דּוֹר DOR used 167 times in the Hebrew Bible and usually translated as “generation” although similar in meaning, it is important to understand the differences in order to have a clearer picture of the authors understanding of the word which may impact how the passage is understood.
A generation is time from one birth to the birth of the next generation. While the word דּוֹר has the same meaning, there are differences. In our Greco-Roman culture we see time as a line with a beginning and an end while the Eastern mind sees time as a continuous circle. While we may see a generation as a time line with a beginning and an end, the Hebrews saw a generation as one circle with the next generation as a continuation of the circle. There is no beginning and no end.
|ויאמר יהוה לנח בא-אתה וכל-ביתך אל-התבה כי-אתך ראיתי צדיק לפני בדור הזה|
|Va-Yo-Mer A-Do-Nay L”No-Ach Bo-A-Ta V”Chol-Bet-Cha El-Ha-Te-Va Ki-Ot-Cha Ra-I-Ti Tsa-Dik L”Fa-Nay Ba-Dor Ha-Ze|
|The Lord then
said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have
found you righteous in this generation.
The word דּוֹר is a child root derived from the parent root דּוֹר (meaning generation in Aramaic). In the ancient pictographic script this word is written as:
When combined these mean “the movement of man”, a generation is the movement through the circle of one man while the next generation is the movement of man through the following circle.
In the ancient Hebrew mind the circle is the symbol for “order”. This circular order can also be seen in the creation/destruction of the world. In our Greco-Roman mind we see the creation as the beginning of a time line and its destruction as the end of that timeline. But remember the ancient Hebrews see time as a circle. Genesis 1:1 says “in a beginning” (B”resheet means in “a” beginning, not “the” beginning). This world was destroyed at the fall of man (a full circle). The world begins a-new with the new order of things and is destroyed again at the flood, another circle. The world begins a-new and will be destroyed again (as prophesied by the prophets). Were there circles of time prior to Genesis 1:1 and circles of time after the destruction to come?
There are three Hebrew roots (each are adopted roots) that have the meaning of order. Within each of these is the DR parent root meaning “order” or “circle”.
Benner, Jeff A. “Biblical Hebrew E-Magazine Issue #006.” Ancient Hebrew Research Center. Ancient Hebrew Research Center, 2004. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.