Gen 28:22

And this H2063  stone, H68  which H834  I have set H7760  for a pillar, H4676  shall be H1961  God's H430  house: H1004  and of all H3605  that H834  thou shalt give H5414  me I will surely give the tenth H6237 H6237  unto thee.

Gen 14:20

And blessed H1288  be the most high H5945  God, H410  which H834  hath delivered H4042  thine enemies H6862  into thy hand. H3027  And he gave H5414  him tithes H4643 of all. H4480 H3605

What does the emphasis of the repeated word “tenth” mean in Genesis 28:22, and what is the difference between this word for tenth (tithe) and the word used in Genesis 14:20 for tithes?

  • The repetition (see Biblehub) of asser seems to me to be 'I will tithe the tenth'. Just as one might say 'I will give a gift'.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


In Genesis 28:22, the verb is used twice: the infinitive absolute, then the finite verb:

עַשֵּׂ֖ר אֲעַשְּׂרֶנּוּ
to tithe I will tithe it

This is, of course, an absurd translation. It is an example of one of the few common syntactical patterns in Hebrew without a clear correlate in English. That is, an infinitive absolute is used to modify a finite verb of the same root. GKC* says of this pattern (italics original):

The infinitive absolute used before the verb to strengthen the verbal idea, i.e. to emphasize in this way either the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence. In English, such an infinitive is mostly expressed by a corresponding adverb...

Accordingly, the adverb "surely" in your translation corresponds to the first occurrence of the verb "to tithe".

As for Genesis 14:20, this is the noun form of the same root (עשר). The more generic verb "to give" (נתן) is used here, and the noun "a tithe" is its object.

*Gesenius, F. W. (1910). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar. (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Eds.) (2d English ed., p. 342). Oxford: Clarendon Press.


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