I checked up the BDB lexicon and some softwares to study the usage of the word אֲשֶׁר in Bible. However in my level its seem so complex and I am unable to understand properly. Can anyone please tell me in simple words how and when this word "אֲשֶׁר" is used in Biblical Hebrew?

  • 1
    Why is this important to you?
    – user25930
    May 31, 2019 at 11:11
  • 1
    @Mac'sMusings That is a link to אָשֵׁר the son of Jacob. אֲשֶׁר the relative particle is here
    – b a
    May 31, 2019 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


This word simply is the equivalent of the relative pronoun in English—it means "which" if referring to an object, place, or thing, and "who" if referring to a person. It simply serves to identify or describe the person by something which characterizes them.

So, for example, Genesis 3:17:

And He said to Adam: Because you have harkened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which [אשר] I gave you instruction, saying that you shall not eat of it, the ground shall be cursed for your sake: you shall eat of it in grief all the days of your life.

Here it serves to specify the tree: this is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, about which God gave instruction ("You shall not eat of it").

Again, Genesis 1:7:

And God made the expanse, and separated the waters that were [אשר] under the expanse, from those [אשר] above the expanse: and it was so.

Even though the letters א, ש, and ר are used in other words and names, it should not be confused for this word.

  • Good. Feel free to incorporate my second comment under Lowther's answer -- it's almost but not quite equivalent to the English relative pronoun. Jun 1, 2019 at 2:21
  • Would it be safe to call those anomalous cases, do you think? Jun 1, 2019 at 19:27
  • Hmm, probably yes. At a minimum, they stood out to me as odd on reading! Jun 2, 2019 at 0:56
  • That is because you are using an Indo-European mindset.
    – user2672
    Jun 3, 2019 at 5:21
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    I think he meant relative to its normative usage, not another language or culture (namely his own). Jun 3, 2019 at 13:01

Unless I'm missing something, this is in the BDB and should answer your Question?

H834 אשׁר 'ăsher BDB Definition: 1) (relative participle) 1a) which, who 1b) that which 2) (conjunction) 2a) that (in object clause) 2b) when 2c) since 2d) as 2e) conditional if Part of Speech: relative particle conjunction A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: a primitive relative pronoun (of every gender and number)

Furthermore, you can see the first citation of אשׁר in:

Gen 1:7  ויעשׂ אלהים את־הרקיע ויבדל בין המים אשׁר מתחת לרקיע ובין המים אשׁר מעל לרקיע ויהי־כן׃ 

KJV Gen 1:7  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 

אשׁר is a general part of Hebrew speech, nothing to in-depth.

  • One linguistically interesting note on asher is that in some sentences, especially in the books of 1 & 2 Kings, its syntax is a little different: even though it appears to be a relative pronoun, sometimes it's followed by a second pronoun for the same antecedent! A word-by-word gloss of 1 Kings 13:17 reads: "Return by going on the road which (asher) you came by it." This last word would be omitted in English, and interestingly, Elijah himself omits it a few verses earlier in 13:9. May 31, 2019 at 13:33
  • I did redact my statement above concerning "particular grammatical form " as the question did have vowel pointing which I did not notice, so I had removed the portion which stared the misunderstanding of @Luke Sawczak . Thanks
    – Lowther
    Jun 2, 2019 at 0:49
  • Works for me. Comments removed. Jun 2, 2019 at 0:52

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