NET Bible Proverbs 31:1 The words of King Lemuel, an oracle (מַשָּׂא) that his mother taught him:

LXX οἱ ἐμοὶ λόγοι εἴρηνται ὑπὸ θεοῦ βασιλέως χρηματισμός ὃν ἐπαίδευσεν ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ

BHS מֶ֑לֶךְ מַשָּׂא אֲֽשֶׁר־יִסְּרַ֥תּוּ אִמֹּֽו׃


In Romans 11:4 why did Paul use χρηματισμός to introduce his quotation from the Elijah narrative?

Who is King Lemuel in Proverbs 31?

  • I removed the sub-question.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 14:32
  • 1
    The cantillation mark wasn't rendered well; I removed it. Thanks.
    – user2672
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


Massa מַשָּׂא Strong 4853 is given by BDB as :

II. מַשָּׂא noun - load, burden, lifting, bearing, tribute;

Isaiah uses the word repeatedly in connection with his prophecies against the individual nations :

The burden of Moab - Isaiah 15:1

The burden of Damascus - Isaiah 17:1

The burden of Egypt - Isaiah 19:1

The burden of Dumah - Isaiah 21:11

The burden upon Arabia - Isaiah 21:13

The burden of Tyre - Isaiah 23:1

As for Proverbs 31:1, it has been translated as follows :

Prophecy [KJV] declaration [YLT] burden [GLT] prophecy [JND] vision [D-R]

The word appears 66 times in scripture and 57 of those times (according to Young's Analytical Concordance) the AV translators have used the word 'burden'. Three times they give 'song' and twice 'prophecy'. Four times they appear to have made other variations according to context.

Isaiah's usage is interesting in that the nation itself is a מַשָּׂא massa thus the prophet is burdened by the nation's behaviour and also by the nature of the prophecy he must prophesy.

'Oracle' is a confusing translation in Proverbs 31:1.

The word 'oracle' in English has been specifically used fifteen times regarding the inner place of the temple wherein was placed the ark and is used once in Psalm 28:2, all of which to translate the very specific word debir דְּבִיר Strong 1687

The LXX translates debir דְּבִיר as δαβιρ dabir, which is not a translation for no such Greek word exists. It is a transliteration and perhaps indicates that the LXX translators were admitting that, at the time, it was untranslatable.

KJV - Authorised King James

YLT - Young's Literal

GLT - Green's Literal

JND - J N Darby

D-R - Douay-Rheims (from Jerome's Vulgate)

  • Lots of good information here. Thanks Nigel. Can you please elaborate on the point about the LXX rendering of debir as dabir? Are there any other thoughts on the rendering? And just to verify, you are saying that you think the word is untranslatable (IE: not known, lost to history)?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 14:57
  • 2
    To elaborate, it is easier for me to link to a study I did of the word 'oracle'. Link..
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 15:01

This word has two meanings, depends what is the "correct" reading.

A. If we take cantillation notes, משא is like נאום so the meaning is speech, and the verse should be read as "a speech of someone that his mother taught him" ( close to NET).

B. A.Rofe ( Introduction to the Literature of the Hebrew Bible) suggest that משא is a name of a tribe and connect it to Ishmael. So the verse is "Lemuel the king of Massa that his mother have taught him". This option relate on the fact that למואל mentioned only once in the Bible and therefore it origin isn't clear. So he say that it can be from Sumerian God Lim and the Masa tribe are north-Arabian that mentioned on Assyrian scribes and lived in that place.

I personally accept option A.

  • Brown-Driver-Briggs seems to associate it with "burden bearing": biblehub.com/bdb/4853.htm
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:07
  • Actually that link put proverbs 31:1 under "utterance, oracle" - and this is can translate as a speech.
    – A. Meshu
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:13
  • Is it possible that the reason the NET Bible translated it as "oracle" which is also called a "burden"?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:23
  • I don't know, but if oracle is prophet נבואה and משא is from נשא (meaning to carry) we can see the connection. Both are things that the man carry with him and speak them to the crowed. We find משא in that meaning in more places on OT (well described in BDB).
    – A. Meshu
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:31
  • So do you see it in its secular sense in Proverbs 31:1? Is it a "speech" or an "oracle"?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:59

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