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    Palm (of Hand) — Pursue

    Palm (of Hand)

    A. Noun. VED-OT Palm (of Hand).2

    Kaph (כַּף, Strong's #3709), “palm (of hand).” Cognates of this noun are attested in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Egyptian. It appears about 193 times in biblical Hebrew and at all periods.VED-OT Palm (of Hand).3

    Basically, kaph represents the “palm,” the hollow part of the hand as distinguished from its fingers, thumbs, and back. Thus we read that part of the ritual for cleansing a leper is that a “priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand” (Leviticus 14:15).VED-OT Palm (of Hand).4

    The word represents the entire inside of the hand when it is cupped, or the “hollow of the hand.” God told Moses: “… While my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by” (Exodus 33:22; cf. Psalms 139:5).VED-OT Palm (of Hand).5

    This word means fist, specifically the inside of a fist. The woman of Zarephath told Elijah: “… I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse …” (1 Kings 17:12). This was, indeed, a very small amount of flour—enough for only one little biscuit.VED-OT Palm (of Hand).6

    Kaph also refers to the flat of the hand, including the fingers and the thumb. These are what one claps together in joy and applause: “And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king” (2 Kings 11:12). Clapping the hands may also be an expression of scorn and contempt (Numbers 24:10). The flat of the hands may be raised heavenward in prayer to symbolize one’s longing to receive. Moses told Pharaoh: “As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the Lord …” (Exodus 9:29).VED-OT Palm (of Hand).7

    This word can suggest the inside part of a hand grasp as distinguished from the hand as a whole: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand” (Exodus 4:4). A mutual hand grasp may signify entrance into a pledge (Proverbs 6:1). To take one’s life (nepesh) into one’s own hands is to put oneself into danger (Judges 12:3).VED-OT Palm (of Hand).8

    In many passages kaph is synonymous with the entire hand. Jacob tells Laban that “God hath seen … the labor of my hands …” (Genesis 31:42). Perhaps the same nuance occurs in passages such as Genesis 20:5: “… In the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.”VED-OT Palm (of Hand).9

    The word may be used symbolically and figuratively meaning “power.” Gideon complained to the Angel of the Lord that “now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands [the power] of the Midianites” (Judges 6:13). Israel was not literally in the Midianites’ hands but was dominated by them and under their control.VED-OT Palm (of Hand).10

    Once the word represents animal paws: “And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you …” (Leviticus 11:27).VED-OT Palm (of Hand).11

    In many passages kaph signifies the sole of the foot, the hollow part. This meaning appears in Genesis 8:9 (first biblical appearance): “But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot …” (cf. Joshua 3:13 where the word is used of the sole of a human foot).VED-OT Palm (of Hand).12

    Various hollow, bending, or beaten objects are represented by kaph. First, it is used of a thigh joint: “And when he [the Angel of the Lord] saw that he prevailed not against him [Jacob], he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him” (Genesis 32:25). Second, a certain shaped pan or vessel is called a kaph: “And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them” (Exodus 25:29). Third, the word is used of the hollow of a sling: “… And the souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling” (1 Samuel 25:29). Next, the huge hand-shaped branches of palm trees are represented by the word: “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees …” (Leviticus 23:40). Finally, in Song of Song of Solomon 5:5 this word represents the bent piece of metal or wood which forms a door handle.VED-OT Palm (of Hand).13

    B. Verb. VED-OT Palm (of Hand).14

    Kâphaph (כָּפַף, Strong's #3721), “to bend, bow down.” This word appears 5 times in biblical poetry and has cognates in Akkadian and Arabic. The verb occurs in Isaiah 58:5: “… is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?”VED-OT Palm (of Hand).15


    A. Particle. VED-OT Part.2

    Bad (בַּד, Strong's #905), “part; portion; limbs; piece of cloth; pole; shoot; alone; by themselves; only; apart from; besides; aside from.” This word occurs about 219 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Part.3

    First, bad means a “part or portion” of something. In Exodus 30:34 it refers to the portion or amount of spices mixed together to make incense for the worship of God. In Job 18:13 the word represents the members or parts of the wicked (cf. Job 41:12— “limbs” of a crocodile).VED-OT Part.4

    Second, the word means a piece of cloth: “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness …” (Exodus 28:42—first occurrence of this nuance). This word is always used of a priestly garment or at least of a garment worn by one who appears before God or His altar.VED-OT Part.5

    Third, bad can mean a long piece of wood or woody material. The ark, altars, and table of the Bread of the Presence were carried by staves passed through rings attached to these articles: “And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them” (Exodus 25:14—first occurrence of this nuance). In Ezekiel 19:14 bad is used of the “shoots” or limbs of a vine; “And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches …” (cf. Ezekiel 17:6). The gates of a city are badim (Job 17:16).VED-OT Part.6

    Fourth, in most of its 'adrammelek (אַדְרַמֶּלֶךְ, Strong's #152), times) this word is preceded by the preposition le. This use means “alonew (89), times): “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18—first occurrence of the word). In a second nuance the phrase identifies a unit by itself, a single unit: “And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves …” (Exodus 26:9). Twice the word is used as an adverb of limitation meaning “only”: “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). When followed by the preposition min (or ‘al) the word functions as an adverb meaning “apart from” or “besides”: “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children” (Exodus 12:37). In Numbers 29:39 the translation “besides” is appropriate: “These things ye shall do unto the Lord in your set feasts, beside your vows, and your freewill offerings.…” In 33 passages the word is preceded by the preposition min but still means “besides.”VED-OT Part.7

    B. Verb. VED-OT Part.8

    Bâdad (בָּדַד, Strong's #909), “to be isolated, be alone.” This verb has an Arabic cognate. One of its 3 appearances is in Psalms 102:7: “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.”VED-OT Part.9

    Pass On, Pass Away

    Châlaph (חָלַף, Strong's #2498), “to pass on, pass away, change, overstep, transgress.” Common to both biblical and modern Hebrew, this term appears approximately 30 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. When used in the simple active form, châlaph occurs only in poetry (except for 1 Samuel 10:3), and it has the meaning of “to pass on, through.” The word is typically used in narrative or prose with the meaning of “to change.” With this meaning châlaph first occurs in the Old Testament in Genesis 31:7: “… Your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times …” (cf. Genesis 31:41). Châlaph expresses the “sweeping on” of a flood (Isaiah 8:8), of a whirlwind (Isaiah 21:1), and of God Himself (Job 9:11). The word has the meaning of “to pass away or to vanish,” with reference to days (Job 9:26), the rain (Song of Song of Solomon 2:11), and idols (Isaiah 2:18). Not only wages, but garments are “changed” (Genesis 35:2; Psalms 102:26). “To change” is “to renew” strength (Isaiah 40:31; 41:1); a tree appears “to be renewed” when it sprouts again (Job 14:7).VED-OT Pass On, Pass Away.2

    Pass Over

    A. Verb.VED-OT Pass Over.2

    ‛Âbar (עָבַר, Strong's #5674), “to pass away, pass over.” This verb occurs in all Semitic languages and at all periods of those languages, including biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. The Bible attests about 550 uses of this verb in Hebrew.VED-OT Pass Over.3

    The verb refers primarily to spatial movement, to “moving over, through, or away from.” This basic meaning can be used of “going over or through” a particular location to get to the other side, as when Jacob “crossed over” the Euphrates to escape Laban (Genesis 31:21). Another specific use of this general meaning is to pass through something; Psalms 8:8 speaks of whatever “passes through” the sea as being under Adam’s control. ‛Âbar can also merely mean “to go as far as”—Amos tells his audience not to “cross over” to Beersheba (Amos 5:5). “To go as far as” an individual is to overtake him (2 Samuel 18:23). Abram “passed through” Canaan as far as Mamre; he did not go out of the land (cf. Genesis 12:6). The word can also be used of “passing by” something; Abraham begged the three men not “to pass by” him but to stop and refresh themselves (Genesis 18:3). ‛Âbar is sometimes used of “passing over” a law, order, or covenant as if it were not binding. When the people decided to enter Palestine against the command of God, Moses said, “Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord?” (Numbers 14:41).VED-OT Pass Over.4

    This verb first occurs in Genesis 8:1 where it means “pass over on top of.” God caused the wind “to pass over” the flood waters and to carry them away.VED-OT Pass Over.5

    The word can also mean “to pass away,” to cease to be, as in Genesis 50:4 where the days of mourning over Jacob “were past.”VED-OT Pass Over.6

    A number of technical phrases where this root has a regular and specialized meaning appear. For example, one who “passes over” the sea is a seafarer or sailor (Isaiah 23:2—a similar technical usage appears in Akkadian). ‛Âbar is used in business affairs with silver or money in the sense of reckoning money according to the “going” (passing) rate (Genesis 233:16ff.). In Song of Song of Solomon 5:5 (RSV) the verb is used to mean “flow” as what a liquid does (“flowing” or “liquid” myrrh).  The phrase “pass over to be numbered” is a phrase meaning to move from one status to another (to move into the ranks of the militia) in Exodus 30:13-14.VED-OT Pass Over.7

    The intensive stem of ‛âbar is used in two special senses: of “overlaying” with precious metals (1 Kings 6:21) and of the ox’s act of making a cow pregnant (Job 21:10). The verb also has special meanings in the causative stem: “to devote” the firstborn to the Lord (Exodus 13:12); “to offer” a child by burning him in fire (Deuteronomy 18:10); “to make” a sound “come forth” (Leviticus 25:9); “to sovereignly transfer” a kingdom or cause it to pass over to another’s leadership (2 Samuel 3:10); “to put away or cause to cease” (1 Kings 15:12); and “to turn” something “away” (Psalms 119:37).VED-OT Pass Over.8

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Pass Over.9

    ‛Ibrı̂y (עִבְרִי, Strong's #5680), “Hebrew.” The origin and meaning of this word, which appears 34 times, is much debated. The word is an early generic term for a variety of Semitic peoples and is somewhat akin to our word barbarian. So Abram is identified as a “Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13). This ethnic term indicates family origin whereas the term “sons of Israel” is a political and religious term. Unquestionably in the ancient Near East “Hebrew” was applied to a far larger group than the Israelites. The word occurs in Ugaritic, Egyptian, and Babylonian writings describing a diverse mixture of nomadic wanderers or at least those who appear to have at one time been nomadic. Sometimes the word seems to be a term of derision. Such usage recalls 1 Samuel 29:3, where the Philistine leaders asked Achish, “What do these Hebrews here?” There is considerable debate about identifying Hebrew with the well-known Habiru (Semitic warlords) who occupied Egypt in the first half of the second millennium B.C.VED-OT Pass Over.10

    Several other nouns are derived from the verb ‘abar’Eber, which occurs 89 times, refers to the “side” (1 Samuel 14:1) or “edge” (Exodus 28:26) of something. When speaking of rivers or seas, ‘eber means the “edge or side opposite the speaker” or “the other side” (Joshua 2:10). Ma’barah, which appears 8 times, means “ford” (Joshua 2:7) and “ravine” or “passage” (1 Samuel 14:4). Ma’abar appears 3 times to mean: “sweep” (of a staff, Isaiah 30:32); “ford” (Genesis 32:22); and “ravine” or “passage” (1 Samuel 13:23). ‘Abarah, which occurs twice, means “crossing or ford” (2 Samuel 19:18, RSV).VED-OT Pass Over.11


    A. Nouns.VED-OT Peace.2

    Shâlôm (שָׁלֹם, Strong's #7965), “peace; completeness; welfare; health.” The root is a common Semitic root with the meaning “peace” in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic.VED-OT Peace.3

    Shâlôm is a very important term in the Old Testament and has maintained its place in Mishnaic, rabbinic, and modern Hebrew. In Israel today, people greet the newcomer and each other with the words mah shlomka, (“what is your peace,” “how are you doing,”) and they ask about the “peace” (“well-being”) of one’s family. The use of shâlôm is frequent (237 times) and varied in its semantic range. The first two occurrences in Genesis already indicate the changes in meaning: “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace [shâlôm in the sense of “in tranquility,” “at ease,” “unconcerned”]; thou shalt be buried in a good old age” (Genesis 15:15); and “that thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace [shâlôm with the meaning of “unharmed” and “unhurt”] …” (Genesis 26:29). Yet, both uses are essentially the same, as they express the root meaning of “to be whole.” The phrase |ish shelomi(“friend of my peace”) in Psalms 41:9, “Yea, mine own familiar friend [literally, “friend of my peace”], in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (cf. Jeremiah 20:10), signifies a state in which one can feel at ease, comfortable with someone. The relationship is one of harmony and wholeness, which is the opposite of the state of strife and war: “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalms 120:7). Shâlôm as a harmonious state of the soul and mind encourages the development of the faculties and powers. The state of being at ease is experienced both externally and internally. In Hebrew it finds expression in the phrase beshâlôm (“in peace”): “I will both lay me down in peace [beshâlôm], and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalms 4:8).VED-OT Peace.4

    Closely associated to the above is the meaning “welfare,” specifically personal “welfare” or “health.” This meaning is found in questions: “And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him” (2 Samuel 20:9), or in the prepositional phrase leshâlôm with the verb “to ask”: “And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?” (Genesis 43:27).VED-OT Peace.5

    Shâlôm also signifies “peace,” indicative of a prosperous relationship between two or more parties. Shâlôm in this sense finds expression in speech: “Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably [literally, “in peace”] to his neighbor with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait” (Jeremiah 9:8); in diplomacy: “Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite: for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite” (Judges 4:17); and in warfare: “… If it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee” (Deuteronomy 20:11).VED-OT Peace.6

    Isaiah prophesied concerning the “prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6), whose kingdom was to introduce a government of “peace” (Isaiah 9:7). Ezekiel spoke about the new covenant as one of “peace”: “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezekiel 37:26). Psalms 122 is one of those great psalms in celebration of and in prayer for the “peace of Jerusalem”: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalms 122:6). In benedictions God’s peace was granted to His people: “… Peace shall be upon Israel” (Psalms 125:5).VED-OT Peace.7

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: eirene (“peace; welfare; health”); eirenikos (“peaceable; peaceful”); soteria (“deliverance; preservation; salvation”); and hugiainein (“be in good health; sound”).VED-OT Peace.8

    Another related noun is shelem which occurs 87 times, and means “peace offering”: “And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord” (Exodus 24:5).VED-OT Peace.9

    B. Verbs. VED-OT Peace.10

    Shâlam (שָׁלֵם, Strong's #7999), “to be complete, be sound.” This verb occurs 103 times. The word signifies “to be complete” in 1 Kings 9:25: “So he finished the house.” Another verb, shâlam, means “to make peace”: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7).VED-OT Peace.11

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Peace.12

    Shâlêm (שָׁלֵם, Strong's #8003), “complete; perfect.” This word is found in Genesis 15:16 with the meaning of not quite “complete”: “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” The word means “perfect” in Deuteronomy 25:15.VED-OT Peace.13


    ‛Am (עַם, Strong's #5971), “people; relative.” This common Semitic word has cognates in Akkadian, Amorite, Phoenician, Ugaritic, Punic, Moabite, Aramaic, and Arabic. This word occurs about 1,868 times and at all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT People.2

    The word bears subjective and personal overtones. First, ‛am represents a familial relationship. In Ruth 3:11 the word means “male kinsmen” with special emphasis on the paternal relationship: “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.” Here the word is a collective noun insofar as it occurs in the singular; indeed, it is almost an abstract noun. In the plural the word refers to all the individuals who are related to a person through his father: “But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself” (Leviticus 21:4). This emphasis of the word is related to the meaning of its cognates in Ugaritic (clan), Arabic (uncle on one’s father’s side), and Nabataean (uncle on one’s father’s side). The word is quite often combined with divine names and titles in people’s names (theophoric names) where God is set forth as the God of a particular tribe, clan, or family—for example, Jekameam (God has raised up a clan or family, 1 Chronicles 23:19) and Jokneam (God has created a clan or family, Joshua 12:22).VED-OT People.3

    Second, ‛am may signify those relatives (including women and children) who are grouped together locally whether or not they permanently inhabit a given location: “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands” (Genesis 32:7).VED-OT People.4

    Third, this word may refer to the whole of a nation formed and united primarily by their descent from a common ancestor. Such a group has strong blood ties and social interrelationships and interactions. Often they live and work together in a society in a common location. This is the significance of the word in its first biblical appearance: “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language …” (Genesis 11:6). Hence, in this usage ‛am refers not simply to male relatives but to men, women, and children.VED-OT People.5

    ‛Am may also include those who enter by religious adoption and marriage. The people of Israel initially were the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and their families: “And he said unto his people [Egyptians], Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we” (Exodus 1:9). Later the basic unity in a common covenant relationship with God becomes the unifying factor underlying ‛am. When they left Egypt, the people of Israel were joined by many others: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” (Exodus 12:38). Such individuals and their families were taken into Israel before they observed the Passover: “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land …” (Exodus 12:48). There is another mention of this group (perhaps) in Numbers 11:4: “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said.…”VED-OT People.6

    After that, however, we read of them no more. By the time of the conquest we read only of the “people” (‛am) of Israel entering the land of Canaan and inheriting it (Judges 5:11). Passages such as Deuteronomy 32:9 clearly focus on this covenantal relationship as the basis of unity: “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” This sense certainly emerges in the concept “to be cut off from one’s people”: “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Genesis 17:14).VED-OT People.7

    ‛Am can mean all those physical ancestors who lived previously and are now dead. So Abraham was gathered to his people: “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8). There might be covenantal overtones here in the sense that Abraham was gathered to all those who were true believers. Jesus argued that such texts taught the reality of life after death (Matthew 22:32).VED-OT People.8

    ‛Am can represent the individuals who together form a familial (and covenantal) group within a larger group: “Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field [on the battlefield]” (Judges 5:18). Some scholars have suggested that the reference here is to a fighting unit with the idea of blood relationship in the background. One must never forget, however, that among nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes there is no distinction between the concepts “militia” and “kinsmen”: “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise …” (Joshua 8:1). Compare Joshua 8:5 where ‛am by itself means fighting unit: “And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city …” (cf. Genesis 32:7).VED-OT People.9

    ‛Am may signify the inhabitants of a city regardless of their familial or covenantal relationship; it is a territorial or political term: “And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses …” (Ruth 4:9).VED-OT People.10

    This noun can be used of those who are privileged. In the phrase “people of the land” ‛am may signify those who have feudal rights, or those who may own land and are especially protected under the law: “And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth” (Genesis 23:7). This sense of a full citizen appears when the phrase is used of Israel, too (cf. 2 Kings 111:14ff.). In some contexts this phrase excludes those of high office such as the king, his ministers, and priests; “For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land” (Jeremiah 1:18). In Leviticus 4:27 this same phrase signifies the entire worshiping community of Israel: “And if any one of the common people [people of the land] sin through ignorance.…” The sense of privileged people with a proper relationship to and unique knowledge of God appears in Job 12:2: “No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.” Could it be that in Isaiah 42:5 all mankind are conceived to be the privileged recipients of divine revelation and blessing: “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”VED-OT People.11

    Finally, sometimes ‛am used of an entire nation has political and territorial overtones. As such it may be paralleled to the Hebrew word with such overtones (goy): “For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2; cf. Exodus 19:5-6).VED-OT People.12


    'Ûlay (אֻלַי, Strong's #194), “peradventure; perhaps; suppose; if; less.” The 43 occurrences of this word appear in every period of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Peradventure.2

    This word meaning “peradventure or perhaps” usually expresses a hope: “Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her” (Genesis 16:2—the first occurrence). Elsewhere 'ûlay expresses fear or doubt: “Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land; must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?” (Genesis 24:5).VED-OT Peradventure.3

    If followed by another clause the word almost functions to introduce a protasis: “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy …” (Genesis 18:24).VED-OT Peradventure.4

    In Numbers 22:33 the word has a different force: “And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.”VED-OT Peradventure.5


    A. Adjectives. VED-OT Perfect.2

    Tâmı̂ym (תָּמִים, Strong's #8549), “perfect; blameless; sincerity; entire; whole; complete; full.” The 91 occurrences of this word are scattered throughout biblical literature with 51 of them in passages dealing with cultic offerings.VED-OT Perfect.3

    Tâmı̂ym means “complete,” in the sense of the entire or whole thing: “And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone …” (Leviticus 3:9). The sun stood still for the “whole” day while Joshua fought the Gibeonites (Joshua 10:13). In Leviticus 23:15 God commands that there be seven “complete” sabbaths after the first fruit feast plus fifty days and then that the new grain offering be presented. A house within a walled city must be purchased back within a “full” year if it is to remain the permanent property of the seller (Leviticus 25:30).VED-OT Perfect.4

    This word may mean “intact,” or not cut up into pieces: “Behold, when it was whole, it [a piece of wood] was meet for no work …” (Ezekiel 15:5).VED-OT Perfect.5

    Tâmı̂ym may mean incontestable or free from objection. In Deuteronomy 32:4 the word modifies God’s work: “His work is perfect.” The people of God are to avoid the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites. They are to “be perfect with the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 18:13). Used in such contexts the word means the one so described externally meets all the requirements of God’s law (cf. Psalms 18:23). This word modifies the victim to be offered to God (51), times). It means that the victim has no blemish (Leviticus 22:18-21) as “blemish” is defined by God: “Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats” (Leviticus 22:19).VED-OT Perfect.6

    In several contexts the word has a wider background. When one is described by it, there is nothing in his outward activities or internal disposition that is odious to God; “… Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). This word describes his entire relationship to God. In Judges 9:16, where tâmı̂ym describes a relationship between men it is clear that more than mere external activity is meant: “Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely [literally, “in a sincere manner”], in that ye have made Abimelech king.…” This extended connotation of this nuance is also evidenced when one compares Genesis 17:1 with Romans 4 where Paul argues that Abraham fulfilled God’s condition but that he did so only through faith.VED-OT Perfect.7

    Another adjective, tam, appears 15 times. With a cognate in Ugaritic the word means “complete or perfect” (Song of Song of Solomon 5:2, RSV), “sound or wholesome” (Genesis 25:27), and “complete, morally innocent, having integrity” (Job 1:8).VED-OT Perfect.8

    B. Noun. VED-OT Perfect.9

    Tôm (תֹּם, Strong's #8537), “completeness.” This noun, which occurs 25 times, signifies “completeness” in the following senses: fullness (Job 21:23), innocency or simplicity (2 Samuel 15:11), integrity (Genesis 20:5).VED-OT Perfect.10

    C. Verb. VED-OT Perfect.11

    Tâmam (תָּמַם, Strong's #8552), “to be complete, be finished, be consumed, be without blame.” This verb, which appears 64 times, has cognates in Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. The word means “to be finished or completed” in Genesis 47:18: “When that year was ended, they came unto him.…”VED-OT Perfect.12


    A. Verb.VED-OT Perish.2

    'Âbad (אָבַד, Strong's #6), “to perish, die, be lost, go astray, go to ruin, succumb, be carried off, fail.” The word occurs in all the branches of the Semitic languages including biblical Aramaic. Biblical Hebrew attests this verb at every time period and about 120 times.VED-OT Perish.3

    Basically 'âbad represents the disappearance of someone or something. In its strongest sense the word means “to die or to cease to exist.” The Lord warned Israel that disobedience and godlessness would be punished by their removal from the Promised Land and death in a foreign land: “And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up” (Leviticus 26:38). This sense may be further heightened by the use of the intensive stem so that the verb comes to mean “utterly destroy.” The stem also changes the force of the verb from intransitive to transitive. So God told Israel “to utterly destroy” (“bring to non-existence”) the false gods of Canaan: “… [Utterly] destroy all their pictures and [utterly] destroy all their molten images …” (Numbers 33:52). The force of this command was further heightened when He said: “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods … and destroy the names of them out of that place” (Deuteronomy 12:2-3). This intensified sense is used of the destruction of peoples (armies), too; as for Pharaoh’s army, “the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day” (Deuteronomy 11:4).VED-OT Perish.4

    A somewhat different emphasis of 'âbad is “to go to ruin” or “to be ruined.” After the second plague Pharaoh’s counsellors told him to grant Israel’s request to leave because the nation was in ruins: “… knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed [ruined]?” (Exodus 10:7—the first biblical occurrence). In a similar sense Moab is said “to be ruined” or laid waste: “Woe to thee, Moab! Thou art undone [NASB, “ruined”], O people of Chemosh … We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah …” (Numbers 21:29-30).VED-OT Perish.5

    Closely related to the immediately preceding emphasis is that of “to succumb.” This use of 'âbad focuses on the process rather than the conclusion. The sons of Israel spoke to Moses about the disastrous effects of everyone drawing near to God. They needed some mediators (priests) who could focus on keeping ritualistically prepared so they would not die when they approached God. They used the verb, therefore, in the sense of the nation gradually perishing, or “succumbing” to death: “Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?” (Numbers 17:12-13). God responds by establishing the priesthood so “that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel” (Numbers 18:5).VED-OT Perish.6

    'Âbad can also speak of being carried off to death or destruction by some means. The leaders of the rebellion against the Aaronic priesthood (Korah, Dathan, and Abiram) and their families were swallowed up by the ground: “… and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation” (Numbers 16:33). This same nuance appears when God says the people will “perish” from off the land if they do not keep the covenant: “… Ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed” (Deuteronomy 4:26). As a nation they will be destroyed as far as the land is concerned.VED-OT Perish.7

    The verb may mean to disappear but not be destroyed, in other words “to be lost.” God instructs Israel concerning lost possessions: “In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost things of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself” (Deuteronomy 22:3). Israel is called “lost sheep” whose “shepherds have caused them to go astray” (Jeremiah 50:6).VED-OT Perish.8

    Another nuance of the verb is “to go astray” in the sense of wandering. At the dedication of the first fruits Israel is to recognize God’s rights to the land, that He is the landowner and they are the temporary tenants, by confessing “a Syrian ready to perish was my father” (Deuteronomy 26:5; NASB, “my father was a wandering Aramean”).VED-OT Perish.9

    Finally, 'âbad can be applied to human qualities which are lessening or have lessened: “For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them” (Deuteronomy 32:28). The word can also be used of the failure of human wisdom as in Psalms 146:4: as for men “his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.”VED-OT Perish.10

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Perish.11

    There are four nouns related to the verb. ‘Abedah, which is found 4 times, refers to a “thing which has been lost” (Exodus 22:9). The noun ‘abaddon occurs 6 times and means “the place of destruction” (Job 26:6). ‘Abdan occurs once with the meaning “destruction” (Esther 9:5). A variant spelling ‘abdan also occurs twice with the meaning “destruction” (Esther 8:6; 9:5).VED-OT Perish.12


    Deber (דֶּבֶר, Strong's #1698), “pestilence.” The meaning of the cognate word varies in other Semitic languages from the Hebrew. In Ugaritic, dbr probably signifies “death.” The Arabic word dabrat means “misfortune,” similar to the Akkadian dibiru, “misfortune.” The word occurs fewer than 60 times in the Old Testament, and mainly in the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.VED-OT Pestilence.2

    The meaning of deber is best denoted by the English word “pestilence” or “plague.” A country might be quickly reduced in population by the “plague” (cf. 2 Samuel 244:13ff.). The nature of the “plague” (bubonic or other) is often difficult to determine from the contexts, as the details of medical interest are not given or are scanty. In the prophetical writings, the “plague” occurs with other disasters: famine, flood, and the sword: “When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Jeremiah 14:12).VED-OT Pestilence.3

    The Septuagint gives the following translation: thanatos (“death”).VED-OT Pestilence.4


    'Ayil (אַיִל, Strong's #352), “pillar.” This word appears 22 times and only once outside Ezekiel 40-41: “And for the entering of the oracle he made doors of olive tree: the lintel [pillar] and side posts were a fifth part of the wall” (1 Kings 6:31).VED-OT Pillar.2

    Matstsêbâh (מַצֵּבָה, Strong's #4676), “pillar; monument; sacred stone.” This word is derived from the verb nashab, and it is found about 35 times. This word refers to a “pillar” as a personal memorial in 2 Samuel 18:18: “Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared up for himself a pillar … and he called the pillar after his own name: and it is called unto this day, Absalom’s place.” In Genesis 28:18 the “monument” is a memorial of the Lord’s appearance. Matstsêbâh is used in connection with the altar built by Moses in Exodus 24:4, and it refers to “sacred stones or pillars.”VED-OT Pillar.3


    Châsı̂yd (חָסִיד, Strong's #2623), “one who is pious, godly.” Psalms contains 25 of the 32 appearances of this word.VED-OT Pious.2

    Basically, hasid means one who practices hesed (“loving-kindness”), so it is to be translated the “pious” or “godly one.” The word’s first biblical occurrence is in Deuteronomy 33:8 where it represents a human being: “Give to Levi thy Thummim, and thy Urim to thy godly one” (RSV). The word appears in Psalms 32:6: “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found.…” The word is applied to God in Psalms 145:17: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”VED-OT Pious.3

    This noun is derived from the noun châsı̂yd.VED-OT Pious.4


    Be'êr (בְּאֵר, Strong's #875), “pit; well.” Cognates of this noun appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Ethiopic. This word appears 37 times in the Bible with no occurrences in the Old Testament prophetic books.VED-OT Pit.2

    Be'êr means a “well” in which there may be water. (By itself the word does not always infer the presence of water.) The word refers to the “pit” itself whether dug or natural: “And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away” (Genesis 21:25). Such a “well” may have a narrow enough mouth that it can be blocked with a stone which a single strong man could move (Genesis 29:2, 10). In the desert country of the ancient Near East a “well” was an important place and its water the source of deep satisfaction for the thirsty. This concept pictures the role of a wife for a faithful husband (Proverbs 5:15).VED-OT Pit.3

    A “pit” may contain something other than water. In its first biblical appearance be'êr is used of tar pits: “And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits …” (Genesis 14:10). A “pit” may contain nothing as does the “pit” which becomes one’s grave (Psalms 55:23, “pit of the grave”). In some passages the word was to represent more than a depository for the body but a place where one exists after death (Psalms 69:15). Since Babylonian mythology knows of such a place with gates that shut over the deceased, it is not at all unreasonable to see such a place alluded to (minus the erroneous ideas of the pagans) in the Bible.VED-OT Pit.4


    Nâṭa‛ (נָטַע, Strong's #5193), “to plant.” Common in both ancient and modern Hebrew, this word is also found in ancient Ugaritic. It occurs approximately 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is used for the first time in the text in Genesis 2:8: “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden.…” The regular word for planting trees and vineyards, nâṭa‛ is used figuratively of planting people: “Yet I had planted thee [Judah] a noble vine …” (Jeremiah 2:21). This use is a close parallel to the famous “Song of the Vineyard” (Isaiah 5:1-10) where Israel and Judah are called God’s “pleasant planting” (Isaiah 5:7, RSV). Nâṭa‛ is used in Isaiah 17:10 in an unusual description of idolatry: “… Therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips.” The NEB (much like the JB) translates more specifically: “Plant them, if you will, your gardens in honor of Adonis” (Adonis was the god of vegetation). “To plant” sometimes has the meaning of “to establish.” Thus, God promises in the latter days, “I will plant them upon their land” (Amos 9:15).VED-OT Plant.2


    A. Verb. VED-OT Plead.2

    Rı̂yb (רוּב, Strong's #7378), “to plead, strive, conduct a legal case, make a charge.” Found in both biblical and modern Hebrew, this term occurs as a verb some 70 times. It appears in the text for the first time in Genesis 26:20: “And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen.…” Such “striving” with words is found frequently in the biblical text (Genesis 31:36; Exodus 17:2). Sometimes contentious words lead to bodily struggle and injury: “And if men strive together, and one smite another …” (Exodus 21:18). The prophets use rı̂yb frequently to indicate that God has an indictment, a legal case, against Israel: “The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people” (Isaiah 3:13). In one of his visions, Amos noted: “… the Lord God called to contend by fire …” (Amos 7:4, KJV; RSV, “calling for a judgment”). Micah 6 is a classic example of such a legal case against Judah, calling on the people “to plead” their case (6:1) and progressively showing how only God has a valid case (6:8).VED-OT Plead.3

    B. Noun. VED-OT Plead.4

    Rı̂yb (רִב, Strong's #7379), “strife; dispute.” This word appears as a noun 60 times. The word appears twice in Micah 6:2: “Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord’s controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the Lord hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.”VED-OT Plead.5


    A. Noun. VED-OT Pleasure.2

    Chêphets (חֵפֶץ, Strong's #2656), “pleasure; delight; desire; request; affair; thing.” None of the 39 occurrences of this word appear before First Samuel. All its occurrences are scattered through the rest of biblical literature.VED-OT Pleasure.3

    This word often means “pleasure” or “delight”: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” (1 Samuel 15:22—the first occurrence). Thus “the preacher [writer of Ecclesiastes] sought to find out acceptable [chêphets] words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:10), words that were both true and aesthetically pleasing. A good wife works with “hands of delight,” or hands which delight in her work because of her love for her family; “she seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly [in delight] with her hands” (Proverbs 31:13).VED-OT Pleasure.4

    Chepes can mean not simply what one takes pleasure in or what gives someone delight but one’s wish or desire: “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow” (2 Samuel 23:5). “To do one’s desire” is to grant a request (1 Kings 5:8). “Stones of desire” are precious stones (Isaiah 54:12).VED-OT Pleasure.5

    Third, chepes sometimes represents one’s affairs as that in which one takes delight: “… There is … a time to every purpose [literally, delight] under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). In Isaiah 58:13 the first occurrence of this word means “pleasure” or “delight,” while the last occurrence indicates an affair or matter in which one delights: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Finally, in one passage this word means “affair” in the sense of a “thing” or “situation”: “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter [NASB “sight”] …” (Ecclesiastes 5:8).VED-OT Pleasure.6

    B. Verb. VED-OT Pleasure.7

    Châphêts (חָפֵץ, Strong's #2654), “to take pleasure in, take care of, desire, delight in, have delight in.” This verb, which occurs 72 times in biblical Hebrew has cognates in Arabic, Phoenician, Syriac, and Arabic. Châphêts means “to delight in” in 2 Samuel 15:26: “But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.”VED-OT Pleasure.8

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Pleasure.9

    Châphêts (חָפֵץ, Strong's #2655), “delighting in, having pleasure in.” This adjective appears 12 times in biblical Hebrew. The word is found in Psalms 35:27: “Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.”VED-OT Pleasure.10


    A. Verb. VED-OT Plow.2

    Chârash (חָרֵשׁ, Strong's #2790), “to plow, engrave, work in metals.” This word occurs in ancient Ugaritic, as well as in modern Hebrew where it has the primary sense of “to plow.” It is found approximately 50 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. A fitting word for the agricultural nature of Israelite culture, chârash is frequently used of “plowing” a field, usually with animals such as oxen (1 Kings 19:19). The imagery of cutting up or tearing up a field with a plow easily lent itself to the figurative use of the word to mean mistreatment by others: “The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows” (Psalms 129:3). The word is used to express the plotting of evil against a friend in Proverbs 3:29: “Devise not evil against thy neighbor, seeing he dwelleth securely by thee [literally, “do not plow evil”].”VED-OT Plow.3

    The use of chârash in the sense of “working or engraving” metals is not used in the Old Testament as much as it might have been if Israel had been as given to such craftsmanship as her neighbors, or perhaps because of the commandment against images (Exodus 20:4). The word is used in 1 Kings 7:14: “… His father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass [literally, “a man who works in brass”].…” The first occurrence of chârash is in Genesis 4:22 where it is used of the “artificer in brass and iron.” The figurative use of “engraving” is vividly seen in the expression describing the extent of Israel’s sin: “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart …” (Jeremiah 17:1). An updating or correction of the KJV is called for in 1 Samuel 8:12 where chârâsh is translated by the old English term, “to ear the ground”!VED-OT Plow.4

    B. Noun. VED-OT Plow.5

    Chârâsh (חָרָשׁ, Strong's #2796), “engraver; artificer.” The prophets denounced the craftsmanship of these workers in metals when they made images (Isaiah 40:20; Hosea 8:6). A more positive approach to the word is conveyed in 1 Chronicles 29:5: “The gold for things of gold … and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?”VED-OT Plow.6


    Châlal (חָלַל, Strong's #2490), “to pollute, defile, profane, begin.” This word is used more than 225 times in the Old Testament. As a verb, châlal is used in what seem to be two quite different ways. In one sense, the word means “to pollute” or “to profane.” In the second usage the word has the sense of “to begin.”VED-OT Pollute.2

    The most frequent use of this Hebrew root is in the sense of “to pollute, defile.” This may be a ritual defilement, such as that resulting from contact with a dead body (Leviticus 21:4), or the ceremonial profaning of the sacred altar by the use of tools in order to shape the stones (Exodus 20:25). Holy places may be profaned (Ezekiel 7:24); the name of God (Ezekiel 20:9) and even God Himself (Ezekiel 22:26) may be profaned. The word is often used to describe the defilement which results from illicit sexual acts, such as harlotry (Leviticus 21:9) or violation of one’s father’s bed (Genesis 49:4—the first occurrence).VED-OT Pollute.3

    In more than 50 instances, this root is used in the sense of “to begin.” Perhaps the most important of such uses is found in Genesis 4:26. There it is stated that after the birth of Seth, who was born to Adam and Eve after the murder of Abel by Cain, “men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (RSV). The Septuagint translates it something like this: “he hoped [trusted] to call on the name of the Lord God.” The Jerusalem Bible says: “This man was the first to invoke the name of Yahweh.” One must ask whether the writer meant to say that it was not until the birth of Enosh, the son of Seth, that people “began” to call on the name of the Lord altogether, or whether he meant that this was the first time the name Yahweh was used. In view of the accounts in Genesis 1-3, neither of these seems likely. Perhaps the writer is simply saying that in contrast to the apparent non-Godfearing attitude expressed by Cain, the generation beginning with Seth and his son Enosh was known for its God-fearing way of life. Perhaps, in view of the passive intensive verb form used here, the meaning is something like this: “Then it was begun again to call on the name of the Lord.”VED-OT Pollute.4

    Poor (Person), Weak (Person)

    A. Nouns.VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).2

    ‛Ânı̂y (עָנִי, Strong's #6041), “poor; weak; afflicted; humble.” This word, which also appears in early Aramaic and post-biblical Hebrew, occurs in biblical Hebrew about 76 times and in all periods.VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).3

    This noun is frequently used in synonymous parallelism with ‘ebyon (“needy”) and/or dal (“poor”). It differs from both in emphasizing some kind of disability or distress. A hired servant as one who is in a lower (oppressive) social and material condition is described both as an ‘ebyon and ‘ani: “Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15). If wrongly oppressed, he can call on God for defense. Financially, the ‘ani lives from day to day and is socially defenseless, being subject to oppression. In its first biblical occurrence the ‘ani is guaranteed (if men obey God’s law) his outer garment for warmth at night even though that garment might be held as collateral during the day: “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shall not be to him as a usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury” (Exodus 22:25). The godly protect and deliver the “afflicted” (Isaiah 10:2; Ezekiel 18:17), while the ungodly take advantage of them, increasing their oppressed condition (Isaiah 58:7). The king is especially charged to protect the ‘ani: “Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).4

    ’Ani can refer to one who is physically oppressed: “Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine” (Isaiah 51:21).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).5

    Physical oppression is sometimes related to spiritual oppression as in Psalms 22:24: “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him.…” Outward affliction frequently leads to inner spiritual affliction and results in an outcry to God: “Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted” (Psalms 25:16). Even apart from outward affliction, the pious are frequently described as the “afflicted” or “poor” for whom God provides: “Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor” (Psalms 68:10). In such cases spiritual poverty and want are clearly in view. Sometimes the word means “humble” or “lowly,” as it does in Zechariah 9:9, where it describes the Messiah: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass …” (cf. Psalms 18:27; Proverbs 3:34; Isaiah 66:2).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).6

    Related to ’ani is the noun ‘oni, “affliction.” It appears about 36 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. ‘Oni represents the state of pain and/or punishment resulting from affliction. In Deuteronomy 16:3 the shewbread is termed the bread of “affliction” because it is a physical reminder of sin, the cause of “affliction” (Psalms 25:18), the hardship involved in sin (especially the Egyptian bondage), and divine deliverance from sin (Psalms 119:50).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).7

    ‘Ani is also related to the word ‘anawah, “humility, gentleness.” This word occurs only 5 times, setting forth the two characteristics gained from affliction. Applied to God, it represents His submission to His own nature (Psalms 45:4).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).8

    Dal (דַּל, 1800), “one who is low, poor, reduced, helpless, weak.” This noun also appears in Ugaritic. It occurs in biblical Hebrew about 47 times and in all periods.VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).9

    Dal is related to, but differs from, ‘ani (which suggests affliction of some kind), ‘ebyon (which emphasizes need), and rash (which suggests destitution). The dallim constituted the middle class of Israel—those who were physically deprived (in the ancient world the majority of people were poor). For example, the dallim may be viewed as the opposite of the rich (Exodus 30:15; cf. Ruth 3:10; Proverbs 10:15).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).10

    In addition, the word may connote social poverty or lowliness. As such, dal describes those who are the counterparts of the great: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15; cf. Amos 2:7).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).11

    When Gideon challenged the Lord’s summoning him to deliver Israel, he emphasized that his clan was too weak to do the job: “And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh …” (Judges 6:15; cf. 2 Samuel 3:1). God commands that society protect the poor, the lowly, and the weak: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause” (Exodus 23:2-3; cf. Leviticus 14:21; Isaiah 10:2). He also warns that if men fail to provide justice, He will do so (Isaiah 11:4).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).12

    A fourth emphasis appears in Genesis 41:19 (the first biblical appearance of the word), where dal is contrasted to “healthy” or “fat”: “And behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill-favored and leanfleshed.…” Thus, dal indicates a physical condition and appearance of sickliness. It is used in this sense to describe Amnon’s appearance as he longed for Tamar (2 Samuel 13:4).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).13

    Dal is used (very infrequently) of spiritual poverty (in such cases it is sometimes paralleled to ‘ebyon): “Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God” (Jeremiah 5:4). Some scholars argue that here the word means “ignorance,” and as the context shows, this is ignorance in the knowledge of God’s word.VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).14

    Another noun, dallah, is related to dal. Dallah, which appears about 8 times, means “poverty; dishevelled hair.” The word appears in 2 Kings 24:14: “… none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land,” where dallah emphasizes the social lowliness and “poverty” of those people whom it describes. In Song of Song of Solomon 7:5 the word refers to “dishevelled hair” in the sense of something that hangs down.VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).15

    B. Verbs. VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).16

    Dâlal (דָּלַל, Strong's #1809), “to be low, hang down.” This verb appears only 8 times in the Bible and always in poetical passages. It has cognates or near cognates in Arabic, Ethiopic, Akkadian, and extra-biblical Hebrew. The word appears in Psalms 79:8: “O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us; for we are brought very low.”VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).17

    Ânâh (עָנָה, Strong's #6031), “to afflict, oppress, humble.” This verb, which also appears in Arabic, occurs about 74 times in biblical Hebrew and in every period. The first occurrence is in Genesis 15:13: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).18

    C. Adjective.VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).19

    ‛Ânâv (עָנָיו, Strong's #6035), “humble; poor; meek.” This adjective, which appears about 21 times in biblical Hebrew, is closely related to ‘ani and derived from the same verb. Sometimes this word is synonymous with ‘ani. Perhaps this is due to the well-known waw-yodh interchange. ‘Anaw appears almost exclusively in poetical passages and describes the intended outcome of affliction from God, namely “humility.” In its first appearance the word depicts the objective condition as well as the subjective stance of Moses. He was entirely dependent on God and saw that he was: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).VED-OT Poor (Person), Weak (Person).20


    A. Verb. VED-OT Possess.2

    Yârash (יָרֵשׁ, Strong's #3423), “to inherit, subdue, take possession, dispossess, impoverish.” This word is attested in all Semitic languages except Akkadian, Phoenician, and biblical Aramaic. The word appears in all periods of Hebrew; the Bible attests it about 260 times.VED-OT Possess.3

    Basically yârash means “to inherit.” The verb can connote the state of being designated as an heir. Abram said to God: “Behold, to me thou hast given no [offspring]: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir [literally, “is the one who is inheriting me”]” (Genesis 15:3—the first biblical occurrence of the word). Whatever Abram had to be passed on to his legal descendants was destined to be given to his servant. Hence his servant was his legally designated heir.VED-OT Possess.4

    This root can also represent the status of having something as one’s permanent possession, as a possession which may be passed on to one’s legal descendants. God told Abram: “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it” (Genesis 15:7). Yârash can mean “to take over as a permanent possession”: “And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it …” (Numbers 27:11). The verb sometimes means to take something over (in the case of the Promised Land) by conquest as a permanent possession: “The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it” (Deuteronomy 28:21).VED-OT Possess.5

    When people are the object, yârash sometimes means “to dispossess” in the sense of taking away their inheritable goods and putting them in such a social position that they cannot hold possessions or inherit permanent possessions: “The Horim also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead …” (Deuteronomy 2:12). To cause someone to be dispossessed is “to impoverish” him: “The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich …” (1 Samuel 2:7), the Lord makes one to be without permanent inheritable possessions.VED-OT Possess.6

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Possess.7

    Several nouns related to yârash occur infrequently in biblical Hebrew. Yereshah which appears twice, means “something given as a permanent possession; to be taken over by conquest” (Numbers 24:18). Yerushshah occurs 14 times; it means “to have as a possession” (Deuteronomy 2:5), “to be designated as a possession, to receive as a possession” (Deuteronomy 2:9). The noun morash means “a place one has as a permanent possession” in its 2 appearances (Isaiah 14:23; Obadiah 17). Morashah, which occurs 9 times, can refer to “a place one has as a permanent possession” (Exodus 6:8), “a thing one has as a permanent possession” (Deuteronomy 33:4), and “people to be dispossessed” (Ezekiel 25:4).VED-OT Possess.8

    Some scholars associate reshet, “net,” with yarash. Hence, a “net” is conceived as a thing which receives and holds (possesses) something or someone (Job 18:8). Others suggest that   can also mean “pit” (cf. Psalms 9:15; Psalms 35:7-8).VED-OT Possess.9


    Segûllâh (סְגֻלָּה, Strong's #5459), “possession.” Cognates of this word appear in late Aramaic and Akkadian. This word occurs only 8 times.VED-OT Possession.2

    Cegullah signifies “property” in the special sense of a private possession one personally acquired and carefully preserves. Six times this word is used of Israel as God’s personally acquired (elected, delivered from Egyptian bondage, and formed into what He wanted them to be), carefully preserved, and privately possessed people: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure [NASB, “possession”] unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19:5—first occurrence).VED-OT Possession.3

    Pour, Flow

    Yâtsaq (יָצַק, Strong's #3332), “to pour, pour out, cast, flow.” Commonly used throughout the history of the Hebrew language, this word occurs in ancient Ugaritic with the same nuances as in the Old Testament. Yâtsaq occurs in the Hebrew Bible just over 50 times. The word is used first in Genesis 28:18, where it is said that after Jacob had slept at Bethel with his head resting on a stone, he “poured oil upon the top of it.” He again “poured” oil on a stone pillar at Bethel while on his return trip home twenty years later (Genesis 35:14). The idea expressed in these two instances and others (Leviticus 8:12; 21:10) is that of anointing with oil; it is not the ordinary term for “to anoint.” (The regular term for “to anoint” is mashach, which gives us the word “messiah.”)VED-OT Pour, Flow.2

    Many things may “be poured out,” such as oil in sacrifice (Leviticus 2:1), water for washing purposes (2 Kings 3:11), and pottage for eating (2 Kings 4:41). This verb is used to express the idea of “pouring out” or “casting” molten metals (Exodus 25:12; 26:37; 1 Kings 7:46). The idea of “pouring upon or infusing” someone is found in Psalms 41:8: “A wicked thing is poured out upon him” (NASB). The context seems to imply the infusion of a sickness, as interpreted by the JB: “This sickness is fatal that has overtaken him.”VED-OT Pour, Flow.3

    Shâphak (שָׁפַךְ, Strong's #8210), “to pour out, pour, shed.” A common Semitic word, this verb is found in both ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, as well as throughout Hebrew. Shâphak occurs just over 100 times in the text of the Hebrew Bible. In its first use in the Old Testament, the word is part of the general principle concerning the taking of human life: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed …” (Genesis 9:6). While it is frequently used in this sense of “shedding” or “pouring out” blood, the word is commonly used of the “pouring out” of the contents of a vessel, such as water (Exodus 4:9; 1 Samuel 7:6), plaster or dust (Leviticus 14:41), and drink offerings to false gods (Isaiah 57:6).VED-OT Pour, Flow.4

    In its figurative use, shâphak indicates the “pouring out” of God’s wrath (Hosea 5:10), of contempt (Job 12:21), of wickedness (Jeremiah 14:16), and of the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 39:29). The psalmist describes his helpless condition in this picturesque phrase: “I am poured out like water” (Psalms 22:14, KJV; NEB, “My strength drains away like water”; JB, “I am like water draining away”).VED-OT Pour, Flow.5


    Kôach (כּוֹחַ, Strong's #3581), “strength; power; force; ability.” This Hebrew word is used in biblical, rabbinic, and modern Hebrew with little change in meaning. The root is uncertain in Hebrew, but the verb is found in Arabic (wakaha, “batter down,” and kwch, “defeat”). Kôach, which occurs 124 times, is a poetic word as it is used most frequently in the poetic and prophetical literature.VED-OT Power.2

    The basic meaning of kôach is an ability to do something. Samson’s “strength” lay in his hair (Judges 16:5), and we must keep in mind that his “strength” had been demonstrated against the Philistines. Nations and kings exert their “powers” (Joshua 17:17; Daniel 8:24). It is even possible to say that a field has kôach, as it does or does not have vital “powers” to produce and harvest: “When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength [i.e., crops] …” (Genesis 4:12—the first occurrence). In the Old Testament it is recognized that by eating one gains “strength” (1 Samuel 28:22), whereas one loses one’s “abilities” in fasting (1 Samuel 28:20); “And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:8).VED-OT Power.3

    The above definition of kôach fits well in the description of Daniel and his friends: “Children in whom was no blemish, but well-favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability [kôach] in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:4). The “ability” is here not physical but mental. They were talented in having the intellectual acumen of learning the skills of the Babylonians and thus training for being counselors to the king. The internal fortitude was best demonstrated by the difficulties and frustrations of life. A strong man withstood hard times. The proverb bears out this important teaching: “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).VED-OT Power.4

    A special sense of kôach is the meaning “property.” The results of native “abilities,” the development of special gifts, and the manifestation of one’s “strength” led often to prosperity and riches. Those who returned from the Exile gave willingly out of their riches (kôach) to the building fund of the temple (Ezra 2:69). A proverb warns against adultery, because one’s “strength,” or one’s wealth, may be taken by others: “Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth [kôach]; and thy labors be in the house of a stranger” (Proverbs 5:10).VED-OT Power.5

    In the Old Testament, God had demonstrated His “strength” to Israel. The language of God’s “strength” is highly metaphorical. God’s right hand gloriously manifests His “power” (Exodus 15:6). His voice is loud: “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty” (Psalms 29:4). In His “power,” He delivered Israel from Egypt (Exodus 32:11) and brought them through the Red Sea (Exodus 15:6; cf. Numbers 14:13). Even as He advances the rights of the poor and needy (Isaiah 50:2), He brought the Israelites as a needy people into the Promised Land with His “power”: “He hath showed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen” (Psalms 111:6). He delights in helping His people; however, the Lord does not tolerate self-sufficiency on man’s part. Isaiah rebuked the king of Assyria for his arrogance in claiming to have been successful in his conquests (10:12-14), and he remarked that the axe (Assyria) should not boast over the one who chops (God) with it (v. 15). Likewise God had warned His people against pride in taking the land of Canaan: “And thou say in thine heart, My power [kôach] and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power [kôach] to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18). The believer must learn to depend upon God and trust in Him: “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).VED-OT Power.6

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: ischus (“strength; power; might”) and dunamis (“power; might; strength; force; ability; capability”).VED-OT Power.7


    A. Verbs. VED-OT Praise.2

    Hâlal (הָלַל, Strong's #1984), “to praise, celebrate, glory, sing (praise), boast.” The meaning “to praise” is actually the meaning of the intensive form of the Hebrew verb hâlal, which in its simple active form means “to boast.” In this latter sense hâlal is found in its cognate forms in ancient Akkadian, of which Babylonian and Assyrian are dialects. The word is found in Ugaritic in the sense of “shouting,” and perhaps “jubilation.” Found more than 160 times in the Old Testament, hâlal is used for the first time in Genesis 12:15, where it is noted that because of Sarah’s great beauty, the princes of Pharaoh “praised” (KJV, “commended”) her to Pharaoh.VED-OT Praise.3

    While hâlal is often used simply to indicate “praise” of people, including the king (2 Chronicles 23:12) or the beauty of Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25), the word is usually used in reference to the “praise” of God. Indeed, not only all living things but all created things, including the sun and moon, are called upon “to praise” God (Psalms 148:2-5, 13; 150:1). Typically, such “praise” is called for and expressed in the sanctuary, especially in times of special festivals (Isaiah 62:9).VED-OT Praise.4

    The Hebrew name for the Book of Psalms is simply the equivalent for the word “praises” and is a bit more appropriate than “Psalms,” which comes from the Greek and has to do with the accompaniment of singing with a stringed instrument of some sort. It is little wonder that the Book of Psalms contains more than half the occurrences of hâlal in its various forms. Psalms 113-118 are traditionally referred to as the “Hallel Psalms,” because they have to do with praise to God for deliverance from Egyptian bondage under Moses. Because of this, they are an important part of the traditional Passover service. There is no reason to doubt that these were the hymns sung by Jesus and His disciples on Maundy Thursday when He instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:30).VED-OT Praise.5

    The word hâlal is the source of “Hallelujah,” a Hebrew expression of “praise” to God which has been taken over into virtually every language of mankind. The Hebrew “Hallelujah” is generally translated “Praise the Lord!” The Hebrew term is more technically translated “Let us praise Yah,” the term “Yah” being a shortened form of “Yahweh,” the unique Israelite name for God. The term “Yah” is found in the KJV rendering of Psalms 68:4, reflecting the Hebrew text; however, the Jerusalem Bible (JB) translates it with “Yahweh.” Most versions follow the traditional translation “Lord,” a practice begun in Judaism before New Testament times when the Hebrew term for “Lord” was substituted for “Yahweh,” although it probably means something like “He who causes to be.” The Greek approximation of “Hallelujah” is found 4 times in the New Testament in the form “Alleluia” (Revelation 19:1, 3-4, 6). Christian hymnody certainly would be greatly impoverished if the term “Hallelujah” were suddenly removed from our language of praise.VED-OT Praise.6

    Yâdâh (יָדָה, Strong's #3034), “to give thanks, laud, praise.” A common Hebrew word in all its periods, this verb is an important word in the language of worship. Yâdâh is found nearly 120 times in the Hebrew Bible, the first time being in the story of the birth of Judah, Jacob’s son who was born to Leah: “And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, This time I will praise the Lord; therefore she called his name Judah” (Genesis 29:35, RSV).VED-OT Praise.7

    As is to be expected, this word is found most frequently in the Book of Psalms (some 70 times). As an expression of thanks or praise, it is a natural part of ritual or public worship as well as personal praise to God (Psalms 30:9, 12; 35:18). Thanks often are directed to the name of the Lord (Psalms 106:47; 122:4).VED-OT Praise.8

    The variation in translation may be seen in 1 Kings 8:33: “confess” thy name (KJV, NEB, NASB); acknowledge (RSV); praise (JB, NAB).VED-OT Praise.9

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Praise.10

    Tehillâh (תְּהִלָּה, Strong's #8416), “glory; praise; song of praise; praiseworthy deeds.” Tehillâh occurs 57 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Praise.11

    First, this word denotes a quality or attribute of some person or thing, “glory or praiseworthiness”: “He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 10:21). Israel is God’s “glory” when she exists in a divinely exalted and blessed state: “And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:7; cf. Jeremiah 13:11).VED-OT Praise.12

    Second, in some cases tehillâh represents the words or song by which God is publicly lauded, or by which His “glory” is publicly declared: “My praise [the Messiah is speaking here] shall be of thee in the great congregation …” (Psalms 22:25). Psalms 22:22 is even clearer: “I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.”VED-OT Praise.13

    In a third nuance tehillâh is a technical-musical term for a song (shir) which exalts or praises God: “David’s psalm of praise” (heading for Psalms 145; v. 1 in the Hebrew). Perhaps Nehemiah 11:17 refers to a choirmaster or one who conducts such singing of “praises”: “And Mattaniah … , the son of Asaph, was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer [who at the beginning was the leader of praise at prayer].…”VED-OT Praise.14

    Finally, tehillâh may represent deeds which are worthy of “praise,” or deeds for which the doer deserves “praise and glory.” This meaning is in the word’s first biblical appearance: “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises [in praiseworthy deeds], doing wonders [miracles]?” (Exodus 15:11).VED-OT Praise.15

    Two other related nouns are mahalal and hillulim. Mahalal occurs once (Proverbs 27:21) and denotes the degree of “praise” or its lack. Hillulim, which occurs twice, means “festal jubilation” in the fourth year at harvest time (Leviticus 19:24, RSV; Judges 9:27, NASB),VED-OT Praise.16

    Tôdâh (תּוֹדָה, Strong's #8426), “thanksgiving.” This important noun form, found some 30 times in the Old Testament, is used there in the sense of “thanksgiving.” The word is preserved in modern Hebrew as the regular word for “thanks.” In the Hebrew text tôdâh is used to indicate “thanksgiving” in songs of worship (Psalms 26:7; 42:4). Sometimes the word is used to refer to the thanksgiving choir or procession (Nehemiah 12:31, 38). One of the peace offerings, or “sacrings,” was designated the thanksgiving offering (Leviticus 7:12).VED-OT Praise.17


    A. Verb. VED-OT Pray.2

    Pâlal (פָּלַל, Strong's #6419), “to pray, intervene, mediate, judge.” Found in both biblical and modern Hebrew, this word occurs 84 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is used 4 times in the intensive verbal form; the remaining 80 times are found in the reflexive or reciprocal form, in which the action generally points back to the subject. In the intensive form pâlal expresses the idea of “to mediate, to come between two parties,” always between human beings. Thus, “if a man sins against a man, God will mediate for him …” (1 Samuel 2:25, RSV). “To mediate” requires “making a judgment,” as in Ezekiel 16:52: “Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters.…” In the remaining 2 references in which the intensive form is used, pâlal expresses “making a judgment” in Genesis 48:11 and “coming between” in Psalms 106:30.VED-OT Pray.3

    The first occurrence of pâlal in the Old Testament is in Genesis 20:7, where the reflexive or reciprocal form of the verb expresses the idea of “interceding for, prayer in behalf of”: “… He shall pray for thee.…” Such intercessory praying is frequent in the Old Testament: Moses “prays” for the people’s deliverance from the fiery serpents (Numbers 21:7); he “prays” for Aaron (Deuteronomy 9:20); and Samuel “intercedes” continually for Israel (1 Samuel 12:23). Prayer is directed not only toward Yahweh but toward pagan idols as well (Isaiah 44:17). Sometimes prayer is made to Yahweh that He would act against an enemy: “That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard” (2 Kings 19:20).VED-OT Pray.4

    Just why this verb form is used to express the act of praying is not completely clear. Since this verb form points back to the subject, in a reflexive sense, perhaps it emphasizes the part which the person praying has in his prayers. Also, since the verb form can have a reciprocal meaning between subject and object, it may emphasize the fact that prayer is basically communication, which always has to be two-way in order to be real.VED-OT Pray.5

    B. Noun. VED-OT Pray.6

    Tephillâh (תְּפִלָּה, Strong's #8605), “prayer.” This word, which appears 77 times in biblical Hebrew, is the most general Hebrew word for “prayer.” It first appears in 1 Kings 8:28: “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication.…” In the eschaton God’s house will be a house of “prayer” for all peoples (Isaiah 56:7); it will be to this house that all nations will come to worship God. The word can mean both a nonliturgical, non-poetical “prayer” and a liturgical, poetical “prayer.” In the latter special meaning tephillâh is used as a psalm title in 5 psalms and as the title of Habakkuk’s prayer (Habakkuk 3:1). In these uses tephillâh means a prayer set to music and sung in the formal worship service. In Psalms 72:20 the word describes all the psalms or “prayers” of Psalms 1-72, only one of which is specifically called a “prayer” (17:1).VED-OT Pray.7


    A. Adjective. VED-OT Precious.2

    Yâqâr (יָקָר, Strong's #3368), “precious; rare; excellent; weighty; noble.” Although none of the 35 biblical appearances of this word occurs before First Samuel, they are scattered throughout the rest of the Bible.VED-OT Precious.3

    First, yâqâr means “precious” in the sense of being rare and valuable: “And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David’s head” (2 Samuel 12:30). The emphasis is on the nuance “rare” in 1 Samuel 3:1: “And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.”VED-OT Precious.4

    Second, the word can focus on the value of a thing: “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!” (Psalms 36:7).VED-OT Precious.5

    Third, this word means “weighty” or “noble”: “A little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor” (Ecclesiastes 10:1, NASB); like dead flies which make perfume stink, so a little foolishness spoils wisdom and honor—it is worth more in a negative sense (cf. Lamentations 4:2).VED-OT Precious.6

    B. Verb. VED-OT Precious.7

    Yâqar (יָקַר, Strong's #3365), “to be difficult, be valued from, be valued or honored, be precious.” This verb, which occurs 11 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Ugaritic, Arabic, and Akkadian. The word means “to be precious” in 1 Samuel 26:21: “Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day.…”VED-OT Precious.8

    C. Noun. VED-OT Precious.9

    Yeqâr (יְקָר, Strong's #3366), “precious thing; value; price; splendor; honor.” This noun, which appears 16 times in biblical Hebrew, is Aramaic in form. The word signifies “value or price” (Zechariah 11:13), “splendor” (Esther 1:4), and “honor” (Esther 8:16). In Jeremiah 20:5 the word refers to “precious things”: “Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labors thereof, and all the precious things thereof.…”VED-OT Precious.10


    A. Verb. VED-OT Prepare.2

    Kûn (כּוּן, Strong's #3559), “to be established, be readied, be prepared, be certain, be admissible.” This verb occurs in nearly every Semitic language (not in biblical Aramaic). Kûn appears in the Bible about 220 times and in all periods of Hebrew.
    This root used concretely connotes being firmly established, being firmly anchored and being firm. The first meaning is applied to a roof which is “firmly established” on pillars. So Samson said to the lad who was leading him: “Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them” (Judges 16:26). In a similar sense the inhabited earth “is firmly established or anchored”; it is immovable: “… The world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved” (Psalms 93:1). In Psalms 75:3 the image shifts to the earth “firmly established” upon pillars. In Psalms 65:6 the divine establishing of the mountains is synonymous with divine creating. The verb also means “to be firm”: “And you grew up and became tall and arrived at [the age for fine ornaments]; your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown” (Ezekiel 16:7, RSV),
    VED-OT Prepare.3

    Used abstractly, kûn can refer to a concept as “established,” or “fixed” so as to be unchanging and unchangeable: “And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass” (Genesis 41:32—the first occurrence of the word). In somewhat the same sense one can speak of the light of day “being firmly established,” or having fully arrived: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). Kûn can be used of the “establishing” of one’s descendants, of seeing them prosperous (Job 21:8).VED-OT Prepare.4

    Something can be “fixed” in the sense of “being prepared or completed”: “Now all the work of Solomon was prepared unto the day of the foundation of the house of the Lord …” (2 Chronicles 8:16).VED-OT Prepare.5

    An “established” thing can be something that is enduring. In 1 Samuel 20:31 Saul tells Jonathan: “For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom.” Truthful lips (what they say) “shall be established,” or will endure forever (Proverbs 12:19). One’s plans “will endure” (be established) if he commits his works to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).VED-OT Prepare.6

    Kun can also mean “to be established” in the sense of “being ready.” So Josiah told the people “to prepare” themselves for the Passover (2 Chronicles 35:4). This same sense appears in Exodus 19:11 “And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.” A somewhat different nuance appears in Job 18:12; Bildad says that wherever godlessness breaks out, there is judgment: “… Destruction shall be ready at his side.” That is, calamity is “fixed or prepared” so that it exists potentially even before godlessness breaks out.VED-OT Prepare.7

    Something “fixed” or “established” can “be certain”: “Then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain …” (Deuteronomy 13:14). In a somewhat different nuance the thing can be trustworthy or true. The psalmist says of the wicked that “there is no faithfulness in their mouth” (Psalms 5:9). A further development of this emphasis is that a matter “may be admissible”—so Moses said to Pharaoh: “It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God …” (Exodus 8:26).VED-OT Prepare.8

    When one “fixes” an arrow on the bow, he takes aim or “prepares” to shoot his bow (cf. Psalms 7:12).VED-OT Prepare.9

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Prepare.10

    Mekônâh (מְכֹנָה, Strong's #4350), “proper place; base.” This noun occurs 25 times; it means “proper place” in Ezra 3:3: “And they set the altar upon his bases.…” The word refers to “bases” in 1 Kings 7:27.VED-OT Prepare.11

    Two other nouns are related to the verb kun. Makon, which appears 17 times, means “an established place or site” (Exodus 15:17). Tekunah, which makes 3 appearances, means “fixed place” as in Job 23:3 or “fixed matter” as in Ezekiel 43:11: “… Show them the form of the house, and the fashion [tekunah] thereof …”VED-OT Prepare.12

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Prepare.13

    Kên (כֵּן, Strong's #3651), “right; veritable; honest.” This adjective occurs 24 times in biblical Hebrew. The word implies “honest or righteous” in Genesis 42:11 “We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.” The word means not “right” in 2 Kings 17:9.VED-OT Prepare.14


    A. Verb. VED-OT Pride.2

    Gâ'âh (גָּאָה, Strong's #1342), “to be proud, be exalted.” This verb appears 7 times in biblical Hebrew. The word appears in Exodus 15:1 in the sense of “to be exalted”: “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted [KJV, “he hath triumphed”]; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea (NASB).VED-OT Pride.3

    B. Nouns.VED-OT Pride.4

    Gâ'ôn (גָּאוֹן, Strong's #1347), “pride.” This root occurs only in northwest Semitic languages, as in Ugaritic: gan, “pride.” This noun is a poetic word, which is found only in poetic books, the prophets (12 times in Isaiah), Moses’ song (Exodus 15:7), and Leviticus (26:19). In rabbinic Hebrew, gâ'ôn signifies a man of great learning. A gâ'ôn was the head of the rabbinic academies of Susa and Pumpedita in Babylonia. Saadiah Gaon was one of the most outstanding.VED-OT Pride.5

    In a positive sense gâ'ôn, like the verb, signifies “excellence” or “majesty.” God’s “majesty” was expressed in Israel’s deliverance through the Red Sea (Exodus 15:7). Israel as the redeemed people, then, is considered to be an expression of God’s “majesty”: “He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved” (Psalms 47:4). The meaning of gâ'ôn is here close to that of kabod, “glory.”VED-OT Pride.6

    Related to “majesty” is the word gâ'ôn attributed to nature as something mighty, luxuriant, rich, and thick. The poets use the word to refer to the proud waves (Job 38:11) or the thick shrubbery by the Jordan; cf. “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling [literally, “majesty”] of Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5; cf. 49:19; 50:44).VED-OT Pride.7

    The majority of the uses of gâ'ôn are negative in that they connote human “pride” as an antonym for humility (Proverbs 16:18). Proverbs puts gâ'ôn together with arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse speech. In her independence from the Lord, Israel as a majestic nation, having been set apart by a majestic God, had turned aside and claimed its excellence as a prerogative earned by herself. The new attitude of insolence was not tolerated by God: “The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein” (Amos 6:8).VED-OT Pride.8

    The Septuagint translations are: hubris (“insolence; arrogance”) and huperephania (“arrogance; haughtiness; pride”). Some other nouns are related to |ga’on. Ge’ahoccurs once to mean “pride” (Proverbs 8:13). The noun ga’awah , which is found 19 times, also means “pride”: “And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart …” (Isaiah 9:9). Ge’ut appears 8 times and refers to “majesty”: “Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord” (Isaiah 26:10).VED-OT Pride.9

    C. Adjectives. VED-OT Pride.10

    The adjective ge’, which is thought to be a scribal error for ge’eh, appears only once as “proud” (Isaiah 16:6). Ge’eh also means “proud” in its 8 occurrences, once in Isaiah 2:12: “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty.…”VED-OT Pride.11

    Ga’ayon, which means “pride,” appears once in biblical Hebrew (Psalms 123:4).VED-OT Pride.12

    Priest; Priesthood

    A. Noun.VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.2

    Kôhên (כֹּהֵן, Strong's #3548), “priest.” This word is found 741 times in the Old Testament. More than one-third of the references to the “priests” are found in the Pentateuch. Leviticus, which has about 185 references, is called the “manual of the priests.”VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.3

    The term kôhên was used to refer not only to the Hebrew priesthood but to Egyptian “priests” (Genesis 41:50; 46:20; 47:26), the Philistine “priests” (1 Samuel 6:2), the “priests” of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:5), “priests” of Baal (2 Kings 10:19), “priests” of Chemosh (Jeremiah 48:7), and “priests” of the Baalim and Asherim (2 Chronicles 34:5).VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.4

    Joseph married the daughter of the “priest” of On (Genesis 41:45), and she bore him two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 46:20). Joseph did not purchase the land of the “priests” of Egypt, because the Egyptian “priests” received regular allotments from Pharaoh (Genesis 47:22).VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.5

    A “priest” is an authorized minister of deity who officiates at the altar and in other cultic rites. A “priest” performs sacrificial, ritualistic, and mediatorial duties; he represents the people before God. By contrast, a “prophet” is an intermediary between God and the people.VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.6

    The Jewish priestly office was established by the Lord in the days of Moses. But prior to the institution of the high priesthood and the priestly office, we read of the priesthood of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18) and of Midianite “priests” (Exodus 2:16; 3:1; 18:1). In Exodus 19:24, other “priests” are mentioned: these may have been either Midianite “priests” or “priests” in Israel prior to the official establishment of the Levitical priesthood. No doubt priestly functions were performed in pre-Mosaic times by the head of the family, such as Noah, Abraham, and Job. After the Flood, for example, Noah built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20-21). At Bethel, Mamre, and Moriah, Abraham built altars. In Genesis 22:12-13, we read that Abraham was willing to offer his son as a sacrifice. Job offered up sacrifices for his sinning children (Job 1:5).VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.7

    The priesthood constituted one of the central characteristics of Old Testament religion. A passage showing the importance of the priesthood is Numbers 16:5-7: “And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even tomorrow the Lord will show who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the Lord … the man whom the Lord doth choose, he shall be holy.…”VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.8

    God established Moses, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar as “priests” in Israel (Exodus 28:1, 41; Exodus 29:9, 29-30). Because Nadab and Abihu were killed when they “offered strange fire before the Lord,” the priesthood was limited to the lines of Eleazar and Ithamar (Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 3:4; 1 Chronicles 24:2).VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.9

    However, not all individuals born in the family of Aaron could serve as “priest.” Certain physical deformities excluded a man from that perfection of holiness which a “priest” should manifest before Yahweh (Leviticus 21:17-23). A “priest” who was ceremonially unclean was not permitted to perform his priestly duties. Leviticus 21:1-15 gives a list of ceremonial prohibitions that forbade a “priest” from carrying out his duties.VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.10

    Exodus 29:1-37 and Leviticus 8 describe the sevenday consecration ceremony of Aaron and his sons. Both the high priest (kôhên haggadol) and his sons were washed with water (Exodus 29:4). Then Aaron the high priest dressed in holy garments with a breastplate over his heart, and there was placed on his head a holy crown— the mitre or turban (Exodus 29:5-6). After that, Aaron was anointed with oil on his head (Exodus 29:7; cf. Psalms 133:2). Finally, the blood of a sacrificial offering was applied to Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:20-21). The consecrating bloodmark was placed upon the tip of the right ear, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the great toe of the right foot.VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.11

    The duties of the priesthood were very clearly defined by the Mosaic law. These duties were assumed on the eighth day of the service of consecration (Leviticus 9:1). The Lord told Aaron: “Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest’s office for every thing of the altar, and within the veil; and ye shall serve …” (Numbers 18:7).VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.12

    The “priests” were to act as teachers of the Law (Leviticus 10:10-11; Deuteronomy 33:10; 2 Chronicles 5:3; 2 Chronicles 17:7-9; Ezekiel 44:23; Malachi 2:6-9), a duty they did not always carry out (Micah 3:11; Malachi 2:8). In certain areas of health and jurisprudence, “priests” served as limited revelators of God’s will. For example, it was the duty of the “priest” to discern the existence of leprosy and to perform the rites of cleansing (Leviticus 13-14). Priests determined punishments for murder and other civil matters (Deuteronomy 21:5; 2 Chronicles 19:8-11).VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.13

    B. Verb. VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.14

    Kâhan (כָּהַן, Strong's #3547), “to act as a priest.” This verb, which appears 23 times in biblical Hebrew, is derived from the noun kohen. The verb appears only in the intensive stem. One occurrence is in Exodus 28:1: “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.…”VED-OT Priest; Priesthood.15


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Prince.2

    Nâśı̂y' (נָשִׁא, Strong's #5387), “prince; chief; leader.” This noun appears 129 times in biblical Hebrew. An early occurrence of nâśı̂y' is in Genesis 23:6: “Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us.…” The books of Numbers and Ezekiel use the word most frequently. Elsewhere it rarely occurs.VED-OT Prince.3

    Though the origin and meaning of nâśı̂y' are controversial, it is clearly associated with leadership, both Israelite and non-lsraelite. M. Noth proposed the idea that the nâśı̂y' was originally a tribal representative or a “deputy, chief.” Ishmael was promised to give rise to twelve “princes” (Genesis 17:20; cf. 25:16); the Midianites had “princes” (Numbers 25:18), as well as the Amorites (Joshua 13:21), the peoples of the sea (Ezekiel 26:16), Kedar (Ezekiel 27:21), Egypt (Ezekiel 30:13), and Edom (Ezekiel 32:29). Also Israel had her “princes” (“rulers”): “… On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses” (Exodus 16:22). The “princes” (“leaders”) of Israel did not only participate in the civil leadership; they were also regarded as pillars in Israelite religious life, the upholders of the covenantal way of life: “And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them” (Exodus 34:31; cf. Joshua 22:30). Hence, Israel was to obey her “leaders”: “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people” (Exodus 22:28).VED-OT Prince.4

    The Septuagint translation is arxon (“ruler; lord; prince; authority; official”), and the KJV has these translations: “prince; captain; chief; ruler.”VED-OT Prince.5

    Another noun, neshi’im, is related to neshi’. The word, which is found 4 times, means “clouds”: “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain” (Proverbs 25:14; cf. Psalms 135:7; Jeremiah 10:13; 51:16).VED-OT Prince.6

    B. Verb. VED-OT Prince.7

    Nâśâ' (נָסָה, Strong's #5375), “to lift up, carry.” This verb appears 654 times in the Old Testament; once in Genesis 44:1: “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry.…”VED-OT Prince.8


    A. Noun. VED-OT Property.2

    'Ăchûzzâh (אֲחֻזָּה, Strong's #272), “property; possession.” This word appears 66 times, with most of its appearances being in Genesis-Joshua and Ezekel.VED-OT Property.3

    Essentially 'ăchûzzâh is a legal term usually used of land, especially family holdings to be passed down to one’s heirs. In Genesis 17:13 (an early occurrence of the word) Abram is promised the territory of Palestine as a familial or tribal possession until the indiscriminate future. In Genesis 23:20 (cf. vv. 4, 9) the word bears a similar meaning. The difference appears to be that here no feudal responsibilities were attached to this “possession.” However, the rather small lot belonged to Abraham and his descendants as a burial site: “And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a burying place by the sons of Heth” (Genesis 23:20).VED-OT Property.4

    In Leviticus 25:45-46 non-lsraelites could also be inheritable property, but a fellow Israelite could not. The “inheritable property” of the Levites was not fields but the Lord Himself (Ezekiel 44:28).VED-OT Property.5

    B. Verb.VED-OT Property.6

    'chaz (אָחַז, Strong's #270), “to seize, grasp, hold fast, bolt (a door).” This verb, which occurs 64 times in biblical Hebrew, occurs also in most other Semitic languages. The verb appears in Genesis 25:26: “… And his hand took hold on Esau’s heel.…” The meaning of “to bolt” (a door) appears in Nehemiah 7:3: “… Let them shut and bolt [KJV, “bar”] the doors” (NASB). In 2 Chronicles 9:18, 'âchaz means “fastened.”VED-OT Property.7


    A. Verb.VED-OT Prophesy.2

    Nâbâ' (נָבָא, Strong's #5012), “to prophesy.” This word appears in all periods of the Hebrew language. It seems to be related to the ancient Akkadian word nabu, which in its passive form means “to be called.” The word is found in the biblical Hebrew text about 115 times. Its first appearance is in 1 Samuel 10:6, where Saul is told by Samuel that when he meets a certain band of ecstatic prophets, he too will “prophesy with them, and … be turned into another man.” This incident points up the fact that there is a certain amount of ambiguity in the biblical use of both the verb and the noun forms, just as there is in the English “to prophesy” and “prophet.” Thus, there is a wide range of meanings reflected in the term in the Old Testament.VED-OT Prophesy.3

    Most frequently nâbâ' is used to describe the function of the true prophet as he speaks God’s message to the people, under the influence of the divine spirit (1 Kings 22:8; Jeremiah 29:27; Ezekiel 37:10). “To prophesy” was a task that the prophet could not avoid: “The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8; cf. Jeremiah 20:7, where Jeremiah says that he was both attracted to and forced into being a prophet). While the formula “The word of the Lord came [to the prophet]” is used literally hundreds of times in the Old Testament, there is no real indication as to the manner in which it came— whether it came through the thought-processes, through a vision, or in some other way. Sometimes, especially in the earlier prophets, it seems that some kind of ecstatic experience may have been involved, as in 1 Samuel 10:6, 11; 19:20. Music is sometimes spoken of as a means of prophesying, as in 1 Chronicles 25:1-3.VED-OT Prophesy.4

    The false prophets, although not empowered by the divine spirit, are spoken of as prophesying also: “… I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied” (Jeremiah 23:21). The false prophet is roundly condemned because he speaks a nonauthentic word: “… Prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; … Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (Ezekiel 13:2-3). The false prophet especially is subject to frenzied states of mind which give rise to his prophesying, although the content of such activity is not clearly spelled out (1 Kings 22:10). The point is that in the biblical context “to prophesy” can refer to anything from the frenzied ecstaticism of a false prophet to the cold sober proclamation of God’s judgment by an Amos or an Isaiah.VED-OT Prophesy.5

    “To prophesy” is much more than the prediction of future events. Indeed, the first concern of the prophet is to speak God’s word to the people of his own time, calling them to covenant faithfulness. The prophet’s message is conditional, dependent upon the response of the people. Thus, by their response to this word, the people determine in large part what the future holds, as is well illustrated by the response of the Ninevites to Jonah’s preaching. Of course, prediction does enter the picture at times, such as in Nahum’s prediction of the fall of Nineveh (Nahum 2:13) and in the various messianic passages (Isaiah 9:1-6; Isaiah 11:1-9; 52:13-53:12).VED-OT Prophesy.6

    B. Noun. VED-OT Prophesy.7

    Nâbı̂y' (נָבִיא, Strong's #5030), “prophet.” The word has a possible cognate in Akkadian. It occurs about 309 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.VED-OT Prophesy.8

    Nâbı̂y' represents “prophet,” whether a true or false prophet (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5). True prophets were mouthpieces of the true God. In 1 Chronicles 29:29 three words are used for “prophet”: “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of Samuel the Seer [ro’eh] and in the Book of Nathan the Prophet [nabi’], and in the Book of Gad the Seer [chozeh].” The words translated “seer” emphasize the means by which the “prophet” communicated with God but do not identify the men as anything different from prophets (cf. 1 Samuel 9:9). The first occurrence of nâbı̂y' does not help to clearly define it either: “Now therefore restore the man [Abraham] his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live …” (Genesis 20:7).VED-OT Prophesy.9

    The second occurrence of nâbı̂y' establishes its meaning: “And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet” (Exodus 7:1). The background of this statement is Exodus 4:10-16, where Moses argued his inability to speak clearly. Hence, he could not go before Pharaoh as God’s spokesman. God promised to appoint Aaron (Moses’ brother) to be the speaker: “And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Exodus 4:16). Exodus 7:1 expresses the same idea in different words. It is clear that the word “prophet” is equal to one who speaks for another, or his mouth.VED-OT Prophesy.10

    This basic meaning of nâbı̂y' is supported by other passages. In the classical passage Deuteronomy 18:14-22, God promised to raise up another “prophet” like Moses who would be God’s spokesman (v. 18). They were held responsible for what he told them and were admonished to obey him (Deuteronomy 18:19). However, if what the “prophet” said proved to be wrong, he was to be killed (Deuteronomy 18:20). Immediately, this constitutes a promise and definition of the long succession of Israel’s prophets. Ultimately, it is a promise of the Great Prophet, Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 3:22-23). The “prophet” or dreamer of dreams might perform miracles to demonstrate that he was God’s man, but the people were to look to the message rather than the miracle before they heeded his message (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).VED-OT Prophesy.11

    In the plural nâbı̂y' is used of some who do not function as God’s mouthpieces. In the time of Samuel there were men who followed him. They went about praising God (frequently with song) and trying to stir the people to return to God (1 Samuel 10:5, 10; 19:20). Followers of Elijah and Elisha formed into groups to assist and/or to learn from these masters. They were called sons of the prophets (1 Kings 20:35). Used in this sense, the word nâbı̂y' means a companion and/or follower of a prophet.VED-OT Prophesy.12

    The word is also used of “heathen prophets”: “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kings 18:19).VED-OT Prophesy.13

    This word has a feminine form, “prophetess” (nâbı̂y'ah), which appears 6 times. In Exodus 15:20 Miriam is called a “prophetess.” Isaiah’s wife, too, is called a “prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3). This usage may be related to the meaning “a companion and/or follower of a prophet.”VED-OT Prophesy.14


    Tsâlach (צָלֵחַ, Strong's #6743), “to succeed, prosper.” This word is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew. Occurring some 65 times in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament, the word is first found in Genesis 24:21: “… whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous [literally, “to prosper”] or not.” This word generally expresses the idea of a successful venture, as contrasted with failure. The source of such success is God: “… as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5). In spite of that, the circumstances of life often raise the question, “Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1).VED-OT Prosper.2

    Tsâlach is sometimes used in such a way as to indicate “victory”: “In your majesty ride forth victoriously” (Psalms 45:4, RSV; the KJV rendering, “ride prosperously,” is not nearly so appropriate).VED-OT Prosper.3

    Provoke (Anger)

    Ka‛as (כָּעַס, Strong's #3707), “to provoke, vex, make angry.” This word is common throughout the history of Hebrew and is used in modern Hebrew in the sense of “to be angry, to rage.” It occurs some 55 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.VED-OT Provoke (Anger).2

    A word that is characteristic of the Book of Deuteronomy, it seems fitting that ka‛as is found for the first time in the Old Testament in that book: “… To provoke him to anger” (Deuteronomy 4:25). The word is characteristic also of the books of Jeremiah and Kings. A review of the uses of this verb shows that around 80 percent of them involve Yahweh’s “being provoked to anger” by Israel’s sin, especially its worship of other gods. One such example is in 2 Kings 23:19: “And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger, Josiah took away.…”VED-OT Provoke (Anger).3


    Râdaph (רָדַף, Strong's #7291), “to pursue, follow after, pass away, persecute.” This verb also appears in Coptic, Syriac, Mandaean, Arabic, and postbiblical Aramaic. It appears in the Bible about 135 times and in all periods.VED-OT Pursue.2

    The basic meaning of this verb is “to pursue after” an enemy with the intent of overtaking and defeating him. In most of its occurrences râdaph is a military term. It first occurs in Genesis 14:14, where it is reported that Abram mustered his men (אַחֳרֵן, Strong's #318), men) and “pursued them [men who took his brother] unto Dan.” A nuance of this verb is “to pursue” a defeated enemy with the intent of killing him: “And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus” (Genesis 14:15). The one pursued is not always a hostile force—so Laban “took his brethren [army] with him, and pursued after him [Jacob] seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead” (Genesis 31:23).VED-OT Pursue.3

    At times râdaph signifies pursuing without having a specific location or direction in mind, as in hunting for someone. This meaning is in 1 Samuel 26:20—David asked Saul why he was exerting so much effort on such an unimportant task (namely, pursuing him), “as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.” The word occurs in Joshua 2:5, where Rahab tells the soldiers of Jericho: “… Whither the men [Israelite spies] went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them.” This verse embodies the meaning first mentioned, but by Joshua 2:22 the emphasis has shifted to hunting, not intentional pursuit after an enemy whose location is known but a searching for an enemy in order to kill him: “And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.”VED-OT Pursue.4

    In another nuance râdaphcan signify “to put to flight” or “to confront and cause to flee.” Moses reminded the Israelites that “the Amorites … came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah” (Deuteronomy 1:44). Bees do not pursue their victims, but they certainly do put them to flight, or cause them to flee. In Joshua 23:10 Israel is reminded: “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you” (cf. Leviticus 26:8).VED-OT Pursue.5

    Used in another sense, râdaph signifies the successful accomplishment of a pursuit; the pursuer overtakes the pursued but does not utterly destroy him (in the case of an army) and, therefore, continues the pursuit until the enemy is utterly destroyed. So Israel is warned of the penalty of disobedience to God: “The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever …; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish” (Deuteronomy 28:22; cf. v. 45). This is the emphasis when God admonishes Israel: “That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land …” (Deuteronomy 16:20); Israel is “to pursue” justice and only justice, as a goal always achieved but never perfected. They are to always have justice in their midst, and always “to pursue” it. This same sense appears in other figurative uses of the word: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life …” (Psalms 23:6; cf. Isaiah 1:23; 5:11; Hosea 6:3).VED-OT Pursue.6

    In a related meaning râdaph can signify “follow after.” This is not with any intention to do harm to the one pursued but merely “to overtake” him. So Gehazi “pursued” (followed after) Naaman, overtook him, and asked him for a talent of silver and two changes of clothes (2 Kings 5:21-22). The word also means “to follow after” in the sense of “practicing,” or following a leader: “They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is” (Psalms 38:20; cf. 119:150; Proverbs 21:21).VED-OT Pursue.7

    The third meaning of râdaph, “to persecute,” represents the constant infliction of pain or trouble upon one’s enemies. This meaning is seen in Deuteronomy 30:7: “And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee” (cf. Job 19:22, 28).VED-OT Pursue.8

    A special use of râdaph appears in Ecclesiastes 3:15: “… God requireth [holds men accountable for] that which is past.” Men should serve God (literally, “fear him”) because God controls all things. Men should be on His side, since He is totally sovereign. The intensive stem sometimes means to pursue relentlessly and passionately as a harlot “pursues” her lovers (Proverbs 11:19).VED-OT Pursue.9

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