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« Theotek Podcast #22: What's New? | Main | This Week in Accordance (2015.05.02) »

Biblical Word for the Day: Shigionoth (שִׁגְיֹנוֹת)

I'm teaching on Habakkuk 3 at church this morning. Verse 1 reads

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. According to Shigionoth” (Hab 3:1, HCSB)

What does Shigionoth (שִׁגְיֹנוֹת) mean? Well, Shigionoth is the plural of the Hebrew Shiggaion (שִׁגָּיוֹן), and it refers to a musical term that relates to how a psalm should be performed. The same term shows up in Psalm 7, for instance.

However, in trying to find out exactly how the direction of Shigionoth/Shiggaion should be understood, I ran into not a whole lot of agreement. Here are just two examples from a number of descriptions I found when consulting various Bible dictionaries in Accordance:

SHIGGAION (Heb. šiggāyôn),
SHIGIONOTH (šig̱yōnôṯ)
A term appearing in the superscription of Ps. 7 and in a plural form at Hab. 3:1, which is the superscription of a psalm (vv. 2–19). The term may indicate that these are songs to be performed in a lament or dirge style (cf. Akk. šegu, “lament”) or that their structure and performance are varied from part to part (cf. Heb. šāg̱â, “wander”).
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “SHIGGAION SHIGIONOTH,” 1210.


SHIGGAION (Shı̆ gā′ ŏn) Transliteration of a Hebrew technical term used in psalm titles (Ps. 7; Hab. 3). Suggested translations include “frenzied” or “emotional.” Some think the basic meaning is “to wander” in reference to a wandering style of thought or melody or to the unconnected expressions of a lament.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, s.v. “SHIGGAION,” 1486.

Based on the context of Habakkuk, the element of lament or dirge suggested from the Eerdmans Dictionary seems to make more sense, which is how I'm teaching it this morning. 

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Reader Comments (4)

Thank you. This helped.

December 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Thank you!

February 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJT

Thank you! This word 'Shigionoth' is a rare word. I wanted to know it's meanings. Again THANK YOU!

August 18, 2017 | Unregistered

This word's meaning holds a key to understanding the prophecies God gave to Habbakuk regarding the coming of Christ, in answer to the prophet's questions to God in Chapters 1 and 2.

Chapter 3 is basically prophetic. He picks from the Sanctuary joins with Daniel and the Revelation -and others. Word's like horn.... right hand.... South... remain...paran.... are all sanctuary words...
Listen to this.. disease and pestilence fled from before Him.... in His hand is horn... hidden power of salvation....

This is most profound prophecy that gives meaning and insight into Christ's Person and mission....and more...

May 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterM. Monica Mtetwa

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