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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Go Out, Go Forth

A. Verb.

Yâtsâ' (יָצָא, Strong's #3318), “to come forth, go out, proceed, go forth, bring out, come out.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages, including biblical Aramaic and Hebrew. It occurs in every period of Hebrew; the Old Testament attests the word about 1,070 times.

Basically, this word means “movement away” from some point, even as bo’ (“come”) means movement toward some point. Yâtsâ' is the word used of “coming forth”—the observer is outside the point of departure but also speaks from the perspective of that departing point. For example, Gen. 2:10 (the first occurrence of the word) reports that a river “came forth” or “flowed out” from the garden of Eden.

In comparison to this continuing “going out,” there is the one-time (punctiliar) “coming forth,” as seen when all the animals “came out” of the ark (Gen. 9:10). Thus, Goliath the champion of the Philistines “went forward” from the camp to challenge the Israelites to a duel (1 Sam. 17:4). In the art of ancient warfare, a battle was sometimes decided on the basis of two duelers. This verb may be used with “come” (bo’) as an expression for “constant activity.” The raven Noah sent out “went forth to and fro” (literally, “in and out”) until the water had abated (Gen. 8:7). Various aspects of a man’s personality may “go forth,” indicating that they “leave” him. When one’s soul “departs” the body, the person dies (Gen. 35:18). When one’s heart “departs,” he loses all inner strength and confidence (Gen. 42:28).

Yâtsâ' has a number of special uses. It can be used of “giving birth” (Exod. 21:22) or of “begetting” descendants (Gen. 17:6). The “going forth” of a year is its close, as in the harvest season (Exod. 23:16). Another special use of this verb has to do with “moving out” a camp for either a military campaign (1 Sam. 8:20) or some other purpose (Deut. 23:10). “Going and coming” may also be used of “fighting” in wars. Toward the end of his life Moses said he was unable to “come and go” (Deut. 31:2; cf. Josh. 14:11). He probably meant that he could not engage in war (Deut. 31:3). On the other hand, this phrase can refer to the normal activities of life (1 Kings 3:7). Yâtsâ' also has a cultic use, describing the “movement” of the priest in the tabernacle; bells were attached to the hem of the priest’s robe so the people could follow his actions (Exod. 28:35).

When applied to God, the action of “going out” only infrequently refers to His “abandoning” a certain location. In Ezek. 10:18, the glory of the Lord “left” the “threshhold of the [temple], and stood over the cherubim,” and eventually departed the temple altogether (Ezek. 10:19). Often this verb pictures the Lord as “going forth” to aid His people, especially in texts suggesting or depicting His appearances among men (theophanies; cf. Judg. 5:4). In Egypt, the Lord “went out” into the midst of the Egyptians to smite their first born (Exod. 11:4). The Lord’s departure-point in such cases is variously represented as Seir (Judg. 5:4) and His heavenly dwelling place (Mic. 1:3), although it is often unexpressed.

The messenger of God also “goes forth” to accomplish specific tasks (Num. 22:32). God’s providential work in history is described by Laban and Bethuel as “the thing proceedeth from the Lord” (Gen. 24:50). Also, “going out” from the Lord are His hand (Ruth 1:13), His Word (Isa. 55:11), His salvation (Isa. 51:5), His justice (Isa. 45:23), and His wisdom (Isa. 51:4).

Yâtsâ' is not used of God’s initial creative act, but only of His using what already exists to accomplish His purposes, such as His causing water to “come out” of the rock (Deut. 8:15). Because yâtsâ' can mean “to bring forth,” it is often used of “divine deliverance,” as the One who “bringeth me forth from mine enemies” (2 Sam. 22:49) “into a large place” (2 Sam. 22:20). One of the most important formulas in the Old Testament uses the verb yâtsâ': “the Lord [who] brought [Israel] out of [Egypt]”; He brought them from slavery into freedom (Exod. 13:3).

B. Nouns.

Môtsâ' (מֹצָא, Strong's #4161), “place of going forth; that which comes forth; going forth.” The word occurs 23 times. "  is a word for “east” (cf. Ps. 19:6), where the sun rises (“goes forth”). The word also represents the “place of departure” or “exit” from the temple in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek. 42:11), and the “starting point” of a journey (Num. 33:2). Môtsâ' may also refer to that which “comes forth,” for example, an “utterance” (Num. 30:13), and the “going forth” of the morning and evening, the dawn and dusk (Ps. 65:8). Finally, the word can represent the “actual going forth” itself. So Hosea says that the Lord’s “going forth” to redeem His people is as certain as the sunrise (6:3).

Tôtsâ'âh (תֹּצָאָה, Strong's #8444), “departure; place of departure.” The word tôtsâ'âh can connote both the source or place of “departure” (Prov. 4:23) and the actual “departure” itself (“escape,” Ps. 68:20). However, the word may also represent the extremity of a territory or its “border”—the place where one departs a given territory (Josh. 15:7).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Go Out, Go Forth'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/g/go-out-go-forth.html. 1940.

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