Reconsidering the semantics of the "inclination" (yeṣer) in classical biblical Hebrew

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


It is widely acknowledged that the far-reaching development of yeṣer as a theological and anthropological concept has little to do with the use of this word in the Hebrew Bible. Still, it is often asserted that the link between the biblical employment of yeṣer and its demonized hypostases in later literature is anchored in a semantic change that took place already in Biblical Hebrew (BH). Following earlier Bible scholars, Ishay Rosen-Zvi has recently summarized the scholarly consensus at the opening of his comprehensive study, Demonic Desires: “The root יצר […] denotes [in the Hebrew Bible] the creating, fashioning, and designing of objects (mostly made of clay). … The noun indicates the result of this craft: an object or a creature (Hab 2:18).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Evil Inclination in Early Judaism and Christianity
Place of PublicationCambridge, United Kingdom
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781108470827
StatePublished - 2021

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Bible -- Language, style
  • Hebrew language, Biblical -- Terms and phrases
  • Yetzer hara (Judaism)


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