1) speech, word, speaking, thing
1b) saying, utterance
1c) word, words
1d) business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner
Part of Speech: noun masculine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong's Number: from H1696
Same Word by TWOT Number: 399a
dāḇar: A verb meaning to speak, to say. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh what He said (Exo 6:29). It can mean to promise (Deu 1:11). When used with the word song, it can mean to sing or chant (Jdg 5:12). The word can also mean think, as when Solomon spoke in his heart (Ecc 2:15). In Jeremiah, it means to pronounce judgment (Jer 1:16). This verb also refers to speaking about or against someone (Mal 3:13) or someone speaking to someone else (Mal 3:16). It is closely related to the Hebrew noun dāḇār (H1697).
399 דָּבַר (dābar) to speak, declare, converse, command, promise, warn, threaten, sing, etc.
399a דָּבָר (dābār) word, speaking, speech, thing, etc.
399b דֶּבֶר (deber) pestilence.
399c דֹּבֶר (dōber) pasture.
399d דֹּבְרוֹת (dōbrôt) floats, rafts.
399e דִּבְרָה (dibrâ) cause, reason, manner.
399f דְּבוֹרָה (dĕbôrâ) bee.
399g דְּבִיר (dĕbı̂r) I, oracle.
399h דְּבִיר (dĕbı̂r) II, Debir, a city in Judah.
399i דִּבֵּר (dibbēr) speaker, word.
399j דַּבֶּרֶת (dabberet) words.
399k מִדְבָּר (midbār) I, mouth.
399l מִדְבָּר (midbār) II, wilderness.
Some lexicographers distinguish two roots for the Hebrew dbr: I. "to be behind, to turn back" related to Arabic dub r with the same meaning and Akkadian dabāru "to push back." Derivatives of this root include dĕbı̂r "back chamber," dōber "(remote place) pasture," dōberôt "raft (dragged behind the ship]," and midbār "steppe." II. "word," mostly found in the noun dābār "word, thing" and the verb in Piel "to speak, address." Etymologically related to dbr II are dibrâ "thing," and dibbēr a rare nominal form of the verb, and midbār "mouth" with instrumental mem. Although Seeligman (VT, 14:80) derives dabberet "word" from root I, it appears more plausible to see it as a derivative of root II. While BDB and GB do not differentiate dbr as occurring as a verb in two different roots, KB assigns dbr to root I in the Piel for Job 19:18; II Chr 22:10 and in Hiphil for Ps 18:47 [H 48] and 47:3 [H 4]. We will limit our discussion of the verb to the putative root II.
No convincing etymology for dbr has been offered to this time. Akkadian possesses the vocable dabābu—noun and verb—with meanings strikingly similar to those of Hebrew. As a substantive it means "speech," or "legal matter" and as a verb "to speak" (CAD. D.2–14). But Hebrew also has a root dbb attested in the noun dibbâ "whispering, slander." It is questionable whether the similarity between Akkadian dbb and Hebrew dbr is due to chance or to a true etymological connection.
The root occurs in the Lachish ostraca and in the Siloam Tunnel Inscription. Outside of Hebrew it occurs in Phoenician-Punic with the same meaning as Hebrew and in Biblical Aramaic in a nominal dibrâ "matter."
dābar is probably a denominate verb from dābār, as it is used almost exclusively in the Piel, Pual, Hithpael, and Qal participle. Ugaritic evidence shows no use of dābar "to speak" (nor of 'āmar "to say"), but does have instance of the use of midbar II. wilderness.
In any language the words which represent the basic verb for speaking and the noun for "word" cannot but be of supreme importance. The verb dābar and the noun dābār have these important spots in the Hebrew Bible. Procksch in TWNT states that the noun is the basic form and the verb stems from it.
These two words occur more than 2500 times in the ot, the noun more than 1400 times and the verb more than 1100. The source of the words is unclear though they are common in Semitic languages. Some words cover much territory, spreading into many areas of thought and in the process compounding problems for communicators—especially for those who try to translate ideas into other languages. In the KJV dābar is translated by about thirty different words and dābār by more than eighty. Some of these are synonyms but many are not. All, however, have some sense of thought processes, of communication, or of subjects or means of communication. The noun dābār stretches all the way from anything that can be covered by the word thing or matter to the most sublime and dynamic notion of the word of God.
Many synonyms are found in Ps 119 where the message from God is eulogized. Doubtless the most important synonyms are 'āmar "to say" and the masculine and feminine 'ēmer and 'imrâ which are almost always translated "word." In his discussion on synonyms for the word of God, Girdlestone mentions 'āmar "to say," millâ "word," nā'am "utter," peh "mouth," tôrâ "law," dāt "edict," ḥōq "statute," ṣāwâ "command," piqqűdı̂m "charge," 'ōraḥ "way," derek; "path," mishpaṭ "judgment," and 'ôd "testimony."
In this list of synonyms, the first four refer to the ordinary use of the root dābār. The word 'āmar "to say" is very like dābar but is usually followed by the thing said. millâ "word" was long called a late Aramaizing synonym, but now is recognized as simply a poetic and less common expression for WORD. nā'am is mostly restricted to the nominal form nĕ'ūm meaning a prophetic oracle. The word peh "mouth" is a mere figurative use of the organ of speech for the speech. The rest of the words in Girdlestone's list, edict, statute, command, etc. are variant expressions for the authoritative word indicated by dābār (or 'ōmer or imrâ) in some contexts.
[Although 'mr "to say" is the closest synonym to dbr, its basic meaning stands out clearly against dbr (Piel). In the case of 'mr the focus is on the content of what is spoken, but in the case of dbr primary attention is given to the activity of speaking, the producing of words and clauses. While 'mr cannot be used absolutely (without giving the content of what is said), dibber can be so used (cf. Gen 24:14; Job 1:16; 16:4, 6). Moreover, while 'mr can have a diversity of subjects by personification (land, animals, trees, night, fire, works, etc.), dbr almost always has personal subjects or designations of their organs of speech (mouth, lips, tongue, etc.). They are also distinguished with respect to the one addressed. While in the case of 'mr it is sufficient to use the weaker preposition lĕ, dbr normally demands the stronger preposition 'el (about ten times more frequently than lĕ). These differences, however, do not detract from the importance of what is said as the object of dbr which includes most matters pertaining to moral and ideal values. As in some other verbs used mainly in the Piel, the Qal occurrences are almost exclusively in the active participle and designate mostly one who speaks something as a commandment or on account of an inner compulsion. Thus it is used with: truth (Ps 15:2), lies/falsehood (Jer 40:16; Ps 5:6 [H 7]; 58:3 [H 4]; 63:11 [H 12]; 101:7), right (Isa 33:15; 45:19; Prov 16:13), well-being (Est 10:3), folly (Isa 9:17 [H 16]), insolence (Ps 31:18 [H 19]). It is also used of angels who bear God's message (Gen 16:13; Zech 1:9,13,19 [H 2:2], etc.) and of speech of abiding relevance (Num 27:7; 36:5). b.k.w.)
In the KJV some of the less common translations of the dābar include: "answered" (II Chr 10:14) as parallel to 'ānâ "answer" in v. 13 (where Rehoboam answers his critics); "uses entreaties" (Prov 18:23); "give sentence" or "give judgment" in Jer 4:12 and 39:5 (with mishpāṭı̂m); "publish" (Est 1:22) and "be spoken for" (Song 8:8). The KJV has "subdues" in Ps 18:47 where some such notion is necessary to parallel "avenge" in the first part of the sentence. This psalm occurs also in II Sam 22 and there (v. 48) the Hebrew word for "bring down" is used in the place of dābar. This corroborates the rare meaning of "subdue" for dābar in Ps 18:47 and Ps 47:3. Modern translations also give this meaning in these passages.
A most important declaration, which is reiterated over and over again (about 400 times), in the ot use of dābar, is that God "spoke." The Pentateuch is loaded with such statements as "The Lord said," "The Lord promised" and "The Lord commanded," all translations of dābar. God's spokesmen are often challenged as Moses was challenged by Miriam and Aaron saying, "Hath the lord indeed spoken only by Moses?" (Num 12:2). But the lord always supports his word and his spokesman.
dābār. Word, speaking, speech, thing, anything, everything (with kōl), nothing (with negatives), commandment, matter, act, event, history, account, business, cause, reason, and in construction with prepositions: on account of, because that. This noun is translated in eighty-five different ways in the KJV! This is due to the necessity of rendering such a fertile word by the sense it has in varying contexts. As "word" dābār basically means what God said or says.
The decalogue, "the ten words" (Ex 34:28; Deut 4:13; 10:4), are ten declarations or statements, as in Deut 10:4, the ten words (dĕbārı̂m) which the Lord spoke (dibbēr). The ten words are commandments because of the syntactical form of their utterance. The ten words are what God said; they are ten commandments because of how God said them.
The dābār is sometimes what is done and sometimes a report of what is done. So, often in Chr, one reads of the acts (dibrę) of a king which are written in a certain book (dibrę). "Now the acts of David the king … are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and, in the book of Gad the seer." In the KJV of II Chr 33:18 acts, words, spake and book are all some form of dābar / dābār. And in the next verse, sayings is added to this list! The Hebrew name for Chronicles is "the book of the words (acts) of the times" (sēper dibrę hayyāmı̂m). Here "words (acts) of the times" is equal to "history"—"annals."
The revelatory work of God is often expressed by "the word of the Lord came" to or upon a person (I Chr 17:3 and often in the prophets). Jehoshaphat says of Elisha that "the word of the Lord is with him" (II Kgs 3:12). When prophecy was stilled as in Samuel's childhood, "The Word of the Lord was precious" (KJV; ASV "rare"). But Moses says that Israel has the word very near, because he refers to the book of the law which had recently been given to them, as the immediately preceding context shows. In II Sam 16:23 the counsel of Ahithophel is said to be like the counsel of an oracle (KJV, RSV). Here dābār is "oracle," though massā', KJV "burden," is often used for oracle in modern translations.
[Gerleman notes that the singular construct chain dĕbar YW "the word of the Lord occurs 242 times and almost always (225 times) the expression appears as a technical form for the prophetic revelation (THAT, I. p.439). He also notes that the plural construct chain dibrę YW "the words of the lord occurs seventeen times and much more frequently than the singular construction after verbs of speaking ngd [Hiphil] (Ex 4:28); spr [Piel] "to recount" (Ex 24:3); dbr [piel] "to tell" (Num 11:24; Jer 43:1; Ezk 11:25); 'mr "to say" (I Sam 8:10), qr' "to cry out" (Jer 36:6, 8; THAT, I:439). In seven passages the dĕbar YW has a juristic character (Num 15:31; Deut 5:5; I Chr 15:15; II Chr 30:12; 34:21; 35:6). b.k.w.]
Certain characteristics of the word of the Lord are enunciated in Ps. Among them are: "The word of the Lord is right" (33:4), "settled in heaven" (119:89), "a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" (119:105) and "true" (119:160).
The efficaciousness of the word of the Lord is often cited by certain phrases like "according to the word of the Lord" (I Kgs 13:26), or "I will perform my word" (I Kgs 6:12).
The chronicler says that the Lord stirred up Cyrus "that the word of the lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished" (36:22). Through Isaiah the Lord says that his word will be like the rain and the snow making the land productive. "It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isa 55:11). Jeremiah also promises that the Lord's Spirit and word shall never depart from his people and is "like a fire" and "a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces" (Jer 23:29).
(In addition, the word of the Lord is personified in such passages as: "The LORD sends his message against Jacob, and it falls on Israel" (Isa 9:8 [H 7]); "He sent his word and healed them" (Ps 107:20); "He sends his command to the earth" (Ps 147:15). Admittedly, because of the figure it appears as if the word of God had a divine existence apart from God, but Gerleman rightly calls into question the almost universal interpretation that sees the word in these passages as a Hypostasis, a kind of mythologizing. Gerleman suggests that this usage is nothing more than the normal tendency to enliven and personify abstractions. Thus human emotions and attributes are also treated as having an independent existence; wickedness, perversity, anxiety, hope, anger, goodness and truth (Ps 85:11f.; 107:42; Job 5:16; 11:14; 19:10) (THAT, I. p. 442). b.k.w.]
deber. Pestilence, murrain, and plague. This masculine noun is commonly mentioned together with such words as famine, evil, blood, judgment, sword, and noisome beast (KJV; ASV "evil beast"). Jeremiah in his predictions of dire events quite often combines sword, famine, and pestilence (14:12; 21:7, 9; 24:10; 27:8, 13; 29:17–18; 32:24, 36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:17, 22; 44:13).
Any kind of pestilence which results in death is meant. Aside from about five instances, all uses of deber relate to pestilence as sent by God as punishment. Solomon in his prayer at the temple dedication speaks of the possibility of pestilence as a basis for prayer (I Kgs 8:37; II Chr 6:28). However, God in his response says, "If I send pestilence" (I Chr 7:13). Jehoshaphat speaks like Solomon but he puts the statement on the possibility of pestilence as a basis for prayer towards the temple in the mouth of the people (II Chr 20:9). Psalm 91:3, 6 refers to God saving from evil pestilence. All other references are statements of historical occurrences, or threats or prophecies of punishment from the Lord.
dibrâ. Cause, sake, intent, order, estate, end, regard. dibrâ occurs seven times (Job 5:8; Ps 110:4; Eccl 3:18; 7:14; 8:2; Dan 2:30; 4:17). In Ps 110:4 dibrâ is usually translated "order of Melchisedek" but in neb 'succession."
For the compound 'al dibrat see M. Dahood Bib 33:47f.
dibbēr. Speaking or one who speaks (?). A form in Jer 5:13 which is uniformly translated as dābār "The word is not in them."
dabberet. Words. A feminine singular noun; cognate of dbār found only in Deut 33:3. Probably a poetic collective for all Moses said.
dĕbı̂r. Oracle, sanctuary, Debir. As a proper noun Debir is: (1) the name of a king of Eglon who joined the southern coalition against the Gibeonites and the Israelites under Joshua, (2) the name of a prominent Canaanite city, formerly called Kirjath-sepher (Josh 15:15, 49; Jud 1:11), (3) a city of the Gadites east of Jordan (Josh 13:26) and (4) another city on the northern border of Judah (Josh 15:7).
dĕbı̂r also refers to the holy of holies and is translated sixteen times in KJV and ASV as "oracle," but RSV and modern versions translate as sanctuary, inner sanctuary, inner temple, inner room and other such terms. It is not used of the holy of holies of the wildnerness tabernacle.
Debir (Kirjath-sepher) was a prominent city in the Judean hills near Hebron. Joshua totally destroyed Debir in the southern campaign (Josh 10:38–39; 11:21; 12:13) but either the city was rebuilt and retaken by Othniel or else the destruction by Joshua is a general statement and Othniel actually took the town. Judges 1:11 says that Caleb gave Achsah his daughter to Othniel as wife because he conquered Debir in battle. Debir was later given to the sons of Aaron (Josh 21:15).
midbār. Wilderness or desert. midbār is used to describe three types of country in general: pastureland (Josh 2:22; Ps 65:12 [H 13]; Jer 23:10), uninhabited land (Deut 32:10; Job 38:26; Prov 21:19; Jer 9:1), and large areas of land in which oases or cities and towns exist here and there. The wilderness of Judah has at least a half-dozen cities in it. The wilderness of Jordan (the alluvial plain) contains cities, and the wilderness of Sinai has within it a number of oases. midbār is also used figuratively (Hos 2:5; Jer 2:31).
The largest tracts called midbār are Sinai, the Negeb, the Jordan Valley, and the Arabian desert.
Specific wilderness areas are: Beer-sheba (Gen 21:14), Paran (Gen 21:21; Num 10:12; 12:16; 13:3, 26; I Sam 25:1), Sin (Ex 16:1; 17:1; Num 33:11–12), Sinai (Num 1:19, etc; Ex 19:1–2; Lev 7:38); Zin (Num 13:21 etc.; Deut 32:51; Josh 15:1), Beth-aven (Josh 18:12), Judah (Jud 1:16; Ps 63 title), Ziph (I Sam 23:14, 14; 26:2), Maon (I Sam 23:24–25), Gibeon (II Sam 2:24), Damascus (I Kgs 19:15), Edom (II Kgs 3:8), Jeruel (II Chr 20:16) Shur (Ex 15:22; 16:1; Num 1:19 etc.), Etham (Num 33:8), Kedemoth (Deut 2:26), Tekoa (II Chr 20:20), Kadesh (Ps 29:8; Ps 63 title), and Egypt (Ezk 20:35).
The wilderness is often described negatively as without grapes, fountains, pools of water, rivers, pleasant places—or as in a notable statement: "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" (Ps 78:19).
Bibliography: Braulik, Georg, "Die Ausdrucke fur 'Gesetz' im Buch Deuteronomium," Bib 51:39–66. McKenzie, John L., "The Word of God in the Old Testament," TS 21:183–206. Milik, J. T., "Deux Documents Inedits du Desest de Juda," Bib 38:245–68. Mowinckel. S., "The 'Spirit' and the 'Word' in the Pre-exilic Reforming Prophets," JBL 53:199–227., "The Decalogue of the Holiness Code," HUCA 26:1–27., "A Postscript to the Paper 'The Spirit and the Word in the Pre-exilic Reform Prophets'," JBL 56:261–65. O'Connell, Matthew J., "The Concept of Commandment in the Old Testament," TS 21:351–403. Ouelette, Jean, "The Solomonic Debir according to the Hebrew Text of I Kings 6," JBL 89:338–43 Plossman, Thomas, "Notes on the Stem d-b-r," CBQ 4:119–32. Richardson, TWB, pp. 232, 283–85. THAT, I, pp. 433–42.