W.E. Vine's “Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words” published in 1940 and without copyright.


Vines Expository Dictionary

of the

Old Testament

Edited by

Merrill F. Unger, Th.M., Th.D., Ph.D. William White, Jr., Th.M., Ph.D.


Gleason Archer E. Clark Copeland Leonard Coppes Louis Goldberg R. K. Harrison Horace Hummel George Kufeldt Eugene H. Merrill Walter Roehrs Raymond Surburg Willem van Gemeren Donald Wold



Puisque ce livre est une traduction automatique de l'anglais, vous devrez procéder différemment dans vos recherches. Par exemple, si vous cherchez le mot SEIGNEUR vous devrez regardez sous la lettre L car le mot SEIGNEUR en anglais est LORD. Traduisez premièrement le mot que vous cherchez en anglais et basez-vous sur la première lettre pour obtenir l'endroit dans le Dictionnaire où faire vos recherches. Si vous appliquez cette règle à tous les mots que vous recherchez vous ne devriez ne pas avoir de problèmes à les trouver en français.

Jean leDuc

Avril 2018


A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - R - S - T - U - V - W - Y

- les lettres manquantes ne sont pas dans l'Hébreu -



A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z



The Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament will be a useful tool in the hands of the student who has little or no formal training in the Hebrew language. It will open up the treasures of truth that often lie buried in the original language of the Old Testament, sometimes close to the surface and sometimes deeply imbedded far beneath the surface.

The student trained in Hebrew will find the Expository Dictionary to be a handy reference source. But the student without Hebrew training will experience a special thrill in being able to use this study tool in digging out truths from the Hebrew Bible not otherwise accessible to him.

It is, of course, possible to be a serious student of the Old Testament without having a knowledge of the Hebrew language. English translations and commentaries are of inestimable value and have their proper place. but a reference book that opens up the language in which the Scriptures were originally revealed and recorded, and which makes them available to readers unacquainted with the original tongue, has a value that at once becomes apparent.

As the language divinely chosen to record the prophecies of Christ, Hebrew possesses admirable qualities for the task assigned it. The language has a singularly rhythmic and musical quality. In poetic form, it especially has a noble dignity of style, combined with a vividness that makes it an effective vehicle for expression of sacred truth. The ideas behind its vocabulary give Hebrew a lively, picturesque nature.

Most Hebrew words are built upon verbal roots consisting of three consonants called radicals. There are approximately 1850 such roots in the Old Testament, from which various nouns and other parts of speech have been derived. many of these roots represent theological, moral, and ceremonial concepts that have been obscured by the passage of time; recent archaeological and linguistic research is shedding new light on many of these concepts. Old Testament scholars find that biblical Hebrew can be compared with other

Semitic languages such as Arabic, Assyrian, Ugaritic, Ethiopic, and Aramaic to discover the basic meaning of many heretofore obscure terms.

But is is not enough merely to have clarified the meaning of each root word. Each word can take on different shades of meaning as it is employed in various contexts, so one must study the various biblical occurrences of the word to arrive at an accurate understanding of its intended use.

This type of research has introduced students of Hebrew to a new world of understanding the Old Testament. But how can this material be made available to those who do not know Hebrew? That is the purpose of the present work.

now the lay student can have before him or her the Hebrew root, or a Hebrew word based on that root, and can trace its development to its use in the passage before him. Moreover, he can acquire some appreciation of the richness and variety of the Hebrew vocabulary. For example, Hebrew synonyms often have pivotal doctrinal repercussions, as with the word virgin in Isaiah 7:14, compared with similar words meaning “young woman.” In some cases, a play on words is virtually impossible to reflect in the English translation (e.g., Zeph 2:4-7). Some Hebrew words can have quite different—sometimes

exactly opposite—meanings in different contexts; thus the word barak can mean “to

bless” or “to curse,”and gœ>al can mean “to redeem” or “to pollute.”

The lay student, of course, will suffer some disadvantage in not knowing Hebrew. yet is is fair to say that an up-to-date expository dictionary that makes a happy selection of the more meaningful Hebrew words of the Old Testament will open up a treasure house of truth contained in the Hebrew Bible. It can offer a tremendous boon to the meaningful study of Scripture. It cannot fail to become an essential reference work for all serious students of the Bible.

Merrill F. Unger



The writings of the New Testament are based in a large measure on God’s revelation in the Old Testament. To understand the New Testament themes of Creation, Fall, and Restoration, it is necessary to read of their origin in the Old Testament.

The New Testament was written in a popular dialect of an Indo-European language, Greek. The Old Testament was written in the Semitic languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. For centuries, lay students of the Bible have found it very difficult to understand the structure of biblical Hebrew. Study guides to biblical Hebrew are designed for people who can read Hebrew-and many of them are written in German, which only compounds the difficulty.

This Expository Dictionary seeks to present about 500 significant terms of the Old Testament for lay readers who are not familiar with Hebrew. It describes the frequency, usage, and meaning of these terms as fully as possible. No source has been ignored in seeking to bring the latest Hebrew scholarship to the student who seeks it. It is hoped that

this small reference book will enlighten Bible students to the riches of God’s truth in the Old Testament.

A. The Place of Hebrew in History. Hebrew language and literature hold a unique place in the course of Western civilization. It emerged sometime after 1500 B.C. in the area of Palestine, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The Jewish people have used Hebrew continuously in one location or another to the present day. A modernized dialect of Hebrew (with spelling modifications) is the official language of the State of Israel.

When Alexander the Great came to power, he united the Greek city-states under the influence of Macedonia from about 330 B.C. to 323 B.C. Alexander and his generals virtually annihilated the social structures and languages of the ancient societies that their empire had absorbed. The Babylonians, Aramaeans, Persians, and Egyptians ceased to exist as distinct civilizations; only the Greek (Hellenistic) culture remained. Judaism was the only ancient religion and Hebrew the only ancient language that survived this onslaught.

The Hebrew Bible contains the continuous history of civilization from Creation to Roman times. It is the only record of God’s dealings with humanity through His prophets, priests, and kings. In addition, it is the only ancient religious document that has survived completely intact.

Hebrew is related to Aramaic, Syriac, and such modern languages as Amharic and Arabic (both ancient and modern). It belongs to a group of languages known as the Semitic languages (so called because Scripture says that they were spoken by the descendants of Noah’s son, Shem). The oldest known Semitic language is Akkadian, which was written in the ”wedge-shaped” or cuneiform system of signs. The earliest Akkadian texts were written on clay tablets in about 2400 B.C. Babylonian and Assyrian are later dialects of Akkadian; both influenced the development of Hebrew. Because the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian languages were all used in Mesopotamia, they are classified as ”East Semitic” languages.

The earliest evidence for the origins of "West Semitic” languages appears to be an inscription from the ancient city of Ebla. This was a little-known capital of a Semitic state in what is now Northern Syria. The tablets of Ebla are bilingual, written in both Sumerian and Eblaite. The team of Italian archaeologists excavating Ebla have reported that these tablets contain a number of personal and place names mentioned in the Book of Genesis. Some of the tablets have been dated as early as 2400 B.C. Since Hebrew was also a West Semitic language, the publication of Ebla’s texts may cast new light on many older Hebrew words and phrases.

The earliest complete series of pre-Hebrew texts comes from the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit. Located on a cluster of hills in southern Lebanon, Ugarit has yielded texts that contain detailed information about the religion, poetry, and trade of the Canaanite people. The texts are dated between 1800 and 1200 B.C. These tablets contain many words and phrases that are almost identical to words found in the Hebrew Bible. The Ugaritic dialect illuminates the development of Old Hebrew (or Paleo-Hebrew). The poetic structure of the Ugaritic language is mirrored in many passages of the Old Testament, such as the ”Song of Deborah” in Judges 5. The scribes of Ugarit wrote in a modified cuneiform script that was virtually alphabetic; this script prepared the way for using the simpler Phoenician writing system.

A number of texts from various parts of the Near East contain West Semitic words and phrases. The most important of these are the tablets from the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna. These tablets were written by the petty rulers of the Egyptian colonies of Syria-Palestine and by their overlord, the pharaoh. The tablets from the minor princes were written in Babylonian; but when the correspondent’s scribe did not know the proper Babylonian word to express a certain idea, he substituted a Canaanite ”gloss.” These glosses tell us much about the words and spellings that were used in Palestine during the time when Paleo-Hebrew emerged as a distinct language.

The Hebrew language probably came into existence during the patriarchal period, about 2000 B.C. The language was reduced to writing in about 1250 B.C., and the earliest extant Hebrew inscription dates from about 1000 B. C. These early inscriptions were carved on stone; the oldest known Hebrew scrolls were found in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea, and they date from the third century B.C. While some secular Hebrew texts have survived, the primary source for our knowledge of classical Hebrew is the Old Testament itself.

B.    The Origin of the Hebrew Writing System. Greek tradition claims that Phoenicians invented the alphabet. Actually, this is only partially true, since the Phoenician writing system was not an alphabet as we know it today. It was a simplified syllabary system-in other words, its various symbols represent syllables rather than separate vocal components. The Hebrew writing system grew out of the Phoenician system.

The Hebrew writing system gradually changed over the centuries. From 1000 to 200 B.C., a rounded script (Old Phoenician style) was used. This script was last used for copying the biblical text and may be seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But after the Jews returned from their Babylonian Captivity, they began to use the square script of the Aramaic language, which was the official language of the Persian Empire. Jewish scribes adopted the Aramaic book hand, a more precise form of the script. When Jesus mentioned the ”jot” and ”little” of the Mosaic Law, He was referring to manuscripts in the square script. The book hand is used in all printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.

C.    A Concise History of the Hebrew Bible. Undoubtedly the text of the Hebrew Bible was updated and revised several times in antiquity, and there was more than one textual tradition. Many archaic words in the Pentateuch suggest that Moses used early cuneiform documents in compiling his account of history. Scribes of the royal court under David and Solomon probably revised the text and updated obscure expressions. Apparently certain historical books, such as First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles, represent the official annals of the kingdom. These books represent the historical tradition of the priestly class.

The message of the prophets was probably written down sometime after the prophets delivered their message. There is a variety of writing styles among the prophetic books; and several, such as Amos and Hosea, seem to be closer to colloquial speech.

The text of the Old Testament was probably revised again during the time of King Josiah after the Book of Law was rediscovered (Second Kings 22-27; Second Chronicles 24-35). This would have taken place about 620 B.C. The next two centuries, which brought the Babylonian Captivity, were the most momentous times in the history of Israel. When the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah in 450 B.C., their common speech was the Aramaic language of the Persian court. This language became more popular among the Jews until it displaced Hebrew as the dominant language of Judaism in the Christian era. There is evidence that the Old Testament text was revised again at that time.

After the Greeks came to power under Alexander the Great, the preservation of Hebrew became a political issue; the conservative Jewish parties wanted to retain it. But the Jews of the Diaspora-those living outside of Palestine-depended upon versions of the biblical text in Aramaic (called the Targums) or Greek (called the Septuagint).

Both the Targums and Septuagint were translated from Hebrew manuscripts. There were substantial differences between these versions, and the Jewish rabbis went to great efforts to explain these differences.

After Jerusalem fell to the armies of the Roman general Titus, Jewish biblical scholars were scattered throughout the ancient world and the knowledge of Hebrew began to decline. From A.D. 200 to nearly A.D. 900, groups of scholars attempted to devise systems of vowel markings (later called points) to aid Jewish readers who no longer spoke Hebrew. The scholars who did this work are called Masoretes, and their markings are called the Masora. The Masoretic text that they produced represents the consonants that had been preserved from about 100 B.C. (as proven by the Dead Sea scrolls); but the vowel markings reflect the understanding of the Hebrew language in about A.D. 300. The Masoretic text dominated Old Testament studies in the Middle Ages, and it has served as the basis for virtually all printed versions of the Hebrew Bible.

Unfortunately, we have no complete text of the Hebrew Bible older than the tenth century A.D. The earliest complete segment of the Old Testament (the Prophets) is a copy dating from A.D. 895. While the Dead Sea scrolls yield entire books such as Isaiah, they do not contain a complete copy of the Old Testament text. Therefore, we must still depend upon the long tradition of Hebrew scholarship used in the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.

The first complete printed edition of the Hebrew Bible was prepared by Felix Pratensis and published by Daniel Bomberg in Venice in 1516. A more extensive edition of the Hebrew Bible was edited by the Jewish-Christian scholar Jacob teen Chayyim in 1524. Some scholars continue to use the teen Chayyim text as the basic printed Hebrew Bible.

D. The Hebrew of the Old Testament. The Hebrew of the Old Testament does not have one neat and concise structure; the Old Testament was written over such a long span of time that we cannot expect to have one uniform linguistic tradition. In fact, the Hebrew of the three major sections of the Old Testament varies considerably. These three sections are known as the Torah (The Law), Nebi’im (The Prophets), and Ketubim (The Writings). In addition to the linguistic differences between the major sections, certain books of the Old Testament have their own peculiarities. For example, Job and Psalms have very ancient words and phrases similar to Ugaritic; Ruth preserves some archaic forms of Moabite speech; and First and Second Samuel reveal the rough, warlike nature of the colloquial idiom of the era of Solomon and David.

As Israel changed from being a confederation of tribes to a dynastic kingdom, the language changed from the speech of herdsmen and caravan traders to the literary language of a settled population. While the books of the New Testament reflect a Greek dialect as it was used over a span of about 75 years, the Old Testament draws upon various forms of the Hebrew language as it evolved over nearly 2,000 years. Therefore,

certain texts-such as the early narrative of the Book of Exodus and the last of the Psalms-are virtually written in two different dialects and should be studied with this in mind.

E.    Characteristics of the Hebrew Language. Because Hebrew is a Semitic language, its structure and function are quite different from Indo-European languages such as French, German, Spanish, and English. A number of Hebrew consonants cannot be transformed exactly into English letters. Therefore, our English transliterations of Hebrew words suggest that the language sounded very harsh and rough, but it probably was very melodious and beautiful.

Most Hebrew words are built upon a three-consonant root. The same root may appear in a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb-all with the same basic meaning. For example, ketab, is a Hebrew noun meaning ”book.” A verbal form, katab, means to ”write.” There is also the Hebrew noun ketobeth, which means ”decoration” or ”tattoo.” Each of these words repeats the basic set of three consonants, giving them a similarity of sound that would seem awkward in English. It would seem ludicrous for an English writer to compose a sentence like, ”The writer wrote the written writing of the writ.” But this kind of repetition would be very common in biblical Hebrew. Many Old Testament texts, such as Genesis 49 and Numbers 23, use this type of repetition to play upon the meaning of words.

Hebrew also differs from English and other Indo-European languages in varying the form of a single part of speech. English has only one form of a particular noun or verb, while Hebrew may have two or more forms of the same basic part of speech. Scholars have studied these less common forms of Hebrew words for many centuries, and they have developed a vast literature about these words. Any study of the more important theological terms of the Old Testament must take these studies into consideration.

F.    The Form of Words (Morphology). In principle, the basic Hebrew word consists of a three-consonant root and three vowels-two internal and one final (though the final vowel is often not pronounced). We might diagram the typical Hebrew word in this manner:

C1+V1+C2+V 2+C3+V 3

Using the word katab as an example, the diagram would look like this:

K + A + T + A + B + _

The different forms of Hebrew words always keep the three consonants in the same relative positions, but they change the vowels inserted between the consonants. For example, koteb is the participle of katab, while katob is the infinitive.

By extending the verbal forms of their words, Hebrew writers were able to develop very extensive and complex meanings. For example, they could do this by adding syllables at the beginning of the three-consonant root, like this:

Root = KTB yi + ketob-”let him write” we + katab-"and he will write”

Sometimes, a writer would double a consonant while keeping the three basic consonants in the same position. For example, he could take the root of KTB and make the word wayyiketob, meaning ”and he caused to write.”

The Hebrew writer could also add several different endings or suffixes to a basic verb to produce an entire clause. For example, using the verb qatal (meaning ”to kill”), he could develop the word qetaltihu (meaning ”I have killed him”). These examples emphasize the fact that Hebrew is a syllabic language. There are no unique consonantal combinations such as diphthongs (or glides) like cl, gr, bl, as in English.

G.    Hebrew Word Order. The normal word order of a verbal sentence in a Hebrew narrative or prose passage is:

Verb-Object-Indirect Object or Pronoun-Subject

However, it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word order for a nominal sentence may parallel that of English:



Hebrew writers frequently departed from the verbal arrangement for the sake of emphasis. Yet a Hebrew sentence can seldom be translated into English word-for-word, because the result would be meaningless. Over the centuries, translators have developed standard ways to express these peculiar Semitic thought forms in IndoEuropean speech.

H.    Foreign Words in Hebrew. The Old Testament uses foreign words in various ways, depending upon the context. Akkadian proper names often appear in the patriarchal narratives of Genesis. Here are some examples:

(Sumero-Akkadian) Sumer= Shinar (Hebrew)

(Akkadian) Sharrukin = Nimrod (Hebrew)

Several Egyptian terms appear in the narrative of Joseph, just as Babylonian terms appear in the writings of Isaiah Jeremiah, and Persian words in the Book of Daniel. None of these words have theological significance, however. There is little linguistic evidence that the religious concepts of Israel were borrowed from foreign sources.

The greatest inroad of a foreign idiom is the case of the Aramaic language, which appears in several isolated verses and some entire chapters of the Book of Daniel. As we have already noted, Aramaic became the primary religious language of the Jews living outside of Palestine after the Babylonian Captivity.

I.    The Written Text of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament offers two immediate problems to the uninitiated reader. First is the fact that Hebrew is read from right to left, unlike Indo-European languages; each character of the text and its attendant symbols are read from top to bottom, as well as from right to left. Second is the fact that written Hebrew is a complicated system of syllable symbols, each of which has three components.

The first component is the sign for the consonant itself. Some of the less frequent consonantal signs stand for vowel sounds. (These letters are Arch [indicating the long a sound], waw [to indicate the long u sound], and yod [to indicate the ”ee” sound-as in ”see”].) The second component is the pattern of vowel points. The third component is the pattern of cantellations, which were added during the Middle Ages to aid cantors in singing the text. Some practice is required before a person is able to read the Hebrew text using all of the three components. The accompanying illustration shows the direction and sequence for reading the text. (Cantellations are omitted).


The specific vowel points and their sequence within the word indicate the weight or accentuation to be given to each syllable of the word. Different traditions within Judaism indicate different ways of pronouncing the same Hebrew word, and the vowel points of a particular manuscript will reflect the pronunciation used by the scribes who copied the manuscript. Many Slavic and Spanish speech patterns crept into the medieval Hebrew manuscripts, due to the Jews’ association with Slavic and Spanish cultures during the Middle Ages. However, the use of Hebrew speech in modern Israel is tending to standardize the pronunciation of Hebrew.

The accompanying table indicates the transliterations accepted for Hebrew font by most biblical scholars today. It is the standard system, developed by the Journal of Biblical Literature, for use in writing and language instruction.
































































ש ?

Sin, Sin
























patah yod



segol yod



sere yod





ו י












J. The Meaning of Hebrew Words. Christians have studied the Hebrew language with varying degrees of intensity as long as the church has existed. During the apostolic and early church age (A.D. 40-150), Christians had a great deal of interest in the Hebrew language. Eventually, they depended more heavily upon the Greek Septuagint for reading the Old Testament. In the early Middle Ages, Jerome had to employ Jewish scholars to help him in translating the official Latin Vulgate version of the Old Testament. There was little Christian interest in the Hebrew language in medieval times.

In the sixteenth century, a German Roman Catholic scholar named Johannes Reuchlin studied Hebrew with a Jewish rabbi and began to write introductory books in Latin about Hebrew for Christian students. He also compiled a small Hebrew-Latin dictionary. Reuchlin’s work awakened an interest in Hebrew among Christian scholars that has continued to our own day. (The Jewish synagogues had passed on the meaning of the text for centuries, giving little attention to the mechanics of the Hebrew language itself. These traditional meanings are reflected in the King James Version, published after Reuchlin’s studies.)

By comparing Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Hebrew languages, modern scholars have been able to understand the meaning of Hebrew words. Here are some of the keys that they have discovered:

1. Cognate Words. Foreign words that have sounds or constructions similar to Hebrew words are called cognates. Because words of different Semitic languages are based upon the same three-consonant root, cognates abound. In times past, these cognates gave rise to ”folk etymology"-an unscholarly interpretation of words based upon folklore and tradition. Often these folk etymologies were used in interpreting the Old Testament. However, words that are philological cognates (form-related) are not necessarily

semantic cognates (meaning-related). A good example is the Hebrew word sar, which means ”prince.” This same word is used in other Semitic languages, where it means ”king.”

For centuries, European students of Hebrew used Arabic philological cognates to decipher the meaning of obscure Hebrew words. This unreliable method is used by many of the older English dictionaries and lexicons.

2.    Meaning from Context. It has often been said that the best commentary on Scripture is Scripture itself. Nowhere is this more true than in Hebrew word studies. The best method for determining the meaning of any Hebrew word is to study the context in which it appears. If it appears in many different contexts, then the meaning of the word can be found with greater accuracy. For the words that appear with very low frequency (four times or less), non-biblical Hebrew texts or other Semitic texts can help us locate the meaning of the word.

However, there is one caution: It is never wise to use one obscure word to try to determine the meaning of another obscure word. The most difficult words are those that occur only once in the Old Testament text; these are called hapax legomena (Greek, ”read once”). Fortunately, all the Hebrew words of theological significance occur fairly frequently.

3.    Poetic Parallelism. Fully one-third of the Old Testament is poetry. This amount of

text is equal to the entire New Testament. English translators have tended to ignore the poetic structure of lengthy Old Testament passages, such as Isaiah 40-66 and the entire Book of Job; but the complexities of Hebrew poetry are vital to our understanding of the Old Testament.    This can be seen by studying a modern English version    of the Bible that

prints poetic    passages as such. Several verses from the Psalms in the RSV    will    illustrate

the underlying structure of Hebrew poetry.

Note there is neither rhythm nor meter in Hebrew poetry, unlike most English poetry. Hebrew poetry repeats ideas or the relation of ideas in successive lines. Here is an example:

(I) O Magnify the Lord with me,

(II) And let us exalt His name together!

Notice that virtually every part of speech in Line I can be substituted for its equal in Line II. Scholars designate the individual words in Line I (or hemistych I) as ”A” words and those in Line II (or hemistych II) as ”B” words. Thus we see the pattern in Psalm 34: Hemistych I: O magnify A the Lord A with me, A Hemistych II: Let us exalt B His name B together! B

As one can readily see, the ”A” words can be substituted for the ”B” words without changing the meaning of the line, and the reverse is also true. This characteristic of Hebrew poetry is called parallelism. In scholarly studies of Hebrew poetry, paired words in a parallel structure are often marked with slanting parallel bars to show (a) which word usually occurs first-that is, the ”A” word, (b) the fact that the two words form a parallel pair, and (c) which word is usually the second or ”B.” We can show this for the first verse of Psalm 34 in this manner:

O magnify / / exalt; the Lord / / His name; with me / / together.

This Expository Dictionary cites such pairs because they indicate important relationships in meaning. Many pairs are used over and over again, almost as synonyms. Thus the usage of Hebrew words in poetry becomes a very valuable tool for our understanding of their meaning. Most of the significant theological terms, including the names and titles of God, are found in such poetic pairs.

K. Theories of Translation. Theories of translation greatly affect our interpretation of our Hebrew words. We may describe the current dominant theories of translation as follows:

1.    The Direct Equivalence Method. This method assumes that one will find only one English word to represent each Hebrew word that appears in the Old Testament text. Since some Hebrew words have no one-word equivalent in English, they are simply transliterated (turned into English letters). In this case, the reader must be taught what the transliterated term really meant. This method was used in the earliest translations of the New Testament, which attempted to bring the Latin equivalents of Greek words directly into English. This is how our early English versions adopted a large amount of Latin theological terminology, such as justification, sanctification, and concupiscence.

2.    The Historico-Linguistic Method. This method attempts to find a limited number of English terms that will adequately express the meaning of a particular Hebrew term. A scholar using this method studies the historical record of how the word has been used and gives preference to its most frequent meaning in context. This method has been used in preparing the Expository Dictionary

3.    The Dynamic Equivalence Method. This method does not attempt to make any consistent use of an English word for a specific Hebrew word. Instead it endeavors to show the thrust or emphasis of a Hebrew word in each specific context. Thus it allows a very free, colloquial rendering of Old Testament passages. This enables lay readers to get the real kernel of meaning from a particular passage, but it makes Bible word study virtually impossible. For example, a comparison of the concordance for The Living Bible and the concordance for the RSV will show the difference in methods of translation. The RSV actually uses fewer different words than the KJV to translate the Hebrew Old Testament. The Living Bible uses many more specific words to reflect the subtle shades of meaning in the Hebrew text, thus making it impossible to trace how a particular Hebrew word has been used in different contexts.

This Expository Dictionary attempts to show the different methods of translation by indicating the different meanings of a Hebrew word given by various English versions.

L. How to Use This Book. When beginning a word study of a particular Hebrew term, you should obtain good editions of at least three English versions of the Old Testament. Always have a King James Version or a New King James Version, a more scholarly version such as the RSV or NASB, and a colloquial version such as the TEV. You should also have a good concordance to the KJV, NKJV or the RSV.

The Expository Dictionary gives wide ranges of meanings for most Hebrew words. They should not be substituted for each other without carefully reviewing the usage of the term in its different contexts. All Hebrew words have different meanings-sometimes even opposite meanings-so they should be studied in all of their occurrences, and not just one.

Strive for consistency in rendering a particular Hebrew word in different contexts. Seek the smallest number of equivalent English words. The contributors to this book have already done extensive research in the original languages and in modem scholarly literature. You can make the best use of their work by looking up the various usages of each word in order to get a balanced view.

Comparison and frequency are two fundamental factors in Bible word study. Write down the passages that you are comparing. Do not be afraid to look up all of the occurrences of a particular word. The time you spend will open up your Bible as it has never been opened before.







A. Noun.

tocebah (8441 ,תו^בה), “abomination; loathsome, detestable thing.” Cognates of this word appear only in Phoenician and Targumic Aramaic. The word appears 117 times and in all periods.

First, tocebah defines something or someone as essentially unique in the sense of being “dangerous,” “sinister,” and “repulsive” to another individual. This meaning appears in Gen. 43:32 (the first occurrence): “... The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.” To the Egyptians, eating bread with foreigners was repulsive because of their cultural or social differences (cf. Gen. 46:34; Ps. 88:8). Another clear illustration of this essential clash of disposition appears in Prov. 29:27: “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked.” When used with reference to God, this nuance of the word describes people, things, acts, relationships, and characteristics that are “detestable” to Him because they are contrary to His nature. Things related to death and idolatry are loathsome to God: “Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing” (Deut. 14:3). People with habits loathsome to God are themselves detestable to Him: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deut.

22:5). Directly opposed to tocebah are such reactions as “delight” and “loveth” (Prov. 15:8-9).

Second, tocebah is used in some contexts to describe pagan practices and objects: “The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire; thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine

house ...” (Deut. 7:25-26). In other contexts, tocebah describes the repeated failures to observe divine regulations: “Because ye multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have kept my judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you; . because

of all thine abominations” (Ezek. 5:7, 9). Tocebah may represent the pagan cultic practices themselves, as in Deut. 12:31, or the people who perpetrate such practices: “For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee” (Deut. 18:12). If Israelites are guilty of such idolatry, however, their fate will be worse than exile: death by stoning (Deut. 17:2-5).

Third, tocebah is used in the sphere of jurisprudence and of family or tribal relationships. Certain acts or characteristics are destructive of societal and familial harmony; both such things and the people who do them are described by tocebah: “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: ... a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, ... and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19). God says, “The scorner is an abomination to men” (Prov. 24:9) because he spreads his bitterness among God’s people, disrupting unity and harmony.

B. Verb.

tacab (ny^, 8581), “to abhor, treat as abhorrent, cause to be an abomination, act abominably.” This verb occurs 21 times, and the first occurrence is in Deut. 7:26:

“Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house..”


ratsah (7521 ,ךצה), “to be pleased, be pleased with, accept favorably, satisfy.” This is a common term in both biblical and modern Hebrew. Found approximately 60 times in the text of the Old Testament, one of its first appearances is in Gen. 33:10: “Thou wast pleased with me.” In the RSV rendering of this verse, “favor” appears twice, the first time

being a translation of chen.

When ratsah expresses God’s being pleased with someone, the English versions often translate it as “be delighted,” which seems to reflect a sense of greater pleasure: “. mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” (Isa. 42:1); “. thou hadst a favor unto them” (Ps.

44:3). This nuance is reflected also in Prov. 3:12, where ratsah is paralleled with נahab, “to love”: “. for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”

On the other hand, when one must meet a certain requirement to merit ratsah, it seems more logical to translate it with “to please” or “to accept.” For example: “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams .?” (Mic. 6:7); “. burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them ...” (Amos 5:22).

Ratsah can be used in the sense of “to pay for” or “to satisfy a debt,” especially as it relates to land lying fallow in the sabbath years: “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, . even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths” (Lev.

26:34). Here the rsv, nasb, and neb also translate ratsah as “enjoy.” However, the context seems to require something like “the land shall repay (satisfy) its sabbaths.” Similarly, the phrase, “. her iniquity is pardoned” (Isa. 40:2), must mean “her iniquity is paid for” or “her punishment is accepted as satisfactory.”


yacap (3254 ,יסף), “to add, continue, do again, increase, surpass.” This verb occurs in the northwest Semitic dialects and Aramaic. It occurs in biblical Hebrew (around 210 times), post-biblical Hebrew, and in biblical Aramaic (once).

Basically, yacap signifies increasing the number of something. It may also be used to indicate adding one thing to another, e.g., “And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest ...” (Lev. 22:14).

This verb may be used to signify the repetition of an act stipulated by another verb. For example, the dove that Noah sent out “returned not again” (Gen. 8:12). Usually the

repeated action is indicated by an infinitive absolute, preceded by the preposition le— “And he did not have relations with her again.” Literally, this reads “And he did not add again [cod] to knowing her [intimately]” (Gen. 38:26).

In some contexts yacap means “to heighten,” but with no suggestion of numerical

increase. God says, “The meek also shall increase [yacap] their joy in the Lord ...” (Isa. 29:19). This same emphasis appears in Ps. 71:14: “... and will yet praise thee more and more [yacap]’ or literally, “And I will add to all Thy praises.” In such cases, more than an additional quantity of joy or praise is meant. The author is referring to a new quality of joy or praise—i.e., a heightening of them.

Another meaning of yacap is “to surpass.” The Queen of Sheba told Solomon, “Thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard,” or literally, “You add [with respect to] wisdom and prosperity to the report which I heard” (1 Kings 10:7).

This verb may also be used in covenantal formulas, e.g., Ruth summoned God’s curse

upon herself by saying, “The Lord do so to me, and more also [yacap], if ought but death part thee and me,” or literally, “Thus may the Lord do to me, and thus may he add, if .” (Ruth 1:17; cf. Lev. 26; Deut. 27-28).


A. Nouns.

koi (3605 ,כל), “all; the whole.” The noun kol, derived from kalal, has cognates in

Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, and Moabite. Kol appears in biblical Hebrew about 5,404 times and in all periods. Biblical Aramaic attests it about 82 times.

The word can be used alone, meaning “the entirety,” “whole,” or “all,” as in: “And

thou shalt put all [kol] in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons ...” (Exod. 29:24).

Kol can signify everything in a given unit whose members have been selected from others of their kind: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose” (Gen. 6:2).

kalil (3632 ,כליל), “whole offering.” This word represents the “whole offering” from which the worshiper does not partake: “It is a statute for ever unto the Lord; it shall be wholly burnt” (Lev. 6:22).

B. Adjectives.

koi (3606 ,כל), “all; whole; entirety; every; each.” When koi precedes a noun, it expresses a unit and signifies the whole: “These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread” (Gen. 9:19). Koi may also signify the entirety of a noun that does not necessarily represent a unit: “All the people, both small and great” entered into the covenant (2 Kings 23:2). The use of the word in such instances tends to unify what is not otherwise a unit.

Koi can precede a word that is only part of a larger unit or not part of a given unit at all. In this case, the prominent idea is that of “plurality,” a heterogeneous unit: “And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field” (Gen. 39:5).

Related to the preceding nuance is the use of koi to express comprehensiveness. Not only does it indicate that the noun modified is a plurality, but also that the unit formed by the addition of koi includes everything in the category indicated by the noun: “All the cities were ten with their suburbs for the families of the children of Kohath that remained” (Josh. 21:26). In Gen. 1:21 (its first occurrence), the word precedes a collective noun and may be translated “every”: “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, .”

When used to refer to the individual members of a group, koi means “every”: “His hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him” (Gen. 16:12).

Another example: “Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards” (Isa. 1:23). Related to this use is the meaning “none but.”

In Deut. 19:15, koi means “every kind of’ or “any”; the word focuses on each and every member of a given unit: “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth..” A related nuance appears in Gen. 24:10, but here the emphasis is upon “all sorts”: “And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all [i.e., a variety of] the goods of his master were in his hand.”

kaiii (3632 ,כליל), “the entire; whole.” In Num. 4:6, kaiii refers to the “cloth wholly of blue.” In other words, it indicates “the entire” cloth.

C. Verb.

kaiai (3634 ,כלל), “to perfect.” This common Semitic root appears in biblical Hebrew only 3 times. Ezek. 27:11 is a good example: “. They have made thy beauty perfect [kaiai].”


mizbeach (4196 ,מזבח), “altar.” This noun has cognates in Aramaic, Syriac, and

Arabic. In each of these languages the consonantal root is mdbh. Mizbeach occurs about 396 times in the Old Testament.

This word signifies a raised place where a sacrifice was made, as in Gen. 8:20 (its first biblical appearance): “And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every

clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” In later references, this word may refer to a table upon which incense was burned: “And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it” (Exod. 30:1).

From the dawn of human history, offerings were made on a raised table of stone or ground (Gen. 4:3). At first, Israel’s altars were to be made of earth—i.e., they were fashioned of material that was strictly the work of God’s hands. If the Jews were to hew stone for altars in the wilderness, they would have been compelled to use war weapons to

do the work. (Notice that in Exod. 20:25 the word for “tool” is chereb, “sword.”)

At Sinai, God directed Israel to fashion altars of valuable woods and metals. This taught them that true worship required man’s best and that it was to conform exactly to God’s directives; God, not man, initiated and controlled worship. The altar that stood before the holy place (Exod. 27:1-8) and the altar of incense within the holy place (Exod. 30:1-10) had “horns.” These horns had a vital function in some offerings (Lev. 4:30; 16:18). For example, the sacrificial animal may have been bound to these horns in order to allow its blood to drain away completely (Ps. 118:27).

Mizbeach is also used of pagan altars: “But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves” (Exod. 34:13).

This noun is derived from the Hebrew verb abach, which literally means “to slaughter for food” or “to slaughter for sacrifice.” Zabach has cognates in Ugaritic and Arabic (dbh), Akkadian (zibu), and Phoenician (zbh). Another Old Testament noun derived from zabach is zebach (162 times), which usually refers to a sacrifice that establishes communion between God and those who eat the thing offered.


A. Preposition.

qereb (7130 ,קרב), “among.” The first usage of this preposition is in Genesis: “Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in [among] the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom” (13:12). This word is used 222 times in the Old Testament; it is predominant in the Pentateuch (especially Deuteronomy) but is rare in the historical books (apart from the early books, Joshua and Judges). In the poetical

books, qereb is used most often in the Book of Psalms. It occurs only once in Job and three times in Proverbs. It is fairly well represented in the prophetical books.

B. Noun.

qereb (7130 ,קרב), “inward part; midst.” As a noun, this word is related to the

Akkadian root qarab, which means “midst.” In Mishnaic and modern Hebrew, qereb generally means “midst” rather than “inward part” or “entrails.”

One idiomatic usage of qereb denotes an inward part of the body that is the seat of laughter (Gen. 18:12) and of thoughts (Jer. 4:14). The Bible limits another idiomatic usage, meaning “inner parts,” to animals: “Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire—his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof” (Exod. 12:9).

The noun approximates the prepositional use with the meaning of “midst” or “in.” Something may be “in the midst of” a place: “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within [gereb] the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?” (Gen. 18:24). It may be in the midst of people: “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst [gereb] of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam. 16:13).

God is said to be in the midst of the land (Exod. 8:22), the city of God (Ps. 46:4), and Israel (Num. 11:20). Even when He is close to His people, God is nevertheless holy: “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst

[gereb] of thee” (Isa. 12:6; cf. Hos. 11:9).

The idiomatic use of gereb in Psalm 103:— “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name”—is more difficult to discern because the noun is in the plural. It seems best to take “all that is within me” as a reference to the Psalmist’s whole being, rather than to a distinct part of the body that is within him.

The Septuagint gives the following Greek translations of gereb: kardia, “heart [as seat of physical, spiritual, and mental life]” or “heart [figurative in the sense of being interior or central]”; koiiia, “body cavity, belly”; and mesos, “middle” or “in the midst.” The KJV gives these senses: “midst” and “inwards.”


malak (4397 ,מלאך), “messenger; angel.” In Ugaritic, Arabic, and Ethiopic, the verb ak means “to send.” Even though ^ak does not exist in the Hebrew Old

Testament, it is possible to recognize its etymological relationship to mahak. In addition, the Old Testament uses the word “message” in Hag. 1:13; this word incorporates the meaning of the root ^ak, “to send.” Another noun form of the root is meiakah, “work,” which appears 167 times. The name Maiachi—literally, “my messenger”—is based on the noun mahak.

The noun mahak appears 213 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its frequency is especially great in the historical books, where it usually means “messenger”: Judges (31 times), 2 Kings (20 times), 1 Samuel (19 times), and 2 Samuel (18 times). The

prophetical works are very moderate in their usage of mahak, with the outstanding exception of the Book of Zechariah, where the angel of the Lord communicates God’s message to Zechariah. For example: “Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked to me, ‘What are these, my lord?’ And the angel answered and said unto me, ‘These are

the four spirits [pl. of mahak] of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth’” (Zech. 6:4-5).

The word mahak denotes someone sent over a great distance by an individual (Gen. 32:3) or by a community (Num. 21:21), in order to communicate a message. Often several messengers are sent together: “And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his

upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers [pl. of mahak] and said unto them, Go, inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease” (2 Kings 1:2). The introductory formula of the message borne by the

mahak often contains the phrase “Thus says ... ,” or “This is what ... says,” signifying the authority of the messenger in giving the message of his master: “Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon” (Judg. 11:15).

As a representative of a king, the mahak might have performed the function of a diplomat. In 1 Kings 20:1ff., we read that Ben-hadad sent messengers with the terms of surrender: “He sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad .” (1 Kings 20:2).

These passages confirm the important place of the mahak. Honor to the messenger signified honor to the sender, and the opposite was also true. David took personally the insult of Nabal (1 Sam. 25:14ff.); and when Hanun, king of Ammon, humiliated David’s servants (2 Sam. 10:4ff.), David was quick to dispatch his forces against the Ammonites.

God also sent messengers. First, there are the prophetic messengers: “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:15-16).

Haggai called himself “the messenger of the Lord,” mahak Yahweh.

There were also angelic messengers. The English word angel is etymologically related to the Greek word angelos, whose translation is similar to the Hebrew: “messenger” or “angel.” The angel is a supernatural messenger of the Lord sent with a particular message. Two angels came to Lot at Sodom: “And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground ...” (Gen. 19:1). The angels were also commissioned to protect God’s people: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Ps. 91:11).

Third, and most significant, are the phrases mahak Yahweh, “the angel of the Lord,”

and mahak :>elohim, “the angel of God.” The phrase is always used in the singular. It denotes an angel who had mainly a saving and protective function: “For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off” (Exod. 23:23). He might also bring about destruction: “And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces” (1 Chron. 21:16).

The relation between the Lord and the “angel of the Lord” is often so close that it is difficult to separate the two (Gen. 16:7ff.; 21:17ff.; 22:11ff.; 31:11ff.; Exod. 3:2ff.; Judg. 6:11ff.; 13:21f.). This identification has led some interpreters to conclude that the “angel of the Lord” was the pre-incarnate Christ.

In the Septuagint the word mahak is usually translated by angelos and the phrase “angel of the Lord” by angelos kuriou. The English versions follow this twofold distinction by translating mahak as simply “angel” or “messenger” (kjv, rsv, nasb, niv)


A.    Verb.

charah (2734 ,חךה), “to get angry, be angry.” This verb appears in the Bible 92 times. In the basic stem, the word refers to the “burning of anger” as in Jonah 4:1. In the causative stem, charah means “to become heated with work” or “with zeal for work” (Neh. 3:20).

B.    Noun.

charon (!!2740 ,חך), “burning anger.” The 41 occurrences of this word cover every period of the Bible. This word refers exclusively to divine anger as that which is “burning.” Charon first appears in Exod. 32:12: “Turn from thy fierce wrath [charon], and repent of this evil against thy people.”


A.    Verb.

mashach (Πψφ, 4886), “to anoint, smear, consecrate.” A common word in both

ancient and modern Hebrew, mashach is also found in ancient Ugaritic. It occurs approximately 70 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.

The word is found for the first time in the Old Testament in Gen. 31:13: “. where thou anointedst the pillar, and . vowedst a vow unto me .” This use illustrates the idea of anointing something or someone as an act of consecration. The basic meaning of the word, however, is simply to “smear” something on an object. Usually oil is involved, but it could be other substances, such as paint or dye (cf. Jer. 22:14). The expression “anoint the shield” in Isa. 21:5 probably has more to do with lubrication than consecration in that context. When unleavened bread is “tempered with oil” in Exod. 29:2, it is basically equivalent to our act of buttering bread.

The Old Testament most commonly uses mashach to indicate “anointing” in the sense of a special setting apart for an office or function. Thus, Elisha was “anointed” to be a prophet (1 Kings 19:16). More typically, kings were “anointed” for their office (1 Sam. 16:12; 1 Kings 1:39). Vessels used in the worship at the sacred shrine (both tabernacle and temple) were consecrated for use by “anointing” them (Exod. 29:36;

30:26; 40:9-10). In fact, the recipe for the formulation of this “holy anointing oil” is given in detail in Exod. 30:22-25.

B.    Noun.

mashiach (4899 ,משיח), “anointed one.” A word that is important both to Old

Testament and New Testament understandings is the noun mashiach, which gives us the

term messiah. As is true of the verb, mashiach implies an anointing for a special office or function. Thus, David refused to harm Saul because Saul was “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam. 24:6). The Psalms often express the messianic ideals attached to the Davidic line by using the phrase “the Lord’s anointed” (Ps. 2:2; 18:50; 89:38, 51).

Interestingly enough, the only person named “messiah” in the Old Testament was Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, who was commissioned by God to restore Judah to her homeland after the Exile (Isa. 45:1). The anointing in this instance was more figurative

than literal, since Cyrus was not aware that he was being set apart for such a divine purpose.

The New Testament title of Christ is derived from the Greek Christos which is

exactly equivalent to the Hebrew mashiach, for it is also rooted in the idea of “to smear

with oil.” So the term Christ emphasizes the special anointing of Jesus of Nazareth for His role as God’s chosen one.


canah (Π1^, 6030), “to respond, answer, reply.” This root occurs in most Semitic

languages, although it bears many meanings. With the meaning that undergirds canah, it appears in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic, post-biblical Hebrew, and biblical Aramaic. It should be contrasted to canah, meaning “oppress, subdue.”

Biblical Hebrew attests the verb canah about 320 times. One of the two meanings of

canah is “to respond,” but not necessarily with a verbal response. For example, in Gen. 35:3 Jacob tells his household, “And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress..” In Gen. 28:10ff., where this “answering” is recorded, it is quite clear that God initiated the encounter and that, although He spoke with Jacob, the emphasis is on the vision of the ladder and the relationship with God that it represented. This meaning is even clearer in Exod. 19:18, where we read that God reacted to the situation at Sinai with a sound (of thunder).

A nonverbal reaction is also indicated in Deut. 20:11. God tells Israel that before they besiege a city they should demand its surrender. Its inhabitants are to live as Israel’s slaves “if it [the city] make thee answer of peace [literally, “responds peaceably”], and open unto thee..” In Job 30:20, Job says he cried out to God, who did not “respond” to him (i.e., did not pay any attention to him). In Isaiah 49:8 the Lord tells the Messiah, “In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee..” Here responding (“hearing”) is synonymously parallel to helping—i.e., it is an action (cf. Ps. 69:17; Isa. 41:17).

The second major meaning of canah is “to respond with words,” as when one engages

in dialogue. In Gen. 18:27 (the first occurrence of canah), we read: “Abraham answered and said” to the Lord, who had just spoken. In this formula, the two verbs represent one idea (i.e., they form an hendiadys). A simpler translation might be “respond,” since God had asked no question and required no reply. On the other hand, when the sons of Heth “answer and say” (Gen. 23:5), they are responding verbally to the implied inquiry made by Abraham (v. 4). Therefore, they really do answer.

cAnah may mean “respond” in the special sense of verbally reacting to a truth discovered: “Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said ...” (Judg. 18:14). Since no inquiry was addressed to them, this word implies that they gave a report; they responded to what they had discovered. In Deut. 21:7, the children of Israel are told how to respond to the rite of the heifer—viz., “They shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it.”

cAnah can also be used in the legal sense of “testify”: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exod. 20:16). Or we read in Exod. 23:2: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil..” In a similar sense, Jacob proposed that Laban give him all the spotted and speckled sheep of the flock, so that “my righteousness [will] answer [i.e., testify] for me in time to come, when it shall come [to make an investigation] for my hire before thy face .” (Gen. 30:33).


A. Verb.

gum (D-lp, 6965), “to arise, stand up, come about.” This word occurs in nearly every Semitic language, including biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. It occurs about 630 times in biblical Hebrew and 39 times in biblical Aramaic.

It may denote any movement to an erect position, such as getting up out of a bed (Gen. 19:33), or it can be used as the opposite of sitting or kneeling, as when Abraham

“stood up from before his dead” (Gen. 23:3). It can also refer to the resuit of arising, as when Joseph saw his sheaf arise and remain erect (Gen. 37:7).

Qum may be used by itself, with no direct object to refer to the origin of something, as when Isaiah says, “It shall not stand ...” (Isa. 7:7). Sometimes gum is used in an intensive mood to signify empowering or strengthening: “Strengthen thou me according unto thy word” (Ps. 119:28). It is also used to denote the inevitable occurrence of something predicted or prearranged (Ezek. 13:6).

In a military context, gum may mean “to engage in battle.” In Ps. 18:38, for instance, God says, “I have wounded them that were not able to rise ...” (cf. 2 Sam. 23:10).

Qum may also be used very much like camad to indicate the continuation of something—e.g., “Thy kingdom shall not continue” (1 Sam. 13:14). Sometimes it indicates validity, as when a woman’s vow shall not “stand” (be valid) if her father forbids it (Num. 30:5). Also see Deut. 19:15, which states that a matter may be

“confirmed” only by the testimony of two or more witnesses. In some passages, gum means “immovable”; so Eli’s eyes were “set” (1 Sam. 4:15).

Another special use of gum is “rise up again,” as when a childless widow complains to the elders, “My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel ...” (Deut. 25:7). In other words, the brother refuses to continue that name or “raise it up again.”

When used with another verb, gum may suggest simply the beginning of an action. When Scripture says that ”[Jacob] rose up, and passed over the [Euphrates] river” (Gen. 31:21), it does not mean that he literally stood up—merely that he began to cross the river.

Sometimes gum is part of a compound verb and carries no special meaning of its own. This is especially true in commands. Thus Gen. 28:2 could simply be rendered, “Go to Padan-aram,” rather than, “Arise, go ...” (kjv). Other special meanings emerge when

gum is used with certain particles. With cai, “against,” it often means “to fight against or attack”: “A man riseth against his neighbor, and slayeth him ...” (Deut. 22:26). This is its meaning in Gen. 4:8, the first biblical occurrence. With the particle be (“against”), qum means “make a formal charge against”: “One witness shall not rise up against a man .” (Deut. 19:15). With I (“for”), qum means “to testify in behalf of”: “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers?” (Ps. 94:16).The same construction can mean “to deed over,” as when Ephron’s field was deeded over (kjv, “made sure”—Gen. 23:17).

B. Noun.

maqom (4725 ,מקום), “place; height; stature; standing.” The Old Testament

contains three nouns related to qum. The most important of these is maqom, which occurs 401 times in the Old Testament. It refers to the place where something stands (1 Sam. 5:3), sits (1 Kings 10:19), dwells (2 Kings 8:21), or is (Gen. 1:9). It may also refer to a larger location, such as a country (Exod. 3:8) or to an undetermined “space between” (1 Sam. 26:13). A “place” is sometimes a task or office (Eccl. 10:4). This noun is used to signify a sanctuary—i.e., a “place” of worship (Gen. 22:3).


}aron (|727 ,ארו), “ark; coffin; chest; box.” This word has cognates in Phoenician, Aramaic, Akkadian, and Arabic. It appears about 203 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

In Gen. 50:26, this word represents a coffin or sarcophagus (as the same word does in Phoenician): “So Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” This coffin was probably quite elaborate and similar to those found in ancient Egyptian tombs.

During the reign of Joash (or Jehoash), when the temple was repaired, money for the work was deposited in a “chest” with a hole in its lid. The high priest Jehoida prepared this chest and put it at the threshold to the temple (2 Kings 12:9).

In most occurrences, }aron refers to the “ark of the covenant.” This piece of furniture functioned primarily as a container. As such the word is often modified by divine names or attributes. The divine name first modifies }aron in 1 Sam. 3:3: “And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep..” }Aron is first modified by God’s covenant name, Yahweh, in Josh. 4:5. Judg. 20:27 is the first appearance of the “ark” as the ark of the covenant of Elohim. First Samuel 5:11 uses the phrase “the ark of the God [}elohim] of Israel,” and 1 Chron. 15:12

employs “the ark of the Lord [Yahweh] God [}elohim] of Israel.”

Sometimes divine attributes replace the divine name: “Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength” (Ps. 132:8). Another group of modifiers focuses on

divine redemption (cf. Heb. 8:5). Thus }aron is often described as the “ark of the covenant” (Josh. 3:6) or “the ark of the covenant of the Lord” (Num. 10:33). As such, the ark contained the memorials of God’s great redemptive acts—the tablets upon which were inscribed the Ten Commandments, an omer or two quarts of manna, and Aaron’s rod. By Solomon’s day, only the stone tablets remained in the ark (1 Kings 8:9). This chest was also called “the ark of the testimony” (Exod. 25:22), which indicates that the two tablets were evidence of divine redemption.

Exodus 25:10-22 tells us that this ark was made of acacia wood and measured 3 3/4 feet by 2 1/4 feet by 2 1/4 feet. It was gold-plated inside and outside, with a molding of gold. Each of its four feet had a golden ring at its top, through which passed unremovable golden carrying poles. The golden cover or mercy seat (place of propitiatory atonement) had the same dimensions as the top of the ark. Two golden cherubim sat on this cover facing each other, representing the heavenly majesty (Ezek. 1:10) that surrounds the living God.

In addition to containing memorials of divine redemption, the ark represented the presence of God. To be before it was to be in God’s presence (Num. 10:35), although His presence was not limited to the ark (cf. 1 Sam. 4:3-11; 7:2, 6). The ark ceased to have this sacramental function when Israel began to regard it as a magical box with sacred power

(a paiiadium).

God promised to meet Moses at the ark (Exod. 25:22). Thus, the ark functioned as a place where divine revelation was received (Lev. 1:1; 16:2; Num. 7:89). The ark served as an instrument through which God guided and defended Israel during the wilderness wandering (Num. 10:11). Finally, it was upon this ark that the highest of Israel’s sacraments, the blood of atonement, was presented and received (Lev. 16:2ff.).


zeroac (^ΠΤ, 2220), “arm; power; strength; help.” Cognates of zeroac occur both in Northwest and South Semitic languages. Zeroac is attested 92 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. The related word cezroac appears twice (Job 31:22; Jer. 32:21).

Biblical Aramaic attests drac once and cedra once.

Zeroac means “arm,” a part of the body: “Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head” (Deut. 33:20). The word refers to arms in Gen. 49:24 (the first occurrence): “But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong..” The strength of his arms enabled him to

draw the bow. In some passages, zeroac refers especially to the forearm: “It shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm..” (Isa. 17:5). Elsewhere, the word represents the shoulder: “And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms .” (2 Kings 9:24).

Zeroac connotes the “seat of strength”: “He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms” (Ps. 18:34). In Job 26:2, the poor are described as the arm that hath no strength.

God’s strength is figured by anthropomorphisms (attributing to Him human bodily parts), such as His “stretched out arm” (Deut. 4:34) or His “strong arm” (Jer. 21:5). In Isa. 30:30, the word seems to represent lightning bolts: “And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones” (cf. Job 40:9).

The arm is frequently a symbol of strength, both of man (1 Sam. 2:31) and of God (Ps. 71:18): “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to

come.” In Ezek. 22:6 zeroac may be translated “power”: “Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood.” A third nuance is “help”: “Assur also is joined with them: they have helped the children of Lot” (Ps. 83:8).

The word can represent political or military forces: “And the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand” (Dan. 11:15; cf. Ezek. 17:9).

In Num. 6:19 zeroac is used of an animal’s shoulder: “And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram ...” (cf. Deut. 18:3).


}asherah (842 ,אשךה), “Asherah, Asherim (pl.).” This noun, which has an Ugaritic cognate, first appears in the Bible in passages anticipating the settlement in Palestine. The word’s most frequent appearances, however, are usually in historical literature. Of its 40 appearances, 4 are in Israel’s law code, 4 in Judges, 4 in prophetic books, and the rest are in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

}Asherah refers to a cultic object representing the presence of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. When the people of Israel entered Palestine, they were to have nothing to do with the idolatrous religions of its inhabitants. Rather, God said, “But ye shall destroy

their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves [}asherim] ...” (Exod. 34:13). This cult object was manufactured from wood (Judg. 6:26; 1 Kings 14:15) and it could be burned (Deut. 12:3). Some scholars conclude that it was a sacred pole set up near an altar

to Baal. Since there was only one goddess with this name, the plural (}asherim) probably represents her several “poles.”

}Asherah signifies the name of the goddess herself: “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves [}asherah] four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings

18:19). The Canaanites believed that }asherah ruled the sea, was the mother of all the gods including Baal, and sometimes was his deadly enemy. Apparently, the mythology of Canaan maintained that }asherah was the consort of Baal, who had displaced El as their highest god. Thus her sacred objects (poles) were immediately beside altars to Baal, and she was worshiped along with him.


A. Verb.

shœal (7592 ,שאל), “to ask, inquire, consult.” This word is found in many Semitic languages, including ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic. It is found throughout the various periods of Hebrew and is used approximately 170 times in the Hebrew Bible. The first occurrence is found in Gen. 24:47, where the servant of Abraham asks Rebekah, “Whose daughter art thou?” It is commonly used for simple requests, as when Sisera asked for water from Jael (Judg. 5:25).

Since prayer often includes petition, sha>al is sometimes used in the sense of “praying for” something: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6). In the idiomatic phrase,

“to ask another of his welfare,” it carries the sense of a greeting (cf. Exod. 18:7; Judg.

18:15; 1 Sam. 10:4). Frequently, it is used to indicate someone’s asking for God’s direction or counsel (Josh. 9:14; Isa. 30:2). In Ps. 109:10 it is used to indicate a begging: “Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg.”

B. Noun.

she>oi (7585 ,שאול), “place of the dead.” Shajai seems to be the basis for an

important noun in the Old Testament, she>oi. Found 65 times in the Hebrew Bible, she>oi refers to the netherworld or the underground cavern to which all buried dead go. Often incorrectly translated “hell” in the kjv, she^oi was not understood to be a place of punishment, but simply the ultimate resting place of all mankind (Gen. 37:35). Thus, it was thought to be the land of no return (Job 16:22; 17:14-16). It was a place to be dreaded, not only because it meant the end of physical life on earth, but also because there was no praise of God there (Ps. 6:5). Deliverance from it was a blessing (Ps. 30:3).

In some instances, it may be a symbol of distress or even plague; it is often used in

parallel with “the Pit,” another symbol of destruction. Everything about she>oi was negative, so it is little wonder that the concept of hell developed from it in the intertestamental and New Testament literature.

She>oi is translated variously in the English versions: “hell, pit, grave” (kjv); “netherworld” (nab). Some versions simply give the transliteration, Sheol” (RSV, JB, NASB).


A. Noun.

gahai (6951 ,קהל), “assembly; company.” Cognates derived from this Hebrew noun

appear in late Aramaic and Syriac. Qahai occurs 123 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

In many contexts, the word means an assembly gathered to plan or execute war. One of the first of these is Gen. 49:6. In 1 Kings 12:3 (RSV), “all the assembly of Israel” asked Rehoboam to ease the tax burden imposed by Solomon. When Rehoboam refused, they withdrew from him and rejected their feudal (military) allegiance to him. For the

application of gahai to an army, see Ezek. 17:17: “Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make for him in the war.. ”

Quite often, gahai is used to denote a gathering to judge or deliberate. This emphasis first appears in Ezek. 23:45-47, where the “company” judges and executes judgment. In many passages, the word signifies an assembly representing a larger group: “David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader. And David said to all the assembly of Israel ...” (1 Chron. 13:1-2, rsv). Here, “the whole assembly” of Israel refers to the assembled leaders (cf. 2 Chron. 1:2). Thus, in Lev. 4:13 we find that the sin of the whole congregation of Israel can escape the notice of the “assembly” (the judges or elders who represent the congregation).

Sometimes gahai represents all the males of Israel who were eligible to bring sacrifices to the Lord: “He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deut. 23:1, rsv). The only eligible members of the assembly were men who were religiously bound together under the covenant, who

were neither strangers (living in Israel temporarily) nor sojourners (permanent non-Hebrew residents) (Num. 15:15). In Num. 16:3 and 33, it is clear that the “assembly” was the worshiping, voting community (cf. 18:4).

Elsewhere, the word qahal is used to signify all the people of Israel. The whole congregation of the sons of Israel complained that Moses had brought them forth into the wilderness to kill the whole assembly with hunger (Exod. 16:31). The first occurrence of the word also bears the connotation of a large group: “And God Almighty bless thee, and

make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude [qahal] of people ...” (Gen. 28:3).

B. Verb.

qahal (6950 ,קהל), “to gather.” The verb qahal, which occurs 39 times, is derived from the noun qahal. Like the noun, this verb appears in all periods of biblical Hebrew. It means “to gather” as a qahal for conflict or war, for religious purposes, and for judgment: “Then Solomon assembled the elders [qahal] of Israel ...” (1 Kings 8:1).


A. Verb.

kapar (3722 ,כ!ך), “to cover over, atone, propitiate, pacify.” This root is found in the Hebrew language at all periods of its history, and perhaps is best known from the term Yom Kippur, “Day of Atonement.” Its verbal forms occur approximately 100 times

in the Hebrew Bible. Kapar is first found in Gen. 6:14, where it is used in its primary sense of “to cover over.” Here God gives Noah instructions concerning the ark, including, “Cover it inside and out with pitch” (RSV). (The KJV translates, “Pitch it within and without with pitch.”)

Most uses of the word, however, involve the theological meaning of “covering over,” often with the blood of a sacrifice, in order to atone for some sin. It is not clear whether this means that the “covering over” hides the sin from God’s sight or implies that the sin is wiped away in this process.

As might be expected, this word occurs more frequently in the Book of Leviticus than in any other book, since Leviticus deals with the ritual sacrifices that were made to atone for sin. For example, Lev. 4:13-21 gives instructions for bringing a young bull to the tent of meeting for a sin offering. After the elders laid their hands on the bull (to transfer the people’s sin to the bull), the bull was killed. The priest then brought some of the blood of the bull into the tent of meeting and sprinkled it seven times before the veil. Some of the blood was put on the horns of the altar and the rest of the blood was poured at the base of the altar of burnt offering. The fat of the bull was then burned on the altar. The bull itself was to be burned outside the camp. By means of this ritual, “the priest shall make an

atonement [kapar] for them, and it shall be forgiven them” (Lev. 4:20).

The term “atonement” is found at least 16 times in Lev. 16, the great chapter concerning the Day of Atonement. Before anything else, the high priest had to “make atonement” for himself and his house by offering a bull as a sin offering. After lots were cast upon the two goats, one was sent away into the wilderness as an atonement (v. 10), while the other was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat as an atonement for the people (vv. 15-20). The Day of Atonement was celebrated only once a year. Only on this day could the high priest enter the holy of holies of the tabernacle or temple on behalf of the people of Israel and make atonement for them.

Sometimes atonement for sin was made apart from or without blood offerings. During his vision-call experience, Isaiah’s lips were touched with a coal of fire taken from the

altar by one of the seraphim. With that, he was told, “Thy sin is purged [kapar]” (Isa.

6:7). The English versions translate the word variously as “purged” (kjv, jb); “forgiven” (rsv, nasb, tev); and “wiped away” (neb). In another passage, Scripture says that the guilt or iniquity of Israel would be “purged” (KJV, NEB) by the destruction of the

implements of idolatrous worship (Isa. 27:9). In this case, the rsv renders kapar as “expiated,” while the nasb and tev translate it as “forgiven.”

B. Noun.

kapporet (3727 ,כ#ךת), “mercy seat; throne of mercy.” This noun form of kapar has been variously interpreted by the English versions as “mercy seat” (kjv, rsv); “cover” (neb); “lid” (tev); “throne of mercy” (jb); and “throne” (Knox). It refers to a slab of gold that rested on top of the ark of the covenant. Images of two cherubims stood on this slab, facing each other. This slab of gold represented the throne of God and symbolized His real presence in the worship shrine. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sin offering on it, apparently symbolizing the blood’s reception by God.

Thus the kapporet was the central point at which Israel, through its high priest, could come into the presence of God.

This is further seen in the fact that the temple proper was distinguished from its porches and other accompanying structures by the name “place of the mercy seat

(kapporet)” (1 Chron. 28:11). The Septuagint refers to the mercy seat as a “propitiary” (hiiasteirion).


A. Verb.

nagam (|5358 ,נק), “to avenge, take vengeance, punish.” This root and its derivatives occur 87 times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the Pentateuch, Isaiah, and Jeremiah; occasionally it occurs in the historical books and the Psalms. The root occurs also in Aramaic, Assyrian, Arabic, Ethiopic, and late Hebrew.

Lamech’s sword song is a scornful challenge to his fellows and a blatant attack on the justice of God: “. for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold” (Gen. 4:23-24).

The Lord reserves vengeance as the sphere of His own action: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense . for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries” (Deut. 32:35, 43). The law therefore forbade personal vengeance: “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18).

Hence the Lord’s people commit their case to Him, as David: “The Lord judge between me and thee [Saul], and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee” (1 Sam. 24:12).

The Lord uses men to take vengeance, as He said to Moses: “Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites.. And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian” (Num. 31:2- 3). Vengeance for Israel is the Lord’s vengeance.

The law stated, “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished” (Exod. 21:20). In Israel, this responsibility was given to the “avenger of blood” (Deut. 19:6). He was responsible to preserve the life and personal integrity of his nearest relative.

When a man was attacked because he was God’s servant, he could rightly call for vengeance on his enemies, as Samson prayed for strength, “. that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes” (Judg. 16:28).

In the covenant, God warned that His vengeance may fall on His own people: “And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant .” (Lev. 26:25). Isaiah thus says of Judah: “Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts ... Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of my enemies” (1:24).

B. Noun.

naqam (5359 ,בקן), “vengeance.” The noun is first used in the Lord’s promise to Cain: “Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold” (Gen. 4:15).

In some instances a man may call for “vengeance” on his enemies, such as when another man has committed adultery with his wife: “For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance” (Prov. 6:34).

The prophets frequently speak of God’s “vengeance” on His enemies: Isa. 59:17;

Mic. 5:15; Nah. 1:2. It will come at a set time: “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion” (Isa. 34:8).

Isaiah brings God’s “vengeance” and redemption together in the promise of messianic salvation: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; ... he hath sent me ... to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God ...” (61:1-2). When Jesus announced that this was fulfilled in Himself, He stopped short of reading the last clause; but His sermon clearly anticipated that “vengeance” that would come on Israel for rejecting Him. Isaiah also said: “For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come” (63:4).


cur (5782 ,עור), “to awake, stir up, rouse oneself, rouse.” This word is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew, as well as in ancient Ugaritic. It occurs approximately 80 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its first use in the Old Testament has the sense of “rousing” someone to action: “Awake, awake, Deborah” (Judg. 5:12). This same meaning is reflected in Ps. 7:6, where it is used in parallelism with “arise”: “Arise, O Lord, in thine anger, . awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.” The rsv translates this passage: “... Awake, O my God; thou hast appointed a judgment.”

This probably is more in harmony with the total parallelism involved (arise/awake, Lord/God) than the KJ version. Also, the rsv’S change from “for me” to “O my God” involves only a very slight change of one vowel in the word. (Remember that Hebrew vowels were not part of the alphabet. They were added after the consonantal text was written down.)

cUr commonly signifies awakening out of ordinary sleep (Zech. 4:1) or out of the sleep of death (Job 14:12). In Job 31:29, it expresses the idea of “being excited” or “stirred up”: “If I ... lifted up myself when evil found him..” This verb is found several

times in the Song of Solomon, for instance, in contrast with sieep: “I sleep, but my heart waketh .” (5:2). It is found three times in an identical phrase: “. that you stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7; 3:5; 8:4).



bajai (1167 ,בעל), “master; baal.” In Akkadian, the noun beiu (“lord”) gave rise to

the verb beiu (“to rule”). In other northwest Semitic languages, the noun bacai differs somewhat in meaning, as other words have taken over the meaning of “sir” or “lord.” (Cf. Heb. >adon.) The Hebrew word bacai seems to have been related to these homonyms.

The word bacai occurs 84 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, 15 times with the meaning of “husband” and 50 times as a reference to a deity. The first occurrence of the noun bacai is in Gen. 14:13: “And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with [literally, "bacahs of a covenant with”] Abram.” The primary meaning of bacai is “possessor.” Isaiah’s use of bacai in parallel with qanah clarifies this basic significance of bacai: “The ox knoweth his owner [ganah], and

the ass his master’s [bacai] crib: but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3). Man may be the owner [ba’al] of an animal (Exod. 22:10), a house (Exod. 22:7), a cistern (Exod. 21:34), or even a wife (Exod. 21:3).

A secondary meaning, “husband,” is clearly indicated by the phrase ba>ai ha-ishshah (literally, “owner of the woman”). For example: “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely

punished, according as the woman’s husband [ba>ai ha-ishshah] will lay upon him; and

he shall pay as the judges determine” (Exod. 21:22). The meaning of bacai is closely

related to ish (“man”), as is seen in the usage of these two words in one verse: “When the

wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband [ish] was dead, she mourned for her husband

[bacai]” (2 Sam. 11:26).

The word bacai with another noun may signify a peculiar characteristic or quality: “And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh” (Gen. 37:19); the kjv offers a literal translation of the Hebrew—“master of dreams”—as an alternative.

Thirdly, the word bacai may denote any deity other than the God of Israel. Baal was a common name given to the god of fertility in Canaan. In the Canaanite city of Ugarit,

Baal was especially recognized as the god of fertility. The Old Testament records that Baal was “the god” of the Canaanites. The Israelites worshiped Baal during the time of the judges (Judg. 6:25-32) and of King Ahab. Elijah stood as the opponent of the Baal priests at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:21ff.). Many cities made Baal a local god and honored him with special acts of worship: Baal-peor (Num. 25:5), Baal-berith at Shechem (Judg. 8:33), Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2-16) at Ekron, Baal-zephon (Num. 33:7), and Baalhermon (Judg. 3:3).

Among the prophets, Jeremiah and Hosea mention Baal most frequently. Hosea pictured Israel as turning to the baals and only returning to the Lord after a time of

despair (Hos. 2:13, 17). He says that the name of Bacal will no longer be used, not even with the meaning of “Lord” or “master,” as the association was contaminated by the idolatrous practices: “And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me

Ishi; and shalt call me no more Ba-a-li [bacal]. For I will take away the names of Ba-a-lim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name” (Hos. 2:16

17). In Hosea’s and Jeremiah’s time, the bacal idols were still worshiped, as the peoples sacrificed, built high places, and made images of the bacalim (plural).

In the Septuagint, the word bacal is not uniformly translated: kurios (“lord, owner”);

aner (“man, husband”); the simple transliteration; and bacal. The kjv has these translations: “Baal, man, owner, husband, master.”


gedud (1416 ,%דוד), “band (of raiders); marauding band; raiding party; army; units (of an army); troops; bandits; raid.” The 33 occurrences of this noun are distributed throughout every period of biblical Hebrew. Basically, this word represents individuals or a band of individuals who raid and plunder an enemy. The units that perform such raids may be a group of outlaws (“bandits”), a special unit of any army, or an entire army. Ancient peoples frequently suffered raids from their neighbors. When the Amalekites “raided” Ziklag, looting and burning it while taking captive the wives and families of the men who followed David, he inquired of God, “Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them?” (1 Sam. 30:8). In this case, the “raiding band” consisted of the entire

army of Amalek. This meaning of gedud occurs for the first time in Gen. 49:19: “... A troop shall overcome him.” Here the word is a collective noun referring to all the “band of raiders” to come. When Job described the glory of days gone by, he said he “dwelt as a king in the army [nasb, “troops”]” (Job 29:25). When David and his followers were called a lgedud,they were being branded outlaws—men who lived by fighting and raiding (1 Kings 11:24).

In some passages, gedud signifies a smaller detachment of troops or a military unit or division: “And Saul’s son had two men that were captains of bands” (2 Sam. 4:2). God sent against Jehoiakim “units” from the Babylonian army—“bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon ...” (2 Kings 24:2).

The word can also represent individuals who are members of such raiding or military bands. The individuals in the household of Izrahiah, the descendant of Issachar, formed a military unit, “and with them by their generations, after the house of their fathers, were bands of soldiers for war, six and thirty thousand men .” (1 Chron. 7:4). Bildad asks the rhetorical question concerning God, “Is there any number [numbering] of his armies?” (Job 25:3).

The verb gadad means “to gather together against” (Ps. 94:21), “to make incisions into oneself” as a religious act (Deut. 14:1), “to roam about” (Jer. 30:23), or “to muster troops” (Mic. 5:1).


hayah (1961 ,היה), “to become, occur, come to pass, be.” This verb occurs only in Hebrew and Aramaic. The Old Testament attests hayah about 3,560 times, in both Hebrew and Aramaic.

Often this verb indicates more than simple existence or identity (this may be indicated by omitting the verb altogether). Rather, the verb makes a strong statement about the being or presence of a person or thing. Yet the simple meaning “become” or “come to pass” appears often in the English versions.

The verb can be used to emphasize the presence of a person (e.g., God’s Spirit—Judg. 3:10), an emotion (e.g., fear—Gen. 9:2), or a state of being (e.g., evil—Amos 3:6). In such cases, the verb indicates that their presence (or absence) is noticeable—it makes a real difference to what is happening.

On the other hand, in some instances hayah does simply mean “happen, occur.” Here the focus is on the simple occurrence of the events—as seen, for example, in the statement following the first day of creation: “And so it happened” (Gen. 1:7). In this

sense, hayah is frequently translated “it came to pass.”

The use of this verb with various particles colors its emphasis accordingly. In passages setting forth blessing or cursing, for example, this verb not only is used to specify the object of the action but also the dynamic forces behind and within the action. Gen. 12:2, for example, records that God told Abram: “. I will bless thee, and make thy

name great; and thou shalt be [hayah] a blessing.” Abram was already blessed, so God’s

pronouncement conferred upon him a future blessedness. The use of hayah in such passages declares the actual release of power, so that the accomplishment is assured— Abram will be blessed because God has ordained it.

In another set of passages, hayah constitutes intent rather than accomplishment. Hence, the blessing becomes a promise and the curse a threat (cf. Gen. 15:5).

Finally, in a still weaker use of hayah, the blessing or curse constitutes a wish or desire (cf. Ps. 129:6). Even here the verb is somewhat dynamic, since the statement recognizes God’s presence, man’s faithfulness (or rebellion), and God’s intent to accomplish the result pronounced.

In miracle accounts, hayah often appears at the climax of the story to confirm the occurrence of the event itself. Lot’s wife looked back and “became” a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26); the use of hayah emphasizes that the event really occurred. This is also the force of the verb in Gen. 1:3, in which God said, “Let there be light.” He accomplished His word so that there was light.

The prophets use hayah to project God’s intervention in the future. By using this verb, they emphasize not so much the occurrence of predicted events and circumstances as the underlying divine force that will effect them (cf. Isa. 2:2).

Legal passages use hayah in describing God’s relationship to His covenant people, to set forth what is desired and intended (cf. Exod. 12:16). When covenants were made between two partners, the formulas usually included hayah (Deut. 26:17-18; Jer. 7:23).

One of the most debated uses of hayah occurs in Exod. 3:14, where God tells Moses

His name. He says: “I am [hayah] that I am [hayah].” Since the divine name Jehovah or

Yahweh was well-known long before (cf. Gen. 4:1), this revelation seems to emphasize that the God who made the covenant was the God who kept the covenant. So Exod. 3:14 is more than a simple statement of identity: “I am that I am”; it is a declaration of divine control of all things (cf. Hos. 1:9).


A. Verb.

yalad ($3205 ,יל), “to bear, bring forth, beget, be delivered.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages and in nearly all verbal forms. The noteworthy exception is biblical Aramaic. However, the Aramaic verb is well attested outside the Bible. The verb yalad occurs about 490 times in the Bible.

Essentially, the word refers to the action of “giving birth” and its result, “bearing children.” God cursed woman by multiplying her pain in “bringing forth” children (cf.

Gen. 3:16, the first occurrence of yalad). The second meaning is exemplified by Gen. 4:18, which reports that Irad “begat” (“became the father of”) Mehujael. This verb can also be used in reference to animals; in Gen. 30:39, the strong among Laban’s flocks “birthed” striped, speckled, and spotted offspring.

One recurring theme in biblical history is typified by Abram and Sarah. They had no heirs, but God made them a promise and gave them a son (Gen. 16:1, 16). This demonstrates that God controls the opening of the womb (Gen. 20:17-18) and bestows children as an indication of His blessing. The prophets use the image of childbirth to illustrate the terror to overcome men in the day of the Lord (Isa. 13:8). Hosea uses the image of marriage and childbearing to describe God’s relationship to Israel (1:3, 6, 8). One of the most hotly debated passages of Scripture, Isa. 7:14, uses this verb to predict the “birth” of Immanuel. Finally, the prophets sometimes mourn the day of their “birth” (Jer. 15:10).

Yalad describes the relationship between God and Israel at other places in the Bible as well. This relationship is especially relevant to the king who typifies the Messiah, the Son whom God “begot” (Ps. 2:7). God also says He “begot” the nation of Israel as a whole (Deut. 32:18). This statement is in noticeable contrast to Moses’ disclaimer that he did not “birth” them (Num. 11:12) and, therefore, does not want to be responsible for them any longer.

The motif that God “gave birth” to Israel is picked up by Jeremiah. In Jer. 31:20, God states that His heart yearns for Ephraim His son (yeied). Ezekiel develops this motif in the form of an allegory, giving the names Aholah and Aholibah to Samaria and Jerusalem respectively, to those whom He “bore” (Ezek. 23:4, 37).

The Septuagint renders yaiad with words connoting “giving birth” (tinknein) and “begetting” (gennao).

B. Noun.

yeied ($3206 ,י0ל), “boy; child.” The noun yeied differs from ben (“son”), which more exactly specifies the parental relationship. For example, the child that Naomi nursed was a “boy” (Ruth 4:16).

Yeied, which appears 89 times in the Bible, is rendered by several different Greek

words. Other nouns built on the verb yaiad include yaidah (“girl”; 3 times), yaiid (“son”

or “slave”; 3 times), yiiiod (“newborn”; 5 times), waiad (“child”; once), iedah (“bringing

forth” or “birth”; 4 times), moiedet (“offspring, kindred, parentage”; 22 times), and

toiedot (“descendants, contemporaries, generation, genealogy, record of the family”; 39 times).


behemah (929 ,בהמה), “beast; animal; domesticated animal; cattle; riding beast;

wild beast.” A cognate of this word appears in Arabic. Biblical Hebrew uses behemah about 185 times and in all periods of history.

In Exod. 9:25, this word clearly embraces even the larger “animals,” all the animals in Egypt: “And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast..” This meaning is especially clear in Gen. 6:7: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air..” In 1 Kings 4:33, this word seems to exclude birds, fish, and reptiles: “He [Solomon] spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.”

The word behemah can be used of all the domesticated beasts or animals other than man: “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and [wild] beast of the earth after his kind .” (Gen. 1:24, first

occurrence). Psalm 8:7 uses behemah in synonymous parallelism with “oxen” and “sheep,” as though it includes both: “All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field.” The word can, however, be used of cattle only: “Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs [nasb, “animals”] be ours?” (Gen. 34:23).

In a rare use of the word, it signifies a “riding animal,” such as a horse or mule: “And

I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon” (Neh. 2:12).

Infrequently, behemah represents any wild, four-footed, undomesticated beast: “And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall [frighten] them away” (Deut. 28:26).


A. Adverb.

}ahar (310 ,אחר), “behind; after(wards).” A cognate of this word occurs in Ugaritic. }Ahar appears about 713 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

One adverbial use of }ahar has a local-spatial emphasis that means “behind”: “The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after ...” (Ps. 68:25). Another adverbial usage has a temporal emphasis that can mean “afterwards”: “And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on ...” (Gen. 18:5).

B.    Preposition.

}ahar (310 ,אחר), “behind; after.” }Ahar as a preposition can have a local-spatial significance, such as “behind”: “And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan” (Gen. 37:17). As such, it can mean “follow after”: “And also the king that reigneth over you [will] continue following the Lord your God” (1 Sam.

12:14). }Ahar can signify “after” with a temporal emphasis: “And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years” (Gen. 9:28, the first biblical occurrence of the word). This same emphasis may occur when }ahar appears in the plural (cf. Gen. 19:6—local-spatial; Gen. 17:8—temporal).

C.    Conjunction.

}ahar (310 ,אחר), “after.” }Ahar may be a conjunction, “after,” with a temporal emphasis: “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years ...” (Gen. 5:4).


A. Verb.

}aman (539 ,אמן), “to be firm, endure, be faithful, be true, stand fast, trust, have belief, believe.” Outside of Hebrew, this word appears in Aramaic (infrequently), Arabic, and Syriac. It appears in all periods of biblical Hebrew (about 96 times) and only in the causative and passive stems.

In the passive stem, }aman has several emphases. First, it indicates that a subject is “lasting” or “enduring,” which is its meaning in Deut. 28:59: “Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.” It also signifies the element

of being “firm” or “trustworthy.” In Isa. 22:23, }aman refers to a “firm” place, a place into which a peg will be driven so that it will be immovable. The peg will remain firmly anchored, even though it is pushed so hard that it breaks off at the point of entry (Isa. 22:25). The Bible also speaks of “faithful” people who fulfill their obligations (cf. 1 Sam. 22:14; Prov. 25:13).

The nuance meaning “trustworthy” also occurs: “He that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Prov. 11:13; cf. Isa. 8:2). An officebearer may be conceived as an

“entrusted one”: “He removeth away the speech of the trusty [entrusted ones], and taketh away the understanding of the aged” (Job 12:20). In this passage, }aman is synonymously parallel (therefore equivalent in meaning) to “elders” or “officebearers.” Thus, it should be rendered “entrusted ones” or “those who have been given a certain responsibility (trust).” Before receiving the trust, they are men “worthy of trust” or “trustworthy” (cf. 1 Sam. 2:35; Neh. 13:13).

In Gen. 42:20 (the first biblical appearance of this word in this stem), Joseph requests that his brothers bring Benjamin to him; “so shall your words be verified,” or “be shown

to be true” (cf. 1 Kings 8:26; Hos. 5:9). In Hos. 11:12, }aman contrasts Judah’s actions

(“faithful”) with those of Ephraim and Israel (“deceit”). So here }aman represents both “truthfulness” and “faithfulness” (cf. Ps. 78:37; Jer. 15:18). The word may be rendered “true” in several passages (1 Kings 8:26; 2 Chron. 1:9; 6:17).

A different nuance of }aman is seen in Deut. 7:9: “. the faithful God, which keepeth

covenant and mercy..” There is a good reason here to understand the word }aman as referring to what God has done (“faithfulness”), rather than what He will do (“trustworthy”), because He has already proved Himself faithful by keeping the covenant. Therefore, the translation would become, “. faithful God who has kept His covenant and faithfulness, those who love Him kept ...” (cf. Isa. 47:7).

In the causative stem, }aman means “to stand fast,” or “be fixed in one spot,” which is demonstrated by Job 39:24: “He [a war horse] swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.”

Even more often, this stem connotes a psychological or mental certainty, as in Job 29:24: “If I laughed on them, they believed it not.” Considering something to be trustworthy is an act of full trusting or believing. This is the emphasis in the first biblical

occurrence of }aman: “And [Abram] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). The meaning here is that Abram was full of trust and confidence in God, and that he did not fear Him (v. 1). at was not primarily in God’s words that he believed, but in God Himself. Nor does the text tell us that Abram believed God so as to accept what He said as “true” and “trustworthy” (cf. Gen. 45:26), but simply that he believed in God. In other words, Abram came to experience a personal relationship to God rather than an impersonal relationship with His promises. Thus, in Exod. 4:9 the meaning is, “if they do not believe in view of the two signs,” rather than,

“if they do not believe these two signs.” The focus is on the act of believing, not on the trustworthiness of the signs. When God is the subject or object of the verb, the Septuagint

almost always renders this stem of }aman with pisteuo (“to believe”) and its composites. The only exception to this is Prov. 26:25.

A more precise sense of }aman does appear sometimes: “That they may believe that the Lord ... hath appeared unto thee” (Exod. 4:5; cf. 1 Kings 10:7).

In other instances, }aman has a cultic use, by which the worshiping community affirms its identity with what the worship leader says (1 Chron. 16:32). The “God of the }amenw (2 Chron. 20:20; Isa. 65:16) is the God who always accomplishes what He says; He is a “God who is faithful.”

B. Nouns.

>emunah (530), “firmness; faithfulness; truth; honesty; official obligation.” In Exod. 17:12 (the first biblical occurrence), the word means “to remain in one place”: “And his [Moses’] hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” Closely related to this use is that in Isa. 33:6: “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times..” In

passages such as 1 Chron. 9:22, נemunah appears to function as a technical term meaning “a fixed position” or “enduring office”: “All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set [i.e., established] office.”

The most frequent sense of נemunah is “faithfulness,” as illustrated by 1 Sam. 26:23: “The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness..” The Lord repays the one who demonstrates that he does what God demands.

Quite often, this word means “truthfulness,” as when it is contrasted to false swearing, lying, and so on: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth [i.e., honesty]” (Jer. 5:1; cf. Jer. 5:2). Here

נemunah signifies the condition of being faithful to God’s covenant, practicing truth, or doing righteousness. On the other hand, the word can represent the abstract idea of “truth”: “This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth

correction: truth [נemunah] is perished, and is cut off from their mouth” (Jer. 7:28).

These quotations demonstrate the two senses in which נemunah means “true”—the personal sense, which identifies a subject as honest, trustworthy, faithful, truthful (Prov. 12:22); and the factual sense, which identifies a subject as being factually true (cf. Prov. 12:27), as opposed to that which is false.

The essential meaning of נemunah is “established” or “lasting,” “continuing,” “certain.” So God says, “And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness” (cf. 2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 16:5). Thus, the phrase frequently rendered “with lovingkindness and truth” should be rendered “with perpetual (faithful) lovingkindness” (cf. Josh. 2:14). He who sows righteousness earns a “true” or “lasting” reward (Prov. 11:18), a reward on which he can rely.

In other contexts, נemunah embraces other aspects of the concept of truth: ”[The Lord] hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel .” (Ps. 98:3). Here the word does not describe the endurance of God but His “truthfulness”; that which He once said He has maintained. The emphasis here is on truth as a subjective quality, defined personally. In a similar sense, one can both practice (Gen. 47:29) and speak the “truth” (2 Sam. 7:28). In such cases, it is not a person’s dependability (i.e., others can act on the basis of it) but his reliability (conformity to what is true) that is considered. The first emphasis is subjective and the second objective. It is not always possible to discern which emphasis is intended by a given passage.

נemet (571 ,אמ״), “truth; right; faithful.” This word appears 127 times in the Bible.

The Septuagint translates it in 100 occurrences as “truth” (aietheia) or some form using

this basic root. In Zech. 8:3, Jerusalem is called “a city of truth.” Elsewhere, נemet is

rendered as the word “right” (dikaios) “Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly .” (Neh. 9:33). Only infrequently (16 times) is נemet translated “faithful” (pistis), as when Nehemiah is described as “a faithful man, and feared God above many” (Neh. 7:2).

C. Adverb.

נamen (543 ,אמן), “truly; genuinely; amen; so be it.” The term נamen is used 30

times as an adverb. The Septuagint renders it as “truly” (iethinos) once; transliterates it as

“amen” three times; and translates it as “so be it” (genoito) the rest of the time. This Hebrew word usually appears as a response to a curse that has been pronounced upon someone, as the one accursed accepts the curse upon himself. By so doing, he binds himself to fulfill certain conditions or else be subject to the terms of the curse (cf. Deut. 29:15-26).

Although signifying a voluntary acceptance of the conditions of a covenant, the נamen was sometimes pronounced with coercion. Even in these circumstances, the one

who did not pronounce it received the punishment embodied in the curse. So the נamen was an affirmation of a covenant, which is the significance of the word in Num. 5:22, its first biblical occurrence. Later generations or individuals might reaffirm the covenant by

voicing their נamen (Neh. 5:1-13; Jer. 18:6).

In 1 Kings 1:36, נamen is noncovenantal. It functions as an assertion of a person’s agreement with the intent of a speech just delivered: “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the Lord God of my lord the king say so too.” However, the context shows that Benaiah meant to give more than just verbal assent; his

נamen committed him to carry out the wishes of King David. It was a statement whereby he obligated himself to do what David had indirectly requested of him (cf. Neh. 8:6). BETWEEN

ben (996 ,בין), “between; in the midst of; among; within; in the interval of.” A cognate of this word is found in Arabic, Aramaic, and Ethiopic. The approximately 375 biblical appearances of this word occur in every period of biblical Hebrew. Scholars

believe that the pure form of this word is bayin, but this form never occurs in biblical Hebrew.

This word nearly always (except in 1 Sam. 17:4, 23) is a preposition meaning “in the interval of” or “between.” The word may represent “the area between” in general: “And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes .” (Exod. 13:9). Sometimes the word means “within,” in the sense of a person’s or a thing’s “being in the area of”: “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the

streets” (Prov. 26:13). In other places, ben means “among”: “Shall the companions make

a banquet of him [Leviathan]? Shall they part him among [give each a part] the merchants?” (Job 41:6). In Job 34:37, the word means “in the midst of,” in the sense of “one among a group”: “For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us.. ”

The area separating two particular objects is indicated in several ways. First, by repeating ben before each object: “And God divided the light from the darkness”

[literally, “between the light and between the darkness”] (Gen. 1:4); that is, He put an interval or space between them. In other places (more rarely), this concept is represented

by putting ben before one object and the preposition le before the second object: “Let

there be a firmament in the midst [ben] of the waters, and let it divide the waters from [le]

the waters” (Gen. 1:6). In still other instances, this idea is represented by placing ben before the first object plus the phrase meaning “with reference to” before the second (Joel 2:17), or by ben before the first object and the phrase “with reference to the interval of’ before the second (Isa. 59:2).

Ben is used in the sense of “distinguishing between” in many passages: “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from [ben] the night” (Gen. 1:14).

Sometimes ben signifies a metaphorical relationship. For example, “This is the token

of the covenant which I make between [ben] me and you and every living creature ...” (Gen. 9:12). The covenant is a contractual relationship. Similarly, the Bible speaks of an oath (Gen. 26:28) and of goodwill (Prov. 14:9) filling the metaphorical “space” between two parties.

This word is used to signify an “interval of days,” or “a period of time”: “Now that which was prepared for me was . once in ten days [literally, “at ten-day intervals”] store of all sorts of wine ...” (Neh. 5:18).

In the dual form, ben represents “the space between two armies”: “And there went out a champion [literally, “a man between the two armies”] out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath ...” (1 Sam. 17:4). In ancient warfare, a battle or even an entire war could be decided by a contest between two champions.


}asar (631 ,אסר), “to bind, imprison, tie, gird, to harness.” This word is a common Semitic term, found in both ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, as well as throughout the history of the Hebrew language. The word occurs around 70 times in its verbal forms in

the Hebrew Old Testament. The first use of }asar in the Hebrew text is in Gen. 39:20, which tells how Joseph was “imprisoned” after being wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife.

The common word for “tying up” for security and safety, }asar is often used to indicate the tying up of horses and donkeys (2 Kings 7:10). Similarly, oxen are “harnessed” to carts (1 Sam. 6:7, 10). Frequently, }asar is used to describe the “binding” of prisoners with cords and various fetters (Gen. 42:24; Judg. 15:10, 12-13). Samson misled Delilah as she probed for the secret of his strength, telling her to “bind” him with bowstrings (Judg. 16:7) and new ropes (Judg. 16:11), none of which could hold him.

Used in an abstract sense, }asar refers to those who are spiritually “bound” (Ps. 146:7; Isa. 49:9; 61:1) or a man who is emotionally “captivated” by a woman’s hair (Song of Sol. 7:5). Strangely, the figurative use of the term in the sense of obligation or “binding” to a vow or an oath is found only in Num. 30, but it is used there a number of times (vv.

3, 5-6, 8-9, 11- 12). This section also illustrates how such “binding” is variously rendered in the English versions: “bind” (RSV, KJV, NAB); “promises” (TEV); “puts himself under a binding obligation” (NEB, NASB); “takes a formal pledge under oath” (JB).


A. Verb.

barak (TO 1288), “to kneel, bless, be blessed, curse.” The root of this word is found in other Semitic languages which, like Hebrew, use it most frequently with a deity as subject. There are also parallels to this word in Egyptian.

Barak occurs about 330 times in the Bible, first in Gen. 1:22: “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, ...” God’s first word to man is introduced in the same way: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply ...” (v. 28). Thus the whole creation is shown to depend upon God for its continued

existence and function (cf. Ps. 104:27-30). Barak is used again of man in Gen. 5:2, at the beginning of the history of believing men, and again after the Flood in Gen. 9:1: “And God blessed Noah and his sons..” The central element of God’s covenant with Abram is: “I will bless thee . and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee ... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3). This “blessing” on the nations is repeated in Gen. 18:18; 22:18; and 28:14 (cf. Gen. 26:4; Jer. 4:2). In all of these instances, God’s blessing goes out to the nations through Abraham or his seed. The

Septuagint translates all of these occurrences of barak in the passive, as do the kjv, nasb, and niv. Paul quotes the Septuagint’s rendering of Gen. 22:18 in Gal. 3:8.

The covenant promise called the nations to seek the “blessing” (cf. Isa. 2:2-4), but made it plain that the initiative in blessing rests with God, and that Abraham and his seed were the instruments of it. God, either directly or through His representatives, is the subject of this verb over 100 times. The Levitical benediction is based on this order: “On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel . the Lord bless thee . and they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them” (Num. 6:23- 27).

The passive form of barak is used in pronouncing God’s “blessing on men,” as through Melchizedek: “Blessed be Abram of the most high God ...” (Gen. 14:19). “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem ...” (Gen. 9:26) is an expression of praise. “Blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand” (Gen. 14:20) is mingled praise and thanksgiving.

A common form of greeting was, “Blessed be thou of the Lord” (1 Sam. 15:13; cf. Ruth 2:4); “Saul went out to meet [Samuel], that he might salute him” (1 Sam. 13:10; “greet,” nasb and niv).

The simple form of the verb is used in 2 Chron. 6:13: “He ... kneeled down..” Six times the verb is used to denote profanity, as in Job 1:5: “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.”

B. Noun.

berakah (1293 ,בריה), “blessing.” The root form of this word is found in northwest

and south Semitic languages. It is used in conjunction with the verb barak (“to bless”) 71 times in the Old Testament. The word appears most frequently in Genesis and Deuteronomy. The first occurrence is God’s blessing of Abram: “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing

[berakah]” (Gen. 12:2).

When expressed by men, a “blessing” was a wish or prayer for a blessing that is to come in the future: “And [God] give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham” (Gen. 28:4). This refers to a “blessing” that the patriarchs customarily extended upon their children before they died. Jacob’s “blessings” on the tribes (Gen. 49) and Moses’ “blessing” (Deut. 33:1ff.) are other familiar examples of this.

Blessing was the opposite of a cursing (geiaiah): “My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing” (Gen. 27:12). The blessing might also be presented more concretely in the form of a gift. For example, “Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it” (Gen. 33:11). When a “blessing” was directed to God, it was a word of praise and thanksgiving, as in: “Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise” (Neh. 9:5).

The Lord’s “blessing” rests on those who are faithful to Him: “A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day .” (Deut. 11:27). His blessing brings righteousness (Ps. 24:5), life (Ps. 133:3), prosperity (2 Sam. 7:29), and salvation (Ps. 3:8). The “blessing” is portrayed as a rain or dew: “I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing” (Ezek. 34:26; cf. Ps. 84:6). In the fellowship of the saints, the Lord commands His “blessing”: ”[It is] as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Ps. 133:3).

In a few cases, the Lord made people to be a “blessing” to others. Abraham is a blessing to the nations (Gen. 12:2). His descendants are expected to become a blessing to the nations (Isa. 19:24; Zech. 8:13).

The Septuagint translates berakah as euiogia (“praise; blessing”). The kjv has these translations: “blessing; present (gift).”


נashre (835 ,אשר), “blessed; happy.” All but 4 of the 44 biblical occurrences of this noun are in poetical passages, with 26 occurrences in the Psalms and 8 in Proverbs.

Basically, this word connotes the state of “prosperity” or “happiness” that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself: “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord” (Deut. 33:29). The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be “happy”: “Behold, blessed [kjv, “happy”] is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: for he maketh sore, and bindeth up .”

(Job 5:17-18). Eliphaz was not describing Job’s condition as a happy one; it was “blessed,” however, inasmuch as God was concerned about him. Because it was a blessed state and the outcome would be good, Job was expected to laugh at his adversity (Job 5:22).

God is not always the one who makes one “blessed.” At least, the Queen of Sheba flatteringly told Solomon that this was the case (1 Kings 10:8).

One’s status before God (being “blessed”) is not always expressed in terms of the individual or social conditions that bring what moderns normally consider to be

“happiness.” So although it is appropriate to render }ashre as “blessed,” the rendering of “happiness” does not always convey its emphasis to modern readers.


dam (D(, 1818), “blood.” This is a common Semitic word with cognates in all the Semitic languages. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 360 times and in all periods.

Dam is used to denote the “blood” of animals, birds, and men (never of fish). In Gen. 9:4, “blood” is synonymous with “life”: “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” The high value of life as a gift of God led to the prohibition against eating “blood”: “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood” (Lev. 3:17). Only infrequently does this word mean “blood-red,” a color: “And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other

side as red as blood” (2 Kings 3:22). In two passages, dam represents “wine”: “He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes” (Gen. 49:11; cf. Deut. 32:14).

Dam bears several nuances. First, it can mean “blood shed by violence”: “So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein ...” (Num. 35:33). Thus it can mean “death”: “So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee” (Ezek. 5:17).

Next, dam may connote an act by which a human life is taken, or blood is shed: “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood [one kind of homicide or another] ...” (Deut. 17:8). To “shed blood” is to commit murder: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed ...” (Gen. 9:6). The second occurrence here means that the murderer shall suffer capital punishment. In other places, the phrase “to shed blood” refers to a non-ritualistic slaughter of an animal: “What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb . in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood [guiltiness] shall be imputed unto that man” (Lev. 17:3-4).

In judicial language, “to stand against one’s blood” means to stand before a court and against the accused as a plaintiff, witness, or judge: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood [i.e., act against the life] of thy neighbor ...” (Lev. 19:16). The phrase, “his blood be on his head,” signifies that the guilt and punishment for a violent act shall be on the perpetrator: “For

everyone that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood [guiltiness] shall be upon him” (Lev. 20:9). This phrase bears the added overtone that those who execute the punishment by killing the guilty party are not guilty of murder. So here “blood” means responsibility for one’s dead: “And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him” (Josh. 2:19).

Animal blood could take the place of a sinner’s blood in atoning (covering) for sin: “For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). Adam’s sin merited death and brought death on all his posterity (Rom. 5:12); so the offering of an animal in substitution not only typified the payment of that penalty, but it symbolized that the perfect offering would bring life for Adam and all others represented by the sacrifice (Heb. 10:4). The animal sacrifice prefigured and typologically represented the blood of Christ, who made the great and only effective substitutionary atonement, and whose offering was the only offering that gained life for those whom He represented. The shedding of His “blood” seals the covenant of life between God and man (Matt. 26:28). TO BLOW

tagac (8628 ,תקע), “to strike, give a blast, clap, blow, drive.” Found in both ancient and modern Hebrew, this word occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament nearly 70 times. In the verse where tagac first occurs, it is found twice: “Jacob had pitched [tagac] his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead” (Gen. 31:25).

The meaning here is that of “striking” or “driving” a tent peg, thus “pitching” a tent. The same word is used of Jael’s “driving” the peg into Sisera’s temple (Judg. 4:21). The Bible

also uses tagac to describe the strong west wind that “drove” the locusts into the Red Sea (Exod. 10:19).

Tagac expresses the idea of “giving a blast” on a trumpet. It is found seven times with this meaning in the story of the conquest of Jericho (Josh. 6:4, 8-9, 13, 16, 20).

To “strike” one’s hands in praise or triumph (Ps. 47:1) or “shake hands” on an agreement (Prov. 6:1; 17:18; 22:26) are described by this verb. To “strike” the hands in an agreement was a surety or guarantor of the agreement.


cesem (6106 ,עצם), “bone; body; substance; full; selfsame.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, Punic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. The word appears about 125 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

This word commonly represents a human “bone.” In Job 10:11, cesem is used to denote the bone as one of the constituent parts of the human body: “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.” When Adam remarked of Eve that she was “bone of his bone,” and flesh of his flesh, he was referring to her

creation from one of his rib bones (Gen. 2:23—the first biblical appearance). cEsem used with “flesh” can indicate a blood relationship: “And Laban said to [Jacob], Surely thou art my bone and my flesh” (Gen. 29:14).

Another nuance of this meaning appears in Job 2:5 where, used with “flesh,” cesem represents one’s “body”: “But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh [his “body”].” A similar use appears in Jer. 20:9, where the word used by itself (and in the plural form) probably represents the prophet’s entire “bodily frame”: “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones..” Judg. 19:29 reports that a Levite cut his defiled and murdered concubine into twelve pieces “limb by limb” (according to her “bones” or bodily frame) and sent a part to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. In several passages, the plural form represents the “seat of vigor or sensation”: “His bones are full of the sin of his youth ...” (Job 20:11; cf. 4:14).

In another nuance, cesem is used for the “seat of pain and disease”: “My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest” (Job 30:17).

The plural of cesem sometimes signifies one’s “whole being”: “Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed” (Ps. 6:2). Here the word is synonymously parallel to “I.”

This word is frequently used of the “bones of the dead”: “And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days” (Num. 19:16). Closely related to this nuance is the

use of cesem for “human remains,” probably including a mummified corpse: “And Joseph

took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence” (Gen. 50:25).

cEsem sometimes represents “animal bones.” For example, the Passover lamb is to be eaten in a single house and “thou shalt not carry forth aught of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (Exod. 12:46).

The word sometimes stands for the “substance of a thing”: “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness [as the bone of the sky]” (Exod. 24:10). In Job

21:23, the word means “full”: “One dieth in his full strength..” At other points, cesem means “same” or “selfsame”: “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah ...” (Gen. 7:13).


ceper (5612 ,ספר), “book; document; writing.” Ceper seems to be a loanword from

the Akkadian cipru (“written message,” “document”). The word appears 187 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and the first occurrence is in Gen. 5:1: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God”

(RSV). The word is rare in the Pentateuch except for Deuteronomy (11 times). The usage increases in the later historical books (Kings 60 times but Chronicles 24 times; cf. Esther

11 times and Nehemiah 9 times).

The most common translation of ceper is “book.” A manuscript was written (Exod. 32:32; Deut. 17:18) and sealed (Isa. 29:11), to be read by the addressee (2 Kings 22:16). The sense of ceper is similar to “scroll” (megillah): “Therefore go thou, and read in the roll [ceper] which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the Lord in the ears of

the people in the Lord’s house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities” (Jer. 36:6). Ceper is also closely related to

“book” (cipra) (Ps. 56:8).

Many “books” are named in the Old Testament: the “book” of remembrance (Mal. 3:16), “book” of life (Ps. 69:28), “book” of Jasher (Josh. 10:13), “book” of the generations (Gen. 5:1), “book” of the Lord, “book” of the chronicles of the kings of Israel and of Judah, and the annotations on the “book” of the Kings (2 Chron. 24:27). Prophets wrote “books” in their lifetime. Nahum’s prophecy begins with this introduction: “The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite” (1:1).

Jeremiah had several “books” written in addition to his letters to the exiles. He wrote a “book” on the disasters that were to befall Jerusalem, but the “book” was torn up and burned in the fireplace of King Jehoiakim (Jer. 36). In this context, we learn about the nature of writing a “book.” Jeremiah dictated to Baruch, who wrote with ink on the scroll (36:18). Baruch took the “book” to the Judeans who had come to the temple to fast.

When the “book” had been confiscated and burned, Jeremiah wrote another scroll and had another “book” written with a strong condemnation of Jehoiakim and his family: “Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words” (Jer. 36:32).

Ezekiel was commanded to eat a “book” (Ezek. 2:8-3:1) as a symbolic act of God’s judgment on and restoration of Judah.

Ceper can also signify “letter.” The prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to the Babylonian exiles, instructing them to settle themselves, as they were to be in Babylon for 70 years: “Now these are the words of the letter (ceper) that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon .” (Jer. 29:1).

The contents of the ceper varied. It might contain a written order, a commission, a request, or a decree, as in: “And [Mordecai] wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it [seper] with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries” (Esth. 8:10). In divorcing his wife, a man gave her a legal document known as the ceper of divorce (Deut. 24:1). Here ceper meant a “certificate” or “legal document.” Some other legal document might also be referred to as a ceper. As a “legal document,” the ceper might be published or hidden for the appropriate time: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences [ceper], this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days” (Jer. 32:14).

The Septuagint gives the following translations: bibiion (“scroll; document”) and

gramma (“letter; document; writing; book”). The kjv gives these senses: “book; letter; evidence.”


shalal (7998 ,שלל), “booty; prey; spoil; plunder; gain.” This word occurs 75 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

Shalal literally means “prey,” which an animal tracks down, kills, and eats:

“Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey [shalal], and at night he shall divide the spoil” (Gen. 49:27—the first occurrence).

The word may mean “booty” or “spoil of war,” which includes anything and everything a soldier or army captures from an enemy and carries off: “But the women, and the little ones, ... even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself ...” (Deut. 20:14). An entire nation can be “plunder” or a “spoil of war” (Jer. 50:10). To “save one’s own life as booty” is to have one’s life spared (cf. Jer. 21:9).

Shalal is used in a few passages of “private plunder”: “Woe unto them that ... turn aside the needy from judgment, and . take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!” (Isa. 10:1-2).

This word may also represent “private gain”: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil” (Prov. 31:11).


cheq (2436 ,חיק), “bosom; lap; base.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, late Aramaic, and Arabic. The word appears 38 times throughout biblical literature.

The word represents the “outer front of one’s body” where beloved ones, infants, and animals are pressed closely: “Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the

sucking child ...” (Num. 11:12). In its first biblical appearance, cheq is used of a man’s “bosom”: “And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes .” (Gen. 16:5). The “husband of one’s bosom” is a husband who is “held close to one’s heart” or “cherished” (Deut. 28:56). This figurative inward sense appears again in Ps. 35:13: “... My prayer returned into mine own bosom” (cf. Job 19:27). In 1 Kings 22:35, the word means the “inside” or “heart” of a war chariot.

Cheq represents a fold of one’s garment above the belt where things are hidden: “And the Lord said furthermore unto him [Moses], Put now thine hand into thy bosom” (Exod. 4:6).

Various translations may render this word as “lap”: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). Yet “bosom” may be used, even where “lap” is clearly intended: “But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom ...” (2 Sam. 12:3).

Finally, cheq means the “base of the altar,” as described in Ezek. 43:13 (cf. Ezek. 43:17).


gebul (1366 ,גבול), “boundary; limit; territory; closed area.” This word has cognates in Phoenician and Arabic. It occurs about 240 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

Gebui literally means “boundary” or “border.” This meaning appears in Num. 20:23, where it signifies the border or boundary of the entire land of Edom. Sometimes such an imaginary line was marked by a physical barrier: “. Arnon is the border of Moab,

between Moab and the Amorites” (Num. 21:13). Sometimes gebui denoted ethnic boundaries, such as the borders of the tribes of Israel: “And unto the Reubenites and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon .” (Deut.

3:16). In Gen. 23:17, gebui represents the “border” of an individual’s field or piece of ground: “And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure.” Fields were delineated by “boundary marks,” whose removal was forbidden by law (Deut. 19:14; cf. Deut. 27:17).

Gebui can suggest the farthest extremity of a thing: “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth” (Ps. 104:9).

This word sometimes represents the concrete object marking the border of a thing or

area (cf. Ezek. 40:12). The “border” of Ezekiel’s altar is signified by gebui (Ezek. 43:13) and Jerusalem’s “surrounding wall” is represented by this word (Isa. 54:12).

Gebui represents the territory within certain boundaries: “And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha” (Gen. 10:19). In

Exod. 34:24, Num. 21:22, 1 Chron. 21:12, and Ps. 105:31-32, gebui is paralleled to the “territory” surrounding and belonging to a city.

Gebuiah, the feminine form of gebui, occurs 9 times. Gebuiah means “boundary” in such passages as Isa. 10:13, and “territory” or “area” in other passages, such as Num. 34:2.


karac (3766 ,כרע), “to bow, bow down, bend the knee.” This term is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew and in Ugaritic. It occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament approximately 35 times. Karac appears for the first time in the deathbed blessing of Jacob as he describes Judah: “. He stooped down, he couched as a lion” (Gen. 49:9).

The implication of karac seems to be the bending of one’s legs or knees, since a noun meaning “leg” is derived from it. To “bow down” to drink was one of the tests for elimination from Gideon’s army (Judg. 7:5-6). “Kneeling” was a common attitude for the worship of God (1 Kings 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Isa. 45:23; cf. Phil. 2:10).

“Bowing down” before Haman was required by the Persian king’s command (Esth. 3:2-5). To “bow down upon” a woman was a euphemism for sexual intercourse (Job 31:10). A woman in process of giving birth was said to “bow down” (1 Sam. 4:19). Tottering or feeble knees are those that “bend” from weakness or old age (Job 4:4). BREAD

iechem (3899 ,לחם), “bread; meal; food; fruit.” This word has cognates in Ugaritic, Syriac, Aramaic, Phoenician, and Arabic. Lechem occurs about 297 times and at every

period of biblical Hebrew. This noun refers to “bread,” as distinguished from meat. The diet of the early Hebrews ordinarily consisted of bread, meat, and liquids: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord ...” (Deut. 8:3). “Bread” was baked in loaves: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread

...” (1 Sam. 2:36). Even when used by itself, lechem can signify a “loaf of bread”: “. They will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread ...” (1 Sam. 10:4). In this usage, the word ialways preceded by a number. “Bread” was also baked in cakes (2 Sam. 6:19).

A “bit of bread” is a term for a modest meal. So Abraham said to his three guests, “Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched . and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and

comfort ye your hearts ...” (Gen. 18:4-5). In 1 Sam. 20:27, lechem represents an entire meal: “. Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor today?” Thus, “to make bread” may actually mean “to prepare a meal”: “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry ...” (Eccl. 10:19). The “staff of bread” is the “support of life”: “And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied” (Lev. 26:26). The Bible refers to the “bread of the face” or “the bread of the Presence,” which was the bread constantly set before God in the holy place of the tabernacle or temple: “And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me always” (Exod. 25:30).

In several passages, lechem represents the grain from which “bread” is made: “And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all the lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread” (Gen. 41:54). The meaning “grain” is very clear in 2 Kings 18:32: “Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards..”

Lechem can represent food in general. In Gen. 3:19 (the first biblical occurrence), it signifies the entire diet: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread..” This nuance may include meat, as it does in Judg. 13:15-16: “And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy

bread..” In 1 Sam. 14:24, 28, lechem includes honey, and in Prov. 27:27 goat’s milk.

Lechem may also represent “food” for animals: “He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry” (Ps. 147:9; cf. Prov. 6:8). Flesh and grain offered to God are called “the bread of God”: “. For the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer .” (Lev. 21:6; cf. 22:13).

There are several special or figurative uses of lechem. The “bread” of wickedness is “food” gained by wickedness: “For [evil men] eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence” (Prov. 4:17). Compare the “bread” or “food” gained by deceit (Prov. 20:17) and lies (23:3). Thus, in Prov. 31:27 the good wife “looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness”—i.e., unearned food. The “bread of my portion” is the food that one earns (Prov. 30:8).

Figuratively, men are the “food” or prey for their enemies: “Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us .” (Num. 14:9). The Psalmist in his grief says his tears are his “food” (Ps. 42:3). Evil deeds are likened to food: ”[The evil man’s] meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him”

(Job 20:14). In Jer. 11:19, iechem represents “fruit from a tree” and is a figure of a man and his offspring: “. And I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.”

Matstsah (Π)Ρ, 4682), “unleavened bread.” This noun occurs 54 times, all but 14 of them in the Pentateuch. The rest of the occurrences are in prose narratives or in Ezekiel’s discussion of the new temple (Ezek. 45:21).

In the ancient Orient, household bread was prepared by adding fermented dough to the kneading trough and working it through the fresh dough. Hastily made bread omitted the fermented (leavened) dough: Lot “made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat” (Gen. 19:3). In this case, the word represents bread hastily prepared for unexpected guests. The feasts of Israel often involved the use of unleavened bread, perhaps because of the relationship between fermentation, rotting, and death (Lev. 2:4ff.), or because unleavened bread reminded Jews of the hasty departure from Egypt and the rigors of the wilderness march.


rochab (7341 ,רחב), “breadth; width; expanse.” The noun rochab appears 101 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

First, the word refers to how broad a flat expanse is. In Gen. 13:17, we read: “Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto

thee.” Rochab itself sometimes represents the concept length, breadth, or the total territory: “. And the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel” (Isa. 8:8). The same usage appears in Job 37:10, where the nasb renders the word “expanse.” This idea is used figuratively in 1 Kings 4:29, describing the dimensions of Solomon’s discernment: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding

exceeding much, and largeness [rochab] of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore.”

Second, rochab is used to indicate the “thickness” or “width” of an object. In its first biblical occurrence the word is used of Noah’s ark: “The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits” (Gen.

6:15). In Ezek. 42:10, the word represents the “thickness” of a building’s wall in which there were chambers (cf. Ezek. 41:9).

Rochab is derived from the verb rachab, as is the noun rehob or rehob.

Rechob (7339 ,רחב) or rechob (7339 ,רחב), “town square.” Rechob (or rehob) occurs 43 times in the Bible. Cognates of this noun appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, and Aramaic. Rechob represents the “town square” immediately near the gate(s), as in Gen. 19:2 (the first occurrence). This “town square” often served for social functions such as assemblies, courts, and official proclamations.


shabar (7665 ,שבר), “to break, shatter, smash, crush.” This word is frequently used in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, and is common throughout Hebrew. It is found almost 150 times in the Hebrew Bible. The first biblical occurrence of shabar is in Gen. 19:9, which tells how the men of Sodom threatened to “break” Lot’s door to take his house guests.

The common word for “breaking” things, shabar describes the breaking of earthen vessels (Judg. 7:20; Jer. 19:10), of bows (Hos. 1:5), of swords (Hos. 2:18), of bones (Exod. 12:46), and of yokes or bonds (Jer. 28:10, 12-13). Sometimes it is used figuratively to describe a “shattered” heart or emotion (Ps. 69:20; Ezek. 6:9). In its

intensive sense, shabar connotes “shattering” something, such as the tablets of the Law (Exod. 32:19) or idol images (2 Kings 11:18), or the “shattering” of trees by hail (Exod. 9:25).


hebel (1892 ,הבל), “breath; vanity; idol.” Cognates of this noun occur in Syriac, late Aramaic, and Arabic. All but 4 of its 72 occurrences are in poetry (37 in Ecclesiastes).

First, the word represents human “breath” as a transitory thing: “I loathe it; I would not live always: let me alone; for my days are vanity [literally, but a breath]” (Job 7:16).

Second, hebel means something meaningless and purposeless: “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2).

Third, this word signifies an “idol,” which is unsubstantial, worthless, and vain:

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities .” (Deut. 32:21—the first occurrence).


}ach (251 ,אח), “brother.” This word has cognates in Ugaritic and most other Semitic languages. Biblical Hebrew attests the word about 629 times and at all periods.

In its basic meaning, }ach represents a “male sibling,” a “brother.” This is its meaning in the first biblical appearance: “And she again bare his brother Abel” (Gen. 4:2). This word represents a full brother or a half-brother: “And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren .” (Gen. 37:14).

In another nuance, }ach can represent a “blood relative.” Abram’s nephew is termed his “brother”: “And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people” (Gen. 14:16). This passage, however, might also reflect the covenantal use of the term whereby it connotes “ally” (cf. Gen.

13:8). In Gen. 9:25, }ach clearly signifies “relative”: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of

servants shall he be unto his brethren.” Laban called his cousin Jacob an }ach: “And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought?” (Gen. 29:15). Just before this, Jacob described himself as an }ach of Rachel’s father (Gen. 29:12).

Tribes may be called )achim: “And [the tribe of] Judah said unto [the tribe of] Simeon

his brother, Come up with me into my lot ...” (Judg. 1:3). The word >ach is used of a fellow tribesman: “With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine ...” (Gen. 31:32). Elsewhere it describes a fellow countryman: “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens ...” (Exod. 2:11).

In several passages, the word >ach connotes “companion” or “colleague”—that is, a brother by choice. One example is found in 2 Kings 9:2: “And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber” (cf. Isa. 41:6;

Num. 8:26). Somewhat along this line is the covenantal use of the word as a synonym for “ally”: “And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, and said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly” (Gen. 19:6-7). Notice this same use in Num. 20:14 and 1 Kings 9:13.

)Ach can be a term of polite address, as it appears to be in Gen. 29:4: “And Jacob said unto them [shepherds, whose identity he did not know], My brethren, whence be ye?”

The word נach sometimes represents someone or something that simply exists alongside a given person or thing: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of . every man’s brother will I require the life of man” (Gen. 9:5-6).


A. Verb.

banah (1129 ,בנה), “to build, establish, construct, rebuild.” This root appears in all the Semitic languages except Ethiopic and in all periods of Hebrew. In biblical Hebrew, it occurs about 375 times and in biblical Aramaic 23 times.

In its basic meaning, banah appears in Gen. 8:20, where Noah is said to have

“constructed” an ark. In Gen. 4:17, banah means not only that Enoch built a city, but that he “founded” or “established” it. This verb can also mean “to manufacture,” as in Ezek. 27:5: “They have made all thy ship boards of fir trees..” Somewhat in the same sense, we read that God “made” or “fashioned” Eve out of Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:22—the first biblical occurrence). In like manner, Asa began with the cities of Geba and Mizpah and “fortified” them (1 Kings 15:22). In each case, the verb suggests adding to existing material to fashion a new object.

Banah can also refer to “rebuilding” something that is destroyed. Joshua cursed anyone who would rise up and rebuild Jericho, the city that God had utterly destroyed (Josh. 6:26).

Metaphorically or figuratively, the verb banah is used to mean “building one’s house”—i.e., having children. Sarai said to Abram, “I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her” (Gen. 16:2). It was the duty of the nearest male relative to conceive a child with the wife of a man who had died childless (Deut. 25:9); he thus helped “to build up the house” of his deceased relative. Used figuratively, “to build a house” may also mean “to found a dynasty” (2 Sam. 7:27).

B. Nouns.

ben (1121 ,בן), “son.” bat (1323 ,בן), “daughter.” These nouns are derived from the

verb banah. They are actually different forms of the same noun, which occurs in nearly every Semitic language (except Ethiopic and Akkadian). Biblical occurrences number over 5,550 in the Hebrew and about 22 in Aramaic.

Basically, this noun represents one’s immediate physical male or female offspring.

For example, Adam “begat sons and daughters” (Gen. 5:4). The special emphasis here is on the physical tie binding a man to his offspring. The noun can also be used of an

animal’s offspring: “Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine

...” (Gen. 49:11). Sometimes the word ben, which usually means “son,” can mean “children” (both male and female). God told Eve that “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16—the first occurrence of this noun). The words ben and bat can signify “descendants” in general—daughters, sons, granddaughters, and grandsons.

Laban complained to Jacob that he had not allowed him “to kiss my sons and my daughters” (Gen. 31:28; cf. v. 43). The phrase, “my son,” may be used by a superior to a subordinate as a term of familiar address. Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel ...” (Josh. 7:19). A special use of “my son” is a teacher’s speaking to a disciple, referring to intellectual or spiritual sonship: “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10). On the lips of the subordinate, “son” signifies conscious submission. Ben-hadad’s servant Hazael took gifts to Elisha, saying,

“Thy son Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee” (2 Kings 8:9). Ben can also be used in an adoption formula: “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7). Ben often is used in this sense of a king’s relationship to God (i.e., he is God’s adopted son). Sometimes the same word expresses Israel’s relationship to God: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt” (Hos. 11:1).

The Bible also refers to the heavenly court as the “sons of God” (Job 1:6). God called the elders of Israel the “sons [kjv, “children”] of the Most High” (Ps. 82:6). In Gen. 6:2, the phrase “sons of God” is variously understood as members of the heavenly court, the spiritual disciples of God (the sons of Seth), and the boastful among mankind.

Ben may signify “young men” in general, regardless of any physical relationship to the speaker: “And [I] beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding” (Prov. 7:7). A city may be termed a “mother” and its inhabitants its “sons”: “For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee” (Ps. 147:13).

Ben is sometimes used to mean a single individual; thus Abraham ran to his flock and picked out a “son of a cow” (Gen. 18:7). The phrase “son of man” is used in this sense— God is asked to save the poor individuals, not the children of the poor (Ps. 72:4).

Ben may also denote a member of a group. An example is a prophet who followed Elijah (1 Kings 20:35; cf. Amos 7:14).

This noun may also indicate someone worthy of a certain fate—e.g., “a stubborn and rebellious son” (Deut. 21:18).

Used figuratively, “son of” can mean “something belonging to”—e.g., “the arrow [literally, “the son of a bow”] cannot make him flee” (Job 41:28).


par (6499 ,#ר), “bullock.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Aramaic,

Syriac, and Arabic. Par appears about 132 times in the Bible and in every period, although most of its appearances are in prose contexts dealing with sacrifices to God.

Par means “young bull,” which is the significance in its first biblical appearance (Gen. 32:15), which tells us that among the gifts Jacob sent to placate Esau were “ten bulls.” In Ps. 22:12, the word is used to describe “fierce, strong enemies”: “Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.” When God threatens the nations with judgment in Isa. 34:7, He describes their princes and warriors as “young bulls,” which He will slaughter (cf. Jer. 50:27; Ezek. 39:18).

Parah is the feminine form of par, and it is used disdainfully of women in Amos 4:1:

“Hear this word, you cows [kjv, “kine”] of Bashan ...” (rsv). Parah occurs 25 times in the Old Testament, and its first appearance is in Gen. 32:15.


A.    Verb.

sarap (8313 ,*לף), “to burn.” A common Semitic term, this word is found in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, as well as throughout the history of the Hebrew language. It occurs in its verb form nearly 120 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Sarap is found first in Gen. 11:3 in the Tower of Babel story: “Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.”

Since burning is the main characteristic of fire, the term sarap is usually used to describe the destroying of objects of all kinds. Thus, the door of a city tower was “burned” (Judg. 9:52), as were various cities (Josh. 6:24; 1 Sam. 30:1), chariots (Josh. 11:6, 9), idols (Exod. 32:20; Deut. 9:21), and the scroll that Jeremiah had dictated to Baruch (Jer. 36:25, 27-28). The Moabites’ “burning” of the bones of the king of Edom (Amos 2:1) was a terrible outrage to all ancient Semites. The “burning” of men’s bodies on the sacred altar was a great act of desecration (1 Kings 13:2). Ezekiel “burned” a third of his hair as a symbol that part of the people of Judah would be destroyed (Ezek. 5:4).

Interestingly, sarap is never used for the “burning” of a sacrifice on the altar, although a few times it designates the disposal of refuse, unused sacrificial parts, and some diseased parts. The “burning” of a red heifer was for the purpose of producing ashes for purification (Lev. 19:5, 8).

B.    Nouns.

sarap (8314 ,*רף), “burning one; fiery being.” In Num. 21:6, 8, the term sarap describes the serpents that attacked the Israelites in the wilderness. They are referred to as “fiery” serpents. A “fiery” flying serpent appears in Isa. 14:29, as well as in Isa. 30:6.

Serapim (8314 ,*רף), “burning, noble.” Serapim refers to the ministering beings in Isa. 6:2, 6, and may imply either a serpentine form (albeit with wings, human hands, and

voices) or beings that have a “glowing” quality about them. One of the serapim ministered to Isaiah by bringing a glowing coal from the altar.


A.    Verb.

qatar (6999 ,ק+ר), “to burn incense, cause to rise up in smoke.” The primary stem of this verb appears in Akkadian. Related forms appear in Ugaritic, Arabic, Phoenician, and postbiblical Hebrew. The use of this verb in biblical Hebrew is never in the primary stem, but only in the causative and intensive stems (and their passives).

The first biblical occurrence of qatar is in Exod. 29:13: “And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and offer them up in smoke on the altar.” Technically this verb means “offering true offerings” every time it appears in the causative stem (cf. Hos. 4:13; 11:2), although it may refer only to the “burning of incense” (2 Chron. 13:11). Offerings are burned in order to change the thing offered into smoke (the ethereal essence of the offering), which would ascend to God as a pleasing or placating savor. The things sacrificed were mostly common foods, and in this way Israel offered up to God life itself, their labors, and the fruit of their labors.

Such offerings represent both the giving of the thing offered and a vicarious substitution of the offering for the offerer (cf. John 17:19; Eph. 5:2). Because of man’s sinfulness (Gen. 8:21; Rom. 5:12), he was unable to initiate a relationship with God. Therefore, God Himself told man what was necessary in order to worship and serve Him. God specified that only the choicest of one’s possessions could be offered, and the best of the offering belonged to Him (Lev. 4:10). Only His priests were to offer sacrifices (2 Kings 16:13). All offerings were to be made at the designated place; after the conquest, this was the central sanctuary (Lev. 17:6).

Some of Israel’s kings tried to legitimatize their idolatrous offerings, although they were in open violation of God’s directives. Thus the causative stem is used to describe, for example, Jeroboam’s idolatrous worship: “So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Beth-el the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense” (1 Kings 12:33; cf. 2 Kings 16:13; 2 Chron. 28:4).

The intensive stem (occurring only after the Pentateuch) always represents “false

worship.” This form of qatar may represent the “total act of ritual” (2 Chron. 25:14).

Such an act was usually a conscious act of idolatry, imitative of Canaanite worship (Isa. 65:7). Such worship was blasphemous and shameful (Jer. 11:17). Those who performed this “incense-burning” were guilty of forgetting God (Jer. 19:4), while the practice itself held no hope for those who were involved in it (Jer. 11:12). Amos ironically told Israelites to come to Gilgal and Bethel (idolatrous altars) and “offer” a thank offering.

This irony is even clearer in the Hebrew, for Amos uses qatar in the intensive stem.

B.    Nouns.

qetorel (7004 ,ק+ר״), “incense.” The first biblical occurrence of qetoret is in Exod. 25:6, and the word is used about 60 times in all. The word represents “perfume” in Prov. 27:9. Qitter means “incense.” This word appears once in the Old Testament, in Jer.

44:21. Another noun, getorah, also means “incense.” This word’s only appearance is in

Deut. 33:10. Qitor refers to “smoke; vapor.” This word does not refer to the smoke of an offering, but to other kinds of smoke or vapor. The reference in Ps. 148:8 (“vapor”) is one of its four biblical occurrences. Mugtar means “the kindling of incense.” The word is used only once, and that is in Mal. 1:11: “. And in every place incense shall boffered unto my name.. ”

Migteret means “censer; incense.” The word occurs twice. Migteret represents a “censer”—a utensil in which coals are carried—in 2 Chron. 26:19. The word refers to “incense” in Ezek. 8:11. Megatterah refers to “incense altar.” The word occurs once (2

Chron. 26:19). Migtar means a “place of sacrificial smoke; altar.” The word appears once (Exod. 30:1).


A. Verb.

gabar (6912 ,קבר), “to bury.” This verb is found in most Semitic languages including Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Phoenician, and post-biblical Aramaic. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 130 times and in all periods.

This root is used almost exclusively of human beings. (The only exception is Jer. 22:19; see below.) This verb generally represents the act of placing a dead body into a

grave or tomb. In its first biblical appearance, gabar bears this meaning. God told Abraham, “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age” (Gen. 15:15).

A proper burial was a sign of special kindness and divine blessing. As such, it was an obligation of the responsible survivors. Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah so that he might bury his dead. David thanked the men of Jabesh-gilead for their daring reclamation of the bodies of Saul and Jonathan (1 Sam. 31:11- 13), and for properly “burying” them. He said, “Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him” (2 Sam. 2:5). Later, David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan and buried them in their family tomb (2 Sam. 21:14); here the verb means both “bury” and “rebury.” A proper burial was not only a kindness; it was a necessity. If the land were to be clean before God, all bodies had to be “buried” before nightfall: “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance” (Deut. 21:23). Thus, if a body was not buried, divine approval was withdrawn.

Not to be “buried” was a sign of divine disapproval, both on the surviving kinsmen and on the nation. Ahijah the prophet told Jeroboam’s wife, “And all Israel shall mourn for him [Jeroboam’s son], and bury him: for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave” (1 Kings 14:13). As for the rest of his family, they would be eaten by dogs and birds of prey (v. 11; cf. Jer. 8:2). Jeremiah prophesied that Jehoiakim would “be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem” (Jer.


Bodies may be “buried” in caves (Gen. 25:9), sepulchers (Judg. 8:32), and graves (Gen. 50:5). In a few places, qabar is used elliptically of the entire act of dying. So in Job

27:15 we read: “Those that remain of him [his survivors] shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.”

B. Noun.

qeber (6913 ,קבר), “grave; tomb; sepulcher.” Qeber occurs 67 times and in its first biblical appearance (Gen. 23:4) the word refers to a “tomb-grave” or “sepulcher.” The word carries the meaning of “grave” in Jer. 5:16, and in Ps. 88:11, qeber is used of a “grave” that is the equivalent of the underworld. In Judg. 8:32, the word signifies a “family sepulcher.” Jeremiah 26:23 uses the word for a “burial place,” specifically an open pit.


qanah (7069 ,קנה), “to get, acquire, create, buy.” A common Semitic word, qanah is found in ancient and modern Hebrew and in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic. It occurs in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament 84 times. The first occurrence of qanah in the Old Testament is in Gen. 4:1: “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” In this passage, qanah expresses a basic meaning of God’s “creating” or “bringing into being,” so Eve is really saying, “I have created a man-child with the help of the Lord.” This meaning is confirmed in Gen. 14:19, 22 where both verses refer to God as “creator of heaven and earth” (kjv, nasb, “possessor”; rsv, “maker”).

In Deut. 32:6, God is called the “father” who “created” Israel; a father begets or “creates,” rather than “acquires” children. In the Wisdom version of the Creation story (Prov. 8:22-36), Wisdom herself states that “the Lord created me at the beginning of his work” (rsv, neb, jb, tev). “Possessed” (kjv, nasb) is surely not as appropriate in such a context.

When the Psalmist says to God, “Thou didst form my inward parts” (Ps. 139:13, RSV) he surely meant “create” (JB).

Qanah is used several times to express God’s redeeming activity in behalf of Israel, again reflecting “creativity” rather than “purchase.” Exod. 15:16 is better translated, “. Thy people ... whom thou hast created,” rather than “thou hast purchased” (rsv). See also Ps. 74:2; 78:54.

The meaning “to buy” is expressed by qanah frequently in contexts where one person makes a purchase agreement with another. The word is used to refer to “buying” a slave (Exod. 21:2) and land (Gen. 47:20).



}ed ($343 ,אי), “calamity; disaster.” A possible cognate of this word appears in Arabic. Its 24 biblical appearances occur in every period of biblical Hebrew (12 in wisdom literature and only 1 in poetical literature, the Psalms).

This word signifies a “disaster” or “calamity” befalling a nation or individual. When used of a nation, it represents a “political or military event”: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste” (Deut. 32:35—

first occurrence). The prophets tend to use נed in the sense of national “disaster,” while Wisdom writers use it for “personal tragedy.”


A. Verb.

gara (7121 ,קרא), “to call, call out, recite.” This root occurs in Old Aramaic, Canaanite, and Ugaritic, and other Semitic languages (except Ethiopic). The word appears in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

Qara> may signify the “specification of a name.” Naming a thing is frequently an

assertion of sovereignty over it, which is the case in the first use of gara>: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Gen. 1:5). God’s act of creating, “naming,” and numbering includes the stars (Ps. 147:4) and all other things (Isa. 40:26). He allowed Adam to “name” the animals as a concrete demonstration of man’s relative sovereignty over them (Gen. 2:19). Divine sovereignty and election are extended over all generations, for God “called” them all from the beginning (Isa. 41:4; cf. Amos 5:8). “Calling” or “naming” an individual may specify the individual’s primary characteristic (Gen. 27:36); it may consist of a confession or evaluation (Isa. 58:13; 60:14); and it may recognize an eternal truth (Isa. 7:14).

This verb also is used to indicate “calling to a specific task.” In Exod. 2:7, Moses’ sister Miriam asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she should go and “call” (summon) a nurse. Israel was “called” (elected) by God to be His people (Isa. 65:12), as were the Gentiles in the messianic age (Isa. 55:5).

To “call” on God’s name is to summon His aid. This emphasis appears in Gen. 4:26, where men began to “call” on the name of the Lord. Such a “calling” on God’s name occurs against the background of the Fall and the murder of Abel. The “calling” on God’s name is clearly not the beginning of prayer, since communication between God and man existed since the Garden of Eden; nor is it an indication of the beginning of formal worship, since formal worship began at least as early as the offerings of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:7ff.). The sense of “summoning” God to one’s aid was surely in Abraham’s mind when he “called upon” God’s name (Gen. 12:8). “Calling” in this sense constitutes a prayer prompted by recognized need and directed to One who is able and willing to respond (Ps. 145:18; Isa. 55:6).

Basically, gara) means “to call out loudly” in order to get someone’s attention so that contact can be initiated. So Job is told: “Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?” (Job 5:11). Often this verb represents sustained

communication, paralleling “to say” ()amar), as in Gen. 3:9: “And the Lord God called

unto Adam, and said unto him..” Qara> can also mean “to call out a warning,” so that direct contact may be avoided: “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean” (Lev. 13:45).

Qara may mean “to shout” or “to call out loudly.” Goliath “shouted” toward the ranks of Israel (1 Sam. 17:8) and challenged them to individual combat (duel).

Sometimes ancient peoples settled battles through such combatants. Before battling an enemy, Israel was directed to offer them peace: “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it [call out to it in terms of peace]” (Deut. 20:10).

Qara} may also mean “to proclaim” or “to announce,” as when Israel proclaimed peace to the sons of Benjamin (Judg. 21:13). This sense first occurs in Gen. 41:43, where we are told that Joseph rode in the second chariot; “and they cried before him, Bow the knee.” Haman recommended to King Ahasuerus that he adorn the one to be honored and “proclaim” (“announce”) before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor” (Esth. 6:9). This proclamation would tell everyone that the man so announced was honored by the king. The two emphases, “proclamation” and “announce,” occur in Exod. 32:5: “. Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” This instance implies “summoning” an official assemblage of the people. In

prophetic literature, qara} is a technical term for “declaring” a prophetic message: “For

the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord . shall surely come to pass” (1 Kings

13:32). Another major emphasis of qara is “to summon.” When Pharaoh discovered Abram’s deceit concerning Sarai, he “summoned” (“called”) Abram so that he might correct the situation (Gen. 12:18). Often the summons is in the form of a friendly invitation, as when Reuel (or Jethro) told his daughters to “invite him [Moses] to have something to eat” (Exod. 2:20, “that he may eat bread,” kjv). The participial form of

qara} is used to denote “invited guests”: “As soon as you enter the city you will find him

before he goes up to the high place to eat ... afterward those who are invited will eat” (1 Sam. 9:13, nasb). This verb is also used in judicial contexts, to mean being “summoned to court”if a man is accused of not fulfilling his levirate responsibility, “then the elders of

his city shall call him, and speak unto him ...” (Deut. 25:8). Qara! is used of “summoning” someone and/or “mustering” an army: “Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites?” (Judg. 8:1).

The meaning “to read” apparently arose from the meaning “to announce” and “to declare,” inasmuch as reading was done out loud so that others could hear. This sense

appears in Exod. 24:7. In several prophetic passages, the Septuagint translates qara “to

read” rather than “to proclaim” (cf. Jer. 3:12; 7:2, 27; 19:2). Qara means “to read to oneself” only in a few passages.

At least once, the verb qara} means “to dictate”: “Then Baruch answered them, He [dictated] all these words unto me ... and I wrote them with ink in the book” (Jer. 36:18).

B. Noun.

miqra (4744 ,מקרא), “public worship service; convocation.” The word implies the product of an official summons to worship (“convocation”). In one of its 23 appearances, miqra} refers to Sabbaths as “convocation days” (Lev. 23:2).


machaneh (4264 ,מחנ&ה), “camp; encampment; host.” This noun derived from the

verb chanah occurs 214 times in the Bible, most frequently in the Pentateuch and in the historical books. The word is rare in the poetical and prophetic literature.

Those who travel were called “campers,” or in most versions (kjv, rsv, nasb) a “company” or “group” (niv), as in Gen. 32:8. Naaman stood before Elisha “with all his company” (2 Kings 5:15 nasb, neb, “retinue”). Travelers, tradesmen, and soldiers spent much time on the road. They all set up “camp” for the night. Jacob “encamped” by the

Jabbok with his retinue (Gen. 32:10). The name Mahanaim (Gen. 32:2, “camps”) owes

its origin to Jacob’s experience with the angels. He called the place Mahanaim in order to signify that it was God’s “camp” (Gen. 32:2), as he had spent the night “in the camp” (Gen. 32:21) and wrestled with God (Gen. 32:24). Soldiers also established “camps” by

the city to be conquered (Ezek. 4:2) Usage of machaneh varies according to context. First, it signifies a nation set over against another (Exod. 14:20). Second, the word refers to a division concerning the Israelites; each of the tribes had a special “encampment” in relation to the tent of meeting (Num. 1:52). Third, the word “camp” is used to describe the whole people of Israel: “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of

the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Exod. 19:16).

God was present in the “camp” of Israel: “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee” (Deut. 23:14). As a result, sin could not be tolerated within the camp, and the sinner might have to be stoned outside the camp (Num. 15:35).

The Septuagint translated machaneh by the Greekparemboie (“camp; barracks; army”) 193 times. Compare these Old Testament occurrences with the use of “camp” in Hebrews 13:11: “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.” In the English versions, the word is variously translated “camp; company; army” (kjv, rsv, nasb, niv); “host” (kjv); “attendances; forces” (niv)


yakoi (3201 ,ייל), “can, may, to be able, prevail, endure.” This word is used about 200 times in the Old Testament, from the earliest to the latest writings. It is also found in Assyrian and Aramaic. As in English, the Hebrew word usually requires another verb to make the meaning complete.

Yakoi first occurs in Gen. 13:6: “And the land was not abie to bear them, that they might dwell together..” God promised Abraham: “And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered” (Gen. 13:16, niv; cf. Gen. 15:5).

The most frequent use of this verb is in the sense of “can” or “to be able.” The word may refer specifically to “physical ability,” as in 1 Sam. 17:33: “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him” (nasb). Yakol may express “moral inability,” as

in Josh. 7:13: “. Thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you.” For a similar sense, see Jer. 6:10: “Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken.. ” In the negative sense, it may be used to express “prohibition”: “Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn .” (Deut. 12:17, niv). Or the verb may indicate a “social barrier,” as in Gen. 43:32: “. The Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians” (kjv, rsv, niv, nasb, “could not”).

Yakol is also used of God, as when Moses pleaded with God not to destroy Israel lest

the nations say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land . , therefore he hath slain them .” (Num. 14:16, nasb). The word may indicate a positive sense: “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us .” (Dan. 3:17). The word yakol appears when God limits His patience with the insincere: “When the Lord

could no longer endure your wicked actions .    ,    your    land became an object of cursing

.” (Jer. 44:22, niv)

When yakol is used without another verb, the sense is “to prevail” or “to overcome,” as in the words of the angel to Jacob: “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God, and with men and have overcome” (Gen. 32:28,

niv, kjv, nasb, “prevailed”). With the word yakol, God rebukes Israel’s insincerity: “I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly” (Isa. 1:13, nasb, niv, “bear”). “. How long will it be ere they attain to innocency?” (Hos. 8:5, kjv, nasb, “will they be capable of”).

There is no distinction in Hebrew between “can” and “may,” since yakol expresses both “ability” and “permission,” or prohibition with the negative. Both God and man can act. There is no limit to God’s ability apart from His own freely determined limits of patience with continued disobedience and insincerity (Isa. 59:1-2) and will (Dan. 3:17


The Septuagint translates yakol by several words, dunamai being by far the most

common. Dunamai means “to be able, powerful.” It is first used in the New Testament in Matt. 3:9: “. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” CANAAN; CANAANITE

kenacan (3667 ,כנען), “Canaan”; kenacani (3669 ,כנען), “Canaanite; merchant.” “Canaan” is used 9 times as the name of a person and 80 times as a place name. “Canaanite” occurs 72 times of the descendants of “Canaan,” the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. Most occurrences of these words are in Genesis through Judges, but they are scattered throughout the Old Testament.

“Canaan” is first used of a person in Gen. 9:18: “. and Ham is the father of Canaan” (cf. Gen. 10:6). After a listing of the nations descended from “Canaan,” Gen. 10:18-19 adds: “. and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah,..” “Canaan” is the land west of the Jordan, as in Num. 33:51: “When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan” (cf. Josh. 22:911). At the call of God, Abram “. went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the

land of Canaan they came.. And the Canaanite was then in the land” (Gen. 12:5-6). Later God promised Abram: “Unto thy seed have I given this land, . [the land of] the Canaanites ...” (Gen. 15:18-20; cf. Exod. 3:8, 17; Josh. 3:10).

“Canaanite” is a general term for all the descendants of “Canaan”: “When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee ... the Canaanites ...” (Deut. 7:1). It is interchanged with Amorite in Gen. 15:16: “. for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (cf. Josh. 24:15, 18).

“Canaanite” is also used in the specific sense of one of the peoples of Canaan: “. and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan” (Num. 13:29; cf. Josh. 5:1; 2 Sam. 24:7). As these peoples were traders, “Canaanite” is a symbol for “merchant” in Prov. 31:24 and Job 41:6 and notably, in speaking of the sins of Israel, Hosea says,

“He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand ...” (Hos. 7:12; cf. Zeph. 1:11).

Gen. 9:25-27 stamps a theological significance on “Canaan” from the beginning: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. And God shall enlarge Japheth . and Canaan shall be his servant.” Noah prophetically placed this curse on “Canaan” because his father had stared at Noah’s nakedness and reported it grossly to his brothers. Ham’s sin, deeply rooted in his youngest son, is observable in the Canaanites in the succeeding history. Leviticus 18 gives a long list of sexual perversions that were forbidden to Israel prefaced by the statement: “. and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do ...” (Lev. 18:3). The list is followed by a warning: “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you” (Lev. 18:24).

The command to destroy the “Canaanites” was very specific: “. thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them.. ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images.. For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God .” (Deut. 7:2-6). But too often the house of David and Judah “built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 14:23-24; cf. 2 Kings 16:3-4; 21:1- 15). The nations were the “Canaanites”; thus “Canaanite” became synonymous with religious and moral perversions of every kind.

This fact is reflected in Zech. 14:21: “. and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” A “Canaanite” was not permitted to enter the tabernacle or temple; no longer would one of God’s people who practiced the abominations of the “Canaanites” enter the house of the Lord.

This prophecy speaks of the last days and will be fulfilled in the New Jerusalem, according to Rev. 21:27: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie .” (cf. Rev. 22:15).

These two words occur in Acts 7:11 and 13:19 in the New Testament.


shaiak (7993 ,שלך), “to throw, fling, cast, overthrow.” This root seems to be used primarily in Hebrew, including modern Hebrew. Shaiak is found 125 times in the

Hebrew Bible. Its first use in the Old Testament is in Gen. 21:15, which says that Hagar “cast the child [Ishmael] under one of the shrubs.”

The word is used to describe the “throwing” or “casting” of anything tangible: Moses “threw” a tree into water to sweeten it (Exod. 15:25); Aaron claimed he “threw” gold into the fire and a golden calf walked out (Exod. 32:24). Trees “shed” or “cast off’ wilted blossoms (Job 15:33).

Shalak indicates “rejection” in Lam. 2:1: “How hath the Lord ... cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel..” The word is used figuratively in Ps. 55:22: “Cast thy burden upon the Lord.. ”


}eleph (504 ,אלף), “cattle; thousand; group.” The first word, “cattle,” signifies the domesticated animal or the herd animal. It has cognates in Aramaic, Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Phoenician. It appears only 8 times in the Bible, first in Deut. 7:13: “He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine [nasb, “herd”], and the flocks of thy sheep..”

This noun is probably related to the verb }alap, “to get familiar with, teach, instruct.” This verb occurs 4 times, only in Job and Proverbs.

The related noun }allup usually means “familiar; confident.” It, too, occurs only in

biblical poetry. In Ps. 144:14, }allup signifies a tame domesticated animal: “That our oxen may be strong to labor; that there be no breaking in, nor going out..”

The second word, “thousand,” occurs about 490 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. It first appears in Gen. 20:16: “Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver .”

The third word, “group,” first occurs in Num. 1:16: “These were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands [divisions] in

Israel.” It appears to be related to the word }ellup, “leader of a large group,” which is

applied almost exclusively to non-lsraelite tribal leaders (exceptions: Zech. 9:7; 12:5-6).

}Allup first occurs in Gen. 36:15: “These were [chiefs] of the sons of Esau..”


A. Verbs.

chadal (2308 ,ח$ל), “to cease, come to an end, desist, forbear, lack.” This word is found primarily in Hebrew, including modern Hebrew. In the Hebrew Old Testament, it is found fewer than 60 times. The first occurrence of chadal is in Gen. 11:8 where, after man’s language was confused, “they left off building the city” (rsv).

The basic meaning of chadal is “coming to an end.” Thus, Sarah’s capacity for childbearing had long since “ceased” before an angel informed her that she was to have a son (Gen. 18:11). The Mosaic law made provision for the poor, since they would “never cease out of the land” (Deut. 15:11; Matt. 26:11). In Exod. 14:12, this verb is better translated “let us alone” for the literal “cease from us.”

Shabat (7673 ,שב״), “to rest, cease.” This word occurs about 200 times throughout the Old Testament. The root also appears in Assyrian, Arabic, and Aramaic.

The verb first occurs in Gen. 2:2-3: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had

made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

The basic and most frequent meaning of shabat is shown in Gen. 8:22: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” This promise became a prophetic sign of God’s faithfulness: “If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever” (Jer. 31:36).

We find a variety of senses: “. Even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of

your houses .” (Exod. 12:15). “Neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy

God to be lacking from thy meat offering” (Lev. 2:13 nasb, kjv, niv, “do not leave

out”). Josiah “put down the idolatrous priests .” (2 Kings 23:5). “I will also eliminate harmful beasts from the land” (Lev. 26:6 nasb, kjv, “rid”; rsv, niv, “remove”).

B. Noun.

shabbat (7676 ,שבת), “the sabbath.” The verb sabat is the root of shabbat: “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor .” (Exod. 23:12, nasb, kjv, “rest”). In Exod. 31:15, the seventh day is called the “sabbath rest” (NASB, “a sabbath of complete rest”).

A man’s “rest” was to include his animals and servants (Exod. 23:12): even “in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest” (Exod. 34:21). “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Exod. 31:17).

“. Then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord” (Lev. 25:2). Six years’ crops will be sown and harvested, but the seventh year “shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord .” (Lev. 25:4). The feast of trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles are also called “a sabbath observance” or “a sabbath of complete rest” (Lev. 23:24, 32, 39).

The “sabbath” was a “day of worship” (Lev. 23:3) as well as a “day of rest and refreshment” for man (Exod. 23:12). God “rested and was refreshed” (Exod. 31:17). The “sabbath” was the covenant sign of God’s lordship over the creation. By observing the “sabbath,” Israel confessed that they were God’s redeemed people, subject to His lordship to obey the whole of His law. They were His stewards to show mercy with kindness and liberality to all (Exod. 23:12; Lev. 25).

By “resting,” man witnessed his trust in God to give fruit to his labor; he entered into God’s “rest.” Thus “rest” and the “sabbath” were eschatological in perspective, looking to the accomplishment of God’s ultimate purpose through the redemption of His people, to whom the “sabbath” was a covenant sign. The prophets rebuked Israel for their neglect of the sabbath (Isa. 1:13; Jer. 17:21-27; Ezek. 20:12-24; Amos 8:5). They also proclaimed “sabbath” observance as a blessing in the messianic age and a sign of its fullness (Isa. 56:2-4; 58:13; 66:23; Ezek. 44:24; 45:17; 46:1, 3-4, 12). The length of the Babylonian Captivity was determined by the extent of Israel’s abuse of the sabbatical year (2 Chron. 36:21; cf. Lev. 26:34- 35).


A. Nouns.

rekeb (7393 ,ריב), “chariotry; chariot units; chariot horse; chariot; train; upper

millstone.” The noun rekeb appears 119 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

The word is used collectively of an entire force of “military chariotry”: “And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the [chariotry]” (Exod. 14:7, kjv, nasb, “chariots”). This use of rekeb might well be rendered “chariot-units” (the chariot, a driver, an

offensive and a defensive man). The immediately preceding verse uses rekeb of a single “war-chariot” (or perhaps “chariot unit”). The following translation might better represent Exod. 14:6-7: “So he made his chariot ready and took his courtiers with him, and he took six hundred select chariot units, and all the chariotry of Egypt with defensive men.”

In its first biblical appearance, rekeb means “chariotry”: “And there went up with him both chariotry [kjv, “chariots”] and horsemen ...” (Gen. 50:9). In 2 Sam. 8:4, the word represents “chariot-horse”: “. And David hamstrung [kjv, “houghed”] all the chariot

horses..” Rekeb also is used of the “chariot” itself: “. And the king was propped [kjv, “stayed”] up in his chariot against the Syrians .” (1 Kings 22:35).

Next, rekeb refers to a “column” or “train of donkeys and camels”: “And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels .” (Isa. 21:7).

Finally, rekeb sometimes signifies an “upper millstone”: “No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge ...” (Deut. 24:6; cf. Judg. 9:53; 2 Sam. 11:21). merkabah (4818 ,מרבבה), “war chariot.” This word occurs 44 times. Merkabah has

cognates in Ugaritic, Syriac, and Akkadian. Like rekeb, it is derived from rakab. The word represents a “war-chariot” (Exod. 14:25), which may have been used as a “chariot of honor” (Gen. 41:43—the first occurrence). It may also be translated “traveling coach” or “cart” (2 Kings 5:21).

B. Verb.

rakab (7392 ,ריב), “to ride upon, drive, mount (an animal).” This verb, which has cognates in Ugaritic and several other Semitic languages, occurs 78 times in the Old Testament. The first occurrence is in Gen. 24:61: “And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels..”


A. Verb.

bachar (977 ,בחר), “to choose.” This verb is found 170 times throughout the Old Testament. It is also found in Aramaic, Syriac, and Assyrian. The word has parallels in Egyptian, Akkadian, and Canaanite languages.

Bachar first occurs in the Bible in Gen. 6:2: “. They took them wives of all which they chose.” It is often used with a man as the subject: “Lot chose [for himself] all the plain of Jordan .” (Gen. 13:11). In more than half of the occurrences, God is the subject

of bachar, as in Num. 16:5: “. The Lord will show who are his, and who is holy; ... even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.”

Neh. 9:7-8 describes God’s “choosing” (election) of persons as far back as Abram: “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram ... and you made a covenant with him” (niv).

Bachar is used 30 times in Deuteronomy, all but twice referring to God’s “choice” of Israel or something in Israel’s life. “Because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them ...” (Deut. 4:37). Being “chosen” by God brings people into an intimate relationship with Him: “. The children of the Lord your God: ... the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut. 14:1-2).

God’s “choices” shaped the history of Israel; His “choice” led to their redemption from Egypt (Deut. 7:7-8), sent Moses and Aaron to work miracles in Egypt (Ps. 105:2627), and gave them the Levites “to bless in the name of the Lord” (Deut. 21:5). He “chose” their inheritance (Ps. 47:4), including Jerusalem, where He dwelt among them (Deut. 12:5; 2 Chron. 6:5, 21). But “they have chosen their own ways, and ... I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them ...” (Isa. 66:3- 4). The covenant called men to respond to God’s election: “. I have set before you life and death ... : therefore choose life ...” (Deut. 30:19; cf. Josh. 24:22).

The Greek Septuagint version translated bachar chiefly by ekiegein, and through this word the important theological concept of God’s “choosing” came into the New Testament. The verb is used of God’s or Christ’s “choice” of men for service, as in Luke 6:13 (“of them he chose twelve .”) or of the objects of His grace: “. He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world ...” (Eph. 1:4). John 15:16 expresses the central truth of election in both Testaments: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, ... that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain..”

B. Noun.

bachir (972 ,בחיר), “chosen ones.” Another noun, bachir, is used 13 times, always of the Lord’s “chosen ones”: “Saul, whom the Lord did choose” (2 Sam. 21:6); “ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones” (1 Chron. 16:13).


mui (4135 ,מול), “to circumcise, cut off.” This verb occurs more than 30 times in the Old Testament. Its usage is continued in rabbinic and modern Hebrew. However, the verb “to cut off’ is not found in other Semitic languages.

Most of the occurrences in the Old Testament take place in the Pentateuch (20 times)

and Joshua (8 times). Mui occurs most frequently in Genesis (17 times, 11 of them in

Genesis 17 alone) and Joshua (8 times). Mui occurs in 3 of the 7 verb patterns and in

several rare patterns. It has no derivatives other than muiot in Exod. 4:26: “At that time she said, ‘bridegroom of blood,’ referring to circumcision” (niv).

The physical act of circumcision was introduced by God as a sign of the Abrahamic covenant: “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you . Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you” (Gen. 17:10-11, niv). It was a permanent “cutting off” of the foreskin of the male organ, and as such was a reminder of the perpetuity of the

covenantal relationship. Israel was enjoined to be faithful in “circumcising” all males; each male baby was to be “circumcised” on the eighth day (Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3). Not only were the physical descendants of Abraham “circumcised,” but also those who were servants, slaves, and foreigners in the covenant community (Gen. 17:13-14).

The special act of circumcision was a sign of God’s gracious promise. With the promise and covenantal relations, God expected that His people would joyously and willingly live up to His expectations, and thus demonstrate His rule on earth. To describe the “heart” attitude, several writers of Scripture use the verb “to circumcise.” The “circumcision” of the flesh is a physical sign of commitment to God. Deuteronomy particularly is fond of the spiritual usage of the verb “to circumcise”: “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer” (Deut. 10:16, niv; cf. 30:6). Jeremiah took over this usage: “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah . , because of the evil of your doings” (Jer.


Few occurrences of the verb differ from the physical and the spiritual usage of “to circumcise.” Mul in the Book of Psalms has the meaning of “to cut off, destroy”: “All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them off” (Ps. 118:10, niv; cf. vv. 11-12).

The verb is translated as peritemno in the Septuagint. The verb and the noun peritome are used in both the physical and the spiritual sense. In addition to this, it also is a figure for baptism: “In him you were also circumcised, . not with a circumcision alone by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-12, niv).

In the English versions, the verb is rendered “to circumcise,” “to destroy” (KJv), as well as “to cut off” and “to wither” (rsv, nasb, niv).


cir (5892 ,עיר), “city; town; village; quarter [of a city].” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Phoenician, Sumerian, and old Arabic. This noun occurs about 1,092 times and in every period of biblical Hebrew.

The word suggests a “village.” An unwalled village is represented by the Hebrew

word chatser. Qiryat, a synonym of cir, is an Aramaic loanword.

But cir and its synonym do not necessarily suggest a walled city. This usage is seen in

Deut. 3:5, where cir may be a city standing in the open country (perhaps surrounded by dirt or stone ramparts for protection): “All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.” A comparison of Lev. 25:29 and Lev.

25:31 shows that cir can be used as synonym of chatser: “And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; . but the houses of the villages [chatser] which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country..”

clr can signify not only a “village consisting of permanent houses” but also one in a

permanent place, even though the dwellings are tents: “And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley” (1 Sam. 15:5).

In Gen. 4:17 (the first occurrence), the word cir means a “permanent dwelling center” consisting of residences of stone and clay. As a rule, there are no political overtones to the word; cir simply represents the “place where people dwell on a permanent basis.” At

some points, however, cir represents a political entity (1 Sam. 15:5; 30:29).

This word can represent “those who live in a given town”: “And when he came, lo,

Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God.

And when the man came into the city, and told it, aii the city cried out” (1 Sam. 4:13).

cir can also signify only “a part of a city,” such as a part that is surrounded by a wall:

“Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David” (2 Sam. 5:7). Ancient cities (especially larger ones) were sometimes divided into sections (quarters) by walls, in order to make it more difficult to capture them. This suggests that,

by the time of the statement just cited, cir normally implied a “walled city.”


A. Verb.

taher ΟΠ+, 2891), “to be clean, pure.” The root of this word appears over 200 times in various forms—as a verb, adjective, or noun.

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, none of their offspring is clean in the sight of the holy God: “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Prov. 20:9). Reminding Job that protestations of innocence are of no avail, Eliphaz asked: “Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17).

There is hope, however, because God promised penitent Israel: “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me .” (Jer. 33:8). He said: “. I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezek. 37:23).

The baleful effect of sin was recognized when a person contracted the dread disease of leprosy. After the priest diagnosed the disease, he could declare a person “clean” only after cleansing ceremonies had been performed: “. And he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean” (Lev. 14:9).

God required that His people observe purification rites when they came into His presence for worship. On the Day of Atonement, for example, prescribed ceremonies were performed to “cleanse” the altar from “the uncleanness of the children of Israel” and to “hallow it” (Lev. 16:17-19; cf. Exod. 29:36ff.). The priests were to be purified before they performed their sacred tasks. Moses was directed to “take the Levites ... and cleanse them” (Num. 8:6; cf. Lev. 8:5-13). After they had been held captive in the unclean land of Babylon, “. the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall [of the rebuilt city of Jerusalem]” (Neh. 12:30).

Cleansing might be achieved by physically removing the objects of defilement.

During the reform of King Hezekiah, “the priests went into the inner part of the house of

the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord ...” (2 Chron. 29:16).

Some rites required blood as the purifying agent: “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it [the altar] with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel” (Lev. 16:19). Sacrifices were offered to make atonement for a mother after childbirth: “. she shall bring . the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean” (Lev. 12:8).

B. Adjective.

tahor (2889 ,טהור), “clean; pure.” The word denotes the absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. It is applied concretely to substances that are genuine or unadulterated as well as describing an unstained condition of a spiritual or ceremonial nature.

Gold is a material frequently said to be free of baser ingredients. Thus the ark of the covenant, the incense altar, and the porch of the temple were “overlaid with pure gold” (Exod. 25:11; 37:11, 26; 2 Chron. 3:4). Some of the furnishings and utensils in the temple—such as the mercy seat, the lampstand, the dishes, pans, bowls, jars, snuffers, trays—were of “pure gold” (Exod. 37:6, 16-24). The high priest’s vestment included “two chains of pure gold” and “a plate of pure gold” (Exod. 28:14, 22, 36).

God demands that His people have spiritual and moral purity, unsullied by sin. Anyone not clean of sin is subject to divine rejection and punishment. This contamination is never outgrown or overcome. Because sin pollutes one generation after another, Job asks: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” (Job 14:4). All outward appearances to the contrary, it cannot be said that there is “one event . to the clean, and to the unclean” (Eccl. 9:2). Hope is available even to the chief of sinners, because any man can entreat the mercy of God and say: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).

In sharp contrast with mankind’s polluted nature and actions, “the words of the Lord are pure words .” (Ps. 12:6). The Lord is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Hab.


“Clean” most frequently describes the purity maintained by avoiding contact with other human beings, abstaining from eating animals, and using things that are declared ceremonially clean. Conversely, cleansing results if ritual procedures symbolizing the removal of contamination are observed.

The people of the old covenant were told that “he that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days” (Num. 19:11). A priest was not to defile himself “for the dead among his people” except “for his kin, that is near unto him” (Lev. 21:1-2). This relaxation of the rule was even denied the high priest and a Nazarite during “all the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord” (Num. 6:6ff.).

Cleansing rituals emphasized the fact that the people were conceived and born in sin. Though conception and birth were not branded immoral (just as dying itself was not sinful), a woman who had borne a child remained unclean until she submitted to the proper purification rites (Lev. 12). Chapter 15 of Leviticus prescribes ceremonial cleansing for a woman having her menstrual flow, for a man having seminal emissions, and for “the woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation” (Lev. 15:18).

To be ceremonially “clean,” the Israelite also had to abstain from eating certain animals and even from touching them (Lev. 11; Deut. 14:3- 21). After the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, some modifications were made in the regulations (Deut. 12:15, 22; 15:22).

Purification rites frequently involved the use of water. The person to be cleansed was required to wash himself and his clothes (Lev. 15:27). Water was sprinkled on the individual, on his tent, and on all its furnishings: “And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or the slain, or one dead, or a grave” (Num. 19:18). Sometimes the person being cleansed also had to change garments (Lev. 6:11).

However, the rites were not meritorious deeds, earning God’s favor and forgiveness. Nor did the ceremonies serve their intended purpose if performed mechanically. Unless the rites expressed a person’s contrite and sincere desire to be cleansed from the defilement of sin, they were an abomination to God and only aggravated a person’s guilt. Anyone who appeared before Him in ritual and ceremony with “hands . full of blood” (Isa. 1:15) and did not plead for cleansing of his crimes was judged to be as wicked as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Zion’s hope lay in this cleansing by means of an offering: “And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses . as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord” (Isa. 66:20).


dabag (1692 ,)בק), “to cling, cleave, keep close.” Used in modern Hebrew in the

sense of “to stick to, adhere to,” dabag yields the noun form for “glue” and also the more abstract ideas of “loyalty, devotion.” Occurring just over 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, this term is found very early in the text, in Gen. 2:24: “Therefore shall a man

leave his father and his mother, and shall cieave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This usage reflects the basic meaning of one object’s (person’s) being joined to another. In this sense, Eleazar’s hand “cleaved” to the sword as he struck down the Philistines (2 Sam. 23:10). Jeremiah’s linen waistcloth “clung” to his loins, symbolic of Israel’s “clinging” to God (Jer. 13:11). In time of war and siege, the resulting thirst and famine caused the tongue “to cleave” to the roof of the mouth of those who had been so afflicted.

The literal statement, “My soul cleaveth unto the dust” (Ps. 119:25; rsv, “cleaves”), is better understood as one consults the other English versions: “I lie prone in the dust” (neb); “Down in the dust I lie prostrate” (JB); “I lie prostrate in the dust” (nab); “I lie defeated in the dust” (tev).

The figurative use of dabag in the sense of “loyalty” and “affection” is based on the physical closeness of the persons involved, such as a husband’s closeness to his wife (Gen. 2:24), Shechem’s affection for Dinah (Gen. 34:3), or Ruth’s staying with Naomi (Ruth 1:14). “Cleaving” to God is equivalent to “loving” God (Deut. 30:20).


bagac (^1234 ,בק), “to cleave, split, break open, break through.” This word occurs in all the periods of the Hebrew language and is also found in ancient Ugaritic or Canaanite.

It is the origin of the name of the famous Beqa Valley (which means “valley” or “cleft”) in Lebanon.

In its verbal forms, baqac is found some 50 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is first used there in Gen. 7:11, which states that the “fountains of the great deep [were] broken up,” resulting in the Flood. The everyday use of the verb is seen in references to “splitting” wood (Eccl. 10:9) and the ground “splitting” asunder (Num. 16:31). Serpents’ eggs “split open” or “hatch out” their young (Isa. 59:5). City walls are “breached” or “broken into” in order to take them captive (Jer. 52:7). One of the horrors of war was the “ripping open” of pregnant women by the enemy (2 Kings 8:12; 15:16). Three times God is said “to split open” rocks or the ground in order to provide water for His people (Judg. 15:19; Ps. 74:15; Isa. 48:21).

In the figurative sense, it is said that the light of truth will “break forth as the morning” (Isa. 58:8). Using hyperbole or exaggeration, the historian who recorded the celebration for Solomon’s coronation said that it was so loud “that the earth rent with the

sound of them” (1 Kings 1:40). As here, the kjv often renders baqac by “rent.” In other contexts, it may be translated “burst; clave (cleave); tear; divide; break.”


labash (3847 ,לבש), “to put on (a garment), clothe, wear, be clothed.” A common Semitic term, this word is found in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, in Aramaic, and throughout the history of the Hebrew language. The word occurs about 110 times in the

text of the Hebrew Bible. Labash is found very early in the Old Testament, in Gen. 3:21:

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skin, and clothed them.” As always, God provided something much better for man than man could do for himself—in this instance, fig-leaf garments (Gen. 3:7).

Labash is regularly used for the “putting on” of ordinary clothing (Gen. 38:19; Exod. 29:30; 1 Sam. 28:8). The word also describes the “putting on” of armor (Jer. 46:4). Many times it is used in a figurative sense, as in Job 7:5: “My flesh is clothed [covered] with worms..” Jerusalem is spoken of as “putting on” the Jews as they return after the Exile (Isa. 49:18). Often the figurative garment is an abstract quality: “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, . he put on garments of vengeance for clothing .” (Isa. 59:17). God is spoken of as being “clothed with honor and majesty” (Ps. 104:1). Job says, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me .” (Job 29:14).

These abstract qualities are sometimes negative: “The prince shall be clothed [RSv, “wrapped”] with desolation” (Ezek. 7:27). “They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame” (Job 8:22). “Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame” (Ps. 109:29). A very

important figurative use of labash is found in Judg. 6:34, where the stative form of the verb may be translated, “The spirit of the Lord clothed itself [was clothed] with Gideon.” The idea seems to be that the Spirit of the Lord incarnated Himself in Gideon and thus empowered him from within. The English versions render it variously: “came upon”

(kjv, nasb, jb); “took possession of’ (neb, rsv); “took control (tev); wrapped round” (Knox).


canan (|6051 ,^נ), “cloud; fog; storm cloud; smoke.” Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic and Arabic. Its 87 appearances are scattered throughout the biblical material.

The word commonly means “cloud mass.” cAnan is used especially of the “cloud mass” that evidenced the special presence of God: “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way .”(Exod. 13:21). In Exod. 34:5, this

presence is represented by canan only: “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.”

When the ark of the covenant was brought into the holy place, “The cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10-11). Thus the “cloud” evidenced the presence of God’s glory. So the psalmist wrote that God was surrounded by “clouds and darkness” (Ps. 97:2); God appears as the controller and sovereign of nature. This description is somewhat parallel to the descriptions of Baal, the lord of the storm and god of nature set forth in Ugaritic mythology. The “cloud” is a sign and figure of “divine protection” (Isa. 4:5) and serves as a barrier hiding the fullness of divine holiness and glory, as well as barring sinful man’s approach to God (Lam. 3:44). Man’s relationship to God, therefore, is God-initiated and God-sustained, not humanly initiated or humanly sustained.

In its first biblical occurrence, canan is used in conjunction with God’s sign that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood: “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:13). Elsewhere, the transitory quality of a cloud is used to symbolize the loyalty (Hos. 6:4) and existence of Israel (13:3). In Isa. 44:22, God says that after proper punishment He will wipe out, “as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.. ”

cAnan can mean “storm cloud” and is used to symbolize “an invading force”: “Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee” (Ezek. 38:9; cf. Jer. 4:13). In Job 26:8, the storm cloud is said to be God’s: “He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.” In several passages, the thick storm cloud and the darkness accompanying it are symbols of “gloom” (Ezek. 30:18) and/or “divine judgment” (Ezek. 30:3).

cAnan can represent the “smoke” arising from burning incense: “And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not .” (Lev. 16:13). This “cloud of smoke” may represent the covering between God’s presence (above the mercy seat) and sinful man. If so, it probably also symbolizes the “divine glory.” On the other hand, many scholars feel it represents the human prayers offered up to God.


bo935 ,בוא) נ), “to go in, enter, come, go.” This root appears in most Semitic languages, but with varying meanings. For example, the meaning “come” appears in the Babylonian letters of Mari (1750-1697 B.C.). The corresponding Ugaritic word (15501200 B.C.) has the same significance as its Hebrew counterpart, while the Phoenician

root (starting around 900 B.C.) means “come forth.” Bo} occurs about 2,570 times in Old Testament Hebrew.

First, this verb connotes movement in space from one place toward another. The meaning “go in” or “enter” appears in Gen. 7:7, where it is said that Noah and his family “entered” the ark. In the causative stem, this verb can signify “cause to enter” or “bring into” (Gen. 6:19) or “bring unto” (its meaning in its first biblical occurrence, Gen. 2:19). In Gen. 10:19, the verb is used more absolutely in the phrase “as thou goest unto Sodom.” Interestingly, this verb can also mean “to come” and “to return.” Abram and his family “came” to the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:5), while in Deut. 28:6 God blessed the godly who “go forth” (to work in the morning) and “return” (home in the evening).

Sometimes bo} refers to the “going down” or “setting” of the sun (Gen. 15:12). It can connote dying, in the sense of “going to one’s fathers” (Gen. 15:15). Another special use is the “going into one’s wife” or “cohabitation” (Gen. 6:4). Bo} can also be used of movement in time. For example, the prophets speak of the “coming” day of judgment (1 Sam. 2:31). Finally, the verb can be used of the “coming” of an event such as the sign predicted by a false prophet (Deut. 13:2).

There are three senses in which God is said “to come.” God “comes” through an angel (Judg. 6:11) or other incarnated being (cf. Gen. 18:14). He “appears” and speaks to men in dreams (Gen. 20:3) and in other actual manifestations (Exod. 20:20). For example, during the Exodus, God “appeared” in the cloud and fire that went before the people (Exod. 19:9).

Secondly, God promises to “come” to the faithful wherever and whenever they properly worship Him (Exod. 20:24). The Philistines felt that God had “come” into the Israelite camp when the ark of the covenant arrived (1 Sam. 4:7). This usage associated with formal worship may appear in Ps. 24:7, where the gates of Zion are said to open as the King of glory “enters” Jerusalem. Also, the Lord is “to return” (“come back”) to the new temple described in Ezek. 43:2.

Finally, there is a group of prophetic pictures of divine “comings.” This theme may have originated in the hymns sung of God’s “coming” to aid His people in war (cf. Deut. 33:2). In the Psalms (e.g., 50:3) and prophets (e.g., Isa. 30:27), the Lord “comes” in judgment and blessing—a poetic figure of speech borrowed from ancient Near Eastern mythology (cf. Ezek. 1:4).

Bo} also is used to refer to the “coming” of the Messiah. In Zech. 9:9, the messianic king is pictured as “coming” on a foal of a donkey. Some of the passages pose especially difficult problems, such as Gen. 49:10, which prophesies that the scepter will remain in Judah “until Shiloh come.” Another difficult passage is Ezek. 21:27: “until he come

whose right it is.” A very well-known prophecy using the verb bo} is that concerning the “coming” of the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13). Finally, there is the “coming” of the last day (Amos 8:2) and the Day of the Lord (Isa. 13:6).

The Septuagint translates this verb with many Greek words paralleling the connotations of the Hebrew verb, but especially with words meaning “to come,” “to enter,” and “to go.”


nagash (5066 ,נגש), “to approach, draw near, bring.” Found primarily in biblical Hebrew, this word is also found in ancient Ugaritic. It occurs 125 times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. Nagash is used for the first time in the biblical text in Gen. 18:23, where Abraham is said to “draw near” to God to plead that Sodom be spared.

The word is often used to describe ordinary “contact” of one person with another

(Gen. 27:22; 43:19). Sometimes nagash describes “contact” for the purpose of sexual intercourse (Exod. 19:15). More frequently, it is used to speak of the priests “coming into the presence of’ God (Ezek. 44:13) or of the priests’ “approach” to the altar (Exod.

30:20). Opposing armies are said “to draw near” to battle each other (Judg. 20:23; kjv, “go up”). Inanimate objects, such as the close-fitting scales of the crocodile, are said to be so “near” to each other that no air can come between them (Job 41:16). Sometimes the word is used to speak of “bringing” an offering to the altar (Mal. 1:7).

The English versions render nagash variously, according to context: “went near” (rsv); “moved closer” (tev); “came close” (jb, neb, nasb).


A. Verb.

calah (5927 ,עלה), “to go up, ascend, offer up.” This word occurs in all Semitic languages, including biblical Hebrew. The Old Testament attests it about 890 times.

Basically, calah suggests movement from a lower to a higher place. That is the emphasis in Gen. 2:6 (the first occurrence of the word), which reports that Eden was watered by a mist or stream that “went up” over the ground. cAlah may also mean “to rise up” or “ascend.” The king of Babylon said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven” (Isa. 14:13). This word may mean “to take a journey,” as in traveling from Egypt (Gen. 13:1) toward Palestine or other points northward. The verb may be used in a special sense meaning “to extend, reach”—for example, the border of Benjamin “went up [“extended, reached”] through the mountains westward” (Josh. 18:12).

The use of calah to describe the journey from Egypt to Palestine is such a standard phrase that it often appears without the geographical reference points. Joseph told his brothers to “go up” to their father in peace (Gen. 44:17). Even the return from the Exile, which was a journey from north to south (Palestine), is described as a “going up” (Ezra 2:1). Thus, the reference may be not so much to physically “going up,” but to a figurative or spiritual “going up.” This usage appears long before Ezra’s time, when it is said that one “goes up” to the place where the sanctuary is located (cf. Deut. 17:8). The verb became a technical term for “making a pilgrimage” (Exod. 34:24) or “going up” before the Lord; in a secular context, compare Joseph’s “going up” before Pharaoh (Gen. 46:31).

In instances where an enemy located himself in a superior position (frequently a higher place), one “goes up” to battle (Josh. 22:12). The verb can also refer merely to “going out” to make war against someone, even though there is no movement from a lower to a higher plane. So Israel “went up” to make war against the Moabites, who heard of the Israelites’ approach while still dwelling in their cities (2 Kings 3:21). Even when

calah is used by itself, it can mean “to go to war”; the Lord told Phinehas, “Go up; for

tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand” (Judg. 20:28). On the other hand, if the

enemy is recognized to be on a lower plane, one can “go down” (yarad) to fight (Judg. 1:9). The opposite of “going up” to war is not descending to battle, but “leaving off” (caiah mecai), literally, “going up from against.”

Another special use of caiah is “to overpower” (literally, “to go up from”). For example, the Pharaoh feared the Israelites lest in a war they join the enemy, fight against Egypt, and “overpower” the land (Exod. 1:10). “To go up” may also be used of “increasing in strength,” as the lion that becomes strong from his prey: The lion “goes up from his prey” (Gen. 49:9; cf. Deut. 28:43).

Not only physical things can “go up.” cAiah can be used also of the “increasing” of wrath (2 Sam. 11:20), the “ascent” of an outcry before God (Exod. 2:23), and the “continual” sound of battle (although “sound of’ is omitted; cf. 1 Kings 22:35). The word can also be used passively to denote mixing two kinds of garments together, causing one “to lie upon” or “be placed upon” the other (Lev. 19:19). Sometimes “go up” means “placed,” even when the direction is downward, as when placing a yoke upon an ox (Num. 19:2) or going to one’s grave (Job 5:26). This may be an illustration of how Hebrew verbs can sometimes mean their opposite. The verb is also used of “recording” a census (1 Chron. 27:24).

The verb caiah is used in a causative stem to signify “presenting an offering” to God. In 63 cases, the word is associated with the presentation of the whole burnt offering (coiah). cAiah is used of the general act of “presenting offerings” when the various offerings are mentioned in the same context (Lev. 14:20), or when the purpose of the offering is not specifically in mind (Isa. 57:6). Sometimes this verb means merely “to offer” (e.g., Num. 23:2).

B. Nouns.

ceiyon (!5945 ,^ליו), “the upper; the highest.” This word occurs 53 times. The use of ceiyon in Gen. 40:17 means “the upper” as opposed to “the lower.” Where referring to or naming God, ceiyon means “the highest” (Gen. 14:18).

macaiah (4699 ,מצלה), “step; procession; pilgrimage.” In some of its 47 biblical

appearances, macaiah signifies a “step” or “stair” (cf. Exod. 20:26). The word can also mean “procession” (Ps. 84:6).


tsawah (Π12, 6680), “to command.” This verb occurs only in biblical Hebrew (in all periods) and imperial Aramaic (starting from around 500 B C.). Biblical occurrences number around 485. Essentially, this verb refers to verbal communication by which a superior “orders” or “commands” a subordinate. The word implies the content of what was said. Pharaoh “ordered” (“commanded”) his men concerning Abraham, and they escorted Abraham and his party out of Egypt (Gen. 12:20). This “order” defines an action

relevant to a specific situation. Tsawah can also connote “command” in the sense of the establishment of a rule by which a subordinate is to act in every recurring similar situation. In the Garden of Eden (the first appearance of this word in the Bible), God “commanded” (“set down the rule”): “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: .” (Gen. 2:16). In this case, the word does not contain the content of the action but focuses on the action itself One of the recurring formulas in the Bible is “X did all that Y commanded him”—e.g., Ruth “did according to all that her mother-in-law bade her” (Ruth 3:6). This means that she carried out Naomi’s “orders.” A similar formula, “X did just as Y commanded,” is first found in Num. 32:25, where the sons of Reuben and Gad say to Moses that they “will do as my lord commandeth.” These formulas indicate the accomplishment of, or the intention to accomplish, the “orders” of a superior.

The verb tsawah can be used of a commission or charge, such as the act of “commanding,” “telling,” or “sending” someone to do a particular task. In Gen. 32:4, Jacob “commissioned” his servants to deliver a particular message to his brother Esau. They acted as his emissaries. Jacob commissioned (literally, “commanded”) his sons to bury him in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 49:30), and then he died. This “command” constituted a last will and testament— an obligation or duty. The verb again indicates, therefore, appointing someone to be one’s emissary.

The most frequent subject of this verb is God. However, He is not to be questioned or “commanded” to explain the work of His hands (Isa. 45:11). He tells Israel that His “commands” are unique, requiring an inner commitment and not just external obedience, as the commands of men do (Gen. 29:13). His “ordering” is given to Moses from above the mercy seat (Exod. 25:22) and from His “commands” at Sinai (Lev. 7:38; cf. 17:1ff.). At other times when He “commands,” the thing simply occurs; His word is active and powerful (Ps. 33:9). He also issues “orders” through and to the prophets (Jer. 27:4) who explain, apply, and speak His “commands” (Jer. 1:17).


sar (8269 ,*ר), “official; leader; commander; captain; chief; prince; ruler.” This word, which has an Akkadian cognate, appears about 420 times in biblical Hebrew. The word is often applied to certain non-lsraelite “officials or representatives of the king.”

This meaning appears in Gen. 12:15, its first biblical appearance: “The princes also of

Pharaoh saw her [Sarah], and commended her before Pharaoh..” In other contexts sar represents “men who clearly have responsibility over others”; they are “rulers or chieftains.” Sar may mean simply a “leader” of a profession, a group, or a district, as Phichol was the “commander” of Abimelech’s army (Gen. 21:22) and Potiphar was “an officer of Pharaoh’s and captain of the [body]guard” (Gen. 37:36). In such usage, “chief”

means “head official” (cf. Gen. 40:2). Sarim (plural) were “honored men” (Isa. 23:8).

Sar is used of certain “notable men” within Israel. When Abner was killed by Joab, David said to his servants (palace officials), “Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?” (2 Sam. 3:38; cf. Num. 21:18). Joab, Abishai, and Ittai were “commanders” in David’s army (cf. 2 Sam. 23:19). “Local leaders in Israel”

are also called sarim: “And the princes of Succoth said .” (Judg. 8:6).

In several passages, sar refers to the task of “ruling.” Moses tried to break up a fight between two Hebrews and one of them asked him, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” (Exod. 2:14). In such a context, sar means “leader,” “ruler,” and “judge”: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of

truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens .” (Exod. 18:21). The “commander” of

Israel’s army was called a sar (1 Sam. 17:55).

In Judg. 9:30, sar represents a “ruler” of a city. Any government official might be called a sar (Neh. 3:14). “Religious officiants” who served in the temple of God were

also called sarim (Jer. 35:4).

The “leaders” or “chiefs” of the Levites (1 Chron. 15:16) or priests (Ezra 8:24) are sarim. In 1 Chron. 24:5, the word appears to be a title: “Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for the governors of the sanctuary [sarim godes] and governors of

the house of God [sarim ha>eiohim], were of the sons of Eleazar and of the sons of Ithamar” (nasb, “officers of the sanctuary” and “officers of God”).

In the Book of Daniel, sar is used of “superhuman beings” or “patron angels.” Thus, Michael is the “prince” of Judah (Dan. 10:21; cf. Josh. 5:14). Daniel 8:25 speaks of a king who will arise and “stand up against the Prince of princes” (i.e., the Messiah). COMMANDMENT

mitswah (4687 ,מצ/ה), “commandment.” This noun occurs 181 times in the Old Testament. Its first occurrence is in Gen. 26:5, where mitswah is synonymous with chog (“statute”) and torah (“law”): “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” In the Pentateuch, God is always

the Giver of the mitswah “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no” (Deut. 8:1-2). The “commandment” may be a prescription (“thou shalt do .”) or a proscription (“thou shalt not do .”). The commandments were given in thhearing of the Israelites (Exod. 15:26; Deut. 11:13), who were to “do” (Lev. 4:2ff.) and “keep” (Deut. 4:2; Ps. 78:7) them. Any failure to do so signified a covenantal breach (Num. 15:31), transgression (2 Chron. 24:20), and apostasy (1 Kings 18:18).

The plural of mitswah often denotes a “body of laws” given by divine revelation. They are God’s “word”: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Ps. 119:9). They are also known as “the commandments of God.”

Outside the Pentateuch, “commandments” are given by kings (1 Kings 2:43), fathers (Jer. 35:14), people (Isa. 29:13), and teachers of wisdom (Prov. 6:20; cf. 5:13). Only about ten percent of all occurrences in the Old Testament fit this category.

The Septuagint translations are: entoie (“commandment; order”) and prostagma (“order; commandment; injunction”).


A. Nouns.

reac (^7453 ,ך), “friend; companion.” This noun is also represented in Akkadian,

Ugaritic, and Aramaic. Reac appears 187 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and it has an extensive range of meaning.

The basic meaning of reac is in the narrow usage of the word. A reac is a “personal friend” with whom one shares confidences and to whom one feels very close: “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exod. 33:11).

The closeness of relationship is best expressed by those texts where the reac is like a brother or son, a part of the family: “For my brethren and companions’ sakes .” (Ps. 122:8, cf. Deut. 13:6). For this reason, when Zimri became king over Israel he killed not only all relatives of Baasha, but also his “friends” (1 Kings 16:11). In this sense, the word

is a synonym of נah (“brother”) and of garob (“kin”): “. Go in and out from gate to gate

throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor” (Exod. 32:27).

Similar to the above is the sense of “marriage partner”: “His mouth is most sweet:

yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of

Jerusalem” (Song of Sol. 5:16). However, reac may also signify “illegitimate partners”: “. If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou has played the

harlot with many lovers (reac); yet return again to me, saith the Lord” (Jer. 3:1). The prophet Hosea was commanded to take back his wife from her “friend” (lover), as she had played the adulteress long enough.

The wider usage of reac resembles the English word neighbor, the person with whom one associates regularly or casually without establishing close relations. One may borrow from his “neighbor” (Exod. 22:14), but not bear false witness (Exod. 20:16) nor covet his neighbor’s possessions (Exod. 20:17-18). The laws regulate how one must not take advantage of one’s “neighbors.” The second greatest commandment, which Jesus reiterated—“Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18)—receives reinforcement in the laws of the Pentateuch. The prophets charged Israel with breaking the commandment: They oppressed each other (Isa. 3:5) and desired their neighbors’ wives (Jer. 5:8); they committed adultery with these women (Ezek. 18:6); they did not pay wages to the worker (Jer. 22:13); and they improperly took advantage of their “neighbors” (Ezek. 22:12). According to Proverbs, not loving one’s neighbor is a sign of foolishness (Prov. 11:12).

The wider meaning comes to expression in the proverb of the rich man and his “friends”: “Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor” (Prov. 19:4). Here the “friend” is a person whose association is not long-lasting, whose friendship is superficial.

The Septuagint gives the following translations: piesion (“near; close by”), phiios (“friend”). The KJv gives these senses: “neighbor; friend; fellow; companion.”

Receh also means “friend.” This noun appears in 1 Kings 4:5: “. Zabud the son of

Nathan was principal officer, and the king’s friend..” Recah refers to a “female friend.” See Judg. 11:37 for this usage: “And she said unto her father ... let me alone two months,

that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows" (cf. Judg. 11:38; Ps. 45:14). The noun racyah means “beloved companion; bride.” Racyah occurs many times in the Song of Solomon: 1:9, 15; 2:2, 10, 13; 4:1, 7;

5:2; 6:4. Remt refers to a “fellow woman.” This word is usually translated idiomatically in a reciprocal phrase of “one another,” as in Zech. 11:9: “Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest

eat every one the flesh of another. "

B. Verb.

racah (7462 ,רעה), “to associate with.” This word appears in Prov. 22:24: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go..”


A.    Verb.

racham (ΠΠ^ 7355), “to have compassion, be merciful, pity.” The words from this root are found 125 times in all parts of the Old Testament. The root is also found in Assyrian, Ethiopic, and Aramaic.

The verb is translated “love” once: “I will love thee, O Lord ...” (Ps. 18:1). Racham is also used in God’s promise to declare His name to Moses: “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will

be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exod. 33:19). So men pray: “Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving-kindnesses” (Ps. 25:6); and Isaiah prophesies messianic restoration: “. With great mercies will I gather thee.. But with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (Isa. 54:7-8). This is the heart of salvation by the suffering Servant-Messiah.

B.    Nouns.

rechem (ΠΠ^ 7358), “bowels; womb; mercy.” The first use of rechem is in its primary meaning of “womb”: “The Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech” (Gen. 20:18). The word is personified in Judg. 5:30: “Have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two .?” In another figurative sense, the kjv reads in 1 Kings 3:26: “Her bowels yearned upon her son,” which the niv translates more idiomatically: "[She] was filled with compassion for her son.” The greatest frequency is in this figurative sense of “tender love,” such as a mother has for the child she has borne.

rachamim (7356 ,רחם), “bowels; mercies; compassion.” This noun, always used in the plural intensive, occurs in Gen. 43:14: “And God Almighty give you mercy [nasb, “compassion”].” In Gen. 43:30, it is used of Joseph’s feelings toward Benjamin: “His bowels did yearn upon his brother.” (niv, “He was deeply moved at the sight of his

brother.”) Rachamim is most often used of God, as by David in 2 Sam. 24:14: “Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great..” We have the equivalent Aramaic word in Daniel’s request to his friends: “That they would desire mercies of the God of heaven concerning this secret ...” (Dan. 2:18).

The Greek version of the Old Testament racham consists chiefly of three groups of

words that come into the New Testament. Eieos is the most important, and it is used to translate several Hebrew words. Mary’s song recalls the promise in Ps. 103:11, 17, where eieos translates both rechem and chesed as “mercy”: “His mercy is on them that fear him

from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). Racham is probably behind the often-heard plea: “Thou son of David, have mercy on us” (Matt. 9:27).

C. Adjective.

rachum (7349 ,רחו-ם), “compassionate; merciful.” The adjective is used in that important proclamation of God’s name to Moses: “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious ...” (Exod. 34:6, nasb, niv, “compassionate”).


A. Verb.

shaiam (7999 ,שלם), “to finish, complete, repay, reward.” The Hebrew root denotes perfection in the sense that a condition or action is “complete.” This concept emerges when a concrete object is described. When sufficient building materials were at hand and workmen had enough time to apply them, “the wall [of Jerusalem] was finished” at the time of Nehemiah (Neh. 6:15). However, this Hebrew root is also found in words with so many nuances and applications that at times its original and basic intent is all but

obscured. In the nasb, for example, shaiam is represented with such words as: “fulfill, make up, restore, pay, repay, full, whole, wholly, entire, without harm, friendly, peaceably, to be at peace, make peace, safe, reward, retribution, restitution, recompense, vengeance, bribe, peace offering.”

Perfection and completeness is primarily attributed to God. He is deficient in nothing; His attributes are not marred by any shortcomings; His power is not limited by weakness. God reminded Job of His uninhibited independence and absolute self-sufficiency: “Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine” (Job 41:11). And Job himself admitted: “And who shall repay him what he hath done?” (Job 21:31).

Without any deficiency or flaw in executing justice, God is likewise never lacking in mercy and power to bestow benevolences of every kind. Job is told by his friend: “If thou wert pure ... he would make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous” (Job 8:6).

He can make it happen that “. to the righteous good shall be repaid” (Prov. 13:21). Cyrus says of the Lord: “He ... shall perform all my pleasure” (Isa. 44:28). The Lord will also “. restore comforts unto him and to his mourners” who wept in the Babylonian exile (Isa. 57:18).

The God of perfect justice and goodness expects total devotion from His creatures. Job, suspected of not rendering the required obedience to his Maker, is therefore urged to “be at peace [with God]” (Job 22:21).

The concept of meeting one’s obligation in full is basic in human relationships. Israel’s social law required that the person causing injury or loss “. shall surely make it good” (Exod. 22:14). “And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast” (Lev. 24:18). In some instances, an offender “. shall pay double unto his neighbor” (Exod. 22:9). David declared that the rich man who slaughtered the poor man’s only lamb

“. shall restore the lamb fourfold .” (2 Sam. 12:6). Debts were not to be left unpaid. After providing the widow with the amount needed, Elisha directed her: “Go sell the oil,

and pay [shalam] thy debt .” (2 Kings 4:7). “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again .” (Ps. 37:21). A robber who has mended his ways “. give[s] again that he had robbed ...” (Ezek. 33:15).

National relationships were established on the basis of “complete” negotiations. Thus cities and peoples “made peace with Israel” after they agreed to Joshua’s stipulations (Josh. 10:1). War between the two kingdoms ended when Jehoshaphat “. made peace with the king of Israel” (1 Kings 22:44).

B. Adjective.

shalem (8003 ,שלם), “perfect.” God demanded total obedience from His people:

“Let [their] heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments ...” (1 Kings 8:61). Solomon failed to meet this requirement because “. his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4). Hezekiah, on the other hand, protested: “. I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart” (2 Kings 20:3).

In business transactions, the Israelites were required to “. have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure ...” (Deut. 25:15).


yadah (3034 ,י$ה), “to confess, praise, give thanks.” The root, translated “confess” or “confession” about twenty times in the KJv, is also frequently rendered “praise” or “give thanks.” At first glance, the meanings may appear unrelated. But upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that each sense profoundly illumines and interprets the other.

Yadah overlaps in meaning with a number of other Hebrew words implying “praise,”

such as halal (whence halleluyah). Man is occasionally the object of yadah; but far more commonly, God is the object.

The usual context seems to be public worship, where the worshipers affirm and renew their relationship with God. The subject is not primarily the isolated individual, but the congregation. Especially in the hymns and thanksgivings of the Psalter, it is evident that

yadah is a recital of, and thanksgiving for, Yahweh’s mighty acts of salvation.

An affirmation or confession of God’s undeserved kindness throws man’s unworthiness into sharp relief. Hence, a confession of sin may be articulated in the same breath as a confession of faith or praise and thanksgiving. The confession is not a moralistic, autobiographical catalogue of sins—individual infractions of a legal code— but a confession of the underlying sinfulness that engulfs all mankind and separates us from the holy God. God is even to be praised for His judgments, by which He awakens repentance (e.g., Ps. 51:4). So one is not surprised to find praises in penitential contexts, and vice versa (1 Kings 8:33ff.; Neh. 9:2ff.; Dan. 9:4ff.). If praise inevitably entails confession of sin, the reverse is also true: The sure word of forgiveness elicits praise and thanksgiving on the confessor’s part. This wells up almost automatically from the new being of the repentant person.

Often the direct object of yadah is the “name” of Yahweh (e.g., Ps. 105:1; Isa. 12:4; 1 Chron. 16:8). In one sense, this idiom is simply synonymous with praising Yahweh. In another sense, however, it introduces the entire dimension evoked by the “name” in biblical usage. It reminds us that the holy God cannot be directly approached by fallen man, but only through His “name”—i.e., His Word and reputation, an anticipation of the incarnation. God reveals Himself only in His “name,” especially in the sanctuary where He “causes His name to dwell” (a phrase especially frequent in Deuteronomy).

The vista of yadah expands both vertically and horizontally—vertically to include all creation, and horizontally stretching forward to that day when praise and thanksgiving shall be eternal (e.g., Ps. 29; 95:10; 96:7-9; 103:19-22).


gadam (6923 ,ק$ם), “to meet, confront, go before, be before.” This verb occurs 27 times and in every period of biblical Hebrew. Most often, this verb is used in a martial context. Such confrontations may be peaceful, as in the meeting of allies: “For thou [dost meet] him with the blessings of goodness .” (Ps. 21:3). They may also be hostile: “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death confronted (kjv, “prevented”) me” (2 Sam. 22:6).


cedah (H$y, 5712), “congregation.” This word may have etymologically signified a “company assembled together” for a certain purpose, similar to the Greek words sunagoge and ekkiesia, from which our words “synagogue” and “church” are derived. In

ordinary usage, cedah refers to a “group of people.” It occurs 149 times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the Book of Numbers. The first occurrence is in Exod.

12:3, where the word is a synonym for gahai, “assembly.”

The most general meaning of cedah is “group,” whether of animals—such as a swarm of bees (Judg. 14:8), a herd of bulls (Ps. 68:30), and the flocking together of birds (Hos. 7:12)— or of people, such as the righteous (Ps. 1:5), the evildoers (Ps. 22:16), and the nations (Ps. 7:7).

The most frequent reference is to the “congregation of Israel” (9 times), “the congregation of the sons of Israel” (26 times), “the congregation” (24 times), or “all of the congregation” (30 times). Elders (Lev. 4:15), family heads (Num. 31:26), and princes (Num. 16:2; 31:13; 32:2) were placed in charge of the “congregation” in order to assist Moses in a just rule.

The Septuagint translation is sunagoge (“place of assembly”). The kjv has these translations: “congregation; company; assembly.”

moced (4150 ,מועד), “appointed place of meeting; meeting.” The noun moced appears in the Old Testament 223 times, of which 160 times are in the Pentateuch. The historical books are next in the frequency of usage (27 times).

The word moced keeps its basic meaning of “appointed,” but varies as to what is agreed upon or appointed according to the context: the time, the place, or the meeting itself. The usage of the verb in Amos 3:3 is illuminating: “Can two walk together, except

they be agreed?” Whether they have agreed on a time or a place of meeting, or on the meeting itself, is ambiguous.

The meaning of moced is fixed within the context of Israel’s religion. First, the festivals came to be known as the “appointed times” or the set feasts. These festivals were clearly prescribed in the Pentateuch. The word refers to any “festival” or “pilgrimage festival,” such as Passover (Lev. 23:15ff.), the feast of first fruits (Lev. 23:15ff.), the feast of tabernacles (Lev. 23:33ff.), or the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27).

God condemned the people for observing the moced ritualistically: “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth .” (Isa. 1:14).

The word moced also signifies a “fixed place.” This usage is not frequent: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation [moced], in the sides of the north .” (Isa. 14:13). “For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living” (Job 30:23).

In both meanings of moced—“fixed time” and “fixed place”—a common denominator is the “meeting” of two or more parties at a certain place and time—hence the usage of moced as “meeting.” However, in view of the similarity in meaning between “appointed place” or “appointed time” and “meeting,” translators have a real difficulty in giving a proper translation in each context. For instance, “He hath called an assembly

[moced] against me” (Lam. 1:15) could be read: “He has called an appointed time against me” (nasb) or “He summoned an army against me” (niv).

The phrase, “tabernacle of the congregation,” is a translation of the Hebrew cohel

moced (“tent of meeting”). The phrase occurs 139 times— mainly in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, rarely in Deuteronomy. It signifies that the Lord has an “appointed place” by which His presence is represented and through which Israel was assured that their God was with them. The fact that the tent was called the “tent of meeting” signifies that Israel’s God was among His people and that He was to be approached at a certain time

and place that were “fixed” (yacad) in the Pentateuch. In the kjv, this phrase is translated as “tabernacle of the congregation” (Exod. 28:43) because translators realized that the noun cedah (“congregation”) is derived from the same root as moced The translators of the Septuagint had a similar difficulty. They noticed the relation of moced to the root cud

(“to testify”) and translated the phrase cohel hamoced as “tabernacle of the testimony.” This phrase was picked up by the New Testament: “And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened .” (Rev. 15:5).

Of the three meanings, the appointed “time” is most basic. The phrase “tent of meeting” lays stress on the “place of meeting.” The “meeting” itself is generally associated with “time” or “place.”

The Septuagint has the following translations of moced: kairos (timew), eortel (“feast; festival”). The English translators give these senses: “congregation” (KJv, RSv, NASB,

niv); “appointed time” (nasb); “appointed feast” (rsv, nasb); “set time” (rsv, nasb, niv).


A.    Verb.

kaiah (3615 ,כלה), “to cease, be finished, perish, be completed.” This verb occurs in most Semitic languages and in all periods. In Hebrew, it occurs both in the Bible (about 210 times) and in post-biblical literature. The word does not appear in biblical Aramaic.

Basically, the word means “to cease or stop.” Kaiah may refer to the “end” of a process or action, such as the cessation of God’s creating the universe: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made .” (Gen. 2:2—the first occurrence of the word). The word can also refer to the “disappearance” of something: “And the

water was spent in the bottle ...” (Gen. 21:15). Finally, kaiah can be used of “coming to an end” or “the process of ending”: “The barrel of meal shall not waste” (1 Kings 17:14).

Kaiah can have the more positive connotation of “successfully completing” something. First Kings 6:38 says that the house of the Lord was “finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all [its plans].” In this same sense, the word of the Lord “is fulfilled”: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation ...” (Ezra 1:1).

Kaiah sometimes means “making a firm decision.” David tells Jonathan that if Saul is very angry, “be sure that evil is determined by him” (1 Sam. 20:7).

Negatively, “to complete” something may mean “to make it vanish” or “go away.”

Kaiah is used in this sense in Deut. 32:23, when God says: “I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.” In other words, His arrows will “vanish” from His possession. This nuance is used especially of clouds: “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away ...” (Job 7:9). Another negative nuance is to “destroy” something or someone: “the famine shall consume the land” (Gen. 41:30). Along this same line is the

use of kaiah in Isa. 1:28: “. They that forsake the Lord shall be consumed”; here, however, the verb is a synonym for “dying” or “perishing.” One’s sight may also “vanish” and one may go blind: “But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape ...” (Job 11:20). An altogether different emphasis appears when one’s heart comes “to an end” or “stops within”: “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord” (Ps. 84:2); the psalmist probably meant that his desire for God’s presence was so intense that nothing else had any meaning for him—he “died” to be there.

B.    Noun.

kaiah (3617 ,כלה), “consumption; complete annihilation.” Kaiah appears 15 times; one occurrence is Neh. 9:31: “Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them;.. ”


A. Verb.

tamam (8552 ,^מם), “to be complete, finished, perfect, spent, sound, used up, have integrity.” Found in both ancient and modern Hebrew, this word also exists in ancient

Ugaritic. Tamam is found approximately 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament in its verbal forms.

The basic meaning of this word is that of “being complete” or “finished,” with nothing else expected or intended. When it was said that the temple was “finished” (1 Kings 6:22), this meant that the temple was “complete,” with nothing else to add. Similarly, when the notation is made in Job 31:40, “The words of Job are ended

[finished],” this indicates that the cycle of Job’s speeches is “complete.” Tamam is sometimes used to express the fact that something is “completed” or “finished” with regard to its supply. Thus, money that is all spent is “finished” or “exhausted” (Gen. 47:15, 18). Jeremiah was given bread daily until “all the bread in the city [was] spent [exhausted]” (Jer. 37:21). When a people came “to a full end” (Num. 14:35, RSV), it meant that they were “consumed” or “completely destroyed.” To “consume” the filthiness out of the people (Ezek. 22:15) meant “to destroy it” or “to make an end of it.”

Tamam sometimes expresses moral and ethical “soundness”: “Then shall I be upright” (Ps. 19:13), says the psalmist, when God helps him to keep God’s Law.

B. Adjective.

tam (8535 ,תם), “perfect.” When the adjectival form tam is used to describe Job (1:1), the meaning is not that he was really “perfect” in the ultimate sense, but rather that he was “blameless” (rsv) or “had integrity.”


A. Adverb.

tamid ($8548 ,תמי), “always; continually: regularly.” This word comes from a root that means “to measure.” The root is found in Assyrian, Aramaic, Arabic, and Phoenician. Tamid occurs 100 times in all parts of the Old Testament. It signifies what is to be done regularly or continuously without interruption.

Tamid is first used in Exod. 25:30: “And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me always” (KJv; NASB, “at all times”). Sometimes the continuity is explained by what follows, as in Isa. 21:8: “. My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights.”

Because of his covenant with Jonathan, David said to Mephibosheth: “. And you shall eat at my table regularly” (2 Sam. 9:7; cf. 2 Sam. 9:10, nasb; kjv, “continually”; RSv, “always”).

Tamid occurs most frequently of the daily rituals in the tabernacle and temple: “Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually” (Exod. 29:38). The variety in the English versions indicates that both ideas—regularity and continuousness—are present in the Hebrew word. In this passage,

tamid indicates that these rituals were to be performed regularly and without interruption for the duration of the old covenant.

The word is also used of God. It describes His visible presence at the tabernacle: “So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night” (Num. 9:16). It describes His care for His people: “. let thy loving-kindness and thy truth

continually preserve me” (Ps. 40:11); “And the Lord shall guide thee continually .”

(Isa. 58:11).

Tamid is also used of Jerusalem: “. thy walls are continually before me” (Isa. 49:16). The word describes man’s response to God: “I have set the Lord always before me” (Ps. 16:8); “. his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps. 34:1); “So I shall keep thy law continually, for ever and ever” (Ps. 119:44). In contrast, Israel is “a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face” (Isa. 65:3). Finally, it is said of Zion eschatologically: “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night” (Isa. 60:11).

B. Adjective.

tamid ($8548 ,תמי), “continual.” In Exod. 30:7-8, Aaron is commanded to burn incense morning and evening when he trims the lamps. He is told to offer “. a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (kjv). The same Hebrew expression is used often of priestly functions (cf. Num. 28:6; Ezek. 46:15). CONTINUITY

A. Noun.

tamid ($8548 ,תמי), “continuity.” Tamid is often used as a noun. In Num. 4:7, the word is used with “bread,” literally meaning “the bread of continuity” (nasb, “the continual bread”) or the bread that is “always there.” In other groups of passages, the word emphasizes “regular repetition”: for example, Exod. 29:42 mentions, literally, “the burnt offering of continuity” (nasb, “continual burnt offering”), or the offering made every morning and evening. The “daily sacrifice” of Dan. 8:11 is also this continual burnt offering.

The nonreligious usage indicates that tamid describes “continuity in time,” in the

sense of a routine or habit. Tamid may also have the connotation of a routine that comes to an end when the job is completed: “And they shall sever out men of continual employment, passing through the land to bury with the passengers those that remain upon the face of the earth, to cleanse it: after the end of seven months shall they search” (Ezek. 39:14).

B. Adverb.

tamid ($8548 ,תמי), “continually; at all times; ever.” A cognate of this word appears in Arabic. Biblical Hebrew attests it in all periods.

The word is used as an adverb meaning “continually.” In its first occurrence, tamid represents “uninterrupted action”: “And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me always” (Exod. 25:30). In Jer. 6:7, we read: “. Before me continually is grief and

wounds.” In many passages, tamid bears the nuance of “regular repetition”: “Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continuaiiy. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even .” (Exod. 29:38-39).

In poetic usage, tamid is found in the context of a fervent religious expression: “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net” (Ps. 25:15). It may express a firm belief in God’s faithfulness: “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies

from me, O Lord: let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Ps. 40:11).


nechoshet ("ψΠ}, 5178), “copper; bronze; bronze chains.” Cognates of this word appear in Phoenician, Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It is attested about 136 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

Nechoshet basically means “copper.” This word refers to the metal ore: “A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig [copper]” (Deut. 8:9). The word can also represent the refined ore: “And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in copper [KJv, “brass”; NASB, “bronze”] and iron” (Gen. 4:22).

Inasmuch as it was a semiprecious metal, nechoshet is sometimes listed as a spoil of war (2 Sam. 8:8). In such passages, it is difficult to know whether the reference is to copper or to copper mixed with tin (i.e., bronze). Certainly, “bronze” is intended in 1

Sam. 17:5, where nechoshet refers to the material from which armor is made. Bronze is the material from which utensils (Lev. 6:21), altars (Exod. 38:30), and other objects were fashioned. This material could be polished (1 Kings 7:45) or shined (Ezra 8:27). This metal was less valuable than gold and more valuable than wood (Isa. 60:17).

Still another meaning of nechoshet appears in Judg. 16:21: “But the Philistines took [Samson], and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of [bronze]; and he did grind in the prison house.” Usually, when the word has this meaning it appears in the dual form (in the singular form only in Lam. 3:7).

Deut. 28:23 uses nechoshet to symbolize the cessation of life-giving rain and sunshine: “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be [bronze], and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.”


chebel (2256 ,חבל), “cord; rope; tackle; measuring line; measurement; allotment; portion; region.” Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Akkadian. The word appears about 50 times in the Old Testament.

Chebel primarily means “cord” or “rope.” “Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall” (Josh. 2:15, rsv). The word is used of “tent ropes” in Isa. 33:20: “. A tabernacle that shall not be taken down ... neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.” A ship’s “tackle” is the meaning of

chebel in Isa. 33:23.

Used figuratively, chebel emphasizes “being bound.” In 1 Kings 20:31, we read that the Syrians who fled into Aphek proposed to put sackcloth on their heads as a sign of repentance for attacking Israel, and to put “ropes” about their necks as a sign of submission to Israel’s authority. Snares used “cords” or “ropes,” forming a web or a noose into which the prey stepped and was caught. In this manner, the wicked would be caught by God (Job 18:10). In many passages, death is pictured as a hunter whose trap

has been sprung and whose quarry is captured by the “cords” of the trap: “The cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me” (2 Sam. 22:6, rsv).

In other cases, the thing that “binds” is good: “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love .” (Hos. 11:4). Eccl. 12:6 pictures human life as being held together by a silver “cord.”

A “cord” could be used as a “measuring line”: “And he smote Moab, and measured them with a line, casting them down to the ground; even with two lines measured he to

put to death, and with one full line to keep alive” (2 Sam. 8:2). This meaning of chebei also occurs in Ps. 78:55: “. And [He] divided them an inheritance by line.” Compare Mic. 2:5: “Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the Lord.” The act referred to by Micah appears in Ps. 16:6 as an image of one’s life in general: “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

Chebei also means “the thing measured or allotted”: “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deut. 32:9). Here the use is clearly figurative, but in 1 Chron. 16:18 the “portion” of Israel’s inheritance is a concrete “measured thing”; this nuance first appears in Josh. 17:5. In passages such as Deut. 3:4, the word is used of a “region” or “a measured area”: “. Threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.”

The word may refer to a group of people, describing them as that which is tied together— “a band”: “. Thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place ...” (1 Sam. 10:5).


A.    Verb.

yacas (03289 ,יע), “to advise, counsel, consult.” Used throughout the history of the Hebrew language, this verb occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament approximately 80 times. Yacas is found first in Exod. 18:19, where Jethro says to his son-in-law Moses: “I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee.” The word is found only one other time in the Hexateuch, and that is in Num. 24:14: “I will advise you” (nasb, rsv, “I will let you know”; jb, “let me warn you”; neb, “I will warn you”).

While yacas most often describes the “giving of good advice,” the opposite is sometimes true. A tragic example was the case of King Ahaziah of Judah, whose mother “was his counselor to do wickedly” (2 Chron. 22:3). The idea of “decision” is expressed in Isa. 23:9: “The Lord of hosts hath purposed it” (rsv, neb, nasb, “planned it”; jb, “decision”).

B.    Nouns.

yoces (03289 ,יע), “counselor.” Perhaps the most familiar use of this root is the noun form found in the messianic passage, Isa. 9:6. On the basis of the syntax involved, it is probably better to translate the familiar “Wonderful Counselor” (nasb, tev) as Wonder-Counsellor (jb, nab) or “Wonder of a Counsellor.” The neb renders it “in purpose wonderful.” Another possibility is that of separating the terms: “Wonderful, Counselor” (KJV).

yacas (03289 ,יע), “those who give counsel.” Yacas is frequently used in its participial form, “those who give counsel,” especially in connection with political and military leaders (2 Sam. 15:12; 1 Chron. 13:1).


chatser (2691 ,חצר), “court; enclosure.” This word is related to a common Semitic verb that has two meanings: “to be present,” in the sense of living at a certain place (encampment, residence, court), and “to enclose, surround, press together.” In the

Hebrew Old Testament, chatser appears about 190 times; its usage is welldistributed throughout, except for the minor prophets.

In some Hebrew dictionaries, the usage of chatser as “settled abode,” “settlement,” or “village” is separated from the meaning “court.” But most modern dictionaries identify only one root with two related meanings.

The first biblical occurrence of chatser is in Gen. 25:16: “These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.” Here chatser is related to the first meaning of the root; this occurs less frequently than the usage meaning “court.” The chatser (“settlement”) was a place where people lived without an enclosure to protect them. The word is explained in Lev. 25:31: “But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be

counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee.”

Chatser signifies the “settlements” of seminomadic peoples: the Ishmaelites (Gen.

25:16), the Avim (Deut. 2:23), and Kedar (Isa. 42:11). Chatser also denotes a “settlement” of people outside the city wall. The cities of Canaan were relatively small and could not contain the whole population. In times of peace, residents of the city might build homes and workshops for themselves outside the wall and establish a separate quarter. If the population grew, the king or governor often decided to enclose the new quarter by surrounding it with a wall and incorporating the section into the existing city, in order to protect the population from bandits and warriors. Jerusalem gradually extended its size westward; at the time of Hezekiah, it had grown into a large city.

Huldah the prophetess lived in such a development, known in Hebrew as the mishneh:

“. she dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter” (2 Kings 22:14, rsv).

The Book of Joshua includes Israel’s victories in Canaan’s major cities as well as the suburbs: “Ain, Remmon, and Ether, and Ashan; four cities and their villages .” (19:7; cf. 15:45, 47; 21:12.

The predominant usage of chatser is “court,” whether of a house, a palace, or the temple. Each house generally had a courtyard surrounded by a wall or else one adjoined several homes: “Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down” (2 Sam. 17:18). Solomon’s palace had several “courts”— an outer “court,” an “enclosed space” around the palace, and a “court” around which the palace was built. Similarly, the temple had various courts. The psalmist expressed his joy

in being in the “courts” of the temple, where the birds built their nests (Ps. 84:3); “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps. 84:10). God’s people looked forward to the thronging together of all the people in God’s “courts”: “. In the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem” (Ps. 116:19).

The Septuagint translations are: auie (“courtyard; farm; house; outer court; palace”),

epauiis (“farm; homestead; residence”), and kome (“village; small town”). The kjv gives these translations: “court; village; town.”


berit (1285 ,ברית), “covenant; league; confederacy.” This word is most probably derived from an Akkadian root meaning “to fetter”; it has parallels in Hittite, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Aramaic. Berit is used over 280 times and in all parts of the Old Testament. The first occurrence of the word is in Gen. 6:18: “But with thee [Noah] will I establish my covenant.”

The KJv translates berit fifteen times as “league”: “. Now therefore make ye a league with us” (Josh. 9:6). These are all cases of political agreement within Israel (2 Sam. 3:12- 13, 21; 5:3) or between nations (1 Kings 15:19). Later versions may use “covenant,” “treaty,” or “compact,” but not consistently. In Judg. 2:2, the kjv has: “And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land..” The command had been also given in Exod. 23:32; 34:12-16; and Deut. 7:2-6, where the kjv has “covenant.”

The kjv translates berit as “covenant” 260 times. The word is used of “agreements between men,” as Abraham and Abimelech (Gen. 21:32): “Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba..” David and Jonathan made a “covenant” of mutual protection that would be binding on David’s descendants forever (1 Sam. 18:3; 20:8, 16-18, 42). In these cases, there was “mutual agreement confirmed by oath in the name of the Lord.” Sometimes there were also material pledges (Gen. 21:28-31).

Ahab defeated the Syrians: “So he made a covenant with [Ben-hadad], and sent him away” (1 Kings 20:34). The king of Babylon “took of the king’s seed [Zedekiah], and made a covenant with him, and hath taken an oath of him .” (Ezek. 17:13, niv,

“treaty”). In such “covenants,” the terms were imposed by the superior military power; they were not mutual agreements.

In Israel, the kingship was based on “covenant”: “. David made a covenant [kjv, “league”] with them [the elders of Israel] in Hebron before the Lord .” (2 Sam. 5:3).

The “covenant” was based on their knowledge that God had appointed him (2 Sam. 5:2); thus they became David’s subjects (cf. 2 Kings 11:4, 17).

The great majority of occurrences of berit are of God’s “covenants” with men, as in

Gen. 6:18 above. The verbs used are important: “I will estabiish my covenant” (Gen.

6:18)—literally, “cause to stand” or “confirm.” “I will make my covenant” (Gen. 17:2,

rsv). “He deciared to you his covenant” (Deut. 4:13). “My covenant which I

commanded them .” (Josh. 7:11). “I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore . I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exod. 6:5-6). God will not

reject Israel for their disobedience so as “to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them .” (Lev. 26:44). “He will not ... forget the covenant ... which he sware unto them” (Deut. 4:31). The most common verb is “to cut [karat] a covenant,” which is always translated as in Gen. 15:18: “The Lord made a covenant with Abram.” This use apparently comes from the ceremony described in Gen. 15:9-17 (cf. Jer. 34:18), in which God appeared as “a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp [flaming torch] that passed between those pieces” (Gen. 15:17). These verbs make it plain that God takes the sole initiative in covenant making and fulfillment.

“Covenant” is parallel or equivalent to the Hebrew words dabar (“word”), hoq

(“statute”),piqqud (“precepts”—Ps. 103:18, nasb), ‘edah (“testimony”—Ps. 25:10),

torah (“law”—Ps. 78:10), and checed (“lovingkindness”—Deut. 7:9, nasb). These words emphasize the authority and grace of God in making and keeping the “covenant,” and the specific responsibility of man under the covenant. The words of the “covenant” were written in a book (Exod. 24:4, 7; Deut. 31:24-26) and on stone tablets (Exod. 34:28).

Men “enter into” (Deut. 29:12) or “join” (Jer. 50:5) God’s “covenant.” They are to obey (Gen. 12:4) and “observe carefully” all the commandments of the “covenant” (Deut. 4:6). But above all, the “covenant” calls Israel to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5). God’s “covenant” is a relationship of love and loyalty between the Lord and His chosen people.

“. If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people . and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:5-6). “All the commandments ... shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers” (Deut. 8:1). In the “covenant,” man’s response contributes to covenant fulfillment; yet man’s action is not causative. God’s grace always goes before and produces man’s response.

Occasionally, Israel “made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments . , to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book” (2 Kings 23:3). This is like their original promise: “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Exod. 19:8; 24:7). Israel did not propose terms or a basis of union with God. They responded to God’s “covenant.”

The wholly gracious and effective character of God’s “covenant” is confirmed in the

Septuagint by the choice of diatheke to translate berit. A diatheke is a will that distributes one’s property after death according to the owner’s wishes. It is completely unilateral. In the New Testament, diatheke occurs 33 times and is translated in the KJv 20 times as “covenant” and 13 times as “testament.” In the rsv and the nasb, only “covenant” is used.

The use of “Old Testament” and “New Testament” as the names for the two sections of the Bible indicates that God’s “covenant” is central to the entire book. The Bible relates God’s “covenant” purpose, that man be joined to Him in loving service and know eternal fellowship with Him through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.


bara (1254 ,ברא), “to create, make.” This verb is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can “create” in the sense implied by bara. The verb expresses creation out of nothing, an idea seen clearly in passages having to do with creation on a cosmic scale: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1; cf. Gen. 2:3; Isa. 40:26; 42:5). All other verbs for “creating” allow a much broader range of meaning; they have both divine and human subjects, and are used in contexts where bringing something or someone into existence is not the issue.

Bara! is frequently found in parallel to these other verbs, such as casah, “to make”

(Isa. 41:20; 43:7; 45:7, 12; Amos 4:13), yatsar, “to form” (Isa. 43:1, 7; 45:7; Amos 4:13),

and kun, “to establish.” A verse that illustrates all of these words together is Isa. 45:18:

“For thus saith the Lord that created [bara>] the heavens; God himself that formed

[yatsar] the earth and made [casah] it; he hath established [kun] it, he created [bara>] it

not in vain, he formed [yatar] it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.”

The technical meaning of bara! (to “create out of nothing”) may not hold in these passages; perhaps the verb was popularized in these instances for the sake of providing a poetic synonym. Objects of the verb include the heavens and earth (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 40:26; 42:5; 45:18; 65:17)man (Gen. 1:27; 5:2; 6:7; Deut. 4:32; Ps. 89:47; Isa. 43:7; 45:12); Israel (Isa. 43:1; Mal. 2:10); a new thing (Jer. 31:22); cloud and smoke (Isa. 4:5); north and south (Ps. 89:12); salvation and righteousness (Isa. 45:8); speech (Isa. 57:19); darkness (Isa. 45:7); wind (Amos 4:13); and a new heart (Ps. 51:10). A careful study of

the passages where bara! occurs shows that in the few nonpoetic uses (primarily in Genesis), the writer uses scientifically precise language to demonstrate that God brought the object or concept into being from previously nonexistent material.

Especially striking is the use of bara! in Isaiah 40-65. Out of 49 occurrences of the verb in the Old Testament, 20 are in these chapters. Because Isaiah writes prophetically to the Jews in Exile, he speaks words of comfort based upon God’s past benefits and blessings to His people. Isaiah especially wants to show that, since Yahweh is the Creator, He is able to deliver His people from captivity. The God of Israel has created all

things: “I have made [casah] the earth, and created [bara>] man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isa. 45:12). The gods of Babylon are impotent nonentities (Isa. 44:12-20; 46:1-7), and so Israel can expect God to triumph by effecting a new creation (43:16-21; 65:17-25).

Though a precisely correct technical term to suggest cosmic, material creation from

nothing, bara! is a rich theological vehicle for communicating the sovereign power of God, who originates and regulates all things to His glory.

ganah (7069 ,קנה), “to get, acquire, earn.” These basic meanings are dominant in the Old Testament, but certain poetic passages have long suggested that this verb means “create.” In Gen. 14:19, Melchizedek blessed Abram and said: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker [kjv, “possessor”] of heaven and earth” (rsv). Gen. 14:22 repeats

this divine epithet. Deut. 32:6 makes this meaning certain in that qanah is parallel to

casah, “to make”: “Is he not your father, who created (qanah) you, who made (casah)

you and established (kun) you?” (rsv). Ps. 78:54; 139:13; and Prov. 8:22-23 also suggest the idea of creation.

The cognate languages usually follow the Hebrew in the basic meaning of “to get, acquire.” Ugaritic, however, attests the meaning “create.” In fact, qny is the primary Ugaritic term to express creation. The close relationship of Hebrew and Ugaritic and the contextual meaning of qanah as “create” in the Old Testament passages cited above argue for the use of qanah as a synonym for “create” along with bara>, casah, and yatsar.

casah (6213 ,ע*ה), “to create, do, make.” This verb, which occurs over 2600 times in the Old Testament, is used as a synonym for “create” only about 60 times. There is nothing inherent in the word to indicate the nature of the creation involved; it is only

when casah is parallel to bara! that we can be sure that it implies creation.

Unfortunately, the word is not attested in cognate languages contemporary with the Old Testament, and its etymology is unclear. Because casah describes the most common of human (and divine) activities, it is ill-suited to communicate theological meaning— except where it is used with bara! or other terms whose technical meanings are clearly established.

The most instructive occurrences of casah are in the early chapters of Genesis. Gen.

1:1 uses the verb bara to introduce the Creation account, and Gen. 1:7 speaks of its

detailed execution: “And God made [casah] the firmament..” Whether or not the firmament was made of existing material cannot be determined, since the passage uses only casah. But it is clear that the verb expresses creation, since it is used in that context

and follows the technical word bara!. The same can be said of other verses in Genesis: 1:16 (the lights of heaven); 1:25, 3:1 (the animals); 1:31; 2:2 (all his work); and 6:6 (man). In Gen. 1:26-27, however, casah must mean creation from nothing, since it is used as a synonym for bara!. The text reads, “Let us make [casah] man in our image, after our

likeness.. So God created [bara!] man in his own image..” Similarly, Gen. 2:4 states: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created [bara!], in the day that the Lord God made [casah] the earth and the heavens.” Finally, Gen. 5:1 equates the two as follows: “In the day that God created [bara!] man, in the

likeness of God made [casah] he him.” The unusual juxtaposition of bara! and casah in Gen. 2:3 refers to the totality of creation, which God had “created” by “making.”

It is unwarranted to overly refine the meaning of casah to suggest that it means creation from something, as opposed to creation from nothing. Only context can determine its special nuance. It can mean either, depending upon the situation.


tsacaq (6817 ,צ^ק), “to cry, cry out, call.” Found in both biblical and modern Hebrew, this word has the sense of “to shout, yell.” The word is a close parallel to the very similar sounding word, zacaq, also translated “to cry.” The verb tsacaq is found about 55 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word occurs for the first time in Gen. 4:10: “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

This word is often used in the sense of “crying out” for help. Sometimes it is man “crying out” to man: “. The people cried to Pharaoh for bread .” (Gen. 41:55). More often it is man “crying” to God for help: “. And the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord” (Exod. 14:10). The prophets always spoke sarcastically of those who worship idols: “. One shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer .” (Isa. 46:7). This word is frequently used to express “distress” or “need”: “. He cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry .” (Gen. 27:34).

zacaq Φ^Τ, 2199), “to cry, cry out, call.” This term is found throughout the history of the Hebrew language, including modern Hebrew. The word occurs approximately 70 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Its first occurrence is in the record of the suffering of the Israelite bondage in Egypt: “. And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried [for help] .” (Exod. 2:23).

Zacaq is perhaps most frequently used to indicate the “crying out” for aid in time of emergency, especially “crying out” for divine aid. God often heard this “cry” for help in the time of the judges, as Israel found itself in trouble because of its backsliding (Judg. 3:9, 15; 6:7; 10:10). The word is used also in appeals to pagan gods (Judg. 10:14; Jer.

11:12; Jonah 1:5). That zacaq means more than a normal speaking volume is indicated in appeals to the king (2 Sam. 19:28).

The word may imply a “crying out” in distress (1 Sam. 4:13), a “cry” of horror (1 Sam. 5:10), or a “cry” of sorrow (2 Sam. 13:19). Used figuratively, it is said that “the stone shall cry out of the wall” (Hab. 2:11) of a house that is built by means of evil gain. CUBIT

!ammah (520 ,אמה), “cubit.” This word has cognates in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Aramaic. It appears about 245 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods, but especially in Exod. 25- 27; 37-38 (specifications of the tabernacle); 1 Kings 6-7 (the specifications of Solomon’s temple and palace); and Ezek. 40-43 (the specifications of Ezekiel’s temple).

In one passage, !ammah means “pivot”: “And the posts [literally, “sockets”] of the door moved at the voice of him that cried .” (Isa. 6:4).

In almost every other occurrence, the word means “cubit,” the primary unit of linear measurement in the Old Testament. Some scholars maintain that Israel’s system of linear measurement was primarily based on the Egyptian system. In view of the history of Israel, this is a reasonable position. A “cubit” ordinarily was the distance from one’s elbow to the tip of the middle finger. Since this distance varied from individual to individual, the “cubit” was a rather imprecise measurement. Yet the first appearance of

!ammah (Gen. 6:15) refers to the measurement of Noah’s ark, which implies that the

word must refer to a more precise length than the ordinary “cubit.”

There was an official “cubit” in Egypt. In fact, there were both a shorter “cubit” (17.6 inches) and a longer “cubit” (20.65 inches). The Siloam inscription states that the Siloam tunnel was 1,200 “cubits” long. This divided by its measurement in feet (1,749) demonstrates that as late as Hezekiah’s day (cf. 2 Chron. 32:4) the “cubit” was about 17.5 inches or the shorter Egyptian cubit. Ezekiel probably used the Babylonian “cubit” in describing the temple. The Egyptian shorter cubit is only about three inches shorter than the longer cubit; on the other hand, the Babylonian shorter cubit was about four-fifths the length of the official royal “cubit,” about a handbreadth shorter: “And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and a handbreadth .” (Ezek. 40:5). In other words, it was the width of seven palms rather than six.


A. Verbs.

gaiai (7043 ,קלל), “to be trifling, light, swift; to curse.” This wide-ranging word is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew, in ancient Akkadian, and (according to some) in ancient Ugaritic. The word occurs about 82 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. As will be seen, its various nuances grow out of the basic idea of being “trifling” or “light,” with somewhat negative connotations involved.

Qaiai is found for the first time in Gen. 8:8: “. To see if the waters had subsided .” (rsv). Other English versions translate: “abated” (kjv, nasb); “dried up” (jb); “had lessened” (neb); “had gone down” (tev). All of these terms indicate a lessening of what had existed.

The idea of “to be swift” is expressed in the Hebrew comparative form. So, Saul and Jonathan “were swifter than eagles” (2 Sam. 1:23— literally, “more than eagles they were light”). A similar idea is expressed in 1 Sam. 18:23: “And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to a king’s son-in-law .?”

Qaiai frequently includes the idea of “cursing” or “making little or contemptible”: “And he that curseth [belittles] his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death” (Exod. 21:17). “To curse” had the meaning of an “oath” when related to one’s gods:

“And the Philistine cursed David by his gods” (1 Sam. 17:43). The negative aspect of “non-blessing” was expressed by the passive form: “. The sinner being a hundred years old shall be accursed [by death]” (Isa. 65:20). Similar usage is reflected in: “. Their portion is cursed in the earth .” (Job 24:18).

The causative form of the verb sometimes expressed the idea of “lightening, lifting a weight”: “. Peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you .” (1 Sam. 6:5); “. so shall it be easier for thyself .” (Exod. 18:22).

נarar (779 ,ארר), “to curse.” This root is found in South Arabic, Ethiopic, and Akkadian. The verb occurs 60 times in the Old Testament.

The first occurrence is in Gen. 3:14: “Thou [the serpent] art cursed above all cattle,” and Gen. 3:17: “Cursed is the ground for thy [Adam’s] sake.” This form accounts for more than half of the occurrences. It is a pronouncement of judgment on those who break covenant, as: “Cursed is the man who ...” (twelve times in Deut. 27:15-26). “Curse” is usually parallel with “bless.” The two “curses” in Gen. 3 are in bold contrast to the two blessings (“And God blessed them .”) in Gen. 1. The covenant with Abraham includes: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse [different root] him that curseth thee .”

(Gen. 12:3). Compare Jeremiah’s “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man” and “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord” (17:5, 7) Pagans used the power of “cursing” to deal with their enemies, as when Balak sent for Balaam: “Come ... , curse me this people” (Num. 22:6). Israel had the ceremonial “water that causeth the curse” (Num. 5:18ff.).

God alone truly “curses.” It is a revelation of His justice, in support of His claim to absolute obedience. Men may claim God’s “curses” by committing their grievances to God and trusting in His righteous judgment (cf. Ps. 109:26-31).

The Septuagint translates !arar by epikatarathai, its compounds and derivatives, by which it comes into the New Testament. “Curse” in the Old Testament is summed up in the statement: “Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant ...” (Jer. 11:3). The New Testament responds: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree .” (Gal. 3:13).

B. Noun.

!alah (423 ,אלה), “curse; oath.” Cognates of this word appear in Phoenician and Arabic. The 36 Old Testament occurrences of this noun appear in every period of biblical literature.

In distinction from !arar (“to curse by laying an anathema on someone or

something”) and qalal (“to curse by abusing or by belittling”), !alah basically refers to

“the execution of a proper oath to legalize a covenant or agreement.” As a noun, !alah refers to the “oath” itself: “Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath” (Gen. 24:41—the first occurrence). The “oath” was a “curse” on the head of the one who broke the agreement. This same sense appears in Lev. 5:1, referring to a general “curse” against anyone who would give false testimony in a court case.

So !alah functions as a “curse” sanctioning a pledge or commission, and it can close an agreement or covenant. On the other hand, the word sometimes represents a “curse” against someone else, whether his identity is known or not.



yom (3117 ,יום), “daylight; day; time; moment; year.” This word also appears in Ugaritic, extrabiblical Hebrew or Canaanite (e.g., the Siloam inscription), Akkadian, Phoenician, and Arabic. It also appears in post-biblical Hebrew. Attested at every era of

biblical Hebrew, yom occurs about 2,304 times.

Yom has several meanings. The word represents the period of “daylight” as contrasted with nighttime: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). The word denotes a period of twenty-four hours: “And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph

day by day .” (Gen. 39:10). Yom can also signify a period of time of unspecified duration: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:3). In this verse, “day” refers to the entire period of God’s resting from creating this universe. This “day” began after He completed the creative acts of the seventh day and extends at least to the return of Christ. Compare Gen. 2:4: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth

when they were created, in the day [beyom] that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens..” Here “day” refers to the entire period envisioned in the first six days of creation. Another nuance appears in Gen. 2:17, where the word represents a “point of time” or “a moment”: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not

eat of it: for in the day [beyom] that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Finally, when used in the plural, the word may represent “year”: “Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year [yamim]” (Exod. 13:10).

There are several other special nuances of yom when it is used with various

prepositions. First, when used with ke (“as,” “like”), it can connote “first”: “And Jacob said, Sell me this day [first] thy birthright” (Gen. 25:31). It may also mean “one day,” or “about this day”: “And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business ...” (Gen. 39:11). On Joseph’s lips, the phrase connotes “this present result” (literally, “as it is this day”): “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Adonijah used this same phrase to represent “today”: “Let king Solomon swear unto me today that he will not slay his servant .” (1 Kings 1:51). Yet another nuance appears in 1 Sam. 9:13: “Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.”

When used with the definite article ha, the noun may mean “today” (as it does in Gen. 4:14) or refer to some particular “day” (1 Sam. 1:4) and the “daytime” (Neh. 4:16).

The first biblical occurrence of yom is found in Gen. 1:5: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” The second use introduces one of the most debated occurrences of the word, which is the duration of the days of creation. Perhaps the most frequently heard explanations are that these “days” are 24 hours long, indefinitely long (i.e., eras of time), or logical rather than temporal categories (i.e., they depict theological categories rather than periods of time).

The “day of the Lord” is used to denote both the end of the age (eschatologically) or some occurrence during the present age (non-eschatologically). It may be a day of either judgment or blessing, or both (cf. Isa. 2).

It is noteworthy that Hebrew people did not divide the period of daylight into regular hourly periods, whereas nighttime was divided into three watches (Exod. 14:24; Judg. 7:19). The beginning of a “day” is sometimes said to be dusk (Esth. 4:16) and sometimes dawn (Deut. 28:66-67).


gamal (1580 ,%מל), “to deal out, deal with, wean, ripen.” Found in both biblical and modern Hebrew, this word occurs 35 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. While the basic meaning of the word is “to deal out, with,” the wide range of meaning can be seen in its first occurrence in the biblical text: “And the child grew, and was weaned .” (Gen. 21:8).

Gamal is used most frequently in the sense of “to deal out to,” such as in Prov. 31:12: “She will do him good and not evil..” The word is used twice in 1 Sam. 24:17: “.

Thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” The psalmist rejoices and sings to the Lord “because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:6). This word can express ripening of grapes (Isa. 18:5) or bearing ripe almonds (Num. 17:8).


mawet ("DID, 4194), “death.” This word appears 150 times in the Old Testament.

The word mawet occurs frequently as an antonym of hayyim (“life”): “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live .” (Deut. 30:19). In

the poetic language, mawet is used more often than in the historical books: Job-Proverbs (about 60 times), Joshua-Esther (about 40 times); but in the major prophets only about 25 times.

“Death” is the natural end of human life on this earth; it is an aspect of God’s judgment on man: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Hence all men die: “If these men die the common death of all men . then the Lord hath not sent me” (Num. 16:29). The Old Testament uses “death” in phrases such as “the day of death” (Gen. 27:2) and “the year of death” (Isa. 6:1), or to mark an event as occurring before (Gen. 27:7, 10) or after (Gen. 26:18) someone’s passing away.

“Death” may also come upon someone in a violent manner, as an execution of justice: “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree .” (Deut. 21:22-23). Saul declared David to be a “son of death” because he intended to have David killed (1 Sam. 20:31; cf. Prov. 16:14). In one of his experiences, David composed a psalm expressing how close an encounter he had had with death: “When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me” (2 Sam. 22:5-6; cf. Ps. 18:5-6). Isaiah predicted the Suffering Servant was to die a violent death: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (Isa. 53:9).

Associated with the meaning of “death” is the meaning of “death by a plague.” In a besieged city with unsanitary conditions, pestilence would quickly reduce the weakened population. Jeremiah alludes to this type of death as God’s judgment on Egypt (43:11); note that “death” refers here to “death of famine and pestilence.” Lamentations describes the situation of Jerusalem before its fall: “. Abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death” (Lam. 1:20; cf. also Jer. 21:8-9).

Finally, the word mawet denotes the “realm of the dead” or checoi. This place of death has gates (Ps. 9:13; 107:18) and chambers (Prov. 7:27); the path of the wicked leads to this abode (Prov. 5:5).

Isaiah expected “death” to be ended when the Lord’s full kingship would be established: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Isa. 25:8). Paul argued on the basis of Jesus’ resurrection that this event had already taken place (1 Cor. 15:54), but John looked forward to the hope of the resurrection when God would wipe away our tears (Rev. 21:4).

Temutah means “death.” One occurrence is in Ps. 79:11: “Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die [literally, sons of death]” (cf. Ps. 102:20).

Mamot refers to “death.” Mamot appears in Jer. 16:4: “They shall die of grievous deaths ...” (cf. Ezek. 28:8).


shaw7723 ,*/א) נ), “deceit; deception; malice; falsity; vanity; emptiness.” The 53

occurrences of shaw! are primarily in poetry.

The basic meaning of this word is “deceit” or “deception,” “malice,” and “falsehood.” This meaning emerges when shawנ is used in a legal context: “Put not thine hand with the

wicked to be an unrighteous witness” (Exod. 23:1). Used in cultic contexts, the word bears these same overtones but may be rendered variously. For example, in Ps. 31:6 the word may be rendered “vain” (kjv, “lying”), in the sense of “deceitful” (cf. Ezek. 12:24). Eliphaz described the ungodly as those who trust in “emptiness” or “deception,” though they gain nothing but emptiness as a reward for that trust (Job 15:31).


A. Verbs.

natan (|"J, 5414), “to deliver, give, place, set up, lay, make, do.” This verb occurs in

the different Semitic languages in somewhat different forms. The form natan occurs not only in Aramaic (including in the Bible) and in Hebrew (in all periods). The related forms nadanu (Akkadian) and yatan (Phoenician) are also attested. These verbs occur about 2,010 times in the Bible.

First, natan represents the action by which something is set going or actuated.

Achsah asked her father Caleb to “give” her a blessing, such as a tract of land with abundant water, as her dowry; she wanted him to “transfer” it from his possession to hers (Josh. 15:19). There is a technical use of this verb without an object: Moses instructs Israel to “give” generously to the man in desperate need (Deut. 15:10). In some instances,

natan can mean to “send forth,” as in “sending forth” a fragrance (Song of Sol. 1:12). When used of a liquid, the word means to “send forth” in the sense of “spilling,” for example, to spill blood (Deut. 21:8).

Natan also has a technical meaning in the area of jurisprudence, meaning to hand something over to someone—for example, “to pay” (Gen. 23:9) or “to loan” (Deut.

15:10). A girl’s parent or someone else in a responsible position may “give” her to a man to be his wife (Gen. 16:3), as well as presenting a bride price (Gen. 34:12) and dowry (1 Kings 9:16). The verb also is used of “giving” or “granting” a request (Gen. 15:2).

Sometimes, natan can be used to signify “putting” (“placing”) someone into custody (2 Sam. 14:7) or into prison (Jer. 37:4), or even of “destroying” something (Judg. 6:30). This same basic sense may be applied to “dedicating” (“handing over”) something or someone to God, such as the first-born son (Exod. 22:29). Levites are those who have been “handed over” in this way (Num. 3:9). This word is used of “bringing reprisal” upon someone or of “giving” him what he deserves; in some cases, the stress is on the act of reprisal (1 Kings 8:32), or bringing his punishment on his head.

Natan can be used of “giving” or “ascribing” something to someone, such as “giving” glory and praise to God (Josh. 7:19). Obviously, nothing is passed from men to God; nothing is added to God, since He is perfect. This means, therefore, that a worshiper recognizes and confesses what is already His.

Another major emphasis of natan is the action of “giving” or “effecting” a result. For example, the land will “give” (“yield”) its fruit (Deut. 25:19). In some passages, this verb means “to procure” (“to set up”), as when God “gave” (“procured, set up”) favor for Joseph (Gen. 39:21). The word can be used of sexual activity, too, emphasizing the act of intercourse or “one’s lying down” with an animal (Lev. 18:23).

God “placed” (literally, “gave”) the heavenly lights into the expanse of the heavens (Gen. 1:17—the first occurrence of the verb). A garland is “placed” (literally, “given”) upon one’s head (Prov. 4:9). The children of Israel are commanded not to “set up” idols in their land.

A third meaning of natan is seen in Gen. 17:5: “. For a father of many nations have I made [literally, “given”] thee.” There are several instances where the verb bears this significance.

Natan has a number of special implications when used with bodily parts—for example, “to give” or “turn” a stubborn shoulder (Neh. 9:29). Similarly, compare expressions such as “turning [giving] one’s face” (2 Chron. 29:6). To “turn [give] one’s back” is to flee (Exod. 23:27). “Giving one’s hand” may be no more than “putting it forth,” as in the case of the unborn Zarah (Gen. 38:28). This word can also signify an act of friendship as when Jehonadab “gave his hand” (instead of a sword) to Jehu to help him into the chariot (2 Kings 10:15); an act of oathtaking, as when the priests “pledged” (“gave their hands”) to put away their foreign wives (Ezra 10:19); and “making” or “renewing” a covenant, as when the leaders of Israel “pledged” themselves (“gave their hands”) to follow Solomon (1 Chron. 29:24).

“To give something into someone’s hand” is to “commit” it to his care. So after the Flood, God “gave” the earth into Noah’s hand (Gen. 9:2). This phrase is used to express

the “transfer of political power,” such as the divine right to rule (2 Sam. 16:8). Natan is used especially in a military and judicial sense, meaning “to give over one’s power or control,” or to grant victory to someone; so Moses said God would “give” the kings of Canaan into Israel’s hands (Deut. 7:24). “To give one’s heart” to something or someone is “to be concerned about it”; Pharaoh was not “concerned” about (“did not set his heart to”) Moses’ message from God (Exod. 7:23). “To put [give] something into one’s heart”

is to give one ability and concern to do something; thus God “put” it in the heart of the Hebrew craftsmen to teach others (Exod. 36:2).

“To give one’s face to” is to focus one’s attention on something, as when Jehoshaphat was afraid of the alliance of the Transjordanian kings and “set [his face] to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:3). This same phrase can merely mean “to be facing someone or something” (cf. Gen. 30:40). “To give one’s face against” is a hostile action (Lev. 17:10). Used with

iipne (literally, “before the face of’), this verb may mean “to place an object before” or to “set it down before” (Exod. 30:6). It may also mean “to put before” (Deut. 11:26), “to smite” (cf. Deut. 2:33), or “to give as one’s possession” (Deut. 1:8).

yashac (^3467 ,יש), “to deliver, help.” Apart from Hebrew, this root occurs only in a Moabite inscription. The verb occurs over 200 times in the Bible. For example: “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not” (Isa. 30:15).

B. Nouns.

yeshucsh (3444 ,ישו^ה), “deliverance.” This noun appears 78 times in the Old Testament, predominantly in the Book of Psalms (45 times) and Isaiah (19 times). The first occurrence is in Jacob’s last words: “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord” (Gen. 49:18).

“Salvation” in the Old Testament is not understood as a salvation from sin, since the word denotes broadly anything from which “deliverance” must be sought: distress, war,

servitude, or enemies. There are both human and divine deliverers, but the word yeshucsh rarely refers to human “deliverance.” A couple of exceptions are when Jonathan brought respite to the Israelites from the Philistine pressure (1 Sam. 14:45), and when Joab and his men were to help one another in battle (2 Sam. 10:11). “Deliverance” is generally used with God as the subject. He is known as the salvation of His people: “But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deut. 32:15; cf. Isa. 12:2). He worked many wonders in behalf of His people: “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath [worked salvation for him]” (Ps. 98:1).

Yeshucah occurs either in the context of rejoicing (Ps. 9:14) or in the context of a prayer for “deliverance”: “But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high” (Ps. 69:29).

Habakkuk portrays the Lord’s riding on chariots of salvation (3:8) to deliver His people from their oppressors. The worst reproach that could be made against a person was that God did not come to his rescue: “Many there be which say of my soul, there is no help for him in God [literally, “he has no deliverance in God”]” (Ps. 3:2).

Many personal names contain a form of the root, such as Joshua (“the Lord is help”), Isaiah (“the Lord is help”), and Jesus (a Greek form of yeshucah).

yeshac (3468 ,י0שע), “deliverance.” This noun appears 36 times in the Old Testament. One appearance is in Ps. 50:23: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.”

teshucah (8668 ,תשועה), “deliverance.” Tesucah occurs 34 times. One example is

Isa. 45:17: “But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.”

The Septuagint translations are: soteria and soterion (“salvation; preservation;

deliverance”) and soter (“savior; deliverer”). The KJv gives these translations: “salvation; deliverance; help.”


nacac (^5265 ,נם), “to journey, depart, set out march.” Found throughout the development of the Hebrew language, this root is also found in ancient Akkadian. The word is used nearly 150 times in the Hebrew Bible. It occurs for the first time in Gen.

11:2, where nacac refers to the “migration” (rsv) of people to the area of Babylon. It is probably the most common term in the Old Testament referring to the movement of clans and tribes. Indeed, the word is used almost 90 times in the Book of Numbers alone, since this book records the “journeying” of the people of Israel from Sinai to Canaan.

This word has the basic meaning of “pulling up” tent pegs (Isa. 33:20) in preparation for “moving” one’s tent and property to another place; thus it lends itself naturally to the general term of “traveling” or “journeying.” Samson is said to have “pulled up” the city

gate and posts (Judg. 16:3), as well as the pin on the weaver’s loom (Judg. 16:14). Nacac is used to describe the “movement” of the angel of God and the pillar of cloud as they came between Israel and the pursuing Egyptians at the Sea of Reeds (Exod. 14:19). In Num. 11:31, the word refers to the “springing up” (neb) of the wind that brought the quail to feed the Israelites in the wilderness.

Nacac lends itself to a wide range of renderings, depending upon the context.


shamem (8074 ,שמם), “to be desolate, astonished, appalled, devastated, ravaged.” This verb is found in both biblical and modern Hebrew. It occurs approximately 90 times in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament. Shamem does not occur until Lev. 26:22: “Your high ways shall be desolate.” Interestingly, the word occurs 25 times in the Book of Ezekiel alone, which may reflect either Ezekiel’s times or (more likely) his personality.

Just how the meanings “be desolate,” “be astonished,” and “be appalled” are to be connected with each other is not clear. In some instances, the translator must make a subjective choice. For example, after being raped by her half-brother, Tamar is said to have remained in her brother Absalom’s house, “desolate” (2 Sam. 13:20). However, she surely was “appalled” at what Amnon had done. Also, the traditional expression, “to be desolated,” sometimes means much the same as “to be destroyed” (cf. Amos 7:9; Ezek. 6:4).

Shamem often expresses the idea of to “devastate” or “ravage”: “I will destroy her vines” (Hos. 2:12). What one sees sometimes is so horrible that it “horrifies” or “appalls”: “Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth [i.e., be speechless]” (Job 21:5).


ma!ac (3988 ,מאם), “to reject, refuse, despise.” This verb is common in both biblical and modern Hebrew. It occurs about 75 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and is found for the first time in Lev. 26:15: “. If ye shall despise [RSV, “spurn”] my statutes..”

God will not force man to do His will, so He sometimes must “reject” him: “Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me .” (Hos. 4:6). Although God had chosen Saul to be king, Saul’s response caused a change in God’s attitude: “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king” (1 Sam. 15:23). As a creature of free choice, man may “reject”

God: “. Ye have despised the Lord which is among you” (Num. 11:20). At the same time, man may “reject” evil (Isa. 7:15- 16)When the things that God requires are done with the wrong motives or attitudes, God “de-spised his actions: “I hate, I despise your feast days .” (Amos 5:21). Purity of heart and attitude are more important to God than perfection and beauty of ritual.


shamad ($Ρψ, 8045), “to destroy, annihilate, exterminate.” This biblical word occurs also in modern Hebrew, with the root having the connotation of “religious persecution” or “forced conversion.” Shamad is found 90 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, the first time in Gen. 34:30: “I shall be destroyed.”

This word always expresses complete “destruction” or “annihilation.” While the word

is often used to express literal “destruction” of people (Deut. 2:12; Judg. 21:16), shamad frequently is part of an open threat or warning given to the people of Israel, promising “destruction” if they forsake God for idols (cf. Deut. 4:25-26). This word also expresses the complete “destruction” of the pagan high places (Hos. 10:8) of Baal and his images (2 Kings 10:28). When God wants to completely “destroy,” He will sweep “with the [broom] of destruction” (Isa. 14:23).

shachat ("Πψ, 7843), “to corrupt, spoil, ruin, mar, destroy.” Used primarily in biblical Hebrew, this word has cognate forms in a few other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Ethiopic. It is used about 150 times in the Hebrew Bible and is found first in Gen. 6 where it is used 4 times in reference to the “corruption” that prompted God to bring the Flood upon the earth (Gen. 6:11-12, 17).

Anything that is good can be “corrupted” or “spoiled,” such as Jeremiah’s loincloth

(Jer. 13:7), a vineyard (Jer. 12:10), cities (Gen. 13:10), and a temple (Lam. 2:6). Shachat has the meaning of “to waste” when used of words that are inappropriately spoken (Prov. 23:8). In its participial form, the word is used to describe a “ravening lion” (Jer. 2:30,

RSV) and the “destroying angel” (1 Chron. 21:15). The word is used as a symbol for a

trap in Jer. 5:26. Shachat is used frequently by the prophets in the sense of “to corrupt morally” (Isa. 1:4; Ezek. 23:11; Zeph. 3:7).


chashab (2803 ,חשב), “to think, account, reckon, devise, plan.” This word is found throughout the historical development of Hebrew and Aramaic. Found at least 120 times in the Hebrew Bible, chashab occurs in the text for the first time in Gen. 15:6, where it

was said of Abraham: “He believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness” (rsv). Here the term has the meaning of “to be imputed.”

Frequently used in the ordinary sense of “thinking,” or the normal thought processes

(Isa. 10:7; 53:4; Mal. 3:16), chashab also is used in the sense of “devising evil plans” (Gen. 50:20; Jer. 48:2). The word refers to craftsmen “inventing” instruments of music, artistic objects, and weapons of war (Exod. 31:4; 2 Chron. 26:15; Amos 6:5).


mut (4191 ,מות), “to die, kill.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages (including biblical Aramaic) from the earliest times, and in Egyptian. The verb occurs about 850 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

Essentially, mut means to “lose one’s life.” The word is used of physical “death,” with reference to both man and beast. Gen. 5:5 records that Adam lived “nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” Jacob explains to Esau that, were his livestock to be driven too hard (fast), the young among them would “die” (Gen. 33:13). At one point, this verb

is also used to refer to the stump of a plant (Job 14:8). Occasionally, mut is used figuratively of land (Gen. 47:19) or wisdom (Job 12:2). Then, too, there is the unique hyperbolic expression that Nabal’s heart had “died” within him, indicating that he was overcome with great fear (1 Sam. 25:37).

In an intensive stem, this root is used of the last act inflicted upon one who is already near death. Thus Abimelech, his head having been cracked by a millstone, asked his armor-bearer to “kill” him (Judg. 9:54). In the usual causative stem, this verb can mean “to cause to die” or “to kill”; God is the one who “puts to death” and gives life (Deut. 32:39). Usually, both the subject and object of this usage are personal, although there are exceptions—as when the Philistines personified the ark of the covenant, urging its removal so it would not “kill” them (1 Sam. 5:11). Death in this sense may also be inflicted by animals (Exod. 21:29). This word describes “putting to death” in the broadest sense, including war and judicial sentences of execution (Josh. 10:26).

God is clearly the ultimate Ruler of life and death (cf. Deut. 32:39). This idea is especially clear in the Creation account, in which God tells man that he will surely die if he eats of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17—the first occurrence of the verb). Apparently there was no death before this time. When the serpent questioned Eve, she associated disobedience with death (Gen. 3:3). The serpent repeated God’s words, but negated them (Gen. 3:4). When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, both spiritual and physical death came upon Adam and Eve and their descendants (cf. Rom. 5:12). They experienced spiritual death immediately, resulting in their shame and their attempt to cover their nakedness (Gen. 3:7). Sin and/or the presence of spiritual death required a covering, but man’s provision was inadequate; so God made a perfect covering in the form of a promised redeemer (Gen. 3:15) and a typological covering of animal skins (Gen. 3:21).


nakar (5234 ,נכר), “to discern, regard, recognize, pay attention to, be acquainted with.” This verb is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew. It occurs approximately 50 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first time nakar is used is in Gen. 27:23.

The basic meaning of the term is a “physical apprehension,” whether through sight, touch, or hearing. Darkness sometimes makes “recognition” impossible (Ruth 3:14).

People are often “recognized” by their voices (Judg. 18:3). Nakar sometimes has the meaning of “pay attention to,” a special kind of “recognition”: “Blessed be the man who took notice of you” (Ruth 2:19, RSV, kjv, “did take knowledge of”). This verb can mean “to be acquainted with,” a kind of intellectual awareness: “. Neither shall his place know him any more” (Job 7:10; cf. Ps. 103:16). The sense of “to distinguish” is seen in Ezra 3:13: “. The people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people..”


chatat (""Π, 2865), “to be dismayed, shattered, broken, terrified.” Used primarily in the Hebrew Old Testament, this verb has been identified in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic texts by some scholars. The word is used approximately 50 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and occurs for the first time in Deut. 1:21 as Moses challenged Israel: “Do

not fear or be dismayed” (rsv, neb, “afraid”; kjv, jb, “discouraged”). As here, chatat is often used in parallelism with the Hebrew term for “fear” (cf. Deut. 31:8; Josh. 8:1; 1 Sam. 17:11). Similarly, chatat is frequently used in parallelism with “to be ashamed”

(Isa. 20:5; Jer. 8:9).

An interesting figurative use of the word is found in Jer. 14:4, where the ground “is dismayed [kjv, “chapt”], for there was no rain.” The meaning “to be shattered” is usually employed in a figurative sense, as with reference to the nations coming under God’s judgment (Isa. 7:8; 30:31). The coming Messiah is to “shatter” or “break” the power of all His enemies (Isa. 9:4).


A. Nouns.

tsarah (6869 ,צרה), “distress; straits.” The 70 appearances of tsarah occur in all periods of biblical literature, although most occurrences are in poetry (poetical, prophetical, and wisdom literature).

tsarah means “straits” or “distress” in a psychological or spiritual sense, which is its meaning in Gen. 42:21 (the first occurrence): “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.. ”

tsar (6862 ,צר), “distress.” This word also occurs mostly in poetry. In Prov. 24:10,

tsar means “scarcity” or the “distress” caused by scarcity. The emphasis of the noun is sometimes on the feeling of “dismay” arising from a distressful situation (Job 7:11). In this usage the word tsar represents a psychological or spiritual status. In Isa. 5:30, the word describes conditions that cause distress: “. If one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow .” (cf. Isa. 30:20). This nuance appears to be the most frequent use represented by tsar.

B. Verb.

tsarar (^6887 ,צ), “to wrap, tie up, be narrow, be distressed, be in pangs of birth.” This verb, which appears in the Old Testament 54 times, has cognates in Aramaic, Syriac, Akkadian, and Arabic. In Judg. 11:7, the word carries the meaning of “to be in distress.”

C. Adjective.

tsar (6862 ,צר), “narrow.” Tsar describes a space as “narrow” and easily blocked by a single person (Num. 22:26).


A.    Verb.

chalaq (2505 ,חלק), “to divide, share, plunder, assign, distribute.” Used throughout the history of Hebrew, this verb is probably reflected in the ancient Akkadian term for “field” i.e., that which is divided. The word is found approximately 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament; it appears for the first time in Gen. 14:15, where it is said that Abram “divided his forces” (rsv) as he rescued his nephew Lot from the enemy. Apparently, Abram was “assigning” different responsibilities to his troops as part of his strategy. The sense of “dividing” or “allotting” is found in Deut. 4:19, where the sun, moon, and stars are said to have been “allotted” to all peoples by God. A similar use is seen in Deut. 29:26, where God is said not to have “allotted” false gods to His people.

Chalaq is used in the legal sense of “sharing” an inheritance in Prov. 17:2. The word is used three times in reference to “sharing” the spoils of war in 1 Sam. 30:24.

This verb describes the “division” of the people of Israel, as one half followed Tibni

and the other half followed Omri (1 Kings 16:21). The word chalaq is also important in the description of the “dividing” of the land of Canaan among the various tribes and clans (Num. 26:52-55).

B.    Noun.

cheleq (2506 ,חקל), “portion; territory.” The noun form of chalaq is used often in the biblical text. It has a variety of meanings, such as “booty” of war (Gen. 14:24), a “portion” of food (Lev. 6:17), a “tract” of land (Josh. 18:5), a spiritual “possession” or blessing (Ps. 73:26), and a chosen “pattern” or “life-style” (Ps. 50:18).


qacam (7080 ,קםם), “to divine, practice divination.” Cognates of this word appear in late Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, Mandean, Ethiopic, Palmyran, and Arabic. This root appears 31 times in biblical Hebrew: 11 times as a verb, 9 times as a participle, and 11 times as a noun.

Divination was a pagan parallel to prophesying: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination.. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; you shall listen to him” (Deut. 18:10, 14-15—first occurrence.)

Qacam is a seeking after the will of the gods, in an effort to learn their future action or divine blessing on some proposed future action (Josh. 13:22). It seems probable that the diviners conversed with demons (1 Cor. 10:20).

The practice of divination might involve offering sacrifices to the deity on an altar (Num. 23:1ff.). It might also involve the use of a hole in the ground, through which the diviner spoke to the spirits of the dead (1 Sam. 28:8). At other times, a diviner might

shake arrows, consult with household idols, or study the livers of dead animals (Ezek. 21:21).

Divination was one of man’s attempts to know and control the world and the future, apart from the true God. It was the opposite of true prophecy, which essentially is submission to God’s sovereignty (Deut. 18:14).

Perhaps the most perplexing uses of this word occur in Num. 22-23 and Prov. 16:10, where it seems to be an equivalent of prophecy. Balaam was well-known among the pagans as a diviner; at the same time, he recognized Yahweh as his God (Num. 22:18).

He accepted money for his services and probably was not beyond adjusting the message to please his clients. This would explain why God, being angry, confronted him (Num. 22:22ff.), even though God had told him to accept the commission and go with his escort (22:20). It appears that Balaam was resolved to please his clients. Once that resolve was changed to submission, God sent him on his journey (22:35).


A. Verb.

yatab (3190 ,י+ב), “to be good, do well, be glad, please, do good.” This word is found in various Semitic languages, and is very common in Hebrew, both ancient and modern. Yatab is found approximately 100 times in biblical Hebrew. This verbal form is found first in the story of Cain and Abel, where it is used twice in one verse: “If you do

weii, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do weii, sin is crouching at the door” (Gen. 4:7, nasb). Among other nuances of the verb are “to deal well” (Exod. 1:20), “to play [a musical instrument] well” (1 Sam. 16:17), “to adornmake beautiful” (2 Kings 9:30), and “to inquire diligently” (Deut. 17:4).

B. Adjective.

tob (2896 ,טוב), “good.” This word occurs some 500 times in the Bible. Its first occurrence is in Gen. 1:4: “God saw that the light was good” (nasb). God appraises each day’s creative work as being “good,” climaxing it with a “very good” on the sixth day (Gen. 1:31).

As a positive term, the word is used to express many nuances of that which is “good,” such as a “glad” heart (Judg. 18:20), “pleasing” words (Gen. 34:18), and a “cheerful” face (Prov. 15:13).


A. Noun.

petach (Π"#, 6607), “doorway; opening; entrance; gate.” This word appears 164 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

Petach basically represents the “opening through which one enters a building, tent, tower (fortress), or city.” Abraham was sitting at the “doorway” of his tent in the heat of the day when his three heavenly visitors appeared (Gen. 18:1). Lot met the men of Sodom at the “doorway” of his home, having shut the door behind him (Gen. 19:6).

Larger buildings had larger entryways, so in Gen. 43:19petach may be rendered by the more general word, “entrance.” In Gen. 38:14, petach may be translated “gateway”: Tamar “sat in the gateway [kjv, “open place”].” Thus a petach was both a place to sit (a

location) and an opening for entry (a passageway): “. And the incense altar, and his staves, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the hanging for the door at the entering in of the tabernacle .” (Exod. 35:15).

There are a few notable special uses of petach. The word normally refers to a part of the intended construction plans of a dwelling, housing, or building; but in Ezek. 8:8 it represents an “entrance” not included in the original design of the building: “. When I had digged in the wall, behold a door.” This is clearly not a doorway. This word may be used of a cave’s “opening,” as when Elijah heard the gentle blowing that signified the end of a violent natural phenomenon: “. He wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out,

and stood in the entering in of the cave” (1 Kings 19:13). In the plural form, petach sometimes represents the “city gates” themselves: “And her [Zion’s] gates shall lament and mourn .” (Isa. 3:26). This form of the word is used as a figure for one’s lips; in Mic. 7:5, for example, the prophet mourns the low morality of his people and advises his hearers to trust no one, telling them to guard their lips (literally, the “openings” of their mouths).

In its first biblical occurrence, petach is used figuratively. The heart of men is depicted as a house or building with the Devil crouching at the “entrance,” ready to subdue it utterly and destroy its occupant (Gen. 4:7).

B. Verb.

palach (Π"#, 6605), “to open.” This verb, which appears 132 times in the Old Testament, has attested cognates in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic, and Ethiopic. The first occurrence is in Gen. 7:11.

Although the basic meaning of patach is “to open,” the word is extended to mean “to cause to flow,” “to offer for sale,” “to conquer,” “to surrender,” “to draw a sword,” “to solve [a riddle],” “to free.” In association with min, the word becomes “to deprive of.”



chalom (2472 ,חלום), “dream.” This noun appears about 65 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

The word means “dream.” It is used of the ordinary dreams of sleep: “Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions .” (Job 7:14). The most significant use of this word, however, is with reference to prophetic “dreams” and/or “visions.” Both true and false prophets claimed to communicate with God by these dreams and visions. Perhaps the classical passage using the word in this sense is Deut. 13:1ff.: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass..” This sense, that a dream is

a means of revelation, appears in the first biblical occurrence of chalom (or chalom):

“But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night .” (Gen. 20:3).

B. Verb.

chalam (2492 ,חלם), “to become healthy or strong; to dream.” This verb, which appears 27 times in the Old Testament, has cognates in Ugaritic, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. The meaning, “to become healthy,” applies only to animals though

“to dream” is used of human dreams. Gen. 28:12, the first occurrence, tells how Jacob “dreamed” that he beheld a ladder to heaven.


shatah (8354 ,*״ה), “to drink.” This verb appears in nearly every Semitic language, although in biblical Aramaic it is not attested as a verb (the noun form michetteh does

appear). Biblical Hebrew attests shatah at every period and about 215 times.

This verb primarily means “to drink” or “to consume a liquid,” and is used of inanimate subjects, as well as of persons or animals. The verb shaqah, which is closely related to shatah in meaning, often appears both with animate and inanimate subjects.

The first occurrence of shatah reports that Noah “drank of the wine, and was drunken” (Gen. 9:21). Animals also “drink”: “I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking” (Gen. 24:19). God says He does not “drink the blood of goats” (Ps.


“To drink a cup” is a metaphor for consuming all that a cup may contain (Isa. 51:17). Not only liquids may be drunk, since shatah is used figuratively of “drinking” iniquity: “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?”

(Job 15:16). Only infrequently is this verb used of inanimate subjects, as in Deut. 11:11: “But the land, whither ye go to possess it ... drinketh water of the rain of heaven..”

Shatah may also be used of the initial act of “taking in” a liquid: “Is not this it in which my lord drinketh .?” (Gen. 44:5). “To drink” from a cup does not necessarily involve consuming what is drunk. Therefore, this passage uses shatah of “drinking in,” and not of the entire process of consuming a liquid.

This word may be used of a communal activity: “And they went out into . the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech” (Judg. 9:27). The phrase “eat and drink” may mean “to eat a meal”: “And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night .” (Gen. 24:54). This verb sometimes means “to banquet” (which included many activities in addition to just eating and drinking), or “participating in a feast”: “. Behold, they eat and drink before him, and say, God save

king Adonijah” (1 Kings 1:25). In one case, shatah by itself means “to participate in a feast”: “So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared” (Esth.


The phrase, “eating and drinking,” may signify a religious meal—i.e., a communion meal with God. The seventy elders on Mt. Sinai “saw God, and did eat and drink” (Exod. 24:11). By this act, they were sacramentally united with God (cf. 1 Cor. 10:19). In contrast to this communion with the true God, the people at the foot of the mountain communed with a false god—they “sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exod. 32:6). When Moses stood before God, however, he ate nothing during the entire forty days and nights (Exod. 34:28). His communion was face-to-face rather than through a common meal.

Priests were commanded to practice a partial fast when they served before God—they were not to drink wine or strong drink (Lev. 10:9). They and all Israel were to eat no unclean thing. These conditions were stricter for Nazirites, who lived constantly before

God. They were commanded not to eat any product of the vine (Num. 6:3; cf. Judg. 13:4;

1 Sam. 1:15). Thus, God laid claim to the ordinary and necessary processes of human living. In all that man does, he is obligated to recognize God’s control of his existence. Man is to recognize that he eats and drinks only as he lives under God’s rule; and the faithful are to acknowledge God in all their ways.

The phrase, “eating and drinking,” may also signify life in general; “Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry” (1 Kings 4:20; cf. Eccl. 2:24; 5:18; Jer. 22:15). In close conjunction with the verb

“to be drunk (intoxicated),” shatah means “to drink freely” or “to drink so much that one becomes drunk.” When Joseph hosted his brothers, they “drank, and were merry with him” (Gen. 43:34).


nadach (ΠΉ, 5080), “to drive out, banish, thrust, move.” This word is found primarily in biblical Hebrew, although in late Hebrew it is used in the sense of “to beguile.” Nadach occurs approximately 50 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and its first use is in the passive form: “And lest thou . shouldest be driven to worship them .” (Deut. 4:19). The implication seems to be that an inner “drivenness” or “drawing away,” as well as an external force, was involved in Israel’s potential turning toward idolatry.

Nadach expresses the idea of “being scattered” in exile, as in Jer. 40:12: “Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven..” Job complained that any resource he once possessed no longer existed, for it “is . driven quite from me” (Job 6:13). Evil “shepherds” or leaders did not lead but rather “drove away” and scattered Israel (Jer. 23:2). The enemies of a good man plot against him “to thrust him down from his eminence” (Ps. 62:4, rsv).


capar (6083 ,עפר), “dust; clods; plaster; ashes.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. It appears about 110 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

This noun represents the “porous loose earth on the ground,” or “dust.” In its first

biblical occurrence, capar appears to mean this porous loose earth: “And the Lord God

formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life .” (Gen. 2:7). In Gen. 13:16, the word means the “fine particles of the soil”: “And I will make thy [descendants] as the dust of the earth..” In the plural, the noun can mean “dust masses” or “clods” of earth: “. While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the first clods [kjv, “highest part of the dust”; nasb, “dust”] of the world” (Prov. 8:26).

cApar can signify “dry crumbled mortar or plaster”: “And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place .” (Lev. 14:41). In Lev. 14:42, the word means “wet plaster”: “And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those

stones; and he shall take other mortar, and shall plaster the house.” cApar represents

“finely ground material” in Deut. 9:21: “And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small

as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.” cApar can represent the “ashes” of something that has been burned: “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them [outside] Jerusalem ... and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel” (2 Kings 23:4). In a similar use, the word represents the “ashes” of a burnt offering (Num. 19:17).

The “rubble” of a destroyed city sometimes is called “dust”: “And Ben-hadad sent

unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me” (1 Kings 20:10). In Gen. 3:14 the serpent was cursed with “dust” as his perpetual food (cf. Isa. 65:25; Mic. 7:17). Another nuance arising from the characteristics of dust appears in Job 28:6, where the word parallels “stones.” Here the word seems to represent “the ground”: “The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.”

cApar may be used as a symbol of a “large mass” or “superabundance” of something. This use, already cited (Gen. 13:16), appears again in its fulfillment in Num. 23:10:

“Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel?”

“Complete destruction” is represented by capar in 2 Sam. 22:43: “Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth: I did stamp them as the mire of the street..” In Ps. 7:5, the word is used of “valuelessness” and “futility”: “Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honor in the dust.”

To experience defeat is “to lick the dust” (Ps. 72:9), and to be restored from defeat is “to shake oneself from the dust” (Isa. 52:2). To throw “dust” (“dirt”) at someone is a sign of shame and humiliation (2 Sam. 16:13), while mourning is expressed by various acts of selfabasement, which may include throwing “dust” or “dirt” on one’s own head (Josh. 7:6). Abraham says he is but “dust and ashes,” not really important (Gen. 18:27).

In Job 7:21 and similar passages, capar represents “the earth” of the grave: “For now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.” This word is also used as a simile for a “widely scattered army”: “. For the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing” (2 Kings 13:7).


A. Verbs.

yashab (3427 ,ישב), “to dwell, sit, abide, inhabit, remain.” The word occurs over 1,100 times throughout the Old Testament, and this root is widespread in other ancient Semitic languages.

Yashab is first used in Gen. 4:16, in its most common connotation of “to dwell”: “Cain went out . and dwelt [nasb, “settled”; niv, “lived”] in the land of Nod..” The word appears again in Gen. 18:1: “He [Abraham] sat in the tent door.” In Gen. 22:5,

yashab is translated: ”Abide ye here [niv, “stay here”] with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship..” The word has the sense of “to remain”: “Remain a widow at

thy father’s house ...” (Gen. 38:11), and it is used of God in a similar sense: “Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation ...” (Lam. 5:19). The promise of restoration from captivity was: “And they shall build houses and inhabit them ...” (Isa. 65:21).

Yashab is sometimes combined with other words to form expressions in common usage. For example, “When he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom” (Deut. 17:18; cf. 1 Kings 1:13, 17, 24) carries the meaning “begins to reign.” “To sit in the gate” means “to hold court” or “to decide a case,” as in Ruth 4:1-2 and 1 Kings 22:10. “Sit thou at my right hand” (Ps. 110:1) means to assume a ruling position as deputy. “There will I sit to judge all the heathen” (Joel 3:12) was a promise of eschatological judgment. “To sit in the dust” or “to sit on the ground” (Isa. 47:1) was a sign of humiliation and grief.

Yashab is often used figuratively of God. The sentences, “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne” (1 Kings 22:19); “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Ps. 2:4); and “God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness” (Ps. 47:8) all describe God as the exalted Ruler over the universe. The idea that God also “dwells” among men is expressed by this verb: “Shalt thou [David] build me a house for me to dwell in?” (2 Sam. 7:5; cf. Ps.

132:14). The usage of yashab in such verses as 1 Sam. 4:4: “. The Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubim,” describes His presence at the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle and the temple.

The word is also used to describe man’s being in God’s presence: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, . that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life ...” (Ps. 27:4; cf. Ps. 23:6). “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in .” (Exod. 15:17).

shakan (|'ψ, 7931), “to dwell, inhabit, settle down, abide.” This word is common to many Semitic languages, including ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, and it is found throughout all levels of Hebrew history. Shakan occurs nearly 130 times in Old Testament Hebrew.

Shakan is first used in the sense of “to dwell” in Gen. 9:27: “. And he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” Moses was commanded: “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exod. 25:8).

Shakan is a word from nomadic life, meaning “to live in a tent.” Thus, Balaam “saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes” (Num. 24:2). In that verse, shakan refers to temporary “camping,” but it can also refer to being permanently “settled” (Ps. 102:28). God promised to give Israel security, “that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more ...” (2 Sam. 7:10).

The Septuagint version of the Old Testament uses a great number of Greek words to

translate yashab and shakan. But one word, katoikein, is used by far more often than any other. This word also expresses in the New Testament the “dwelling” of the Holy Spirit in the church: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Eph. 3:17). The Greek

word skenein (“to live in a tent”) shares in this also, being the more direct translation of shakan. John 1:14 says of Jesus, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The

Book of Hebrews compares the tabernacle sacrifices of Israel in the wilderness with the sacrifice of Jesus at the true tabernacle: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and

he will dwell [skenein] with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).

B. Noun.

mishkan (4908 ,משכן), “dwelling place; tent.” This word occurs nearly 140 times,

and often refers to the wilderness “tabernacle” (Exod. 25:9). Mishkan was also used later to refer to the “temple.” This usage probably prepared the way for the familiar term shhekinah, which was widely used in later Judaism to refer to the “presence” of God.

C. Participle.

yashab (3427 ,ישב), “remaining; inhabitant.” This participle is sometimes used as a simple adjective: “. Jacob was a plain man, dweiiing in tents” (Gen. 25:27). But the word is more often used as in Gen. 19:25: “. All the inhabitants of the cities.”



A. Noun.

נozen (241 ,אז&ן), “ear.” The noun >ozen is common to Semitic languages. It appears 187 times in the Old Testament, mainly to designate a part of the body. The first occurrence is in Gen. 20:8: “Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.”

The “ear” was the place for earrings (Gen. 35:4); thus it might be pierced as a token of perpetual servitude (Exod. 21:6).

Several verbs are found in relation to “ear”: “to inform” (Ezek. 24:26), “to pay attention” (Ps. 10:17), “to listen” (Ps. 78:1), “to stop up” (Isa. 33:15), “to make deaf’

(Isa. 6:10), and “to tingle” (1 Sam. 3:11).

Animals are also said to have “ears” (Prov. 26:17). God is idiomatically said to have “ears”: “Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me; ... when I call answer me speedily” (Ps. 102:2). In this particular passage, the neb prefers a more idiomatic rendering: “Hide not thy face from me when I am in distress. Listen to my prayer and, when I call, answer me soon.” Elsewhere, the kjv reads: “And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord” (1 Sam. 8:21); here the niv renders “in the ears of’ idiomatically as “before.” The Lord “pierces” (i.e., opens up) ears (Ps. 40:6), implants ears (Ps. 94:9), and fashions ears (Prov. 20:12) in order to allow man to receive direction from his Creator. As the Creator, He also is able to hear and respond to the needs of His people (Ps. 94:9). The Lord reveals His words to the “ears” of his prophets: “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying ...” (1 Sam. 9:15). Since the Israelites had not responded to the prophetic message, they had made themselves spiritually deaf: “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and

hear not” (Jer. 5:21). After the Exile, the people of God were to experience a spiritual awakening and new sensitivity to God’s Word which, in the words of Isaiah, is to be compared to the opening of the “ears” (Isa. 50:5).

The KJv gives these renderings: “ear; audience; hearing.”


נerets (0776 ,א.ר), “earth; land.” This is one of the most common Hebrew nouns,

occurring more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament. It expresses a world view contrary to ancient myths, as well as many modern theories seeking to explain the origin of the universe and the forces which sustain it.

Ærets may be translated “earth,” the temporal scene of human activity, experience, and history. The material world had a beginning when God “made the earth by His power,” “formed it,” and “spread it out” (Isa. 40:28; 42:5; 45:12, 18; Jer. 27:5; 51:15). Because He did so, it follows that “the earth is the Lord’s” (Ps. 24:1; Deut. 10:1; Exod. 9:29; Neh. 9:6). No part of it is independent of Him, for “the very ends of the earth are His possession,” including “the mountains,” “the seas,” “the dry land,” “the depths of the earth” (Ps. 2:8; 95:4-5; Amos 4:13; Jonah 1:9). God formed the earth to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18). Having “authority over the earth” by virture of being its Maker, He decreed to “let the earth sprout vegetation: of every kind” (Job 34:13; Gen. 1:11). It was never to stop its productivity, for “while the earth stands, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). “The earth is full of God’s riches” and mankind can “multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Ps. 104:24; Gen. 1:28; 9:1). Let no one think that the earth is an independentself-contained mechanism, for “the Lord reigns” as He “sits on the vault of the earth” from where “He sends rain on the earth” (Ps. 97:1; Isa. 40:22; 1 Kings 17:14; Ps. 104:4).

As “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth,” He sees that “there is not a just man on earth” (Eccl. 7:20). At an early stage, God endeavored to “blot out man ... from the face of the earth” (Gen. 6:5-7). Though He relented and promised to “destroy never again all flesh on the earth,” we can be sure that “He is coming to judge the earth” (Gen. 7:16f.; Ps. 96:13). At that time, “the earth shall be completely laid waste” so that “the exalted people of the earth fade away” (Jer. 10:10; Joel 2:10; Isa. 33:3-6; Ps. 75:8). But He also provides a way of escape for all who heed His promise: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:22).

What the Creator formed “in the beginning” is also to have an end, for He will “create a new heaven and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17; 66:22).

The Hebrew word נerets also occurs frequently in the phrase “heaven and earth” or “earth and heaven.” In other words, the Scriptures teach that our terrestrial planet is a part of an all-embracing cosmological framework which we call the universe. Not the result of accident or innate forces, the unfathomed reaches of space and its uncounted components owe their origin to the Lord “who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2; 124:8; 134:3).

Because God is “the possessor of heaven and earth,” the whole universe is to reverberate in the praise of His glory, which is “above heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:19, 22; Ps. 148:13). “Shout, O heavens and rejoice, O earth”: “let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice” (Ps. 49:13; 96:11). Such adoration is always appropriate, for “whatever the Lord pleases, He does in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6).

Ærets does not only denote the entire terrestrial planet, but is also used of some of the

earth’s component parts. English words like iand, country, ground, and soii transfer its meaning into our language. Quite frequently, it refers to an area occupied by a nation or tribe. So we read of “the land of Egypt,” “the land of the Philistines,” “the land of Israel,” “the land of Benjamin,” and so on (Gen. 47:13; Zech. 2:5; 2 Kings 5:2, 4; Judg. 21:21). Israel is said to live “in the land of the Lord” (Lev. 25:33f.; Hos. 9:13). When the people arrived at its border, Moses reminded them that it would be theirs only because the Lord drove out the other nations to “give you their land for an inheritance” (Deut. 4:38). Moses promised that God would make its soil productive, for “He will give rain for your land” so that it would be “a fruitful land,” “a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of wheat and barley” (Deut. 11:13-15; 8:7-9; Jer. 2:7).

The Hebrew noun may also be translated “the ground” (Job 2:13; Amos 3:5; Gen. 24:52; Ezek. 43:14). When God executes judgment, “He brings down the wicked to the ground” (Ps. 147:6, nasb).


A. Verb.

נakal (398 ,אכל), “to eat, feed, consume, devour.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages (except Ethiopic) and in all periods, from the early Akkadian to the latest Hebrew. The word occurs about 810 times in Old Testament Hebrew and 9 times in Aramaic.

Essentially, this root refers to the “consumption of food by man or animals.” In Gen. 3:6, we read that Eve took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and “ate” it. The function of eating is presented along with seeing, hearing, and smelling as one of the basic functions of living (Deut. 4:28). “Eating,” as every other act of life, is under God’s control; He stipulates what may or may not be eaten (Gen. 1:29). After the Flood, man was allowed to “eat” meat (Gen. 9:3). But under the Mosaic covenant, God stipulated that certain foods were not to be “eaten” (Lev. 11; Deut. 14)while others were permissible. This distinction is certainly not new, inasmuch as it is mentioned prior to the Flood (Gen. 7:2; cf. Gen. 6:19). A comparison of these two passages demonstrates how the Bible can speak in general terms, with the understanding that certain limitations are included. Hence, Noah was commanded to bring into the ark two of every kind (Gen. 6:19), while the Bible tells us that this meant two of every unclean and fourteen of every clean animal (Gen. 7:2). Thus, Gen. 9:3 implies that man could “eat” only the clean animals.

This verb is often used figuratively with overtones of destroying something or someone. So the sword, fire, and forest are said to “consume” men. The things “consumed” may include such various things as land (Gen. 3:17), fields (Isa. 1:7),

offerings (Deut. 18:1), and a bride’s purchase price (Gen. 31:15). נAkal might also

connote bearing the results of an action (Isa. 3:10).

The word can refer not only to “eating” but to the entire concept “room and board” (2 Sam. 9:11, 13), the special act of “feasting” (Eccl. 10:16), or the entire activity of “earning a living” (Amos 7:12; cf. Gen. 3:19). In Dan. 3:8 and 6:24, “to eat one’s pieces” is to charge someone maliciously. “To eat another’s flesh,” used figuratively, refers to

tearing him to pieces or “killing him” (Ps. 27:2), although נakal may also be used

literally, as when one “eats” human beings in times of serious famine (Lev. 26:29). Eccl. 4:5 uses the expression, “eat one’s own flesh,” for allowing oneself to waste away.

Abstinence from eating may indicate deep emotional upset, like that which overcame Hannah before the birth of Samuel (1 Sam. 1:7). It may also indicate the religious selfdenial seen in fasting. Unlike the pagan deities (Deut. 32:37-38)God “eats” no food (Ps. 50:13); although as a “consuming” fire (Deut. 4:24), He is ready to defend His own honor and glory. He “consumes” evil and the sinner. He will also “consume” the wicked like a lion (Hos. 13:8). There is one case in which God literally “consumed” food—when He appeared to Abraham in the form of three “strangers” (Gen. 18:8).

God provides many good things to eat, such as manna to the Israelites (Exod. 16:32) and all manner of food to those who delight in the Lord (Isa. 58:14), even the finest food (Ps. 81:16). He puts the Word of God into one’s mouth; by “consuming” it, it is taken into one’s very being (Ezek. 3:2).

B. Nouns.

^kel (400 ,איל), “food.” This word occurs 44 times in the Old Testament. 0נkel appears twice in Gen. 41:35 with the sense of “food supply”: “And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.” The word refers to the “food” of wild animals in Ps.

104:21: “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.” 0נkel is used for “food” given by God in Ps. 145:15. The word may also be used for “food” as an offering, as in Mal. 1:12. A related noun, נaklah, also means “food.” This noun has 18 occurrences in the Old Testament.


zaqen (|2205    ,2204 ,|ק), “old man; old woman; elder; old.” Zaqen occurs 174

times in the Hebrew Old Testament as a noun or as an adjective. The first occurrence is in Gen. 18:11: “Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.” In Gen. 19:4, the word “old” is used as an antonym of “young”: “But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of

Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young [nacar, “young man”], all the

people from every quarter” (cf. Josh. 6:21). A similar usage of zaqen and “young” appears in other Bible references: “But [Rehoboam] forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men [yeled, “boy; child”] that were grown up with him .” (1 Kings 12:8). “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men [bachur] and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort, them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow” (Jer. 31:13). The “old man” is described as being advanced in days (Gen. 18:11), as being satisfied with life or full of years. A feminine form of zaqen refers to an “old woman” (zeqenah). The word zaqen has a more specialized use with the sense of “elder” (more than 100 times). The “elder” was recognized by the people for his gifts of leadership, wisdom, and justice. He was set apart to administer justice, settle disputes, and guide the people of his charge. Elders are

also known as officers (shotrim), heads of the tribes, and judges; notice the parallel usage: “Joshua called for all Israel, and for their eldersand for their heads, and for their

judges, and for their officers, and said unto them; I am old and stricken in age .” (Josh. 23:2). The “elders” were consulted by the king, but the king could determine his own course of action (1 Kings 12:8). In a given city, the governing council was made up of the “elders,” who were charged with the well-being of the town: “And Samuel did that which the Lord spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?” (1 Sam. 16:4). The elders met in session by the city gate (Ezek. 8:1). The place of meeting became known as the “seat” or “council” (kjv, “assembly”) of the elders (Ps. 107:32).

The Septuagint gives the following translations: presbutera (“man of old; elder;

presbyter”), presbutes (“old man; aged man”), gerousia (“council of elders”). The KJv

gives various translations of zaqen: “old; elder; old man; ancient.” Note that the kjv

distinguishes between “elder” and “ancient”; whenever the word aqen does not apply to age or to rule, the kjv uses the word “ancient.”

Zaqan means “beard.” The word zaqan refers to a “beard” in Ps. 133:2: “It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments..” The association of “old age” with a “beard”

can be made, but should not be stressed. The verb zaqen (“to be old”) comes from this noun.


נashshap (825 ,א2ף), “enchanter.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian,

Syriac, and biblical Aramaic (6 times). The noun appears only twice in biblical Hebrew, and only in the Book of Daniel.

The vocation of ashipu is known from earliest times in the Akkadian (Old Babylonian) society. It is not clear whether the ashipu was an assistant to a particular order of Babylonian priests (mashmashu) or an order parallel in function to the mashmashu order. In either case, the ashipu offered incantations to deliver a person from evil magical forces (demons). The sick often underwent actual surgery while the incantations were spoken.

In the Bible, נashshap first occurs in Dan. 1:20: “And as for every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king consulted them he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters (nasb, “conjurers”) who were in his realm.”


qara (7122 ,^רא), “to encounter, befall.” Qara represents an intentional confrontation, whereby one person is immediately before another person. This might be a friendly confrontation, in which friend intentionally “meets” friend; so the kings of the valley came out to “meet” Abram upon his return from defeating the marauding army of Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:17). A host may go forth to “meet” a prospective ally (Josh. 9:11;

2 Sam. 19:15). In cultic contexts, one “meets” God or “is met” by God (Exod. 5:3).

Qara may also be used of hostile “confrontation.” In military contexts, the word often represents the “confrontation” of two forces to do battle (Josh. 8:5); so Israel is told:

“Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12). This verb infrequently may represent an “accidental meeting,” so it is sometimes translated “befall” (Gen. 42:4).


A. Nouns.

נepec (657 ,אפם), “end; not; nothing; only.” The 42 occurrences of this word appear in every period of biblical literature. It has a cognate in Ugaritic. Basically, the noun indicates that a thing “comes to an end” and “is no more.”

Some scholars suggest that this word is related to the Akkadian apcu (Gk. abuccoc), the chasm of fresh water at the edge of the earth (the earth was viewed as a flat surface with four corners and surrounded by fresh water). But this relationship is highly unlikely, since none of the biblical uses refers to an area beyond the edge of the earth. The idea of the “far reaches” of a thing is seen in passages such as Prov. 30:4: “Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all

the ends [boundaries] of the earth?” (cf. Ps. 72:8). In other contexts, נepec means the “territory” of the nations other than Israel: “. With them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth .” (Deut. 33:17). More often, this word represents the peoples who live outside the territory of Israel: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the [very ends] of the earth for thy possession” (Ps. 2:8). In Ps. 22:27, the phrase, “the ends of the world,” is synonymously parallel to “all the [families] of the nations.” Therefore, “the ends of the earth” in such contexts represents all the peoples of the earth besides Israel.

Æpec is used to express “non-existence” primarily in poetry, where it appears chiefly

as a synonym of נayin (“none, nothing”). In one instance, נepec is used expressing the “non-existence” of a person or thing and is translated “not” or “no”: “Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him?” (2 Sam. 9:3). In Isa. 45:6, the word means “none” or “no one”: “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me” (cf. v. 9).

In a few passages, נepec used as a particle of negation means “at an end” or “nothing”: “And all her princes shall be nothing,” or “unimportant” and “not exalted” to kingship (Isa. 34:12). The force of this word in Isa. 41:12 is on the “non-existence” of those so described: “. They that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.”

This word can also mean “nothing” in the sense of “powerlessness” and “worthlessness”: “All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and [meaningless]” (Isa. 40:17).

In Num. 22:35, נepec means “nothing other than” or “only”: “Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shall speak” (cf. Num. 23:13). In such passages, נepec (with the Hebrew particle ki) qualifies the preceding phrase. In 2 Sam. 12:14, a special nuance of the word is represented by the English “howbeit.”

In Isa. 52:4, נepec preceded by the preposition be (“by; because of”) means “without cause”: “. And the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.”

qets (07093 ,ק), “end.” A cognate of this word occurs in Ugaritic. Biblical Hebrew

attests qets about 66 times and in every period.

First, the word is used to denote the “end of a person” or “death”: “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me .” (Gen. 6:13). In Ps. 39:4, qets speaks of the “farthest extremity of human life,” in the sense of how short it is: “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.”

Second, qets means “end” as the state of “being annihilated”: “He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection .” (Job 28:3).

Third, related to the previous meaning but quite distinct, is the connotation “farthest extremity of,” such as the “end of a given period of time”: “And after certain years [literally, “at the end of years”] he went down to Ahab to Samaria .” (2 Chron. 18:2; cf. Gen. 4:3—the first biblical appearance).

A fourth nuance emphasizes a “designated goal,” not simply the extremity but a conclusion toward which something proceeds: “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie .” (Hab. 2:3).

In another emphasis, qets represents the “boundary” or “limit” of something: “I have seen an end of all perfection” (Ps. 119:96).

In 2 Kings 19:23, the word (with the preposition ie) means “farthest”: “. And I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.”

qatseh (7097 ,קצה), “end; border; extremity.” The noun qatseh appears 92 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

In Gen. 23:9, qatseh means “end” in the sense of “extremity”: “That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field..” The word means ”[nearest] edge or border” in Exod. 13:20: “And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in the Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.” At other points, the word clearly indicates the “farthest extremity”: “If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee” (Deut. 30:4).

Second, qatseh can signify a “temporal end,” such as the “end of a period of time”; that is the use in Gen. 8:3, the first biblical occurrence of the word: “. After the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.”

One special use of qatseh occurs in Gen. 47:2, where the word is used with the

preposition min (“from”): “And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh” (rsv; cf. Ezek. 33:2). In Gen. 19:4, the same construction means “from every quarter (or “part”) of a city”: “. The men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter.” A similar usage occurs in Gen. 47:21, except that the phrase is repeated twice and is rendered “from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other.” In Jer. 51:31, the phrase means “in every quarter” or “completely.”

qatsah (7098 ,קצה), “end; border; edge; extremity.” The noun qatsah appears in the Bible 28 times and also appears in Phoenician. This word refers primarily to concrete

objects. In a few instances. however, qatsah is used of abstract objects; one example is of

God’s way (Job 26:14): “These are but the fringe of his power; and how faint the whisper that we hear of him!” (neb).

נacharit (319 ,אחרית), “hind-part; end; issue; outcome; posterity.” Akkadian, Aramaic, and Ugaritic also attest this word. It occurs about 61 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods; most of its occurrences are in poetry.

Used spatially, the word identifies the “remotest and most distant part of something”:

“If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea .” (Ps. 139:9).

The most frequent emphasis of the word is “end,” “issue,” or “outcome.” This nuance is applied to time in a superlative or final sense: “. The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deut.

11:12). A slight shift of meaning occurs in Dan. 8:23, where נacharit is applied to time in a relative or comparative sense: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” Here the word refers to a “last period,” but not necessarily the “end” of history. In a different nuance, the word can mean “latter” or “what comes afterward”: “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider

their latter end!” (Deut. 32:29). In some passages, נacharit represents the “ultimate outcome” of a person’s life. Num. 23:10 speaks thus of death: “Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!”

In other passages, נacharit refers to “all that comes afterwards.” Passages such as Jer. 31:17 use the word of one’s “descendants” or “posterity” (kjv, “children”). In view of the parallelism suggested in this passage, the first line should be translated “and there is hope

for your posterity.” In Amos 9:1, נacharit is used of the “rest” (remainder) of one’s fellows. Both conclusion and result are apparent in passages such as Isa. 41:22, where the word represents the “end” or “result” of a matter: “Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come.”

A third nuance of נacharit indicates the “last” or the “least in importance”: “Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold. the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert” (Jer. 50:12).

The fact that נacharit used with “day” or “years” may signify either “a point at the end of time” or “a period of the end time” has created considerable debate on fourteen Old Testament passages. Some scholars view this use of the word as non-eschatological—that it merely means “in the day which follows” or “in the future.” This seems to be its meaning in Gen. 49:1 (its first occurrence in the Bible): “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” Here the word refers to the entire period to follow. On the other hand, Isa. 2:2 uses the word more absolutely of the “last period of time”: “In the last days, ... the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established [as the chief of the mountains]..” Some scholars believe the phrase sometimes is used of the “very end of time”: “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days” (Dan. 10:14). This point, however, is much debated.

B. Adverb.

נepec (657 ,אפם), “howbeit; notwithstanding; however; without cause.” This word’s

first occurrence is in Num. 13:28: ''Nevertheiess the people be strong that dwell in the land..”


^yeb (341 ,איב), “enemy.” נOyeb has an Ugaritic cognate. It appears about 282 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. In form, the word is an active infinitive (or more precisely, a verbal noun).

This word means “enemy,” and is used in at least one reference to both individuals and nations: “. In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Gen. 22:17—the first occurrence). “Personal foes” may be represented by this word: “If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again” (Exod. 23:4). This idea includes “those who show hostility toward me”: “But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong; and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied” (Ps. 38:19).

One might be an “enemy” of God: “. The Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies” (Nah. 1:2). God is the “enemy” of all who refuse to submit to His lordship: “But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy .” (Isa. 63:10).

tsar (6862 ,צר), “adversary; enemy; foe.” This noun occurs 70 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, mainly in the Psalms (26 times) and Lamentations (9 times). The first use of the noun is in Gen. 14:20: “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.”

Tsar is a general designation for “enemy.” The “enemy” may be a nation (2 Sam. 24:13) or, more rarely, the “opponent” of an individual (cf. Gen. 14:20; Ps. 3:1). The Lord may also be the “enemy” of His sinful people as His judgment comes upon them (cf. Deut. 32:41-43). Hence, the Book of Lamentations describes God as an “adversary”

of His people: “He hath bent his bow like an enemy ^oyeb]: he stood with his right hand

as an adversary [tsar], and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire” (Lam. 2:4).

The word tsar has several synonyms: ^yeb, “enemy” (cf. Lam. 2:5); soneנ, “hater” (Ps. 44:7); rodep, “persecutor” (Ps. 119:157); cants, “tyrant; oppressor” (Job 6:23).

In the Septuagint, tsar is generally translated by echthros (“enemy”). The KJv gives these translations: “enemy; adversary; foe.”


נepod (!!!646 ,א), “ephod.” This word, which appears in Assyrian and (perhaps) Ugaritic, occurs 49 times in the biblical Hebrew, 31 times in the legal prescriptions of Exodus—Leviticus and only once in biblical poetry (Hos. 3:4).

This word represents a close-fitting outer garment associated with worship. It was a kind of long vest, generally reaching to the thighs. The “ephod” of the high priest was fastened with a beautifully woven girdle (Exod. 28:27-28) and had shoulder straps set in onyx stones, on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes. Over the chest of the high priest was the breastplate, also containing twelve stones engraved with the tribal names. Rings attached it to the “ephod.” The Urim and Thummin were also linked to the breastplate.

Apparently, this “ephod” and attachments were prominently displayed in the sanctuary. David consulted the “ephod” to learn whether the people of Keilah would betray him to Saul (1 Sam. 23:9-12); no doubt the Urim and Thummim were used. The first biblical occurrence of the word refers to this high priestly ephod: “Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate” (Exod. 25:7). So venerated was this “ephod” that replicas were sometimes made (Judg. 8:27; 17:1-5) and even worshiped. Lesser priests (1 Sam. 2:28) and priestly trainees wore less elaborate “ephods” made of linen whenever they appeared before the altar.

נApuddah means “ephod; covering.” This word is a feminine form of נepod (or

נepod). The word occurs 3 times, first in Exod. 28:8: “And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of ... gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.”


maiat (4422 ,מלט), “to escape, slip away, deliver, give birth.” This word is found in

both ancient and modern Hebrew. Maiat occurs approximately 95 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word appears twice in the first verse in which it is found: “Flee for your life; ... flee to the hills, lest you be consumed” (Gen. 19:17, rsv). Sometimes maiat

is used in parallelism with nuc, “to flee” (1 Sam. 19:10), or with barah, “to flee” (1 Sam. 19:12). The most common use of this word is to express the “escaping” from any kind of dangersuch as an enemy (Isa. 20:6), a trap (2 Kings 10:24), or a temptress (Eccl. 7:26). When Josiah’s reform called for burning the bones of false prophets, a special directive was issued to spare the bones of a true prophet buried at the same place: “. So they let

his bones alone ...” (2 Kings 23:18; literally, “they let his bones escape”). Maiat is used once in the sense of “delivering a child” (Isa. 66:7).


cereb (6153 ,^רב), “evening, night.” The noun cereb appears about 130 times and in all periods. This word represents the time of the day immediately preceding and following the setting of the sun. During this period, the dove returned to Noah’s ark (Gen. 8:11). Since it was cool, women went to the wells for water in the “evening” (Gen.

24:11). It was at “evening” that David walked around on top of his roof to refresh himself and cool off, and observed Bathsheba taking a bath (2 Sam. 11:2). In its first biblical

appearance, cereb marks the “opening of a day”: “And the evening and the morning were

the first day” (Gen. 1:5). The phrase “between the evenings” means the period between sunset and darkness, “twilight” (Exod. 12:6; kjv, “in the evening”).

Second, in a late poetical use, the word can mean “night”: “When I lie down, I say,

When shall I arise, and the night be gone? And I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of the day” (Job 7:4).


colam (5769 ,עולם), “eternity; remotest time; perpetuity.” This word has cognates in Ugaritic, Moabite, Phoenician, Aramaic, Arabic, and Akkadian. It appears about 440 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

First, in a few passages the word means “eternity” in the sense of not being limited to the present. Thus, in Eccl. 3:11 we read that God had bound man to time and given him the capacity to live “above time” (i.e., to remember yesterday, plan for tomorrow, and consider abstract principles); yet He has not given him divine knowledge: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

Second, the word signifies “remotest time” or “remote time.” In 1 Chron. 16:36, God is described as blessed “from everlasting to everlasting” (KJv, “for ever and ever”), or from the most distant past time to the most distant future time. In passages where God is

viewed as the One Who existed before the creation was brought into existence, colam (or

colam) may mean: (1) “at the very beginning”: “Remember the former things [the beginning things at the very beginning] of old: for I am God, and there is none else .” (Isa. 46:9); or (2) “from eternity, from the pre-creation, till now”: “Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old [from eternity]” (Ps. 25:6). In other passages, the word means “from (in) olden times”: “. Mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Gen. 6:4). In Isa. 42:14, the word is used hyperbolically meaning “for a long time”: “I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself..” This word may include all the time between the ancient beginning and the present: “The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied .” (Jer. 28:8). The word can mean “long ago” (from long ago): “For [long ago] I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands .” (Jer. 2:20). In Josh. 24:2, the word means “formerly; in ancient times.” The word is used in Jer. 5:15, where it means “ancient”: “Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the

Lord: it is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation..” When used with the negative, colam

(or colam) can mean “never”: “We are thine: thou never barest rule [literally, “not ruled from the most distant past”] over them .” (Isa. 63:19). Similar meanings emerge when the word is used without a preposition and in a genitive relationship to some other noun.

With the preposition cad, the word can mean “into the indefinite future”: “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever” (Deut. 23:3). The same construction can signify “as long as one lives”: “I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there

abide for everw (1 Sam. 1:22). This construction then sets forth an extension into the indefinite future, beginning from the time of the speaker. In the largest number of its occurrences, coiam (or coiam) appears with the preposition ieThis construction is weaker and less dynamic in emphasis than the previous phrase, insofar as it envisions a “simple duration.” This difference emerges in 1 Kings 2:33, where both phrases occur. Lecoiam is applied to the curse set upon the dead Joab and his descendants. The other more dynamic phrase (cad coiam), applied to David and his descendants, emphasizes the ever-continued, ever-acting presence of the blessing extended into the “indefinite future”: “Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab, and upon the head of his seed for ever [ie coiam]: but upon David, and upon his seed, and upon his house, and upon his throne, shall there be peace for ever [cad coiam] from the Lord.” In Exod. 21:6 the phrase ie

coiam means “as long as one lives”: “. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.” This phrase emphasizes “continuity,” “definiteness,” and “unchangeability.” This is its emphasis in Gen. 3:22, the first biblical

occurrence of coiam (or coiam): “. And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever..”

The same emphasis on “simple duration” pertains when coiam (or coiam) is used in passages such as Ps. 61:8, where it appears by itself: “So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” The parallelism demonstrates that coiam (or

coiam) means “day by day,” or “continually.” In Gen. 9:16, the word (used absolutely) means the “most distant future”: “And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature..” In other places, the word means “without beginning, without end, and ever-continuing”: “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:4).

The plural of this word is an intensive form.


A. Verb.

rum (7311 ,רום), “to be high, exalted.” This root also appears in Ugaritic (with the radicals r-m), Phoenician, Aramaic (including biblical Aramaic, 4 times), Arabic, and Ethiopic. In extra-biblical Aramaic, it appears as rm The word occurs in all periods of biblical Hebrew and about 190 times. Closely related is the rather rare (4 times) rmm, “to rise, go away from.”

Basically, rum represents either the “state of being on a higher plane” or “movement in an upward direction.” The former meaning appears in the first biblical occurrence of the word: “And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted [rose] up above the earth” (Gen. 7:17). Used of men, this verb may refer to their “physical stature”; for example, the spies sent into Canaan reported that “the people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven .” (Deut. 1:28). The second emphasis, representing what is done to the subject or what it does to itself, appears in Ps. 12:8: “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” The psalmist confesses that the Lord will “set me up upon a rock” so as to be out of all danger (Ps. 27:5). A stormy wind (Ps. 107:25) “lifts up” the waves of the sea. Rum is used of the building of an edifice. Ezra confessed that God had renewed the people of Israel, allowing them “to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:9; cf. Gen. 31:45). In Ezek. 31:4, this verb is used of “making a plant grow larger”: “The waters made him [the cedar in Lebanon] great, the deep set him up on high..” Since in Deut.

1:28 lgadal(“larger”) and rum (“taller”) are used in close connection, Ezek. 31:4 could be translated: “The waters made it grow bigger, the deep made it grow taller.” Closely related to this nuance is the use of rum to represent the process of child-rearing. God says

through Isaiah: “. I have nourished [gadal] and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isa. 1:2).

Rum sometimes means “to take up away from,” as in Isa. 57:14: “Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.” When used in reference to offerings, the word signifies the “removal of a certain portion” (Lev. 2:9). The presentation of the entire offering is also referred to as an “offering up” (Num. 15:19).

In extended applications, rum has both negative and positive uses. Positively, this word can signify “to bring to a position of honor.” So God says: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isa. 52:13). This same meaning occurs in 1 Sam. 2:7, where Hannah confessed: “The Lord maketh poor,

and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.” Used in a negative sense, rum means “to be haughty”: “And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down” (2 Sam. 22:28).

Rum is often used with other words in special senses. For example, to lift one’s voice is “to cry aloud.” Potiphar’s wife reported that when Joseph attacked her, she “raised” her voice screaming. These two words (rum and “voice”) are used together to mean “with a loud voice” (Deut. 27:14).

The raising of the hand serves as a symbol of power and strength and signifies being “mighty” or “triumphant”: “Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high [literally, “is raised”] ...” (Deut. 32:27). To raise one’s hand against someone is to rebel against him. Thus, “Jeroboam . lifted up his hand against the king” (1 Kings 11:26).

The raising of one’s horn suggests the picture of a wild ox standing in all its strength. This is a picture of “triumph” over one’s enemies: “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies .” (1 Sam. 2:1). Moreover, horns symbolized the focus of one’s power. Thus, when one’s horn is “exalted,” one’s power is exalted. When one exalts another’s horn, he gives him “strength”: “. He [the Lord] shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (1 Sam. 2:10).

Raising one’s head may be a public gesture of “triumph and supremacy,” as in Ps. 110:7, where it is said that after defeating all His enemies the Lord will “lift up the head.” This nuance is sometimes used transitively, as when someone else lifts a person’s head.

Some scholars suggest that in such cases the verb signifies the action of a judge who has pronounced an accused person innocent by raising the accused’s head. This phrase also came to signify “to mark with distinction,” “to give honor to,” or “to place in a position of strength”: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Ps. 3:3).

To raise one’s eyes or heart is to be “proud” and “arrogant”: “Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt” (Deut. 8:14).

B. Nouns.

rum (7312 ,רום), “height; haughtiness.” This word occurs 6 times, and it means

“height” in Prov. 25:3. Rum signifies “haughtiness” in Isa. 2:11. marom (4791 ,מרום),

“higher plane; heighthigh social position.” Marom appears about 54 times in biblical Hebrew. It also is attested in Ugaritic and Old South Arabic. In its first biblical occurrence (Judg. 5:18), marom means “a higher plane on the surface of the earth.” Job 16:19 and Isa. 33:5 contain the word with the meaning of “the height” as the abode of God. Job 5:11 uses the word to refer to “a high social position.” Marom can also signify “self-exaltation” (2 Kings 19:22; Ps. 73:8).


A. Adverb.

me>od ($3966 ,מע), “exceedingly; very; greatly; highly.” This word occurs about 300 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. A verb with a similar basic semantic range appears in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Arabic.

Me>od functions adverbially, meaning “very.” The more superlative emphasis appears in Gen. 7:18, where the word is applied to the “amount (quantity)” of a thing: “And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth..” In Ps. 47:9, me>od is used of “magnifying” and “exaltation”: “. For the shields of the earth belong unto God; he is greatly exalted.” The doubling of the word is a means of emphasizing its basic meaning, which is “very much”: “And the waters prevailed exceedingly (nasb, “more and more”) upon the earth .” (Gen. 7:19).

B. Noun.

me>od (3966 ,מעד), “might.” This word is used substantively in the sequence “heart . soul . might”: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut. 6:5).


cayin (|5869 ,עי), “eye; well; surface; appearance; spring.” cAyin has cognates in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, and other Semitic languages. It occurs about 866 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew (5 times in biblical Aramaic).

First, the word represents the bodily part, “eye.” In Gen. 13:10, cayin is used of the “human eye”: “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan..” It is also used of the “eyes” of animals (Gen. 30:41), idols (Ps. 115:5), and God (Deut. 11:12— anthropomorphism). The expression “between the eyes” means “on the forehead”: “And

it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth .” (Exod. 13:9). “Eyes” are used as typical of one’s “weakness” or “hurt”: “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said .” (Gen.

27:1). The “apple of the eye” is the central component, the iris: “Keep me as the apple of the eye” (Ps. 17:8). “Eyes” might be a special feature of “beauty”: “Now he was ruddy, and withal [fair of eyes], and goodly to look to” (1 Sam. 16:12).

cAyin is often used in connection with expressions of “seeing”: “And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you” (Gen. 45:12). The expression “to lift up one’s eyes” is explained by a verb following it: one lifts up his eyes to do something—whatever the verb stipulates (cf. Gen. 13:10). “Lifting up one’s eyes” may also be an act expressing “desire,” “longing,” “devotion”: “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife [looked with desire at] Joseph .” (Gen. 39:7). The “eyes” may be used in gaining or seeking a judgment, in the sense of “seeing intellectually,” “making an evaluation,” or “seeking an evaluation or proof of faithfulness”: “And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him” (Gen. 44:21).

“Eyes” sometimes show mental qualities, such as regret: “Also regard not [literally, “do not let your eye look with regret upon”] your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours” (Gen. 45:20). “Eyes” are used figuratively of mental and spiritual abilities, acts and states. So the “opening of the eyes” in Gen. 3:5 (the first occurrence) means to become autonomous by setting standards of good and evil for oneself. In passages such as Prov. 4:25, “eye” represents a moral faculty: “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” Prov. 23:6 uses the word of a moral state (literally“evil eye”): “Eat thou not the bread of [a selfish man], neither desire thou his dainty meats.” An individual may serve as a guide, or one’s “eyes”: “And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes” (Num. 10:31).

The phrase, “in the eye of,” means “in one’s view or opinion”: “And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes” (Gen. 16:4).

Another phrase, “from the eyes of,” may signify that a thing or matter is “hidden” from one’s knowledge: “And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and [she be undetected] .” (Num. 5:13).

In Exod. 10:5, the word represents the “visible surface of the earth”: “And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth..” Lev. 13:5 uses

cayin to represent “one’s appearance”: “And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay [NASB, “if in his eyes the infection has not changed”]..” A “gleam or sparkle” is described in the phrase, “to give its eyes,” in passages such as Prov. 23:31: “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color [gives its eyes] in the cup..”

cAyin also represents a “spring” (literally, an “eye of the water”): “And the angel of the Lord found her by a spring [KJv, “fountain”] of water in the wilderness, by the spring [kjv, “fountain”] on the way to Shur” (Gen. 16:7).

macyan (4599 ,מעין), “spring.” This word appears 23 times in the Old Testament. In

Lev. 11:36, macyan means “spring”: “Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is

plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.” Another example is found in Gen. 7:11: “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, ... the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”



panim (6440 ,#נים), “face.” This noun appears in biblical Hebrew about 2,100 times and in all periods, except when it occurs with the names of persons and places, it always appears in the plural. It is also attested in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, Moabite, and Ethiopic. In its most basic meaning, this noun refers to the “face” of something. First, it refers to the “face” of a human being: “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him ...” (Gen. 17:3). In a more specific application, the word represents the look on one’s face, or one’s “countenance”: “And Cain was very [angry], and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:5). To pay something to someone’s “face” is to pay it to him personally (Deut.

7:10); in such contexts, the word connotes the person himself. Panim can also be used of the surface or visible side of a thing, as in Gen. 1:2: “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” In other contexts, the word represents the “front side” of something: “And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselvesand shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle” (Exod. 26:9). When

applied to time, the word (preceded by the preposition ie) means “formerly”: “The Horim also dwelt in Seir [formerly] ... (Deut. 2:12).

This noun is sometimes used anthropomorphically of God; the Bible speaks of God as though He had a “face”: “. For therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God” (Gen. 33:10). The Bible clearly teaches that God is a spiritual being and ought not to be depicted by an image or any likeness whatever (Exod. 20:4). Therefore, there was no image or likeness of God in the innermost sanctuary—only the ark of the

covenant was there, and God spoke from above it (Exod. 25:22). The word panim, then, is used to identify the bread that was kept in the holy place. The KJv translates it as “the showbread,” while the nasb renders “the bread of the Presence” (Num. 4:7). This bread was always kept in the presence of God.


A. Noun.

>emunah (530), “faithfulness.” This word occurs in Punic as emanethi (“certainty”). In the Hebrew Old Testament, the noun occurs 49 times, mainly in the Book of Psalms (22 times). The first occurrence of the word refers to Moses’ hands: “But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron

and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” (Exod. 17:12).

The basic meaning of >emunah is “certainty” and “faithfulness.” Man may show himself “faithful” in his relations with his fellow men (1 Sam. 26:23). But generally, the Person to whom one is “faithful” is the Lord Himself: “And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart” (2 Chron. 19:9). The Lord has manifested His “faithfulness” to His people: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4). All his works reveal his “faithfulness” (Ps. 33:4). His commandments are an expression of his “faithfulness” (Ps. 119:86); those who seek them

are found on the road of “faithfulness”: “I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me” (Ps. 119:30). The Lord looks for those who seek to do His will with all their hearts. Their ways are established and His blessing rests on them: “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent” (Prov. 28:20). The assurance of the abundance of life is in the expression quoted in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11) from Hab. 2:4: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”

The word >emunah is synonymous with tsedeq (“righteousness”—cf. Isa. 11:5), with

chesed (“lovingkindness”—cf. Ps. 98:3, nasb), and with mishpat (“justice” cf. Jer. 5:1).

The relationship between God and Israel is best described by the word hesed (“love”);

but as a synonym, נemunah fits very well. Hosea portrays God’s relation to Israel as a marriage and states God’s promise of “faithfulness” to Israel: “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and

in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt [acknowledge] the Lord” (Hos. 2:19-20). In these verses, the words “righteousness,” “judgment” (“justice”), “loving-kindness,” “mercies,” and “faithfulness”

bear out the conclusion that the synonyms for נemunah are covenantal terms expressive of God’s “faithfulness” and “love.” The assurance of the covenant and the promises is established by God’s nature; He is “faithful.” Man’s acts (Prov. 12:22) and speech (12:17must reflect his favored status with God. As in the marriage relationship, “faithfulness” is not optional. For the relation to be established, the two parties are required to respond to each other in “faithfulness.” Isaiah and Jeremiah condemn the people for not being “faithful” to God: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a

man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon [this city]” (Jer. 5:1; cf. Isa. 59:4; Jer. 7:28; 9:3).

Faithfulness will be established in the messianic era (Isa. 11:5). The prophetic expectation was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as his contemporaries witnessed in Him God’s

grace (cf. checed) and truth (cf. נemunah): “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). It is significant that John puts these two terms side by side, even as they are found together in the Old Testament.

The Septuagint translations are: aietheia (“truthfulness; dependability; uprightness;

truth; reality”) and pistos (“trustworthy; faithfulnessreliability; rest; confidence; faith”). The kjv gives these translations: “faithfulness; truth; set office; faithfully; faithful. ”

B. Verb.

>aman (539 ,אמן), “to be certain, enduring; to trust, believe.” This root is found in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Phoenician. In the Old Testament, the word occurs fewer than 100 times. Three words are derived from this verb: נamen (“amen”—30 times; e.g., Ps. 106:48^emet (“true”—127 times; e.g., Isa. 38:18), and נemunah (“faithfulness”). FALSEHOOD

sheqer (8267 ,שקר), “falsehood; lie.” The presence of this root is limited to Hebrew

and Old Aramaic. The word sheqer occurs 113 times in the Old Testament. It is rare in all but the poetic and prophetic books, and even in these books its usage is concentrated in Psalms (24 times) Proverbs (20 times), and Jeremiah (37 times). The first occurrence is in Exod. 5:9: “Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labor therein: and let them not regard vain words [lies].”

In about thirty-five passages, sheqer describes the nature of “deceptive speech”: “to speak” (Isa. 59:3), “to teach” (Isa. 9:15), “to prophesy” (Jer. 14:14), and “to lie” (Mic. 2:11). It may also indicate a “deceptive character,” as expressed in one’s acts: “to deal treacherously” (2 Sam. 18:13) and “to deal falsely” (Hos. 7:1).

Thus sheqer defines a way of life that goes contrary to the law of God. The psalmist, desirous of following God, prayed: “Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me” (Ps. 119:29- 30; cf. vv. 104, 118, 128). Here we see the opposites: “falsehood” and “faithfulness.” As “faithfulness” is a relational term, “falsehood” denotes “one’s inability to keep faith” with what one has said or to respond positively to the faithfulness of another being.

The Old Testament saint was instructed to avoid “deception” and the liar: “Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked” (Exod. 23:7; cf. Prov. 13:5).

The Septuagint has these translations: adikos/ adikia (“unjust; unrighteous;

wrongdoing; wickedness”) and pseudes (“falsehood; lie”). The KJv gives these meanings: “lie; falsehood; false; falsely.”


mishpachah (4940 ,מש#חה), “family; clan.” A form of this Hebrew word occurs in Ugaritic and Punic, also with the meaning of “family” or “clan.” The word is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as in Mishnaic and modern Hebrew. Mishpachah occurs 300 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is first used in Gen. 8:19: “Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their

kinds, went forth out of the ark.”

The word is related to the verbal root shipchah, but the verbal form is absent from the

Old Testament. Another noun formpechah (“maidservant”), as in Gen. 16:2: “And Sarai said unto Abram . I pray thee, go in unto my maid.. ”

The noun mishpachah is used predominantly in the Pentateuch (as many as 154 times in Numbers) and in the historical books, but rarely in the poetical literature (5 times) and the prophetical writings.

All members of a group who were related by blood and who still felt a sense of consanguinity belonged to the “clan” or “the extended family.” Saul argued that since he belonged to the least of the “clans,” he had no right to the kingship (1 Sam. 9:21). This meaning determined the extent of Rahab’s family that was spared from Jericho: “. And

they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel” (Josh. 6:23). So the “clan” was an important division within the “tribe.” The Book of Numbers gives a census of the leaders and the numbers of the tribes according to the “families” (Num. 1-4; 26). In capital cases, where revenge was desired, the entire clan might be taken: “And, behold, the whole family is risen against thine handmaid, and they said, Deliver him that smote his brother, that we may kill him, for the life of his brother whom he slew; and we will destroy the heir also: and so they shall quench my coal which is left, and shall not leave to my husband neither name nor remainder upon the earth” (2 Sam. 14:7).

A further extension of the meaning “division” or “clan” is the idiomatic usage of “class” or “group,” such as “the families” of the animals that left the ark (Gen. 8:19) or the “families” of the nations (Ps. 22:28; 96:7; cf. Gen. 10:5). Even God’s promise to Abraham had reference to all the nations: “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).

The narrow meaning of mishpachah is similar to our usage of “family” and similar to the meaning of the word in modern Hebrew. Abraham sent his servant to his relatives in Padanaram to seek a wife for Isaac (Gen. 24:38). The law of redemption applied to the “close relatives in a family”: “After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself” (Lev. 25:48-49).

In the Septuagint, several words are given as a translation: demos (“people; populace;

crowd”), phule (“tribe; nation; people”), and patria (“family; clan”). The KJv translates

mishpachah with “family; kindred; kind.” Most versions keep the translation “family”; but instead of “kindred” and “kind,” some read “relative” (nasb) or “clan.”


A. Noun.

racab (7458 ,רעב), “famine; hunger.” This word appears about 101 times and in all

periods of biblical Hebrew. Racab means “hunger” as opposed to “thirst”: “Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things .” (Deut. 28:48).

Another meaning of the word is “famine,” or the lack of food in an entire geographical area: “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt ...” (Gen. 12:10—the first occurrence). God used a “famine” as a means of judgment (Jer. 5:12), of warning (1 Kings 17:1), of correction (2 Sam. 21:1), or of punishment (Jer. 14:12), and the “famine” was always under divine control, being planned and used by Him. Racab was also used to picture the “lack of God’s word”

(Amos 8:11; cf. Deut. 8:3).

B. Verb.

raceb (7456 ,רעב), “to be hungry, suffer famine.” This verb, which appears in the

Old Testament 14 times, has cognates in Ugaritic (rgb), Arabic, and Ethiopic. The first biblical occurrence is in Gen. 41:55: “And when all the land of Egypt was famished..”

C. Adjective.

raceb (7457 ,רעב ,7456 ,רעב), “hungry.” This word appears as an adjective 19 times. The first biblical occurrence is in 1 Sam. 2:5: “. And they that were hungry ceased: ...”


rachaq (7368 ,רחק), “far.” A common Semitic term, this word was known in ancient

Akkadian and Ugaritic long before the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Rachaq is a common word in modern Hebrew as well. The word is used about 55 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and it occurs for the first time in Gen. 21:16.

Rachaq is used to express “distance” of various types. It may be “distance” from a place (Deut. 12:21), as when Job felt that his friends kept themselves “aloof” from him (Job 30:10). Sometimes the word expresses “absence” altogether: “. The comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me .” (Lam. 1:16). “To be distant” was also “to abstain”: “Keep thee far from a false matter” (Exod. 23:7).

Sometimes rachaq implies the idea of “exile”: “. The Lord [removes] men far away” (Isa. 6:12). “To make the ends of the land distant” is “to extend the boundaries”: “. thou hast increased the [borders of the land]” (Isa. 26:15).


נab (1 ,אב), “father; grandfather; forefather; ancestor.” Cognates of this word occur in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, and other Semitic languages. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 1,120 times and in all periods.

Basically, נab relates to the familial relationship represented by the word “father.”

This is the word’s significance in its first biblical appearance: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife .” (Gen. 2:24). In poetical

passages, the word is sometimes paralleled to נem, “mother”: “I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister” (Job 17:14). The word is also used in conjunction with “mother” to represent one’s parents (Lev. 19:3).

But unlike the word נeןnl נab is never used of animals.

נAb also means “grandfather” and/or “greatgrandfather,” as in Gen. 28:13: “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy [grandfather, and the God of Isaac..” Such progenitors on one’s mother’s side were called “thy mother’s father” (Gen. 28:2). This noun may be used of any one of the entire line of men from whom a given individual is descended: “But he [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). In such use, the word may refer to the first man, a “forefather,” a clan (Jer. 35:6), a tribe (Josh. 19:47), a group with a special calling (1 Chron. 24:19), a dynasty (1 Kings 15:3), or a nation (Josh. 24:3). Thus, “father” does not necessarily mean the man who directly sired a given individual.

This noun sometimes describes the adoptive relationship, especially when it is used of the “founder of a class or station,” such as a trade: “And Adah bare Jabal: he was the

father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle” (Gen. 4:20).

נAb can be a title of respect, usually applied to an older person, as when David said to Saul: “Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand .” (1 Sam. 24:11). The word is also applied to teachers: “And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof .” (2 Kings 2:12). In 2 Kings 6:21, the word is applied to the prophet Elisha and in Judg. 17:10, to a priest; this word is also a title of respect when used of “one’s husband”: “Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?” (Jer. 3:4). In Gen. 45:8, the noun is used of an “advisor”: “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father [advisor] to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” In each case, the one described as “father” occupied a position or status and received the honor due to a “father.”

In conjunction with bayit (“house”), the word נab may mean “family”: “In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers .” (Exod. 12:3). Sometimes the plural of the word used by itself can represent “family”: “. These are the heads of the fathers [households] of the Levites according to their families” (Exod. 6:25).

God is described as the “father” of Israel (Deut. 32:6). He is the One who begot and protected them, the One they should revere and obey. Mal. 2:10 tells us that God is the “father” of all people. He is especially the “protector” or “father” of the fatherless: “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation” (Ps. 68:5). As the “father” of a king, God especially aligns Himself to that man and his kingdom: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men” (2 Sam. 7:14). Not every king was a son of God—only those whom He adopted. In a special sense, the perfect King was God’s adopted Son: “I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7). The extent, power, and duration of His kingdom are guaranteed by the Father’s sovereignty (cf. Ps. 2:8-9). On the other hand, one of the Messiah’s enthronement names is “Eternal Father”: “. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).


A. Noun.

ratson (7522 ,רצון), “favor; goodwill; acceptance; will; desire; pleasure.” The 56 occurrences of this word are scattered throughout Old Testament literature.

Ratson represents a concrete reaction of the superior to an inferior. When used of

God, ratson may represent that which is shown in His blessings: “And for the precious

things of the earth and fullness thereof, and for the good wiii of him that dwelt in the bush” (Deut. 33:16). Thus Isaiah speaks of the day, year, or time of divine “favor”-in other words, the day of the Lord when all the blessings of the covenant shall be heaped upon God’s people (Isa. 49:8; 58:5; 61:2). In wisdom literature, this word is used in the sense of “what men can bestow”: “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor: but he

that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him” (Prov. 11:27). In Prov. 14:35, ratson refers to what a king can or will do for someone he likes.

This word represents the position one enjoys before a superior who is favorably disposed toward him. This nuance is used only of God and frequently in a cultic context: “. And it [the plate engraved with “holy to the Lord”] shall be always upon his [the high priest’s] forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord” (Exod. 28:38). Being “accepted” means that God subjectively feels well disposed toward the petitioner.

Ratson also signifies a voluntary or arbitrary decision. Ezra told the people of Israel to do the “will” of God, to repent and observe the law of Moses (Ezra 10:11). This law was dictated by God’s own nature; His nature led Him to be concerned for the physical well-being of His people. Ultimately, His laws were highly personal; they were simply what God wanted His people to be and do. Thus the psalmist confessed his delight in doing God’s “will,” or His law (Ps. 40:8). When a man does according to his own “will,” he does “what he desires”: “I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his willand became great” (Dan. 8:4). In

Ps. 145:16, the word ratson means “one’s desire” or “what one wants” (cf. Esth. 1:8). This emphasis is found in Gen. 49:6 (the first occurrence): “. And in their self-will they [brought disaster upon themselves].”

B. Verb.

ratsah (7521 ,רצה), “to be pleased with or favorable to, be delighted with, be pleased to make friends with; be graciously received; make oneself favored.” This verb, which occurs 50 times in the Old Testament, has cognates in Ugaritic, Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. Gen. 33:10 contains one appearance of this word: “. thou wast pleased with me.”


A. Verb.

ya^3372 ,ירא) נ), “to be afraid, stand in awe, fear.” This verb occurs in Ugaritic and Hebrew (both biblical and post-biblical). The Bible attests it approximately 330 times and in all periods.

Basically, this verb connotes the psychological reaction of “fear.” Ya^ may indicate being afraid of something or someone. Jacob prayed: “Deliver me, I pray thee, from the

hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children” (Gen. 32:11).

Used of a person in an exalted position, yare! connotes “standing in awe.” This is not simple fear, but reverence, whereby an individual recognizes the power and position of the individual revered and renders him proper respect. In this sense, the word may imply submission to a proper ethical relationship to God; the angel of the Lord told Abraham: “. I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me” (Gen. 22:12). The verb can be used absolutely to refer to the heavenly and holy attributes of something or someone. So Jacob said of Bethel: “How [awesome] is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17). The people who were delivered from Egypt saw God’s great power, “feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses” (Exod. 14:31). There is more involved here than mere psychological fear. The people also showed proper “honor” (“reverence”) for God and “stood in awe of” Him and of His servant, as their song demonstrates (Exod. 15). After experiencing the thunder, lightning Flashes, sound of the trumpet, and smoking mountain, they were “afraid” and drew back; but Moses told them not to be afraid, “for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not” (Exod. 20:20). In this passage, the word represents “fear” or “dread” of the Lord. This sense is also found when God says, “fear not” (Gen. 15:1).

Yare! can be used absolutely (with no direct object), meaning “to be afraid.” Adam told God: “. I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Gen. 3:10—the first occurrence). One may be “afraid” to do something, as when Lot “feared to dwell in Zoar” (Gen. 19:30).

B. Nouns.

mora (4172 ,מ1רא), “fear.” The noun mora>, which appears 12 times, is used exclusively of the fear of being before a superior kind of being. Usually it is used to describe the reaction evoked in men by God’s mighty works of destruction and sovereignty (Deut. 4:24). Hence, the word represents a very strong “fear” or “terror.” In

the singular, this word emphasizes the divine acts themselves. Mora! may suggest the reaction of animals to men (Gen. 9:2) and of the nations to conquering Israel (Deut. 11:25).

yir!ah (3374 ,יראה), “fear; reverence.” The noun yir!ah appears 45 times in the Old Testament. It may mean “fear” of men (Deut. 2:25), of things (Isa. 7:25), of situations (Jonah 1:10), and of God (Jonah 1:12); it may also mean “reverence” of God (Gen. 20:11).


chag (,Π, 2282), “feast; festal sacrifice.” Cognates of this noun appear in Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 62 times and in all periods, except in the wisdom literature.

This word refers especially to a “feast observed by a pilgrimage.” That is its meaning in its first biblical occurrence, when Moses said to Pharaoh: “We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our Rocks and with our

herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the Lord” (Exod. 10:9). Chag (or chag)

usually represents Israel’s three annual “pilgrimage feasts,” which were celebrated with processions and dances. These special feasts are distinguished from the sacred seasons (“festal assemblies”—Ezek. 45:17), the new moon festivals, and the Sabbaths (Hos.


There are two unique uses of chag. First, Aaron proclaimed a “feast to the Lord” at the foot of Mt. Sinai. This “feast” involved no pilgrimage but was celebrated with burnt offerings, communal meals, singing, and dancing. The whole matter was displeasing to God (Exod. 32:5-7).

In two passages, chag represents the “victim sacrificed to God” (perhaps during one of the three annual sacrifices): “. Bind the [festal] sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar” (Ps. 118:27; cf. Exod. 23:18).


sadeh (7704 ,*$ה), “field; country; domain [of a town].” Sadeh has cognates in Akkadian, Phoenician, Ugaritic, and Arabic. It appears in biblical Hebrew about 320 times and in all periods.

This word often represents the “open field” where the animals roam wild. That is its meaning in its first biblical appearance: “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth .” (Gen. 2:5). Thus, “Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents” (Gen. 25:27). A city in the “open field” was unfortified; David wisely asked Achish for such a city, showing that he did not intend to be hostile (1 Sam. 27:5). Dwelling in an unfortified city meant exposure to attack.

Sadeh represents the “fields surrounding a town” (Josh. 21:12; cf. Neh. 11:25).

“Arable land,” land that is either cultivated or to be cultivated, is also signified by sadeh: “If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field .” (Gen. 23:8-9). The entirety of one’s cultivated or pasture land is called his “field”: “And the king [David] said unto him [Mephibosheth], Why speakest thou any more of thy matters? I have said, Thou and Ziba divide the land [previously owned by Saul]” (2 Sam. 19:29).

Sometimes particular sections of land are identified by name: “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre .” (Gen. 23:19).

saday (7704 ,*$ה), “open field.” Saday occurs 12 times, only in poetical passages. Deut. 32:13 is the first biblical appearance: “He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; .”


A. Verb.

iacham (3898 ,לחם), “to fight, do battle, engage in combat.” This word is found in all periods of Hebrew, as well as in ancient Ugaritic. It occurs in the text of the Hebrew Bible more than 170 times. Lacham appears first in Exod. 1:10, where the Egyptian

pharaoh expresses his fears that the Israelite slaves will multiply and join an enemy “to fight” against the Egyptians.

While the word is commonly used in the context of “armies engaged in pitched battle” against each other (Num. 21:23; Josh. 10:5; Judg. 11:5), it is also used to describe “single, hand-to-hand combat” (1 Sam. 17:32-33). Frequently, God “fights” the battle for Israel (Deut. 20:4). Instead of swords, words spoken by a lying tongue are often used “to fight” against God’s servants (Ps. 109:2).

In folk etymology, lacham is often connected with lechem, the Hebrew term for “bread,” on the contention that wars are fought for bread. There is, however, no good basis for such etymology.

B. Noun.

milchamah (4421 ,מלחמה), “battle; war.” This noun occurs more than 300 times in the Old Testament, indicating how large a part military experience and terminology played in the life of the ancient Israelites. Gen. 14:8 is an early occurrence of milchamah: “And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, ... and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim.”


A. Verb.

male4390 ,מלא) נ), “to fill, fulfill, overflow, ordain, endow.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages (including biblical Aramaic) and in all periods. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 250 times.

Basically, maleנ means “to be full” in the sense of having something done to one. In 2 Kings 4:6, the word implies “to fill up”: “And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said..” The verb is sometimes used figuratively as in Gen. 6:13, when God noted that “the earth is filled with violence.” Used transitively, this verb means the act or state of “filling something.” In Gen. 1:22 (the first occurrence of the word), God told the sea creatures to “penetrate” the waters thoroughly but not exhaustively: “Be fruitful, and

multiplyand fill the waters in the seas.” Maleנ can also mean “to fill up” in an exhaustive sense: “. And the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exod. 40:34). In this sense an appetite can be “filled up,” “satiated,” or “satisfied.”

Maleנ is sometimes used in the sense “coming to an end” or “to be filled up,” to the full extent of what is expected. For example, in 1 Kings 2:27 we read: “So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; that he might fulfill the word of the Lord, which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.” This constitutes a proof of the authority of the divine Word.

In a different but related nuance, the verb signifies “to confirm” someone’s word. Nathan told Bathsheba: “Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words” (1 Kings 1:14). This verb is used to signify filling something to the full extent of what is necessary, in the sense of being “successfully completed”: “When her days to be delivered were fulfilled .” (Gen.

25:24). This may also mean “to bring to an end”; so God tells Isaiah: “Speak ye

comfortably to Jerusalem and cry unto her, that her warfare is accompiished .” (Isa. 40:2).

Ma^נ is used of “filling to overflowing”—not just filling up to the limits of something, but filling so as to go beyond its limits: “For Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest” (Josh. 3:15).

A special nuance appears when the verb is used with “heart”; in such cases, it means “to presume.” King Ahasuerus asked Esther: “Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume [literally, “fill his heart”] to do so?” (Esth. 7:5). To call out “fully” is to cry aloud, as in Jer. 4:5.

The word often has a special meaning in conjunction with “hand.” Ma^נ can connote “endow” (“fill one’s hand”), as in Exod. 28:3: “And thou shalt speak unto all that are wisehearted, whom I have [endowed] with the spirit of wisdom..” In Judg. 17:5, “to fill one’s hand” is “to consecrate” someone to priestly service. A similar idea appears in Ezek. 43:26, where no literal hand is filled with anything, but the phrase is a technical term for “consecration”: “Seven days shall they [make atonement for] the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.” This phrase is used not only of setting someone or something aside for special religious or cultic use, but of formally installing someone with the authority and responsibility to fulfill a cultic function (i.e., to be a priest). So God commands concerning Aaron and his sons: “And thou . shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exod. 28:41).

In military contexts, “to fill one’s hand” is to prepare for battle. This phrase may be used of “becoming armed,” as in Jer. 51:11: “Sharpen the arrows, fill the quivers.” (kjv, “Make bright the arrows; gather the shields.”) In a fuller sense, the phrase may signify the step immediately before shooting arrows: “And Jehu drew [literally, “filled his hand with”] a bow with his full strength .” (2 Kings 9:24). It can also signify “being armed,” or having weapons on one’s person: “But the man that shall touch them must be [armed] with iron and the staff of a spear .” (2 Sam. 23:7).

B. Adjective.

maL· (4390 ,מלא), “full.” The adjective ma\&נ appears 67 times. The basic meaning of the word is “full” or “full of” (Ruth 1:21; Deut. 6:11).


matsa (4672 ,מצא), “to find, meet, get.” This word is found in every branch of the Semitic languages (including biblical Aramaic) and in all periods. It is attested both in biblical (about 455 times) and post-biblical Hebrew.

Matsa refers to “finding” someone or something that is lost or misplaced, or “finding” where it is. The thing may be found as the result of a purposeful search, as when the Sodomites were temporarily blinded by Lot’s visitors and were not able to “find” the door to his house (Gen. 19:11). In a very similar usage, the dove sent forth by Noah searched for a spot to land and was unable to “find” it (Gen. 8:9). On other occasions, the location of something or someone may be found without an intentional search, as when Cain said: ”[Whoever] findeth me shall slay me” (Gen. 4:14).

Matsa may connote not only “finding” a subject in a location, but “finding something” in an abstract sense. This idea is demonstrated clearly by Gen. 6:8: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” He found—“received”—something he did not seek. This sense also includes “finding” something one has sought in a spiritual or mental sense: “Mine hand had gotten much .” (Job 31:25). Laban tells Jacob: “. If I have found favor in thine eyes, [stay with me] .” (Gen. 30:27). Laban is asking Jacob for a favor that he is seeking in an abstract sense.

Matsa can also mean “to discover.” God told Abraham: “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes” (Gen. 18:26). This same emphasis appears in the first biblical occurrence of the word: “. But for Adam there was not found a help meet for him” (Gen. 2:20). As noted earlier, there can be a connotation of the unintentional here, as when the Israelites “found” a man gathering wood on the Sabbath (Num. 15:32). Another special nuance is “to find out,” in the sense of “gaining knowledge about.” For example, Joseph’s brothers said: “God hath found out

the iniquity of thy servants ...” (Gen. 44:16). Matsa sometimes suggests “being under the power” of something, in a concrete sense. David told Abishai: “. Take thou thy lord’s servants, and pursue after him, lest he get him fenced cities, and escape us” (2 Sam. 20:6). The idea is that Sheba would “find,” enter, and defend himself in fortified cities. So to “find” them could be to “take them over.” This usage appears also in an abstract sense. Judah told Joseph: “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father” (Gen. 44:34). The

word matsa>, therefore, can mean not only to “find” something, but to “obtain” it as one’s own: “Then Isaac sowed in that landand received in the same year ...” (Gen.


Infrequently, the word implies movement in a direction until one arrives at a destination; thus it is related to the Ugaritic root meaning “reach” or “arrive” (mts). This sense is found in Job 11:7: “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (cf. 1 Sam. 23:17).

In a somewhat different nuance, this meaning appears in Num. 11:22: “Shall the flocks

and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them?”


נesh (784 ,אש), “fire.” Cognates of this word occur in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Ethiopic. The 378 occurrences of this word in biblical Hebrew are scattered throughout its periods. In its first biblical appearance this word, נeshrepresents God’s presence as “a torch of fire”“And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a [flaming torch] ...” (Gen. 15:17). “Fire” was the instrument by which an offering was transformed into smoke, whose ascending heavenward symbolized God’s reception of the offering (Lev. 9:24). God also consumed people with the “fire of judgment” (Num. 11:1; Ps. 89:46). Various things were to be burnt as a sign of total destruction and divine judgment (Exod. 32:20).

“Fire” often attended God’s presence in theophanies (Exod. 3:2). Thus He is sometimes called a “consuming fire” (Exod. 24:17).

The noun ishsheh, meaning “an offering made by fire,” is derived from נesh.


bekor (1060 ,בכור), “firstborn.” Bekor appears about 122 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. The word represents the “firstborn” individual in a family (Gen.

25:13); the word can also represent the “firstborn” of a nation, collectively (Num. 3:46). The plural form of the word appears occasionally (Neh. 10:36); in this passage, the word

is applied to animals. In other passages, the singular form of bekor signifies a single “firstborn” animal (Lev. 27:26; kjv, “firstling”) or collectively the “firstborn” of a herd (Exod. 11:5).

The “oldest” or “firstborn” son (Exod. 6:14) had special privileges within the family. He received the special family blessing, which meant spiritual and social leadership and a double portion of the father’s possessions—or twice what all the other sons received (Deut. 21:17). He could lose this blessing through misdeeds (Gen. 35:22) or by selling it (Gen. 25:29-34). God claimed all Israel and all their possessions as His own. As a token of this claim, Israel was to give Him all its “firstborn” (Exod. 13:1-16). The animals were to be sacrificed, redeemed, or killed, while the male children were redeemed either by being replaced with Levites or by the payment of a redemption price (Num. 3:40ff.).

Israel was God’s “firstborn”; it enjoyed a privileged position and blessings over all other nations (Exod. 4:22; Jer. 31:9).

The “first-born of death” is an idiom meaning a deadly disease (Job 18:13); the “firstborn of the poor” is the poorest class of people (Isa. 14:30).

bikkurim (1061 ,בכור), “first fruits.” This noun appears 16 times. The “first grain and fruit” harvested was to be offered to God (Num. 28:26) in recognition of God’s ownership of the land and His sovereignty over nature. Bread of the “first fruits” was bread made of the first harvest grain, presented to God at Pentecost (Lev. 23:20). The “day of the first fruits” was Pentecost (Num. 28:26).


barach (1272 ,ברח), “to flee, pass through.” Some scholars see this word, which is used throughout the history of the Hebrew language, reflected in ancient Ugaritic as well. Barach occurs about 60 times in the Hebrew Bible. The word first appears in Gen. 16:6, where it is said that Hagar “fled from her [Sarah’s] face” as a result of Sarah’s harsh treatment.

Men may “flee” from many things or situations. David “fled” from Naioth in Ramah in order to come to Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:1). Sometimes it is necessary to “flee” from weapons (Job 20:24). In describing flight from a person, the Hebrew idiom “from the presence of” (literally, “from the face of’) is often used (Gen. 16:6, 8; 31:27; 35:1, 7).

In its figurative use, the word describes days “fleeing” away (Job 9:25) or frail man “fleeing” like a shadow (Job 14:2). A rather paradoxical use is found in Song of Sol.

8:14, in which “flee” must mean “come quickly”: “Make haste [literally, “flee”], my beloved, and be thou like to a gazelle..”

nuc (5127 ,נום), “to flee, escape, take flight, depart.” This term is found primarily in

biblical Hebrew, where it occurs some 160 times. Nuc occurs for the first time in Gen. 14:10, where it is used twice to describe the “fleeing” of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. Nuc is the common word for “fleeing” from an enemy or danger (Gen. 39:12;

Num. 16:34; Josh. 10:6). The word is also used to describe “escape,” as in Jer. 46:6 and Amos 9:1. In a figurative use, the word describes the “disappearance” of physical strength (Deut. 34:7), the “fleeing” of evening shadows (Song of Sol. 2:17), and the “fleeing away” of sorrow (Isa. 35:10).


basar 0*1320 ,ב), “flesh; meat; male sex organ.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Arabic, and Aramaic. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 270 times and in all periods.

The word means the “meaty part plus the skin” of men: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof’ (Gen. 2:21—the first occurrence). This word can also be applied to the “meaty part” of animals (Deut. 14:8). Gen. 41:2 speaks of seven cows, sleek and “fat

of flesh.” In Num. 11:33, basar means the meat or “flesh” of the quail that Israel was still

chewing. Thus the word means “flesh,” whether living or dead.

Basar often means the “edible part” of animals. Eli’s sons did not know God’s law concerning the priests’ portion, so “when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s [Eli’s] servant came, while the flesh was [boiling], with a [threepronged fork] in his hand” (1 Sam. 2:13). However, they insisted that “before they burnt the fat ... , Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have [boiled] flesh of thee, but raw” (literally, “living”—1

Sam. 2:15). Basar, then, represents edible animal “flesh” or “meat,” whether cooked (Dan. 10:3) or uncooked. The word sometimes refers to “meat” that one is forbidden to eat (cf. Exod. 21:28).

This word may represent a part of the body. At some points, the body is viewed as consisting of two components, “flesh” and bones: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). That part of the “fleshly” element known as the foreskin was to be removed by circumcision (Gen. 17:11). In other passages, the elements of the body are the “flesh,” the skin, and the bones (Lam. 3:4). Num. 19:5 mentions the “flesh,” hide, blood, and refuse of a heifer. In Job 10:11, we read: “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast [knit] me with bones and sinews.”

Flesh sometimes means “blood relative”: “And Laban said to him [Jacob], Surely thou art my bone and my flesh” (Gen. 29:14). The phrase “your flesh” or “our flesh” standing alone may bear the same meaning: “Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh” (Gen. 37:27). The

phrase sheנer basar is rendered “blood relative” (Lev. 18:6; kjv, “near of kin”).

About 50 times, “flesh” represents the “physical aspect” of man or animals as contrasted with the spirit, soul, or heart (the nonphysical aspect). In the case of men, this usage appears in Num. 16:22: “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man

sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?” In such passages, then, basar emphasizes the “visible and structural part” of man or animal.

In a few passages, the word appears to mean “skin,” or the part of the body that is seen: “By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin” (Ps. 102:5; 119:120). In passages such as Lev. 13:2, the ideas “flesh” and “skin” are clearly distinguished.

Basar sometimes represents the “male sex organ”: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh [nasb, “body”], because of his issue he is unclean” (Lev. 15:2).

The term “all flesh” has several meanings. It means “all mankind” in Deut. 5:26: “For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God .?” In another place, this phrase refers to “all living creatures within the cosmos,” or all men and animals (Gen. 6:17).


tsom (6629 ,צאן), “flock; small cattle; sheep; goats.” A similar word is found in

Akkadian, Aramaic, and Syriac, and in the Tel Amarna tablets. In Hebrew, tsom kept its meaning in all stages of the development of the language. The word occurs 273 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, with its first occurrence in Gen. 4:2. The word is not limited to any period of Hebrew history or to any type of literature. The Book of Genesis, with the narratives on the patriarchs in their pastoral setting, has the greatest frequency of usage (about 60 times).

The primary meaning of tsom is “small cattle,” to be distinguished from baqar (“herd”). The word may refer to “sheep” only (1 Sam. 25:2) or to both “sheep and goats”: “So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come, when it shall come for my hire before thy face: every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and brown among the sheep, that shall be counted stolen with me” (Gen. 30:33). The “flock” was an important economic factor in the ancient Near East. The animals were eaten (1 Sam. 14:32; cf. Ps. 44:11), shorn for their wool (Gen. 31:19), and milked (Deut. 32:14). They were also offered as a sacrifice, as when Abel sacrificed a firstling of his “flock” (Gen. 4:4).

In the metaphorical usage of tsom, the imagery of a “multitude” may apply to people: “As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know tha