In Judges 3:9 we read:

When the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.” [NJKV]

Several times in judges we come across this word in a similar context (3:15; 6:6, 7; 10:10)

The word ‘cried’ is יִּזְעֲק֤וּ (ἐκέκραξαν in the LXX). ‘Cried’ seems to the standard translation across most mainstream English translations (KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, NET etc).

My question is, in context does the verb זעק simply denote crying out to God in distress/ anguish or does it denote repentance?

There are places in scripture where ‘cried’ is linked with repentance:

Judges 10:10 "And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!"[NKJV]


1 Samuel 12:10 "Then they cried out to the LORD, and said,`We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.'"[NKJV]

However in both these verses there is another verb associated with the crying out, the admit to having ‘sinned’ (חטא). To me that suggests that this verb on its own should be understood as a cry of distress/ anguish rather than a cry of repentance.

  • Psalm 107 has some instructive uses as well.
    – Amichai
    Jul 17, 2015 at 17:16
  • I don't think the word has a connotation of repentance and we don't have any compelling models of repentance in the whole book. Instead, the relationship between God and people is very strained in the book of Judges and when the people try to repair that relationship they seem to get it wrong, eg: 11:32-40.
    – Amichai
    Jul 17, 2015 at 17:24
  • Probably worth noting for the purpose of word study that this word זעק (zʿq) is generally considered to be a by-form of צעק (ṣʿq), without any semantic difference as far as I'm aware.
    – Susan
    Mar 20, 2016 at 5:48

2 Answers 2


The reason we find the people of Israel calling out to the LORD is because He promised not to forsake them.

When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
-- Deuteronomy 4:30-31

It is pretty clear to me that the proviso here is, "if thou turn to the LORD". God would not be compelled to honour His promise if there were no turning involved, and turning implies repentance.

Of course, we know that children, and adults who act like children, can often be legitimately sorry in the moment, but then over time return to their former behaviour.


The people of Israel would have understood that for God to hear their cry and honour His promise, they would have to acknowledge they'd strayed and be willing to repent of it.

So, yes, I believe there is implied repentance associated with the word זָעַק, certainly in the minds of the people of Israel, whether or not it is noted in the text.

  • (-1) The context does indicate that they were crying out in the context of their repentance but that does not show that the word itself, divorced from such a context would indicate repentance.
    – user10231
    May 9, 2016 at 21:08
  • @WoundedEgo The question pertains specifically to context: "My question is, in context does the verb זעק simply denote crying out to God in distress/ anguish or does it denote repentance?". Your DV is petty and malicious.
    – enegue
    May 9, 2016 at 21:14
  • The question continues on: "...To me that suggests that this verb on its own should be understood as a cry of distress/ anguish rather than a cry of repentance..." and the answer to that is that yes, the verb itself does not indicate repentance.
    – user10231
    May 9, 2016 at 21:20
  • I have answered the question. The important bit was in BOLD text. If you have a mind to do so, you can DV every answer on the site. Grow up and stop behaving as a child with a wounded ego.
    – enegue
    May 9, 2016 at 21:22
  • Hey dood, yer the one who's whining, not I. The question is clarified in the post and the author of the post correctly concludes that the context is repentance but the word itself is simply "crying out" just like the LXX version.
    – user10231
    May 9, 2016 at 21:27




A primitive root; to shriek (from anguish or danger);

by analogy (as a herald) to announce or convene publicly

KJV Usage: assemble, call (together), (make a) cry (out), come with such a company, gather (together), cause to be proclaimed.


Exodus 2:23 and they cried,

Joshua 8:16 were called

Judges 3:9 cried

Judges 3:15 cried

Judges 4:10 called

Judges 4:13 gathered together

Judges 6:6 cried

Judges 6:7 cried

Judges 6:34 was called

Judges 6:35 who also was called

Judges 10:10 cried

Judges 10:14 and cry

Judges 12:2 and when I called

Judges 18:22 were gathered together,

Judges 18:23 What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?

1 Samuel 4:13 cried out.

1 Samuel 5:10 cried out,

1 Samuel 7:8 not to cry

1 Samuel 7:9 cried

1 Samuel 8:18 And ye shall cry out

1 Samuel 12:8 cried

1 Samuel 12:10 And they cried

1 Samuel 14:20 that were with him assembled

1 Samuel 15:11 and he cried

1 Samuel 28:12 she cried

2 Samuel 13:19 crying.

2 Samuel 19:4 cried

2 Samuel 19:28 I yet to cry

2 Samuel 20:4 Assemble

2 Samuel 20:5 to assemble

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