Midbar מִדְבָּר in the Hebrew means desert (wilderness or lonely place)(Botterweck, 8: 87 ff.). Dabar דָּבַר in Hebrew means to speak (2: 84 ff) and is a word which is theologically pregnant – it is oft used to express divine speech in the biblical text. You can see the word ‘dabar’ in the word ‘midbar’ though scholars tell us there is no etymological relationship between the two (2: 90). But taking hermeneutic liberties--poetic license if you will--it seems to me there is at least a semiotic connection if not theological. It is often in those “lonely places” that God chooses to speak to people.

We can see 'midbar' used in Genesis 27: 6 to mean speaking "And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying"(KJV) "וְרִבְקָה֙ אָֽמְרָ֔ה אֶל־יַעֲקֹ֥ב בְּנָ֖הּ לֵאמֹ֑ר הִנֵּ֤ה שָׁמַ֨עְתִּי֙ אֶת־אָבִ֔יךָ מְדַבֵּ֛ר אֶל־עֵשָׂ֥ו אָחִ֖יךָ לֵאמֹֽר׃"


Valerie Angenot, A Companion to Ancient Egyptian Art, “Semiotics and Hermeneutics” edited by Melinda K. Hartwig (Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2014), 98-118.

G. Johannes Botterweck, et. al., Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans’s Publishing Co, 1978).

Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995).

Aron Dotan et. al., Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2001).

  • 3
    The Hebrew language by itself is not actually on-topic here - you need to ask about a specific verse from the Bible.
    – curiousdannii
    May 6, 2020 at 4:15
  • @curiousdannii You are imposing a new rule. The topic is Hermeneutics which is the method by which meaning is derived from scripture. For an example of a question with no scripture see: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2142/…
    – Bob Jones
    May 6, 2020 at 11:43
  • @Bob That's a question about hermeneutical principles, not the Hebrew language.
    – curiousdannii
    May 6, 2020 at 11:44
  • @curiousThe answer given below is a sensus plenior answer as are so many others in SE BH. Please leave the tag. And I will give you sources which show that meaning is derived from the Hebrew alphabet.
    – Bob Jones
    May 6, 2020 at 11:46
  • "Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts," The sensus plenior methods discussed in so many other posts here demonstrate it.
    – Bob Jones
    May 6, 2020 at 11:48

1 Answer 1


Yes. You have hit upon the metaphoric meaning of מגבר as both 'speaking' and 'wilderness'. The wilderness is a secondary metaphor. Like 'Waterloo', place is used for a metaphor of an activity that takes place there.

An interesting study would be to find any outliers: are there accounts of someone going to the 'wilderness' and not speaking to God in the literal or sensus plenior?

Looking at the formation of 'midbar' מדבר using Rabbi Eliezer's rule 30 Rules of Rabbi Eliezer

מ-דבר from מ speaking דבר, or father מ speaking דבר

מד-בר being measured מד the son בר

מ-ד-ב-ר the father's מ command ד revealed to man ב as the Word ר

מ(דב)ר Bitterness (death) מר with mutterings דב or the command revealed to man ד-ב at the heart.

There are three events which are 'revelationally' related in the sensus plenior because they represent the son offering a sacrifice in the desert:

Moses was told that he would be like God to Pharaoh and Aaron would be his mouthpiece. (the word 'kiss' נשק also means 'burn').

Ex 4:27 And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.

Israel was called the son of God. They went to the wilderness to sacrifice to God.

Ex 8:28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.

Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. He was obedient to God, and obedience is the better sacrifice.

1Sa 15:22...Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams.

Who did they go into the wilderness to hear? The father: מ-דבר from מ speaking דבר, or father מ speaking דבר

Who was being measured? The son: מד-בר being measured מד the son בר

Who was being revealed to the world as the Word? the Incarnate Torah? Jesus: מ-ד-ב-ר the father's מ command ד revealed to man ב as the Word ר

And what is the picture of Christ's death in the wilderness? מ(דב)ר Bitterness (death) מר with mutterings דב or the command revealed to man ד-ב at the heart.

Aaron burned (offered himself) to Moses

Israel offered sacrifices to God, all of which are types of Christ.

Jesus was the stone that was rejected , which became the bread that we eat at communion. Jesus had already cast himself from the highest place in his incarnation and would descend to the lowest place in his death.

The ideas presented here are foreign to many Christians but are common to Jews.

Hebrew words derive meaning from the meaning of the letters.

  1. See SMS's answer here: https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/69442/whats-the-origin-of-this-approach-of-trying-to-obtain-meaning-from-the-individu

  2. Sefir Yetzirah "some early commentators treated it as a treatise on mathematical and linguistic theory as opposed to Kabbalah." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_Yetzirah

  3. Any book on Kabbalah, which I do not endorse. What's is observable is that belief that the letters have meaning.

  4. Current works by https://www.linkedin.com/in/rabbircklein/ who is attempting to coerce the meanings from the letters.

  5. This is the one which I am currently testing. https://sensusplenior.net/wiki/Pneumnemonic_Hebrew_for_Beginners using the rules posted here: What are the strict set of rules followed by sensus plenior?

  6. I am currently collaborating on a Dictionary of 'Gates'; two-letter sub-roots.

  7. John demonstrates a knowledge of this in 1Jo 5:7 Where heaven שמים has three consonants (yes and one vowel) which mean father מ, Word ם and Spirit א. And earth ארץ having Spirit א, water ר, and blood ץ. Naturally he translated into Greek for the emerging Greek church which did not have a background in Hebrew.

  8. Works and lectures by Rabbi Benjamin Blech https://www.rabbibenjaminblech.com/

  • Are you saying one word has four different etymologies? And are you saying individual Hebrew characters have whole meanings by themselves? You absolutely must provide sources to back up your argument.
    – curiousdannii
    May 6, 2020 at 4:17
  • @curious Done. Thanks. It improves the article very much.
    – Bob Jones
    May 7, 2020 at 21:15
  • Post notice removed - thanks for including citations. Apologies, you didn't finish your tag there and we don't get any kind of automated notifications, so I've only just found this by looking through your previously flagged answers.
    – Steve can help
    Nov 5, 2021 at 14:14
  • @Steve Sorry. I don't know what you mean by 'finish tag'
    – Bob Jones
    Nov 5, 2021 at 15:14
  • You didn't tag curiousdannii's whole name, so it didn't send him a message to let him know you'd responded. It will ping you any time anybody writes on your content, but for everybody else it only sends them a notification if you tag them.
    – Steve can help
    Nov 5, 2021 at 15:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.