E 0985          WEALDAN, WIELD

The Old English verb " wealdan " and English " to wield " are of Germanic origin .

H 0230            ל ע ב

Concept of root : lord, master, to rule

Hebrew word


English meanings

ל ע ב


master, lord, to rule

Related English words

Old English : wealdan ; to wield

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ל ע ב


master, lord

b . (‛) . l


βελτερος (root β λ)


the superior

b . l  (t )

Old English


to rule, dominate

w . l  (d)


to wield

to wield

w . l (d)




to be strong, powerful, have influence and power

v . l












might, rule, power ;

to rule, control, dominate

v . l



Proto-Semitic *BA ‛AL --- *BAL Indo-European



The Greek word is a comparative of a dissappeared word meaning "powerful and good". This makes it similar to the Hebrew root, though this has inserted a vowel-stopping or root-splitting Ayin , ע.


In Germanic, Old English has its sisters in many tongues . The initial W they all share, may be seen as corresponding with the Greek and Hebrew B .


  • Greek has another interesting word that may have some relation to Hebrew "ba‛al" and meaning "king" : βασιλευς , basileus. The etymology of this term is unknown, but it may have been developed by inserting into the root "B L"an S where the Hebrews have inserted an Ayin. This remains far from certain though, also because the word "ba‛al" gives some questions.


  • Ba‛al , as the readers of the Bible know, is the title the other Semites that surrounded the Jews, gave to God. Also the non-semitic Philistines had adopted that term. This tallies nicely with the way English Christians talk about "The Lord". As The Lord is supposed to be in the High Heaven, the word "ba‛al" also might mean "The High One". "‛Al" in Semitic indicates "high" and "B" is a localization. Probably also the muslim name for God, which is Allah, follows the same concept.


  • Proto-Semitic. This root is used in many Semitic languages with the same meanings as Hebrew or with related ones as in Arabic "ba‛ala = to own, possess (especially a woman or women)" and in OS Arabic "to rule over, own". Akkadian has "belu = to rule over, own". Proto-Semitic is generally considered as having had already this root "*ב ע ל *ba 'al, B Ayin L" .


  • Germanic Besides the words already mentioned in the Table, we see in Germanic with the meanings of "to rule, exercise power and authority" :


    Gothic valdan, gawaldan


    Old Saxon waldan


    Old Frisian walda


    Old Norse valda


    Old High German waltan



    It is historically understandable that words with this root have taken as well a meaning of "violence", as in Dutch "geweld". This seems to have begun in Middle Dutch, with "gewelt = might, rule, force, violence".


  • Proto-Germanic is supposed to have the verb " * waldan " as a predecessor of our English words . In modern German one sees the verbs " walten " and " verwalten " , with the messages of " to rule " , " to govern ". This consonant "T" instead of a original "D", is a specific German development, as in many cases. Middle High German still had both "walden" and "walten". Gothic had "waldan" = "to rule" and the Nordic languages show an initial "V", as in Old Norse and Norwegian "valda", the pronunciation of which is very similar to that of the "W" in the other Germanic tongues. The obvious conclusion for Proto-Germanic is indeed "*W A LD-".


  • Russian gave the name Vladikawkaz to the town from where this mountainous region was to be kept under control. The verb is " владеть , wladetj, to control, dominate ". And Vladiwostok is the town that controls the "East". Russian, comparable to Proto-Germanic "*W A LD", with a metathesis probably had "*W L AD-.


  • Indo-European and Hebrew. We still have to see if we can understand why Hebrew " ba‛al " does not have a dental , whereas most Indo-European words have a final D or T . But there are words that do not have that dental. An important example is Old-Norse "olla " a verbal form meaning " ruled " , imperfectum . Norwegian scholars say this form " olla " has not been derived from " valda ", the related verb , but goes back an to an older origin .


    A rather common opinion says that before Proto-Germanic , in fact in the Indo-European group , there was a root " * wel " , without final dental . And this root is also seen as having given the Latin verb " valere " . This is not fully conclusive , as we lack in " valere = be strong , powerful " also the precise concept of " to rule " , but its meanings come near to this .


    As to the difference between Hebrew B and the Germanic and Latin V or W , we should point at the Greek B and the Russian " в " that are both pronounced as W , but that originated from a B .


  • Indo-European Old Indian has "bála- = might, power, strength", indicating an origin of "B A L-.


    "Slavic" had probably "*W L AD-" as Russian and other modern languages and the words for "great" as Russian "боьшой , bolshoy, great, large, big, tall, long " are at the best only far related, even if they are used sometimes figuratively to indicate more important persons, as is done also in other tongues with "great" and "grand".


    Greek is seen with an original root meaning "power" : "*B E L-I-", though it should rather have been "*B E L-".


    Latin is a special case, in that there is the word "debilis = weak", that is explained as "de- bel- is", or "enfeebled, deprived of power". Thus there would have been for the concept of "power" a form similar to Greek : B E L-", of which it is dificult to guess the weight of the "E", probably "È". In entry E 0244 (Hebrew 0303) we express serious doubts about this explanation for "debilis".


    Celtic offers an Old Irish "adbal = powerful", that points to a "B A L-".


    Indo-European may have had a basic form "B A L-", expressing "power" in more senses.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 23/12/2012 at 14.26.55