Within the story of Balak and Bil’am I noticed a shift in words for curse and cursing.

In Numbers 22:6 Balak asks Bil’am to curse him the Israelites ארה-לי, of which the root seems to be ארר. Numbers 22:11 shows Bil’am saying he was asked to curse them for him: קבה-לי, which seems to come from a root קבב.

Looking at Numbers 23:7, Balak uses the words ארה-לי again. While Bil’am let him know: מה אקב לא קבה אל - from the roots נקב and קבב.

These kind of strongs are also used in Numbers 23:13, 25, 27, 24:9-10.

Looking at Deuteronomy 23:4-5, Moshe uses the words לקללך and הקללה, from קלל. And this is also found in Joshua 24:9.

To me it’s obvious that nouns and verbs are used so that explains similar looking strongs.

But what I would like to know is why in certain verses ארר is used, while in another נקב/קבב, and in another קלל/קללה, while all refer to Bil’am cursing or use of a curse.

  • 1
    partially related to explaining one of the terms - see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/84004/5275
    – DanF
    Jun 13 '18 at 16:46
  • @WAF the short answer is 'yes', but my question is about the reason for using certain words when referring to Bil'am deeds or the wishes from Balak to Bil'am to curse the Israelites. Most often the commentators focus on the difference in meaning, but in this case all these verses I refered to are speaking about the same situations or story.
    – Levi
    Jun 13 '18 at 17:56
  • By all means. I like the question. I was just confused by your use of "strongs".
    – WAF
    Jun 13 '18 at 18:00
  • @WAF I agree, I just used it as a synonym for 'root'; but because I wasn't sure these were really the right roots I used the term strongs, because these words are linked according to most strong dictionaries to these roots I presented.
    – Levi
    Jun 13 '18 at 18:05
  • @WAF -me, also--I thought it might be referring to entries in Strong's Concordance or Dictionary.
    – Gary
    Jun 13 '18 at 19:31

Rashi in Numbers (22:11) says:

[This expression used by Balaam] is stronger than אָרָה לּי [used by Balak in verse 6], for it specifies and details [the curse]- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 5, Num. Rabbah 20:9]

Taken from Chabad.org

That answers the first two different words used, I'm not sure off the top of my head the third one I can't think of where it's mentioned in regards to Bil'am

  • Hi Aaron and welcome to Mi Yodeya! You should check out our tour where you’ll find some useful information about the site. Thank you for bringing this insight here, and I hope to see you around more!
    – DonielF
    Jun 27 '18 at 16:10

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