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גוֹאֵל means "redeemer" according to the Jastrow dictionary, and comes from the root גאל, "to redeem". To my semi-trained eye this feels like it should be a participle form, but why should the participle become the actor? Am I missing something? Are there other examples of roots that take these vowels to become the do-er of the verb?

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    Which functions does the participle have, according to you? This does not look unusual to me at all. Another example is kohen ‘priest’.
    – Keelan
    Commented Jul 10 at 11:54
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    This is a very systematic pattern in all stages of Hebrew. It is also semantically quite transparent: someone who is do-ing something is the do-er.
    – alephreish
    Commented Jul 10 at 12:40

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Pealim is an excellent (if incomplete) dictionary when you have these sorts of questions because you can search by mishkal (pattern) to get a good understanding of the common uses of that pattern.

A quick look there shows a plenty of agent nouns in that pattern (I have listed only those where the sense of an agent noun is clear, and have kept the romanisation as given by Pealim):

  • אוֹהֵד ohed "fan" < א-ה-ד "to support a sports team"
  • אוֹפֶה ofe "baker" < א-פ-ה "to bake"
  • אוֹרֵחַ oreach "guest" < א-ר-ח "to visit"
  • בּוֹרֵא bore "creator" < ב-ר-א "to create"
  • דּוֹבֵר dover "speaker" < ד-ב-ר "to speak"
  • זוֹחֵל zochel "reptile" < ז-ח-ל "to crawl"
  • חוֹבֵשׁ chovesh "medic" < ח-ב-שׁ "to bandage"
  • חוֹזֶה choze "prophet" < ח-ז-ה "to predict"
  • יוֹנֵק yonek "mammal" < י-נ-ק "to suckle"
  • יוֹשֵׁב yoshev "resident" < י-שׁ-ב "to settle"
  • לוֹחֵם lochem "fighter" < ל-ח-ם "to fight"
  • מוֹשֵׁל moshel "ruler" < מ-שׁ-ל "to rule"
  • נוֹזֵל nozel "liquid" < נ-ז-ל "to leak"
  • סוֹחֵר socher "merchant" < ס-ח-ר "to trade"
  • סוֹפֵר sofer "scribe" < ס-פ-ר "to write"
  • עוֹתֵר oter "petitioner" < ע-ת-ר "to petition"
  • פּוֹלֵשׁ polesh "invader" < פ-ל-שׁ "to invade"
  • פּוֹעֵל po'el "worker" < פ-ע-ל "to do"
  • צוֹמֵחַ tzomeach "flora" < צ-מ-ח "to grow"
  • קוֹצֵר kotzer "harvester" < ק-צ-ר "to harvest"
  • רוֹפֵא rofe "doctor" < ר-פ-א "to heal"
  • רוֹקֵחַ rokeach "pharmacist" < ר-ק-ח "to concoct"
  • שׁוֹמֵר shomer "guard" < שׁ-מ-ר "to guard"
  • שׁוֹפֵט shofet "judge" < שׁ-פ-ט "to judge"

There is nothing unusual about גוֹאֵל go'el "redeemer" also belonging to this pattern with the same semantics (an agent noun).

It's also worth noting that, in a language like Hebrew with a relatively weak distinction between nouns and adjectives (where nouns can freely be used attributively, and adjectives can similarly freely be used substantively), use of active participles as agent nouns is unsurprising: one who is [verb]-ing is a [verb]-er.

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