Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    Baal, Master — Buy, Acquire

    Baal, Master

    Ba‛al (בַּעַל, Strong's #1167), “master; baal.” In Akkadian, the noun belu (“lord”) gave rise to the verb belu (“to rule”). In other northwest Semitic languages, the noun ba‛al differs somewhat in meaning, as other words have taken over the meaning of “sir” or “lord.” (Cf. Heb. ‘adon.) The Hebrew word ba‛al seems to have been related to these homonyms.The word ba‛al 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 ba‛al is in Genesis 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, "ba‛al’s of a covenant with”] Abram.”VED-OT Baal, Master.2

    The primary meaning of ba‛al is “possessor.” Isaiah’s use of ba‛al in parallel with qanah clarifies this basic significance of ba‛al: “The ox knoweth his owner [qanah], and the ass his master’s [ba‛al] crib: but Israel does not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Man may be the owner [ba’al] of an animal (Exodus 22:10), a house (Exodus 22:7), a cistern (Exodus 21:34), or even a wife (Exodus 21:3).VED-OT Baal, Master.3

    A secondary meaning, “husband,” is clearly indicated by the phrase ba‛al 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‛al ha-ishshah] will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine” (Exodus 21:22). The meaning of ba‛al 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 [ba‛al]” (2 Samuel 11:26).VED-OT Baal, Master.4

    The word ba‛al with another noun may signify a peculiar characteristic or quality: “And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh” (Genesis 37:19); the KJV offers a literal translation of the Hebrew — “master of dreams” — as an alternative.VED-OT Baal, Master.5

    Thirdly, the word ba‛al 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 (Judges 6:25-32) and of King Ahab. Elijah stood as the opponent of the Baal priests at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 188:21ff.). Many cities made Baal a local god and honored him with special acts of worship: Baal-peor (Numbers 25:5), Baal-berith at Shechem (Judges 8:33), Baal-zebub (2 Kings 1:2-16) at Ekron, Baal-zephon (Numbers 33:7), and Baalhermon (Judges 3:3).VED-OT Baal, Master.6

    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 (Hosea 2:13, 17). He says that the name of ba‛al 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 [ba‛al]. For I will take away the names of Ba-alim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name” (Hosea 2:16-17). In Hosea’s and Jeremiah’s time, the ba‛al idols were still worshiped, as the peoples sacrificed, built high places, and made images of the ba‛alim (plural).VED-OT Baal, Master.7

    In the Septuagint, the word ba‛al is not uniformly translated: kurios (“lord, owner”); aner (“man, husband”); the simple transliteration; and ba‛al. The KJV has these translations: “Baal, man, owner, husband, master.”VED-OT Baal, Master.8

    Band, Army

    Gedûd (גְּדוּד, Strong's #1416), “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 Samuel 30:8). In this case, the “raiding band” consisted of the entire army of Amalek. This meaning of gedûd occurs for the first time in Genesis 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 |gedud,they were being branded outlaws—men who lived by fighting and raiding (1 Kings 11:24).VED-OT Band, Army.2

    In some passages, gedûd 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 Samuel 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).VED-OT Band, Army.3

    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 Chronicles 7:4). Bildad asks the rhetorical question concerning God, “Is there any number [numbering] of his armies?” (Job 25:3).VED-OT Band, Army.4

    The verb gadad means “to gather together against” (Psalms 94:21), “to make incisions into oneself” as a religious act (Deuteronomy 14:1), “to roam about” (Jeremiah 30:23), or “to muster troops” (Micah 5:1).VED-OT Band, Army.5


    Hâyâh (הָיָה, Strong's #1961), “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.VED-OT Be.2

    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.VED-OT Be.3

    The verb can be used to emphasize the presence of a person (e.g., God’s Spirit—Judges 3:10), an emotion (e.g., fear—Genesis 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.VED-OT Be.4

    On the other hand, in some instances hâyâh 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” (Genesis 1:7). In this sense, hâyâh is frequently translated “it came to pass.”VED-OT Be.5

    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. Genesis 12:2, for example, records that God told Abram: “… I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be [hâyâh] a blessing.” Abram was already blessed, so God’s pronouncement conferred upon him a future blessedness. The use of hâyâh in such passages declares the actual release of power, so that the accomplishment is assured— Abram will be blessed because God has ordained it.VED-OT Be.6

    In another set of passages, hâyâh constitutes intent rather than accomplishment. Hence, the blessing becomes a promise and the curse a threat (cf. Genesis 15:5).VED-OT Be.7

    Finally, in a still weaker use of hâyâh, the blessing or curse constitutes a wish or desire (cf. Psalms 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.VED-OT Be.8

    In miracle accounts, hâyâh 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 (Genesis 19:26); the use of hâyâh emphasizes that the event really occurred. This is also the force of the verb in Genesis 1:3, in which God said, “Let there be light.” He accomplished His word so that there was light.VED-OT Be.9

    The prophets use hâyâh 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. Isaiah 2:2). Legal passages use hâyâh in describing God’s relationship to His covenant people, to set forth what is desired and intended (cf. Exodus 12:16). When covenants were made between two partners, the formulas usually included hâyâh (Deuteronomy 26:17-18; Jeremiah 7:23).VED-OT Be.10

    One of the most debated uses of hâyâh occurs in Exodus 3:14, where God tells Moses His name. He says: “I am [hâyâh] that I am [hâyâh].” Since the divine name Jehovah or Yahweh was well-known long before (cf. Genesis 4:1), this revelation seems to emphasize that the God who made the covenant was the God who kept the covenant. So Exodus 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. Hosea 1:9).VED-OT Be.11


    A. Verb. VED-OT Bear.2

    Yâlad (יָלַד, Strong's #3205), “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 yâlad occurs about 490 times in the Bible.VED-OT Bear.3

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

    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 (Genesis 16:1, 16). This demonstrates that God controls the opening of the womb (Genesis 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 (Isaiah 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, Isaiah 7:14, uses this verb to predict the “birth” of Immanuel. Finally, the prophets sometimes mourn the day of their “birth” (Jeremiah 15:10).VED-OT Bear.5

    Yâlad 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” (Psalms 2:7). God also says He “begot” the nation of Israel as a whole (Deuteronomy 32:18). This statement is in noticeable contrast to Moses’ disclaimer that he did not “birth” them (Numbers 11:12) and, therefore, does not want to be responsible for them any longer.VED-OT Bear.6

    The motif that God “gave birth” to Israel is picked up by Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 31:20, God states that His heart yearns for Ephraim His son (yâlad ). 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” (Ezekiel 23:4, 37).VED-OT Bear.7

    The Septuagint renders yâlad with words connoting “giving birth” (tinknein) and “begetting” (gennao).VED-OT Bear.8

    B. Noun.VED-OT Bear.9

    Yeled (יֶלֶד, Strong's #3206), “boy; child.” The noun yeled differs from ben (“son”), which more exactly specifies the parental relationship. For example, the child that Naomi nursed was a “boy” (Ruth 4:16).VED-OT Bear.10

    Yeled, which appears 89 times in the Bible, is rendered by several different Greek words. Other nouns built on the verb yalad include yaldah (“girl”; 3 times), yalid (“son” or “slave”; 3 times), yillod (“newborn”; 5 times), walad (“child”; once), ledah (“bringing forth” or “birth”; 4 times), moledet (“offspring, kindred, parentage”; 22 times), and toledot (“descendants, contemporaries, generation, genealogy, record of the family”; 39 times).VED-OT Bear.11


    Behêmâh (בְּהֵמָה, Strong's #929), “beast; animal; domesticated animal; cattle; riding beast; wild beast.” A cognate of this word appears in Arabic. Biblical Hebrew uses behêmâh about 185 times and in all periods of history.VED-OT Beast.2

    In Exodus 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 Genesis 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.”VED-OT Beast.3

    The word behêmâh 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 …” (Genesis 1:24, first occurrence). Psalms 8:7 uses behêmâh 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?” (Genesis 34:23).VED-OT Beast.4

    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” (Nehemiah 2:12).VED-OT Beast.5

    Infrequently, behêmâh 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” (Deuteronomy 28:26).VED-OT Beast.6


    A. Adverb. VED-OT Behind.2

    'Achar (אַחַר, Strong's #310), “behind; after(wards).” A cognate of this word occurs in Ugaritic. 'Achar appears about 713 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. One adverbial use of 'achar has a local-spatial emphasis that means “behind”: “The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after …” (Psalms 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 …” (Genesis 18:5).VED-OT Behind.3

    B. Preposition.VED-OT Behind.4

    'achar (אַחַר, Strong's #310), “behind; after.” 'Achar 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” (Genesis 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 Samuel 12:14). 'Achar can signify “after” with a temporal emphasis: “And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years” (Genesis 9:28, the first biblical occurrence of the word). This same emphasis may occur when 'achar appears in the plural (cf. Genesis 19:6—localspatial; Genesis 17:8—temporal).VED-OT Behind.5

    C. Conjunction. VED-OT Behind.6

    'Achar (אַחַר, Strong's #310), “after.” 'Achar may be a conjunction, “after,” with a temporal emphasis: “And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years …” (Genesis 5:4).VED-OT Behind.7


    A. Verb.VED-OT Believe.2

    'Âman (אָמַן, Strong's #539), “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, 'âman has several emphases. First, it indicates that a subject is “lasting” or “enduring,” which is its meaning in Deuteronomy 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 Isaiah 22:23, 'âman 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 (Isaiah 22:25). The Bible also speaks of “faithful” people who fulfill their obligations (cf. 1 Samuel 22:14; Proverbs 25:13).VED-OT Believe.3

    The nuance meaning “trustworthy” also occurs: “He that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter” (Proverbs 11:13; cf. Isaiah 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, 'âman 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 Samuel 2:35; Nehemiah 13:13).VED-OT Believe.4

    In Genesis 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; Hosea 5:9). In Hosea 11:12, 'âman contrasts Judah’s actions (“faithful”) with those of Ephraim and Israel (“deceit”). So here 'âman represents both “truthfulness” and “faithfulness” (cf. Psalms 78:37; Jeremiah 15:18). The word may be rendered “true” in several passages (1 Kings 8:26; 2 Chronicles 1:9; 6:17).VED-OT Believe.5

    A different nuance of 'âman is seen in Deuteronomy 7:9: “… the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy.…” There is a good reason here to understand the word 'âman 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. Isaiah 47:7).VED-OT Believe.6

    In the causative stem, 'âman 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.”VED-OT Believe.7

    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 'âman: “And [Abram] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 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. Genesis 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 Exodus 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 'âman with pisteuo (“to believe”) and its composites. The only exception to this is Proverbs 26:25.VED-OT Believe.8

    A more precise sense of 'âman does appear sometimes: “That they may believe that the Lord … hath appeared unto thee” (Exodus 4:5; cf. 1 Kings 10:7).VED-OT Believe.9

    In other instances, 'âmanhas a cultic use, by which the worshiping community affirms its identity with what the worship leader says (1 Chronicles 16:32). The “God of the 'âmanw (2 Chronicles 20:20; Isaiah 65:16) is the God who always accomplishes what He says; He is a “God who is faithful.”VED-OT Believe.10

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Believe.11

    'Ěmûnâh (אֱמֻנָה,Strong's #530), “firmness; faithfulness; truth; honesty; official obligation.” In Exodus 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 Isaiah 33:6: “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.…” In passages such as 1 Chronicles 9:22, 'ĕmûnâh 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 'ĕmûnâh is “faithfulness,” as illustrated by 1 Samuel 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.VED-OT Believe.12

    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]” (Jeremiah 5:1; cf. Jeremiah 5:2). Here 'ĕmûnâh 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 ['ĕmûnâh] is perished, and is cut off from their mouth” (Jeremiah 7:28).VED-OT Believe.13

    These quotations demonstrate the two senses in which 'ĕmûnâh means “true”—the personal sense, which identifies a subject as honest, trustworthy, faithful, truthful (Proverbs 12:22); and the factual sense, which identifies a subject as being factually true (cf. Proverbs 12:27), as opposed to that which is false.VED-OT Believe.14

    The essential meaning of 'ĕmûnâh 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 Samuel 7:16; Isaiah 16:5). Thus, the phrase frequently rendered “with lovingkindness and truth” should be rendered “with perpetual (faithful) lovingkindness” (cf. Joshua 2:14). He who sows righteousness earns a “true” or “lasting” reward (Proverbs 11:18), a reward on which he can rely.VED-OT Believe.15

    In other contexts, 'ĕmûnâh embraces other aspects of the concept of truth: "[The Lord] hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel …” (Psalms 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 (Genesis 47:29) and speak the “truth” (2 Samuel 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.VED-OT Believe.16

    'Emeth (אֱמֶת, Strong's #571), “truth; right; faithful.” This word appears 127 times in the Bible. The Septuagint translates it in 100 occurrences as “truth” (aletheia) or some form using this basic root. In Zechariah 8:3, Jerusalem is called “a city of truth.” Elsewhere, 'emeth 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 …” (Nehemiah 9:33). Only infrequently (16 times) is 'emeth translated “faithful” (pistis), as when Nehemiah is described as “a faithful man, and feared God above many” (Nehemiah 7:2).VED-OT Believe.17

    C. Adverb.VED-OT Believe.18

    'Âmên (אָמֵן, Strong's #543), “truly; genuinely; amen; so be it.” The term 'âmên is used 30 times as an adverb. The Septuagint renders it as “truly” (lethinos) 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. Deuteronomy 29:15-26).Although signifying a voluntary acceptance of the conditions of a covenant, the 'âmên 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 'âmên was an affirmation of a covenant, which is the significance of the word in Numbers 5:22, its first biblical occurrence. Later generations or individuals might reaffirm the covenant by voicing their 'âmên (Nehemiah 5:1-13; Jeremiah 18:6).VED-OT Believe.19

    In 1 Kings 1:36, 'âmên 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 'âmên 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. Nehemiah 8:6).VED-OT Believe.20


    Bêyn (בַּיִן, Strong's #996), “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 Samuel 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 …” (Exodus 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” (Proverbs 26:13). In other places, bêyn 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.…”VED-OT Between.2

    The area separating two particular objects is indicated in several ways. First, by repeating bêyn before each object: “And God divided the light from the darkness” [literally, “between the light and between the darkness”] (Genesis 1:4); that is, He put an interval or space between them. In other places (more rarely), this concept is represented by putting bêyn before one object and the preposition le before the second object: “Let there be a firmament in the midst [bêyn] of the waters, and let it divide the waters from [le] the waters” (Genesis 1:6). In still other instances, this idea is represented by placing bêyn before the first object plus the phrase meaning “with reference to” before the second (Joel 2:17), or by bêyn before the first object and the phrase “with reference to the interval of” before the second (Isaiah 59:2).VED-OT Between.3

    Bêyn 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 [bêyn] the night” (Genesis 1:14).VED-OT Between.4

    Sometimes bêyn signifies a metaphorical relationship. For example, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between [bêyn] me and you and every living creature …” (Genesis 9:12). The covenant is a contractual relationship. Similarly, the Bible speaks of an oath (Genesis 26:28) and of goodwill (Proverbs 14:9) filling the metaphorical “space” between two parties.VED-OT Between.5

    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 …” (Nehemiah 5:18).VED-OT Between.6

    In the dual form, bêyn 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 Samuel 17:4). In ancient warfare, a battle or even an entire war could be decided by a contest between two champions.VED-OT Between.7


    'Âsar (אָסַר, Strong's #631), “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 'âsar in the Hebrew text is in Genesis 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, 'âsar is often used to indicate the tying up of horses and donkeys (2 Kings 7:10). Similarly, oxen are “harnessed” to carts (1 Samuel 6:7, 10). Frequently, 'âsar is used to describe the “binding” of prisoners with cords and various fetters (Genesis 42:24; Judges 15:10, 12-13). Samson misled Delilah as she probed for the secret of his strength, telling her to “bind” him with bowstrings (Judges 16:7) and new ropes (Judges 16:11), none of which could hold him.VED-OT Bind.2

    Used in an abstract sense, 'âsar refers to those who are spiritually “bound” (Psalms 146:7; Isaiah 49:9; 61:1) or a man who is emotionally “captivated” by a woman’s hair (Song of Song of Solomon 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 Numbers 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).VED-OT Bind.3


    A. Verb.VED-OT Bless.2

    Bârak (בָּרַךְ, Strong's #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.Bârak occurs about 330 times in the Bible, first in Genesis 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. Psalms 104:27-30).VED-OT Bless.3

    Bârak is used again of man in Genesis 5:2, at the beginning of the history of believing men, and again after the Flood in Genesis 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” (Genesis 12:2-3). This “blessing” on the nations is repeated in Genesis 18:18; 22:18; and 28:14 (cf. Genesis 26:4; Jeremiah 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 bârak in the passive, as do the KJV, NASB, and NIV. Paul quotes the Septuagint’s rendering of Genesis 22:18 in Galatians 3:8.VED-OT Bless.4

    The covenant promise called the nations to seek the “blessing” (cf. Isaiah 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” (Numbers 6:23-27).VED-OT Bless.5

    The passive form of bârak is used in pronouncing God’s “blessing on men,” as through Melchizedek: “Blessed be Abram of the most high God …” (Genesis 14:19). “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem …” (Genesis 9:26) is an expression of praise. “Blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand” (Genesis 14:20) is mingled praise and thanksgiving.VED-OT Bless.6

    A common form of greeting was, “Blessed be thou of the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:13; cf. Ruth 2:4); “Saul went out to meet [Samuel], that he might salute him” (1 Samuel 13:10; “greet,” NASB and NIV).VED-OT Bless.7

    The simple form of the verb is used in 2 Chronicles 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.”VED-OT Bless.8

    B. Noun.VED-OT Bless.9

    Berâkâh (בְּרָכָה, Strong's #1293), “blessing.” The root form of this word is found in northwest and south Semitic languages. It is used in conjunction with the verb berâkâh (“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 [berâkâh]” (Genesis 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” (Genesis 28:4). This refers to a “blessing” that the patriarchs customarily extended upon their children before they died. Jacob’s “blessings” on the tribes (Genesis 49) and Moses’ “blessing” (Deuteronomy 333:1ff.) are other familiar examples of this.VED-OT Bless.10

    Blessing was the opposite of a cursing (qelalah): “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” (Genesis 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” (Genesis 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” (Nehemiah 9:5).VED-OT Bless.11

    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 …” (Deuteronomy 11:27). His blessing brings righteousness (Psalms 24:5), life (Psalms 133:3), prosperity (2 Samuel 7:29), and salvation (Psalms 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” (Ezekiel 34:26; cf. Psalms 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” (Psalms 133:3).VED-OT Bless.12

    In a few cases, the Lord made people to be a “blessing” to others. Abraham is a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:2). His descendants are expected to become a blessing to the nations (Isaiah 19:24; Zechariah 8:13).VED-OT Bless.13

    The Septuagint translates berâkâh as eulogia (“praise; blessing”). The KJV has these translations: “blessing; present (gift).”VED-OT Bless.14


    'Esher (אֶשֶׁר, Strong's #835), “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” (Deuteronomy 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).VED-OT Blessed.2

    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).VED-OT Blessed.3

    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 'esher as “blessed,” the rendering of “happiness” does not always convey its emphasis to modern readers.VED-OT Blessed.4


    Dâm (דָּם, Strong's #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.Dâm is used to denote the “blood” of animals, birds, and men (never of fish). In Genesis 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” (Leviticus 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, dâm represents “wine”: “He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes” (Genesis 49:11; cf. Deuteronomy 32:14).VED-OT Blood.2

    Dâm 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 …” (Numbers 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” (Ezekiel 5:17).VED-OT Blood.3

    Next, dâm 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] …” (Deuteronomy 17:8). To “shed blood” is to commit murder: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed …” (Genesis 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” (Leviticus 17:3-4).VED-OT Blood.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 …” (Leviticus 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” (Leviticus 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” (Joshua 2:19).VED-OT Blood.5

    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” (Leviticus 17:11). Adam’s sin merited death and brought death on all his posterity (Romans 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 (Hebrews 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 (Matthew 26:28).VED-OT Blood.6


    Tâqa‛ (תָּקַע, Strong's #8628), “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 tâqa‛ first occurs, it is found twice: “Jacob had pitched [tâqa‛] his tent in the mount: and Laban with his brethren pitched in the mount of Gilead” (Genesis 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 (Judges 4:21). The Bible also uses tâqa‛ to describe the strong west wind that “drove” the locusts into the Red Sea (Exodus 10:19).Tâqa‛ 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 (Joshua 6:4, 8-9, 13, 16, 20). To “strike” one’s hands in praise or triumph (Psalms 47:1) or “shake hands” on an agreement (Proverbs 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.VED-OT Blow.2


    ‛Etsem (עֶצֶם, Strong's #6106), “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, ‛etsem 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 (Genesis 2:23—the first biblical appearance). ‛Etsem used with “flesh” can indicate a blood relationship: “And Laban said to [Jacob], Surely thou art my bone and my flesh” (Genesis 29:14).VED-OT Bone.2

    Another nuance of this meaning appears in Job 2:5 where, used with “flesh,” ‛etsem represents one’s “body”: “But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh [his “body”].” A similar use appears in Jeremiah 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.…” Judges 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).VED-OT Bone.3

    In another nuance, ‛etsem 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).VED-OT Bone.4

    The plural of ‛etsem 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” (Psalms 6:2). Here the word is synonymously parallel to “I.”VED-OT Bone.5

    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” (Numbers 19:16). Closely related to this nuance is the use of ‛etsem 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” (Genesis 50:25).VED-OT Bone.6

    ‛Etsem 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” (Exodus 12:46).VED-OT Bone.7

    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]” (Exodus 24:10). In Job 21:23, the word means “full”: “One dieth in his full strength.…” At other points, ‛etsem means “same” or “selfsame”: “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah …” (Genesis 7:13).VED-OT Bone.8


    Sêpher (סִפְרָה, Strong's #5612), “book; document; writing.” Sêpher seems to be a loanword from the Akkadian sêpher: (“written message,” “document”). The word appears 187 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, and the first occurrence is in Genesis 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 sêpher is “book.” A manuscript was written (Exodus 32:32; Deuteronomy 17:18) and sealed (Isaiah 29:11), to be read by the addressee (2 Kings 22:16). The sense of sêpher is similar to “scroll” (megillah): “Therefore go thou, and read in the roll [sêpher] 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” (Jeremiah 36:6). Sêpher is also closely related to “book” (sêpher) (Psalms 56:8).VED-OT Book.2

    Many “books” are named in the Old Testament: the “book” of remembrance (Malachi 3:16), “book” of life (Psalms 69:28), “book” of Jasher (Joshua 10:13), “book” of the generations (Genesis 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 Chronicles 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 (Jeremiah 36). In this context, we learn about the nature of writing a “book.”VED-OT Book.3

    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” (Jeremiah 36:32).VED-OT Book.4

    Ezekiel was commanded to eat a “book” (Ezekiel 2:8-3:1) as a symbolic act of God’s judgment on and restoration of Judah.VED-OT Book.5

    Sêpher 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 (sêpher) 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 …” (Jeremiah 29:1).VED-OT Book.6

    The contents of the sêpher 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 [sêpher] with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries” (Esther 8:10). In divorcing his wife, a man gave her a legal document known as the sêpher of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1). Here sêpher meant a “certificate” or “legal document.” Some other legal document might also be referred to as a sêpher. As a “legal document,” the sêpher might be published or hidden for the appropriate time: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences [sêpher], 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” (Jeremiah 32:14).VED-OT Book.7

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: biblion (“scroll; document”) and gramma (“letter; document; writing; book”). The KJV gives these senses: “book; letter; evidence.”VED-OT Book.8


    Shâlâl (שָׁלָל, Strong's #7998), “booty; prey; spoil; plunder; gain.” This word occurs 75 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.Shâlâl 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 [shâlâl], and at night he shall divide the spoil” (Genesis 49:27—the first occurrence).VED-OT Booty.2

    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 …” (Deuteronomy 20:14). An entire nation can be “plunder” or a “spoil of war” (Jeremiah 50:10). To “save one’s own life as booty” is to have one’s life spared (cf. Jeremiah 21:9).VED-OT Booty.3

    Shâlâl 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!” (Isaiah 10:1-2).VED-OT Booty.4

    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” (Proverbs 31:11).VED-OT Booty.5


    Chêyq (חֵק, Strong's #2436), “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 …” (Numbers 11:12). In its first biblical appearance, chêyq 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 …” (Genesis 16:5). The “husband of one’s bosom” is a husband who is “held close to one’s heart” or “cherished” (Deuteronomy 28:56). This figurative inward sense appears again in Psalms 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. )VED-OT Bosom.2

    Chêyq 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” (Exodus 4:6).VED-OT Bosom.3

    Various translations may render this word as “lap”: “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Proverbs 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 Samuel 12:3).VED-OT Bosom.4

    Finally, chêyq means the “base of the altar,” as described in Ezekiel 43:13 (cf. Ezekiel 43:17).VED-OT Bosom.5


    Gebûl (גְּבֻל, Strong's #1366), “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.Gebûl literally means “boundary” or “border.” This meaning appears in Numbers 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” (Numbers 21:13). Sometimes gebûl 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 …” (Deuteronomy 3:16). In Genesis 23:17, gebûl 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 (Deuteronomy 19:14; cf. Deuteronomy 27:17).VED-OT Boundary.2

    Gebûl 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” (Psalms 104:9).VED-OT Boundary.3

    This word sometimes represents the concrete object marking the border of a thing or area (cf. Ezekiel 40:12). The “border” of Ezekiel’s altar is signified by gebûl (Ezekiel 43:13) and Jerusalem’s “surrounding wall” is represented by this word (Isaiah 54:12).VED-OT Boundary.4

    Gebûl 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” (Genesis 10:19). In Exodus 34:24, Numbers 21:22, 1 Chronicles 21:12, and Psalms 105:31-32, gebûl is paralleled to the “territory” surrounding and belonging to a city.VED-OT Boundary.5

    Gebûlah the feminine form of gebûl occurs 9 times. Gebûl means “boundary” in such passages as Isaiah 10:13, and “territory” or “area” in other passages, such as Numbers 34:2.VED-OT Boundary.6

    Bow, Bend

    Kâra‛ (כָּרַע, Strong's #3766), “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. Kâra‛ appears for the first time in the deathbed blessing of Jacob as he describes Judah: “… He stooped down, he couched as a lion” (Genesis 49:9).The implication of kâra‛ 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 (Judges 7:5-6). “Kneeling” was a common attitude for the worship of God (1 Kings 8:54; Ezra 9:5; Isaiah 45:23; cf. Philippians 2:10).VED-OT Bow, Bend.2

    “Bowing down” before Haman was required by the Persian king’s command (Esther 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 Samuel 4:19). Tottering or feeble knees are those that “bend” from weakness or old age (Job 4:4).VED-OT Bow, Bend.3


    Lechem (לֶחֶם, Strong's #3899), “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 …” (Deuteronomy 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 Samuel 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 Samuel 10:4). In this usage, the word ialways preceded by a number. “Bread” was also baked in cakes (2 Samuel 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 …” (Genesis 18:4-5). In 1 Samuel 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 …” (Ecclesiastes 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” (Leviticus 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” (Exodus 25:30).VED-OT Bread.2

    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” (Genesis 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.…”VED-OT Bread.3

    Lechem can represent food in general. In Genesis 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 Judges 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 Samuel 14:24, 28, lechem includes honey, and in Proverbs 27:27 goat’s milk.VED-OT Bread.4

    Lechem may also represent “food” for animals: “He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry” (Psalms 147:9; cf. Proverbs 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 …” (Leviticus 21:6; cf. 22:13).VED-OT Bread.5

    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” (Proverbs 4:17). Compare the “bread” or “food” gained by deceit (Proverbs 20:17) and lies (23:3). Thus, in Proverbs 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 (Proverbs 30:8).VED-OT Bread.6

    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 …” (Numbers 14:9). The Psalmist in his grief says his tears are his “food” (Psalms 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 Jeremiah 11:19, lechem 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.”VED-OT Bread.7

    Matstsâh (מַצָּה, Strong's #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 (Ezekiel 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” (Genesis 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 (Leviticus 22:4ff.), or because unleavened bread reminded Jews of the hasty departure from Egypt and the rigors of the wilderness march.VED-OT Bread.8


    Rôchab (רֹחַב, Strong's #7341), “breadth; width; expanse.” The noun rôchab appears 101 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.First, the word refers to how broad a flat expanse is. In Genesis 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.” Rôchab 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” (Isaiah 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 [rôchab] of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore.”VED-OT Breadth.2

    Second, rôchab 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” (Genesis 6:15). In Ezekiel 42:10, the word represents the “thickness” of a building’s wall in which there were chambers (cf. Ezekiel 41:9).VED-OT Breadth.3

    Rôchab is derived from the verb rachab as is the noun rochob or rehobVED-OT Breadth.4

    Rechôb (רְחוֹב, 7339), “town square.” Rechôb (or rehôb) occurs 43 times in the Bible. Cognates of this noun appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, and Aramaic. Rechôb represents the “town square” immediately near the gate(s), as in Genesis 19:2 (the first occurrence). This “town square” often served for social functions such as assemblies, courts, and official proclamations.VED-OT Breadth.5


    Shâbar (שָׁבַר, Strong's #7665), “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 shâbar is in Genesis 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, shâbar describes the breaking of earthen vessels (Judges 7:20; Jeremiah 19:10), of bows (Hosea 1:5), of swords (Hosea 2:18), of bones (Exodus 12:46), and of yokes or bonds (Jeremiah 28:10, 12-13). Sometimes it is used figuratively to describe a “shattered” heart or emotion (Psalms 69:20; Ezekiel 6:9). In its intensive sense, shâbar connotes “shattering” something, such as the tablets of the Law (Exodus 32:19) or idol images (2 Kings 11:18), or the “shattering” of trees by hail (Exodus 9:25).VED-OT Break.2


    Hebel (הֲבֵל, Strong's #1892), “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” (Ecclesiastes 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 …” (Deuteronomy 32:21—the first occurrence).VED-OT Breath.2


    'Âch (אָח, Strong's #251), “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, 'âch represents a “male sibling,” a “brother.” This is its meaning in the first biblical appearance: “And she again bare his brother Abel” (Genesis 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 …” (Genesis 37:14).VED-OT Brother.2

    In another nuance, 'âch 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” (Genesis 14:16). This passage, however, might also reflect the covenantal use of the term whereby it connotes “ally” (cf. Genesis 13:8). In Genesis 9:25, 'âch clearly signifies “relative”: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” Laban called his cousin Jacob an 'âch: “And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought?” (Genesis 29:15). Just before this, Jacob described himself as an 'âch of Rachel’s father (Genesis 29:12).VED-OT Brother.3

    Tribes may be called 'âchim “And [the tribe of] Judah said unto [the tribe of] Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot …” (Judges 1:3). The word 'âch is used of a fellow tribesman: “With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine …” (Genesis 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 …” (Exodus 2:11).VED-OT Brother.4

    In several passages, the word 'âch 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. Isaiah 41:6; Numbers 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” (Genesis 19:6-7). Notice this same use in Numbers 20:14 and 1 Kings 9:13.VED-OT Brother.5

    'Âch can be a term of polite address, as it appears to be in Genesis 29:4: “And Jacob said unto them [shepherds, whose identity he did not know], My brethren, whence be ye?”VED-OT Brother.6

    The word 'âch 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” (Genesis 9:5-6).VED-OT Brother.7


    A. Verb.VED-OT Build.2

    Bânâh (בָּנָה, Strong's #1129), “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, bânâh appears in Genesis 8:20, where Noah is said to have “constructed” an ark. In Genesis 4:17, bânâh means not only that Enoch built a city, but that he “founded” or “established” it. This verb can also mean “to manufacture,” as in Ezekiel 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 (Genesis 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.VED-OT Build.3

    Bânâh 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 (Joshua 6:26).VED-OT Build.4

    Metaphorically or figuratively, the verb bânâh 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” (Genesis 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 (Deuteronomy 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 Samuel 7:27).VED-OT Build.5

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Build.6

    Bên (בֵּן, Strong's #1121), “son.” Bath (בַּת, Strong's #1323), “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” (Genesis 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 …” (Genesis 49:11). Sometimes the word bên, which usually means “son,” can mean “children” (both male and female). God told Eve that “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16—the first occurrence of this noun). The words bên and bath 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” (Genesis 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 …” (Joshua 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” (Proverbs 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). Bên can also be used in an adoption formula: “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” (Psalms 2:7).Bên 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” (Hosea 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” (Psalms 82:6). In Genesis 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.VED-OT Build.7

    Bên 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” (Proverbs 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” (Psalms 147:13).VED-OT Build.8

    Bên is sometimes used to mean a single individual; thus Abraham ran to his flock and picked out a “son of a cow” (Genesis 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 (Psalms 72:4).VED-OT Build.9

    Bên may also denote a member of a group. An example is a prophet who followed Elijah (1 Kings 20:35; cf. Amos 7:14).VED-OT Build.10

    This noun may also indicate someone worthy of a certain fate—e.g., “a stubborn and rebellious son” (Deuteronomy 21:18).VED-OT Build.11

    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).VED-OT Build.12


    Pâr (פָּר, Strong's #6499), “bullock.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. Pâr 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.Pâr means “young bull,” which is the significance in its first biblical appearance (Genesis 32:15), which tells us that among the gifts Jacob sent to placate Esau were “ten bulls.” In Psalms 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 Isaiah 34:7, He describes their princes and warriors as “young bulls,” which He will slaughter (cf. Jeremiah 50:27; Ezekiel 39:18).VED-OT Bullock.2

    Pârah is the feminine form of pâr and it is used disdainfully of women in Amos 4:1: “Hear this word, you cows [KJV, “kine”] of Bashan …” (RSV). Pâr occurs 25 times in the Old Testament, and its first appearance is in Genesis 32:15.VED-OT Bullock.3


    A. Verb.VED-OT Burn.2

    Śâraph (שָׂרַף, Strong's #8313), “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. Śâraph is found first in Genesis 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 śâraph is usually used to describe the destroying of objects of all kinds. Thus, the door of a city tower was “burned” (Judges 9:52), as were various cities (Joshua 6:24; 1 Samuel 30:1), chariots (Joshua 11:6, 9), idols (Exodus 32:20; Deuteronomy 9:21), and the scroll that Jeremiah had dictated to Baruch (Jeremiah 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 (Ezekiel 5:4).VED-OT Burn.3

    Interestingly, śâraph 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 (Leviticus 19:5, 8).VED-OT Burn.4

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Burn.5

    Śârâph (שָׂרָף, 8314), “burning one; fiery being.” In Numbers 21:6, 8, the term śârâph describes the serpents that attacked the Israelites in the wilderness. They are referred to as “fiery” serpents. A “fiery” flying serpent appears in Isaiah 14:29, as well as in Isaiah 30:6.VED-OT Burn.6

    Śârâphim (שָׂרָף, 8314), “burning, noble.” Śârâphim refers to the ministering beings in Isaiah 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 śârâphim ministered to Isaiah by bringing a glowing coal from the altar.VED-OT Burn.7

    Burn Incense

    A. Verb.VED-OT Burn Incense.2

    Qâṭar (קָטַר, Strong's #6999), “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).VED-OT Burn Incense.3

    The first biblical occurrence of qâṭar is in Exodus 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. Hosea 4:13; 11:2), although it may refer only to the “burning of incense” (2 Chronicles 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.VED-OT Burn Incense.4

    Such offerings represent both the giving of the thing offered and a vicarious substitution of the offering for the offerer (cf. John 17:19; Ephesians 5:2). Because of man’s sinfulness (Genesis 8:21; Romans 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 (Leviticus 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 (Leviticus 17:6).VED-OT Burn Incense.5

    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 Chronicles 28:4).VED-OT Burn Incense.6

    The intensive stem (occurring only after the Pentateuch) always represents “false worship.” This form of qâṭar may represent the “total act of ritual” (2 Chronicles 25:14). Such an act was usually a conscious act of idolatry, imitative of Canaanite worship (Isaiah 65:7). Such worship was blasphemous and shameful (Jeremiah 11:17). Those who performed this “incense-burning” were guilty of forgetting God (Jeremiah 19:4), while the practice itself held no hope for those who were involved in it (Jeremiah 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 qâṭar in the intensive stem.VED-OT Burn Incense.7

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Burn Incense.8

    Qeṭôreth (קְטֹרֶת, Strong's #7004), “incense.” The first biblical occurrence of qeṭôreth is in Exodus 25:6, and the word is used about 60 times in all. The word represents “perfume” in Proverbs 27:9. Qittter means “incense.” This word appears once in the Old Testament, in Jeremiah 44:21. Another noun, qetorah also means “incense.” This word’s only appearance is in Deuteronomy 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 Psalms 148:8 (“vapor”) is one of its four biblical occurrences. Muqtar means “the kindling of incense.” The word is used only once, and that is in Malachi 1:11: “… And in every place incense shall boffered unto my name.…”VED-OT Burn Incense.9

    Miqteret means “censer; incense.” The word occurs twice. Miqteret represents a “censer”—a utensil in which coals are carried—in 2 Chronicles 26:19. The word refers to “incense” in Ezekiel 8:11. Meqatterah refers to “incense altar.” The word occurs once (2 Chronicles 26:19). Miqtar means a “place of sacrificial smoke; altar.” The word appears once (Exodus 30:1).VED-OT Burn Incense.10


    A. Verb.VED-OT Bury.2

    Qâbar (קָבַר, Strong's #6912), “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.VED-OT Bury.3

    This root is used almost exclusively of human beings. (The only exception is Jeremiah 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, qâbar bears this meaning. God told Abraham, “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age” (Genesis 15:15).VED-OT Bury.4

    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 Samuel 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 Samuel 2:5). Later, David took the bones of Saul and Jonathan and buried them in their family tomb (2 Samuel 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” (Deuteronomy 21:23). Thus, if a body was not buried, divine approval was withdrawn.VED-OT Bury.5

    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. Jeremiah 8:2). Jeremiah prophesied that Jehoiakim would “be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 22:19).VED-OT Bury.6

    Bodies may be “buried” in caves (Genesis 25:9), sepulchers (Judges 8:32), and graves (Genesis 50:5). In a few places, qâbar 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.”VED-OT Bury.7

    B. Noun. VED-OT Bury.8

    Qibrâh (קִבְרָה, Strong's #6913), “grave; tomb; sepulcher.” Qibrâh occurs 67 times and in its first biblical appearance (Genesis 23:4) the word refers to a “tomb-grave” or “sepulcher.” The word carries the meaning of “grave” in Jeremiah 5:16, and in Psalms 88:11, qibrâh is used of a “grave” that is the equivalent of the underworld. In Judges 8:32, the word signifies a “family sepulcher.” Jeremiah 26:23 uses the word for a “burial place,” specifically an open pit.VED-OT Bury.9

    Buy, Acquire

    Qânâh (קָנָה, Strong's #7069), “to get, acquire, create, buy.” A common Semitic word, qânâh 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 qânâh in the Old Testament is in Genesis 4:1: “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” In this passage, qânâh 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 Genesis 14:19, 22 where both verses refer to God as “creator of heaven and earth” (KJV, NASB, “possessor”; RSV, “maker”).VED-OT Buy, Acquire.2

    In Deuteronomy 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 (Proverbs 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.VED-OT Buy, Acquire.3

    When the Psalmist says to God, “Thou didst form my inward parts” (Psalms 139:13, RSV) he surely meant “create” (JB).VED-OT Buy, Acquire.4

    Qânâh is used several times to express God’s redeeming activity in behalf of Israel, again reflecting “creativity” rather than “purchase.” Exodus 15:16 is better translated, “… Thy people … whom thou hast created,” rather than “thou hast purchased” (RSV). See also Psalms 74:2; 78:54.VED-OT Buy, Acquire.5

    The meaning “to buy” is expressed by qânâh frequently in contexts where one person makes a purchase agreement with another. The word is used to refer to “buying” a slave (Exodus 21:2) and land (Genesis 47:20).VED-OT Buy, Acquire.6

    Larger font
    Smaller font