As the title says, What Other Terms, Besides "Korban," Mean Sacrifice in Some Form or Another?

I am trying to understand sacrifice better. In English, this one word has narrow and broader meanings, but one essential word. Thus, to start looking deeper into this question, I want to know:

are there any other words for sacrifice in Hebrew (explicitly connected with Judaism, Torah, Tanakh, Talmud, etc.)?

  • Too Broad? [15c]
    – Double AA
    Feb 5, 2015 at 5:10
  • 3
    אשה is a good one to start with. Or זבח
    – Double AA
    Feb 5, 2015 at 5:10
  • 7
    Korban means "mechanism for coming close" more than "sacrifice."
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 5, 2015 at 5:22
  • 5
    In order to understanding sacrifice better, I think you're much better off looking into the different types of offerings, rather than the different words for generic ones. To that end, maybe start with Masekhet Zevachim?
    – Shimon bM
    Feb 5, 2015 at 5:25
  • Wiktionary lists thirteen different definitions for sacrifice. Is there a particular one for which you're seeking equivalents in Hebrew, or is it all of them?
    – msh210
    Feb 5, 2015 at 14:04

3 Answers 3


A better translation of "korban" is "that which brings one close". It's not that you're "giving up" something (e.g. an animal from your flock) in some sort of tit-for-tat scheme to balance out a debt or transgression; rather, you bring a korban because God commanded it and we want to follow God's commands.

There are several types of korban, and you'll sometimes see them used without the word "korban" specifically. They're enumerated in the early chapters of Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus). Judaism 101 provides a good summary, which I'll in turn summarize here:

  • עלה Olah: Burnt Offering (wholly consumed)
  • זבח שלמים Zebach Sh'lamim: Peace (or Thanksgiving) Offering
  • חטאת Chatat: Sin Offering (for unintentional transgressions)
  • אשם Asham: Guilt Offering (for uncertain transgressions and certain specific sins)
  • מנחה Minchah: Meal Offering (I'm not sure this is always counted specifically as a korban but I'll list it anyway)

There's also the special case of the parah adamah (the red heifer), explained in Parshat Chukat.


Sacrifice means "(transitive) To trade (a value of higher worth) for one of lesser worth in order to gain something else valued more such as an ally or business relationship or to avoid an even greater loss; to sell without profit to gain something other than money".

In Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 227:20, it's called "המחליף… מחט בשריון או טלה בסוס".

  • Where is the "in order to gain something else valued more ... or to avoid an even greater loss" in your example? Otherwise, it is an example of trading down or at a loss, not of a sacrifice.
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 4, 2016 at 8:23
  • @TamirEvan, SA there says "because he wants… more" which is thus "valued more" (to him, a gain of "something other than money").
    – msh210
    Jan 4, 2016 at 13:44

Mesiras neffesh is a common term term used in the context of someone performing an act where colloquial English would use sacrifice.

I.E. He raised his children with mesiras nefesh. In English the phrase would be: He sacrificed himself for his children.

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