Forest, יער, Forest / Chapparal

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Forest, Thickets


יער (ya‘ar)

Scientific Name:

Forest; Chapparal, French: Maquis or Garrigue


חורשים, חורשה, חורש

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Biblical data


One of the intriguing riddles concerning the landscape of the land of Israel / Canaan west (and east) of the Jordan is the nature of its flora formations, or vegetation units. The biblical term יער (ya‘ar) occurs fifty-eight times in the Hebrew Bible, but what does it actually mean? And what then do the terms חורשים, חורשה, חורש indicate?

The etymology of יער poses a challenge; and two opposing meanings have been suggested. The more common understanding of יער is “thicket, undergrowth, wood, forest” (BDB 420 and HALOT 422). This sense has been connected with Ugaritic y‘ir and pl. y‘irm (ib b‘il thd y‘irm “the enemies of Ba‘al took to the woods,” Baal, 1.4[51]:VII:35–36). The term also occurs as a personal name, bn y‘irn (321:III:10) and a place name y‘irt (syllabic: ia-ar-tú, RS 11.830). [1] The Moabite חמת היערן is thus understood to denote either one of the building projects in Dibon, or possibly a planted forest surrounded by a wall. [2] A second etymology of יער has been suggested in connection with Arabic وعر (and in Geez); this may refer to a place, a road, or a mountain that is “rugged and difficult to ascend,” or to “a place inspiring fear, and desolate.” [3] On the basis of these meanings in Arabic, earlier scholars (e.g., Naphtali H. Torczyner, Tur-Sinai) have suggested that in certain places in the HB (e.g., Hos 2:14; Isa 29:17; 32:15), יער refers to an area in which the trees had been cut. Thus, יער in this second sense should rather be translated as “stony and barren slopes.” [4]

A look at the contextual information that accompanies the biblical instances of the term should help negotiate these seemingly contradictory meanings for the diverse uses of this term.  The present discussion gathers the biblical references that reveal aspects of the formations of areas characterized as יער; examines the geographical information connected with these references in an effort to map places that are designated as יער (taking into consideration the component יער in place names); and looks at the botanical information embedded in the biblical references concerning the plants that comprise the יער, as as well as the fauna that reside in it.

חורשים, חורשה, חורש are three additional terms that refer to vegetation formations connected with trees. חורש is a hapax, which appears in Ezekiel’s comparison of the Assyrian king to a cedar (Ezek 31:3). [5] חורשה occurs four times in the HB, all in two anecdotes referring to places where David found shelter from Shaul—in the Desert of Ziph (1 Sam 23:14–18), and “on the hill of Hachilah south of Jeshimon” (23:19–24:1). [6] חורשים is another hapax, which occurs in the list of King Yotam’s building projects (2 Chron 27:4). [7] These three terms are mentioned here because 1) they fall within the general category of “forest and thickets” in the HB; and 2) because Modern Hebrew botanical terminology draws a formal distinction between יער and חורש (see the third section below, on phytogeographic aspects). The major observation to be made here is that this modern distinction does not seem to accord with biblical usage; although it remains for us to clarify what the HB terms might denote.

Distribution within the Bible

Of its fifty-eight occurrences, יער appears only once in the Pentateuch, in a legal text (Deut 19:5).

The term occurs thirteen times in the historiography (Joshua to Kings), ten in short anecdotes and narratives (Josh 17:15, 18; 1 Sam 14:25, 26; 22:5; 2 Sam 18:6, 8, 17; 2 Kgs 2:24, and in Isaiah’s prophecy in 2 Kgs 19:23), and three in archival reports concerning בית יער הלבנון (“the Lebanon Forest House,” 1 Kgs 7:2; 10:17, 21).

יער appears in the prophetic literature primarily in judgment prophecies; thus it occurs eight times in Isaiah 1–39 (Isa 7:2; 9:17; 10:18, 19, 34; 21:13; 22:8; 37:24); once in Isaiah 40–66 (Isa 56:9); five times in Jeremiah (Jer 5:6; 12:8; 21:14; 26:18; 46:23); four in Ezekiel (Ezek 15:2, 6; 21:2, 3); and once each in Hosea (Hos 2:14), Amos (Amos 3:4), Zechariah (Zech 11:2), and Micah (Micah 3:12).

A few consolation prophecies refer to the יער: Isa 29:17; 32:15, 18; Ezek 34:25; 39:10; Micah 5:7; 7:14.

יער also occurs in two prophecies that ridicule manufacturing idols out of its trees  (Isa 44:9–20 and Jer 10:3).

In the poetical books, יער occurs six times in Psalms (50:10; 80:14; 83:15; 96:12; 104:20; 132:6); twice in Song of Songs (Song 2:3; 5:1); and once in Ecclesiastes (Eccl 2:6).

Finally, the late historiography has three mentions of יער (in 1 Chron 16:33, in parallel to Ps 96:12; and 2 Chron 9:16, 20, in parallel to בית יער הלבנון of 1 Kings 7 and 10).

Parts, Elements, Features that Are Specified in the Bible

I. יער as “forest or thickets”

The understanding of יער as “forest or thickets” derives from references where this quality is part of the background information: Deut 19:5 deals with a case of unintentional murder while entering the יער to cut trees for wood.

Three narratives within the historiography: 1) Josh 17:15, 18 describes the challenge posed by the יער in the settlement of the Joseph tribes; 2) 1 Sam 14:25, 26 (Saul’s war against the Philistines) notes the possibility of finding food (honey) in the יער; and 3) 2 Sam 18:6, 8, 17 notes the dangers posed by the יער to the two opposing parties during the Absalom revolt.

Prophetic and poetic literature: the imagery in these works primarily reflects the notion of יער as “forest or thickets” (עצי יער or סבכי יער, etc). Isaiah uses the image of the wind blowing in the trees of the יער to illustrate Ahaz’s and his people’s fear of the Syro-Aramaic coalition: וינע לבבו ולבב עמו כנוע עצי יער מפני רוח (“their hearts and the hearts of their people trembled as trees of the forest sway before a wind,” Isa 7:2).

Within this prophetic framework, the יער is characterized by the following features:

*  יער as bushy and high growth. This is implied in Isa 9:17–18: כי בערה כאש רשעה שמיר ושית תאכל, ותצת בסבכי היער (“Already wickedness has blazed forth like a fire, devouring thorn and thistle. It has kindled the thickets of the wood, which have turned into billowing smoke”). The vegetation units are at three levels of height: “thorn and thistle” (שמיר ושית), “thickets of the forest” (סבכי יער), and possibly also the high trees, implicitly denoted by ויתאבכו גאות עשן (see גאה as denoting “to grow tall,” in Job 8:11). [8] The image illustrates both the vast scope of Israel’s wickedness and the totality of divine destruction in response (Isa 9:18–19). In other judgment prophecies addressed to the Assyrian king (Isa 10:17–19, 33–34), fire constitutes the ultimate judgment, following which only a scant amount of trees remains: ושאר עץ יערו מספר יהיו ונער יכתבם (“What trees remain of its forest (NJPS: scrub) shall be so few that a boy may record them,” Isa 10:19).

* יער as the high trees of Lebanon. Several passages in Isaiah 1–39 and one in Zechariah establish a parallel between סבכי היער and הלבנון, e.g., Isa 10:34: ונקף סבכי היער בברזל, והלבנון באדיר יפול (“The thickets of the forest shall be hacked away with iron, and the Lebanon trees shall fall in their majesty”). Similarly, the boasting speech of the Assyrian king concerning the forests of Lebanon (with their cedars and junipers, ארזים וברושים), closes with the construction: ואבואה מלון קצה יער כרמלו (“and have reached its highest peak, its densest forest,” in 2 Kgs 19:23 || Isa 37:24). [9] Zechariah 11:1–3 refers to [יער הבצור [הבציר to denote the forest of Lebanon, and specifies the great trees found therein (11:2): [הילל ברוש כי נפל ארז … הילילו אלוני בשן כי ירד יער הבצור [ק: הבציר (“Howl, cypresses, for cedars have fallen! … Howl, you oaks of Bashan, for the stately forest is laid low!”).

* יער as comprised of other named species of trees. Note Isa 44:14: לכרת לו ארזים … תרזה ואלון ויאמץ לו בעצי יער, נטע ארן וגשם יגדל (“For his use he cuts down cedars; he chooses plane trees and oaks. He sets aside trees of the forest; or plants firs, and the rain makes them grow”). [10]

References to the more common trees of the Mediterranean vegetation unit, אלון (Quercus) and אלה (Pistacia palaestina), may also be gathered, though often indirectly, as they are seldom mentioned in parallel to the term יער (as in Zech 11:2). The information may further be deduced from references to אלון and אלה in different areas of the land; e.g., the huge and entangled אלה in which Absalom was caught in יער אפרים (see 2 Sam 18:9; and Hos 4:13), and thus are treated below in the context of geographical information concerning the יער (see below).

* יער as a general forested area. General phrases, e.g., Isa 44:23: יער וכל עץ בו (“O forests with all your trees!”), standing in parallel to mountains (e.g., Ps 50:10); or to שדי (“mountain, field”), Ps 96:12: יעלז שדי וכל אשר בו, אז ירננו כל עצי יער (“the mountain [or: fields] and everything in them exult; then shall all the trees of the forest shout for joy”). [11]

* יער as a place where one may find honey. See 1 Sam 14:25: וכל הארץ באו ביער, ויהי דבש על פני השדה (“Everybody entered the thickets [NJPS: came to a stack of beehives] where some honey had spilled on the ground”); and v. 26: ויבא העם אל היער והנה הלך דבש (“When the troops came into the thickets [NJPS: to the beehives] and found the flow of honey there”). [12] Such references thus indirectly support the meaning of יער as “forest and thickets,” an ecological environs that enables bees to produce honeycombs.

* Human-made יער as a human (royal) creation. The magnificent royal building of 1 Kgs 7:2, בית יער הלבנון, in Solomon’s royal court in Jerusalem was constructed as an artificial יער. This palace was built by putting together cut trunks of cedars (טורי עמודים) and branches attached to them (וכרתות ארזים על העמודים); mirrors were used (ומחזה אל מחזה שלש פעמים) to create the impression of a huge and endless cedar forest. [13] Solomon kept here his golden shields and other armor, as well as diverse impressive golden vessels (10:17, 21; 2 Chr 9:16, 20). The house of the forest is once referred to by Isaiah, 22:8: נשק בית היער (“to the arms in the Forest House”).

A planted יער is also described in Eccl 2:6, as one of the material pleasures with which the king surrounds himself (2:1–11). Among his building projects is a series of artificial water pools, the purpose of which is to irrigate a place designated as יער צומח עצים (“a forest shooting up with trees”). While there are no indications of the species planted there, this plantation is clearly distinguished from the גנות ופרדסים (“gardens and groves”) that were planted with עץ כל פרי (“every kind of fruit tree,” v. 5). Hence, it seems this יער צומח עצים was a “botanical garden” of wild trees. [14]

References to use and/or destruction of the יער also reveal some of its characteristics:

* יער and its trees in domestic use. The trees of the יער may be cut for several reasons: to produce cultivated land cleared of wild trees and lower shrubs (Josh 17:15, 18); [15] to create different working tools (Ezek 15:2–3). Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning the defeat of Gog mentions the normal practice of cutting firewood in the forest: ולא ישאו עצים מן השדה ולא יחטבו מן היערים (“They will not gather firewood in the fields or cut any in the forests,” Ezek 39:10). [16] In addition, as noted above there are references to cutting trees to manufacture idols (Isa 44:14, parody; Jer 10:3).

* Destruction of the יער. Another allusion to the conception of יער as “forest and thickets” may be adduced from descriptions of its destruction by fire. These are found, e.g., in judgment prophecies: והצתי אש ביערה ואכלה כל סביביה (“I will set fire to its forest; it shall consume all that is around it,” Jer 21:14); note Ezekiel’s pronouncement against the Ya‘ar Ha-Negev, where God will consume every עץ לח and עץ יבש (“green tree” and “withered tree,” Ezek 21:2, 3); see also Ps 83:15: כאש תבער יער וכלהבה תלהט הרים  (“As a fire burns a forest, as flames scorch the hills”).

The יער may also be destroyed by cutting its trees. In his prophecies against Assyria (Isaiah 10), Isaiah utilizes the metaphor of “deforestation”; see Isa 10:33–34: הנה האדון יהוה צבאות מסעף פארה במערצה, ורמי הקומה גדועים והגבהים ישפלו. ונקף סבכי היער בברזל, והלבנון באדיר יפול (“Lo! The Sovereign LORD of Hosts will hew off the tree-crowns with an ax: The tall ones shall be felled, the lofty ones cut down. The thickets of the forest shall be hacked away with iron, and the Lebanon trees shall fall in their majesty״). It is interesting that although the threat here is against Assyria, the imagery fits the forested mountains of Lebanon! [17] A similar discrepancy between imagery and realia seems to be operate in Jeremiah’s description of the Babylonian destruction of Egypt, which portrays the enemies as cutting Egypt’s trees, Jer 46:23: כרתו יערה (“they shall cut down her forest”). [18] These two images are puzzling because neither Assyria nor Egypt are otherwise recognized as forested lands. The common denominator in the two passages is that the threatening empires, notwithstanding their well-known prowess in war, are portrayed as the יער, the target that YHWH will totally destroy.


II. Geographical Locations of the יער

A significant dimension of the description of the יער is the geographical information associated with five locations west and east of the Jordan.

* יער אפרים west of the Jordan is the territory the tribe of Ephraim, Josh 17:15–18: בארץ הפרזי והרפאים כי אץ לך הר אפרים (“in the territory of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, seeing that you are cramped in the hill country of Ephraim”). This passage tells us that this area is hilly and covered with יער vegetation, v. 18: כי הר יהיה לך כי יער הוא ובראתו והיה לך תצאתיו (“True, it is forest land, but you will clear it and possess it to its farthest limits”).

יער אפרים is also named as the region where Absalom’s revolt against David is fought (2 Sam 18:6, 8); the place where Absalom met his death caught in the great branches of the great אלה  (Pistacia palaestina or Pistacia atlantica, 18:9), and where his body was then buried (18:17). This identification presents an unresolved critical puzzle: Contrary to the well-established tradition that the tribe of Ephraim was settled west of the Jordan (Josh 16), the geographical context of this fierce civil war was east of the Jordan valley, towards the settlement of Mahanaim (2 Sam 17:24, 27). [19]

* The יער from Givat Binyamin to the Ayalon valley, 1 Samuel 14. This area seems implicated in the story of Saul’s war against the Philistines. The war started west of Givat Binyamin (v. 16; note the reference to Michmash and Geva, in 14:5), and Beth Aven (v. 23). This area should be south of הר אפרים (v. 22); another indication of the geographical location is in 14:31: ויכו ביום ההוא בפלשתים ממכמש אילנה (“They struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Ayalon”). [20] Within this account, special attention is given to Saul’s requirement that everyone fast (14:24) and Jonathan’s rebellion by eating the honey found in the forest (14:27–29; see above, section I).

* יער חרת, in 1 Sam 22:5: ארץ יהודה … יער חרת (“the territory of Judah … the forest of Hereth”). [21]

* יער בערב, Isa 21:13: mentioned at the opening of an oracle against the Arabs (משא בערב). The phrase is obscure, and יער בערב was translated by NJPS as “In the scrub, in the steppe.” [22] The oracle is aimed at Arab tribes settled in cis-Jordan, as it mentions “caravans of Dedan” and “Tema.”

* יער הנגב, Ezek 21:2, 3: והנבא אל יער השדה נגב … יער הנגב (“the brushland [?] of the Negev”), which comprises unspecified species, עץ לח and עץ יבש (v. 3).

* Other place names: יער is a component in several place names within the territory of Judah on its border with Benjamin: קרית יערים (Josh 9:17; 15:8, 10, 60; 1 Sam 7:1–2); הר יערים (Josh 15:10), the vicinity north and west of Jerusalem; and שדי יער (Ps 132:6), which stands in parallel to אפרתה; [23] as also חרשת הגוים (Judg 4:16) taken from the noun חורשה is a place name by the Kishon, at Jezerel valley. [24]

* The יער and the שפלה. The יער (as a general term) is said to be a distinctive feature of the Shefelah in Isa 32:19: וברד ברדת היער, ובשפלה תשפל עיר (“It will hail when the forest goes down, and in the lowlands the city will be laid low”). [25] This distinction may be imply more general reference to the central range mountains of Benjamin and Judah (400–1100 meters high), which are distinctively much higher than the hills of the שפלה (of up to 200 meters high).

* The אלון (Quercus) and the אלה (Pistacia palaestina) as additional markers to map יער areas. Although these distinctive “forests” are mentioned, there is hardly ever reference to specific trees growing in any of them. [26] Nevertheless, mentions of the אלון and the אלה may function as additional markers to map יער areas. While these two trees are rarely mentioned in parallel to the term יער in the HB, they are the most common trees of the Mediterranean phytogeographical region, and they do appear fairly frequently in the biblical literature. [27] Hence, I would use them as indirect evidence for the areas we can assume were covered by יער.

The אלה appears in the HB as an individual tree with cultic associations.  A known אלה was in Shechem; and it was profaned when Jacob buried beneath it the foreign gods held by his camp (Gen 35:4); this presumably was also the place where Joshua re-instituting the covenant between God and the people (Josh 24:26). [28] Other mentions of the אלה that are connected to cultic places are Ofra (Judg 6:11, 19); and the vicinity of Beth El (1 Kgs 13:14). Hos 4:13, על ראשי ההרים יזבחו ועל הגבעות יקטרו תחת אלון ולבנה ואלה כי טוב צלה (“They sacrifice on the mountaintops and offer on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and terebinths whose shade is so pleasant”) is one significant indication of the recognition that these trees were frequent and covered both mountains and hills. The אלה further won fame unconnected to cult as the האלה הגדולה in which Absalom was caught, when riding his mule in יער אפרים (in 2 Sam 19:9–10, 14).

The אלון is designated as a high and a strong tree (Amos 2:9). These qualities may explain the proximity of אלוני הבשן to cedars of Lebanon (Isa 2:13; 44:14; Ezek 27:6; Zech 11:2). Most of the references to אלון denote major individual trees that commonly became known cultic centers. In the north, we find the hills of the eastern lower Galilee, the territory of Naphtali: אלון צעננים (Josh 19:33; Judg 4:11); אלון תבור (in 1 Sam 10:3). Further to the south, in the high mountains of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Judah several significant trees are identified: אלון מורה in Shechem (Gen 12:6; and אלני מרה Josh 11:30); אלון מצב אשר בשכם (Judg 9:6); אלון מעוננים (Judg 9:37); אלון בכות by Beth El (Gen 35:8); אלני ממרא in Hebron (Gen 13:18; 14:13; 18:1).

Geographically speaking, these mentions of both the אלון and the אלה may be located across the main mountain ranges of Samaria and Judah. The makeup of the habitats seem to be that which we currently find in areas both west and east of the Jordan, i.e., the vegetation unit known as “Mediterranean vegetation,” which features mountains covered with thickets and trees.

Two intriguing questions about this vegetation formation still deserve attention. First, these two species appear together only twice (Isa 6:13; Hos 4:13), and they were hardly recognized in the HB as the typical flora formation of the יער in those areas. Second, the information about both trees is restricted to individual trees of special fame, mostly cultic, hence, is it still possible to consider them as governing the vegetation unit? (see the botanical information below).


III. יער as the Opposite of Cultivated Land

As mentioned above, based on the etymology to w‘r in Arabic and Geez, scholars have suggested that יער can also denote the barren and stony slopes of the eastern mountain range going down to the Benjamin and the Judean deserts (see Introduction, above). I want to put forward here quite a different possibility, connected with this second meaning, that יער may designate wild and uninhabited areas; and that this “second meaning” may actually be seen as a semantic extension of the first, “forest and thickets.” [29] This understanding is based on the above mentioned formation characteristics, and it takes into account the anthropocentric viewpoint of the HB, which draws clear distinctions between human arenas and domains that are uninhabited and wild. יער may thus be classed with other terms such as שדה and מדבר, etc., which designate arenas beyond and outside of human residence and reach (such is the context of Hos 2:14). The following arguments that validate this observation.

* A great effort is required to produce agricultural land out of the יער (Josh 17:15, 18). [30] This opposition may be seen also in the judgment prophecies that threaten to transform cultivated groves of vines and figs back into יער or שדה, thus unprotected of the beasts of the wild, Hos 2:14: והשמתי גפנה ותאנתה … ושמתים ליער ואכלתם חית השדה  (“I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, … I will turn them into brushwood, and beasts of the field shall devour them”); and Jer 26:18 and Micah 3:12, Zion transforms from the settled city back to ruin and to a cultivated land,: ציון שדה תחרש … והר הבית לבמות יער (“Zion shall be plowed as a field, … and the Temple Mount a shrine in the woods”).

* יער in parallel to שדה (the wild), [31] e.g., 1 Sam 14:25; Ezek 39:10; see Hos 2:14; and note the name יער השדה נגב or then יער הנגב in Ezek 21:1–5. Likewise note the phrase עצי השדה (Ezek 31:4, 5) that are similar to עצי היער (Ezek 15:2; see also Joel 1:12, 19). [32] Psalm 96:12 sets שדי in parallel to עצי יער; when this line recurs in 1 Chron 16:32, שדי is transformed to השדה (and the second phrase appears as עצי היער). [33] The two terms come together to designate the outskirts of the cultivated areas in the phrase בשדי יער (Ps 132:6), taken as a place name. [34]

יער in parallel to הרים,  e.g., Ps 50:10:[35] כי לי כל חיתו יער, בהמות בהררי אלף (“For Mine is every animal of the forest, the beasts on a thousand mountains”); Isa 44:23: רנו שמים כי עשה יהוה הריעו תחתיות ארץ, פצחו הרים רנה יער וכל עץ בו (“Shout, O heavens, for the LORD has acted; Shout aloud, O depths of the earth! Shout for joy, O mountains, O forests with all your trees!”). In these contexts, יער constitutes one of the “cosmic” components that witness God’s salvation of his people (v. 23b) and praises God. Note that in Ps 96:12 the parallelism places שדי and עצי יער, referring also to the wild elements of the cosmic nature.

* יער alongside of מדבר, Ezek 34:25: וישבו במדבר לבטח וישנו ביערים (“and they shall live secure in the wasteland, they shall even sleep in the woodland”). God’s promise of redemption is characterized by thetransformation of these two wild, uncultivated regions into areas safe for humans.

* יער is portrayed as the residential domain of different animals, primarily of predators. These are designated by general phrases, such as: כל חיתו שדי … כל חיתו ביער (“All you wild beasts, come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!” Isa 56:9); בבהמות יער (“among beasts of the wild,” Micah 5:7); o כל חיתו יער (“all the beasts of the forests,” Ps 104:20).

In addition, specific predators are described as residing in or coming out of the יער: bears (“Thereupon two she-bears came out of the woods,” 2 Kgs 2:24); the lion, עלה אריה מסבכו (“The lion has come up from his thicket,” Jer 4:7); על כן הכם אריה מיער (“Therefore, the lion of the forest strikes them down”); Jer 12:8: היתה לי נחלתי כאריה ביער (“My own people acted toward Me like a lion in the forest”); Amos 3:4: הישאג אריה ביער וטרף אין לו (“Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?”); Micah 5:7: כאריה בבהמות יער (“Like a lion among beasts of the wild”).

Herbivores in the יער are mentioned in Ps 80:14. They come from the יער to eat the cultivated vine and totally destroy it: יכרסמנה חזיר מיער, וזיז שדי ירענה (“wild boars gnaw at it, and creatures of the field feed on it”). [36]

Hence, in all of these instances, the יער is a source of danger to individuals and to human settlements.


The major question posed here is whether this usage of יער to denote wild, uncultivated, rural areas is built upon its meaning of “forest and thickets,” or whether it stems from the notion of יער as a landscape of barren and stony areas (following the Arabic and Geez)? I am inclined to choose the former option. The definition of the יער as “forest and thickets,” encompasses all the dimensions of areas inhospitable to humans. The יער is antagonistic to all that may be designated as human cultural and agricultural efforts; it is scary and dangerous, the residence of wild trees and wild animals, including predators that can emerge to endanger humans in their own habitats. It is therefore used metonymically, even when our vegetation units information cannot even assume (and probably need not assume) the provenance of such forest / thicket vegetation formation (as so clearly apparent in 2 Kgs 2:24).


These distinctions between the two meanings of יער, and specifically the usage of יער to designate “the wild,” are particularly intriguing for the interpretation of several specific uses of יער which raise specific aspects of the antagonism between the wild and human habitation.

  1. Cultivated trees among trees of the יער – are they part of the יער? Or do they appear as a contrast to the wild (and unfruitful) trees of the יער?

Ezekiel uses the image of the vine among the trees of the יער, Ezek 15:2: מה יהיה עץ הגפן מכל עץ, הזמורה אשר היה בעצי היער (“how is the wood of the grapevine better than the wood of any branch to be found among the trees of the forest?”); Ezek 15:6: כאשר היה עץ הגפן בעץ היער (“Like the wood of the grapevine among the trees of the forest”). The prophecy points out the great difference between the vine, highly esteemed for its fruits, and those wild trees of the יער. The great disadvantage of vine is apparent when it comes to the quality of its wood; the vine could for the most be used for fire (v. 4), and turns out to be useless for any craft. The comparison in this imagery could either be built on the two different vegetation formations (vineyard, cultivated area versus יער); or the proximity between יער and עץ הגפן could belong to the יער formation, in which case the vine should be understood as but a remnant of a once-cultivated area, that had been transformed back into a wild יער. [37]

Another fruit tree that is compared to the trees of the יער is the “apple” in Song 2:3: כתפוח בעצי היער. Does the phrase compare the apple, the cultivated tree, to other wild trees (non-fruit species)? Or is the “apple” itself to be understood as one of the trees of the יער.

  1. יער and כרמל (the cultivated area, e.g., Jer 2:7; specifically on the border of the desert, e.g., Jer 4:26). In a context of judgment, the phrase יערו וכרמלו in Isa 10:15–19 (v. 18) seems to refer to the two general vegetation formation regions (in this case in Assyria). [38] [39] Here, יערו וכרמלו serves as a merismatic construct to include the entire land. Both cultivated and wild areas will be consumed by a fire that will start in Israel and will cause horrendous damage to the Assyrians (vv. 17–18). [40]

The distinction between these two vegetation units is also highlighted in the communal prayer of Micah 7:14–17, where יער בתוך כרמל (“in a woodland surrounded by farmland,” v. 14) seems to designate the complete security felt in both. [41]

  1. Transformations of the יער. In two consolation prophecies in Isaiah 1–39, the יער is one of three phytogeographical regions, alongside כרמל, and once also alongside מדבר. [42] Isa 29:17: ושב לבנון לכרמל והכרמל ליער יחשב (“Lebanon will be transformed into farmland, and farmland accounted as forest [NJPS: as mere brush]”); Isa 32:15: והיה מדבר לכרמל וכרמל [והכרמל] ליער יחשב (“and wilderness is transformed into farmland, while farmland rates as forest [NJPS: as mere brush]”). Each of these verses requires a separate longer interpretation (see Exegetical Studies below). One common denominator to point out concerning the two is that in both the יער (or Lebanon) has positive qualities to contribute to the כרמל.

Taken together, these references validate the notion of יער as a wide-ranging term for uncultivated wild areas.

Function in Context

Realistic descriptions of יער in a geographical context may be found in the legal arena (Deut 19:5, a case of unintentional murder while entering the יער to cut trees for wood); and is reflected in the three narratives in the historiography (mentioned above): Josh 17:15, 18; 1 Sam 14:25, 26; and 2 Sam 18:6, 8, 17).

Metaphoric descriptions of the יער are primarily found in prophecy and poetry. As noted above, images that are built on an understanding of the יער as “forest or thickets” occur in judgment prophecies within Isaiah 1–39. The wind blowing through the trees serves to portray fear within Jerusalem under Ahaz (Isa 7:2). The judgment prophecies in Isaiah 9–10 use the image of fire capturing the thickets to describe the total destruction of Israel (Isa 9:17), as well as that of Judah’s enemies, mainly the Assyrian kings (10:17–18, 33–34); after such destruction, only a small amount of trees remains (Isa 10:19). The יער imagery in Isaiah 1-39 for the most part presumes the context of the high trees of Lebanon (Isa 21:13, the prophecy against Edom).

Three times in Isaiah 1–39, the agricultural area (the כרמל) is portrayed as being transformed into יער, understanding the transformation in a positive sense, as the optimal stage of transformation within the vegetation units (Isa 29:17; 32:15, 19). These references to the יער seem to reflect an awareness of the dangers and the harmful forces active in the יער, and thus portray either its transformation or its use for the benefit of God’s people.

Prophecies in Second Isaiah use יער only three times, in very different contexts and massages: in a consolation to Israel, Isa 44:21–23 (23); to ridicule the manufacture of idols made of wood, Isa 44:14. In the opening of one passage of exhortation, Isa 56:9–12, the prophet invites all חיתו שדי / חיתו יער, which symbolize the enemies of his people, to attack the flocks, as both the dogs and the shepherds have neglected their roles (v. 9). [43]

Five of the six occurrences of יער in Jeremiah are within judgment prophecies, four against Judah (Jer 5:6; 12:8; 21:14; 26:18); and one against Egypt (46:23). Once in Jeremiah, יער occurs in a parody of manufacturing idols from trees/wood, Jer 10:3.

Of the six references to יער in Ezekiel, two passages are proclamations of judgment upon the land of Israel, upon the community that remained in the land: Ezek 15:1–8 (twice); יער (השדה) נגב in, 21:1–5 (twice). The two other passages are prophecies of consolation addressed to the Judean returnees (34:25; 39:10). Ezekiel adapts Lev 26:3–13 and predicts the transformation of both the desert and the יערים into secured areas (Ezek 34:25); in the Gog prophecies, Ezekiel foresees a salvation that will no longer require cutting trees of the יער to produce weapons (39:10).

יער occurs in four of the Twelve Prophets: The one occurrence of יער in Hosea (2:14) portrays the destruction of agriculture as a regression to the יער and the שדה. Amos (3:4) mentions the lion in the יער as a symbol of God. Each of the three occurrences in Micah highlight different dimensions of the יער. Micah 3:12 (a judgment prophecy, parallel to Jer 26:18) speaks of the transformation of Zion into יער. Two other references to יער in Micah make positive projections for the future: Micah 5:7 is a consolation passage to the Remnant of Jacob in exile, identifying them as, as strong and powerful as the lion among the beasts of the יער; and 7:14 uses the proximity of the flora formations יער and כרמל in a pray to God to secure the safety of his people, which dwells in the יער. Finally, Zechariah 11:2 uses the destruction of the high trees of Lebanon and the Bashan to portray judgment.

Pairs and Constructions

עצי היער

חית היער             חית השדה

End Notes

[1] See Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute: 1965), 173, 412; and G. del Olmo Lete and J. Sanmartin, A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition (trans. and ed. W. G. E. Watson; 3d revised ed.; HdO; Leiden: Brill, 2015), 934–35.

[2] See the Mesha Stele, line 21: אנך בנתי קרחה חמת היערן וחמת העפל (“I built Kirho, the wall of Ya‘aran and the wall of the Ofel”); all these terms designate parts of Mesha’s building projects in Dibon. See Shmuel Ahituv (HaKetav VeHamiktav [Jerusalem: Bialik, 2012], 380, 390), who also suggested a parallel between this usage and Solomon’s בית יער הלבנון. Compare to Isaam K. H. Halayqu (A Comparative Lexicon of Ugaritic and Canaanite [AOAT 340; Münster: Ugarit Verlag, 2008], 357), who suggested that Mesha’s walls surrounded a “parkland,” thus a planted forest; and see below.

[3] Edward W. Lane, Arabic–English Lexicon (2 vols.; Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1877), 2.2953; Hans Wehr (A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (ed. K. M. Cowan; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz,  1966), 1081) added the following meanings: “covered with rock debris, cleft, riven”; “wild”; and thus “rough, hard, difficult.”

[4] See Naphtali H. Torczyiner, “Ya‘ar,” Encyclopedia Mikrait (8 vols.; Jerusalem: Bialik, 1958), 3.722–23 (Hebrew). This suggestion was adopted by Uzi Paz in his discussion of 2 Kgs 2:24; see his In the Land of the Bible (Ben Shemen: Modan, 2006), 33–39, esp. 34–35. Paz raised valid questions concerning the meaning of the term in this verse (ibid., 188–89): the phytogeographical conditions exclude the possibility of “forests or thickets” on the eastern slopes between Jericho and Beth El; and if יער always denotes “forests or thickets,” phrases like יער צומח עצים (Eccl 2:6) duplicate the reference to trees. See below for a different suggestion (n. 9 below). For arguments against this second etymology, see Josef Weitz, “The Forest and Its Trees in the Bible,” Sefer Josef Braslavi (ed. Y. Ben Shem et al.; Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1970), 352–69 [Hebrew].

[5] חורש occurs also in Isa 17:9: כעזובת החרש והאמיר; LXX reads:, ὃν τρόπον ἐγκατέλιπον οἱ Αμορραῖοι καὶ οἱ Ευαῖοι which reflects the reading (or interpretation): כעזובת האמרי והחוי. This reading was followed by George B. Gray, Isaiah IXXVII (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1912), 296, 301; Otto Kaiser, Isaiah 1339 (trans. R. A. Wilson; OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974), 80–81, and many others. The NJPS translation simply transcribes the two terms.

[6] P. Kyle McCarter (I Samuel [AB 9A; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980], 373–74) transcribed חורשה as Horesh and treated it as a place name, which literally means: “in the Wood”; he suggested that it should be identified with Khirbet Khoreisa, about 2 miles from Tell Ziph.

[7] LXX translates חורשים as καὶ ἐν τοῖς δρυμοῖς (“and in the forests”), using δρυμός, the very frequent LXX equivalent of יער (e.g., Deut 19:5; Josh 17:15; and see below, History of Identification). See n. 24 below, for חרשת הגוים (Judg 4:16).

[8] These three stages may be parallel to the order of ecological succession, climbing from small bushes (of up to 1–2 meters high), to small trees (3–4 meters high), and to the forest (higher trees of about 5–8 meters and more); see the definitions in section three below. See Qimhi’s explanation of how the fire catches first the thorns and “thin trees” before it catches the higher trees. Modern Hebrew terms the second level, the chaparral (or the French, Garrigue), חורש and the highest level, forest, thus, יער.

[9] The sense of יער as referring to the high trees of Lebanon is found in the narrative concerning in the royal building project in Jerusalem, בית יער הלבנון, built of cedars (1 Kgs 7:2; see below).

[10] The identifications of each of the trees mentioned here will be discussed in separate entries, although they seem to belong to the high trees of Lebanon. See Shalom M. Paul, Isaiah 4066 (ECC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 238.

[11] There is no linguistic need to find such constructions redundant, as suggested by Ben Zion Luria (“‘Go up to the Forest’ [Joshua 17:15],” in Sefer Moshe Zeidel [ed. A. Aliner, et al.; Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1962], 56–60 [Hebrew]), and embraced by Paz, In the Land of the Bible, 35; and see n. 5 above. Syntactically, יער וכל עץ בו (“O forests with all your trees!”) is a casus pendens, a compound nominal clause (משפט ייחוד), which, by placing the noun (יער) at the head of the phrase, gives it an emphatic force, see Gesenius-Kautsch, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, § 143; Paul Joüon and Takamitsu Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2006), § 156: “Appendix: Casus pendens before a nominal or verbal clause.” This assumed redundancy caused Luria (”Go Up,” 57–58) to argue that יער denotes a specific kind of soil, which is not a blessed and fruitful one, but rather poor and desolate. He based his suggestion on Hos 2:14 and on Jer 26:18; Micah 3:12; Ezek 34:25 and 15:2. Summarizing this section, he claimed that the יער denotes “a hilly-rocky soil that is not adequate to cultivation” (58). I would reject this explanation, since it is clearly unnecessary on the basis of the language; in addition, I will argue below that such an explanation is not required by the diverse contexts that יער is found within.

[12] See McCarter (Samuel I, 245) for the textual “corruptions” in v. 25a in reference to this phrase. BDB (421) and HALOT (423) took these occurrences of יער in reference to honey as a possible second homonymic root יער II, meaning “honeycomb” (1 Sam 14:26; Son 5:1; and יערת דבש in 1 Sam 14:27).

[13] For an architectural reconstruction, see Nogah Hareuveni, Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage (trans. Helen Frankley; Kiryat Ono: Neot Kedumim, 1984), 101–4.

[14] The distinction between יער צומח עצים and the fruit trees was notified by Ibn Ezra: “those that do not have fruits, like cedars and junipers (ארזים וברושים).” This distinction, however, has not been addressed in most of the critical commentaries, which understand this phrase to describe the thriving of the orchards, see Robert B. Y. Scott, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (AB 20; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965), 214–15; George E. Barton, Ecclesiastes (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993), 79–80; Tremper Longman, Ecclesiastes (NICOT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 90–91.

[15] Following Luria (“Go up to the Forest,” 56), Paz (In the Land of the Bible, 34) argued that ברא stands for pulling out the stones, turning rocky ground into cultivated land. The main and significant argument presented already by Luria is that ברא does not otherwise refer to cutting trees, which is generally expressed through the verbs גדע (e.g., Isa 9:9; 10:33), חטב (e.g. Deut 19:5), כרת (e.g., Judg 9:48; 1 Kgs 5:20). Nevertheless, commentators did accept ברא as meaning “cut down” or “clear out” trees; see already Rashi; see also Yehezkel Kaufmann, Joshua (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1963), 208 (in Hebrew); and see HALOT (154), which designate ברא III in the piel as “to cut down, to clear” for Josh 17: 15, 18; and for Ezek 21:23; 23:24.

[16] See Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2 (trans. J. D. Martin; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 316; Daniel Block, Ezekiel 2548 (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 464–66.

[17] Joseph Blenkinsopp (Isaiah 139 [AB 19; New York: Doubleday, 2000], 261–62) pointed out the similar metaphor in Isa 10:33–34 and 10:18–19; both use “deforestation” as Assyria’s punishment (which stands in contrast to the restoration of the Davidic dynasty in Isa 11:1–9).

[18] For the five similes, see Robert P. Carroll, Jeremiah (OTL; London: SCM Press, 1986), 770–71; and for a different rhetorical reading, see Jack R. Lundbom, Jeremiah 3752 (AB 21C; New York: Doubleday, 2004), 220–23. Lundbom (222) aptly presented the parallel between God’s instructions to the Babylonians against Judah (Jer 6:6) and his instructions to Babylon against Egypt in 46:22–23; in addition, he pays attention to the possible “forest” imagery in the context of Egypt (pp. 222–23). For William L. Holladay (Jeremiah 2 [Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986], 332), this metaphor “represents the pride of Egypt, perhaps her public buildings in which wood is used … .”

[19] LXX Luciani reads here ya‘ar Mahanaim, to ease the difficulty. Yehudah Elitzur and Yehuda Keel (Atlas Daat Mikra [Jerusalem: Mosad HaRav Kook, 1998], 222 [Hebrew]) explained this name either as recalling that the inhabitants were former Ephraimite refugees (Judg 12:4, 6) or as evoking Hebrew, which could be observed from Cis-Jordan west. This possibility was long entertained in critical scholarship, see P. Kyle McCarter (II Samuel [AB 9; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984], 405). However, Israel Rosenson (“‘True, It is Forest Land, but You Will Clear It and Possess It to Its Farthest Limits’: The Forest in the Mountain Regions and Its Place in the Bible,” in Samaria and Benjamin: Studies in Historical Geography [ed. Z. Erlich; 3 vols.; Ofra: Judah and Samaria College, 1993], 3:13–27, esp. 17–18 [Hebrew]) insisted on placing יער אפרים west of the Jordan.

[20] See the map in P. Kyle McCarter, I Samuel (AB 8; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980), 230.

[21] Suggestions for the location of יער חרת were based on the similarity to the Arab village Haras, northwest of Halhul, see Weitz, “The Forest and Its Trees,” 356.

[22] See Blenkinsopp (Isaiah 139, 32730) for a discussion of these difficult “enigmatic” verses.

[23] שדי יער (Ps 132:6) is oftentimes treated as similar to קרית יערים, the place where the Ark remained before it was brought up by David to the City of David (note that 1 Sam 7:1–2 mentions קרית יערים and a גבעה [LXX: ἐν τῷ βουνῷ, a hill or high place within it; and 2 Sam 6:3–4). For this common equation of שדי יער (translated as “the fields of Jaar”) with קרית יערים (e.g., Josh 18:14), see Mitchell  Dahood (Psalms III, 101150 [AB 17C; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970], 244), who aptly challenged the mention of אפרתה in this context, as the ark was never placed there. Erhard S. Gerstenberger (Psalms, Part 2 and Lamentations [FOTL XV; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001], 365) suggested that the combination of the two places designates an “abrupt” talk, or “cryptic story” told by the community.

[24]  חרשת הגוים, in Judg 4:16 is a place name translated also by LXX A as related to this meaning of “forest and thickets”: ἕως δρυμοῦ τῶν ἐθνῶν; compare, however, to LXX B, that suggests a transliteration: Αρισωθ τῶν ἐθνῶν. The identification of חרשת הגוים with Tell Ma‘amar was suggested by William F. Albright (1922), and there have been several other suggestions as well.

[25] Translated thus by Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 139, 432; compare to NJPS: “And the brush shall sink and vanish, even as the city is laid low.” For the difficulties raised by the transformation, and the conflict of this blessing with v. 19, see Jimmy J. M. Roberts, First Isaiah [Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989], 416–17), who suggested that this blessing was secondarily added in the Babylonian era (417); Marvin A. Sweeney (Isaiah 139 [FOTL XVI; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996], 412) suggested that the יער here stands for the Davidic dynasty and city for Jerusalem, and that the gloss dated to the Persian period.

[26] Weitz (“The Forest and Its Trees,” 358) plausibly conjectured (based on the present day vegetation formations in this area) that יער הנגב included tamarisks (אשל) and acacia (שיטה), just as he assumed that “the king of the trees” is (and was) the oak (אלון; Quercus).

[27] אלון (Quercus) and אלה (Pistacia palaestina) will be discussed separately in the DNI Bible.

[28] From the history of traditions point of view, Gen 35:4 has oftentimes been treated as reacting polemically against the holy status of the אלה of Shechem, as mainly constituted in Josh 24. See Yair Zakovitch, “The Tendency of the Story about the Burial of the Alien Gods in Schechem (Gen 35:2, 4),” Beit Mikra 25 (1980): 30–37 (Hebrew).

[29] Compare to Torczyiner’s suggestion that there were two homonymic roots collated in the HB, see n. 4 above.

[30] Rosenson (“True, It is Forest Land,” 23) argued that the overall perspective on the יער is as an enemy of the cultivated agricultural culture (p. 23).

[31] John P. Peters (“Critical Notes,” JBL 12 [1893]: 47–60, esp. 54–56) based his interpretation of the Hebrew meaning of שדה / שדי as originally designating “country” (e.g., שדי מואב, in Ruth 1:1) or “mountain” on the Akkadian parallel between šadú and mātu (p. 56; and see n. 35 below); he argued that those meanings were a remnant of the northern Hebrew dialect (55). Peters suggested refinements to these definitions as, “the country outside of the walls of a city, a camp, a house, or a garden” (Lev 14:7; 1 Sam 14:2; Jer 6:12; Exod 22:4) and “the wild and uninhabited country” (Exod 10:15; Job 39:15); and see Rosenson (“True, It is Forest Land,” 24), who for different reasons, argued that both שדה and יער could stand for open areas, empty of human residents.

[32] Compare to עץ השדה in Ezek 34:27, which adapts the blessing of Lev 26:4–5; both verses actually use this phrase to denote cultivated fruit trees.

[33] The meaning “highland, mountain,” for שדי goes back to Peters (“Critical Notes,” 54–56), who suggested that in four verses (Num 23:14; Judg 5:18; Deut 32:13; 2 Sam 1:21), the basic meaning of Hebrew שדה / שדי is “mountain,” based on the connection to the Akkadian šadú (CAD S); he noted a number of places where שדה occurs in parallelism to הר, צור and יער (Jer 17:3; 28:14; Ezek 21:2; Isa 56:9; Ps 50:11; 80:14; 96:12). Peters explained that this original understanding, shared by the Assyrians, Israelites, and Moabites, was then forgotten, as by the third century BCE the LXX translated all the occurrences of שדה / שדי as ἀγρός “field, country.” This definition as mountain has been repeated in some of the commentaries since; see Mitchell Dahood (Psalms II, 51100 [AB 17B; Garden City, NY: 1968], 358), who translated: “the highland and everything on it exult, then the woodland trees will shout for joy” (356).

[34] See n. 23 above.

[35] See n. 31 above; and הר אפרים said to be a יער (e.g., Josh 17:15). This parallel has long been presumed; see among others, Moshe Nadel, “Mountain Names Dependent on Hair: Journey on the Semantic Fields,” Leshonenu (1954): 51–60, esp. 55–56. As an extrabiblical parallel, note the Ugaritic pair y‘ir and pl. y‘irm // gpt g’r: ib b‘il thd y‘irm // gpt g’r  “the enemies of Ba‘al took to the woods // the slope (or the edge) of the mountain,” Baal, 1.4[51]:VII:35–36; Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, 379, 463.

[36] See Nili Wazana, “Anzu and Ziz: Great Mythical Birds in Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Rabbinic Traditions,” JANES 31 (2008): 111–35.

[37] Walther Zimmerli (Ezekiel 1 [trans. R E. Clements; Hermeneia; Philadelphiah: Fortress, 1979], 319–20) mentioned the important occurrences of the vine imagery, among them Isa 5:1–7; Hos 10:1; Ps 80:9–14, etc., in which the vine stands for the people of Israel. Ezekiel seems to build on this imagery and reverse it.

[38] Thus already Qimhi: “יער is the place of the large trees and cedars, and the כרמל is the cultivated place of fields and vineyards”; he explained the two terms in the historical context of the destruction of the Assyrian camp. Compare to Rashi ad loc. who explained כרמל as “high forest.”

[39] שמיר ושית is an Isaianic phrase, and occurs in Isa 5:6; 7:23, 24, 25; 9:17; 27:4; hence, the reversed phrase in 10:17 is exceptional.

[40] Blenkinsopp (Isaiah 139, 255) understood מנפש ועד בשר in 18ab to be a merism, which he translated as “root and branch.”

[41] As in his commentary to Isa 10:18, Qimhi explained יער בתוך כרמל as bringing the frightening and insecure יער to the same feeling of security that characterizes the כרמל. Rashi accepted the definition of כרמל here as a settled and secured area (compare to his explanation of the same term in Isa 10:18). Yair Hoffman (Micah [Mikra LeYisrael; Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Am Oved and Magnes, 2017], 302) did not find this explanation compelling.

[42] כרמל as the cultivated land in the border of the desert, and מדבר will be dealt separately.

[43] See Paul, Isaiah 40–66, 457–60.


Shmuel Ahituv, HaKetav VeHamiktav (Jerusalem: Bialik, 2012), 380, 390 (Hebrew).

George E. Barton, Ecclesiastes (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993).

Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 139 (AB 19; New York: Doubleday, 2000).

Daniel Block, Ezekiel 2548 (NICOT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998).

Mitchell Dahood, Psalms II, 51100 (AB 17B; Garden City, NY: 1968).

Mitchell Dahood, Psalms III, 101150 (AB 17C; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970).

Robert P. Carroll, Jeremiah (OTL; London: SCM Press, 1986).

Yehudah Elitzur and Yehuda Keel (Atlas Daat Mikra [Jerusalem: Mosad HaRav Kook, 1998] (Hebrew).

Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute: 1965).

George B. Gray, Isaiah IXXVII (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1912).

Isaam K. H. Halayqu, A Comparative Lexicon of Ugaritic and Canaanite (AOAT 340; Münster: Ugarit Verlag, 2008).

Nogah Hareuveni, Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage (trans. Helen Frankley; Kiryat Ono: Neot Kedumim, 1984), 101–4.

Yair Hoffman, Micah (Mikra LeYisrael; Tel Aviv: Am Oved; Jerusalem: The Hebrew University  Magnes Press, 2017) (Hebrew).

William L. Holladay, Jeremiah 2 (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986).

Otto Kaiser, Isaiah 1339 (trans. R. A. Wilson; OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974).

Yehezkel Kaufmann, Joshua (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1963) (Hebrew).

Edward W. Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (2 vols.; Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1877), II.2953.

Tremper Longman, Ecclesiastes (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998).

Jack R. Lundbom, Jeremiah 3752 (AB 21C; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 2004).

Ben Zion Luria, “‘Go up to the Forest’ (Joshua 17:15),” in Sefer Moshe Zeidel (ed. A. Aliner, et al.; Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1962), 56–60 (Hebrew).

P. Kyle McCarter, I Samuel (AB 9A; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980).

Moshe Nadel, “Mountain Names Dependent on Hair: Journey on the Semantic fields,” Leshonenu (1954): 51–60 (Hebrew).

G. del Olmo Lete and J. Sanmartin, A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition (trans and ed. W. G. E. Watson; 3d revised ed.; HdO; Leiden: Brill, 2015).

Shalom M. Paul, Isaiah 4066 (ECC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012).

Uzi Paz, In the Land of the Bible (Ben Shemen: Modan, 2006), 33–39, 188–89.

Israel Rosenson, “‘True, It is Forest Land, but You Will Clear It and Possess It to Its Farthest Limits’: The Forest in the Mountain Regions and Its Place in the Bible,” in Samaria and Benjamin: Studies in Historical Geography (ed. Z. Erlich; 3 vols.; Ofra: Judah and Samaria College, 1993], 3:13–27 (Hebrew).

Robert B. Y. Scott, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (AB 20; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965).

Naphtali H. Torczyiner, “Ya‘ar,” Encyclopedia Mikrait (Vols. I–VIII; Jerusalem: Bialik, 1958), III.722–23 (Hebrew).

Nili Wazana, “Anzu and Ziz: Great Mythical Birds in Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Rabbinic Traditions,” JANES 31 (2008): 111–35.

Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (ed. K. M. Cowan; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1966), 1081.

Josef Weitz, “The Forest and Its Trees in the Bible,” Sefer Josef Braslavi (ed. Y. Ben Shem et al.; Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1970), 352–69 (Hebrew).

Yair Zakovitch, Song of Songs (Mikra LeYisrael; Tel Aviv: Am Oved; Jerusalem: The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 1992) (Hebrew).

Yair Zakovitch, “The Tendency of the Story about the Burial of the Alien Gods in Schechem (Gen 35:2, 4),” Beit Mikra 25 (1980): 30–37 (Hebrew).

Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 1 (trans. R. E. Clements; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979).

Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2 (trans. J. D. Martin; Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983).


Dictionaries and Grammars



Gesenius-Kautsch, Gesenius Hebrew Grammar.

Paul Joüon and Takamitsu Muraoka, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2006).

Contributor: Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, DNI Bible Project Leader, Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv University, Israel

History of Identification

Identification History Table

Biological Information