There seem to be different words to express some form of ruling (or exercising dominion).

Could someone explain me the difference in meaning between these hebrew words when used in the Tenach? What do each of these express?:

  1. מלך
  2. משל
  3. רדה
  4. שלט
  5. כבש
  6. שרר
  7. (If I forgot some words, please feel free to add).
  • Maybe they are synonyms. – mevaqesh Aug 11 '17 at 18:32
  • Consider asking about each separately. – mevaqesh Aug 11 '17 at 18:32
  • 1
    I think that 2.משל may be related to its other meaning of "setting an example". I am unfamiliar with the use of #5. I don't think these need to be separated into multiple questions. However, I highly recommend a sample verse for each one you listed (except #7, of course :-) – DanF Aug 11 '17 at 19:00

1-2. R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (Genesis 10:10) explains that מלך refers to someone who leads by example, and provides personal and ethical guidance. מושל refers to someone who issues rulings and declarations, and does not lead by example.

Malbim (Genesis 37:8) explains that מלך refers to someone who rules with the consent of his subjects, while a מושל rules against others' will.

3 רדה is used to refer to rulership I Kings (5:4). It particularly connotes ruling through enforcement and infliction of blows. See Isaiah (14:6) and Psalms (110:2).

4 שלט also refers to a position of authority. See Genesis (42:6). It seems to connote control if not actual kingship, as in Ezekiel (16:30) and Psalms (119:133).

5 כבש is usually used for the act of conquering, not the state of being a ruler. See for example Genesis (1:28), Joshua (18:1), and II Samuel (8:11).

6 שרר Also refers to authority, related to שר; minister. שרים are subservient to מלכים, see Jeremiah (38:17).

  • I really have to see why he says #1. To me it sounds like it should be reverse. מושל is closely related to משל which means "example". Re #6 see last verse of Esther 1. I think that's a clear example and it uses the actual verb form. The intent there is that the wives are subservient to the husband. – DanF Aug 11 '17 at 19:56
  • @DanF I figured users would ask if I didnt perhaps reverse them...But that is what he says: מלך ישראל הוא דוגמה לעמו, הוא המובחר והחכם, המאיר לעמו את הדרך. ואכן, יש ייעוד למלכות בכתבי הקודש - במסגרת מלכות ה' המתכוננת בארץ. תקותנו ותקות האנושות עתידה להתקיים על ידי המלך המשיח. הדוגמה האישית והמוסרית איננה מובעה במושג "משל": המושל הוא נגיד ומצוה; הוא הגוזר מה טיבו של דבר או מה עליו להיות (אות שי"ן). וכעין זה גם הוראת "מָשָל": אימרה או סמל; המשל מבטא, מה טיבו של דבר, או מה עליו להיות. – mevaqesh Aug 11 '17 at 20:00
  • Regarding 'sorer', that is correct. It means having authority over someone, but not on the same level as a king. What is your point? @DanF – mevaqesh Aug 11 '17 at 20:02
  • Only point was to cite another verse. I didn't have a chance to view the one you cited. – DanF Aug 11 '17 at 20:03
  • The verse was just to show that the מלך has שרים. I.e. they are subservient to him. I don't see that the verse in Ester really sheds that much light on the nature of the word. – mevaqesh Aug 11 '17 at 20:15

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