Forgive me, I don't know any Hebrew, nor am I technical enough to write the actual Hebrew letters in this post.

In Zechariah 1:16 and 8:3 God says (as translated in English) "I am returned to Jerusalem/Zion". The Hebrew word "return" used in both of these verses is pronounced (according to what I have learnt) "shub". However, Zechariah uses different forms of the word in each of the two passages. In 1:16 he uses "sa-bi" (that's how it is pronounced in Strong's Hebrew concordance), which is used many times throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. But in 8:3 he uses "be-ti". This is the only time this form of the word "shub" is used in the Hebrew Scriptures. Both words are translated in English as "returned" and both are forms from the word "shub", according to Strong's Hebrew concordance.

Can anyone tell me the difference between these two forms of the word "shub"? In context, God is speaking through Zechariah, telling the people how He will bless the remnant of the Babylonian captives and bless Jerusalem and Judah after years of punishment and misfortune.


1 Answer 1


The word in both of these verses is שַׁ֚בְתִּי (with the same cantilation, even), which is pronounced SHAVti, and means "I have returned."

The root is שוב - ShWB, and while a ו can drop out of roots like this one in many conjugations, as it does in שבתי, neither a ש nor a ב typically do. So, a conjugation that would end up getting pronounced "be-ti", lacking the "sh" sound from the ש, seems improbable. Perhaps that bit of transliteration was a transcription error.

  • I think there is something more going on here, but I don't know what and I don't have physical access to Strong's concordance. The cross reference on the putative word "ḇə·tî" does indeed go to the root ש.ו.ב but on that root's list of entries it has plenty analyzed as without an initial ש (e.g.). I still wouldn't rule out a broader transcription error (considering that the occurrence in question appears with a ש on that list...).
    – WAF
    Feb 18, 2019 at 7:36
  • To add to the suspicion of legitimacy, there are definitely places where the presence of an initial ש is debated as integral to the word. e.g., e.g.
    – WAF
    Feb 18, 2019 at 7:40

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