[b-hebrew] Num 11: 5 khaw-tseer'

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Oct 4 16:53:20 EDT 2006

JP vd Giessen (FOL) wrote:

> I have a problem with translating Numbers 11: 5: khaw-tseer' is translated as
> "leek" (Allium porrum) in many translations, but in all other occurrencies it
> is translated as "grass".
> Is there any specific botanical background why this is "leek"? Could it be an
> Egyptian loanword?

HH: The word is known to have that meaning from 
post-biblical Hebrew (MHb. = Middle Hebrew) and 
the Samaritan Pentateuch. HAL lists it separately 
from the word meaning grass, with this data:

MHb., > Sam.: leek Allium Porrum (Löw 2:131ff) Nu 

Allium Porrum is the technical name for the leek 
plant. The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew wonders 
whether there are actually three homonyms, one for 
grass, one for reeds, and one for leeks. But DCH 
often multiplies roots unnecessarily, in my view.

HH: If you go to the following website, there is a 
photograph of the leek, and you can see that it is 
a very grasslike plant. So perhaps "leek" is a 
more specialized meaning of the common word:


Harold Holmyard


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