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Lev 11 talks about animals being unclean. What word for this is used in the original Hebrew texts and what can one say about the different meanings of the word? Synonyms, etymology etc.?

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This is "unclean" in the sense of ritually impure (unfit for divine service), not a commentary on hygiene. (You probably know that, but just in case and for future visitors...) –  Gone Quiet Dec 10 '12 at 1:25
@MonicaCellio: Well, I know there's a lot of theories on why the animals listed are unclean and one of the theories (of course) is that they are ritually impure, but even Maimonides thought it to be of hygienic reasons. –  citizen Dec 10 '12 at 6:56
Oh, you're talking just about the animals -- sorry, didn't catch that. The same word is also used to talk about people; for example, one who comes into contact with a corpse is temporarily in this state. –  Gone Quiet Dec 10 '12 at 13:59
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1 Answer

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There is the verb טָמֵא (tame; pronounced tä·mā') formed from the triliteral root (shoresh) tet- mem- alef. In binyan Pa'al (Kal), it means "to be/ become unlcean."

There is the adjective טָמֵא (tame; pronounced tä·mā'), meaning "unclean."

There is a noun טֻמְאָה (tum'ah; pronounced tüm·ä'), meaning "uncleanness."

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Okay, so the word is as specific or unspecific as "unclean". No risk of lost meanings between all of the translations. Thanks. –  citizen Dec 10 '12 at 7:00
Citizen: Well, you would have to understand the meaning and significance of the words from the contexts in which they are used in the Torah. One can contract tum'ah by other means besides eating an unclean animal. And other things besides certain animals are considered tame. I would simply recommend reading through the Torah. You can use Blueletterbible to research each occurrence of the word if you want to narrow it down. But, context is what you need to examine. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Dec 10 '12 at 10:12
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