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    Vessel — Vow


    Kelı̂y (כְּלִי, Strong's #3627), “vessel; receptacle; stuff clothing; utensil; tool; instrument; ornament or jewelry; armor or weapon; male sex organ.” A cognate to this word appears in Akkadian. Kelı̂y appears in biblical Hebrew about 320 times and in all periods.VED-OT Vessel.2

    This word is used of “receptacles” of various kinds used for storing and transporting. Thus Jacob said to Laban: “Whereas thou hast searched through all my stuff [literally, receptacles], what hast thou found of all thy household stuff [literally, from all the receptacles of thy house]?” (Genesis 31:37). Such “receptacles” may be made of wood (Leviticus 11:32) or potsherd or clay (Leviticus 6:28). They may be used to hold documents (Jeremiah 32:14), wine, oil, fruits (Jeremiah 40:10), food (Ezekiel 4:9), beverage (Ruth 2:9), or bread (1 Samuel 9:7). Even a shepherd’s bag is a kelı̂y (1 Samuel 17:40). In 1 Samuel 17:22 the word is used of baggage, or “receptacles” (his shepherd’s bag?) and what is in them: “And David left his carriage in the hand of the [baggage keeper].…” The sailors on the ship in which Jonah sailed “cast forth the wares [cargo] … into the sea, to lighten it of them” (Jonah 1:5).VED-OT Vessel.3

    Ships are called “receptacles,” presumably because they can hold people: “That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters …” (Isaiah 18:2).VED-OT Vessel.4

    Kelı̂y can mean “clothing”: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 22:5).VED-OT Vessel.5

    The word may be used of various “vessels and utensils”: “And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering … : whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice” (Ezekiel 40:42). In Genesis 45:20 this word refers to movable but large possessions: Pharaoh told Joseph to tell his brothers to take wagons and bring their family to Egypt, and “regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.” Thus in Exodus 27:19 the word represents all the furniture and utensils of the tabernacle (cf. Numbers 3:8). Samuel warned Israel that the king on whom they insisted would organize them into levees (work crews) “to [plow] his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots” (1 Samuel 8:12). More narrowly, kelı̂y may be used of oxen harnesses: “… Behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood” (2 Samuel 24:22).VED-OT Vessel.6

    This word may be used of various “implements or tools”: “Simeon and Levi are brethren instruments of cruelty are in their habitations” (Genesis 49:5). In Jeremiah 22:7 the word represents “tools” with which trees may be cut down: “And I will prepare destroyers against thee, every one with his weapons: and they shall cut down thy choice cedars, and cast them into the fire.” Isaac told Esau to take his gear, his quiver, and his bow, “and go out to the field, and take me some venison” (Genesis 27:3).VED-OT Vessel.7

    Weapons for war are called “implements”: “And they [the Israelites] went after them unto Jordan: and, lo, all the way was full of garments and vessels, which the Syrians had cast away in their haste” (2 Kings 7:15). A bearer of implements is an armor-bearer (Judges 9:54). A house of arms or an armory is referred to in 2 Kings 20:13.VED-OT Vessel.8

    In Amos 6:5 and such passages (2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:6; 23:13; cf. Psalms 71:22) “musical instruments” are called Kelı̂m “That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music.…”VED-OT Vessel.9

    Kelı̂y stands for various kinds of “precious ornaments”: “And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah …” (Genesis 24:53— the first biblical appearance of the word). Such “precious ornaments” adorned the typical bride: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).VED-OT Vessel.10

    In 1 Samuel 21:5 kelı̂y may refer to the “male sex organ.” This certainly makes more sense than if the word is rendered “vessels,” since the matter under discussion is the ritualistic purity of David’s men: “Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels [sex organs] of the young men are holy.…”VED-OT Vessel.11


    Kerem (כֶּרֶם, Strong's #3754), “vineyard.” This Hebrew word is related to other Semitic languages (Akkadian, karmu; Arabic, karm). The word is evenly distributed throughout the Old Testament and is used 92 times. The first occurrence is in Genesis 9:20.VED-OT Vinyard.2

    Isaiah gives a vivid description of the work involved in the preparation, planting, and cultivation of a “vineyard” (Isaiah 5:1-7). The “vineyard” was located on the slopes of a hill (Isaiah 5:1). The soil was cleared of stones before the tender vines were planted (Isaiah 5:2). A watchtower provided visibility over the “vineyard” (Isaiah 5:2), and a winevat and place for crushing the grapes were hewn out of the rock (Isaiah 5:2). When all the preparations were finished, the “vineyard” was ready and in a few years it was expected to produce crops. In the meantime the kerem required regular pruning (Leviticus 25:3-4). The time between planting and the first crop was of sufficient import as to free the owner from military duty: “And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it?” (Deuteronomy 20:6).VED-OT Vinyard.3

    The harvest time was a period of hard work and great rejoicing. The enjoyment of the “vineyard” was a blessing of God: “And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them” (Isaiah 65:21). The failure of the “vineyard” to produce or the transfer of ownership of one’s “vineyard” was viewed as God’s judgment: “Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them” (Amos 5:11; cf. Deuteronomy 28:30).VED-OT Vinyard.4

    The words “vineyard” and “olive grove’ (zayit) are often found together in the biblical text. These furnished the two major permanent agricultural activities in ancient Israel, as both required much work and time before the crops came in. God promised that the ownership of the “vineyards” and orchards of the Canaanites was to go to His people as a blessing from Him (Deuteronomy 6:11-12). God’s judgment to Israel extended to the “vineyards.” The rejoicing in the “vineyard” would cease (Isaiah 16:10) and the carefully cultivated “vineyard” would be turned into a thicket with thorns and briers (cf. Isaiah 32:12-13). The “vineyard” would be reduced to a hiding place of wild animals and a grazing place for goats and wild donkeys (Isaiah 32:14). The postexilic hope lay in God’s blessings on the agricultural activity of His people: “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them” (Amos 9:14).VED-OT Vinyard.5

    The “vineyards” were located mainly in the hill country and in the low-lying hill country. The Bible mentions the “vineyard” at Timnath (Judges 14:5), Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1), the hill country of Samaria (Jeremiah 31:5), and even at Engedi (Song of Song of Solomon 1:14).VED-OT Vinyard.6

    The metaphorical use of kerem allows the prophet Isaiah to draw an analogy between the “vineyard” and Israel: “For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel …” (Isaiah 5:7). It has also been suggested that the “vineyard” in the Song of Solomon is better understood metaphorically as “person”: “Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Song of Solomon 1:6).VED-OT Vinyard.7


    A. Noun. VED-OT Violence.2

    Châmâs ( חָמָס, Strong's #2555), “violence; wrong; maliciousness.” This word appears about 60 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Violence.3

    Basically châmâs connotes the disruption of the divinely established order of things. It has a wide range of nuances within this legal sphere. The expression “a witness in the case of violent wrongdoing” means someone who bears witness in a case having to do with such an offense (cf. Deuteronomy 19:16). In this context the truthfulness of the witness is not established except upon further investigation (Deuteronomy 19:18). Once he was established as a false witness, the penalty for the crime concerning which he bore false witness was to be executed against the lair (cf. Deuteronomy 19:19). In Exodus 23:1 Israel is admonished: “… Put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness,” i.e., a witness who in accusing someone of a violent crime intends to see the accused punished severely.VED-OT Violence.4

    Châmâs perhaps connotes a “violent wrongdoing” which has not been righted, the guilt of which lies on an entire area (its inhabitants) disrupting their relationship with God and thereby interfering with His blessings.VED-OT Violence.5

    It is this latter sense which appears in the phrase “the earth was full of violent wrongdoing”: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11—the first occurrence of the word). Thus, in Genesis 16:5 Sarai summons God to judge between Abram and herself because he has not acted properly toward her keeping Hagar in submission: “My wrong [done me] 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: the Lord judge between me and thee.” Abram as God’s judge (in God’s stead) accepts the correctness of her case and commits Hagar to Sarai’s care to be dealt with properly.VED-OT Violence.6

    B. Verb. VED-OT Violence.7

    Hamas means “to treat violently.” This verb, which occurs 7 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Aramaic, Akkadian, and Arabic. This verb appears in Jeremiah 22:3 with the meaning of “to do no violence”: “… And do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.”VED-OT Violence.8


    ‛Almâh (עַלְמָה, Strong's #5959), “virgin; maiden.” This noun has an Ugaritic cognate, although the masculine form also appears in Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. The feminine form of the root appears 9 times; the only 2 appearances of the masculine form (‘elem) are in First Samuel. This suggests that this word was used rarely, perhaps because other words bore a similar meaning.VED-OT Virgin.2

    That ‛almâh can mean “virgin” is quite clear in Song of Song of Solomon 6:8: “There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins [NASB, “maidens”] without number.” Thus all the women in the court are described. The word ‛almâh represents those who are eligible for marriage but are neither wives (queens) nor concubines. These “virgins” all loved the king and longed to be chosen to be with him (to be his bride), even as did the Shulamite who became his bride (1:3-4). In Genesis 24:43 the word describes Rebekah, of whom it is said in Genesis 24:16 that she was a “maiden” with whom no man had had relations. Solomon wrote that the process of wooing a woman was mysterious to him (Proverbs 30:19). Certainly in that day a man ordinarily wooed one whom he considered to be a “virgin.” There are several contexts, therefore, in which a young girl’s virginity is expressly in view.VED-OT Virgin.3

    Thus ‛almâh appears to be used more of the concept “virgin” than that of “maiden,” yet always of a woman who had not borne a child. This makes it the ideal word to be used in Isaiah 7:14, since the word betulah emphasizes virility more than virginity (although it is used with both emphases, too). The reader of Isaiah 7:14 in the days preceding the birth of Jesus would read that a “virgin who is a maiden” would conceive a child. This was a possible, but irregular, use of the word since the word can refer merely to the unmarried status of the one so described. The child immediately in view was the son of the prophet and his wife (cf. Isaiah 8:3) who served as a sign to Ahaz that his enemies would be defeated by God. On the other hand, the reader of that day must have been extremely uncomfortable with this use of the word, since its primary connotation is “virgin” rather than “maiden.” Thus the clear translation of the Greek in Matthew 1:23 whereby this word is rendered “virgin” satisfies its fullest implication. Therefore, there was no embarrassment to Isaiah when his wife conceived a son by him, since the word ‛almâh allowed for this. Neither is there any embarrassment in Matthew’s understanding of the word.VED-OT Virgin.4


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Vision.2

    Châzôn (חָזוֹן, Strong's #2377), “vision.” None of the 34 appearances of this word appear before First Samuel, and most of them are in the prophetic books.VED-OT Vision.3

    Châzôn almost always signifies a means of divine revelation. First, it refers to the means itself, to a prophetic “vision” by which divine messages are communicated: “The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth” (Ezekiel 12:22). Second, this word represents the message received by prophetic “vision”: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). Finally, châzôn can represent the entirety of a prophetic or prophet’s message as it is written down: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz …” (Isaiah 1:1). Thus the word inseparably related to the content of a divine communication focuses on the means by which that message is received: “And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision” (1 Samuel 3:1— the first occurrence of the word). In Isaiah 29:7 this word signifies a non-prophetic dream.VED-OT Vision.4

    Chizzâyôn (חִזָּיוֹן, Strong's #2384), “vision.” This noun, which occurs 9 times, refers to a prophetic “vision” in Joel 2:28: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” Chizzâyôn refers to divine communication in 2 Samuel 7:17 (the first biblical occurrence) and to an ordinary dream in Job 4:13.VED-OT Vision.5

    B. Verb. VED-OT Vision.6

    Châzâh (חָזָה, Strong's #2372), “to see, behold, select for oneself.” This verb appears 54 times and in every period of biblical Hebrew. Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Arabic. It means “to see or behold” in general (Proverbs 22:29), “to see” in a prophetic vision (Numbers 24:4), and “to select for oneself” (Exodus 18:21—the first occurrence of the word). In Lamentations 2:14 the word means “to see” in relation to prophets’ vision: “Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee: and they have not discovered thine iniquity.…”VED-OT Vision.7


    Qôl (קֹל, Strong's #6963), “voice; sound; noise.” This word also appears in Ugaritic (“sound”), Akkadian (“call”), Arabic (“say”), and in Phoenician, Ethiopic, and old South Arabic (“voice”). Qôl appears about 506 times in the Bible and in all periods.VED-OT Voice.2

    In its first meaning the word denotes a “sound” produced by vocal cords. This includes the human “voice”: “And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14). The word also includes vocal “sounds” produced by animals: “And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating [literally, sound] of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing [literally, sound] of the oxen which I hear?” (1 Samuel 15:14). In this regard qôl is used of the “voice” of personified inanimate objects or things: “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).VED-OT Voice.3

    The second meaning, “sound” or “noise,” appears especially in poetical passages and covers a great variety of “noises and sounds,” such as the “noise or sound” of battle: “And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp” (Exodus 32:17). It can be used of the “sound” of words (Deuteronomy 1:34), water (Ezekiel 1:24), weeping (Isaiah 65:19), and thunder (Exodus 9:23) .VED-OT Voice.4

    The word can also represent the thing that is spoken: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee …” (Genesis 3:17). In an extended nuance qôl signifies the thing said, even though it is written down: “Then he wrote a letter the second time to them, saying, If ye be mine, and if ye will hearken unto my voice …” (2 Kings 10:6).VED-OT Voice.5

    There are several special phrases related to qôl. “To lift up one’s voice and weep” signifies many things including crying out for help (Genesis 39:14), mourning for present or anticipated tragedy (Genesis 21:16), and the “sound” of disaster (Numbers 16:34) or joy (Genesis 29:11).VED-OT Voice.6

    “To hearken to one’s voice” means such things as taking note of something and believing it (Genesis 4:23), following another’s suggestions (Genesis 3:17), complying with another’s request (Genesis 21:12), obeying another’s command (Genesis 22:18), and answering a prayer (2 Samuel 22:7).VED-OT Voice.7

    Theologically the word is crucial in contexts relating to prophecy. The prophet’s “voice” is God’s “voice” (Exodus 3:18; cf. 7:1; Deuteronomy 18:18-19). God’s “voice” is sometimes the roar of thunder (Exodus 9:23, 29) or a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). Thunder demonstrated God’s tremendous power and evoked fear and submission. In covenantal contexts God stipulates that His “voice,” heard in both the roar of thunder and the prophetic message, is authoritative and when obeyed brings reward (Exodus 19:5; 1 Samuel 12:14-18). The blast (“sound”) of a trumpet is used to signify divine power (Joshua 6:5) and presence (2 Samuel 6:15).VED-OT Voice.8

    Interestingly the first biblical appearance of qôl (Genesis 3:8) is a highly debated passage. Exactly what did Adam and Eve hear in the garden? Was it the sound of God walking (cf. 1 Kings 14:6)?VED-OT Voice.9


    A. Verb. VED-OT Vow.2

    Nâdar (נָדַר, Strong's #5087), “to vow.” This verb occurs in Semitic languages (Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Aramaic). In Phoenician-Punic inscriptions the verb and also the noun derived from it frequently denote human sacrifices and in a more general sense signify a gift. In the Old Testament nâdar occurs 31 times.VED-OT Vow.3

    The distribution of the verb is over the entire Old Testament (narrative, legal, poetic, but more rarely in the prophetic books). Beyond the Old Testament the verb occurs in the Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbinic Hebrew, medieval and modern Hebrew. However, its usage declined from post-Exilic times onward.VED-OT Vow.4

    Both men and women could “vow” a vow. Numbers 30 deals with the law concerning vows; cf. Numbers 30:2: “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond …”; and Numbers 30:3: “If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a bond.…”VED-OT Vow.5

    The Septuagint has euchomai (“to wish”).VED-OT Vow.6

    B. Noun. VED-OT Vow.7

    Neder (נֶדֶר, Strong's #5088), “vow; votive offering.” This noun occurs 60 times in biblical Hebrew and is often used in conjunction with the verb (19 times): “… Any of thy vows which thou vowest …” (Deuteronomy 12:17). Modern versions compress the noun and verb into one idiom: “Or whatever you have vowed to give” (NIV), or give a technical usage to the noun: “Or any of your votive offerings which you vow” (RSV).VED-OT Vow.8

    The vow has two basic forms, the unconditional and the conditional. The unconditional is an “oath” where someone binds himself without expecting anything in return: “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people” (Psalms 116:14). The obligation is binding upon the person who has made a “vow.” The word spoken has the force of an oath which generally could not be broken: “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do [everything he said] " (Numbers 30:2). The conditional “vow” generally had a preceding clause before the oath giving the conditions which had to come to pass before the “vow” became valid: “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will [watch over me] … , so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God … and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Genesis 28:20-22).VED-OT Vow.9

    “Vows” usually occurred in serious situations. Jacob needed the assurance of God’s presence before setting out for Padan-aram (Genesis 28:20-22); Jephthah made a rash “vow” before battle (Judges 11:30; cf. Numbers 21:1-3); Hannah greatly desired a child (1 Samuel 1:11), when she made a “vow.” Though conditional “vows” were often made out of desperation, there is no question of the binding force of the “vow.” Ecclesiastes amplifies the Old Testament teaching on “vowing”: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it.… Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.… Neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error” (5:4-6). First, “vow” is always made to God. Even non-lsraelites made “vows” to Him (Jonah 1:16). Second, a “vow” is made voluntarily. It is never associated with a life of piety or given the status of religious requirement in the Old Testament. Third, a “vow” once made must be kept. One cannot annul the “vow.” However, the Old Testament allows for “redeeming” the “vow”; by payment of an equal amount in silver, a person, a field, or a house dedicated by “vow” to the Lord could be redeemed (Leviticus 27:1-25).VED-OT Vow.10

    This practice, however, declined in Jesus’ time, and therefore the Talmud frowns upon the practice of “vowing” and refers to those who vow as “sinners.”VED-OT Vow.11

    Neder signifies a kind of offering: “And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and [contributions] of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings …” (Deuteronomy 12:6). In particular the word represents a kind of peace or “votive offering” (Ezra 7:16). It also is a kind of thank offering: “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! … Perform thy vows …” (Nahum 1:15). Here even Gentiles expressed their thanks to God presumably with a gift promised upon condition of deliverance (cf. Numbers 21:1-3). Such offerings may also be expressions of zeal for God (Psalms 22:25). One can give to God anything not abominable to Him (Leviticus 277:9ff.; Deuteronomy 23:18), including one’s services (Leviticus 27:2). Pagans were thought to feed and/or tend their gods, while God denied that “vows” paid to Him were to be so conceived (Psalms 50:9-13). In paganism the god rewarded the devotee because of and in proportion to his offering. It was a contractual relationship whereby the god was obligated to pay a debt thus incurred. In Israel no such contractual relationship was in view.VED-OT Vow.12

    The Israelites’ unique and concrete demonstrations of love for God show that under Moses love (Deuteronomy 6:4) was more than pure legalism; it was spiritual devotion. God’s Messiah was pledged to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin (Psalms 22:25; cf. Leviticus 277:2ff.). This was the only sacrifice absolutely and unconditionally acceptable to God. Every man is obliged to pay the “vow” before God: “Praise waiteth for thee, O God in Zion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.… Unto thee shall all flesh come” (Psalms 65:1-2).VED-OT Vow.13

    The Septuagint has euche (“prayer; oath; vow”).VED-OT Vow.14

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