It seems every instance we have the word סביב in the Torah, Targum Onkelos translates it as סחור סחור, a doubling of the word which I would have assumed would suffice in single format. See for instance Bereishis 23 17, Shmos 19 12, Vayikra 1 5, Bamidbar 34 12. I could go on, but I won't.

A)Why is this?

B)When a different version of the word is presented we find various choices of words in Targum Onkelos, but none doubled. We find סובב meaning surrounding, and a singular translation of מקיף is given. See Bereishis 2 11 & 13. See also there 37 7 תסבינה is מסתחרן in Targum Onkelos, a singular version of סחור. The same is in Bamidbar 34 4 & 5 ונסב is ויסחר.

What is the mechanics behind this?

Finally, what was חז׳ל's intention when doubling the word סחור in order to emphasise the turning away? See for instance Shabbos 13a דאמר עולא אפי' שום קורבה אסור משום לך לך אמרי נזירא סחור סחור לכרמא לא תקרב.

If the phrase סחור סחור is in fact the standard Aramaic rendering of סביב as we seem to find in Targum Onkelos, than that doubling does not mean to be extra careful to turn away, so why use that phrase in conjunction with לך לך and in a sentence which seems to imply extra care to stay away?

  • Good question! I've noticed that myself... I would REALLY appreciate hotlinks to mechon-mamre.org for quick reference here. It would help in looking up the possukim. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:11
  • I think I have an answer, but I'm hesitant since I can only point to a distinction in the different possukim and not a separate source that states it explicitly. Would you find that acceptable? Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:19
  • @Isaac I'm not sure exactly what you mean. I am not necessarily looking for a sourced answer here, any good thought that could explain this interesting anomaly in the targum of saviv would be appreciated, but it should take into account the singular targum in other versions of the word. But remember, this is found in every single instance of saviv, it's not a matter of those psukim specifically. Preferably the answer should also adress the gemara I mentioned, but that is not miakev.
    – user6591
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:34
  • All referenced places using the word saviv and translated in double refer to a designated artificial, non-real boundaries. The term makif refers to a physically encircling object (the rivers in this case, the platform around the mizbeach, etc.). When engaging in the act of encircling, a single sechor is used. The gemara is warning the nazir to beware even the boundary of the vinyard to avoid the transgression of eating grapes (as a mashal to avoid touching to prevent illicit relations) - the gezeirah shava is lecha, but the command is lo tikrav. Is this a good answer? Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:38
  • @Isaac interesting, But does that fit in all cases? For instance in vayikra? There it was an act of encircling wih blood. Also this is a very Brisker vort. If you take that as a compliment, you welcome:) What I mean is that you have categorized and seperated by a technicality, while not addressing the actual cause. Why would it NEED to be doubled in the saviv format? What have we gained by this?
    – user6591
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 13:52

1 Answer 1


According to Rabbi Posen in Parshegen I (to Bereishis 23:17, or page 432), every time it is used as an adverb, it is translated as סחור סחור. (Otherwise, it is translated as מקיף etc.) In his opinion, this is because Targum Onkelos cares about certain Hebrew/Aramaic stylistic points, and in this case, what Onkelos noticed is the Hebrew phrase סביב סביב, which occurs many times in Tanach, especially in Yechezkel (e.g. 8:10, 40:14). Therefore, as a rule, Onkelos chooses to use this phrase in Aramaic, sometimes even when grammatically incorrect (!). See there for more specific examples.

  • +1 Thank you very much. I don't have access there, is it a long piece? Or is it maybe short enough to copy and incorporate into your answer?
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 17:08
  • Did he address chazzal's סחור סחור?
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 17:09
  • @user6591 it's a page plus, so I wouldn't want to copy it out. Chazal's Sechor Sechor likely comes from the same Hebrew phrase of Saviv Saviv, just that they use it in more grammatically correct circumstances. Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 17:15
  • Yeah doesn't make sense to copy that much. It just seems like chazzal are actualy quoting something with their לך לך, סחור סחור. Almost like a drasha or something as they say the hebrew and then switch it to Aramaic.
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 29, 2019 at 17:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .