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It seems there is very little on the meaning of this word, and it's only used once in the Bible. The translation comes out as "Meditate" but it seems like a guess. I haven't even found rabbis or Jewish teachers talking about this word on YouTube.

Has anyone done a deeper breakdown in the Hebrew for this? I would be interested to get a deeper understanding.


Samples of various translations:

One day toward evening he went out to walk in the field, and caught sight of camels approaching. NABRE

Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening; and he raised his eyes and looked, and behold, camels were coming. NASB

Isaac went out toward evening. He was looking out over the countryside when he saw camels arriving. NCB

He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. NIV

Isaac had gone out to pray in the field in the evening. He looked up and saw that camels were coming. NLV

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    Robert Young in his Analytical Concordance says it is a 'pause' or a 'musical note' implying that it refers to an instruction in relation to singing. Brown Driver Briggs has a lot of technical information. It is obscure and anyone being dogmatic about it is probably incorrect.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 30, 2023 at 13:00
  • I took the liberty of adding biblical quotes. Please feel free to edit. Nov 30, 2023 at 20:42

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In answering your question the new (and quite wonderful) commentary for the BHQ gives this answer:

24:63 לָשׂ֥וּחַ The present hapax has been treated intensively by modern commentaries (for which see Westermann, Genesis, 2:390). Most versions draw an analogy with the quite frequent שׂיח in the sense of “talking,” sometimes “talking to oneself,” whence “meditating” (cf. 1 Sam 1:16; Ps 77:7; etc.). This is probably the reason for the choice of G ἀδολεσχῆσαι, which treats שׂיח in the same way elsewhere as well (1 Sam 1:16; 1 Kgs 18:27; 2 Kgs 9:11; etc.). In his Quaestiones, Jerome argues against the rendering of G, which he understands as “ut exercetur,” not good enough for such a pious person as Isaac. He puts forward the Hebrew word, in which he finds connotations of “prayer.” This conforms to the Targumim, which perceive the “talk” as “talking to God,” whence their rendering ‏(למצלוייה) לצלאה‎; cf. Pss 64:2; 102:1; 145:5; 1 Chr 16:9. Since the scene of the action of the verb is ‏בשדה‎, “in the field,” and, as in v. 65, the field is also the scene of ‏ההלך‎, S attributes to שוח the meaning of “walking,” which, according to Nöldeke, Beiträge, 43–44, corresponds to the Arabic šāḥa.

This word is a hapax legomenon (this word only occurs once in the entire bible). Since the usage is so rare we lean on the versional (non-Hebrew translations) for support. As we look at the versions, we basically end up with two paths:

  • "walk". The Syriac has: ”ܠܡܗܠܟܘ“ (Genesis 24:63 PESHOT-T) This is the basic verb for "going"
  • "Meditate" The LXX has: “ἀδολεσχῆσαι” (Genesis 24:63 LXXS-T) ("meditate") The Old Latin has “Et egressus est Isaac exerceri in campo” (Genesis 24:63 V-LATINA). ("and Isaac went out to exercise in the field/camp.") Likewise, Jerome has this in his Vulgate: “et egressus fuerat ad meditandum in agro” (Genesis 24:63 VULG-T) ("and he went out for the purpose of meditating in the field.")

Those are your two options. And you'll find our English versions taking either one or the other as a viable option.

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    Thank you so much for your comment, its been a blessing! Nov 30, 2023 at 15:26
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    +1. That is about as much an anyone can say.
    – Dottard
    Nov 30, 2023 at 20:24

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