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תִּפְלָה – senselessness

Semantic Fields: Knowledge   
Author(s): M. Patrizia Sciumbata
First published: 2009-09-16
Last update: 2024-06-30 (Raymond de Hoop)
Citation: M. Patrizia Sciumbata, תִּפְלָה – senselessness,
               Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database (, 2009 (update: 2024)


Grammatical type: n.f.
Occurrences: 3x HB (0/1/2); 0x Sir; 0x Qum.; 0x inscr. (Total: 3)

  • Nebiim: Jer 23:13.
  • Ketubim: Job 1:22; 24:12.

A.1 There are no occurrences outside the biblical text. All the attestations of תפלה in the Qumran texts relate to תְּפִלָּה, ‘prayer’.

Text Doubtful:

B.1 In Job 24:12 the Pesh presupposes a Vorlage תְּפִלָּה (so also two Hebrew MSS: cf. BHS; Pope 1973:178). For many scholars1 this is the correct reading: ‘God does not hear their prayer’. תְּפִלָּה is, however, clearly a lectio facilior: תִּפְלָה, which is plausible in its context (Marböck 1995:730), is furthermore confirmed by Theodotion (ἀφροσύνη), Symmachus (μωρία) and, indirectly, by Tg חובא (which excludes תְּפִלָּה; see below Ancient Versions: Targum A.3).

B.2 For the occurrence in Job 1:22 various emendations have been proposed, among which עולה, ‘injustice, unrighteousness, wrong’, נבלה, ‘folly’ (see Pope 1973:178; Driver and Gray 1921:11), or, with a different vocalisation, תְּפִלָּה, in the meaning not attested elsewhere of ‘protest’ (cf. Driver and Gray 1921:10). The reading תִּפְלָה is nevertheless entirely acceptable (see below Exegesis A.5).

B.3 In Ps 109:4 the reading תִּפְלָה has been proposed in place of the תְּפִלָּה of MT (see HAL, 1635a; Propp 1990:405). This reading, however, does not make the understanding of the text any easier.

Distribution by Functional Languages

Biblical Hebrew:2

  • EBH2 1 (Jer 23:13)
  • LBH1 1 (Job 1:22)
  • LBH3 1 (Job 24:12)
  • Total EBH 1
  • Total LBH 2

  • Overall total: 3

1. Root and Comparative Material

A.1 תִּפְלָה is connected with a root תפל I which is also represented in the HB by the adjective תָּפֵל, ‘tasteless, unseasoned’ (Job 6.6; Lam 2:14). תפל in Ezek 13:10, 11, 14, 15; 22:28 is considered by dictionaries and commentaries as a variant of טפל, ‘to smear, plaster’;3 Propp (1990) holds, on the other hand, that it should be connected with תפל I (there would then be a single root; see also Marböck 1995:728). Considering that תפל is also associated with false prophecy in Jer 23:13 and Lam 2:14, Propp concludes that ‘Ezekiel uses תָּפֵל in the sense “vanity, folly” and puns with טפל “to plaster”’ (1990:408). ‘If the root תפל was commonly applied to false prophecy in the sixth century, or if Ezekiel was familiar with Jeremiah 23, he might have realized that the assonance of תפל and טפל could be exploited in paranomastic metaphor’ (Propp 1990:407). The cultural association between plaster and mortar on the one hand and hypocrisy on the other, attested by various biblical passages (see Ps 119:69; Job 13:4; 14:17) would have favoured the emergence of this rhetorical figure in Ezekiel.
As for the form תִּתַּפָּל in 2 Sam 22:27, it should be considered as an abbreviation or a textual corruption for תִּתְפַּתָּל from the verb פתל which is found in the parallel text of Ps 18:27 (Marböck 1995:728).
In the Qumran texts there are five attestations of the root תפל: 1QH 6:36 (לתפל) is situated in a corrupt context, CD 8:12 and 19:25 refer to Ezek 13; the two occurrences in 5Q14:1, 3 relate to a verb תפל and the adjective (תפלו בכול תפל: a sort of linguistic play, Marböck 1995:732).

A.2 In Mishnaic Hebrew there are attested the adjective תָּפֵל, ‘insipid, unsalted’ (referring to food; see b.Shabb 128a/b; b.Ḥul 113a) and the substantives תפלה and תפלות. The latter is the only form present in the Mishnah and seems to replace תפלה in Mishnaic Hebrew (Bendavid 1967-71, 2:442).

A.3 In Tg the form אִיתַּפַּל is attested (TgO on Deut 1:1; BDB:1074a).

A.4 The Hebrew root תפל is connected by many with the Arab. tafala, ‘to spit’, and tufl, ‘saliva, spittle’.

A.5 Driver (Driver and Gray 1921:11) holds that the various meanings found in Arabic would have developed out of the fundamental meaning of the Semitic root ‘to be savourless’, in the following sequence: 1) to (lose a good scent by the) neglect (of) perfume, 2) to be unperfumed, 3) to be ill-smelling, 4) to spit out (rejecting what is ill-savoured), 5) to spit (whence further meanings developed). Other scholars (see Tur-Sinai 1967:20ff., Ben Yehuda XVI,7853, n.2) hold instead that the original meaning is the one attested by Arab. tafala, ‘spit’. Propp justifies this hypothesis with the onomatopoeic assonance:

PS [Proto-Semitic] *tpl thus exemplified the widespread tendency of words with this meaning to contain a p and a t, presumably in imitation of the act itself. English ‘spit’ and ‘ptooey’ (the sound of expectoration) are obvious examples; we also have Greek πτύω and Latin spuo/sputo. Aramaic has תֹּפֶת ‘saliva’ (Job 17:6).

In Mishnaic Hebrew the expression רוק תפל could maintain the memory of such an association.

2. Formal Characteristics

A.1 The substantive is formed according to the pattern qitl.

A.2 It can be considered as a nomen unitatis related to the collective תָּפֵל (Marböck 1995:730).

A.3 It is always attested in the

A.4 In Mishnaic Hebrew the alternation of the pattern with תפלות is recorded (Bendavid 1967-71, 2:442).

3. Syntagmatics

A.1 There are no constructions with the particles.

A.2 תִּפְלָה can refer to persons (Jer 23:13), situations (Job 24:12), and, even though negatively, to God in Job 1:22.

A.3 The substantive always appears as object, with the verbs:

  • ראה, ‘to see’, in Jer 23:13;
  • נתן, ‘to give’, in Job 1:22;
  • שׂים, ‘to place, regard’, in Job 24:12.

A.4 In Job 1:22 the idiomatic phrase נָתַן תִּפְלָה לְ is recorded (see below Exegesis B.1).

A.5 In Jer 23:13 תִּפְלָה is in parallelism with שַׁעֲרוּרָה, ‘abomination’, in v. 14: it is not, however, a matter of similar qualities, which are different in degree (McKane 1986:574). In Job 1:22 נָתַן תִּפְלָה לְ is in parallel with חָטָא. There are no other contextual relations.

4. Ancient Versions

a. Septuagint (LXX):

  • ἀνόμημα, ‘evil, transgression of the law’: Jer 23:13;
  • ἀφροσύνη, ‘folly, thoughtlessness’: Job 1:22;
  • Unclear: Job 24:12.

A.1 ἀνόμημα also translates בליעל, ִזמָּה, חטאת, נבלה, עון, פֶּשַׁע and תועבה.

A.2 ἀφροσύνη also translates אולת, כסיל, כֶּסֶל, כִסְלָה, נבלה, סָכָל, סכלות, פְּתִי and תָּפֵל.

A.3 In Job 24:12 the expression ἐπισκοπὴν ποιεῖν, ‘pay attention, be watchful’, is used. It is probably a case of an interpretative rendering of the context.

A.4 The LXX offers a different rendering for each occurrence. One could say that, beginning from an intuition of the real meaning of the lexeme offered in Job 1:22 (note that ἀφροσύνη is also found in Symmachus and Theodotion), it prefers in the other two cases to have recourse to an interpretation of the meaning from the context (see also below Exegesis A.1).

B.1 HRCS1, 285c, mistakenly mentions the translation of תִּפְלָה by δέησις: it is in fact a case of תְּפִלָּה. The error has been corrected in HRCS2, 285c.

b. Aquila (αʹ):

  • ἄναλος, ‘without salt, unsalted’: Jer 23:13.

A.1 The rendering of αʹ reflects the intention of the translation to keep close to the original language, adapting itself in this case to the primary meaning attested by the adjective (see McKane 1986:573; Marböck 1995:730): see below Exegesis A.1.

c. Symmachus (σʹ):

  • ἀφρονεύομαι, ‘to be silly, act foolishly’: Job 1:22;
  • ἀφροσύνη, ‘folly, thoughtlessness’: Jer 23:13;
  • μωρία, ‘folly’: Job 24:12.

A.1 In Job 1:22 the phrase וְלֹא־נָתַן תִּפְלָה לֵאלֹהִים would seem to have been partly ‘censored’: in fact οὐδὲ ἠφρονεύσατο certainly presupposes תִּפְלָה (see ἀφροσύνη in Jer 23:13), but the fact that Job could (even if negatively) have attributed this quality to God is passed over in silence (see below Exegesis A.5). A similar tendency can also be observed in the Targum, the Peshitta and the Vulgate in the same verse.

A.2 For all the three occurrences Symmachus remains consistent in his rendering of the meaning of the lexeme.

d. Theodotion (θʹ):

  • ἀφροσύνη, ‘folly, thoughtlessness’: Job 24:12.

A.1 The translation of θʹ for this occurrence is important, because it confirms the Hebrew תִּפְלָה against the reading תְּפִלָּה preferred by some commentators on the basis of Pesh.

e. Peshitta (Pesh):

  • ܕܓܠܘܬܐ (daggālutāʾ ), ‘deceptiveness’: Jer 23:13;
  • no equivalent: Job 1:22;
  • different text: Job 24:12.

A.1 In Job 1:22 the expression נָתַן תִּפְלָה לְ is translated by the verb ܓ݁ܕܦ (gaddep), ‘blaspheme’. It is an example of the same tradition of interpretation as in Tg and Vg.

A.2 In Job 24:12 we have ܨܠܘܬܗܘܢ (ṣlōṯhōn), ‘their prayer’, which presupposes a Vorlage תְּפִלָה.

f. Targum (Tg: J/K/11QTgJob):

  • מלי מטחא, ‘rebellious words’: Job 1:22K;
  • רְשַׁע, ‘wickedness, evil’: Jer 23:13J;
  • no equivalent: Job 24:12K,11QTgJob.

A.1 The rendering of Tg Jer 23:13 corresponds to that of the LXX and is of a metaphorical kind: this meaning could already have developed in Hebrew from the denotation ‘lack of salt’ (McKane 1986:573).

A.2 Job 1:22 seems to share the same censorious mentality which inspired the translation of Symmachus (see above): וְלֹא־נָתַן תִּפְלָה לֵאלֹהִים becomes: בכל דא לא חב איוב ולא סדר מלי מטחא קדם ייי, ‘In all this Job did not sin, nor did he utter rebellious words before the Lord’. In b.BB 12a Raba comments: ‘With his lips he did not sin, but he did sin with his heart’ (Mangan 1991:27 note), grasping the nature of the defensive cover-up in the statement.

A.3 The text of Job 24:12 in 11QTgJob is partially different: ‘will God not bring its punishment (literally ‘debt’, חוב)’. It seems to be a case of a paraphrase of the text, which in essence considers תִּפְלָה as really the non-punitive intervention of God.

g. Vulgate (Vg):

  • fatuitas, ‘foolishness, folly, silliness’: Jer 23:13;
  • quid stultum, ‘something foolish, silly’: Job 1:22;
  • no equivalent: Job 24:12.

A.1 While fatuitatem in Jer 23:13 corresponds to the line of interpretation followed by Symmachus, Job 1:22 (in omnibus his non peccavit Iob neque stultum quid contra Deum locutus est) is parallel to Tg. As for Job 24:12 (et Deus inultum abire non patitur), it seems to be a case of the same paraphrase as that encountered in 11QTgJob.

5. Lexical/Semantic Fields

A.1 תִּפְלָה ‘senselessness, irrationality’, forms part of the lexical field of the substantives of ‘knowledge’ (Sciumbata 1996-97) and is situated at the negative pole of the field. On the paradigmatic level it is in polar opposition with all the lexemes of the positive pole, but its own direct polar antonym is טַעַם, ‘reason’, which in the theoretical-speculative dimension (a semic feature shared with other lexemes, which understands knowledge as a theoretical matter) indicates a faculty considered from the standpoint of the effects which are produced by it: טַעַם, ‘reason’ is the intellectual faculty which ensures a man’s poise and good sense. In contrast תִּפְלָה ‘senselessness, irrationality’, indicates the lack of rationality and good sense in his actions. It is characterised by the features: ‘lack of the comprehensive faculty of thought’; ‘understood from its effects as the source of lack of poise and good sense’. At the negative pole תִּפְלָה is opposed to פְּתַיּוּת, ‘silliness, lack of knowledge’ (which contains the seme ‘information’, while תִּפְלָה contains the seme ‘faculty’), and to כְּסִילוּת, ‘obtuseness’ (which indicates instead the lack of תְּבוּנָה, namely the mental faculty which is open to knowledge). It has no polar antonymy with פֶּתִי, ‘silliness, lack of education’, insofar as this lexeme belongs to the jargon of the didactic strand in the wisdom movement; the same applies for הוֹלֵלוֹת/הוֹלֵלוּת, ‘insipience, ignorance’, סֶכֶל, ‘stupidity’, כֶּסֶל, ‘obtuseness’, which appear as neologisms coined by Qoheleth.

A.2 תִּפְלָה does not appear in all the functional languages of BHeb.: it is present in the poetic corpora of EBH1 and LBH3, as well as in LBH1 (Job 1:22). The lexical field of the poetic language appears more articulated and richer, whether because of the greater thematic opportunity offered by the corpus to deploy from this lexicon or through the actual existence of words characterised as poetic (דֵּעָה, ‘knowledge’, לֶקַח, ‘instruction’, שֶׂכֶל, ‘intelligence’ and ‘judgement = sense, good sense’, בִּינָה, ‘discernment’, the last only in the pre-exilic language). It is then possible that תִּפְלָה is a poetic term, whose appearance in the frame of the book of Job should be ascribed to an intentional intertextual echo of the statements in Job 24:12 (see below Exegesis A.5).

6. Exegesis

A.1 תִּפְלָה derives from the adjective תפל ‘insipid’: it indicates therefore the lack of salt. This denotation can also be understood in a metaphorical sense to indicate the uselessness of a given action (see Lam 2:14, in parallelism with שָׁוְא). In line with a semantic development common to other languages (cf. e.g. Italian ‘insulso’ or Tuscan sciocco’), the lack of salt is projected onto the mental and cognitive plane, indicating the lack of rationality and sound sense.4 That תִּפְלָה indicates essentially a lack of intellectual discrimination had already been grasped by the LXX (McKane 1986:573; Marböck 1995:730), which has ἀφροσύνη in Job 1:22.5 On the other hand the primary meaning ‘lack of salt’ is reflected in αʹ at Jer 23:13 (ἄναλος), while elsewhere the translations interpret the substantive in a metaphorical sense on the moral or religious plane.6 That it is a matter of a semantic development by means of synaesthesia (Kedar-Kopfstein 1988:54) can be confirmed by the parallel process in the antonym טַעַם, ‘taste’ > ‘reason’: the connection between the two lexemes had already been noticed by the medieval Jewish commentators Rashi and Ibn Ezra. Among the dictionaries, Schökel is the only one to grasp this interpretation of the meaning: ‘insipidez, tonteria, desatino’ (DBHE, 804).

A.2 The lexeme תִּפְלָה, ‘senselessness, irrationality’, is probably a poetic word. It belongs to the lexical field of knowledge. The antonym of טַעַם, ’reason’, it is characterised by the features ‘negative pole’, ‘theoretical-speculative dimension’, ‘class: faculty’, ‘lack of the comprehensive faculty of thought’, ‘(understood) in its effects as the source of lack of poise and good sense’ (Sciumbata 1996-97:349). It indicates in practice the mental deficiency of rationality and good sense, which is reflected in senseless actions (the substantive can also end up by designating these actions tout court).

A.3 In Jer 23:13 (וּבִנְבִיאֵי שֹׁמְרוֹן רָאִיתִי תִפְלָה, ‘I have seen a senselessness among the prophets of Samaria’) prophesying in the name of Baal is stigmatised by תִּפְלָה, as senseless behaviour (fruit of the lack of טַעַם, ‘reason’), which will lead to destruction (McKane 1986:574). It seems that the designation of the building of a non-Jewish cult by בֵּית תִּפְלָה developed from this passage, in opposition to בֶּית תְפִלָה to indicate the synagogue, which is found in the rabbinic literature (Even Shoshan 1993, 4:1470).

A.4 In Job 24:12 (מֵעִיר מְתִים יִנְאָקוּ וְנֶפֶשׁ־חֲלָלִים תְּשַׁוֵּעַ וֶאֱלוֹהַּ לֹא־יָשִׂים תִּפְלָה, ‘The dying groan from the city; the soul of the wounded begs for help and God does not regard it as senselessness/does not pay attention to such senselessness’) Job indirectly attributes senselessness to God, from the moment when he does not react to the senselessness of that which is happening: the outrageous actions of the wicked on the one hand and the sufferings of the one who has no rights and finds himself in their grip on the other (Sciumbata 1996-97:280; 2000:29).

A.5 The occurrence of תִּפְלָה in Job 1:22 (בְּכָל־זֹאת לֹא־חָטָא אִיּוֹב וְלֹא־נָתַן תִּפְלָה לֵאלֹהִים, ‘In all this Job did not sin and did not attribute senselessness to God’) is the only one in the narrative register (language of prose). One has the impression that the frame means to refer expressly to Job 24:12 (there is also a syntactic echo between the two phrases וֶאֱלוֹהַּ לֹא־יָשִׂים תִּפְלָה and וְלֹא־נָתַן תִּפְלָה לֵאלֹהִים), seeking to conceal the impiety of the accusation which Job there levels at God (the tendency is carried further forward by some translations: σʹ, Tg, Pesh, Vg). This term ends by summing up the problem around which the poem revolves: because it is precisely the lack of sound sense and the irrationality of God, with regard to the canons of retributive justice taught by the traditonalist currents of the wisdom movement, which troubles Job (Sciumbata 2000:30; Nicholson 1995). The internal cross-reference between Job 1:22 and 24:12 is recognised by Habel (1985:360), for whom nevertheless the meaning of תִּפְלָה is ‘wrong’ (see below B.3), and the second occurrence represents a ‘typical, ironic twist’ of the poet with regard to that which is stated in Job 1:22.

B.1 Other scholars do not consider the possibility of a semantic development of תפל on the mental and cognitive plane and allow only a metaphorical use on the moral level. Consider, e.g., Propp (1990:405):

these abstractions (insipidity, vanity, blame) derive from a more concrete meaning of the root *tpl in Protosemitic;

or Driver (Driver and Gray 1921:11), who on Job 1:22 comments:

to ascribe תפלה to Yahweh should imply regarding him as having lost the moral savour or quality which had been characteristic of him (…) similarly in Jer., Yahweh sees in the prophets תפלה, or moral deterioration.

In regard to the Greek ἀφροσύνη in Jer 23:13 and Lam 2:14 it is for him a case of ‘a tolerable attempt to reproduce the transferred moral sense of the word’. Many of the translations offered by the commentaries and the dictionaries lie on this line of interpretation.7

B.2 In Job 1:22 תִּפְלָה is interpreted as ‘indignity, insult’ (Dahood) or ‘spittle, reproach’ (Tur-Sinai), on the basis of the connection with the Arab. tafala, ‘to spit’, and tifl, ‘spittle’ (Michel 1987: ad loc.; cf. Pope 1973:17; Marböck 1995:730). The expression נָתַן תִּפְלָה לְ is hence considered as the opposite of נתן כָּבוֹד לְ (so expressly Pope 1973:17). The existence of various idiomatic expressions constructed on the model נתן + substantive + לְ + יהוה/אֱלֹהִים (see נָתַן כָּבוֹד לְ, נָתַן תּוֹדָה לְ, נָתַן עֹז לְ) does not, however, justify the presumed strict interrelation between נָתַן תִּפְלָה לְ and נָתַן כָּבוֹד לְ: as Driver notes (Driver and Gray 1921: II:10), the meaning of these phrases is ‘to give, i.e. ascribe, glory (praise, strength) to Yahweh, i.e. to acknowledge that Yahweh is glorious, praiseworthy or strong’ (in 1 Sam 18:8 a similar expression refers to Saul). The phrase in question asserts that Job does not discredit God by asserting that he has displayed this quality’ (ibid.), which makes him incline towards an interpretation of תִּפְלָה as a negative quality or faculty, rather than as ‘insult’ or something similar.

B.3 The interpretations of תִּפְלָה as ‘something unworthy’ or ‘wrong’ in Job 24:12 (Gordis 1978: ad loc.; Habel 1985: ad loc.) appear to be attempts at interpretation from the context, which do not take account of the meaning of תִּפְלָה in its other two attestations, nor of the data from the ancient translations nor of those of the semantic development (see also Zorell, ‘iniusta crudelitatis’, for Job 1:22 and 24:12).

7. Conclusions

A.1 According to the paradigmatic-componential analysis carried out by Sciumbata 1996-97, the lexeme תִּפְלָה ‘senselessness, irrationality’, a semantic development from the adjective תפל ‘insipid, lacking salt’, is probably a poetic word. It appears in the standard poetic language, in the poetic language of Job and in the prose frame of the book, where it seems to be an intertextual echo of Job 24:12. It belongs to the negative pole of the lexical field of the substantives for ‘knowledge’. As the polar antonym of טַעַם, ‘reason’, it indicates the lack of rationality and sound sense which issues in actions and behaviour that can also be described in such a way.


For the abbreviations see the List of Abbreviations.

Bendavid 1967-71
Abba Bendavid, Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew, 2 vols., Tel Aviv: Dvir (in Hebrew).
Clines 1989
David J. A. Clines, Job 1-20 (WBC), Dallas, TX: Word.
Dhorme 1926
Edouard Dhorme, Le livre de Job, Paris: Lecoffre.
Driver and Gray 1921
Samuel R. Driver and George B. Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job (ICC), Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
Even Shoshan 1993
Avraham Even-Shoshan, המלון החדשׁ, 4 vols., Jerusalem, Kiryat-Sefer.
Gordis 1978
Robert Gordis, The Book of Job. Commentary, New Translation and Special Studies, New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Habel 1985
Norman C. Habel, The Book of Job: A Commentary (OTL), London: SCM.
Kedar-Kopfstein 1988
Benjamin Kedar-Kopfstein, ‘Synästhesien im biblischen Althebräisch in Übersetzung und Auslegung’, ZAH 1:47-60.
McKane 1986
William McKane, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Jeremiah, vol. 1 (1-25) (ICC), Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
Mangan 1991
Céline Mangan, ‘The Targum of Job: Translated, with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes’, in Céline Mangan, John F. Healey, and Peter S. Knobel, The Targums of Job, Proverbs, and Qohelet (ArBib, 15), Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
Marböck 1995
Johann Marböck, ‘תָּפֵל tāpel, תִּפְלָה tiplāh’, ThWAT 8:728–32.
Michel 1987
Walter L. Michel, Job in the light of North-West Semitic, Rome: Biblical Institute.
Nicholson 1995
Ernest W. Nicholson, ‘The Limits of Theodicy as a Theme of the Book of Job’, in John Day, Robert P. Gordon and Hugh G. M. Williamson (eds.), Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 71-82.
Pope 1973
Marvin H. Pope, Job: A New Translation, with Introduction, Notes and Commentary, 3rd. ed. (AB, 15), Garden City: Doubleday.
Propp 1990
William H. Propp, ‘The Meaning of Tāpel in Ezekiel’, ZAW 102:404-08.
Sciumbata 1996-97
M. Patrizia Sciumbata, Il campo lessicale dei sostantivi della ‘conoscenza’ in ebraico antico, Università degli Studi di Firenze, doctoral thesis.
Sciumbata 2000
M. Patrizia Sciumbata, ‘Tendenze censorie nella redazione finale dei libri sapienziali: il caso di Giobbe 1,22’, Materia giudaica 6: 26-31.
Stec 1994
David M. Stec, The Text of the Targum of Job: An Introduction and Critical Edition, (AGJU, 20), Leiden: Brill.
Tur-Sinai 1957
Naphtali H. Tur-Sinai (Torczyner), The Book of Job: A New Commentary, Jerusalem: Kiryat-Sefer.


Functional Languages of Ancient Hebrew (1998; revised 2001)
ABH Archaic Biblical Hebrew Gen 49:3-27; Exod 15:1-19; Num 22:2-24:25; Deut 32; 33; Judg 5; 1 Sam 2:1-10; Ps 68
EBH1 Historical-Narrative Language Torah (except ABH and EBH4); Former Prophets; Ruth; Inscriptions (first half of the first millennium)
EBH2 Poetical Language 2 Kgs 19:21-35; 2 Sam 22:1-23:7; Classical Prophecy; Lam; Prov; Pss (except post-exilic ones); [Jer, Ezek and Lam are chronologically exilic, whereas Hag, Zech, Mal, Joel, Isa 40-66 and probably Prov 1-9, 30-31 are chronologically post-exilic; however these sections are considered typologically pre-exilic]
EBH3 Language of Hosea Hosea
EBH4 Juridical-Cultic Language Exod 20:1-17; 20:22-23:33; 34:10-26; Lev; Deut 5:6-21; 12-26; 27:14-26 (Ezek, whose language is at the same time poetic and of juridical-cultic type, can be considered in this section)
LBH1 Historical-Narrative Language Jonah; Job 1-2; 42:7-17; Qoh; Est; Dn; Ezra; Neh; 1-2 Chr; inscriptions of the second half of the first millennium
LBH2 Poetical Language Cant; Pss 103; 117; 119; 124; 125; 133; 144; 145; doxologies 41:14; 72:19-20; 106:47-48; disputed: Pss 104, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 113, 116, 126, 135, 137, 143, 146, 147, 148
LBH3 Language of Job Poetry of Job
BSH Late Hebrew of Ben Sira Ben Sira
QH1 Language of the exegetical and para-biblical literature at Qumran Pešarim, Paraphrases, Apocrypha
QH2 Qumranic Poetical Language Apocryphal Psalms; Hodayot; 1QS X:1-XI:22; 1QM X:8-XII:18; XIII:2b-18; XIV:4b-18; XV:7b-XVI:1; XVI:15-XVII:9; XVIII:6b-XIX:8; Hymns and Sapiential Works; Blessings; Curses; Liturgical Works
QH3 Qumranic Juridical-Cultic Language Rules; Liturgical-Ritual Works; Halakhic Texts; War Scroll; Temple Scroll; Damascus Document; Rules of the Community, etc.


  • Translated from Italian by Graham I. Davies. The section on the Peshitta benefited from the collaboration of Giovanni Lenzi, a Syriac specialist and a monk of the Piccola Famiglia dell’Annunziata.

  1. See, e.g., Dhorme 1926; Driver and Gray 1921, 1:209; 2:10, 169; Clines 1989; DBHE, 804. 

  2. For the functional languages, see Sciumbata 1996-97:277; and the Appendix above. 

  3. Cf. Driver and Gray 1921, 2:10; HAL, 1634; BDB, 1074; Zorell, 907. 

  4. On the other hand, good sense is linked to salt: consider the Latin expression cum grano salis or the Italian ‘avere sale in zucca’. For a more general connection between taste and knowledge see the Latin sapio; see Sciumbata 1996-97:278; Kedar-Kopfstein 1988:54. 

  5. The same in σʹ at Jer 23:13 and θʹ at Job 24:12. σʹ also has ἀφρονεύομαι in Job 1:22; cf. fatuitatem in Vg at Jer 23:13. 

  6. Hence LXX ἀνομήματα, ‘impious deeds’, and Tg רשׁע, ‘wickedness’, in Jer 23:13; note the ambiguity offered by Zorell, 907 for this verse: ‘fatuitas, impietas’. 

  7. Cf. Clines 1989:2, ‘speak irreverently’; BDB, 1074, ‘unsavouriness, unseemliness’ of a moral kind; HAL, 1635, ‘Fades, Anstössiges’. 

Semantics of Ancient Hebrew Database