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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Form

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Yâtsar (יָצַר, Strong's #3335), “to form, mold, fashion.” A word common to Hebrew in all its periods, yâtsar is used in modern Hebrew in the sense of “to produce,” or “to create.” The word is found just over 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first occurrence in the Old Testament is in Gen. 2:7: “… God formed man of the dust of the ground,” reflecting the basic meaning of “molding” something to a desired shape.

Yâtsar is a technical potter’s word, and it is often used in connection with the potter at work (Isa. 29:16; Jer. 18:4, 6). The word is sometimes used as a general term of “craftsmanship or handiwork,” whether molding, carving, or casting (Isa. 44:9-10, 12).

The word may be used to express the “forming of plans in one’s mind (Ps. 94:20; KJV, “frameth”). Yâtsar is frequently used to describe God’s creative activity, whether literally or figuratively. Thus, God “formed” not only man (Gen. 2:7-8) but the animals (Gen. 2:19). God also “formed” the nation of Israel (Isa. 27:11; 45:9, 11); Israel was “formed” as God’s special servant even from the womb (Isa. 44:2, 24; 49:5). While yet in the womb, Jeremiah was “formed” to be a prophet (Jer. 1:5). God “formed” locusts as a special visual lesson for Amos (Amos 7:1); the great sea monster, Leviathan, was “formed” to play in the seas (Ps. 104:26).

The concreteness of ancient Hebrew thinking is vividly seen in a statement such as this: “I form the light, and create darkness …” (Isa. 45:7). Similarly, the psalmist confessed to God: “… Thou hast made summer and winter” (Ps. 74:17). God “formed” the spirit of man (Zech. 12:1), as well as the heart or mind of man (Ps. 33:15). Yâtsar is used to express God’s “planning” or “preordaining” according to His divine purpose (Isa. 22:11; 46:11).

Almost one half of the uses of this word in the Old Testament are found in the Book of Isaiah, with God as the subject of most of them.

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Form'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/f/form.html. 1940.

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