What is the connection between the two vocalizations of ערב?

This word ערב in Exodus 12:38 is latinized as "eirev" or "erev" or "eruv" and is the exact same Hebrew characters that are also latinized as "arav" or "arab".

For example in Jeremiah 25:24, two different vocalizations of this same word ערב are juxtaposed: וְאֵ֖ת כָּל־מַלְכֵ֣י עֲרָ֑ב וְאֵת֙ כָּל־מַלְכֵ֣י הָעֶ֔רֶב הַשֹּֽׁכְנִ֖ים בַּמִּדְבָּֽר:

What is the connection? Are Arabs also the "mixed multitude" in the Torah?

If they are not related, why then use the same Hebrew characters ערב?

Whether related or not, what do our pre-rabbinic or rabbinic authorities say?

I have looked at the main MiYodeya questions, as listed below, in regards to this word, and it does not address my above question.

What happened to the Mixed Multitude? What happened to the Mixed Multitude?

What happened to the Eirev Rav upon entering Israel? What happened to the Eirev Rav upon entering Israel?

Erev Rav and Modern Israeli Leaders Erev Rav and Modern Israeli Leaders

  • There's also ערב (evening) and ערב (crow)
    – Double AA
    Jul 23, 2020 at 12:18
  • @DoubleAA fair enough, you can include these, too. I was only referencing the passages I mentioned. Your examples suggest the common element of something "black" or "dark"?
    – ninamag
    Jul 23, 2020 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


I think linguistically, the most probable answer is that ancient Hebrew had a 23rd letter. Jeff Benner does a phenomenal job explaining this theory and even made a youtube presentation. I found an interesting article in The Curse of Ham - Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by David M. Goldenberg, pp. 146-47.

Whether or not it is related, at least one Rabbi has said that there is a letter missing in the Hebrew alphabet. See Sefer ha-Temunah, 62a; David ibn Zimra’s Magen David (Amsterdam, 1713), 47b. According to Lawrence Kushner, author of The Book of Letters: A Mystical Alef-Bait, Sefer HaTemunah teaches that "every defect in our present universe is mysteriously connected with this unimaginable consonant", and that as soon as the missing letter is given to us, our Universe will be filled with undreamed of new words, the words that will turn repression into loving. He says it is the shin, but I believe that ghayin is more logical.

So it is quite possible that this root was originally bifurcated as well: one meaning to enter and another meaning to mix. Balashon appears to allude to such, but never makes the connection, as does Mitchell First and Dr. Rabbi David J. Zucker. Menashe Har-El (citing Yechezkel Kutscher) is the only source I can find at the moment who writes that the the root arav is equal to the Arabic root gharb. Even the Zohar takes advantage of this multivariate linguistics. See From Metaphysics to Midrash - Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala by Shaul Magid, pp. 84 ff. In light of the following, then, there is no connection between the erev rav and Arabs.

This would explain why I cannot find any connection made by the Rabbi's (at least in my library). The Gra writes in Kol HaTor, Chapter 2:2, that the Erev Rav are heads of the Jews in exile. Rabbi Pinchas Winston writes about them on parshas Toldos and Behaaloscha. I also found this lengthy pdf that collects many sources. If anything, the Erev Rav mixes Edom/Esav and Yishmael (who are traditionally ascribed as the progenitors of the Arabs).

  • "the root arav is equal to the Arabic root gharb", are there any rabbinic, pre-rabbinic, authorities, who have referenced "the Arabic root gharb"?
    – ninamag
    Jul 26, 2020 at 8:42
  • I'll continue to hit the books. I found the same in two Lexicon. Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, vol. 1, p. 880. A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, p. 484. Plus Wikipedia: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Arab
    – Kfir
    Jul 26, 2020 at 9:20
  • Here's the Klein: sefaria.org/…
    – Kfir
    Jul 26, 2020 at 9:21
  • Jastrow: sefaria.org/…
    – Kfir
    Jul 26, 2020 at 9:26
  • basically you are pointing out that there are no relations between the two vocalizations due to a missing hebrew letter?
    – ninamag
    Jul 28, 2020 at 7:06

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