Old Testament Hebrew Lexical Dictionary
Strong's #2132 - זַיִת
1160) tz (זת ZT) AC: ? CO: Olive AB: ?: The pictograph z represents the harvest. The t represents a mark or sign. Combined these mean "harvest of the sign". The oil from the olive fruit was used as an anointing oil, as a sign, for those to hold a kingly or priestly office. The oil is also used as a medicinal ointment.
Jeff Brenner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center Used by permission of the author.
זַיִת constr. זֵית, pl. זֵיתִים m.
(1) an olive, olive tree, Judges 9:9 more fully called זֵית שֶׁמֶן Deuteronomy 8:8. שֶׁמֶן זַיִת oil of olives, Exodus 27:20, 30:24 Leviticus 24:2. הַר הַזֵּיתִים the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:4, regarded as holy even in the Old Test., 2 Samuel 15:30; 1 Kings 11:7. [These passages prove nothing of the kind; if the latter refer at all to the Mount of Olives, any such reverence would have been idolatrous.]
(2) an olive, the fruit. עֵץ הַזַּיִת the olive tree, Haggai 2:19. דָּרַךְ זַיִת he trode the olives, Micah 6:15.
(3) an olive branch, an olive leaf, Zechariah 4:11 compare verse 12 Zechariah 4:12.
A similar word is used in all the cognate languages: Syriac ܙܝܰܬܐܳ olive tree, Arab. زَيْتُ oil, زَيْتُونُ olive, Eth. ዘደት፡ oil and olive; hence it was introduced into the Coptic, in which ϫⲱⲓⲧ is an olive tree; and into the Spanish, in which there is azeyte, oil.
Etymologists acknowledge themselves to be ignorant of the origin of this word; which, it appears to me, should be sought in the root זָהָה (which see), and زيى to shine, زَيَّى to adorn [“زَيَّى (for زهّى) to adorn, prop. to cause to shine, V. to be clothed, adorned”]; whence زِىُّ a fair or splendid form, [“ornament, prop. splendour; see Castell. p. 1040”]; Heb. זִו, Ch. זִיו: so that זַיִת prop. should be feminine, from the form זַי, زَىُّ, and denote brightness. This might be either referred to the freshness and beauty of the olive tree (comp. אוֹרוֹת), or, as I prefer, to the brightness of oil (compare יִצְהָר oil, from צָהַר to be bright, and זָהָב Zechariah 4:12, of clear and brilliant oil). After the true origin of the word had been forgotten, the letter ת was taken for a radical; and thus זַיִת is of the masculine gender, and from it in Arabic a new verb has been formed, زات to preserve in oil, II. to lay up oil.
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