
"sated with affliction," "saturation," "slake the thirst," "bathe," "fill,"
This word is found in Latin rivare = "to carry water," and in
its derivative ripa= "river bank." It is found in Spanish rio,
and English river. The French ravine is from an earlier ravin,
which is from Latin rapina = "robber and rapine," a form of Latin
= "to seize," "to take away." These words gave French raviss and
English ravish, as well as rape. French raviss became
French ravir and English ravage.
These interrelated forms all have similar senses in the Hebrew ravah and raveh words.
Effacing the Faces
The Hebrew root awface or awfes656,657 means
"cease," "fail," and "come to an end." In the noun form it is used to denote
"end," or "extremity." It also expresses non-existence, as in Isa 34:12,
where "all his princes shall become nought (ahfes)." Other passages are
translated as "end," "less than nothing," "none," "uttermost part," and
so on. In Ezek 47:3 it denotes an extremity of the body, "the waters were
to the ankles (awfeseem)."
The English word face is thought to derive from the Latin facies,
and a popular altered form facia. Similar forms are found in Spanish
and Portuguese, and in French as face. OED says "the etymology
of Latin facies is uncertain."
The English word efface is thought to derive from the Latin ex
+ facies, literally "from out of the face."
The Hebrew word probably was adopted into Latin in the sense of "extremity," or "front end of the head." Note once again that the English efface is virtually identical in phonetics and meaning to the Hebrew word.
Roar, Ruin and Razors
English ruin comes to us through French from the Latin ruere
= "to fall in pieces," "crumble away." Roar is through the Teutonic
found in Old English as rawrian, and in Old German as raren.
Etymologists believe this last word is ultimately echoic in origin.
One Hebrew root probably lies behind both of these words. Ruah7321
means "to mar, especially by breaking," and figuratively, "to split the
ears with sound," and "shout with alarm." It is translated as "blow (the
horn)," "cry," "shout," "destroy," and so on.
Hebrew rawzaw7329 means "to emaciate," "make thin," and "wax lean." French raser is from the Low Latin rasorium = "a scraper." We use the expression today, "He is as thin as a razor." Etymologists find a similar form in Sanskrit radati = "he scratches, scrapes."
The Mighty Cromlechs Around the Lakes
Many observers of the Keltic languages have commented on the cognate of the Gaelic and Welsh word cromlech = crom + lech, with the Hebrew luach3781. Lech in the old Keltic languages meant "flat stone." In Hebrew luach means "a tablet of stone, wood or metal." The essential meaning of the Hebrew word is "to glisten." The word was applied to "boards, plates, and tables" as something which was polished.
A parallel phonetic form is Hebrew lakh3892 = "moisture,"
and "to be new or fresh." This word came over into Latin and the Teutonic
languages where it took on the meaning of "basin," "tub," "tank," "lake,"
and "pond." The Latin lacus gave Old French lak. In the Teutonic
languages lak was used in Old English as lacu, in Old High
German as lahha, in modern German as lache, and is found
in Scottish loch. Other Keltic forms are Welsh luch, Irish
now written as lough. The old Teutonic forms denoted moisture, exactly
as the Hebrew.
In Hebrew log3849 meant "a liquid measure," and is derived from the verb log = "to deepen, or hollow." The modern English forms are log and lug, denoting a lumbered tree or branch of a tree, and something heavy, clumsy, or cumbersome, "to pull with force," or "tug heavily." The word leakh in Hebrew also means "natural force," "freshness," and is parallel with the modern English leak.
Living a Life of Love
Brown, Driver and Briggs list the many meanings and nuances, together
with illustration of Bible passages, for the Hebrew word labe3820
1. The inner man in contrast with the outer: Ps 84:2, "My heart (libbee) and my flesh sing for joy to the living God."
2. Of one's own mind: In Num 16:28 Moses saying, "...I have not done them of my own mind (or heart) (milibbee)."
3. Inclinations, resolutions, and determinations of the will: Job 11:13 says, "If thou prepare thine heart (libbecha).
4. Moral character: In Ps 17:3, "Thou has tried my heart (libbee).
5. And as the seat of the emotions and passions, numerous passages:
In Ps 37:4, "And he shall give thee the desires of thine heart (libbecha).
As we all know, the heart is also the seat of love.
In German leib means "body," "belly," and "womb," with the sense
centered on the inner anatomy. Certainly, a clear and close phonetic and
semantic relationship to Hebrew labe.
More curiously, in German, with a reversal of the vowels, liebe
means "love." As an adjective lieb means "dear, nice, and kind."
There are numerous German inflectional variations, with additive words,
for example liebchen = "sweetheart." Liebhaben = "have love,"
or "be fond of." A more curious form is liebhaber = "lover," or
"beau," a "heart companion." The curiosity comes from Hebrew. Haber2270,
known also in Assyrian as abaru = "friend," denotes a joining together.
In Ps 94:20 haber is used as "to be allied with." It also means
"company," "association," and "companion." It is translated as "companion"
in Ps 119:63. Literally, in Hebrew labe haber means "heart companion."
The German leib and liebe derive from the same Teutonic source as English "live," "life," "love," and "liver" = "the inner part." OHG had lib = "life." OHG and Gothic also had luba and lubo = "love." These related forms all come out of that Hebrew labe, with inflectional shifts from "b" in lub, to "f" in lof, to "v" in love.
Other Word Curiosities
The Hebrew root ooth225 means "to come," and by implication,
"to assent," or "to consent" with translations of "consent," Gen 34:15,
"mark," Gen 4:15, "sign," Exod 4:8, and "token," Gen 9:12. The derived
form oath226 is translated as "signal," "flag," "beacon,"
"omen," "prodigy," and "evidence."
The English oath finds historic predecessors in Old English ayth,
Old Saxon eeth, Gothic aith, and Old Irish oeth, where
it means literally, "a going," or "a going together in agreement."
Yet again, we see how modern English has reverted to a near identity to the Hebrew in both phonetics and meaning.
Hebrew kawfar3722 means "a village, as protected by walls," or "covered," among other senses. Latin cooperire = "shut up," or "cover" is thought to derive from co = "together," or "jointly," added to operirer. It came into English through French covrir = "to cover," and French covert. We see it in our modern words of cover, covert, and cove.
Among many other curiosities is this English word. It comes from French milieu = "middle or medium." Etymologists derive it from Latin medius, in turn formed from mis = medium plus lieu = "place," hence "middle place." Hebrew miloo4394 means a "fulfilling," "a setting," or "a consecration." The English meaning of milieu is "environment, medium, or condition." Again the similarities are evident, with the possibility that the English word comes through a process which is not evident to linguists.
This is one of the most curious of all words. It is in Old English as pigga, but its origins are unknown. The Hebrew word piggool6269 means "fetid," "unclean," and "to stink!"