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What Does ‘Bore’ Mean In The Bible?

The word ‘bore’ has several meanings throughout the Bible depending on the context and translation used. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: In most cases in the Bible, ‘bore’ refers to piercing, digging, or creating a hole in something.

Meaning of ‘Bore’ in Hebrew Bible Translations

‘Bore’ as Piercing or Digging a Hole

The Hebrew verb “nakar” which is often translated as “bore” in English Bible versions has the primary meaning of “pierce” or “dig.” It is used in contexts referring to digging wells or tunnels. For example, in Exodus 21:6, it refers to piercing the ear of a servant.

In 2 Kings 12:9, it refers to digging a hole in the temple wall to collect offerings. The imagery conveys the forceful nature of piercing or digging into something to create an opening.

Some key biblical passages using “bore” in this sense include:

  • Isaiah 51:1 – “Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.”
  • Habakkuk 2:19 – “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise!’ Can it teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet there is no breath at all inside it.”
  • ‘Bore’ as Creating an Opening

    Closely related to the meaning of “piercing” is the use of “bore” to refer to opening or hollowing out something. The focus is on the resulting void or empty space created within the object being bored into. For example:

  • Ezekiel 8:8 – “Then He said to me, “Son of man, now dig (bore) through the wall.” So I dug (bored) through the wall and saw a doorway there.”
  • Some other biblical verses utilize “bore” in the sense of hollowing out or opening up:

  • Exodus 28:11 – Instructions for the priest’s ephod called for settings of gold “engraved like signet rings” using the skill of a jeweler “to bore settings.”
  • 1 Kings 6:27 – Solomon’s temple had “cherubim and palm trees” carved into the walls and “he overlaid them with gold fitted upon the carved work.”
  • The end result of boring/piercing was to create spaces to place gold or other decorations to beautify the priestly garments or the temple.

    ‘Bore’ as Carrying or Lifting

    A third nuance for “bore” in Hebrew is the sense of carrying or lifting up. Several prophetic passages utilize this imagery:

  • Isaiah 46:3 – Speaking of the burden of carrying idols, the verse notes “I have borne you from birth and carried you from the womb.”
  • Isaiah 63:9 – In referring to God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt it says, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”
  • The carrying sense of “bore” highlights the weight and burden being lifted. God is depicted as carrying the heavy weight of His people in times of distress.

    Meaning of ‘Bore’ in Greek Bible Translations

    ‘Bore’ as Piercing

    The original Hebrew and Greek words translated as “bore” carry the meaning of piercing, puncturing, or penetrating. For example, in Exodus 21:6, the Hebrew verb ra’ah means to pierce or drill a hole. When Greek translators rendered this verb into Greek, they used the word titysso, meaning “to prick or punch holes”.

    Similarly, in Isaiah 51:9, the Hebrew verb maqa connotes piercing or tunneling, translated in the Greek Septuagint as exorysso – “to dig through”.

    Thus, many uses of “bore” in Bible verses evoke the imagery of driving through or tunneling into hard material. The physical act of boring through stone or wood serves as a metaphor for God accomplishing spiritual feats or overcoming enemies.

    This symbolizes the irresistible, penetrating power of God to break through barriers. Just as a drill bores through solid rock, God’s divine action penetrates situations that seem impossible to human strength.

    ‘Bore’ as Carrying a Burden

    Some instances of “bore” in scripture communicate the meaning of carrying or enduring a heavy load. For example, Isaiah 53:4 states “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”. The Hebrew verb nasa denotes bearing a burden in the sense of taking on troubles or sins.

    The matching Greek word in the Septuagint is phero, also signifying to carry or endure hardship.

    This demonstrates how Jesus bore human transgressions on Himself up to the cross, just as sacrifices of old symbolically carried the people’s sins. Similarly, believers are urged to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), coming alongside struggling brothers and sisters to provide support.

    So while “bore” can mean physical piercing or drilling, it also encompasses spiritual, emotional burdens borne for others.


    Key Bible Verses Using the Word ‘Bore’

    The word “bore” is used in a few notable passages in the Bible. Here are some key verses that utilize this term:

    Isaiah 51:5

    “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, And My arms will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait for Me, And for My arm they will wait expectantly.”

    In this passage, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord bringing justice to all people. The Hebrew word translated here as “wait expectantly” can also mean “hope in” or “look earnestly for.” It carries the sense of eager anticipation for something good that is coming.

    Ezekiel 12:7

    “So I did as I was commanded. By day I brought out my baggage like the baggage of an exile. Then in the evening I dug through the wall with my hands; I went out in the dark and bore the burden on my shoulder in their sight.”

    Here Ezekiel acts out a prophetic sign against rebellious Israel. Under cover of darkness, he digs through the city wall bearing bags on his shoulder, dramatizing the soon-coming exile of the people when they will go into captivity.

    Habakkuk 1:3

    “Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises.”

    The prophet Habakkuk cries out to God over the injustice and trouble he sees around him. He is burdened by the sin of the society in which he lives. This passage reveals how even godly people can struggle under the weight of difficult circumstances.

    While the specific word “bore” is not abundant, these examples demonstrate biblical characters grappling with burdens of anticipation, responsibility, and hardship. Many other passages echo these themes of waiting patiently on God, bearing obediently our duties, and casting our cares upon the Lord through prayer.

    The Symbolic Meaning of ‘Boring’ in the Bible

    Boring as Penetration

    In several instances in the Bible, the concept of “boring” refers to penetrating or piercing something. For example, in Exodus 21:6, a boring awl is used to pierce the ear of a slave who voluntarily chooses to remain with his master.

    This act symbolizes the slave’s commitment to lifelong service. So in this sense, boring has the meaning of permanent penetration and dedication.

    The great prophet Isaiah speaks of a day when God will respond to the cry of the destitute people by bringing streams through the desert and pools of water through dry land. Isaiah 41:18 states that on that day, God “will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.”

    The Hebrew verb used there for “make flow” can also mean to “bore” or “dig.” So in this context, boring refers to God penetrating dry desert land in order to bring forth water and new life.

    Boring as Opening Up

    At times in scripture, the idea of boring or piercing leads to something being opened up. For instance, Ezekiel 8:8 states that Ezekiel bore an opening through the wall of the temple, exposing hidden idols detested by God. Here, Ezekiel’s boring leads to uncovering what is shameful and hidden.

    Likewise, Habakkuk 2:19 mocks the fashioning of idols by a workman who uses tools to bore or dig through wood and stone. The prophet essentially tells the idol maker, “How can you worship what you yourself opened up?”

    In this case, boring through an object exposes its emptiness and inability to hear or save.

    Boring as Taking On A Burden

    A third nuance of “boring” in scripture relates to taking on obligation or responsibility. For example, Exodus 21:5-6 says that if a slave’s ear is bored with an awl, indicating his desire to stay with his master, “then his master must take him before the judges.

    He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.”

    Here, the boring ritual symbolizes the master taking on a lifelong commitment to care for the slave. So in this situation, boring relates to taking on responsibility.

    Likewise, Psalm 40:6 mentions the “openings” or “borings” of the ears that God created for obedience to His will. The idea is that by creating ears, God has obligated Himself to communicate His desires, which we in turn are obligated to follow. So the concept of boring here connects to responsibility and service.


    In conclusion, the word ‘bore’ has a few main meanings in Bible translations, most commonly carrying the sense of piercing, digging, creating an opening, or carrying a heavy load. The physical act of boring or digging holes symbolically represents penetrating barriers, gaining deeper access to truth, or taking on weighty responsibilities for God’s glory.

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