There are many words from the Bible that we simply no longer use. However, cleave is an extremely important word because it describes the beginning of a marriage. Believers mostly know this word in that sense. But, what does the word cleave mean in Hebrew and Greek? Let’s take a look.

All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.

What Does The Word ‘Cleave’ Mean In Hebrew?

baqa- to cleave, break, tear open.

This word is used over 50 times in the Old Testament. Its first appearance occurs in Genesis 7:11 when it says, “on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up“.

The everyday use of baqa occurs in the following ways:

  • splitting wood (Ecclesiastes 10:9)
  • the ground splitting asunder (Numbers 16:31)

dabaq- to cling or adhere; to catch.

The figurative use of dabaq in the sense of affection and loyalty is based on the physical closeness of the people involved such as a husband’s closeness to his wife.

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

– Genesis 2:24 KJV

Cleaving to God is the same as loving God (Deuteronomy 30:20).

dabeq- adhering, sticking to.

lavah- to unite, to twine.

caphach- to associate, be united.

shaca- to split or tear; to upbraid.

What Does The Word ‘Cleave’ Mean In Greek?

kallao- to glue together.

This word is most often used to speak of metals to other metals. However, it can also be used to describe the cleaving unto one’s wife.

“And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”

– Matthew 19:5 KJV

Kallao is also used in Acts 5:13 in the sense of becoming associated with a person so as to accompany him or be on his side.

In Romans 12:9, it tells us to cleave to that which is good.

proskallao- to glue to; to adhere.


The word cleave mainly means to be glued together to intertwine with one another. That’s the way two parties are supposed to come together during their marriage. That’s what the word cleave means in Hebrew and Greek.

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