Shemos 19:5 - the verse reads ועתה אם שמוע תשמעו בקלי ושמרתם את בריתי והייתם לי סגלה מכל העמים כי לי כל הארץ.

Targum translates Segula as beloved - חביבין

Rashi translates Segula as a beloved treasure - אוצר חביב

Currently the word Segula is mostly used as a remedy, protection, something that protects a person from harm or a benevolent charm.

What is the earliest known use of the word Segula, not as the original meaning of beloved?

  • 2
    this website reads, "The Or ha'Chayim elaborates at length, giving a further three or four interpretations of 'Am Segulah'. In the first of them, he interprets a segulah in the colloquial sense, as a charm that supercedes logic. For example, he says, there are certain herbs that are cold by nature, yet they are miraculously capable of curing colds. Likewise, there are 'hot' herbs that can cure fever. These are generally known as segulos, because they appear to defy the laws of nature." shemayisrael.com/parsha/chrysler/archives/yisro63.htm
    – rosends
    Feb 11, 2021 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


It is used in Perush HaMishnaios LihaRambam (Shabbos 5:3):

ובמה אינה יוצאה לא יוצאה גמל במטוטלת כו': מטוטלת חתיכת בגד קשורה בזנב הבהמה לסימן או לסגולה לשום דבר.

And with what can (an animal) not go out with (on Shabbos)? A camel may not go out with a rag. Rag: a piece of cloth tied on the animals tail as a marker or as a segula for something.

I must point out that the Hebrew is a translation, and I don't know that the Rambam would have used this word. But the translation is from the approximate time of the Rambam.

  • I would be surprised if this is really the first usage of the word. This was the earliest example I found in five minutes of searching. I'll upvote any earlier source!
    – Mordechai
    Feb 14, 2021 at 20:54

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