I am looking for a source (dictionary, website, software, ...) which would systematically give the basic triliteral or quadriliteral root for each word of the Hebrew Bible. Currently, I use Logos 6 with the Lexham Interlinear Bible and it only indicates roots for which there is at least one other words used in the Bible which is derived from that root. As a result the roots of many words are not indicated even though they may be quite common.

Ideally, what I am looking for might take the form of an Excel Spreadsheet (or any another file format) which would have a "root" column filled in for every Strong's Number or for every form (or at least Lemma) which appears in the Biblical text.

The reason I need this is that I would like to be able to link the Biblical Text to material in other Semitic Languages (Aramaic, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic) to compare the semantic domain of each word or word-combination in various languages. The best way to do this is obviously through the root forms.

Thanks for any ideas.


1 Answer 1


OP's formulation has the potential to set off warning bells, in particular:

...material in other Semitic Languages (Aramaic, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic) to compare the semantic domain...

If this entails the assumption that the "roots" are common between these languages, it would be misplaced. Sometimes they are unrelated. An older but still useful work discussing these issues is James Barr's Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (OUP, 1968; reprinted Eisenbrauns, 1987), which has something of the status of a classic.1

Still, there is of course a good deal of overlap in "roots" among the Semitic languages. Hayim ben Yosef Tawil has made this the object of long study, the fruits of which are most readily available in his Akkadian Lexicon Companion for Biblical Hebrew (KTAV, 2009; see also the author's site + an informative review).

There are many more resources, but it's worth drawing attention here to the massive Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, the whole of which is available for PDF download.

With those caveats in place, there are some resources which can assist OP's quest. The OpenScriptures project's HebrewLexicon XML "union" file gives all the lexemes in BDB+. The roots to which lexemes are related are given as <etym root="אבג" type="main"> entries for all roots. I grepped them, pulled the results into a spreadsheet, and removed duplicates. You can get the file with two "worksheets" ([1] no duplicates; [2] raw) in either ODS (original) or XLS format.

There is more data which can be readily extracted from the main XML file, but that should suffice to meet OP's immediate need.


  1. Related, of course, to his famous Semantics of Biblical Language (OUP, 1961) with its attention to the fallacious use of "roots"; cf. also his very brief "Did Isaiah know about Hebrew 'Root Meanings'?", Expository Times 75(8) (1963-4), 242 = Collected Essays, vol. 2, pp. 218-9.

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