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    Tabernacle — Turn Towards, Turn Back


    A. Noun.VED-OT Tabernacle.2

    Mishkân (מִשְׁכָּן, Strong's #4908), “dwelling place; tabernacle; shrine.” This word appears 139 times and refers in its first occurrence to the “tabernacle”: “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exodus 25:9). Mishkân is found primarily in Exodus and Numbers, and it always designates the sanctuary. With this meaning it is a synonym for the phrase “tent of meeting.” In total, 100 out of the 139 uses of mishkân throughout the Old Testament signify the tabernacle as “dwelling place.” God dwelt amidst His people in the wilderness, and His presence was symbolically manifest in the tent of meeting. The word mishkân places the emphasis on the representative presence of God: “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright” (Leviticus 26:11-13). Hence, sin among the Israelites defiled God’s “dwelling-place” (Leviticus 15:31; cf. Numbers 19:13).VED-OT Tabernacle.3

    Whereas the “tabernacle” was mobile, the temple was built for the particular purpose of religious worship: “… I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle” (2 Samuel 7:6). Solomon built it and the finished structure was known as “the house,” the temple instead of the dwelling place (mishkân) In later literature mishkân is a poetic synonym for “temple”: “I will not give sleep … until I find out a place for the Lord, a habitation for the mighty God of Jacob” (Psalms 132:4-5). The meaning of mishkân was also extended to include the whole area surrounding the temple, as much as the city Jerusalem: “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High” (Psalms 46:4), “the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalms 87:2).VED-OT Tabernacle.4

    The defilement of the city and the temple area was sufficient reason for God to leave the temple (Ezekiel 10) and to permit the destruction of His “dwelling place” by the brutish Babylonians: “They have cast fire into thy sanctuary, they have defiled by casting down the dwelling place of thy name to the ground” (Psalms 74:7). In the Lord’s providence He had planned to restore His people and the temple so as to assure them of His continued presence: “My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezekiel 37:27-28). John comments that Jesus Christ was God’s “tabernacle”: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and Jesus later referred to Himself as the temple: “But He spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:21).VED-OT Tabernacle.5

    In non-religious use mishkân is “the dwelling place” of an individual (Numbers 16:24), of Israel (Numbers 24:5), and of strangers (Habakkuk 1:6).VED-OT Tabernacle.6

    The usual translation of mishkân in the Septuagint is skene (“dwelling; booth”), which is also the translation for ‘ohel, “tent.” It has been suggested that the similarity in sound of the Hebrew shakan and the Greek skene influenced the translation. Another translation is skenoma (“tent; dwelling; lodging”). The translations in the KJV are: “tabernacle; dwelling place; dwelling; habitation.”VED-OT Tabernacle.7

    B. Verb.VED-OT Tabernacle.8

    Shâkên (שָׁכֵן, Strong's #7934), “to dwell, inhabit.” This verb, which occurs about 129 times in biblical Hebrew, is found also in other Semitic languages. In Akkadian sakanu, “to lay, to set up, to be situated,” has many forms, such as the noun mackana, “dwelling place.” One occurrence of the verb is in Psalms 37:27: “Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.”VED-OT Tabernacle.9

    Take Away

    A. Verbs. VED-OT Take Away.2

    Lâqach (לָקַח, Strong's #3947), “to take, receive, take away.” This word occurs in all Semitic languages and in all periods of Hebrew. It occurs about 965 times in the Old Testament.VED-OT Take Away.3

    Primarily this word means “to take, grasp, take hold of,” as when Noah reached out and “took hold of” the dove to bring it back into the ark (Genesis 8:9). A secondary meaning is “to take away, remove, take to oneself,” as when the invading kings “took away” and “took to themselves” all the movable goods of the cities of the plain (Genesis 14:11). Sometimes this verb implies “to receive something from someone.” So Abraham asks Ephron the Hittite to “receive from” his hand payment for the field which contained the sepulchre (Genesis 23:13). With the particle “for” lâqach means “to take someone or something,” as when Joseph’s brothers remarked that they were afraid he was scheming “to take” them to be slaves, mentioned in Genesis 43:18. Another secondary use of this word is “to transfer” a thing, concept, or emotion, such as “take vengeance” (Isaiah 47:3), “receive reproach” (Ezekiel 36:30), and “receive a [whisper]” (Job 4:12). In other passages this verb is virtually a helping verb serving to prepare for an action stipulated in a subsequent verb; God “took” Adam and put him into the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15—the first occurrence of the verb). Finally, this word can be used elliptically, suggesting the phrase “take and bring,” but only “taken” is written. Noah is told to “take” (and bring) clean animals by sevens into the ark (Genesis 7:2).VED-OT Take Away.4

    This verb is used of God in several connections. Sometimes God is pictured as having bodily parts (anthropomorphically). This is the implication of Genesis 2:15, where the Lord “took” Adam and put him into Eden. God’s taking sometimes connotes election, as when He “took” Abraham from his father’s house (Genesis 24:7). He also “takes” in the sense of taking to Himself or accepting. Thus, He “accepts” offerings (Judges 13:23) and prayers (Psalms 6:9). God “takes away” in judgment David’s wives (2 Samuel 12:11) and the kingdom (1 Kings 11:34)VED-OT Take Away.5

    Of special interest is the use of the verb in the absolute sense: God “took away” Enoch so that he was not found on earth (Genesis 5:24). This meaning of receiving one into heaven to Himself seems to be the force of Psalms 73:24 and perhaps of Psalms 49:15.VED-OT Take Away.6

    Lâkad (לָכַד, Strong's #3920), “to capture; seize; take captive.” This term is found in both ancient and modern Hebrew. It occurs about 120 times in biblical Hebrew and is found for the first time in the text in Numbers 21:32, where the Israelites are said to have taken the villages of the Amorites.VED-OT Take Away.7

    The act of “capturing, seizing” is usually connected with fighting wars or battles, so a variety of objects may be tken. Cities are often “captured” in war (Joshua 8:21; 10:1; Judges 1:8, 12). Land or territory also is taken as booty of war (Joshua 10:42; Daniel 11:18). Strategic geographic areas such as watercourses “are captured” (Judges 3:28). Sometimes kings and princes “are seized” in battle (Judges 7:25; 12, 14), as well as fighting men and horses (2 Samuel 8:4). Saul is spoken of as actually taking the kingdom, apparently by force of arms (1 Samuel 14:47). In establishing the source of Israel’s defeat by Ai, lots were used “to take or separate” the guilty party, Achan and his family (Joshua 7:14).VED-OT Take Away.8

    Occasionally lâkad is used in the figurative sense, especially in terms of men “being caught” in the trap of divine judgment (Psalms 9:15; Isaiah 8:15; 24:18).VED-OT Take Away.9

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Take Away.10

    Leqach (לֶקַח, Strong's #3948), “teaching; instruction; persuasiveness; understanding.” The word is used in the sense of something taken in. This noun occurs 9 times in the Old Testament, several times in Proverbs. One occurrence is in Proverbs 1:5: “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning.…” The word refers to “persuasiveness” in Proverbs 7:21.VED-OT Take Away.11

    Several other nouns are related to leqach. Malqoach refers to “things taken in warfare,” and it appears 7 times (Numbers 31:32). Malqoach also means “jaws” once (Psalms 22:15). Melqachayim refers to “snuffers” (Exodus 37:23), and it is found 6 times. Miqqach occurs once to mean “taking” (2 Chronicles 19:7). Maqqachot means “wares” once (Nehemiah 10:31).VED-OT Take Away.12

    Take, Handle

    Tâphaś (תָּפַשׂ, Strong's #8610), “to catch, seize, lay hold of, grasp, play.” This verb is found in both biblical and modern Hebrew. It occurs approximately 60 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The word is found for the first time in Genesis 4:21, where it expresses the idea of grasping something in one’s hand in order to use it: “… He was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.” Other things that are “seized” with the hand, or “handled,” are: swords (Ezekiel 21:11), shields (Jeremiah 46:9), bows (Amos 2:15), and sickles (Jeremiah 50:16). The expert in torah, “law,” is one who “handles” the law, but he sometimes mishandles it also: “… They that handle the law knew me not …” (Jeremiah 2:8).VED-OT Take, Handle.2

    “To seize” someone may be to arrest him: “… Irijah took [NASB, “arrested”] Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes” (Jeremiah 37:14). Frequently, tâphaś is used in the sense of “to capture”: “And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua” (Joshua 8:23). “To lay hold of,” or “seize,” hearts is to terrorize: “That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols” (Ezekiel 14:5).VED-OT Take, Handle.3

    'Âchaz (אָחַז, Strong's #270), “to seize, grasp, take hold, take possession.” Found in various Semitic languages, including ancient Akkadian, this word is a common one throughout the stages of the Hebrew language. It occurs almost 70 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is used for the first time in the Old Testament in the passive sense with reference to the ram “caught in a thicket by his horns” (Genesis 22:13) and thus became a substitute for Isaac.VED-OT Take, Handle.4

    While 'âchaz is a common term for taking hold of things physically, such as Jacob’s “taking hold” of Esau’s heel (Genesis 25:26), 'âchaz is frequently used in a metaphorical or figurative sense. In His wrath, God “seized” Job by the neck (Job 16:12). On the other hand, the psalmist testifies that in His grace, God “holds” his right hand (Psalms 73:23). Pain and trembling “seize” the enemies of Israel (Exodus 15:14-15). Horror “seizes” the people of the east (Job 18:20).VED-OT Take, Handle.5

    This word gives us the name of Ahaz, king of Judah (2 Kings 16).VED-OT Take, Handle.6


    A. Verbs. VED-OT Teach.2

    Lâmad (לָמַד, Strong's #3925), “to teach, learn, cause to learn.” This common Semitic term is found throughout the history of the Hebrew language and in ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic. Lâmad is found approximately 85 times in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament. In its simple, active form, this verb has the meaning “to learn,” but it is also found in a form giving the causative sense, “to teach.” This word is first used in the Hebrew Old Testament in Deuteronomy 4:1: “… Hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you.…”VED-OT Teach.3

    In Deuteronomy 5:1 lâmad is used of learning God’s laws: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.” A similar meaning occurs in Psalms 119:7. The word may be used of learning other things: works of the heathen (Psalms 106:35); wisdom (Proverbs 30:3); and war (Micah 4:3).VED-OT Teach.4

    About half the occurrences of lâmad are found in the books of Deuteronomy and Psalms, underlining the teaching emphasis found in these books. Judaism’s traditional emphasis on teaching and thus preserving its faith clearly has its basis in the stress on teaching the faith found in the Old Testament, specifically Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Following the Shema’, the “watchword of Judaism” that declares that Yahweh is One (Deuteronomy 6:4), is the “first great commandment” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:28-29). When Moses delivered the Law to his people, he said, “… The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments …” (Deuteronomy 4:14).VED-OT Teach.5

    The later Jewish term talmud, “instruction,” is derived from this verb.VED-OT Teach.6

    Yârâh (יָרָא, Strong's #3384), throw, teach, shoot, point out.” Found in all periods of the Hebrew language, this root is also found in ancient Ugaritic with the sense of “to shoot”; modern Hebrew uses the word to express the firing of a gun. Yârâh occurs approximately 80 times in the Hebrew Old Testament.VED-OT Teach.7

    The first use of this verb in the Old Testament is in Genesis 31:51: “… Behold this pillar, which I have cast betwixt me and thee.” This basic meaning, “to throw or cast,” is expressed in “casting” lots (Joshua 18:6) and by Pharaoh’s army “being cast” into the sea (Exodus 15:4).VED-OT Teach.8

    The idea of “to throw” is easily extended to mean the shooting of arrows (1 Samuel 20:36-37). “To throw” seems to be further extended to mean “to point,” by which fingers are thrown in a certain direction (Genesis 46:28; Proverbs 6:13).VED-OT Teach.9

    From this meaning it is only a short step to the concept of teaching as the “pointing out” of fact and truth. Thus, Bezaleel was inspired by God “to teach” others his craftsmanship (Exodus 35:34); the false prophets “teach” lies (Isaiah 9:15); and the father “taught” his son (Proverbs 4:4). It was the responsibility of the priests to interpret and “to teach” those things that had to do with ceremonial requirements and God’s judgments: “They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law …” (Deuteronomy 33:10; cf. Deuteronomy 17:10-11). Interestingly, priests at a later time were said “to teach” for hire, presumably “to teach” what was wanted rather than true interpretation of God’s word (Micah 3:11).VED-OT Teach.10

    B. Noun. VED-OT Teach.11

    Tôrâh (תֹּרָה, Strong's #8451), “direction; instruction; guideline.” From yârâh is derived tôrâh, one of the most important words in the Old Testament. Seen against the background of the verb tôrâh, it becomes clear that tôrâh is much more than law or a set of rules. Tôrâh is not restriction or hindrance, but instead the means whereby one can reach a goal or ideal. In the truest sense, tôrâh was given to Israel to enable her to truly become and remain God’s special people. One might say that in keeping tôrâh, Israel was kept. Unfortunately, Israel fell into the trap of keeping tôrâh as something imposed, and for itself, rather than as a means of becoming what God intended for her. The means became the end. Instead of seeing tôrâh as a guideline, it became an external body of rules, and thus a weight rather than a freeing and guiding power. This burden, plus the legalism of Roman law, forms the background of the New Testament tradition of law, especially as Paul struggles with it in his Letter to the church at Rome.VED-OT Teach.12

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Teach.13

    Limmud means “taught.” This adjective forms an exact equivalent to the New Testament idea of “disciple, one who is taught.” This is well expressed in Isaiah 8:16: “… Seal the law among my disciples.” The word also occurs in Isaiah 54:13: “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.…”VED-OT Teach.14


    A. Verb. VED-OT Tell.2

    Nâgad (נָגַד, Strong's #5046), “to tell, explain, inform.” An exact equivalent to this verb is not known outside biblical Hebrew except in late Aramaic. The verb occurs around 335 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Tell.3

    The first emphasis of the word is “to tell.” This especially means that A (frequently a messenger or some other person who has witnessed something) “tells” B (the one to whom the report is made) C (the report). In such instances B (the one told) is spatially separated from the original source of the information. So, in Genesis 9:22, Ham (A) saw his father naked and went outside the tent and “told” his brothers (B) what he had seen (C).VED-OT Tell.4

    In another group of passages nâgad represents the reporting of a messenger about a matter of life-or-death importance for the recipient. So a fugitive “came … and told Abram” that Lot had been captured and led away captive (Genesis 14:13). A note of this emotionally charged situation is seen in Jacob’s message to Esau: “… I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight” (Genesis 32:5). Although not a report from a messenger from afar, Genesis 12:18 uses the verb of a report that is of crucial importance to the one addressed. Pharaoh asked Abram: “Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?” Genesis 12:17 reports that because Pharaoh had taken Sarai into his harem to become his wife, God had smitten his household with great plagues.VED-OT Tell.5

    Finally, nâgad means “to explain or reveal” something one does not otherwise know. In Genesis 3:11 (the first biblical occurrence of the word) God asked Adam: “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” This was information immediately before them but not previously grasped by them. This usage appears in Genesis 41:24, where Pharaoh said of his dream: “… I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.” Similarly, David made certain there were no survivors from the Philistine cities he looted so no one would “tell” it to Achish (1 Samuel 27:11). This word sometimes has a more forceful significance—God told the prophet to “show my people their transgression” (Isaiah 58:1).VED-OT Tell.6

    B. Noun. VED-OT Tell.7

    Nâgı̂yd (נַגִד, Strong's #5057), “chief leader.” This noun occurs 44 times in biblical Hebrew. In 1 Samuel 9:16 the word is used as a “chief leader” that is equivalent to a king: “Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel.…” Nâgı̂yd appears in 1 Chronicles 9:11 to refer to a “chief leader” (ruler) of a smaller region. The word may also be used of a head of a family (1 Chronicles 9:20).VED-OT Tell.8

    C. Preposition. VED-OT Tell.9

    Neged (נֶגֶד, Strong's #5048), “before; in the presence of; in the sight of; in front of; in one’s estimation; straight ahead.” This word occurs 156 times in biblical Hebrew as a preposition and an adverb. Basically the word indicates that its object is immediately “before” something or someone. It is used in Genesis 2:18, where God said He would make Adam “a help meet for him,” or someone to correspond to him, just as the males and females of the animals corresponded to (matched) one another. To be immediately “before” the sun is to be fully in the sunlight (Numbers 25:4). In Exodus 10:10 Pharaoh told Moses that evil was immediately “before” his face, or was in his mind. Neged signifies “in front of” (Exodus 19:2), “before” in the sense of “in one’s estimation” (Isaiah 40:17), and “straight ahead (before)” (Joshua 6:5). In combination with other particles neged means “contrary to” (Numbers 22:32).VED-OT Tell.10

    D. Adverb. VED-OT Tell.11

    Neged(נֶגֶד, Strong's #5048), “opposite; over against.” This meaning of neged appears in Genesis 21:16: “And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off.…”VED-OT Tell.12


    Hêykâl (הֵיכָל, Strong's #1964), “palace; temple.” This word is indirectly derived from the Sumerian egal, “large house, palace,” and more directly from the Akkadian ekallu, “large house.” The influence of the Akkadian ekallu spread to the Northwest Semitic languages. In post-biblical Hebrew the meaning became limited to “temple.” The Hekhal Chlomo (“Temple of Solomon”) in modern Jerusalem signifies the building of Israel’s chief rabbinate, in absence of the temple. The word occurs 78 times from First Samuel to Malachi, most frequently in Ezekiel. The first usage pertains to the tabernacle at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:9).VED-OT Temple.2

    The word “palace” in English versions may have one of three Hebrew words behind it: hêykâl, bayit, or ‘armon. The Sumero-Akkadian meaning “palace” for hêykâl is still to be found in biblical Hebrew. The hekal with its 15 usages as “palace” refers to the palaces of Ahab (1 Kings 21:1), of the king of Babylon (2 Kings 20:18), and of Nineveh (Nahum 2:6). The “palace” was luxuriously decorated and the residents enjoyed the fulfillment of their pleasures; cf.: “And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged” (Isaiah 13:22). The psalmist compared beautiful girls to fine pillars in an ornate “palace”: “… That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace” (Psalms 144:12). Amos prophesied that the “songs of the palace” (KJV, “temple”) were to turn to wailing at the destruction of the northern kingdom (Amos 8:3, NASB).VED-OT Temple.3

    Hêykâl with the meaning “temple” is generally clarified in the context by two markers that follow. The first marker is the addition “of the Lord”: “And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel” (Ezra 3:10). The second marker is a form of the word qodesh, “holy”: “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps” (Psalms 79:1). Sometimes the definite article suffices to identify the “temple in Jerusalem”: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1), especially in a section dealing with the “temple” (Ezekiel 41).VED-OT Temple.4

    The Old Testament also speaks about the heavenly hêykâl, the hêykâl of God. It is difficult to decide on a translation, whether “palace” or “temple.” Most versions opt in favor of the “temple” idea: “Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord God be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple” (Micah 1:2; cf. Psalms 5:7; 11:4; Habakkuk 2:20). “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears” (2 Samuel 22:7). However, since Scripture portrays the presence of the royal judgment throne in heaven, it is not altogether impossible that the original authors had a royal “palace” in mind. The imagery of the throne, the “palace,” and judgment seems to lie behind Psalms 11:4-5. “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.”VED-OT Temple.5

    The Septuagint has the words naos (“temple”) and oikos (“house; palace; dwelling; household”).VED-OT Temple.6


    'Ôhel (אֹהֶל, Strong's #168), “tent; home; dwelling; habitation.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Arabic. It appears about 343 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.VED-OT Tent.2

    First, this word refers to the mobile structure called a “tent.” This is its meaning in Genesis 4:20: “And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle.” These are what nomadic Bedouins normally live in. “Tents” can also be used as housing for animals: “They smote also the tents of cattle [NASB, “those who owned”], and carried away sheep and camels in abundance …” (2 Chronicles 14:15). Soldiers lived in “tents” during military campaigns (1 Samuel 17:54). A “tent” was pitched on top of a house so everyone could see that Absalom went in to his father’s concubines (2 Samuel 16:22). This constituted an open rejection of David’s dominion and a declaration that he (Absalom) was claiming the throne.VED-OT Tent.3

    Second, the word is a synonym for “home, dwelling,” and “habitation.” This emphasis is especially evident in Judges 19:9: “… Behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and tomorrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.” This meaning appears in the phrase “to your tents”: “We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel” (2 Samuel 20:1). The “tabernacle” (“tent”) of David, therefore, is his dwelling place or palace (Isaiah 16:5). Similarly, the “tabernacle” (“tent”) of the daughter of Zion is Israel’s capital, or what Israel inhabits— Jerusalem (Lamentations 2:4).VED-OT Tent.4

    Third, 'ôhel may represent those who dwell in the dwellings of a given area or who form a unit of people. Thus the “tents” of Judah are her inhabitants: “The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah” (Zechariah 12:7; cf. Psalms 83:6).VED-OT Tent.5

    Bedouin “tents” today (as in the past) are constructed of strong black cloth of woven goat’s hair. They are shaped variously. The women pitch them by stretching the cloth over poles and tying it down with cords of goat’s hair or hemp. Wooden mallets are used to drive the tent pegs into the ground (Judges 4:21). Sometimes the structure is divided in order to separate families or to separate animals from people (2 Chronicles 14:15). The back of the “tent” is closed and the front open. The door is made by turning back the fold where the two ends of the cloth meet (Genesis 18:1). The “tent” and all its contents are transported on the back of a single pack animal. Richer people cover the floor with mats of various materials. A chief or sheikh may have several “tents”—one for himself and his guest(s), another for his wives and other females in his immediate family, and still another for the animals (Genesis 31:33).VED-OT Tent.6

    Before the construction of the tabernacle Moses pitched a “tent” outside the camp (Exodus 33:7). There he met with God. The “tent” outside the camp persisted as a living institution for only a short period after the construction of the tabernacle and before the departure from Sinai (Numbers 111:16ff.; 12:4ff.). Eventually the ark of the covenant was moved into the tabernacle (Exodus 40:21) where the Lord met with Moses and spoke to Israel (Exodus 29:42). This structure is called the tent of meeting inasmuch as it contained the ark of the covenant and the tables of testimony (Numbers 9:15). As the tent of meeting it was the place where God met with His people through Moses (or the high priest) and revealed His will to them (1 Samuel 2:22).VED-OT Tent.7


    A. Verb.VED-OT Test.2

    Tsâraph (צָרַף, Strong's #6884), “to refine, try, smelt, test.” This root with the basic meaning of smelting and refining is found outside the Old Testament in Akkadian, Phoenician, and Syriac. In Arabic an adjective derived from the verb means “pure, unmixed,” describing the quality of wine. Tsâraph has maintained the meaning “to refine” in rabbinic and modern Hebrew, but lost the primary significance of “to smelt” in modern Hebrew.VED-OT Test.3

    The verb occurs fewer than 35 times in the Old Testament, mainly in the prophets and in the Book of Psalms. The first occurrence is in the story of Gideon, where 10,000 are “being tested” and only 300 are chosen to fight with Gideon against the Midianites: “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there …” (Judges 7:4). The meaning in this context is “to test,” to find out who is qualified for battle. The only other occurrence of the verb in Judges is equivalent to a noun in English: “smith,” in this context a silversmith (17:4). Jeremiah describes the process of smelting and refining: “The bellows [blow fiercely], the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away” (Jeremiah 6:29), and the failure of refining the silver leads to rejection (Jeremiah 6:30). The process (smelting) and the result (refining) are often considered together. It is difficult to separate them in biblical usage. Hence, the work of the smith involves smelting, refining, and particularly the use of the refined metals in making the final product: “The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains” (Isaiah 40:19). He used a hammer and anvil in making fine layers of gold used in plating the form (Isaiah 41:7).VED-OT Test.4

    Tsâraph is also used metaphorically with the sense “to refine by means of suffering.” The psalmist describes the experience of Israel in this way: “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou … laidst affliction upon our loins.… We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Psalms 66:10-12). God’s judgment is also described as a process of refining: “And I will … purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin” (Isaiah 1:25). Those who were thus purified are those who call on the name of the Lord and receive the gracious benefits of the covenant (Zechariah 13:9). The coming of the messenger of the covenant (Jesus Christ) is compared to the work of a smith: “But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire.… And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver …” (Malachi 3:2-3). The believer can take comfort in the Word of God which alone on earth is tried and purified and by which we can be purified: “Thy promise is well tried, and thy servant loves it” (Psalms 119:140, RSV; cf. Psalms 18:30; Proverbs 30:5).VED-OT Test.5

    Tsâraph has the following translations in the Septuagint: purao (“to burn; to make red hot”) and chruso-o (“to gild; to overlay with gold”). The KJV gives the following translations: “to refine; try; melt; founder; goldsmith.” In the RSV, NASB, and NIV the verb “to test” is given instead of “to try.”VED-OT Test.6

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Test.7

    Two nouns derived from the verb tsâraph occur rarely. Tsorpi occurs once to mean “goldsmith” (Nehemiah 3:31). Matsrep occurs twice and refers to a “crucible”: “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace is for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts” (Proverbs 17:3; cf. Proverbs 27:21).VED-OT Test.8


    ‛Êdûth (עֵדוּת, Strong's #5715), “testimony; ordinance.” The 83 occurrences of this word are scattered throughout all types of biblical literature and all periods (although not before the giving of the law at Mount Sinai).VED-OT Testimony.2

    This word refers to the Ten Commandments as a solemn divine charge or duty. In particular, it represents those commandments as written on the tablets and existing as a reminder and “testimony” of Israel’s relationship and responsibility to God: “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Elsewhere these tablets are called simply “the testimony” (Exodus 25:16). Since they were kept in the ark, it became known as the “ark of the testimony” (Exodus 25:22) or simply “the testimony”: “As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept” (Exodus 16:34—the first biblical occurrence of the word). The tabernacle as the housing for the ark containing these tablets was sometimes called the “tabernacle of testimony” (Exodus 38:21) or the “tent of the testimony” (Numbers 9:15).VED-OT Testimony.3

    The word sometimes refers to the entire law of God: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7). Here ‛êdûth is synonymously parallel to “law,” making it a synonym to that larger concept. Special or particular laws are sometimes called “testimonies”: “And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies …” (1 Kings 2:3). In Psalms 122:4 the annual pilgrimage feasts are called “the testimony of Israel.”VED-OT Testimony.4

    There Is

    Yêsh (יֵשׁ, Strong's #3426), “there is; substance; he/she/ it is/are.” Cognates of this word are attested in Ugaritic, Aramaic, Akkadian, Amorite, and Arabic. It appears about 137 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT There Is.2

    This particle is used substantively only in Proverbs 8:21: “… That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.”VED-OT There Is.3

    In all other appearances the word asserts existence with emphasis. Sometimes yêsh appears with a predicate following, as it does in Genesis 28:16: “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” In a few passages the word is used as a response to an inquiry: “Is the seer here? And they [the young maidens] answered them, and said, He is; behold, he is before you …” (1 Samuel 9:11-12). Used absolutely the word can mean “there is/are/was/were,” as it does in Genesis 18:24 (the first biblical appearance): “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city …?” In many contexts yêsh used in framing questions or protestations suggests doubt that the matter queried exists or is to be found: “As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not” (1 Kings 18:10). This is especially clear in Jeremiah 5:1, where God commands the prophet to go and seek “if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth.…”VED-OT There Is.4

    There are several other special uses of yêsh. Used with the particle ‘im and a participle, it emphasizes abiding intention: “And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go [literally, if there surely is a prospering of my way; or if it surely is that you intend to prosper] …” (Genesis 24:42). Possession is sometimes indicated by yêsh plus the preposition le: “And Esau said, I have enough, my brother …” (Genesis 33:9). Used with the infinitive and the preposition le, yêsh signifies possibility—Elisha told the Shunammite woman: “… Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? Wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host [is it possible that you want me to speak a word in your behalf to]?” (2 Kings 4:13).VED-OT There Is.5

    Think, Devise

    A. Verb.VED-OT Think, Devise.2

    Châshab (חָשַׁב, Strong's #2803), “to think, devise, purpose, esteem, count, imagine, impute.” This word appears 123 times in the Old Testament, and it implies any mental process involved in planning or conceiving.VED-OT Think, Devise.3

    Châshab can be translated as “devise” in association with the sense of “to think and reckon.” A gihed person of God “devises” excellent works in gold and other choice objects (Exodus 35:35).  The word may deal with evil, as when Haman “devised” an evil plot against the Jewish people (Esther 8:3). David issued his prayer against those who “devise” evil toward him as a servant of the Lord (Psalms 35:4), and the scoundrel “devises” perverse things in Proverbs 16:30. Other verses indicating an immoral intent behind the action of “devising” are Jeremiah 18:11; 18:18; Ezekiel 11:2.VED-OT Think, Devise.4

    The word may mean “think.” Some “thought” to do away with David by sending him against the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:25); Judah “thought” Tamar to be a harlot (Genesis 38:15); and Eli “thought” Hannah was drunk (1 Samuel 1:13). God repented of the evil concerning the judgment he “thought” to bring upon Israel (Jeremiah 18:8). Those who fear the Lord may also “think” upon His name (Malachi 3:16).VED-OT Think, Devise.5

    Châshab may be rendered “to purpose” or “esteem.” God asked Job if he could tame the Leviathan, who “… esteemeth him as straw, and brass as rotten wood” (Job 41:27). A classic usage of “esteem” appears in Isaiah 53:3-4: “He [the Messiah] is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs.… Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Some uses of “to purpose” have a malevolent intent. David’s enemies have “purpose” to overthrow him (Psalms 140:4). God repented of the evil He “purposed” to do concerning Israel (Jeremiah 26:3), and perhaps the people will repent when they hear the evil God has “purposed” against the nation (Jeremiah 36:3). On the other hand, God “purposes” evil against the land of the Chaldeans in His judgment after using them for the purification of His people, Israel (Jeremiah 50:45)VED-OT Think, Devise.6

    Translated as “count,” the word is used in a number of ways. It had a commercial connotation, as when land was being redeemed and the price was established, based on the value of crops until the next year of Jubilee: “Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus …” (Leviticus 25:27). The same idea concerns the provisions for the Levites when Israel offered their gifts to the Lord (Numbers 18:30). “Count” may imply “to be thought or reckoned.” Bildad declared to Job, “Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?” (Job 18:3). Those who seek to live for the Lord are “counted” as sheep for the slaughter (Psalms 44:22). The foolish person, when he holds his peace, is “counted” as wise (Proverbs 17:28). A theological emphasis exists in God’s reward of Abraham, when the patriarch believed God and His word: “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).VED-OT Think, Devise.7

    Most uses of châshab translated as “imagine” bear an evil connotation. Job chided his friends: “Do ye imagine to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate …” (Job 6:26); David’s enemies “imagined” a mischievous device (Psalms 21:11); and Nahum complained of those who “imagine” evil against the Lord (Nahum 1:11).VED-OT Think, Devise.8

    Other unique translations of châshab occur. In order to approach God, Asaph had to remember and “consider” the days of old (Psalms 77:5). God had a controversy with Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, because he “conceived” a plan against Him and His people (Jeremiah 49:30). The prophet Amos cites people who “invent” instruments of music and enjoy it (Amos 6:5). Huram of Tyre sent a man to help Solomon in the building of the temple, who knew how to “find out” all the works of art—i.e., he could work in various metals and fabrics to design a work of beauty (2 Chronicles 2:14). Joseph had to remind his brethren that he did not seek to do them harm because they had sold him into slavery, since God “meant” it for the good of the preservation of Jacob’s sons (Genesis 50:20).VED-OT Think, Devise.9

    Infrequently, châshab is translated as “impute”: “And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it; it shall be an abomination” (Leviticus 7:18). When an Israelite killed a sacrifice in any place except an appointed altar, the blood was “imputed” to that man; the substitute sacrifice would not atone for the offerer at all, and the offerer would bear his own guilt (Leviticus 17:4). David could praise God for forgiveness because the Lord will not “impute” iniquity after he had confessed his sin (Psalms 32:2).VED-OT Think, Devise.10

    B. Adjective.VED-OT Think, Devise.11

    Châshab (חָשַׁב, Strong's #2803), “cunning.” This word is applied to those who performed “cunning” work with parts of the tabernacle: “And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, … an engraver, and a cunning workman …” (Exodus 38:23). This meaning of châshab as “cunning” appears 11 times in Exodus. But this skill was more than human invention—it indicated how the Spirit of God imparts wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (cf. Exodus 36:8; 39:3).VED-OT Think, Devise.12


    Kissê' (כִּסֵּא, Strong's #3678), “throne; seat.” This word, with the basic meaning “seat of honor,” occurs in many Semitic languages (Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic) and in ancient Egyptian.VED-OT Throne.2

    Kissê' occurs 130 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and, as is to be expected, the frequency is greater in the historical books and the prophetical works. It is rare in the Pentateuch. The first usage of kissê' is in Genesis 41:40: “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” In modern Hebrew the word mainly denotes a “chair,” and “throne” is further described as a “royal chair.”VED-OT Throne.3

    In the Old Testament the basic meaning of kissê' is “seat” or “chair.” Visitors were seated on a chair (1 Kings 2:19), as well as guests (2 Kings 4:10) and older men (1 Samuel 1:9). When the king or elders assembled to administer justice, they sat on the throne of justice (Proverbs 20:8; cf. Psalms 9:4). In these contexts kissê' is associated with honor. However, in the case of the prostitute (Proverbs 9:14) and soldiers who set up their chairs (Jeremiah 1:15kissê' may mean “throne” here; cf. KJV, NASB, NlV), kissê' signifies a place and nothing more.VED-OT Throne.4

    The more frequent sense of kissê' is “throne” or “seat of honor,” also known as the “royal seat”: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites” (Deuteronomy 17:18; cf. 1 Kings 1:46). Since the Davidic dynasty received the blessing of God, the Old Testament has a number of references to “the throne of David” (2 Samuel 3:10; Jeremiah 22:2, 30; 36:30): “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isaiah 9:7). The “throne of Israel” is a synonymous phrase for “throne of David” (1 Kings 2:4; cf. 8:20, 25; 9:5; 10:9; 2 Kings 10:30; 15:12, etc.).VED-OT Throne.5

    The physical appearance of the “throne” manifested the glory of the king. Solomon’s “throne” was an artistic product with ivory inlays, the wood covered with a layer of fine gold (1 Kings 10:18).VED-OT Throne.6

    The word kissê' was also used to represent “kingship” and the succession to the throne. David had sworn that Solomon would sit on his “throne” (1 Kings 1:13; cf. 2 Kings 10:3).VED-OT Throne.7

    Above all human kingship and “thrones” was the God of Israel: “God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness” (Psalms 47:8). The Israelites viewed God as the ruler who was seated on a “throne.” Micaiah said in the presence of Ahab and Jehoshaphat: “Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (1 Kings 22:19). Isaiah received a vision of God’s glory revealed in the temple (Isaiah 6:1). The presence of the Lord in Jerusalem also gave rise to the conception that Jerusalem was the throne of God (Jeremiah 3:17).VED-OT Throne.8

    T he Septuagint translation is thronos (“throne; dominion; sovereignty”).VED-OT Throne.9


    A. Noun. VED-OT Time.2

    ‛Êth (עֵת, Strong's #6256), “time; period of time; appointed time; proper time; season.” This word also appears in Phoenician, post-biblical Hebrew, Arabic (where the same radicals constitute a verb signifying “to appear”), and Akkadian (where these radicals form an adverb signifying “at the time when”). ‛Êth appears about 290 times in the Bible and in all periods.VED-OT Time.3

    Basically this noun connotes “time” conceived as an opportunity or season. First, the word signifies an appointed, fixed, and set time or period. This is what astrologers claimed to discern: “Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times …” (Esther 1:13). God alone, however, knows and reveals such “appointed times”: “… In the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:12).VED-OT Time.4

    This noun also is used of the concept “proper or appropriate time.” This nuance is applied to the “time” God has appointed for one to die: “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” (Ecclesiastes 7:17). It is used of the “appropriate or suitable time” for a given activity in life: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time …” (Ecclesiastes 3:11; cf. Psalms 104:27). Finally, the “appropriate time” for divine judgment is represented by ‛êth: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Psalms 119:126).VED-OT Time.5

    A third use connotes “season,” or a regular fixed period of time such as springtime: “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son” (Genesis 18:10). Similarly, the word is used of the rainy “season” (Ezra 10:13), the harvest “time” (Jeremiah 50:16), the migratory “period” (Jeremiah 8:7), and the mating “season” (Genesis 31:10).VED-OT Time.6

    This noun also is applied to differing “extensions of time.” In its first biblical appearance, for example, ‛êth represents the “time” (period of the day) when the sun is setting: “And the dove came in to him in the evening [literally, time of the evening] …” (Genesis 8:11). The word is used of special occasions such as the birth of a child (Micah 5:3) and of periods during which certain conditions persist (Exodus 18:22; Daniel 12:11).VED-OT Time.7

    B. Verb.VED-OT Time.8

    ‘Anah means “to be exercised.” The noun ‛êth may be derived from this verb which occurs only 3 times in Hebrew poetry (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:13). It may be related to an Arabic root meaning “to be disquieted or disturbed about something,” an Ethiopic root and old South Arabic root meaning “to be concerned about.” In later Hebrew this root means “to worry.”VED-OT Time.9


    A. Adverbs. VED-OT Together.2

    Yachad (יַחַד, Strong's #3162), “together; alike; all at once; all together.” Yachad appears about 46 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Together.3

    Used as an adverb, the word emphasizes a plurality in unity. In some contexts the connotation is on community in action. Goliath challenged the Israelites, saying: “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together” (1 Samuel 17:10). Sometimes the emphasis is on commonality of place: “… And it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together” (1 Samuel 11:11). The word can be used of being in the same place at the same time: “And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together …” (2 Samuel 21:9). In other passages yachad means “at the same time”: “O that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!” (Job 6:2).VED-OT Together.4

    In many poetic contexts yachad is a near synonym of kullam, “altogether.” Yachad,  however, is more emphatic, meaning “all at once, all together.” In Deuteronomy 33:5 (the first biblical occurrence) the word is used emphatically, meaning “all together,” or “all of them together”: “And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.” Cf.: “Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity” (Psalms 62:9). In such contexts yachad emphasizes the totality of a given group (cf. Psalms 33:15). Yachad also sometimes emphasizes that things are “alike” or that the same thing will happen to all of them: “The fool and the stupid alike must perish” (Psalms 49:10, RSV).VED-OT Together.5

    Yachad (יַחַד, Strong's #3162), “all alike; equally; all at once; all together.” The second adverbial form, yachdaw appears about 92 times. It, too, speaks of community in action (Deuteronomy 25:11), in place (Genesis 13:6—the first biblical appearance of this form), and in time (Psalms 4:8). In other places it, too, is synonymous with kullam, “altogether.” In Isaiah 10:8 yachdaw means “all alike,” or “equally”: “Are not my princes altogether kings?” In Exodus 19:8 this word implies “all at once” as well as “all together”: “And all the people answered together, and said.…” The sense “alike” appears in Deuteronomy 12:22: “Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.”VED-OT Together.6

    B. Verb. VED-OT Together.7

    Yachad means “to be united, meet.” This verb appears in the Bible 4 times and has cognates in Aramaic, Ugaritic, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Akkadian. One occurrence is in Genesis 49:6: “O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united.…”VED-OT Together.8

    C. Nouns. VED-OT Together.9

    Yâchı̂yd (יָחִיד, Strong's #3173), “very self, only; solitary; lonely.” This word appears 12 times as a noun or as an adjective. Yâchı̂yd has cognates in Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Syriac. The word can be used meaning “self, my soul”: “Deliver my soul from the sword, my life [NASB, “only life”; KJV, “darling”] from the power of the dog” (Psalms 22:20, RSV; cf. Psalms 35:17).VED-OT Together.10

    Sometimes this word means “only”: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest …” (Genesis 22:2—the first biblical occurrence of the word). In two passages this word means “solitary” or “lonely”: “Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate [RSV, “lonely”] and afflicted” (Psalms 25:16; cf. Psalms 68:6).VED-OT Together.11

    The noun yâchı̂yd occurs only once to mean “unitedness.” David said to the Benjaminites: “If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you [I am ready to become one (or united) with you] …” (1 Chronicles 12:17). This usage of the word as a substantive is unusual.VED-OT Together.12


    A. Noun. VED-OT Tomorrow.2

    Mâchâr (מָחָר, Strong's #4279), “tomorrow.” This word has cognates in late Aramaic, Egyptian, Syriac, Phoenician, and Akkadian (here it appears with the word for “day”). Mâchâr appears as a noun or an adverb about 52 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods of the language.VED-OT Tomorrow.3

    The word means the day following the present day: “… Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake today …” (Exodus 16:23). Mâchâr also occurs as a noun in Proverbs 27:1: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”VED-OT Tomorrow.4

    B. Adverbs. VED-OT Tomorrow.5

    Mâchâr (מָחָר, Strong's #4279), “tomorrow.” The basic meaning of this word is clearly set forth in Exodus 19:10: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.” In a few passages the Akkadian idiom is closely paralleled—the phrase yom mâchâr is used: “So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come [later] …” (Genesis 30:33). In most passages mâchâr by itself (used absolutely) means “tomorrow”: “Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow …” (Exodus 8:29). Interestingly, in Exodus 8:10 the phrase lemâchâr (which appears 5 times in the Bible) is used: “And he said, Tomorrow.” Used with the preposition ke, the word means “tomorrow about this time”: “Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail …” (Exodus 9:18).VED-OT Tomorrow.6

    Mochŏrâth (מָחֳרָתָם, Strong's #4283), “the next day.” Closely related to the noun mochŏrâth is this adverb, which occurs about 32 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. About 28 times mochŏrâth is joined to the preposition min to mean “on the next day.” This is its form and meaning in its first biblical appearance: “And it came to pass on the morrow …” (Genesis 19:34). In 3 passages this adverb is preceded by the preposition le, but the meaning is the same: “And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day …” (1 Samuel 30:17). In Numbers 11:32 mochŏrâth appears after yom, “day,” and is preceded by the definite article: “And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails.…” 1 Chronicles 29:21 displays yet another construction, with the same meaning: “… On the morrow after that day.…”VED-OT Tomorrow.7

    C. Verb.VED-OT Tomorrow.8

    ‘Achar means “to be behind, tarry, defer.” This verb, which occurs rarely in biblical Hebrew, is usually considered the root of machar, “tomorrow.” This verb appears in Proverbs 23:30: “They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.” The meaning of “to tarry” also occurs in Judges 5:28: “Why tarry the wheels of his chariots?”VED-OT Tomorrow.9


    Lâshôn (לְשֹׁנָה, Strong's #3956), “tongue; language; speech.” This word is thought to have the root meaning “to lick,” but this is a conjecture. The noun occurs in Ugaritic, Akkadian (Lishanu), Phoenician, and Arabic. In the Hebrew Old Testament it appears 115 times, mainly in the poetic and, to a lesser extent, in the prophetical books. The first occurrence is in Genesis 10:5: “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” The basic meaning of lâshôn is “tongue,” which as an organ of the body refers to humans (Lamentations 4:4) and animals (Exodus 11:7; Job 41:1)The extended meaning of the word as an organ of speech occurs more frequently. A person may be “heavy” or “slow” of tongue or have a stammering “tongue” (Exodus 4:10); or he may be fluent and clear: “The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly” (Isaiah 32:4). And see the description of the “tongue” in Psalms 45:1: “My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” The word is often better translated as “speech,” because of the negative and positive associations of lâshôn. Especially in the wisdom literature the manner of one’s “speech” is considered to be the external expression of the character of the speaker. The fool’s “speech” is unreliable (Psalms 5:9), deceitful (Psalms 109:2; Psalms 120:2-3; Proverbs 6:17), boastful (Psalms 140:11), flattering (Proverbs 26:28), slanderous (Psalms 15:3), and subversive (Proverbs 10:31). The “tongue” of the righteous man heals (Proverbs 15:4). While the “tongue” may be as sharp as sword (Psalms 57:4), it is a means of giving life to the righteous and death to the wicked: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21; cf. 21:23; 25:15). The biblical authors speak of divine inspiration as the Lord’s enabling them to speak: “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2; cf. Proverbs 16:1). “Tongue” with the meaning “speech” has as a synonym peh, “mouth” (Psalms 66:17), and more rarely sapah, “lip” (Job 27:4).VED-OT Tongue.2

    A further extension of meaning is “language.” In Hebrew both sapah and lâshôn denote a foreign “language”: “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people” (Isaiah 28:11). The foreigners to the “language” are well described in these words: “Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand” (Isaiah 33:19).VED-OT Tongue.3

    Lâshôn also refers to objects that are shaped in the form of a tongue. Most important is the “tongue of fire,” which even takes the character of “eating” or “devouring”: “Therefore as the [tongues of fire] devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff …” (Isaiah 5:24). The association in Isaiah of God’s appearance in judgment with smoke and fire gave rise to a fine literary description of the Lord’s anger: “Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire” (Isaiah 30:27). Notice the words “lips” and “tongue” here with the meaning of “flames of fire,” even though the language evokes the representation of a tongue (as an organ of the body) together with a tongue (of fire). Also a bar of gold (Joshua 7:21) and a bay of the sea (Isaiah 11:15) shaped in the form of a tongue were called lâshôn.VED-OT Tongue.4

    The Septuagint translation is glossa (“tongue; language”).VED-OT Tongue.5


    A. Verb. VED-OT Touch.2

    Nâga‛ (נָגַע, Strong's #5060), “to touch, strike, reach, smite.” Common throughout the history of the Hebrew language, this word is also found in Aramaic. It is used some 150 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Nâga‛ first occurs in Genesis 3:3 in the Garden of Eden story, where the woman reminds the serpent that God had said: “Ye shall not eat of [the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden], neither shall ye touch it.…” This illustrates the common meaning of physical touch involving various kinds of objects: Jacob’s thigh was “touched” by the man at Jabbok (Genesis 32:25, 32); the Israelites were commanded not “to touch” Mount Horeb under pain of death (Exodus 19:12); and unclean things were not “to be touched” (Leviticus 5:2-3).VED-OT Touch.3

    Sometimes nâga‛ is used figuratively in the sense of emotional involvement: “And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched” (1 Samuel 10:26; NEB, “had moved”). The word is used to refer to sexual contact with another person, such as in Genesis 20:6, where God tells Abimelech that He did not allow him “to touch” Sarah, Abraham’s wife (cf. Proverbs 6:29). To refer to the touch of God’s hand means that divine chastisement has been received: “… Have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me” (Job 19:21). The word is commonly used also to describe “being stricken” with a disease: King Uzziah “was smitten” with leprosy (2 Chronicles 26:20).VED-OT Touch.4

    B. Noun. VED-OT Touch.5

    Nega‛ (נֶגַע, Strong's #5061), “plague: stroke; wound.” This noun formed from naga’ occurs about 76 times in the Old Testament. The word refers to a “plague” most frequently (Genesis 12:17; Exodus 11:1). Nega‛ can also mean “stroke” (Deuteronomy 17:8; 21:5) or “wound” (Proverbs 6:33). Each meaning carries with it the sense of a person “being stricken or smitten in some way.”VED-OT Touch.6


    Migdâl (מִגְדָּלָה, Strong's #4026), “tower; small fortress; watchtower; podium.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Aramaic, Syriac, and Akkadian. The word occurs about 50 times in biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Tower.2

    Migdâl means “tower.” This is its use in Genesis 11:4 (the first occurrence of the word): “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.…”VED-OT Tower.3

    The word often refers to a “small fortress”: “And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him. And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower” (Judges 8:8-9).VED-OT Tower.4

    Migdâl sometimes means “watchtower,” one of the specially fortified towers safeguarding the gates of a city and spaced along city walls: “Moreover Uzziah built towers in Jerusalem at he corner gate, and at the valley gate, and at the [corner buttress], and fortified them” (2 Chronicles 26:9). In Nehemiah 8:4 the word is used of a wooden “podium”: “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose.…”VED-OT Tower.5


    A. Verb. VED-OT Transgress.2

    Pâsha‛ (פָּשַׁע, Strong's #6586), “to transgress, rebel.” Apart from biblical Hebrew, this verb occurs in post-biblical Hebrew, in Palestinian Aramaic, and in Syriac, where it has the significance of “to be terrified” or “to be tepid, to be insipid.” It does not appear in any other Semitic languages. The verb occurs 41 times in the Old Testament. It is not found in the Pentateuch. The first occurrence is in Solomon’s prayer at the occasion of the dedication of the temple: “And forgive Thy people who have sinned against Thee and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against Thee …” (1 Kings 8:50, NASB).VED-OT Transgress.3

    The basic sense of pâsha‛ is “to rebel.” There are two stages of rebellion. First, the whole process of rebellion has independence in view: “Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab” (2 Kings 1:1). Second, the final result of the rebellion is the state of independence: “In his days Edom revolted from under the hand of Judah, and made a king over themselves” (2 Kings 8:20, NASB). A more radical meaning is the state of rebellion in which there is no end of the rebellion in view. The process is no longer goaloriented. The state thus described refers to a status quo: “So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day” (1 Kings 12:19). The prepositions used (be, “against,” and more rarely mittachal yad, “from under the hand”) indicate the object of revolt. The usage of mittachat yad with pâsha‛ fits into the category of rebellion with no goal in view (2 Chronicles 21:8, 10). It is best translated as an absolute, radical act (“to break away from”).VED-OT Transgress.4

    Thus far, the usage has a king or a nation as the object of the revolt. Translations generally give the rendering “transgress” for pâsha‛ when the act is committed against the Lord: “Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me …” (Hosea 7:13). This meaning also appears in Isaiah 66:24: “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me.…” The preposition be, “against,” before the name of God occurs about 10 times. In each case the act is an expression of an apostate way of life: “In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood” (Isaiah 59:13).VED-OT Transgress.5

    The Septuagint translators are not consistent in the translation of pâsha‛. The most common translations are: asebeo (“to act unpiously”); aphistemi (“to go away, withdraw”); anomos (“lawless”); and hamartia (“sin”). The KJV gives these senses: “transgress; revolt; rebel.”VED-OT Transgress.6

    B. Noun. VED-OT Transgress.7

    Pesha‛ (פֶּשַׁע, Strong's #6588), “transgression; guilt; punishment; offering.” A cognate of this word appears in Ugaritic. Pesha‛ appears 93 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew. Basically, this noun signifies willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living. This emphasis is especially prominent in Amos 2:4: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked.” Such a willful rebellion from a prescribed or agreed-upon path may be perpetrated against another man: “… Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my trespass? what is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?” (Genesis 31:36—the first occurrence of the word). Jacob is asking what he has done by way of violating or not keeping his responsibility (contract) with Laban. A nation can sin in this sense against another nation: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four … because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron” (Amos 1:3). Usually, however, pesha‛ has immediate reference to one’s relationship to God.VED-OT Transgress.8

    This word sometimes represents the guilt of such a transgression: “I am clean, without [guilt of] transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me” (Job 33:9).VED-OT Transgress.9

    Pesha‛ can signify the punishment for transgression: “And a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression …” (Daniel 8:12); “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and [punishment for] the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” (Daniel 8:13).VED-OT Transgress.10

    Finally, in Micah 6:7 pesha‛ signifies an offering for “transgression”: “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression [NASB, “for my rebellious acts”] …?”VED-OT Transgress.11


    ‛Êts (עֵץ, Strong's #6086), “tree; wood; timber; stick; stalk.” This word has cognates in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, Aramaic (‘e’), and Arabic. It occurs about 325 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.VED-OT Tree.2

    In its first biblical appearance ‘ets is used as a collective noun representing all trees bearing fruit (Genesis 1:11). In Exodus 9:25 the word means “tree” indiscriminately: “… And the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.” God forbids Israel to destroy the orchards around besieged cities: “When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees … : for thou mayest eat of them [literally, “… its tree or orchard … for you may eat from it …”] …” (Deuteronomy 20:19).VED-OT Tree.3

    This word may signify a single “tree,” as it does in Genesis 2:9: “… The tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”VED-OT Tree.4

    This word may be used of the genus “tree.” So Isaiah 41:19 lists the olive “tree” and the box “tree” in the midst of a long list of various species of trees.VED-OT Tree.5

    ‛Êts can mean “wood.” Thus, Deuteronomy 16:21 should read: “You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of wood” (NASB, “any kind of tree”). This word can represent “wood” as a material from which things are constructed, as a raw material to be carved: “… And in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship” (Exodus 31:5). Large unprocessed pieces of “wood or timber” are also signified by ‛êts: “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood [timber], and build the house …” (Haggai 1:8). The end product of wood already processed and fashioned into something may be indicated by ‛êts: “And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood …” (Leviticus 11:32). This word means “stick” or “piece of wood” in Ezekiel 37:16: “… Thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it.…” This may also refer to a “pole” or “gallows”: “… Within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree [gallows or pole] …” (Genesis 40:19).VED-OT Tree.6

    ‛Êts once means “stalk”: “But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof” (Joshua 2:6).VED-OT Tree.7

    'Ayil (אַיִל, Strong's #352), “large, mighty tree.” This word occurs 4 times and only in poetical passages. This does not mean a particular genus or species of tree but merely a large, mighty tree: “For they shall be ashamed of the [mighty trees] [KJV, RSV, NASB, “oaks”] which ye have desired …” (Isaiah 1:29—the first biblical occurrence).VED-OT Tree.8

    'Êlôn (אֵלוֹן, Strong's #436), “large tree.” This noun is probably related to ‘ayil, “large tree.” ‘Elon occurs 10 times and only in relation to places of worship. It may well be that these were all ancient cultic sites. The word does not represent a particular genus or species of tree but, like the noun to which it is related, simply a “big tree”: “Gaal spoke again and said, Look, men are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ oak [KJV, “Meonenim”; NASB, “oak”]” (Judges 9:37, RSV). Judges 9:6 speaks of the “tree of the pillar” (KJV, “plain of the piilar”) in Shechem where the men of Shechem and Beth-millo made Abimelech king.VED-OT Tree.9


    A. Verb. VED-OT Trespass.2

    Mâ‛al (מָעַל, Strong's #4603), “to trespass, act unfaithfully.” This verb is not very common in Hebrew, biblical or rabbinic. It occurs 35 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, particularly in late Hebrew. Translations may give a separate translation of the verb and the noun mâ‛al, but most combine them into one phrase in which the verb takes the meaning of “to act” or “to commit”—e.g., Joshua 7:1: “But the children of Israel committed [mâ‛al] a trespass [mâ‛al] in the accursed thing …” (KJV); “But the Israelites acted unfaithfully” (NIV). Some versions give the sense more freely: “But the people of Israel broke faith” (RSV); “But the Israelites defied the ban” (NEB).VED-OT Trespass.3

    The first occurrence of the verb (together with the noun) is found in Leviticus 5:15: “If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance.…” The sense of the verb is similar to the verb “to sin.” In fact, in the next chapter the verb for “to sin” and mâ‛al are used together: “If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbor …” (Leviticus 6:2). The combining of these two usages in Leviticus is significant. First, it shows that the verb may be a synonym for “to sin.” Mâ‛al has basically this meaning in Leviticus 5:15, since the sin is here out of ignorance instead of a deliberate act of treachery. Second, the meaning of mâ‛al is further expressed by a verb indicating the intent of being unfaithful to one’s neighbor for personal profit (“commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbor …”).VED-OT Trespass.4

    The offense is against God, even when one acts unfaithfully against one’s neighbor. In 2 Chronicles 29:6 we read: “For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our God, and have forsaken him …”; and Daniel prayed: “… Because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee” (Daniel 9:7; cf. NIV, “… because of our unfaithfulness to you”).VED-OT Trespass.5

    In view of the additional significance of “treachery,” many versions translate the verb “to act unfaithfully” or “to act treacherously” instead of “to transgress” or “to commit a trespass.” Both the verb and the noun have strongly negative overtones, which the translator must convey in English. When God spoke to Ezekiel: “Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and … cut off man and beast from it” (Ezekiel 14:13), He communicated also His displeasure with Israel’s rebellious, treacherous attitude. This is communicated in other versions: “Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful …” (NIV); “Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness …” (NASB).VED-OT Trespass.6

    The verb mâ‛al generally expresses man’s unfaithfulness to God (Leviticus 26:40; Deuteronomy 32:51; 2 Chronicles 12:2; Ezra 10:2; Ezekiel 14:13). The word further signifies man’s unfaithfulness to his fellow man; particularly it is illustrative of unfaithfulness in marriage: “If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, And a man lie with her carnally …” (Numbers 5:12-13). In this sense also must Leviticus 6:2 be understood: “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him …” (NIV)VED-OT Trespass.7

    In the Septuagint we find these translations: athetein (“to nullify; reject; commit an offense”); asunthetein (“to be faithless”); and aphistaveiv (“to mislead; withdraw”). Modern versions set forth more explicitly the overt nature of the sin than the KJV (“trespass; transgress”): RSV, NASB, NIV, “act or be unfaithful; RSV, NASB, “to break faith.”VED-OT Trespass.8

    B. Noun. VED-OT Trespass.9

    Ma‛al (מַעַל, Strong's #4604), “trespass; unfaithful, treacherous act.” This noun is used 29 times in biblical Hebrew. In addition to the primary sense of “trespass,” given in KJV, there may be an indication of the motivation through which the sin was committed. Most of the usages support the idea of “faithlessness, treachery.” It is an act committed by a person who knows better but who, for selfish motives, acts in bad faith. The story of Achan bears out the attitude of treachery (Joshua 7:1). Joshua challenged Israel not to follow the example of Achan: “Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit [ma‛al] a trespass [ma‛al] in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel?” (Joshua 22:20).VED-OT Trespass.10

    In 2 Chronicles 29:19 the “faithlessness” was committed against God: “Moreover all the vessels which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression.…” Ma‛al also appears in Ezra 9:2: “… Yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.”VED-OT Trespass.11


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Tribe.2

    Maṭṭeh (מַטָּה, Strong's #4294), “staff; rod; shaft; branch; tribe.” This noun is a distinctively Hebrew word. It occurs 251 times; the first usage is in Genesis 38:18: “And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand.” The word appears most frequently in Numbers and Joshua, generally with the meaning “tribe” in these books.VED-OT Tribe.3

    The basic meaning of maṭṭeh is “staff.” The use of the “staff” was in shepherding. Judah was a shepherd and gave his “staff” to his daughter-in-law, Tamar, as a pledge of sending her a kid of the flock (Genesis 38:17-18). Moses was a shepherd when he saw the vision of the burning bush and when the Lord turned his “staff” into a snake as a sign of His presence and power with Moses’ mission (Exodus 44:2ff.). His “staff” figured prominently throughout the wilderness journeys and was known as “the staff of God” because of the miraculous power connected with it: “And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand” (Exodus 17:9). The “staff” was also a token of authority. The Egyptian magicians had “staffs” as symbols of their authority over the magical realm by which they duplicated several miracles (Exodus 7:12). Aaron had a “rod,” which alone sprouted and put forth buds, whereas eleven rods “from all their leaders according to their father’s household” (Numbers 17:2, NASB) did not put forth buds.VED-OT Tribe.4

    The “staff” further signifies authority or power over another nation: “For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian” (Isaiah 9:4). God gave to Assyria His “staff”; they received His authority, divine permission, to wield the sword, to plunder, and to destroy: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against a hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (Isaiah 10:5-6). The psalmist, in his expectation that the messianic rule included God’s authority and judgment over the Gentiles, views the messianic rule as a strong “staff”: “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalms 110:2). Similarly, the prophet Ezekiel said, “Fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod to be a scepter to rule” (Ezekiel 19:14). The figurative usage of maṭṭeh occurs in the idiom maṭṭeh-lehem, “staff of bread.” This poetic idiom refers to the food supply, and it is found mainly in Ezekiel: “Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat [rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair]” (Ezekiel 4:16; cf. 14:13).VED-OT Tribe.5

    A derived sense of maṭṭeh is “tribe,” which is used as many as 183 times. The “tribes” of Israel are each designated as maṭṭeh: “And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them” (Joshua 14:1). It is possible that the maṭṭeh (“staff”), as a symbol of authority, first applied to the tribal leader and thereafter by extension to the whole “tribe.”VED-OT Tribe.6

    The several meanings of maṭṭeh are reflected in the Septuagint: phule (“tribe; nation; people”) and rabdos (“rod; staff; scepter”).VED-OT Tribe.7

    Shêbeṭ (שֵׁבֶט, Strong's #7626), “tribe; rod.” In modern Hebrew this word mainly denotes “tribe” as a technical term. In Akkadian the related verb shabatu signifies “to smite,” and the noun shabbitu means “rod” or “scepter.” A synonym of the Hebrew shêbeṭ is maṭṭeh, also “rod” or “tribe,” and what is applicable to maṭṭeh is also relevant to shêbeṭ.VED-OT Tribe.8

    The “rod” as a tool is used by the shepherd (Leviticus 27:32) and the teacher (2 Samuel 7:14). It is a symbol of authority in the hands of a ruler, whether it is the scepter (Amos 1:5, 8) or an instrument of warfare and oppression: “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalms 2:9; cf. Zechariah 10:11). The symbolic element comes to expression in a description of the messianic rule: “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth …” (Isaiah 11:4).VED-OT Tribe.9

    The word shêbeṭ is most frequently used (143 times) to denote a “tribe,” a division in a nation. It is the preferred term for the twelve “tribes” of Israel (Genesis 49:16; Exodus 28:21). Jeremiah referred to all of Israel as the “tribe”: “The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name” (51:19).VED-OT Tribe.10

    The Septuagint translations are: phule (“tribe; nation; people”); rabdos (“rod; staff”); and skeptron (“scepter; tribe”).VED-OT Tribe.11

    B. Verb.VED-OT Tribe.12

    Nâṭâh (נָטָה, Strong's #5186), “to stretch out, spread out, extend.” This root occurs in biblical, mishnaic, and modern Hebrew and in Arabic with the same meaning. One occurrence of nâṭâh is in Exodus 9:22: “Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven.…”VED-OT Tribe.13


    A. Verbs. VED-OT Turn.2

    Hâphak (הָפַךְ, Strong's #2015), “to turn, overturn, change, transform, turn back.” A common word throughout the various periods of Hebrew, this term occurs in other Semitic languages, including ancient Akkadian. It is found almost 100 times in biblical Hebrew. Used for the first time in the biblical text in Genesis 3:24, the Hebrew verb form there indicates reflexive action: “… A flaming sword which turned every way [NAB, “revolving”; NEB, “whirling”] …”VED-OT Turn.3

    In its simplest meaning, hâphak expresses the turning from one side to another, such as “turning” one’s back (Joshua 7:8), or “as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down” (2 Kings 21:13). Similarly, Hosea refers to Israel as being “a cake not turned” (Hosea 7:8). The meaning of “transformation” or “change” is vividly illustrated in the story of Saul’s encounter with the Spirit of God. Samuel promised that Saul would “be changed into another man” (1 Samuel 10:6, JB), and when the Spirit came on him, “God changed his heart” (1 Samuel 10:9, JB). Other examples of change are the “changing” of Pharaoh’s mind (Exodus 14:5; literally, “the heart of Pharaoh … was turned”); the “turning” of Aaron’s rod into a serpent (Exodus 7:15); dancing “turned” to mourning (Lamentations 5:14); water “turned” into blood (Exodus 7:17); and the sun “turned” to darkness and the moon to blood (Joel 2:31). Psalms 41:3 presents a difficult translation problem in its use of hâphak. Literally, it reads: “All his bed you [Yahweh] change in his sickness.” In view of the poetic parallelism involved, restoration of health must be meant. Thus, the RSV translates: “In his sickness thou healest all his infirmities.” Perhaps only a refreshing of the bed is meant, so the NEB translates: “He turns his bed when he is ill.”VED-OT Turn.4

    The KJV rendering of Isaiah 60:5 sounds strange to our modern ears: “The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee.…” A slight improvement is given by the RSV, which reads: “The abundance of the sea shall be turned to you.” The meaning is best captured by the JB: “The riches of the sea shall be lavished upon you.”VED-OT Turn.5

    Sâbab (סָבַב, Strong's #5437), “to turn, go around, turn around (change direction).” This verb occurs only in Hebrew (including post-biblical Hebrew) and Ugaritic. Nouns using these radicals appear in Arabic and Akkadian. Biblical Hebrew attests the word in all periods and about 160 times.VED-OT Turn.6

    Basically this verb represents a circular movement—“to take a turning.” First, it refers to such movement in general. The first occurrence of sâbab having this emphasis is in Genesis 42:24, where Joseph “turned himself about” from his brothers and wept. Here the verb does not tell the precise direction of his departure, only that he left their presence. Similarly, when Samuel was told that Saul went to Carmel and “is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal” (1 Samuel 15:12), we are not told that he reversed direction in order to get from his origin to Carmel and Gilgal. God led Israel out of the way (by an out-of-the-way route) when He took them into the Promised Land. He wanted to avoid having them face war with the Philistines, an event that was unavoidable if they proceeded directly north from Egypt to Palestine. Therefore, He led them through the wilderness—a back route into the land: “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea …” (Exodus 13:18). Perhaps one of the passages where this meaning is clearest is Proverbs 26:14, which speaks of the “turning” of a door on its hinges. An extension of this meaning occurs in 1 Samuel 5:8-9, “to remove, to take away”: “And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about [taken away] unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither” (cf. 2 Kings 16:18).VED-OT Turn.7

    A second emphasis of sâbab is “to go around,” in the sense of to proceed or be arranged in a circle. Joseph tells his family: “… Lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf” (Genesis 37:7). They moved so as to surround his sheaf. This is the action pictured when Israel besieged Jericho, except with the further nuance of encircling in a processional and religious march: “And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once” (Joshua 6:3). “To travel” and “to return” are used together to represent traveling a circuit. It is said of Samuel that he used to go annually “in circuit” (1 Samuel 7:16). Another variation of this emphasis is “to go around” a territory in order to avoid crossing through it: “And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass [go around] the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way” (Numbers 21:4).VED-OT Turn.8

    Sâbab is also used of the completion of this movement, the state of literally or figuratively surrounding something or someone. The very first biblical occurrence of the word carries this force (according to many scholars): “The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth [flows around] the whole land of Havilah …” (Genesis 2:11). Judges 16:2, where the Gazites “compassed [Samson] in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city,” represents another occurrence of this nuance. When David spoke of the cords (as a trap) of Sheol “surrounding” him (2 Samuel 22:6), he meant that they actually touched him and held him fast. Sâbab can be used of sitting down around a table. So Samuel told Jesse to fetch David, “for we will not sit down till he come hither” (1 Samuel 16:11). A third use of this verb is “to change direction.” This can be a change of direction |toward:“Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe …” (Numbers 36:9); the usual direction of passing on an inheritance is down family lines, and God’s commandment that the daughters of Zelophehad marry within their father’s families would make certain that this movement of things not be interrupted. This emphasis appears more clearly in 1 Samuel 18:11: “And David [escaped] out of his presence twice”; it is certain that David is putting as much space between himself and Saul as possible. He is “running away or turning away” (cf. 1 Samuel 22:17). Sâbab may also refer to a change of direction, as in Numbers 34:4: “And your border shall turn.…”VED-OT Turn.9

    There are three special nuances under this emphasis. First, the verb may mean “to roam through” as a scout looking for water: “… And they fetched a compass [made a circuit] of seven days’ journey: and there was no water for the host, and for the cattle that followed them” (2 Kings 3:9). Some scholars suggest that this is the idea expressed in Genesis 2:11 that the Pison meandered through Havilah rather than flowed around it. Second, sâbab may be used of “turning something over” to someone. So Adonijah said of Solomon: “… The kingdom was mine, … howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother’s …” (1 Kings 2:15). Third, sâbab may be used of “changing or turning one thing into another”: “And the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem …” (Zechariah 14:10).VED-OT Turn.10

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Turn.11

    Sâbı̂yb (סְבִיבָה, Strong's #5439), “area round about; circuit.” This word appears about 336 times in biblical Hebrew. The word can be used as a noun, but it usually occurs as an adverb or preposition. In 1 Chronicles 11:8 sâbı̂yb refers to the “parts round about”: “And he built the city round about, even from Millo round about.…” The word may also be used for “circuits”: “… And the wind returneth again according to his circuits” (Ecclesiastes 1:6). The first biblical appearance of the word is in Genesis 23:17, and it refers to “within the circuit of.”VED-OT Turn.12

    Other nouns are related to the verb sâbı̂yb. Cibbah and necibbah both refer to “turn of affairs”; cibbah is found in 1 Kings 12:15 and necibbah in 2 Chronicles 10:15. Mucab occurs once with the meaning of “circular passage”: “… For the winding about of the house went still upward round about the house …” (Ezekiel 41:7). Mecab occurs 4 times, and it refers to “that which surrounds or is round.” Mecab refers to a “round table” (Song of Song of Solomon 1:12) and to “places round about” Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:5).VED-OT Turn.13

    Turn Towards, Turn Back

    A. Verb. VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.2

    Pânâh (פָּנָה, Strong's #6437), “to turn towards, turn back, turn around, attach to, pass away, make clear.” This verb also appears in Syriac and post-biblical Hebrew and post-biblical Aramaic. Related verbs which have the same radicals with a somewhat diflferent meaning occur in Arabic and Ethiopic. The Bible attests pânâh about 155 times and in all periods.VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.3

    Most occurrences of this verb carry the sense “to turn in another direction”; this is a verb of either physical or mental motion. Used of physical motion, the word signifies turning so as to move in another direction: “Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward” (Deuteronomy 2:3). Pânâh can also mean to turn so as to face or look at something or someone: “And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness …” (Exodus 16:10). “Turning toward” something may also signify looking at, or seeing it: “Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto [do not see] the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin” (Deuteronomy 9:27). A further extension in meaning is seen in Haggai 1:9, where pânâh means “to look for,” or to expect: “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little.…”VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.4

    Another focus of meaning is “to turn back” so as to see. This is found in Joshua 8:20: “When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold …” (NASB). In other passages the verb means “to turn around,” in the sense of to look in every direction. So Moses “looked this way and that way, and when he saw there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand” (Exodus 2:12).VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.5

    In the sense of “to turn around” pânâh is used of changing one’s direction so as to leave the scene. So “the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom …” (Genesis 18:22—the first biblical occurrence of the verb).VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.6

    Used of intellectual and spiritual turning, this verb signifies attaching oneself to something. God commanded Israel: “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods …” (Leviticus 19:4); they should not shift their attention to and attach themselves to idols. In an even stronger use this verb represents dependence on someone: “… Which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after [depend on] them …” (Ezekiel 29:16). “To turn towards” sometimes means to pay attention to someone. Job tells his friends: “Now … look upon me; for it is evident unto you if I lie” (Job 6:28).VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.7

    In a still different emphasis the word connotes the “passing away” of something, such as the turning away of a day: “And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide …”— he went out “at the turning of the evening” (Genesis 24:63). Similarly the Bible speaks of the dawn as the “turning of the morning” (Exodus 14:27). The “turning of the day” is the end of the day (Jeremiah 6:4).VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.8

    Used in a military context, panah can signify giving up fighting or fleeing before one’s enemies. Because of Achan’s sin the Lord was not with Israel at the battle of Ai: “Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed …” (Joshua 7:12).VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.9

    In the intensive stem the verb means “to remove,” to take away: “The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy …” (Zephaniah 3:15). “To clear a house” (to set things in order) is often the means by which conditions are prepared for guests: “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house …” (Genesis 24:31). Another nuance is “to prepare” a road for a victory march; Isaiah says: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3; cf. Matthew 3:3).VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.10

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.11

    Pinnâh (פִּנָּה, Strong's #6438), “corner.” This noun occurs 30 times in the Old Testament. The word refers to “corners” in Exodus 27:2: “And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof …” In 2 Kings 14:13 the word refers to a corner-tower, and in Judges 20:2 pinnâh is used figuratively of a “chief” as the “corner” or defense of the people.VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.12

    The noun panim is also related to the verb panah. It occurs 2,100 times to refer to the “face” of something. An early occurrence of the word is in Genesis 17:3.VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.13

    C. Adjective. VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.14

    Penı̂ymı̂y (פְּנִימִי, Strong's #6442), “inner.” This adjective occurs about 33 times, and it refers to a part of a building, usually a temple. One occurrence is in 1 Kings 6:27: “And he set the cherubim within the inner house.…”VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.15

    D. Adverb. VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.16

    Penı̂ymâh (פְּנִימָה, Strong's #6441), “within.” This word occurs about 12 times. One appearance is in 1 Kings 6:18: “And the cedar of the house within was carved with knobs and open flowers.…” Here the word refers to the inside of the house.VED-OT Turn Towards, Turn Back.17

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