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Do the words "Omer" (as in counting the Omer, starts with Ayin) and "Amar" (to speak or to say, starts with Alef) have a connection to each other?

If so, what were the interpretation of the sages about this?

This question is inspired from In the Tanakh, what are the Hebrew verbs and/or nouns associated with the word "Sinai" (which starts with the letter SAMECH)? where the seemingly unconnected word "Sinai" (starts with the letter Samech) is connected to the word "Hatred" (starts with the letter Sin), because the letters are interchangeable.

This post explains why it is possible that Ayin and Alef interchange: Interchangeable usage of Hebrew letters (such as Beis and Vav, etc.)

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  • Are you only interested in Biblical Hebrew or also later Hebrew or Aramaic?
    – magicker72
    May 24, 2021 at 17:02
  • @magicker72 yes, including "later Hebrew" and "Aramaic" and/or cognate languages.
    – ninamag
    May 24, 2021 at 17:03

1 Answer 1

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+50

Yes. Amar (say-think, join, make thick) and Omer (make thick, heap, pile) ("the Omer" refers to counting from the day we offer the first Omer, pile, of barley after Pesach, Lev. 23:15). are related.

Jastrow has

אמר I ‎(b. ‎h.; ‎אם, ‎v. ‎אם; ‎cmp. ‎חמר, ‎עמר) ‎(a) ‎to ‎join, ‎knot; ‎to ‎be ‎knotted, ‎thick; ‎b)to ‎heap ‎up; ‎c) ‎transf. ‎to ‎join ‎words, ‎compose, ‎cmp. ‎דבר; ‎d) ‎to ‎contract, ‎bargain, ‎exchange. ‎[As ‎to ‎Assyr. ‎to ‎see, ‎cmp. ‎חמא.]) ‎1) ‎to ‎speak, ‎think, ‎say, ‎relate ‎&c. ‎. ‎. ‎. ‎ר׳ ‎א׳ ‎. ‎. ‎. ‎ר׳ ‎א׳ ‎Rabbi ‎. ‎. ‎. ‎. ‎related ‎in ‎the ‎name ‎of ‎R. ‎. ‎. ‎. ‎Ber. ‎3b; ‎a. ‎v. ‎fr. ‎-- ‎Part. ‎pass. ‎אמור ‎expression. ‎Yoma ‎70b, ‎a. ‎fr. ‎וכ׳ ‎הא׳ ‎הוא ‎it ‎is ‎the ‎same

and

‎עמר ‎(b. ‎h.; ‎cmp. ‎אמר ‎II) ‎1) ‎to ‎be ‎thick, ‎tufty. ‎- ‎Denom. ‎עמיר. ‎-- ‎2) ‎(cmp. ‎חמר ‎I) ‎to ‎heap ‎tp, ‎pile. ‎Ikts. ‎II, ‎5 ‎והבצלים ‎שעמרן, ‎Var. ‎for ‎שחמרן. ‎-- ‎Denom. ‎עומר. ‎Pi. ‎עימר ‎(denom. ‎of ‎עומר) ‎to ‎bind ‎and ‎pile ‎sheaves; ‎to ‎harvest. ‎Peah ‎V, ‎8 ‎וכ׳ ‎המעמר, ‎v. ‎כובעה, ‎a. ‎חררה. ‎Y. ‎Ber. ‎IX, ‎13a ‎top ‎וכ׳ ‎עי ‎קצר ‎. ‎.. ‎זרע ‎חרש ‎he ‎ploughed, ‎he ‎sowed ‎. ‎. ‎., ‎he ‎cut, ‎piled ‎up, ‎threshed ‎&c.; ‎Bab. ‎ib. ‎58a ‎עמר. ‎Sabb. ‎VII, ‎2. ‎Y. ‎Peah ‎IV, ‎18d ‎bot. ‎שורה ‎ומעמר ‎שורה ‎בקוצר ‎when ‎he ‎cuts ‎a ‎row ‎and ‎puts ‎it ‎up ‎in ‎sheaves ‎at ‎a ‎time; ‎a. ‎fr. ‎Hithpa. ‎התעמר ‎(b. ‎h.) ‎(with ‎ב) ‎to ‎make ‎one's ‎self ‎the ‎master ‎of; ‎to ‎make ‎use ‎of ‎a ‎person ‎as ‎a ‎servant. ‎Snh. ‎XI, ‎1 ‎(85b) ‎(expl. ‎Deut. ‎XXIV, ‎7) ‎שיכניסנו ‎עד ‎חייב ‎אינו ‎לרשותו ‎he ‎is ‎not ‎guilty ‎of ‎abduction, ‎unless ‎he ‎brought ‎the ‎person ‎to ‎his ‎own ‎grounds; ‎(oth. ‎opin.) ‎וישתמש ‎עד ‎בו ‎unless ‎he ‎brought ‎the ‎person ‎to ‎his ‎own ‎grounds ‎and ‎made ‎use ‎of ‎him; ‎Sifre ‎Deut. ‎273.


In general, the 22 letters are grouped in 5 familes, the 5 places of articulation, namely Gutturals – אחהע Labials - בומף Palatals – גיכק Linguals – דטלנת Dentals – זסשרץ,

אחהע בַּגָרוֹן. בומף בְּשִׂפְוָון. גיכק בַּחֵיךְ. דטלנתּ בְּלִישָׁנָא. זסשרץ בַּשִּׁינַיִם. Zohar III:228a P. Pinchas - Ra'aya Meheimna

and when a letter is interchanged with a family member the words are related.

The Chamishah Motzaot Ha'Peh are also mentioned in the Sefer Yetzira, the Gemara (or a commentator? I couldn't find the location), and [other sefarim](https://www.sefaria.org/search?q=חמישה מוצאות הפה&tab=text&tvar=1)

From R' Shimshon Raphael Hirsch's writings there is a whole etymological dictionary that relates, compares and constrasts words by the Chamishah Motzaot Hapeh. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2452220.Etymological_Dictionary_of_Biblical_Hebrew

In the entry for Amar, Hirsch has a sense "9. Isa. 17.6 בְּרֹאשׁ אָמִיר, at the top branch" which others render "at the top of the uppermost bough," which supports Jastrow's sense of "to be thick." Hirsch>Amar

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  • So... what's the relation? Just that they have "interchangeable" initial gutterals?
    – magicker72
    May 24, 2021 at 2:54
  • How about a "spectrum": (Amar)<--say-think-compose-join-MAKE THICK-heap-pile-->(Omer) May 24, 2021 at 3:32
  • @NissimNanach Do you have an example in the Tanakh showing "אמר I ‎(b. ‎h.; ‎אם, ‎v. ‎אם; ‎cmp. ‎חמר, ‎עמר) ‎(a) ‎to ‎join, ‎knot; ‎to ‎be ‎knotted, ‎thick; ‎b)to ‎heap ‎up;"
    – ninamag
    May 24, 2021 at 8:20
  • 1
    Note the dictionary is not Rabbi Hirsch's but based on his writings.
    – msh210
    May 25, 2021 at 12:27
  • 1
    @NissimNanach אָמִיר means "the uppermost bough". What then is the connection to עמר?
    – ninamag
    May 25, 2021 at 16:29

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