Lech Lecha 15:11 וַיֵּ֥רֶד הָעַ֖יִט עַל־הַפְּגָרִ֑ים וַיַּשֵּׁ֥ב אֹתָ֖ם אַבְרָֽם

according to biblehub.com yashav is to remain, to dwell, to sit.

How then is this verb translated ?



1 Answer 1


If the vowels were וַיֵּשֶׁב you'd be right, but וַיַּשֵּׁב comes from the shoresh נשב, which means blow (as in the wind), and flying is a similar idea. וַיַּשֵּׁב means "he made them fly away."

For more information:

  1. ישב:
    1. וַיֵּשֶׁב, as you say, would mean he sat
    2. וַיּוֹשֵׁב would mean he made the birds sit
  2. שוב:
    1. וַיָּשָׁב would mean he returned (to where he was before, not like "he returned the library book")
    2. וַיָּשֶׁב would mean he made the birds return
  3. נשב:
    1. וַיַּשֵּׁב means he made the birds fly away
  4. שבי (thanks @DoubleAA):
    1. וַיִּשְׁבְּ (hard to pronounce) would mean he took the birds captive.

x.1 are binyan kal, x.2 are hif'il. I'm not quite sure what the vowels would be in 3.1 and 4.2, and they're not very practical words, so I left them out.

1.2, 2.2, and 4.1 would actually be reasonable things for Avraham to have done, but they're not what he did, and anyway they would be very hard to successfully do with wild birds. 1.1 and 2.1 wouldn't make any sense in context.

  • Don't forget וַיִּשְׁבְּ and he plundered them from root ש.ב.י. :) There's actually 12 different ways vocalizing וישב in Tanakh (the most I'm aware of for any single spelling)
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 20:37
  • @DoubleAA wait really? Does that count my 1.2 which is in Vayigash but has a vav? Where would I see the full count? I tried Bar Ilan but I don't want to sort through 158 words without a script...
    – Heshy
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 20:57
  • 1
    Check out www1.saad.org.il/elihu/vayeshev.html
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 21:04
  • when were vowels added to the torah?
    – Lilopinpin
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 19:33
  • @Lilopinpin judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22586/11532, although everyone would agree that there was always a distinction between different pronunciations of the same word. וַיֵּשֶׁב wouldn't make any sense here, as you pointed out.
    – Heshy
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 20:03

You must log in to answer this question.

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