The Semantics of "بور" (/bur/) in the Quran and the Sacred Jewish-Christian Texts

Mahmoud Makvand / Assistant Professor of the Department of Quran and Hadith Sciences at Kharazmi University                                                                                                                  

Received: 2019/02/03 - Accepted: 2019/07/01



The word “بور” twice and its root (ب و ر) have been used five times in the Quran. The commentators and translators of the Quran have generally regarded the word as perished, corrupted, and rotten. These concepts are problematic verbally and in relation to the category of determinism. On the other hand, some Quranic scholars believe that the word is derived from other languages. Therefore, in the present article, we have first rooted the word in the Semitic languages, with emphasis on Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac; then, based on this rooting, we have discussed the meanings of the word in the Quran and the Jewish-Christian sacred texts and by providing a fairly detailed account of its implications, we have shown that the term has a real meaning in the texts mentioned; i.e. a wasted land or an implantable land, and has a metaphorical meaning, that is, uneducated, ignorant, or undeveloped. In addition, we have referred to the concept of conceptual metaphors and explained the relation between the true and metaphorical meanings of the word, and have stated that in this conceptual metaphor the fertility and counterpoint, or the opposite, of sterility and inertia are highlighted. Finally, based on the above analysis, we have identified the combined presence of both meanings in the texts as having arisen from a systematic linguistic phenomenon that rejects the statement of the word being derived from other languages.


Keywords: بور, Quranic Singularities, Semitic Languages, Conceptual Metaphor, Sacred Jewish–Christian Texts.