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    Half — Humbled, to Be; Afflicted


    A. Noun.VED-OT Half.2

    Chêtsı̂y (חֲצִי, Strong's #2677), “half; halfway; middle.” This word appears about 123 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. First, the word is used to indicate “half” of anything. This meaning first occurs in Exodus 24:6: “And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.” Second, chêtsı̂y can mean “middle,” as it does in its first biblical appearance: “And it came to pass, that at midnight [literally, “the middle of the night”] the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt …” (Exodus 12:29). In Exodus 27:5, the word means “halfway”: “And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst [i.e., up to the middle] of the altar.”VED-OT Half.3

    B. Verb.VED-OT Half.4

    Châtsâh (חָצָה, Strong's #2673), “to divide, reach unto.” This verb appears about 15 times in biblical Hebrew and has cognates in Phoenician, Moabite, and Arabic. The word most commonly means “to divide,” as in Exodus 21:35: “… Then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it.…”VED-OT Half.5


    Yâd (יָד, Strong's #3027), “hand; side; border; alongside; hand-measure; portion; arm (rest); monument; manhood (male sex organ); power; rule.” This word has cognates in most of the other Semitic languages. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 1,618 times and in every period. The primary sense of this word is “hand”: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life …” (Genesis 3:22—the first biblical occurrence). Sometimes the word is used in conjunction with an object that can be grasped by the “hand”: “And if he smite him with throwing a stone [literally, “hand stone”] …” (Numbers 35:17). In a similar usagethe word means “human”: “… He shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand [i.e., human agency]” (Daniel 8:25; cf. Job 34:20) .VED-OT Hand.2

    In Isaiah 49:2, “hand” is used of God; God tells Moses that He will put His “hand” over the mouth of the cave and protect him. This is a figure of speech, an anthropomorphism, by which God promises His protection. God’s “hand” is another term for God’s “power” (cf. Jeremiah 16:21). The phrase “between your hands” may mean “upon your chest”: “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands [upon your chest]?” (Zechariah 13:6).
    Yâd is employed in several other noteworthy phrases. The “lifting of the hand” may be involved in “taking an oath” (Genesis 14:22). “Shaking” [literally, “giving one’s hand”] is another oath-taking gesture (cf. Proverbs 11:21). For “one’s hands to be on another” (Genesis 37:27) or “laid upon another” (Exodus 7:4) is to do harm to someone. “Placing one’s hands with” signifies “making common cause with someone” (Exodus 23:1). If one’s hand does not “reach” something, he is “unable to pay” for it (Leviticus 5:7, RSV). When one’s countryman is “unable to stretch out his hand to you,” he is not able to support himself (Leviticus 25:35).
    VED-OT Hand.3

    “Putting one’s hand on one’s mouth” is a gesture of silence (Proverbs 30:32). “Placing one’s hands under someone” means submitting to him (1 Chronicles 29:24). “Giving something into one’s hand” is entrusting it to him (Genesis 42:37).VED-OT Hand.4

    A second major group of passages uses yâd to represent the location and uses of the hand. First, the word can mean “side,” where the hand is located: “And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate …” (2 Samuel 15:2). In 2 Chronicles 21:16, the word means “border”: “Moreover the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians, that were near [literally, “by the hand of”] the Ethiopians.” A similar use in Exodus 25 applies this word to the “banks” of the Nile River: “And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river, and her maidens walked along by the [Nile].…” In this sense, yâd can represent “length and breadth.” In Genesis 34:21 we read that the land was (literally) “broad of hands”: “These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them.…”VED-OT Hand.5

    Second, since the hand can receive only a part or fraction of something, the word can signify a “part” or “fraction”: “And he took and sent [portions] unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s [portion] was five times so much as any of theirs” (Genesis 43:34).VED-OT Hand.6

    Third, yâd comes to mean that which upholds something, a “support” (1 Kings 77:35ff.) or an “arm rest” (1 Kings 10:19).VED-OT Hand.7

    Fourth, since a hand may be held up as a “sign,” yâd can signify a “monument” or “stele”: “… Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place [monument], and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal” (1 Samuel 15:12).VED-OT Hand.8

    Fifth, yâd sometimes represents the “male sex organ”: “… And art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it [you have looked on their manhood]” (Isaiah 57:8; cf. v. 10; 6:2; 7:20).VED-OT Hand.9

    In several passages, yâd is used in the sense of “power” or “rule”: “And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates” (1 Chronicles 18:3). “To be delivered into one’s hands” means to be “given into one’s power”: “God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars” (1 Samuel 23:7; cf. Proverbs 18:21).VED-OT Hand.10

    “To fill someone’s hand” may be a technical term for “installing him” in office: “And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them [literally, “fill their hands”], and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exodus 28:41). Yâd is frequently joined to the preposition |beand other prepositions as an extension; there is no change in meaning, only a longer form: “For what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?” (1 Samuel 26:18).VED-OT Hand.11

    Hasten, Make Haste

    Mâhar (מָהַר, Strong's #4116), “to hasten, make haste.” This verb and various derivatives are common to both ancient and modern Hebrew. Mâhar occurs approximately 70 times in the Hebrew Bible; it appears twice in the first verse in which it is found: “And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal …” (Genesis 18:6). Mâhar often has an adverbial use when it appears with another verb, such as in Genesis 18:7: “… hasted to dress it” (or “quickly prepared it”).VED-OT Hasten, Make Haste.2


    A. Verb.VED-OT Hate.2

    Śânê' (שָׂנֵא, Strong's #8130), “to hate, set against.” This verb appears in Ugaritic, Moabite, Aramaic, and Arabic. It appears in all periods of Hebrew and about 145 times in the Bible.VED-OT Hate.3

    Śânê' represents an emotion ranging from intense “hatred” to the much weaker “set against” and is used of persons and things (including ideas, words, inanimate objects).VED-OT Hate.4

    The strong sense of the word typifies the emotion of jealousy; and therefore, śânê' is the feeling Joseph’s brothers experienced because their father preferred him (Genesis 37:4; cf. v. 11). This “hatred” increased when Joseph reported his dreams (Genesis 37:8). Obviously, the word covers emotion ranging from “bitter disdain” to outright “hatred,” for in Genesis 377:18ff. the brothers plotted Joseph’s death and achieved his removal.VED-OT Hate.5

    This emphasis can be further heightened by a double use of the root. Delilah’s father told Samson: “I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her [literally, “hating, you hated her”] …” (Judges 15:2).VED-OT Hate.6

    One special use of śânê' is ingressive, indicating the initiation of the emotion. So “Amnon hated [literally, “began to hate”] her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated [“began to hate”] her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her” (2 Samuel 13:15). This emphasis appears again in Jeremiah 12:8: “Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I [come to hate] it” (also cf. Hosea 9:15).VED-OT Hate.7

    In a weaker sense, śânê' signifies “being set against” something. Jethro advised Moses to select men who hated [“were set against”] covetousness to be secondary judges over Israel (Exodus 18:21). A very frequent but special use of the verb means “to be unloved.” For example, śânê' may indicate that someone is “untrustworthy,” therefore an enemy to be ejected from one’s territory. This sense is found in an early biblical occurrence, in which Isaac said to Abimelech and his army: “Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?” (Genesis 26:27). The word may mean “unloved” in the sense of deteriorating marital relations: “And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth [i.e., turned against] her” (Deuteronomy 22:16). This nuance is especially clear in Ezekiel 23:28, where the verb is in synonymous parallelism to “alienated”: “Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated.” In the case of two wives in a family, in which one was preferred over the other, it may be said that one was loved and the other “hated” (Deuteronomy 21:15). This emphasis is found in Genesis 29:31: “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.” The word, used as a passive participle, represents a spurned woman: “… An odious [unloved] woman when she is married …” (Proverbs 30:23).VED-OT Hate.8

    B. Noun.VED-OT Hate.9

    Śin'âh (שִׂנְאָה, Strong's #8135), “hatred.” This noun occurs 17 times in the Old Testament. Numbers 35:20 is one occurrence: “And if he stabbed him from hatred, or hurled at him, lying in wait …” (RSV).VED-OT Hate.10


    A. Nouns.VED-OT Head.2

    Rô'sh (רֹאשׁ, Strong's #7218), “head; top; first; sum.” Cognates of rô'sh appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, biblical Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. Rô'sh and its alternate form re'sh appear about 596 times in biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Head.3

    This word often represents a “head,” a bodily part (Genesis 40:20). Rô'sh is also used of a decapitated “head” (2 Samuel 4:8), an animal “head” (Genesis 3:15), and a statue “head” (Daniel 2:32). In Daniel 7:9, where God is pictured in human form, His “head” is crowned with hair like pure wool (i.e., white).VED-OT Head.4

    To “lift up one’s own head” may be a sign of declaring one’s innocence: “If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction” (Job 10:15). This same figure of speech may indicate an intention to begin a war, the most violent form of selfassertion: “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head” (Psalms 83:2). With a negation, this phrase may symbolize submission to another power: “Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more” (Judges 8:28). Used transitively (i.e., to lift up someone else’s “head”), this word may connote restoring someone to a previous position: “Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place …” (Genesis 40:13). It can also denote the release of someone from prison: “… Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison” (2 Kings 25:27).VED-OT Head.5

    With the verb rum (“to raise”), rô'sh can signify the victory and power of an enthroned king—God will “lift up [His] head,” or exert His rule (Psalms 110:7). When God lifts up (rum) one’s “head,” He fills one with hope and confidence: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalms 3:3).VED-OT Head.6

    There are many secondary nuances of rô'sh. First, the word can represent the “hair on one’s head”: “And on the seventh day, he shall shave all his hair off his rô'sh; he shall shave off his beard and his eyebrows, all his hair” (Leviticus 14:9, RSV). The word can connote unity, representing every individual in a given group: “Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two …” (Judges 5:30). This word may be used numerically, meaning the total number of persons or individuals in a group: “Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls” (Numbers 1:2) Rô'sh can also emphasize the individual: “And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head [i.e., an individual donkey] was sold for fourscore pieces of silver …” (2 Kings 6:25). It is upon the “head” (upon the person himself) that curses and blessings fall: “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors … : they shall be on the head of Joseph …” (Genesis 49:26).VED-OT Head.7

    Rô'sh sometimes means “leader,” whether appointed, elected, or self-appointed. The word can be used of the tribal fathers, who are the leaders of a group of people: “And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people …” (Exodus 18:25). Military leaders are also called “heads”: “These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains …” (2 Samuel 23:8). In Numbers 1:16, the princes are called “heads” (cf. Judges 10:18). This word is used of those who represent or lead the people in worship (2 Kings 25:18—the chief priest).VED-OT Head.8

    When used of things, rô'sh means “point” or “beginning.” With a local emphasis, the word refers to the “top” or summit of a mountain or hill: “… Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand” (Exodus 17:9). Elsewhere the word represents the topmost end of a natural or constructed object: “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven …” (Genesis 11:4).VED-OT Head.9

    In Genesis 47:31, the word denotes the “head” of a bed, or where one lays his “head.” In 1 Kings 8:8, rô'sh refers to the ends of poles. The word may be used of the place where a journey begins: “Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way …” (Ezekiel 16:25); cf. Daniel 7:1: “the sum of the matters.…” This sense of the place of beginning appears in Genesis 2:10 (the first occurrence): “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became [the source of four rivers].” This nuance identifies a thing as being placed spatially in front of a group; it stands in front or at the “head” (Deuteronomy 20:9; cf. 1 Kings 21:9). The “head” of the stars is a star located at the zenith of the sky (Job 22:12). The “head” cornerstone occupies a place of primary importance. It is the stone by which all the other stones are measured; it is the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22). This word may have a temporal significance meaning “beginning” or “first.” The second sense is seen in Exodus 12:2: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months.…” In 1 Chronicles 16:7 the word describes the “first” in a whole series of acts: “Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.”VED-OT Head.10

    Rô'sh may also have an estimative connotation: “Take thou also unto thee [the finest of] spices …” (Exodus 30:23).VED-OT Head.11

    Rê'shı̂yth (רֵאשִׁית, Strong's #7225), “beginning; first; choicest.” The abstract word rê'shı̂yth corresponds to the temporal and estimative sense of ro’sh. Rê'shı̂yth connotes the “beginning” of a fixed period of time: “… The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:12). The “beginning” of one’s period of life is intended in Job 42:12: “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.…” This word can represent a point of departure, as it does in Genesis 1:1 (the first occurrence): “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Estimatively, this word can mean the “first” or “choicest”: “The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 23:19). This nuance of rê'shı̂yth may appear in the comparative sense, meaning “choicest” or “best.” Daniel 11:41 exhibits the nuance of “some”: “… But these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief [NASB, “foremost”] of the children of Ammon” (Daniel 11:41).VED-OT Head.12

    Used substantively, the word can mean “first fruits”: “As for the oblation of the first fruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord: but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savor” (Leviticus 2:12). “… The first fruits of them which they shall offer unto the Lord, them have I given thee” (Numbers 18:12). Sometimes this word represents the “first part” of an offering: “Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for a heave offering …” (Numbers 15:20).VED-OT Head.13

    B. Adjective.VED-OT Head.14

    Ri'shôn (רִאשֹׁן, Strong's #7223), “first; foremost; preceding; former.” This word occurs about 182 times in biblical Hebrew. It denotes the “first” in a temporal sequence: “And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month …” (Genesis 8:13). In Ezra 9:2, ri'shôn is used both of precedence in time and of leadership: “… The holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.”VED-OT Head.15

    A second meaning of this adjective is “preceding” or “former”: “… Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first …” (Genesis 13:4). Genesis 33:2 uses this word locally: “And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.” The “former ones” are “ancestors”: “But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen …” (Leviticus 26:45). But in most cases, this adjective has a temporal emphasis.VED-OT Head.16


    Râphâ' (רָפָה, Strong's #7495), “to heal.” This word is common to both ancient and modern Hebrew. It occurs approximately 65 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, appearing first in Genesis 20:17: “… God healed Abimelech.”VED-OT Heal.2

    “To heal” may be described as “restoring to normal,” an act which God typically performs. Thus, appeals to God for healing are common: “… O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed” (Psalms 6:2); “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed …” (Jeremiah 17:14). Not only are human diseases “healed,” but bad water is restored to normal or “healed” (2 Kings 2:22); salt water is “healed” or made fresh (Ezekiel 47:8); even pottery is “healed” or restored (Jeremiah 19:11).VED-OT Heal.3

    A large number of the uses of râphâ' express the “healing” of the nation—such “healing” not only involves God’s grace and forgiveness, but also the nation’s repentance. Divine discipline leads to repentance and “healing”: “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us …” (Hosea 6:1). God promises: “For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord …” (Jeremiah 30:17). Even foreign cities and powers can know God’s “healing” if they repent (Jeremiah 51:8-9).VED-OT Heal.4

    False prophets are condemned because they deal only with the symptoms and not with the deep spiritual hurts of the people: “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14; also 8:11).VED-OT Heal.5


    A. Verb.VED-OT Hear.2

    Shâma‛ (שָׁמַע, Strong's #8085), “to hear, hearken, listen, obey, publish.” This word occurs throughout the Semitic languages including biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. Shâma‛ occurs in all historical layers of Hebrew, and about 1,160 times in the Bible. The word is attested 9 times in biblical Aramaic.VED-OT Hear.3

    Basically, this verb means to “hear” something with one’s ears, but there are several other nuances. In Genesis 37:17, a man told Joseph that he “heard” Joseph’s brothers say, “Let us go to Dothan”; in other words, he unintentionally “overheard” them say it. Shâma‛ can also be used of “eavesdropping, or intentionally listening in on a conversation; so Sarah “overheard” what the three men said to Abram (Genesis 18:10).VED-OT Hear.4

    Joseph asked his brothers to “listen” as he recounted what he had dreamed (Genesis 37:6). In 1 Chronicles 28:2, David told his audience to “listen” as he spoke; they were to give him their undivided attention.VED-OT Hear.5

    To “hear” something may imply to “have knowledge,” as when Abimelech told Abraham that he did not know about the controversy over the wills because no one had told him and neither had he “heard” it (Genesis 21:26). Shâma‛ may also imply to “gain knowledge” or to “get knowledge”: “… The Chaldeans that besieged Jerusalem heard [the report] …” (Jeremiah 37:5).VED-OT Hear.6

    Again, the word may mean to “come into knowledge about.” Moses told the unclean men to wait while he “listened” to what the Lord would command regarding them (Numbers 9:8). His intent clearly was more than just to “hear” something; he intended to “gain some knowledge” from the Lord .VED-OT Hear.7

    The verb can represent the mere “hearing” of something, as when Adam and Eve “heard” the sound of God walking in the garden (Genesis 3:8—first biblical occurrence). To “make someone hear” something (without any specification of what was heard) suggests “summoning” the person (1 Kings 15:22).VED-OT Hear.8

    “Hearing” can be both intellectual and spiritual. Spiritually, one may “hear” God’s Word (Numbers 24:4), or “learn” it from God. Conversely, God told Abraham that He had “heard” his prayer and would act accordingly (Genesis 17:20). In this context, to “hear” means not only to hear what is said, but to agree with its intention or petition (cf. Genesis 16:11). In the case of hearing and hearkening to a higher authority, shâma‛ can mean to “obey.” In Abraham’s seed, all nations would be blessed because he “heard” (obeyed) God’s voice (Genesis 22:18).VED-OT Hear.9

    Another nuance of intellectual “hearing” appears in Genesis 11:7, in which we are told that God planned to confuse human language, “that they may not understand one another’s speech.”VED-OT Hear.10

    To have a “hearing heart” is to have “discernment” or “understanding” (1 Kings 3:9). Certainly when Moses told Israel’s judges to “hear” cases, he meant more than listening with one’s ear. He meant for them to examine the merits of a case, so as to render a just decision (Deuteronomy 1:16).VED-OT Hear.11

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Hear.12

    Shôma‛ (שֹׁמַע, Strong's #8089), means “things heard by accident; hearsay.” This word appears infrequently in the Old Testament, as in Joshua 6:27: “So the Lord was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.” Shêma‛ (שֵׁמַע, Strong's #8088), “something heard by design; report.” The Old Testament attests this word 17 times. Genesis 29:13 contains one occurrence: “And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings [shêma‛] of Jacob his sister’s son.… Shemû‛âh (שְׁמוּעָה, Strong's #8052), “revelation; something heard.” This word appears 27 times. One appearance is in Isaiah 28:9: “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine [shemû‛âh]?”VED-OT Hear.13


    A. Noun. VED-OT Heart.2

    Lêb (לֵב, Strong's #3820), “heart; mind; midst.” Lêb and its synonym lêbab appear 860 times in the Old Testament. The law, prophets, and Psalms often speak of the “heart.” The root occurs also in Akkadian, Assyrian, Egyptian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, and post-biblical Hebrew. The corresponding Aramaic nouns occur seven times in the Book of Daniel.VED-OT Heart.3

    “Heart” is used first of man in Genesis 6:5: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In Genesis 6:6 lêb is used of God: “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”VED-OT Heart.4

    “Heart” may refer to the organ of the body: “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place …” (Exodus 28:29); “… [Joab] took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom …” (2 Samuel 18:14); “My heart panteth …” (Psalms 38:10). Lêb may also refer to the inner part or middle of a thing: “… and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea” (Exodus 15:8); “… and the mountain burned with fire in the midst [RSV, “to the heart”] of heaven …” (Deuteronomy 4:11, KJV)“Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea …” (Proverbs 23:34).VED-OT Heart.5

    Lêbab can be used of the inner man, contrasted to the outer man, as in Deuteronomy 30:14: “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (cf. Joel 2:13); “… man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Lêbab is often compounded with “soul” for emphasis, as in 2 Chronicles 15:12; “And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul” (cf. 2 Chronicles 15:15). Nepesh (“soul; life; self”) is translated “heart” fifteen times in the KJV. Each time, it connotes the “inner man”: “For as he thinketh in his heart [nepesh], so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).VED-OT Heart.6

    Lêb can be used of the man himself or his personality: “Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said in his heart, …” (Genesis 17:17); “… my heart had great experience …” (Ecclesiastes 1:16). Lêb is also used of God in this sense: “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart” (Jeremiah 3:15).VED-OT Heart.7

    The seat of desire, inclination, or will can be indicated by “heart”: “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened …” (Exodus 7:14); “… whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it …” (Exodus 35:5; cf. vv. 21, 29); “I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart …” (Psalms 86:12). Lêb is also used of God in this sense: “… and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul” (Jeremiah 32:41). Two people are said to be in agreement when their “hearts” are right with each other: “Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?” (2 Kings 10:15). In 2 Chronicles 24:4, “… Joash was minded to repair the house of the Lord” (Heb. “had in his heart”). The “heart” is regarded as the seat of emotions: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, …” (Deuteronomy 6:5); “… and when he [Aaron] seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart” (Exodus 4:14; cf. 1 Samuel 2:1). So there are “merry” hearts (Judges 16:25), “fearful” hearts (Isaiah 35:4), and hearts that “trembled” (1 Samuel 4:13).VED-OT Heart.8

    The “heart” could be regarded as the seat of knowledge and wisdom and as a synonym of “mind.” This meaning often occurs when “heart” appears with the verb “to know”: “Thus you are to know in your heart …” (Deuteronomy 8:5, NASB); and “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive [know] …” (Deuteronomy 29:4, KJV; RSV, “mind”). Solomon prayed, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad …” (1 Kings 3:9; cf. 4:29). Memory is the activity of the “heart,” as in Job 22:22: “… lay up his [God’s] words in thine heart.”VED-OT Heart.9

    The “heart” may be the seat of conscience and moral character. How does one respond to the revelation of God and of the world around him? Job answers: “… my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live” (27:6). On the contrary, “David’s heart smote him …” (2 Samuel 24:10). The “heart” is the fountain of man’s deeds: “… in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands I have done this” (Genesis 20:5; cf. v. 6). David walked “in uprightness of heart” (1 Kings 3:6) and Hezekiah “with a perfect heart” (Isaiah 38:3) before God. Only the man with “clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalms 24:4) can stand in God’s presence.VED-OT Heart.10

    Lêb may refer to the seat of rebellion and pride. God said: “… for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). Tyre is like all men: “Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God” (Ezekiel 28:2). They all become like Judah, whose “sin … is graven upon the table of their heart” (Jeremiah 17:1).VED-OT Heart.11

    God controls the “heart.” Because of his natural “heart,” man’s only hope is in the promise of God: “A new heart also will I give you, … and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). So the sinner prays: “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalms 51:10); and “… unite my heart [give me an undivided heart] to fear thy name” (Psalms 86:11). Also, as David says, “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chronicles 29:17). Hence God’s people seek His approval: “… try my reins and my heart” (Psalms 26:2).VED-OT Heart.12

    The “heart” stands for the inner being of man, the man himself. As such, it is the fountain of all he does (Proverbs 4:4). All his thoughts, desires, words, and actions flow from deep within him. Yet a man cannot understand his own “heart” (Jeremiah 17:9). As a man goes on in his own way, his “heart” becomes harder and harder. But God will circumcise (cut away the uncleanness of) the “heart” of His people, so that they will love and obey Him with their whole being (Deuteronomy 30:6).VED-OT Heart.13

    B. Adverb. VED-OT Heart.14

    Lêb (לֵב, Strong's #3820), “tenderly; friendly; comfortably.” Lêb is used as an adverb in Genesis 34:3: “And his soul clave unto Dinah … and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel.” In Ruth 4:13, the word means “friendly”: “… thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid.…” The word means “comfortably” in 2 Chronicles 30:22 and in Isaiah 40:2.VED-OT Heart.15


    Shâmayim (שָׁמֶה, Strong's #8064), “heavens; heaven; sky.” This general Semitic word appears in languages such as Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, and Arabic. It occurs 420 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Heaven.2

    First, shâmayim is the usual Hebrew word for the “sky” and the “realm of the sky.” This realm is where birds fly. God forbids Israel to make any “likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air” (Deuteronomy 4:17). When Absalom’s hair caught in the branches of a tree, he hung suspended between the “heaven” and the earth (2 Samuel 18:9). This area, high above the ground but below the stars and heavenly bodies, is often the locus of visions: “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” (1 Chronicles 21:16).VED-OT Heaven.3

    Second, this word represents an area farther removed from the earth’s surface. From this area come such things as frost (Job 38:29), snow (Isaiah 55:10), fire (Genesis 19:24), dust (Deuteronomy 28:24), hail (Joshua 10:11), and rain: “The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained” (Genesis 8:2). This realm is God’s storehouse; God is the dispenser of the stores and Lord of the realm (Deuteronomy 28:12). This meaning of shâmayim occurs in Genesis 1:7-8: “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.”VED-OT Heaven.4

    Third, shâmayim also represents the realm in which the sun, moon, and stars are located: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night …” (Genesis 1:14). This imagery is often repeated in the Creation account and in poetical passages. Thus the “heavens” can be stretched out like a curtain (Psalms 104:2) or rolled up as a scroll (Isaiah 34:4).VED-OT Heaven.5

    Fourth, the phrase “heaven and earth” may denote the entire creation. This use of the word appears in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”VED-OT Heaven.6

    Fifth, “heaven” is the dwelling place of God: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Psalms 2:4; cf. Deuteronomy 4:39). Again, note Deuteronomy 26:15: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel.…” Another expression representing the dwelling place of God is “the highest heaven [literally, the heaven of heavens].” This does not indicate height, but an absolute—i.e., God’s abode is a unique realm not to be identified with the physical creation: “Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deuteronomy 10:14).VED-OT Heaven.7


    ‛Âzar (עָזַר, 5826), “to help, assist, aid.” This word and its derivatives are common in both ancient and modern Hebrew. The verb occurs about 80 times in the biblical text. ‛Âzar is first found in the Old Testament in Jacob’s deathbed blessing of Joseph: “… The God of thy father, who shall help thee …” (Genesis 49:25).VED-OT Help.2

    Help or aid comes from a variety of sources: Thirty-two kings “helped” Ben-hadad (1 Kings 20:6); one city “helps” another (Joshua 10:33); even false gods are believed to be of “help” (2 Chronicles 28:23). Of course, the greatest source of help is God Himself; He is “the helper of the fatherless” (Psalms 10:14). God promises: “I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10); “and the Lord shall help them, and deliver them …” (Psalms 37:40).VED-OT Help.3


    Bâqâr (בָּקָר, Strong's #1241), “herd; cattle.” This noun has cognates in Arabic and Aramaic. It appears about 180 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.VED-OT Herd.2

    One meaning of the word is “cattle.” Such beasts were slaughtered for food, and their hides were presented as offerings to God (Numbers 15:8). This meaning of bâqâr is in Genesis 12:16 (the first biblical occurrence): “And he [Pharaoh] entreated Abram well for her [Sarah’s] sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses.…” These were grazing beasts (1 Chronicles 27:29) and were eaten (1 Kings 4:23). These animals pulled carts (2 Samuel 6:6) and plows (Job 1:14), and carried burdens on their backs (1 Chronicles 12:40).VED-OT Herd.3

    Bâqâr often refers to a group of cattle or “herd” (both sexes), as it does in Genesis 13:5: “And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds [in the Hebrew, this word appears in a singular form] and tents.” The word can represent a “small group of cattle” (not a herd; cf. Genesis 47:17; Exodus 22:1) or even a pair of oxen (Numbers 7:17). A single ox is indicated either by some other Hebrew word or called an offspring of oxen (Genesis 18:7).VED-OT Herd.4

    Bâqâr also refers to statues of oxen: “It [the altar of burnt offerings] stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east …” (1 Kings 7:25).VED-OT Herd.5

    Some scholars believe this noun is related to the verb bâqâr (“to seek out”) and to the noun bôqer (“morning”).VED-OT Herd.6


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Hero.2

    Gibbôr (גִּבֹּר, Strong's #1368), “hero.” This word appears 159 times in the Old Testament. The first occurrence of gibbôr is in Genesis 6:4: “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”VED-OT Hero.3

    In the context of battle, the word is better understood to refer to the category of warriors. The gibbôr is the proven warrior; especially is this true when gibbôr is used in combination with chayil (“strength”). The KJV gives a literal translation, “mighty men [gibbôr] of valor [chayil],” whereas the NIV renders the phrase idiomatically, “fighting men” (cf. Joshua 1:14). David, who had proven himself as a warrior, attracted “heroes” to his band while he was being pursued by Saul (2 Samuel 23). When David was enthroned as king, these men became a part of the elite military corps. The phrase gibbôr chayil may also refer to a man of a high social class, the landed man who had military responsibilities. Saul came from such a family (1 Samuel 9:1); so also Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:28).VED-OT Hero.4

    The king symbolized the strength of his kingdom. He had to lead his troops in battle, and as commander he was expected to be a “hero.” Early in David’s life, he was recognized as a “hero” (1 Samuel 18:7). The king is described as a “hero”: “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty” (Psalms 45:3). The messianic expectation included the hope that the Messiah would be “mighty”: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).VED-OT Hero.5

    Israel’s God was a mighty God (Isaiah 10:21). He had the power to deliver: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Jeremiah’s moving confession (32:17ff.) bears out the might of God in creation (v. 17) and in redemption (vv. 18ff.). The answer to the emphatic question, “Who is this King of glory?” in Psalms 24 is: “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (v. 8).VED-OT Hero.6

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: dunatos (“powerful; strong; mighty; able ruler”) and ischuros (“strong; mighty; powerful”). The KJV gives these senses: “mighty men; mighty one; strong; violent.”VED-OT Hero.7

    Geber (גֶּבֶר, Strong's #1397), “man.” This word occurs 66 times in the Old Testament, once in 1 Chronicles 23:3: “Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand.”VED-OT Hero.8

    B. Verb. VED-OT Hero.9

    Gâbar (גָּבַר, Strong's #1396), “to be strong.” The root meaning “to be strong” appears in all Semitic languages as a verb or a noun, but the verb occurs only 25 times in the Old Testament. Job 21:7 contains an occurrence of gâbar: “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?”VED-OT Hero.10

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Hero.11

    Gibbôr (גִּבֹּר, Strong's #1368), “strong.” Gibbôr may be translated by the adjective “strong” in the following contexts: a “strong” man (1 Samuel 14:52), a “strong” lion (Proverbs 30:30), a mighty hunter (Genesis 10:9), and the mighty ones (Genesis 6:1-4).VED-OT Hero.12


    Sâthar (סָתַר, Strong's #5641), “to conceal, hide, shelter.” This verb and various derivatives are found in modern Hebrew as well as in biblical Hebrew. Sâthar occurs approximately 80 times in the Old Testament. The word is found for the first time in Genesis 4:14 as Cain discovers that because of his sin, he will be “hidden” from the presence of God, which implies a separation.VED-OT Hide.2

    In the so-called Mizpah Benediction (which is really a warning), sâthar again has the sense of “separation”: “The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another” (Genesis 31:49). To “hide oneself” is to take refuge: “Doth not David hide himself with us …?” (1 Samuel 23:19). Similarly, to “hide” someone is to “shelter” him from his enemy: “… The Lord hid them” (Jeremiah 36:26).VED-OT Hide.3

    To pray, “Hide thy face from my sins” (Psalms 51:9), is to ask God to ignore them. But when the prophet says, “And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob …” (Isaiah 8:17), he means that God’s favor has been withdrawn. Similarly, Judah’s sins have “hidden” God’s face from her (Isaiah 59:2).VED-OT Hide.4


    A. Adjective.VED-OT High.2

    Gâbôhha (גָּבוֹהַּ, Strong's #1364), “high; exalted.” This adjective occurs about 24 times. The root seen in this adjective, in the verb gabah and in the noun gobah, occurs in every period of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT High.3

    This word means “high, lofty, tall in dimension”: “And the waters [of the flood] prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered” (Genesis 7:19—the first occurrence). When used of a man, gâbôhha means “tall”: Saul was “higher than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2; cf. 16:7). In Daniel 8:2, gâbôhha describes the length of a ram’s horns: “… And the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last.”VED-OT High.4

    The word means “high or exalted in station”: “Thus saith the Lord God; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high” (Ezekiel 21:26). In Ecclesiastes 5:8, this connotation of “one of high rank” may be expressed in the translation “official” (RSV).VED-OT High.5

    Gâbôhha may be used of a psychological state, such as “haughtiness”: “Talk no more so exceeding proudly [this double appearance of the word emphasizes it]; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth …” (1 Samuel 2:3).VED-OT High.6

    ‛Elyôn (עֶלְיוֹן, Strong's #5945), “high; top; uppermost; highest; upper; height.” The 53 occurrences of this word are scattered throughout biblical literature. This word indicates the “uppermost” (as opposed to the lower): “… I had three white baskets on my head: And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats …” (Genesis 40:16-17). In Ezekiel 42:5, ‛elyôn describes the “uppermost” of three stories: “Now the upper chambers were shorter: for the galleries were higher than these, than the lower, and than the middlemost of the building.” A figurative use of the word appears in 2 Chronicles 7:21, where it modifies the dynasty (house) of Solomon. The messianic Davidic king will be God’s firstborn, “higher than the kings of the earth” (Psalms 89:27).VED-OT High.7

    In many passages, ‛elyôn means “upper,” in the sense of the top or higher of two things: “… the border of their inheritance on the east side was Ataroth-addar, unto Bethhoron the upper” (Joshua 16:5; cf. 2 Chronicles 8:5).VED-OT High.8

    This word is frequently used in a name (el ‘elyon) of God; it describes Him as the Most High, the “highest” and only Supreme Being. The emphasis here is on divine supremacy rather than divine exclusiveness: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God” [el ‘elyon] (Genesis 14:18—the first occurrence). This name for a god also appears in extra-biblical Palestinian documents.VED-OT High.9

    Also the figurative use of ‛elyôn to describe the “house” or dynasty of Israel takes an unusual turn in 1 Kings 9:8, where the kingdom is said to be the “height” of astonishment: “And at this house, which [will be a heap of ruins], every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?”VED-OT High.10

    B. Verb.VED-OT High.11

    Gâbâhh (גָּבֵהַּ, Strong's #1362), “to be high, exalted, lofty.” This verb, which occurs 38 times in the Bible, has cognates in Akkadian, Aramaic, and Arabic. Its meanings parallel those of the adjective. It may mean “to be high, lofty.” In this sense, it is used of trees (Ezekiel 19:11), the heavens (Job 35:5), and a man (1 Samuel 10:23). It may mean “to be exalted” in dignity and honor (Job 36:7). Or it may simply mean “to be lofty,” used in the positive sense of “being encouraged” (2 Chronicles 17:6) or in the negative sense of “being haughty or proud” (2 Chronicles 26:16).VED-OT High.12

    C. Noun.VED-OT High.13

    Gôbahh (גֹּבַהּ, Strong's #1363), “height; exaltation; grandeur; haughtiness; pride.” This noun, which occurs 17 times in biblical Hebrew, refers to the “height” of things (2 Chronicles 3:4) and of men (1 Samuel 17:4). It may also refer to “exaltation” or “grandeur” (Job 40:10), and to “haughtiness” or “pride” (2 Chronicles 32:26).VED-OT High.14

    High Place

    Bâmâh (בּוּם, Strong's #1116), “high place.” This noun occurs in other Semitic languages, meaning the “back” of an animal or of a man (Ugaritic), the incline or “back” of a mountain (Akkadian), and the “block” (of stone) or grave of a saint (Arabic). Bâmâh is used about 100 times in biblical Hebrew, and the first occurrence is in Leviticus 26:30: “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.” Most of the uses are in the Books of Kings and Chronicles, with the sense of “cultic high place.” The word is rarely used in the Pentateuch or in the poetic or prophetic literature.VED-OT High Place.2

    Bâmâh with the sense of “back” is still to be found in the Hebrew Old Testament: “So your enemies shall cringe before you, and you shall tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29, NASB). Compare this with the NEB “Your enemies come crying to you, and you shall trample their bodies [bâmâh] underfoot.”VED-OT High Place.3

    The Bible’s metaphorical use of the “backs” of the clouds and the waves of the sea gives problems to translators: “I will ascend above the heights [bâmâh] of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14), and "[He] alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves [literally, “high places”] of the sea” (Job 9:8). A similar problem is found in Psalms 18:33 (cf. 2 Samuel 22:34; Habakkuk 3:19): “He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.” In these passages, bâmâh must be understood idiomatically, meaning “authority.”VED-OT High Place.4

    The word is used metaphorically to portray the Lord as providing for His people: “He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock” (Deuteronomy 32:13; cf. Isaiah 58:14). The idiom, “to ride upon the high places of the earth,” is a Hebraic way of expressing God’s protection of His people. It expresses the exalted nature of Israel, whose God is the Lord. Not every literal bâmâh was a cultic high place; the word may simply refer to a geographical unit; cf. “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the [temple] as the high places of the forest” (cf. Amos 4:13; Micah 3:12). The Canaanites served their gods on these hills, where pagan priests presented the sacrifices to the gods: Israel imitated this practice (1 Kings 3:2), even when they sacrificed to the Lord. The surrounding nations had high places dedicated to Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7)Baal (Jeremiah 19:5), and other deities. On the “high place,” a temple was built and dedicated to a god: "[Jeroboam] made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi” (1 Kings 12:31). Cultic symbols were added as decoration; thus, the sacred pillars (‘asherah) and sacred trees or poles (matstsebah) were associated with a temple: “For they also built them high places, and [sacred stones], and groves, on every high hill [gib’ah], and under every green tree” (1 Kings 14:23; cf. 2 Kings 16:4). Before the temple was built, Solomon worshiped the Lord at the great bâmâh of Gideon (1 Kings 3:4). This was permissible until the temple was constructed; however, history demonstrates that Israel soon adopted these “high places” for pagan customs. The bâmâh was found in the cities of Samaria (2 Kings 23:19)in the cities of Judah (2 Chronicles 21:11), and even in Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:13). The bâmâh was a place of cult prostitution: "[They] pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god” (Amos 2:7-8).VED-OT High Place.5

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: hupselos (“high; lofty; elevated”), bama (a transliteration of the Hebrew), bomos (“altar”), stele (“pillar”) and hupsos (“height; high place”).VED-OT High Place.6


    A. Adjective. VED-OT Holy.2

    Qâdôsh (קָדֹשׁ, Strong's #6918), “holy.” The Semitic languages have two separate original forms of the root. The one signifies “pure” and “devoted,” as in Akkadian qadistu and in Hebrew qâdôsh, “holy.” The word describes something or someone. The other signifies “holiness” as a situation or as an abstract, as in Arabic al-qaddus “the most holy or most pure.” In Hebrew the verb qâdash and the word qâdesh combine both elements: the descriptive and the static. The traditional understanding of “separated” is only a derived meaning, and not the primary.VED-OT Holy.3

    Qâdôsh is prominent in the Pentateuch, poetic and prophetic writings, and rare in the historical books. The first of its 116 occurrences is in Exodus 19:16: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”VED-OT Holy.4

    In the Old Testament qâdôsh has a strongly religious connotation. In one sense the word describes an object or place or day to be “holy” with the meaning of “devoted” or “dedicated” to a particular purpose: “And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel …” (Numbers 5:17). Particularly the sabbath day is “devoted” as a day of rest: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord …” (Isaiah 58:13-14). The prescription is based on Genesis 2:3 where the Lord “sanctified,” or “dedicated,” the sabbath.VED-OT Holy.5

    God has dedicated Israel as His people. They are “holy” by their relationship to the “holy” God. All of the people are in a sense “holy,” as members of the covenant community, irrespective of their faith and obedience: “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” (Numbers 16:3). God’s intent was to use this “holy” nation as a “holy,” royal priesthood amongst the nations (Exodus 19:6). Based on the intimate nature of the relationship, God expected His people to live up to His “holy” expectations and, thus, to demonstrate that they were a “holy nation”: “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Leviticus 20:26).VED-OT Holy.6

    The priests were chosen to officiate at the Holy Place of the tabernacle/temple. Because of their function as intermediaries between God and Israel and because of their proximity to the temple, they were dedicated by God to the office of priest: “They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy. They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God. Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the Lord, which sanctify you, am holy” (Leviticus 21:6-8). Aaron as the high priest was “the holy one of the Lord (Psalms 106:16, NASB).VED-OT Holy.7

    The Old Testament clearly and emphatically teaches that God is “holy.” He is “the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 1:4), the “holy God” (Isaiah 5:16), and “the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25). His name is “Holy”: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). The negative statement, “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none besides thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2), explains that He is most “holy” and that no one is as “holy” as He is. Also the angels in the heavenly entourage are “holy”: “And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord your God will come, and all the holy ones [KJV, “saints”] with him” (Zechariah 14:5, RSV). The seraphim proclaimed to each other the holiness of God: “And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).VED-OT Holy.8

    In the Septuagint the word hagios (“holy”) stands for the Hebrew qâdôsh.VED-OT Holy.9

    B. Verb. VED-OT Holy.10

    Qâdesh (קָדַשׁ, Strong's #6942), or qâdash (קָדַשׁ, Strong's #6942), “to be holy; to sanctify.” This verb, which occurs 175 times, can mean “to be holy” (Exodus 29:37; Leviticus 6:18) or “to sanctify”: “Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place” (2 Chronicles 29:5).VED-OT Holy.11

    C . Nouns. VED-OT Holy.12

    Qôdesh (קֹדֶשׁ, Strong's #6944), “holiness; holy thing; sanctuary.” This noun occurs 469 times with the meanings: “holiness” (Exodus 15:11); “holy thing” (Numbers 4:15); and “sanctuary” (Exodus 36:4).VED-OT Holy.13

    Another noun, qadesh, means “temple-prostitute” or “sodomite”: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 23:17). The noun is found 11 times.VED-OT Holy.14


    A. Verbs.VED-OT Honor.2

    Kâbed (כָּבַד, Strong's #3513), “to honor.” This verb occurs about 114 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. Its cognates appear in the same languages as those of the noun kâbod One occurrence of kâbed is in Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honor thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.…”VED-OT Honor.3

    Hâdar (הָדַר, 1921), “to honor, prefer, exalt oneself, behave arrogantly.” This verb, which appears 8 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates only in Aramaic although some scholars suggest cognates in Egyptian and Syriac. The word means “to honor” or “to prefer” in Exodus 23:3: “Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.” In Proverbs 25:6 |hadarmeans “to exalt oneself” or “to behave arrogantly.”VED-OT Honor.4

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Honor.5

    Kâbôd (כָּבֹד, Strong's #3519), “honor; glory; great quantity; multitude; wealth; reputation [majesty]; splendor.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Phoenician, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Akkadian. It appears about 200 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. Kâbôd refers to the great physical weight or “quantity” of a thing. In Nahum 2:9 one should read: “For there is no limit to the treasure—a great quantity of every kind of desirable object.” Isaiah 22:24 likens Eliakim to a peg firmly anchored in a wall upon which is hung “all the [weighty things] of his father’s house.” This meaning is required in Hosea 9:11, where kâbôd represents a great crowd of people or “multitude”: “As for Ephraim, their [multitude] shall fly away.…” The word does not mean simply “heavy,” but a heavy or imposing quantity of things.VED-OT Honor.6

    Kâbôd often refers to both “wealth” and significant and positive “reputation” (in a concrete sense). Laban’s sons complained that “Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this [wealth]” (Genesis 31:1— the first biblical occurrence). The second emphasis appears in Genesis 45:13, where Joseph told his brothers to report to his “father … all my [majesty] in Egypt.” Here this word includes a report of his position and the assurance that if the family came to Egypt, Joseph would be able to provide for them. Trees, forests, and wooded hills have an imposing quality, a richness or “splendor.” God will punish the king of Assyria by destroying most of the trees in his forests, “and shall consume the glory of his forest, … and the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them” (Isaiah 10:18-19). In Psalms 85:9 the idea of richness or abundance predominates: “Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory [or abundance] may dwell in our land.” This idea is repeated in Psalms 85:12: “Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.”VED-OT Honor.7

    Kâbôd can also have an abstract emphasis of “glory,” imposing presence or position. Phinehas’ wife named their son Ichabod, “saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-inlaw and her husband” (they, the high priests, had died; 1 Samuel 4:21). In Isaiah 17:3 kâbôd represents the more concrete idea of a fullness of things including fortified cities, sovereignty (self-rule), and people. Among such qualities is “honor,” or respect and position. In Isaiah 5:13 this idea of “honor” is represented by kâbôd: “… And their [my people’s] honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.” Thus the word kâbôd and its parallel (the multitude) represent all the people of Israel: the upper classes and the common people. In many passages the word represents a future rather than a present reality: “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious …” (Isaiah 4:2).VED-OT Honor.8

    When used in the sense of “honor” or “importance” (cf. Genesis 45:13) there are two nuances of the word. First, kâbôd can emphasize the position of an individual within the sphere in which he lives (Proverbs 11:16). This “honor” can be lost through wrong actions or attitudes (Proverbs 26:1, 8) and evidenced in proper actions (Proverbs 20:3; 25:2). This emphasis then is on a relationship between personalities. Second, there is a suggestion of nobility in many uses of the word, such as “honor” that belongs to a royal family (1 Kings 3:13). Thus, kâbôd can be used of the social distinction and position of respect enjoyed by nobility.VED-OT Honor.9

    When applied to God, the word represents a quality corresponding to Him and by which He is recognized. Joshua commanded Achan to give glory to God, to recognize His importance, worth, and significance (Joshua 7:19). In this and similar instances “giving honor” refers to doing something; what Achan was to do was to tell the truth. In other passages giving honor to God is a cultic recognition and confession of God as God (Psalms 29:1). Some have suggested that such passages celebrate the sovereignty of God over nature wherein the celebrant sees His “glory” and confesses it in worship. In other places the word is said to point to God’s sovereignty over history and specifically to a future manifestation of that “glory” (Isaiah 40:5). Still other passages relate the manifestation of divine “glory” to past demonstrations of His sovereignty over history and peoples (Exodus 16:7; 24:16).VED-OT Honor.10

    Hâdâr (הָדָר, Strong's #1926), “honor; splendor.” Cognates of this word appear only in Aramaic. Its 31 appearances in the Bible are exclusively in poetic passages and in all periods.VED-OT Honor.11

    First, hâdâr refers to “splendor” in nature: “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees [literally, trees of splendor or beauty] …” (Leviticus 23:40—the first occurrence).VED-OT Honor.12

    Second, this word is a counterpart to Hebrew words for “glory” and “dignity.” Thus hâdâr means not so much overwhelming beauty as a combination of physical attractiveness and social position. The Messiah is said to have “no form nor [majesty]; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Mankind is crowned with “glory and honor” in the sense of superior desirability (for God) and rank (Psalms 8:5). In Proverbs 20:29 hâdâr focuses on the same idea—an aged man’s mark of rank and privilege is his gray hair. This reflects the theme present throughout the Bible that long life is a mark of divine blessing and results (often) when one is faithful to God, whereas premature death is a result of divine judgment. The ideas of glorious brilliance, preeminence, and lordship are included in hâdâr when it is applied to God: “Glory and honor are in his presence; strength and gladness are in his place” (1 Chronicles 16:27). Not only are these characteristics of His sanctuary (Psalms 96:6) but He is clothed with them (Psalms 104:1). This use of hâdâr is rooted in the ancient concept of a king or of a royal city. God gave David all good things: a crown of gold on his head, long life, and glory or “splendor” and majesty (Psalms 21:3-5). In the case of earthly kings their beauty or brilliance usually arises from their surroundings. So God says of Tyre: “They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness [honor]. The men of Arvad with thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadim were in thy towers: they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect” (Ezekiel 27:10-11). God, however, manifests the characteristic of “honor or splendor” in Himself.VED-OT Honor.13

    The noun hâdârah means “majesty; splendor; exaltation; adornment.” This noun appears 5 times in the Bible. The word implies “majesty or exaltation” in Proverbs 14:28: “In a multitude of people is the glory of a King, but without people a prince is ruined” (RSV). Hâdârah refers to “adornment” in Psalms 29:2.VED-OT Honor.14

    C. Adjective.VED-OT Honor.15

    Kâbêd (כָּבֵד, Strong's #3515), “heavy; numerous; severe; rich.” The adjective kâbêd occurs about 40 times. Basically this adjective connotes “heavy.” In Exodus 17:12 the word is used of physical weight: “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.…” This adjective bears the connotation of heaviness as an enduring, ever-present quality, a lasting thing. Used in a negative but extended sense, the word depicts sin as a yoke ever pressing down upon one: “For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalms 38:4). A task can be described as “heavy” (Exodus 18:18). Moses argued his inability to lead God’s people out of Egypt because he was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue”; his speech or tongue was not smooth-flowing but halting (heavy; Exodus 4:10). This use of kâbêd appears with an explanation in Ezekiel 3:6, where God is describing the people to whom Ezekiel is to minister: “… not to many people of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words thou canst not understand.” Another nuance of this word appears in Exodus 7:14, where it is applied to Pharaoh’s heart: “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.” In all such contexts kâbêd depicts a burden which weighs down one’s body (or some part of it) so that one is either disabled or unable to function successfully.VED-OT Honor.16

    A second series of passages uses this word of something that falls upon or overcomes one. So God sent upon Egypt a “heavy” hail (Exodus 9:18), a “great” swarm of insects (8:24), “numerous” locusts, and a “severe” pestilence (9:3). The first appearance of the word belongs to this category: “… The famine was [severe] in the land” of Egypt (Genesis 12:10).VED-OT Honor.17

    Used with a positive connotation, kâbêd can describe the amount of “riches” one has: “And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold” (Genesis 13:2). In Genesis 50:9 the word is used to modify a group of people, “a very great company.” The next verse uses kâbêd in the sense of “imposing” or “ponderous”: “… They mourned with a great and very sore lamentation.…”VED-OT Honor.18

    This adjective is never used of God.VED-OT Honor.19


    Sûs ( סוּס , Strong's #5483), “horse.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Egyptian, and Syriac. It appears in biblical Hebrew about 138 times and in all periods.
    The first biblical appearance of sûs is in Genesis 47:17: “And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses.…” In the second quarter of the second millennium the chariot became a major military weapon and “horses” a very desirable commodity. This was the time of Joseph. It was not until the end of the second millennium that a rudimentary cavalry appeared on the battlefield. In the period of the eighth-century prophets and following, “horses” became a sign of luxury and apostasy (Isaiah 2:7; Amos 4:10) inasmuch as Israel’s hope for freedom and security was to be the Lord: “But he [the king] shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to … multiply horses …” (Deuteronomy 17:16).
    VED-OT Horse.2

    The “horses” of God are the storm clouds with which he treads upon the sea (Habakkuk 3:15).VED-OT Horse.3


    A. Noun. VED-OT Host.2

    Tsâbâ' (צָבָא, Strong's #6633), “host; military service; war; army; service; labor; forced labor; conflict.” This word has cognates in either a verbal or noun form in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. The noun form occurs 486 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods of the language.VED-OT Host.3

    This word involves several interrelated ideas: a group; impetus; difficulty; and force. These ideas undergird the general concept of “service” which one does for or under a superior rather than for himself. Tsâbâ' is usually applied to “military service” but is sometimes used of “work” in general (under or for a superior). In Numbers 1:2-3 the word means “military service”: “Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel … from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel.…” The idea is more concrete in Joshua 22:12, where the word represents serving in a military campaign: “And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go to war against them.” Numbers 31:14 uses tsâbâ' of the actual battling itself: “And Moses was wroth with the officers of the [army], … which came from the battle.”VED-OT Host.4

    The word can also represent an “army host”: “And Eleazer the priest said unto the men of war which went to the battle …” (Numbers 31:21). Even clearer is Numbers 31:48: “And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses.“This meaning first appears in Genesis 21:22, which mentions Phichol, the captain of Abimelech’s “army.” At several points this is the meaning of the feminine plural: “And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people” (Deuteronomy 20:9). In Numbers 1,2, and 10, where tsâbâ' occurs with regard to a census of Israel, it is suggested that this was a military census by which God organized His “army” to march through the wilderness. Some scholars have noted that the plan of the march, or the positioning of the tribes, recalls the way ancient armies were positioned during military campaigns. On the other hand, groupings of people might be indicated regardless of military implications, as seems to be the case in passages such as Exodus 6:26: “These are that Aaron and Moses, to whom the Lord said, Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.”VED-OT Host.5

    That tsâbâ' can refer to a “nonmilitary host” is especially clear in Psalms 68:11: “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.” The phrase “hosts of heaven” signifies the stars as visual indications of the gods of the heathen: “And them that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops; and them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham …” (Zephaniah 1:5). This meaning first appears in Deuteronomy 4:19. Sometimes this phrase refers to the “host of heaven,” or the angels: “And [Micaiah] said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven [the angels] standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (1 Kings 22:19). God Himself is the commander of this “host” (Daniel 8:10-11). In Joshua 6:14 the commander of the “host” of God confronted Joshua. This heavenly “host” not only worships God but serves to do all His will: “Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure” (Psalms 103:21).VED-OT Host.6

    Another meaning of the phrase “the host(s) of heaven” is simply “the numberless stars”: “As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me” (Jeremiah 33:22). This phrase can include all the heavenly bodies, as it does in Psalms 33:6: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” In Genesis 2:1 tsâbâ' includes the heavens, the earth, and everything in the creation: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”VED-OT Host.7

    The meaning “nonmilitary service in behalf of a superior” emerges in Numbers 4:2-3: “Take the sum of the sons of Kohath … from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter [the service], to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.” In Job 7:1 the word represents the burdensome everyday “toil” of mankind: “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of a hireling?” In Job 14:14 tsâbâ' seems to represent “forced labor.” In Daniel 10:1 the word is used for “conflict”: “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict” [RSV; KJV, “time appointed”].VED-OT Host.8

    B. Verb. VED-OT Host.9

    Tsâbâ' (צָבָא, Strong's #6633), “to wage war, to muster an army, to serve in worship.” This verb appears 14 times in biblical Hebrew. Tsâbâ' means “to wage war” in Numbers 31:7: “And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses.…” The word is used in 2 Kings 25:19 to refer to “mustering an army.” Another sense of tsâbâ' appears in Numbers 4:23 with the meaning of “serving in worship”: “… all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.”VED-OT Host.10


    Bayith (בַּיִת, Strong's #1004), “house or building; home; household; land.” The noun has cognates in most other Semitic languages including biblical Aramaic. Bayith appears about 2,048 times in biblical Hebrew (44 times in Aramaic) and in all periods.VED-OT House.2

    First, this noun denotes a fixed, established structure made from some kind of material. As a “permanent dwelling place” it is usually distinguished from a tent (2 Samuel 16:21, cf. v. 22). This word can even be applied to a one-room dwelling: “And he [Lot] said [to the two angels], Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house …” (Genesis 19:2). Bayith is also distinguished from temporary booths or huts: “And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him a house, and made booths for his cattle …” (Genesis 33:17). In Psalms 132:3 the word means “dwelling-living-place” and is used in direct conjunction with “tent” (literally, “tent of my house”): “Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed.” A similar usage appears in 1 Chronicles 9:23 (literally, “the tent house”): “So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards.”VED-OT House.3

    Second, in many passages (especially when the word is joined to the word God) bayith represents a place of worship or “sanctuary”: “The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God” (Exodus 23:19). Elsewhere this noun signifies God’s temple in Jerusalem: “And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle …” (1 Kings 6:5). Sometimes the word has this meaning although it is not further defined (cf. Ezekiel 41:7).VED-OT House.4

    Third, bayith can signify rooms and/or wings of a house: “And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the [harem] (literally, to the house of the women; Esther 2:3).…” In this connection bayith can also represent the inside of a building or some other structure as opposed to the outside: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Genesis 6:14—the first biblical occurrence).VED-OT House.5

    Fourth, bayith sometimes refers to the place where something or someone dwells or rests. So the underworld (Sheol) is termed a “home”: “If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness” (Job 17:13). An “eternal home” is one’s grave: “… Man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets” (Ecclesiastes 12:5). “House” can also mean “place” when used with “grave,” as in Nehemiah 2:3: “Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers.…” Bayith means a receptacle (NASB, “box”) in Isaiah 3:20. In 1 Kings 18:32 the “house of two seeds” is a container for seed: “And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain [literally, “a house of”] two measures of seed.” Houses for bars are supports: “And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places [literally, “houses”] for the bars” (Exodus 26:29). Similarly, see “the places [house] of the two paths,” a crossing of two paths, in Proverbs 8:2. The steppe is termed the “house of beasts”: “… whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings [house of beasts]” (Job 39:6).VED-OT House.6

    Fifth, bayith is often used of those who live in a house, i.e., a “household”: “Come thou and all thy house into the ark …” (Genesis 7:1). In passages such as Joshua 7:14 this word means “family”: “… And it shall be, that the tribe which the Lord taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the Lord shall take shall come by households [literally, by house or by those who live in a single dwelling].…” In a similar nuance this noun means “descendants”: “And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi” (Exodus 2:1). This word can be used of one’s extended family and even of everyone who lives in a given area: “And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4). Genesis 50:4, however, uses bayith in the sense of “a royal court” or all the people in a king’s court: “And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh.…” The ideas “royal court” and “descendant” are joined in 1 Samuel 20:16: “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David.…”VED-OT House.7

    In a few passages bayith means “territory” or “country”: “Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord …” (Hosea 8:1; 9:15; Jeremiah 12:7; Zechariah 9:8).VED-OT House.8

    Humble (Self)

    A. Verbs. VED-OT Humble (Self).2

    Kâna‛ (כָּנַע, Strong's #3665), “to be humble, to humble, subdue.” This biblical Hebrew word is also found in modern Hebrew. The word can mean “to humble, to subdue,” and it can have a passive or reflexive use, “to be humble” or “to humble oneself.” While kâna‛ occurs some 35 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, the word is not found until Deuteronomy 9:3: “… The Lord thy God … shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down.…” Kâna‛ is frequently used in this sense of “subduing, humbling,” enemies (2 Samuel 8:1; 1 Chronicles 17:10; Psalms 81:14). “To humble oneself” before God in repentance is a common theme and need in the life of ancient Israel (Leviticus 26:41; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Chronicles 12:6-7, 12).VED-OT Humble (Self).3

    Shâphêl (שָׁפֵל, Strong's #8213), “to be low, become low; sink down; be humiliated; be abased.” This root appears in most Semitic languages (except Ethiopic) with the basic meaning “to be low” and “to become low.” Shâphêl occurs about twenty-five times in the Old Testament. It is a poetic term.VED-OT Humble (Self).4

    The verb, as can be expected in poetic usage, is generally used in a figurative sense. Shâphêl rarely denotes a literal lowness. Even in passages where the meaning may be taken literally, the prophet communicates a spiritual truth: “… The high [trees] of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled” (Isaiah 10:33), or “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low …” (Isaiah 40:4). Isaiah particularly presented Judah’s sin as one of rebellion, self-exaltation, and pride (2:17; 3:16-17). In the second chapter he repeated God’s indictment on human pride. When the Lord comes in judgment, He will not tolerate pride: “… The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11); then “the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:12). Isaiah applied to Judah the principle found in Proverbs: “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Proverbs 29:23).VED-OT Humble (Self).5

    Pride and self-exaltation have no place in the life of the godly, as the Lord “brings low” a person, a city, and a nation: “The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up” (1 Samuel 2:7).VED-OT Humble (Self).6

    The prophets called the people to repent and to demonstrate their return to God by lowliness. Their call was generally unheeded. Ultimately the Exile came, and the people were humbled by the Babylonians. Nevertheless, the promise came that, regardless of the obstacles, God would initiate the redemption of His people. Isaiah expressed the greatness of the redemption in this way: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.… Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.… And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.…” (Isaiah 40:3-5) In the Septuagint shâphêl is represented by |tapeino| (“to level, be humble, humiliate”). It is translated in English versions as “to be low” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV); “to bring low” (KJV, RSV); “to bring down” (NASB, NIV); “to be humble” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV).VED-OT Humble (Self).7

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Humble (Self).8

    Some nouns related to this verb occur infrequently. Shêphêl refers to a “low condition, low estate.” This word appears twice (Psalms 136:23; Ecclesiastes 10:6). The noun shiplah means a “humiliated state.” This noun occurs once: “When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place” (Isaiah 32:19); the city is leveled completely. Shelah means “lowland.” This word is used most often as a technical designation for the low-lying hills of the Judean hill country (cf. Deuteronomy 1:7; Joshua 9:1). Shiplut refers to a “sinking.” This noun’s single appearance is in Ecclesiastes 10:18: “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness [shiplut] of the hands the house droppeth through.” The word implies a negligence or “sinking” of the hands.VED-OT Humble (Self).9

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Humble (Self).10

    Shâphâl (שָׁפָל, Strong's #8217), means “low; humble.” This word means “low” in Ezekiel 17:24: “And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree.…” In Isaiah 57:15 shâphâl refers to “humble”: “… I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”VED-OT Humble (Self).11

    Humbled, to Be; Afflicted

    A. Verb. VED-OT Humbled, to Be; Afflicted.2

    ‛Ânâh (עָנָה, Strong's #6031), “to be afflicted, be bowed down, be humbled, be meek.” This word, common to both ancient and modern Hebrew, is the source of several important words in the history and experience of Judaism: “humble, meek, poor, and affliction.” ‛Ânâh occurs approximately 80 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is found for the first time in Genesis 15:13: “… they shall afflict them four hundred years.”VED-OT Humbled, to Be; Afflicted.3

    ‛Ânâh often expresses harsh and painful treatment. Sarai “dealt hardly” with Hagar (Genesis 16:6). When Joseph was sold as a slave, his feet were hurt with fetters (Psalms 105:18). Frequently the verb expresses the idea that God sends affliction for disciplinary purposes: “… 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 …” (Deuteronomy 8:2; see also 1 Kings 11:39; Psalms 90:15). To take a woman sexually by force may be “to humble” her (Genesis 34:2, KJV, RSV), but the word is more appropriately translated “dishonor” (JB, NEB). In the Day of Atonement observance, “to humble oneself” is probably connected with the requirement for fasting on that day (Leviticus 23:28-29)VED-OT Humbled, to Be; Afflicted.4

    B. Noun.VED-OT Humbled, to Be; Afflicted.5

    ‛Ânı̂y (עָנִי, Strong's #6041), “poor; humble; meek.” Especially in later Israelite history, just before the Exile and following, this noun came to have a special connection with those faithful ones who were being abused, taken advantage of, by the rich (Isaiah 29:19; 32:7; Amos 2:7). The prophet Zephaniah’s reference to them as the “meek of the earth” (Zephaniah 2:3) set the stage for Jesus’ concern and ministry to the “poor” and the “meek” (Matthew 5:3, 5; Luke 4:18; cf. Isaiah 61:1). By New Testament times, “the poor of the land” were more commonly known as ’am ha’arets, “the people of the land.”VED-OT Humbled, to Be; Afflicted.6

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