What does the word s'chach סכך (the roof of a sukkah or succah) have to do with anointing or pouring?

The word s'chach סכך appears to come from the verb to anoint or to pour, as in the following passages:

Devarim 28:40 you will not anoint לֹ֣א תָס֔וּךְ https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9992/showrashi/true

Ruth 3:3 And you shall anoint yourself וָסַ֗כְתְּ https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16455/showrashi/true

  • It is not the same root. The root for pour is נסך
    – Dov
    Sep 20, 2021 at 15:09
  • @Dov what is the Hebrew root of סכך ?
    – ninamag
    Sep 20, 2021 at 15:11
  • Those three letters.
    – Dov
    Sep 20, 2021 at 15:13
  • @Dov So you are saying the same thing as my question. You wrote, "The root for pour is נסך". Then I asked, "what is the Hebrew root of סכך ?" And your answer, "Those three letters." So, we are back to my question, "What does the word s'chach סכך have to do with anointing or pouring?"
    – ninamag
    Sep 20, 2021 at 15:15
  • 1
    No pour is נ-ס-ך and Sechach is ס-כ-ך
    – Dov
    Sep 20, 2021 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


The words are not related.

  • There is a root סככ which gives rise to the words סוכּה and סכך and מסך. This root has to do with covering/blocking, as you can see in Ex 25:20 (and the three words above).
  • There is a root סוכ that means smear/anoint, polish, whence the two examples in the OP (תסוך and סכת).
  • There is a root נסכ that means melt/spread, cast, pour out, whence the words נסך and מסֵּכה.

Since these roots sound similar, sometimes one gets used for the other. For example, נסכ has another meaning of weave (cf Is 25:7 and Prov 8:23), for which there is a byform סככ that appears in Ps 139:13 and Job 10:11. But the root as it appears in סכך and סוכה is unrelated to the root נסכ.

If you're looking for sources, look in dictionaries that list etymologies and sort by roots. I checked HALOT to confirm the above.

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