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פְּדוּת – redemption (action or power of –)

Semantic Fields: Deliverance   
Author(s): Alison Gray
First published: 2007-08-31
Last update: 2024-06-30 (Raymond de Hoop)
Citation: Alison Gray, פְּדוּת – redemption (action or power of –),
               Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database (, 2007 (update: 2024)

For a fuller discussion of the lexical field ‘Deliverance’ as a whole, see on this site the ‘Overview of SAHD entries for ‘Deliverance’ words by Graham I. Davies.


Grammatical type: n.f.
Occurrences: 4x HB (1/1/2); 0x Sir; 18x Qum; 0x inscr. (Total: 22).

  • Torah: Exod 8:19;
  • Nebiim: Isa 50:2;
  • Ketubim: Pss 111:9; 130:7;
  • Qum: 1QM 1:12(2x); 11:9; 14:5, 10; 15:1; 17:6; 18:11; 4Q266 11:13; 4Q269 16:11; 4Q365 6aii+6c:6; 4Q446 1:5; 3:2; 4Q468y 1:4; 4Q491 8-10 i:8; 11 ii:14; 4Q503 1-6 iii:8; 4Q511 63-64 ii:1.

Text doubtful:

A.1 There is much disagreement over the text and meaning of פְדֻת in Exod 8:19, rendered פורקן by TgO and TgN. It is listed in BDB under the root פדה (BDB, 804a), although it recognises that the text is dubious, for it is difficult to make sense of this particular verse if one translates it as ‘liberation’. The previous verse contains the vb פלה (hiph.) which means ‘to set apart’ (BDB, 811b) and the idea of separation would make sense in v. 19 also, which is the sense given by LXX’s διαστολή, Pesh’s ܦܘܪܫܢܐ (pwršnʾ ) and Vg’s divisio. However, Andrew Macintosh argued that ‘there is no evidence in Hebr. for a semantic development [in פדה] from breaking, separation to redemption’ (Macintosh 1971:554; contra Gesenius, TPC, 1091-92; Muntinghe 1775). The text here may therefore be corrupt, and emendation to פלת, ‘separation’ (root פלה hiph.) was proposed by August Dillmann (1881:80; cf. BHK), although this noun is not attested elsewhere in MT. Graham Davies (1974) suggested instead פ(ר)דת with haplography accounting for the absence of the ר, from the root פרד hiph., ‘to separate’. Alternatively, פדת here may be derived from a different root. Macintosh (1971:551) suggests the root פדד, ‘was alone, separated’ (which corresponds to the cognate in Arabic fadda and in Syriac pad), by analogy with other double-‘ayin verbs and their cognate nouns. Medieval commentators have also tried to account for the unsuitability of פדת in MT. The Rabbinic commentators on Exod 8:19 clearly wanted to maintain the meaning of redemption within the idea of separation: ‘He sent his people deliverance and distinction moreover; that is to say, he distinguished between them and their oppressors’ (R. Jonah ibn Janah (10th century), Sepher Haschoraschim: Bacher 1896:395). There is perhaps an argument, then, for a semantic development of פדה analogous to that of פרק (cf. Ps 136:24; Lam 5:8 in BH and on these passages the SAHD entry פָּרַק: the salvific sense is not limited to or necessarily dependent upon Aram., contra Macintosh 1971:554-55), with an older sense of ‘separation’ attested here in Exod 8:19.

A.2 In 1QM 17:6, a promise of God’s help, [פ]ד֯ותו is read as [ב]ר֯יתו in DSS.SE (140): ‘And he will send everlasting help to the lot of his redemption/covenant’. Either reading would fit the context here, although the argument for פדותו appears to be slightly stronger, supported by the association elsewhere of פדות with גורל (1QM 15:1), of עזר with פדות (4Q491 11ii14) and the frequency of the construct relationship עם פדות, ‘people of redemption’ (1QM 1:12; 1QM 14:5, 4Q266 11:13, 4Q269 16:11).

A.3 In 4Q269 16:11 only ת֯כה[ remains, but the context seems to be a copy of the same passage of the Damascus Document as 4Q266 11:13, so the restoration [פדו]ת֯כה is highly probable.

A.4 The text of 4Q365 6aii+6c:6 from the Reworked Pentateuch is unclear: וׄרוממנה למרומם[ פ]ד֯ות נתת. But the context (an expansion of the Song of Miriam in Exod 15:21) makes the restoration very appropriate.

A.5 In 4Q468y 1:4 (an unidentified fragment) the reading ]פ̊דו[ת ] is somewhat uncertain, and the lack of significant context deprives it of any use for semantic analysis.

B.1 It has been suggested (e.g. in BHS) that פדות in Isa 50:2 should be read as the inf.cstr. of the verb פדה (cf. the verbal renderings in LXX, Tg and Vg), but the abstract noun can bear an equivalent sense and does not need to be emended.

Qere/Ketiv: none.

1. Root and Comparative Material

A.1 See פדה: Root and Comparative Material.

2. Formal Characteristics

A.1 Afformative וּת–: Joüon and Muraoka, GBH, §88Mj. פְּדוּת is always in the singular in both the HB and Qumran, except for 4Q446 3:2, if the reading פדותיך is correct and the yodh really does indicate that the noun is plural (for cases where it does not, see Reymond 2014:156).

3. Syntagmatics

A.1 פְּדוּת is the object of the verb שׂום, ‘to put’ (Exod 8:19), שׁלח, ‘to send’ (Ps 111:9, ind.obj. עַמּוֹ, ‘his people’), and probably נתן, ‘to give’ (4Q365 6aii+6c 6), all with YHWH as the subject.

A.2 פְּדוּת is the nomen regens of אל, ‘God’ (1QM 1:12a), and עולמים, ‘eternity’ (1QM 1:12b; 15:1; 18:11).

A.3 פְּדוּת is the nomen rectum of עַם, ‘people’ (1 QM 1:12a; 14:5; 4Q266 11:13), אביון pl., ‘poor (ones)’ (1QM 11:9; 4Q446 1:5), נפשׁ, ‘life/soul’ (1QM 14:10), גורל, ‘lot’ (1QM 17:6), עזר, ‘help’ (4Q491 11 ii:14), עשי אלהי[מ, ‘God’s deeds’ (4Q511 63-64 ii:1).

A.4 פְּדוּת has 1 sg. sf. with human antecedent (4Q511 63-64 ii 1); 2 sf. referring to YHWH (1QM 11:9; 14:10 [=4Q491 8-10 i:8]; 4Q266 11:13 [=4Q269 16:11?], 4Q446 3:2), 3 sf. referring to YHWH (1QM 14:5; 17:6; 4Q446 1:5; 4Q491 11 ii:14), 1 pl. sf. (worshippers: 4Q503 1-6 iii 8).

A.5 פְּדוּת occurs with the prepositions:

  • בין, ‘between’ (x2) followed by עמי, ‘my people’, and עמך, ‘your people’ (Exod 8:19);
  • מִן, ‘from’ (privative) lit. ‘is my hand shortened from redemption?’ (Isa 50:2);
  • עִם, ‘with’ + 3ms sf. ‘him’ (God: Ps 130:7);
  • ב, ‘in’ (1QM 15:1; 18:11).

A.6 פְּדוּת occurs in nominal clauses: וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדוּת, ‘great is redemption with him [God]’ (Ps 130:7); וגורל אל בפדות עולמים, ‘and the lot of God is in eternal redemption’ (1QM 15:1).

A.7 פְּדוּת is closely associated with יד, ‘hand’, + 1 sg. sf. referring to YHWH (Isa 50:2).

The syntagmatic information suggests that the emphasis of פְּדוּת is on the power or action of redemption/to redeem, and it is always used in relation to God.

4. Ancient Versions

a. Septuagint (LXX):

  • διαστολή, ‘separation’: Exod 8:19;
  • λύτρωσις, ‘act of redemption’: Pss 111:9; 130:7;
  • ῥύομαι, ‘to rescue’: Isa 50:2.

b. Peshitta (Pesh):

  • ܦܘܪܫܢܐ (pwršnʾ ), ‘severing, separation’: Exod 8:19;
  • ܦܘܪܩܢܐ (purqānā), ‘salvation, redemption’: Pss 111:9; 130:7;
  • ܦܕܕ (pdd) peal, ‘to wander away’: Isa 50:2.

c. Targum (Tg: O/N/PsJ/J/K):

  • פורקנא, ‘salvation, redemption’: Exod 8:19O,N,PsJ; Pss 111:9K; 130:7K;
  • פרק, ‘to redeem’: Isa 50:2J.

d. Vulgate (Vg):

  • divisio, ‘division, separation’: Exod 8:19;
  • redemptio, ‘redemption’: Ps 111:9; 130:7;
  • redimo, ‘to redeem’: Isa 50:2.

B.1 The divergent renderings by words meaning ‘distinction, division’ in Exod 8:19 in LXX, Pesh and Vg raise the question whether the word in the text there is really פְדוּת, ‘redemption’ (see Text Doubtful A.1).

B.2 The aberrant rendering of פְּדוּת by the similar Syriac verb with a quite different meaning (‘to wander away’) in Isa 50:2 was probably due to the misreading of the previous phrase.

5. Lexical/Semantic Fields

A.1 See פדה: Lexical/Semantic Fields.

A.2 In passages related to ושמתי פדות in Exod 8:19, פלה hiph., ‘make a distinction’, is used at the corresponding points (8:18; 9:4; 11:7).

A.3 In Isa 50:2 נצל hiph., ‘deliver’, occurs in parallelism with פדות; compare the association of the verb פדה with נצל hiph. and other members of the ‘deliverance’ lexical field.

A.4 In Ps 111:9 the parallel to שלח פדות is צוה לעולם בריתו, and in Ps 130:7 the parallel to פדות is חסד. ברית and חסד are also closely associated with פדות in 1QM 14:5. These associations indicate the relational and emotional context in which ‘redemption’ of God’s people (cf. לעמו in Ps 111:9 and the construct pairs noted under Syntagmatics A.3) is expected to occur. Similar implications follow from the interchange between פדותכה (in the sense of ‘redeemed people’) in 1QM 14:10 and, כול דורותינו … לשאר̊[ית עמכה] (line 9) and עם קודשכה (line 12) in the neighbouring context, where the terms ברית (ll.8,10) and חסד (l.9) again occur and there is an explicit opposition to the ממשלת בליעל (cf. l.9), as there is to the גוי רשעה in 1QM 15:1(-2) and to the מ[מש]ל[ת א]ויב in 18:11. God’s relationship to those he redeems is also implied by the association of פדותו with נאמן in 4Q491 11 ii:14.

A.5 In 1QM 1:12 לפדות עולמים is in apposition to תום, ‘end’, with 3 sf. referring to צרה, ‘distress’, marking the ‘redemption’ as a deliverance from the coming eschatological woes (cf. 15:1).

A.6 In 1QM 11:9 פדות is associated with יד, ‘hand/power’, and with שלום, ‘peace/prosperity’, גבורת פלא, ‘wonderful might’, and תקוה, ‘hope’; in 14:5 with ישועה; and in 17:6 with עזר, ‘help’ and גבורה, ‘might’; and in 18:11 with יד גבורתכה, ‘your mighty hand’. In 4Q365 6aii+6c:6 למרומם [פ]ד̊ות נתת[…] occurs in an expansion of the Song of Miriam celebrating the Exodus and is associated with מרומם and עשה גאות.

A.7 In 4Q266 11:13 עם פדותך is paralleled by the figurative expression צון מרעיתךה [sic], ‘the flock of your pasture’, which is based on a metaphor which occurs in Pss 79:13 and 100:3 in close association with עמך/עמו, ‘your/his people’.

A.8 In the hymnic context of 4Q503 1-6 iii:8 פדותנו is associated with בראשית, ‘in the beginning (of?)’, but the continuation is broken off. It seems unlikely to be eschatological, despite the possible occurrence of עולם just before.

6. Exegesis

A.1 The noun פְּדוּת seems to be quite distinct from פְּדוּיִם/פִּדְיוֹן and always refers to God’s action or power to act. פְּדוּת is described as being with (עם) God (Ps 130:7) and it is something which God can send (שלח) to his people, referring to the Exodus (Ps 111:9; 4Q365 6aii+6c:6). This suggests that it means ‘(the action or power) of redemption’. Isa 50:2, part of a ‘trial speech’ (Westermann 1969:224), seems to confirm this by God’s speech in a confrontation with Israel, in response to an accusation that he has abandoned them. The parallel with כח להציל seems to reflect the idea of פְּדוּת being ‘strength to deliver’. The same idiomatic use of קצר with יד for powerlessness is found in Isa 59:1, this time with ישׁע hiph. (These may both be an allusion to the Exodus; cf. Num 11:23 and Neh 1:10). In contrast to the noun גְּאֻלָה, which emphasizes the kin-relational aspect of the verb גאל, פְּדוּת, ‘action or power of redemption’, highlights the importance of the action of redemption in the verb פדה.
At Qumran the future hope of redemption implied in Isa 50:2 is developed further, especially in the War Scroll, into a concept of ‘eternal redemption’ (פדות עולמים). The Qumran texts also, however, innovate in employing the noun פְּדוּת in a number of combinations (see Syntagmatics A.3) to define God’s people as an already ‘redeemed’ people. In one case (1QM 14:10 = 4Q491 8-10 i:8) פְּדוּת alone is used to mean ‘the redeemed community’.

7. Conclusion

The noun פְּדוּת, which is used much more frequently at Qumran than in the HB, means ‘(action or power of) redemption’ and always refers to divine activity. It is never used in a cultic or socio-legal context, and unlike פדוים and פדיון it is never associated with a ‘price’ or ‘payment’. Its main connotations, in addition to liberation, are powerful action and the context of an exclusive relationship (but not a kin relationship). If פְדֻת in Exod 8:19 is an example (see above Text Doubtful A.1, it might be explained by a semantic development parallel to that attested in the case of פרק (see פָּרַק: Root and Comparative Material).


For the abbreviations see the List of Abbreviations.

Bacher 1896
Wilhelm Bacher (ed.), Sefer ha-shorashim: hu ha-ḥeleḳ ha-sheni mi-Maḥberet ha-diḳduḳ, ḥibro bi-leshon ʿArav Yonah ben Gʾanaḥ, Berlin: Iṭtskovsḳi.
Cazelles 2001
Henri Cazelles, ‘פדה’, TDOT 11:483-90.
Davies 1974
Graham I. Davies, ‘The Hebrew text of Exodus viii 19 – an emendation’, VT 24:489-491.
Dillmann 1881
August Dillmann, Die Bücher Exodus und Leviticus (KEHAT), Leipzig: Hirzel.
Gray 2016
Alison Gray, ‘פדה’, ThWQ 3:259-63.
Hubbard 1997
Robert L. Hubbard, ‘פדה’, NIDOTTE 3:578-82.
Macintosh 1971
Andrew A. Macintosh, ‘Exodus VIII 19: Distinct Redemption and the Hebrew roots פדה and פדדVT 21:548-55.
Muntinghe 1775
Herman Muntinghe, Dissertatio Philologico-Critica Exhibens Specimen Observationum ad quaedam Vet. Test. Loca, Groningen: Spandaw.
Reymond 2014
Eric D. Reymond, Qumran Hebrew: An Overview of Orthography, Phonology and Morphology (SBLRBS, 76), Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.
Stamm 1940
Johann J. Stamm, Erlösen und Vergeben im Alten Testament, Bern: Francke.
Stamm 1976
Johann J. Stamm, ‘פדה’, THAT 2:389-406.
Westermann 1969
Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66, trans. David M.G. Stalker (OTL), London: SCM.
Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database