In Ovadiah 1:1 we see the word tzir. Ovadiah 1:1

On Sefaria it is translated envoy. In the ArtScroll as messenger. When I asked an Israeli friend of mine he didn’t seem to be familiar with the word or have any clue what it means.

So what does it mean? What is its root?

1 Answer 1


It does indeed mean "envoy" or "messenger" or the like, and is used in several other places in Tanach with the same meaning. Of the Giveonites who came to Yehoshua it says ויצטירו (Yehoshua 9:4), which the commentaries understand as a verbal form of ציר - i.e., "they pretended to be envoys"; the nominal form is found in Yeshayah 18:2 and Mishlei 13:17 and 25:13.

It's used in modern Hebrew too, as "envoy" (https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%A8_%D7%93%D7%99%D7%A4%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%98%D7%99) or "delegate" (https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%A8-%D7%A2%D7%9C), although it's probably one of those terms used only in political science.

Note that the same word also has the meanings of "pangs" (as in labor pains) and "hinge/axis"; examples of both of these are found in Tanach too, and are used in modern Hebrew.

  • Interesting that it can also mean labor pains. Perhaps this could be because of the 9 months of chevlei moshiach that the envoy will usher in. Maybe I can add this to my article about the tzir tzir.org/what-does-tzir-mean Any particular pasukim where this meaning is found?
    – James Read
    Feb 23 at 20:22
  • @JamesRead Yeshayah 13:8 and 21:3, and Daniel 10:16. See also Shmuel 1:4:19, though some of the commentaries there understand it as "hinges."
    – Meir
    Feb 23 at 20:46

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