Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Do Bashal and Hepsō really mean ‘boil’? A preliminary study in the semantics of biblical Hebrew and Septuagint Greek

Douglas T. Mangum
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a7853 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.7853 | © 2022 Douglas T. Mangum | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 June 2022 | Published: 22 September 2022

About the author(s)

Douglas T. Mangum, Department of Hebrew, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


The meaning of any given lexical item emerges from an analysis of its contextual usage, but with biblical languages, often a traditional gloss will be accepted as if it were the clear meaning of a lexical item. Lexicons and dictionaries rarely go all the way back to a fresh analysis of the actual usage of a lemma, so the traditional meaning is rarely reconsidered. Those learning biblical languages accept the lexicon’s judgement without stopping to reflect on how the lexicon reached its conclusion. The acceptance of a traditional gloss as the meaning then gets assumed as more and more texts are read, reinforcing the assumption that the meaning is the gloss learned early on as the equivalent for that lexical item. This study focuses on the biblical Hebrew root בשׁל and the Greek verb ἕψω, both traditionally understood to denote the activity of preparing food by boiling in liquid. These lexemes appear in the Old Testament in some exegetically challenging texts, so clarifying the range of meaning may help to illuminate the interpretation of difficult passages. The full context of the usage of these lexical items in the Hebrew Bible and Septuagint is examined using cognitive semantics with the goal of identifying the semantic and pragmatic clues that point to the conceptual meaning evoked by these lexical items in biblical Hebrew and Greek.

Contribution: The re-analysis of the data serves to re-evaluate traditional assumptions about the meanings of these words. Clarifying the meaning may illuminate some exegetical difficulties.


biblical Hebrew; Septuagint; lexicography; semantics; cognitive linguistics; boil; Passover; Exodus 12; Deuteronomy 16


Total abstract views: 1336
Total article views: 1499

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.