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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

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Rest, Remain
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A. Verb.

Shûb (שׁוּב, Strong's #7725), “to return or go back, bring back.” This verb occurs in several Semitic languages (not in Phoenician-Punic and Ethiopic) including Ugaritic (1550-1200 B.C.) and in all periods of Hebrew. It occurs about 1,060 times in biblical Hebrew and about 8 times in biblical Aramaic (in the form tub).

The basic meaning of the verb is movement back to the point of departure (unless there is evidence to the contrary). In the first occurrence of this verb God told Adam that he and Eve would “eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19).

Used in this emphasis, shûb can be applied specifically of returning along a path already traversed: “So Esau returned that day on his way unto Seir” (Gen. 33:16). The word can mean “turn away from,” as in Ps. 9:3: “When mine enemies are turned back … ,” or “reverse a direction,” as in 2 Kings 20:10: “… Let the shadow return backward ten degrees.” It can mean the opposite of going out, as when the raven Noah sent forth was constantly going “to and fro” (Gen. 8:7)—this phrase, however, may also mean merely constant movement; the raven went about constantly “here and there” (cf. NASB). In Gen. 8:3 the word is used of the receding of the flood water; the water went (halak) down (shûb, “returned”) steadily.

The verb can also mean “to follow after”: “Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister-in-law” (Ruth 1:15).

Shûb can imply the cessation of something. In this sense, the word can imply “to go away or disappear”: “And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away” (Gen. 27:44). It can refer to the initiation of the cessation of something. In some cases violence is the means of bringing something to cease: “How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants …” (2 Kings 18:24). In Isa. 47:10 the verb implies both turning away and destroying: “Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee.…”

In the case of spiritually returning (metaphorically) to the Lord, shûb can mean “turning away from” following Him (Num. 14:43), “turning from” pursuing evil (1 Kings 8:35), and “to return” to Him and obey Him (Deut. 30:2). The verb can also be used in close relation to another verb to indicate the repetition of an action presented by the other verb: “… I will again feed and keep thy flock” (Gen. 30:31).

B. Nouns.

Meshûbâh (מְשֻׁבָה, Strong's #4878), “backturning; apostasy.” This noun occurs 12 times, and it refers to “backsliding” in Hos. 14:4: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”

Other nouns related to the verb shûb occur less frequently. Teshubah is found 8 times, and it may mean “return” or “beginning” (1 Sam. 7:17) and “answer” (Job 21:34). Shubah occurs once to mean “coming back” or “turning back” (Isa. 30:15).

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