The Hebrew verb occurring in Deuteronomy 33:16 :

And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush ... [KJV]

is yoshev.

The Hebrew verb occurring in Psalm 80:1 :

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest the cherubims, shine forth ... [KJV]

is shaken.

I am interested if there is any significant difference in the meanings between yoshev and shaken which might have spiritual significance or if it is a marginal difference which does not warrant a spiritual significance being attached.

Is the difference between yoshev and shaken something like the difference between the English verbs 'occupy' and 'reside' ?

  • I know nothing of Hebrew, but I wondered if the meaning of 'shaken' in Psalm 80:1 could be 'enthroned'. The NIV says "you who sit enthroned between the cherubim"; the NLT says "enthroned above the cherubim"; the ESV says "enthroned upon the cherubim".
    – Lesley
    Jan 21, 2019 at 17:59
  • 1
    In addition to the answer below, note that yashav is about 8x more frequent than shakan (1082 occurrences as tallied by Strong compared to 128). I'd say that yashav is a very general word, used not only for dwelling but even for simply sitting. For example, Moses "sat" (yashav) as a judge for the Israelites morning till evening in Ex. 18, till Jethro gave him the idea of appointing delegates. Cities can also yashav as in "be located". By contrast, shakan is almost always used of God, his name, his angels, his cloud (in Exodus), or a people group, in which case it means "settle". Mar 26, 2019 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


Thanks for the question; it was an interesting search.

While there were other places that discussed the different applications of these two words, I found the quote below to be the most interesting. I have not yet done a study to test the explanation, but am looking forward to doing so.

From Temple to Meeting House: The Phenomenology and Theology of Places of Worship By Harold W. Turner Walter de Gruyter, May 2, 2011 - Religion - 418 pages

http://tinyurl.com/y6dco3my (Google Books - any typing errors are mine.)

p. 93 - “…It is sufficient to note the similarity with Moses who goes to the tent of meeting to speak with Yahweh in an intimate and personal relationship, (e.g. Exodus 29:42-43) and the fact that the tent was entirely mobile and free from all suggestions of the house of God.

Similar features of the tabernacle are stressed in the later traditions about it. This is seen from a study of the usage of two Hebrew verbs, yashab meaning to inhabit or dwell, and shakan to sit down or ‘tent’ in a place. In the earlier writings when referring to God little distinction seems intended between the two, and the former is the commoner. With the Deuteronomic literature an important distinction emerges, yashab being used for God’s dwelling in heaven and shakan for his tabernacling on earth. The priestly writers go one step further and never use yashab of God but always shakan, placing the whole emphasis upon Yahweh’s tabernacling with men and calling the Mosaic sanctuary mishkan, indeed the mishkan or one tabernacle of the presence of God in this particular way.

However much, therefore, the priestly writers were interested in the Davidic tabernacle as authenticating their later temple they were even more interested in the Mosaic tent of meeting as a solution to the problem of the divine immanence and transcendence. God was the high omnipotent Lord of the universe and yet had drawn near to Israel in the desert covenant and remained with her through subsequent history. How was such a God, who could not be regarded as dwelling in any shrine, yet be present with his people? The answer lay in the tabernacle, where Yahweh did not dwell (yashab), but where he ‘settles impermanently’ (shakan) in order to meet with Moses in the past, and in the same way, with his worshippers in the second temple. ‘Priestly tradition has taken a concrete, archaic term, associated with Israel’s desert tradition, and used it as an abstract term to express a theological concept.’(7)...."

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