The first occurrence.
And it repented YHVH that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at his heart. Gen 6:6
(In the Scripture Picture: “… that You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me.”)
The primitive root.
Strong’s 6087 עצב atsab, a primitive root meaning, “to labor, to be in pain, to be vexed, to worry.” The 3-letter root is ayin + tsadey + bet.
ayin ע = the eye, thus to see, watch, look, know, understand
tsadey צ = trail, thus a man concealed, journey, chase, hunt
bet ב = house, thus house, household, family, in, within
The story: Looking ahead (ayin) at a lifelong journey (tsadey) to maintain the house and family (bet). The sense I am getting, in its association to pain from grief or heavy toil, is of endless work: a job that is never completed. Housework, cooking, laundry, home repairs, raising crops, tending livestock, going to a job: it is the same work over and over again constantly repeating, which continues until the man and the woman return to the dust from which they were taken.
An alternate meaning of atsab according to Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon, is “to worry or be vexed:”
עצב To labor, to form, to fashion. The original idea is perhaps that of cutting, whether of wood or stones … hence a carved image, an earthen vessel.
One of the cognate words from this root is idol, that is, a carved image. Isn’t a worry something we ourselves fashion or build out of future events? We imagine a worst-case scenario that has not yet come about, and then grieve over it. To worry is to carve an idol, in other words. We build something in our minds, and then take it for truth instead of the promises of God’s word.