Hebrew Insight: Meaning of the Word “Offering”

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What does “Offering” mean in Hebrew?

Offering to God has been a major part of Israel’s faith tradition. The laws governing these activities are carefully spelled out and elaborated.

But what Hebrew word is used to delineate our concept of offering?

The word for offering is קָרְבָּן (pronounced: korban). It is a fascinating word. Its root is ק-ר-ב.

There many words in Hebrew with exactly the same root. By comparing them we can discover the shades of meaning that, otherwise, go unnoticed by us.

For example the verb “to offer/to sacrifice” is להקריב (pronounced: lehakriv), while the verb “to draw near” is להתקרב(pronounced: lehitkarev). When we describe a family connection we use a phrase – קרוב-משפחה (pronounced: Krov Mishpaha) to translate a word “relative”. This is similar to the word we use for telescope (something that gets us closer to the object we are viewing from afar) – מקרבת (pronounced: makrevet).

This article originally appeared on Jewish Studies Blog by Dr. Eli, August 10, 2014, and reposted with permission.