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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

There Is

Yêsh (יֵשׁ, Strong's #3426), “there is; substance; he/she/ it is/are.” Cognates of this word are attested in Ugaritic, Aramaic, Akkadian, Amorite, and Arabic. It appears about 137 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

This particle is used substantively only in Prov. 8:21: “… That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.”

In all other appearances the word asserts existence with emphasis. Sometimes yêsh appears with a predicate following, as it does in Gen. 28:16: “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” In a few passages the word is used as a response to an inquiry: “Is the seer here? And they [the young maidens] answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you …” (1 Sam. 9:11-12). Used absolutely the word can mean “there is/are/was/were,” as it does in Gen. 18:24 (the first biblical appearance): “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city …?” In many contexts yêsh used in framing questions or protestations suggests doubt that the matter queried exists or is to be found: “As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not” (1 Kings 18:10). This is especially clear in Jer. 5:1, where God commands the prophet to go and seek “if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth.…”

There are several other special uses of yêsh. Used with the particle ‘im and a participle, it emphasizes abiding intention: “And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go [literally, if there surely is a prospering of my way; or if it surely is that you intend to prosper] …” (Gen. 24:42). Possession is sometimes indicated by yêsh plus the preposition le: “And Esau said, I have enough, my brother …” (Gen. 33:9). Used with the infinitive and the preposition le, yêsh signifies possibility—Elisha told the Shunammite woman: “… Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host [is it possible that you want me to speak a word in your behalf to]?” (2 Kings 4:13).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'There Is'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

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