Serpent נחשׁ
(2,578 words)

I. Name

In MT the generic word for a venomous snake or serpent is nāḥāš (31 times). In Semitic the only certain cognate noun is Ugaritic nḥš, ‘snake’ (numerous times in KTU 1.100 and 1.107), with a possible cognate in Arabic ḥanaš, ‘snake’ (via metathesis and an altered sibilant). The origin of the word may be onomatopoeic, derived from the hissing sound of a snake. Other words for snakes in MT include peten (cf. Ug. bṯn, Akk. bašmu and bšn in Deut. 33.22; Bashan), śārāp (lit. ‘burning one…

Cite this page
R. S. Hendel, “Serpent נחשׁ”, in: Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible Online, Edited by: Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter W. van der Horst. Consulted online on 22 January 2019 <>

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