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    Walk — Wroth, to Be; Angry


    A. Verb.VED-OT Walk.2

    Hâlak (הָלַךְ, Strong's #1980), “to go, walk, behave.” This verb appears in most Semitic languages (although it has a different meaning in Arabic). It is attested in all periods of Hebrew. Old Testament Hebrew attests it about 1,550 times, while the Aramaic uses it a few times.VED-OT Walk.3

    Essentially, this root refers to movement without any suggestion of direction in the sense of going, whether of man (Genesis 9:23), beasts (Genesis 3:14), or inanimate objects (Genesis 2:14— the first occurrence of the word). In cases other than men (where it means “to walk”) hâlak may be translated “to go.” It is used sometimes with a special emphasis on the end or goal of the action in mind; men are but flesh, “a wind that passeth [goes] away, and cometh not again” (Psalms 78:39). Applied to human existence the word suggests “going to one’s death,” as in Genesis 15:2, when Abraham says: “O Lord God, what wilt thou give me, since I am [going to my death] childless …?” (NASB). This verb can also be used of one’s behavior, or the way one “walks in life.” So he who “walks” uprightly shall be blessed of God (Isaiah 33:15). This does not refer to walking upright on one’s feet but to living a righteous life.VED-OT Walk.4

    This root is used in various other special ways. It may be used to emphasize that a certain thing occurred; Jacob went and got the kid his mother requested, in other words, he actually did the action (Genesis 27:14). In Genesis 8:3 the waters of the flood steadily receded from the surface of the earth. Sometimes this verb implies movement away from, as in Genesis 18:33, when the Lord “departed” from Abraham.VED-OT Walk.5

    God is said to “walk” or “go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God “walking” to and fro in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). He “walks” on the clouds (Psalms 104:3) or in the heavens (Job 22:14); these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people (Exodus 33:14), to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt (2 Samuel 7:23), and to come to save them (Psalms 80:2). The idea of God’s “going” (“walking”) before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud (Exodus 13:21) leads to the idea that His people must “walk” behind Him (Deuteronomy 13:5). Quite often the people are said to have “walked” or to be warned against “walking behind” foreign gods (Deuteronomy 4:3). Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to “walking behind” Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that “walking behind” pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also “walk … after the imagination of their evil heart,” or act stubbornly (Jeremiah 3:17). The pious followed or practiced God’s commands; they “walked” in righteousness (Isaiah 33:15), in humility (Micah 6:8), and in integrity (Psalms 15:2). They also “walk with God” (Genesis 5:22), and they live in His presence, and “walk before” Him (Genesis 17:1), in the sense of living responsibly before Him.VED-OT Walk.6

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Walk.7

    Hălı̂ykâh (הֲלִיכָה, Strong's #1979), “course; doings; traveling company; caravan; procession.” This noun occurs 6 times in the Old Testament. This word conveys several nuances. In Nahum 2:5 hălı̂ykâh refers to a “course”: “He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk.…” The word means “doings” in Proverbs 31:27. It may also mean “traveling-company” or “caravan as in Job 6:19 or a “procession as in Psalms 68:24.VED-OT Walk.8

    Several other related nouns occur infrequently. Mahalak, which appears 5 times, means “passage” (Ezekiel 42:4) and “journey” (Nehemiah 2:6). Helek occurs twice and means a “visitor” (2 Samuel 12:4). Halik appears once with the meaning “steps” (Job 29:6). Tahalukot occurs once to mean “procession,” specifically a thanksgiving procession (Nehemiah 12:31).VED-OT Walk.9


    Chômâh (חוֹמָה, Strong's #2346), “wall.” This word is found in several Semitic languages and even in Egyptian. In Phoenician, it has the more restricted significance of “fortifications.” It is thought that the root meaning is “to protect,” as in the Arabic chama, “to protect.”
    Chômâh occurs about 120 times in the Hebrew Bible. Its first occurrence is in Exodus 14:22: “And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.” It is rare in the Pentateuch, in the historical books, and in the poetical books. The most frequent use is in Nehemiah, where Nehemiah is in charge of the rebuilding of the “wall” of Jerusalem.
    VED-OT Wall.2

    The primary meaning of chômâh is a “wall” around a city, since in ancient Israel people had to protect themselves by constructing such a well-fortified “wall” (cf. Leviticus 25:29-30). Stones were used in the construction of the “wall”: “Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall” (Nehemiah 4:3). The “wall” was also strengthened by thickness and other devices. From Solomonic times double walls (casemate) served a strategic purpose in that they were easy to construct and could be filled in with rocks and dirt in the case of a siege. There was also another possibility during a siege: “And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldees were against the city round about:) …” (2 Kings 25:4).VED-OT Wall.3

    In the case of war the enemy besieged a city and made efforts to breach the “wall” with a battering ram. The goal was to force a breach wide enough for the troops to enter into the city; “And Jehoash king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash the son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim unto the corner gate, four hundred cubits [about six hundred feet]” (2 Kings 14:13). At the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and victory over Jerusalem, he had the “walls” of the city demolished: “And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof” (2 Chronicles 36:19). For this reason Nehemiah had to help his unsuccessful compatriots to rebuild the “wall” about 135 years later: “Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach” (Nehemiah 2:17).VED-OT Wall.4

    Chômâh also referred to any “wall,” whether around buildings or parts of the city such as the temple precincts: “And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and a handbreadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed” (Ezekiel 40:5).VED-OT Wall.5

    The Septuagint gives the following translation: teichos (“wall”).VED-OT Wall.6


    A. Noun. VED-OT War.2

    Milchâmâh (מִלְחָמָה, Strong's #4421), “war; battle; skirmish; combat.” This word has a cognate only in Ugaritic. Biblical Hebrew attests it 315 times and in all periods.VED-OT War.3

    This word means “war,” the over-all confrontation of two forces (Genesis 14:2). It can refer to the engagement in hostilities considered as a whole, the “battle”: “… And they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim” (Genesis 14:8). This word is used not only of what is intended but of the hand-to-hand fighting which takes place: “And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp” (Exodus 32:17). Milchâmâh sometimes represents the art of soldiering, or “combat”: “The Lord is a man of war …” (Exodus 15:3).VED-OT War.4

    There are several principles which were supposed to govern “war” in the Old Testament. Unjust violence was prohibited, but “war” as a part of ancient life was led (Judges 4:13) and used by God (Numbers 21:14). If it was preceded by sacrifices recognizing His leadership and sovereignty (1 Samuel 7:9) and if He was consulted and obeyed (Judges 20:23), Israel was promised divine protection (Deuteronomy 20:1-4). Not one life would be lost (Joshua 10:11). God’s presence in “battle” was symbolized by the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4:3-11). His presence necessitated spiritual and ritualistic cleanliness (Deuteronomy 23:9-14). Before and during “battle,” trumpets were blown placing the cause before God in anticipation of the victory and gratitude for it (Numbers 10:9-10), as well as to relay the orders of the commanders. A war cry accompanied the initiation of “battle” (Joshua 6:5). At the beginning Israel’s army consisted of every man over twenty and under fifty (Numbers 1:2-3). Sometimes only certain segments of this potential citizens’ army were summoned (Numbers 31:3-6). There were several circumstances which could exempt one from “war” (Numbers 1:48-49; Deuteronomy 20:5-8). Under David and Solomon there grew a professional army. It was especially prominent under Solomon, whose army was renowned for its chariotry. Cities outside Palestine were to be offered terms of surrender before being attacked. Compliance meant subjugation to slavery (Deuteronomy 20:10-11). Cities and peoples within the Promised Land were to be utterly wiped out. They were under the ban (Deuteronomy 2:34; 3:6; Deuteronomy 20:16-18). This made these battles uniquely holy battles (a holy war) where everything was especially devoted and sacrificed to God. Israel’s kings were admonished to trust in God as their strength rather than in a great many horses and chariots (Deuteronomy 17:16). Her armies were forbidden to cut down fruit trees in order to build siege equipment (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). Soldiers were paid by keeping booty won in “battle” (Numbers 31:21-31). The entire army divided the spoil—even those in the rear guard (Numbers 31:26-47; Judges 5:30). God, too, was appointed a share (Numbers 31:28-30).VED-OT War.5

    B. Verb. VED-OT War.6

    Lâcham (לָחַם, 3898), “to engage in battle, fight, wage war.” This verb occurs 171 times in biblical Hebrew. The first appearance is in Exodus 1:10: “Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.”VED-OT War.7


    Râchats (רָחַץ, Strong's #7364), “to wash, bathe.” This word is common to both ancient and modern Hebrew and is found in ancient Ugaritic as well. It is used some 72 times in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament. The first occurrence of the word in the text illustrates one of its most common uses: “Let a little water … be fetched, and wash your feet …” (Genesis 18:4).VED-OT Wash.2

    When the word is used figuratively to express vengeance, the imagery is a bit more gruesome: “… He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Psalms 58:10). Pilate’s action in Matthew 27:24 is reminiscent of the psalmist’s statement “I will wash mine hands in innocency” (Psalms 26:6). The parts of a sacrificial animal usually “were washed” before they were burned on the altar (Exodus 29:17). Râchats is frequently used in the sense of “bathing” or “washing” oneself (Exodus 2:5; 2 Samuel 11:2). Beautiful eyes are figuratively described as “washed with milk” (Song of Song of Solomon 5:12).VED-OT Wash.3

    Kâbas ( כָּבַס, Strong's #3526), “to wash.” A common term throughout the history of Hebrew for the “washing” of clothes, this word is found also in ancient Ugaritic and Akkadian, reflecting the treading aspect. Kâbas occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament 51 times. It is found for the first time in the Old Testament in Genesis 49:11 as part of Jacob’s blessing on Judah: “… He washed his garments in wine.…”VED-OT Wash.4

    The word is used in the Old Testament primarily in the sense of “washing” clothes, both for ordinary cleansing (2 Samuel 19:24) and for ritual cleansing (Exodus 19:10, 14; Leviticus 11:25). It is often used in parallelism with the expression “to wash oneself,” as in Leviticus 14:8-9. Kâbas is used in the sense of “washing” or “bathing” oneself only in the figurative sense and in poetic usage, as in Jeremiah 4:14: “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.”VED-OT Wash.5


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Watch.2

    Mishmereth (מִשְׁמֶרֶת, Strong's #4931); Mishmâr (מִשְׁמָר, Strong's #4929), “watch; guard; post; confinement; prison; custody; division.” The first or feminine form of this word appears 78 times, while the masculine form is attested 22 times. These forms are scattered through biblical literature.VED-OT Watch.3

    The noun mishmâr means a “military watch” over a city: “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night because of them [our enemies]” (Nehemiah 4:9). This word represents the place where a guard or watchman fulfills his task: “… And appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house” (Nehemiah 7:3). Someone who guards something keeps “watch” over it: “Mattaniah, and Bakbukiah, … were porters keeping the ward at the thresholds of the gates” (Nehemiah 12:25). In Job 7:12 mishmâr means “watch” or “guard” in general (over a potentially dangerous criminal): “Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?”VED-OT Watch.4

    Mishmâr can also represent a “place of confinement,” such as a jail: “And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound” (Genesis 40:3—the first occurrence of the word). Joseph put his brothers “into ward three days” (Genesis 42:17) and thereafter allowed 9 of them to return to Palestine to get Benjamin (an act supposedly proving they were not spies) while 1 of them remained in the Egyptian “prison” (Genesis 42:19). Under Mosaic law there were to be no prisons where people were held for extended periods after being convicted of a crime. Instead, those charged were held for a very short time (sometimes) immediately preceding trial until the trial could be arranged (Leviticus 24:12). After the trial the guilty party was killed, punished, fined, or indentured until he worked out his fine. Mishmâr sometimes represents a group of attendants, especially in the temple. In this nuance the word may represent the temple guardunits: “To Shuppim and Hosah the lot came forth westward, with the gate Shallecheth, by the causeway of the going up, ward against ward” (1 Chronicles 26:16). However, in Nehemiah 12:24 the service rendered is the Levitical service in general, therefore, “division corresponding to division.” All these Levitical “divisions” constituted the full services of the temple (Nehemiah 13:14) The noun mishmereth appears with the same meanings as those just set forth. It can mean a “military watchman or guard” (cf. Nehemiah 7:3). In Isaiah 21:8 the word signifies the place where one keeps watch: “… I am set in my wards whole nights.…” The phrase “to keep watch,” in the sense of to fulfill the function of a watchman or guard, appears with mishmereth in 2 Kings 11:5: “A third part of you that enter in on the sabbath shall even be keepers of the watch of the king’s house.” Mishmereth represents a place of confinement in 2 Samuel 20:3: David put 10 of his concubines who had been defiled by Absalom into a house of confinement (NASB, “under guard”).VED-OT Watch.5

    Mishmereth often is used to represent a more abstract idea than mishmâr, whereas mishmâr means the units of Levites who served the Lord (perhaps with the exception of Nehemiah 13:30, where mishmereth may mean “service-unit”). Mishmereth refers to the priestly or Levitical service itself: “Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord …” (Leviticus 8:35). Numbers 3:25 speaks of the duties of the Levites in the tent of meeting. The Levites were to “keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony” (Numbers 1:53). The word, therefore, suggests both regularly prescribed act and obligation. The latter idea alone appears in Numbers 8:26, where God allows Levites over 50 to serve in extraordinary circumstances, to keep an obligation.VED-OT Watch.6

    This word often refers to divine obligation or service in general, a non-cultic obligation: “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:5—the first occurrence of mishmereth; cf. Deuteronomy 11:1).VED-OT Watch.7

    B. Verb. VED-OT Watch.8

    Shâmar (שָׁמַר, Strong's #8104), “to keep, watch.” This verb occurs 468 times in the Old Testament. The word means “to watch” in Job 14:16: “For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?”VED-OT Watch.9


    Mayim (מַיִם, Strong's #4325), “water; flood.” This word has cognates in Ugaritic and old South Arabic. It occurs about 580 times and in every period of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Water.2

    First, “water” is one of the original basic substances. This is its significance in Genesis 1:2 (the first occurrence of the word): “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” In Genesis 1:7 God separated the “waters” above and the “waters” below (cf. Exodus 20:4) the expanse of the heavens.VED-OT Water.3

    Second, the word represents that which is in a well, “water” to be drunk (Genesis 21:19). “Living water” is “water” that flows: “And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing [living] water …” (Genesis 26:19). “Water” of oppression or affliction is so designated because it is drunk in prison: “Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace” (1 Kings 22:27). Job 9:30 speaks of slush or snow water: “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean.…”VED-OT Water.4

    Third, mayim can represent liquid in general: “… For the Lord our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:14). The phrase, me raglayim (“water of one’s feet”) is urine: “Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss [water of their feet] with you?” (2 Kings 18:27; cf. Isaiah 25:10).VED-OT Water.5

    Fourth, in Israel’s cultus “water” was poured or sprinkled (no one was ever immersed into water), symbolizing purification. So Aaron and his sons were to be washed with “water” as a part of the rite consecrating them to the priesthood: “And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water” (Exodus 29:4). Parts of the sacrificial animal were to be ritually cleansed with “water” during the sacrifice: “But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water …” (Leviticus 1:9). Israel’s rites sometimes include consecrated “water”: “And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water” (Numbers 5:17). “Bitter water” was used in Israel’s rituals, too: “And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse” (Numbers 5:18). It was “water” which when drunk brought a curse and caused bitterness (Numbers 5:24).VED-OT Water.6

    Fifth, in proper names this word is used of springs, streams, or seas and/or the area in the immediate vicinity of such bodies of water: “Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood …” (Exodus 7:19).VED-OT Water.7

    Sixth, this word is used figuratively in many senses. Mayim symbolizes danger or distress: “He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters” (2 Samuel 22:17). Outbursting force is represented by mayim in 2 Samuel 5:20: “The Lord hath broken forth upon mine enemies before me, as the [break-through] of waters.” “Mighty waters” describes the onrush of the godless nations against God: “The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters …” (Isaiah 17:13). Thus the word is used to picture something impetuous, violent, and overwhelming: “Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night” (Job 27:20). In other passages “water” is used to represent timidity: “… Wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water” (Joshua 7:5). Related to this nuance is the connotation “transitory”: “… Because thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away” (Job 11:16). In Isaiah 32:2 “water” represents that which is refreshing: “And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Rest and peace are figured by waters of rest, or quiet waters: “… He leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalms 23:2). Similar ideas are involved when one’s wife’s charms are termed “water of life” or “water which enlivens”: “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well” (Proverbs 5:15). Outpoured “water” represents bloodshed (Deuteronomy 12:16), wrath (Hosea 5:10), justice (Amos 5:24; KJV, “judgment”), and strong feelings (Job 3:24).VED-OT Water.8

    Tehôm (תְּהֹם, Strong's #8415), “deep water; ocean; water table; waters; flood of waters.” Cognates of this word appear in Ugaritic, Akkadian (as early as Ebla, around 2400-2250 B.C.), and Arabic. The 36 occurrences of this word appear almost exclusively in poetical passages but in all historical periods.VED-OT Water.9

    The word represents the “deep water” whose surface freezes when cold: “The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen” (Job 38:30). In Psalms 135:6 tehôm is used of the “ocean” in contrast to the seas: “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places [in the entire ocean]” (cf. Psalms 148:7 et al.).VED-OT Water.10

    The word has special reference to the deep floods or sources of water. Sailors in the midst of a violent storm “mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths” (Psalms 107:26). This is hyperbolic or exaggerated poetical talk, but it presents the “depths” as the opposite of the heavens or skies. This emphasis is especially prominent in the Song of Moses, where the word represents the ever-existing (but not eternal), ever-threatening, and perilous “deep,” not simply an element of nature but a dangerous element: “The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone” (Exodus 15:5). On the other hand, in such contexts tehôm may mean no more than “deep water” into which heavy objects quickly sink.VED-OT Water.11

    Tehôm can represent an inexhaustible source of water or, by way of poetic comparison, of blessing: “… With blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under …” (Genesis 49:25). In such contexts the word represents the “water table” always available below the surface of the earth—what was tapped by digging wells, out of which flowed springs, and what was one with the waters beneath the surface of oceans, lakes, seas, and rivers. This was what God opened together with the waters above the expanse (Genesis 7:11; cf. 1:7) and what later was closed to cause and terminate the great Flood (Genesis 8:2; cf. Psalms 33:6; 104:6; Ezekiel 26:19). In such contexts the word represents a “flood of waters” (Psalms 33:6).VED-OT Water.12

    In Genesis 1:2 (the first occurrence of the word) tehôm is used of “all waters” which initially covered the surface of the entire earth: “… And darkness was upon the face of the deepw (cf. Proverbs 3:20; Proverbs 8:24, 27-28).VED-OT Water.13


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Way.2

    Derek (דֶּרֶךְ, Strong's #1870), “way (path, road, highway); distance; journey; manner, conduct; condition; destiny.” This noun has cognates in Akkadian, Ugaritic (where it sometimes means “power” or “rule”), Phoenician, Punic, Arabic, and Aramaic. It occurs about 706 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.VED-OT Way.3

    First, this word refers to a path, a road, or a highway. In Genesis 3:24 (the first occurrence of the word) it means “path” or “route”: “… And he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every [direction], to [guard] the way of the tree of life.” Sometimes, as in Genesis 16:7, the word represents a pathway, road, or route: “And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.” The actual road itself is represented in Genesis 38:21: “Where is the [temple prostitute], that was openly by the wayside?” (In Numbers 20:17 the word means “highway,” a well-known and well-traveled road: “… We will go by the king’s highway, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.”VED-OT Way.4

    Second, this noun represents a “distance” (how far or how long) between two points: “And he set three days’ journey [a distance of three days] betwixt himself and Jacob …” (Genesis 30:36).VED-OT Way.5

    In other passages derek refers to the action or process of “taking a journey”: “And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way [on the journey]” (Genesis 45:23). In an extended nuance derek means “undertaking”: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure …” (Isaiah 58:13). Cf. Genesis 24:21: “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not” (cf. Deuteronomy 28:29).VED-OT Way.6

    In another emphasis this word connotes how and what one does, a “manner, custom, behavior, mode of life”: “Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth” (Genesis 19:31). In 1 Kings 2:4 derek is applied to an activity that controls one, one’s life-style: “If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee … a man on the throne of Israel.” In 1 Kings 16:26 derek is used of Jeroboam’s attitude: “For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.…” Deeds, or specific acts, may be connoted by this noun: “Lo, these are parts of his ways; but how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).VED-OT Way.7

    Derek refers to a “condition” in the sense of what has happened to someone. This is clear by the parallelism of Isaiah 40:27: “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and [the justice due to me is passed away] from my God?”  In one passage derek signifies the overall course and fixed path of one’s life, or his “destiny”: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).VED-OT Way.8

    Finally, this word sometimes seems to bear the meaning of its Ugaritic cognate, “power” or “rulership”: “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways [NASB “favors”] to the strangers under every green tree …” (Jeremiah 3:13; cf. Job 26:14; 36:23; 40:19; Psalms 67:2; 110:7; 119:37; 138:5; Proverbs 8:22; 19:16; 31:3; Hosea 10:13; Amos 8:14). Some scholars, however, contest this explanation of these passages.VED-OT Way.9

    'Ôrach (אֹרַח, Strong's #734), “way; path; course; conduct; manner.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, Arabic, and Aramaic. Its 57 occurrences in biblical Hebrew are all in poetry except Genesis 18:11.VED-OT Way.10

    In meaning this word parallels Hebrew derek, which it often synonymously parallels. First, 'ôrach means “path” or “way” conceived as a marked-out, well-traveled course: “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels …” (Genesis 49:17). In Judges 5:6 the word means “highway”: “In the days of Shamgar … the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.” When the sun is likened to a “strong man” who rejoices “to run a race” (Psalms 19:5), 'ôrach represents a race course rather than a highway or a primitive, snake-laden path. The man who makes his path straight goes directly on his journey, not turning aside for the beckoning harlot (Proverbs 9:15). So here the word represents the “course” one follows between his departure and arrival conceived in terms of small units, almost step by step. In Psalms 8:8 the word represents the ocean currents: “… The fowl of the air and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.”VED-OT Way.11

    'Ôrach signifies the ground itself as the path upon which one treads: “He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet” (Isaiah 41:3).VED-OT Way.12

    In Job 30:12 the word seems to represent an obstruction or dam: “… They push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.”VED-OT Way.13

    The word can refer to a recurring life event typical of an individual or a group. In its first biblical occurrence (Genesis 18:11) it is used of “the manner of women” (menstruation). Job 16:22 mentions the “way whence I shall not return,” or death, while other passages speak of life actions (Job 34:11; literally, “conduct”) or life-style (Proverbs 15:10: “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way …”—prescribed lifestyle; Proverbs 5:6: “Lest thou shouldest ponder the path [which is typified by] life …”). Thus, 'ôrach sometimes figures a proper course of action or proceeding within a given realm— “the path of judgment” (Isaiah 40:14).VED-OT Way.14

    The noun ‘orchah which occurs 3 times, represents a “wandering company” or a “caravan” (Genesis 37:25).VED-OT Way.15

      B. Verb. VED-OT Way.16

    ‘Arach means “to go, wander.” This word, which occurs 6 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Phoenician, Ethiopic, Aramaic, and Syriac. One example of this verb’s usage is found in Job 34:7-8: “What man is like Job … which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.”VED-OT Way.17

    Weaker One, Little One

    Ṭaph (טַף, Strong's #2945), “weaker one; child; little one.” Cognates of this noun appear in Arabic and Ethiopic. All but 4 of the 42 occurrences of this word are in prose literature and mostly in early (pre-monarchy) prose narrative.VED-OT Weaker One, Little One.2

    Basically this word signifies those members of a nomadic tribe who are not able to march or who can only march to a limited extent. The word implies the “weaker ones.” Thus we read of the men and the tapim, or the men and those who were unable to move quickly over long stretches: “And Judah said unto Israel, his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones” (Genesis 43:8). This nuance is clearer in Genesis 50:7-8: “And Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.” They left the women and the aged to take care of the beasts and babies. These verses certainly make it clear that only men went along.VED-OT Weaker One, Little One.3

    In several passages ṭaph represents only the children and old ones: “And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house” (Genesis 34:29, first occurrence). All the able-bodied men of Shechem were killed (Genesis 34:26).VED-OT Weaker One, Little One.4

    Sometimes the word means “children”: “But all the women children [NASB, “girls”], that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” (Numbers 31:18; cf. v. 17).VED-OT Weaker One, Little One.5


    Hôn (הוֹן, Strong's #1952), “wealth; substance; riches; possessions; enough.” The 26 occurrences of this word are almost wholly in wisdom literature, with 17 of them in the Book of Proverbs. This word appears only in the singular form.VED-OT Wealth.2

    Hôn usually refers to movable goods considered as “wealth”: “But if he [the thief] be found, he shall restore seven-fold; he shall give all the substance of his house” (Proverbs 6:31; cf. Ezekiel 27:12). “Wealth” can be good and a sign of blessing: “Wealth and riches shall be in his [the righteous man’s] house: and his righteousness endureth for ever” (Psalms 112:3). The creation is God’s wealth: “I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches” (Psalms 119:14). In the Proverbs “wealth” is usually an indication of ungodliness: “The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty” (Proverbs 10:15).VED-OT Wealth.3

    This word can also represent any kind of concrete “wealth”: “… If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned” (Song of Song of Solomon 8:7). This is the significance of the word in its first occurrence: “Thou sellest thy people for nought and dost not increase thy wealth by their price” (Psalms 44:12). “Wealth” in general is meant in Proverbs 12:27: “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious.”VED-OT Wealth.4

    Finally, hôn means “enough” (only in Proverbs 30:15-16): “The horseleech hath two daughters, crying, Give, Give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: the grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.”VED-OT Wealth.5


    Shâbûa‛ (שְׁבֻעָה, Strong's #7620), “week.” This noun appears about 20 times in biblical Hebrew. In Genesis 29:27 it refers to an entire “week” of feasting. Exodus 34:22 speaks of a special feast in Israel’s religious calendar: “And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.” In Leviticus 12:5 the word appears with the dual suffix and signifies a period of two weeks: “But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks.…”VED-OT Week.2

    Whoring, to Go; Harlot, to Be

    Zânâh (זָנָה, Strong's #2181), “to go a whoring, commit fornication, be a harlot, serve other gods.” This is the regular term denoting prostitution throughout the history of Hebrew, with special nuances coming out of the religious experience of ancient Israel. The word occurs approximately 90 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is used for the first time in the text at the conclusion of the story of the rape of Dinah by Shechem, as her brothers excuse their revenge by asking: “Should he deal with our sister as with a harlot?” (Genesis 34:31).VED-OT Whoring, to Go; Harlot, to Be.2

    While the term means “to commit fornication,” whether by male or by female, it is to be noted that it is almost never used to describe sexual misconduct on the part of a male in the Old Testament. Part of the reason lies in the differing attitude in ancient Israel concerning sexual activity by men and women. The main reason, however, is the fact that this term is used most frequently to describe “spiritual prostitution” in which Israel turned from God to strange gods. Deuteronomy 31:16 illustrates this meaning: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.”VED-OT Whoring, to Go; Harlot, to Be.3

    Zânâh became, then, the common term for spiritual backsliding. The act of harloting after strange gods was more than changing gods, however. This was especially true when Israel went after the Canaanite gods, for the worship of these pagan deities involved actual prostitution with cult prostitutes connected with the Canaanite shrines. In the Old Testament sometimes the use of the phrase “go a whoring after” gods implies an individual’s involvement with cult prostitutes. An example might be in Exodus 34:15-16: “Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods.… And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons,and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.”VED-OT Whoring, to Go; Harlot, to Be.4

    The religious theory behind such activity at the Canaanite shrine was that such sexual activity with cult prostitutes, both male and female, who represented the gods and goddesses of the Canaanite fertility cult, would stimulate fertility in their crops and flocks. Such cult prostitutes were not designated as prostitutes but rather “holy ones” or “set-apart ones,” since the Semitic term for “holy” means, first of all, to be set apart for a special use. This is illustrated in Deuteronomy 23:17: “There shall be no cult prostitute [set-apart one] of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel” (RSV; KJV, “whore of the daughters of Israel” and “sodomite of the sons of Israel”). This theme of religious harlotry looms large in the prophets who denounce this backsliding in no uncertain terms. Ezekiel minces no words as he openly calls both Judah and Israel “harlots” and vividly describes their backsliding in sexual terms (Ezekiel 16:6-63; 23:1).VED-OT Whoring, to Go; Harlot, to Be.5

    The Book of Hosea, in which Hosea’s wife Gomer became unfaithful and most likely was involved in such cult prostitution, again illustrates not only Hosea’s heartbreak but also God’s own heartbreak because of the unfaithfulness of his wife, Israel. Israel’s unfaithfulness appears in Hosea 9:1: “Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.”VED-OT Whoring, to Go; Harlot, to Be.6


    A. Nouns. VED-OT Wicked.2

    Râshâ‛ (רָשָׁע, Strong's #7563), “wicked; ungodly; guilty.” Râshâ‛ occurs only in Hebrew and late Aramaic. The word occurs about 260 times as a noun or an adjective and especially in the poetic literature of the Old Testament. It is rare in the Pentateuch and in the historical books. Its frequency increases in the prophetical books.VED-OT Wicked.3

    The narrow meaning of râshâ‛ lies in the concept of “wrongdoing” or “being in the wrong.” It is a legal term. The person who has sinned against the law is guilty: “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them” (Proverbs 28:4). When in Israel’s history justice did not prevail, the “guilty” were acquitted: “… When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2; cf. 2 Chronicles 6:23).VED-OT Wicked.4

    Râshâ‛ also denotes the category of people who have done wrong, are still living in sin, and are intent on continuing with wrongdoing. This is the more general meaning of the word. The first psalm exhorts the godly not to imitate the deeds and behavior of the ungodly, wicked people. The “wicked” does not seek God (Psalms 10:4); he challenges God (Psalms 10:13). In his way of life the “wicked” loves violence (Psalms 11:5), oppresses the righteous (Psalms 17:9), does not repay his debts (Psalms 37:21), and lays a snare to trap the righteous (Psalms 119:110). Psalms 37 gives a vivid description of the acts of the “wicked” and also of God’s judgment upon them. Facing the terrible force of the “wicked,” the righteous prayed for God’s deliverance and for His judgment upon them. This theme of judgment has already been anticipated in Psalms 1:6: “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” The expectation of the righteous includes God’s judgment on the “wicked” in this life that they might be ashamed (Psalms 31:17), be overcome by sorrows (Psalms 32:10), fall by their devices (Psalms 141:10), and die a premature death (Proverbs 10:27), and that their remembrance will be no more (Proverbs 10:7). It is expected that at the time of their death there will be great shouting: “When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: when the wicked perish, there is shouting” (Proverbs 11:10).VED-OT Wicked.5

    The judgment upon the “wicked” is particularly strong in Proverbs, where the authors contrast the advantages of wisdom and righteousness and the disadvantages of the “wicked” (cf. 2:22: “But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it”). In Job another theme finds expression: why are the “wicked” not cut off? “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?” (21:7). There is no clear answer to this question in the Old Testament. Malachi predicts a new age in which the distinction of the righteous and the “wicked” will be clear and where the righteous will triumph: “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that seNeth him not” (Malachi 3:18).VED-OT Wicked.6

    The Septuagint has three translations of râshâ‛: asebes (“godless; impious”); hamartolos (“sinner; sinful”), and anomos (“lawless”).VED-OT Wicked.7

    Two other related nouns occur in the Old Testament. Râshâ‛, which is found about 30 times, usually means “wickedness”: “Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubborness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin” (Deuteronomy 9:27). Rish’ah, which appears about 15 times, refers to “wickedness” or “guilt”: “For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee” (Deuteronomy 9:4).VED-OT Wicked.8

    B. Adjective. VED-OT Wicked.9

    Râshâ‛ (רָשָׁע, Strong's #7563), “wicked; guilty.” This word may also be used as an adjective. In some cases a person is so guilty that he deserves death: “… If the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face … by a certain number” (Deuteronomy 25:2). The characteristics of a “wicked” person qualify him as a godless, impious man: “How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed? shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?” (2 Samuel 4:11; cf. Ezekiel 3:18-19).VED-OT Wicked.10

    C. Verb. VED-OT Wicked.11

    Râsha‛ (רָשַׁע, Strong's #7561), “to be wicked, act wickedly.” This verb is derived from the noun rasa’. There is a similar root in Ethiopic and Arabic, with the respective meanings “to forget” and “to be loose.” This verb appears in 2 Chronicles 6:37: “Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray unto thee in the land of their captivity, saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly.”VED-OT Wicked.12


    Belı̂ya‛al (בְּלִיַּעַל, Strong's #1100), “wickedness; wicked; destruction.” The 27 occurrences of this noun are scattered throughout the periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Wickedness.2

    The basic meaning of this word appears in a passage such as Judges 20:13, where the sons of belı̂ya‛al are perpetrators of wickedness (they raped and murdered a man’s concubine): “Now therefore deliver us the men, the children of Belial [NASB, “worthless fellows”] which are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel.” In its first appearance the word represents men who lead others into idolatry: “Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have [seduced] the inhabitants of their city …” (Deuteronomy 13:13). In Deuteronomy 15:9 the word modifies Hebrew dabar, “word” or “matter.” Israel is warned to avoid “wicked” words (thoughts) in their hearts. Belı̂ya‛alis a synonym for rasha’ (“wicked rebellious one”) in Job 34:18. In Nahum 1:11 the wicked counselor plots evil against God. The psalmist uses belı̂ya‛al as a synonym of death: “The cords of death encompassed me, and the torrents of ungodliness [KJV, “floods of ungodly men”] terrified me” (Psalms 18:4, NASB).VED-OT Wickedness.3


    'Almânâh (אַלְמָנָה, Strong's #490), “widow.” Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic, Arabic, Akkadian, Phoenician, and Ugaritic. Biblical Hebrew attests it 55 times and in all periods.VED-OT Widow.2

    The word represents a woman who, because of the death of her husband, has lost her social and economic position. The gravity of her situation was increased if she had no children. In such a circumstance she returned to her father’s home and was subjected to the Levirate rule whereby a close male relative surviving her husband was to produce a child through her in her husband’s behalf: “Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter-inlaw, Remain a widow at thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown …” (Genesis 38:11 the first occurrence of the word). These words constitute a promise to Tamar that the disgrace of being without both husband and child would be removed when Shelah was old enough to marry. Even if children had been born before her husband’s death, a widow’s lot was not a happy one (2 Samuel 14:5). Israel was admonished to treat “widows” and other socially disadvantaged people with justice, God Himself standing as their protector (Exodus 22:21-24).VED-OT Widow.3

    Wives whose husbands shut them away from themselves are sometimes called “widows”: “And David came to his house at Jerusalem; and the king took the ten women his concubines, whom he had left to keep the house, and put them in ward, and fed them, but went not in unto them. So they were shut up unto the day of their death, living in widowhood” (2 Samuel 20:3).VED-OT Widow.4

    Destroyed, plundered Jerusalem is called a “widow” (Lamentations 1:1).VED-OT Widow.5

    Will, Be Willing

    'Âbâh (אָבָה, Strong's #14), “to will, be willing, consent.” Common throughout the history of the Hebrew language, this word occurs in the Hebrew Bible just over 50 times. It is found for the first time in Genesis 24:5, where Abraham’s servant who is about to be sent to find a wife for Isaac says: “Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land …?”VED-OT Will, Be Willing.2

    It is to be noted that in all but 2 instances of its use in the Old Testament (Job 39:9; Isaiah 1:19), the word is used with a negation, to indicate lack of willingness or consent. Even in these two positive uses, there seems to be a negative aspect or expectation implied. Job asks: “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee …?” (Job 39:9); and Isaiah seems almost hopeless as he says to Judah: “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).VED-OT Will, Be Willing.3


    Yayin (יַיִן, Strong's #3196), “wine.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It appears about 141 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.VED-OT Wine.2

    This is the usual Hebrew word for fermented grape. It is usually rendered “wine.” Such “wine” was commonly drunk for refreshment: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine …” (Genesis 14:18; cf. 27:25). Passages such as Ezekiel 27:18 inform us that “wine” was an article of commerce: “Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.” Strongholds were supplied with “wine” in case of siege (2 Chronicles 11:11). Proverbs recommends that kings avoid “wine” and strong drink but that it be given to those troubled with problems that they might drink and forget their problems (Proverbs 31:4-7). “Wine” was used to make merry, to make one feel good without being intoxicated (2 Samuel 13:28).VED-OT Wine.3

    Second, “wine” was used in rejoicing before the Lord. Once a year all Israel is to gather in Jerusalem. The money realized from the sale of a tithe of all their harvest was to be spent “for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice …” (Deuteronomy 14:26). “Wine” was offered to God at His command as part of the prescribed ritual (Exodus 29:40). Thus it was part of the temple supplies available for purchase by pilgrims so that they could offer it to God (1 Chronicles 9:29). Pagans used “wine” in their worship, but “their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps” (Deuteronomy 32:33)VED-OT Wine.4

    Yayin clearly represents an intoxicating beverage. This is evident in its first biblical appearance: “And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken …” (Genesis 9:20-21). The word is used as a synonym of tirosh , “new wine,” in Hosea 4:11, where it is evident that both can be intoxicating. Tirosh is distinguished from yayin by referring only to new wine not fully fermented; yayin includes “wine” at any stage. In Genesis 27:28 (the first biblical occurrence of the word) Jacob’s blessing includes the divine bestowal of an abundance of new wine. In 1 Samuel 1:15 yayin parallels shekar, “strong drink.” Shekar in early times included wine (Numbers 28:7) but meant strong drink made from any fruit or grain (Numbers 6:3). People in special states of holiness were forbidden to drink “wine,” such as the Nazarites (Numbers 6:3), Samson’s mother (Judges 13:4), and priests approaching God (Leviticus 10:9).VED-OT Wine.5

    In Genesis 9:24 yayin means drunkenness: “And Noah awoke from his wine.…”VED-OT Wine.6


    Kânâph (כָּנָף, Strong's #3671), “wing.” The Hebrew word is represented in Semitic languages (Ugaritic, Akkadian, Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic) and in Egyptian. Kânâph has maintained its meaning in rabbinic and modern Hebrew.VED-OT Wing.2

    In the Old Testament kânâph occurs first in the Creation account: “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:21; cf. Psalms 78:27). In the biblical usage the idiom “every bird wing” denotes the class of birds; cf. “They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort” (Genesis 7:14). This phrase is translated in the KJV, “any winged fowl” (Deuteronomy 4:17; cf. NASB, “any winged bird that flies in the sky”).VED-OT Wing.3

    The word “wing” appears 109 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, with particular concentration in the description of the 2 cherubim of wood in Solomon’s temple and in Ezekiel’s vision of the “creatures,” or cherubim. Elsewhere the Bible speaks of “wings” of the cherubim (Exodus 25:20; 37:9) and of the seraphim (Isaiah 6:2).VED-OT Wing.4

    As an extension of the usage “wing,” kânâph signifies “extremity.” The seam or lower part of a garment was known as the kânâph. In the “fold” (kânâph; KJV, “skirt”) of the garment one could carry things (Haggai 2:12). Saul tore the edge (kânâph; KJV, “skirt”) of Samuel’s robe (1 Samuel 15:27). The extremity of a land on the world was also known by the word kânâph and is translated by “corner” in English: “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12; cf. Job 37:3; 38:13; Ezekiel 7:2). In the metaphorical use God is said to protect His people as a bird protects her young with her “wings” (Deuteronomy 32:11). The psalmist expressed God’s care and protection as a “shadow” of the “wings” (Psalms 17:8; cf. 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4). In keeping with this usage Malachi looked forward to a new age, when “the Sun of righteousness [will] arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (4:2).VED-OT Wing.5

    When the nations are compared to birds, the association is that of terror and conquest. This is best expressed in Ezekiel’s parable of the two eagles and the vine: “And say, Thus saith the Lord God; A great eagle with great wings, longwinged, full of feathers, which had divers colors, came unto Lebanon, and took the highest branch of the cedar: he cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffic; he set it in a city of merchants” (Ezekiel 17:3-4). The believer is enjoined to seek refuge with God when adversity strikes him or adversaries surround him: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shall thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” Psalms 91:4)VED-OT Wing.6

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: pteruks (“wing; pinion”); pterugion (“end; edge”); and pteroros (“feathered; winged”) The KJV gives these senses: “wing; skirt; border; corner.”VED-OT Wing.7

    Wise, Skilled

    A. Adjective.VED-OT Wise, Skilled.2

    Châkâm (חָכָם, Strong's #2450), “wise; skillful; practical.” This word plus the noun chakemah and the verb “to be wise” signify an important element of the Old Testament religious point of view. Religious experience was not a routine, a ritual, or faith experience. It was viewed as a mastery of the art of living in accordance with God’s expectations. In their definition, the words “mastery” and “art” signify that wisdom was a process of attainment and not an accomplishment. The secular usage bears out the importance of these observations.VED-OT Wise, Skilled.3

    Châkâm appears 132 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It occurs most frequently in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, for which reason these books are known as “wisdom literature”. The first occurrence of châkâm is in Genesis 41:8: “And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.”VED-OT Wise, Skilled.4

    The châkâm in secular usage signified a man who was a “skillful” craftsman. The manufacturers of the objects belonging to the tabernacle were known to be wise, or experienced in their crafts (Exodus 36:4). Even the man who was skillful in making idols was recognized as a craftsman (Isaiah 40:20; cf. Jeremiah 10:9). The reason for this is to be found in the man’s skill, craftsmanship, and not in the object which was being manufactured. Those who were experienced in life were known as “wise,” but their wisdom is not to be confused with the religious usage. Cleverness and shrewdness characterized this type of wisdom. Amnon consulted Jonadab, who was known as a shrewd man (2 Samuel 13:3), and followed his plan of seducing his sister Tamar. Joab hired a “wise” woman to make David change his mind about Absalom (2 Samuel 14:2).VED-OT Wise, Skilled.5

    Based on the characterization of wisdom as a skill, a class of counselors known as “wise men” arose. They were to be found in Egypt (Genesis 41:8), in Babylon (Jeremiah 50:35), in Tyre (Ezekiel 27:9), in Edom (Obadiah 8), and in Israel. In pagan cultures the “wise” man practiced magic and divination: “Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments” (Exodus 7:11); and “… that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:25).VED-OT Wise, Skilled.6

    The religious sense of châkâm excludes delusion, craftiness, shrewdness, and magic. God is the source of wisdom, as He is “wise”: “Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity” (Isaiah 31:2). The man or woman who, fearing God, lives in accordance with what God expects and what is expected of him in a Godfearing society is viewed as an integrated person. He is “wise” in that his manner of life projects the fear of God and the blessing of God rests upon him. Even as the craftsman is said to be skillful in his trade, the Old Testament châkâm was learning and applying wisdom to every situation in life, and the degree in which he succeeded was a barometer of his progress on the road of wisdom.VED-OT Wise, Skilled.7

    The opposite of the châkâm is the “fool” or wicked person, who stubbornly refuses counsel and depends on his own understanding: “For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:32; cf. Deuteronomy 32:5-6; Proverbs 3:35).VED-OT Wise, Skilled.8

    B. Noun.VED-OT Wise, Skilled.9

    Chokmâh (חָכְמָה, Strong's #2451), “wisdom; experience; shrewdness.” This word appears 141 times in the Old Testament. Like châkâm, most occurrences of this word are in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. The châkâm seeks after chokmâh “wisdom.” Like châkâm, the word chokmâh can refer to technical skills or special abilities in fashioning something. The first occurrence of chokmâh is in Exodus 28:3: “And thou shalt speak unto all that are wisehearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” This first occurrence of the word in the Hebrew Bible bears this out as well as the description of the workers on the tabernacle. The artisan was considered to be endowed with special abilities given to him by God: “And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship” (Exodus 35:31).VED-OT Wise, Skilled.10

    Chokmâh is the knowledge and the ability to make the right choices at the opportune time. The consistency of making the right choice is an indication of maturity and development. The prerequisite for “wisdom” is the fear of the Lord: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). “Wisdom” is viewed as crying out for disciples who will do everything to pursue her (Proverbs 1:20). The person who seeks chokmâh diligently will receive understanding: “For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6); he will benefit in his life by walking with God: “That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous” (Proverbs 2:20). The advantages of “wisdom” are many: “For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:2-4). The prerequisite is a desire to follow and imitate God as He has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, without self-reliance and especially not in a spirit of pride: “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:5-7). The fruits of chokmâh are many, and the Book of Proverbs describes the characters of the châkâm and chokmâh. In New Testament terms the fruits of “wisdom” are the same as the fruits of the Holy Spirit; cf. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23); “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:17-18).VED-OT Wise, Skilled.11

    The importance of “wisdom” explains why books were written about it. Songs were composed in celebration of“wisdom” (Job 28). Even “wisdom” is personified in Proverbs. Chokmâh as a person stands for that divine perfection of “wisdom” which is manifest in God’s creative acts. As a divine perfection it is visible in God’s creative acts: “Doth not wisdom cry: and understanding put forth her voice? … I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.… The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.… Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.… Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways” (Proverbs 8:1, 12, 22, 30, 32).VED-OT Wise, Skilled.12

    The Septuagint translations are: sophos (“clever; skillful; experienced; wise; learned”); phronimos (“sensible; thoughtful; prudent; wise”); and sunetos (“intelligent; sagacious; wise”). The KJV gives these translations: “wise; wise man; cunning.”VED-OT Wise, Skilled.13

    C. Verb.VED-OT Wise, Skilled.14

    Châkam (חָכַם, Strong's #2449), “to be wise, act wisely, make wise, show oneself wise.” This root, which occurs 20 times in the Old Testament, appears in other Semitic languages, such as in the Akkadian word chakamu. The word means “to be wise” in Proverbs 23:15: “My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.” In Psalms 119:98 chakam means “to make wise”: “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.”VED-OT Wise, Skilled.15


    Yâbêsh (יָבֵשׁ, Strong's #3001), “to be dry, be dried up, be withered.” This term is found throughout the development of the Hebrew language and a few other Semitic languages. It is found approximately 70 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In its verbal form yâbêsh is found for the first time in Genesis 8:7, when after the Flood, “the waters were dried up from the earth.” However, the noun derivative, yabbashah, which means “dry ground,” already occurs in Genesis 1:9.VED-OT Wither.2

    Physical “drying up” can involve bread (Joshua 9:5), the ground in time of drought (Jeremiah 23:10; Amos 4:7), brooks and streams (1 Kings 17:7), and crops (Isaiah 42:15). The shortness of man’s life is compared to the “drying up” of grass (Psalms 90:6; 102:11; Isaiah 40:7). Because of affliction, the heart too “withers” like the grass (Psalms 102:4). In his parable of the vine, Ezekiel likens God’s judgment on Judah to the “withering” of a vine that is pulled up (Ezekiel 17:9-10). Because of his disobedience, Jeroboam’s hand “is dried up” as judgment from God (1 Kings 13:4). Psychosomatic awareness is clearly demonstrated in Proverbs 17:22: “… A broken spirit drieth the bones.”VED-OT Wither.3


    A. Noun. VED-OT Witness.2

    ‛Êd (עֵד, Strong's #5707), “witness.” The 69 ouurrences of this word are scattered throughout the various biblical literary genres and periods although it does not appear in historical literature outside the Pentateuch.VED-OT Witness.3

    This word has to do with the legal or judicial sphere. First, in the area of civil affairs the word can mean someone who is present at a legal transaction and can confirm it if necessary. Such people worked as notaries, e.g., for an oral transfer of property: “Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirrn all things.… And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi” (Ruth 4:7, 9). At a later time the “witnesses” not only acted to attest the transaction and to confirm it orally, but they signed a document or deed of purchase. Thus “witness” takes on the new nuance of those able and willing to affirm the truth of a transaction by affixing their signatures: “And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah … in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase …” (Jeremiah 32:12). An object or animal(s) can signify the truthfulness of an act or agreement. Its very existence or the acceptance of it by both parties (in the case of the animals given to Abimelech in Genesis 21:30) bears witness: “Now therefore come thou, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee [let it attest to our mutual relationship]” (Genesis 31:44—the first biblical occurrence of the word). Jacob then set up a stone pillar or heap as a further “witness” (Genesis 31:48) calling upon God to effect judgment if the covenant were broken.VED-OT Witness.4

    In Mosaic criminal law the accused has the right to be faced by his/her accuser and to give evidence of his/her innocence. In the case of a newly married woman charged by her own husband, his testimony is sufficient to prove her guilty of adultery unless her parents have clear evidence proving her virginity before her marriage (Deuteronomy 222:14ff.). Usually the accused is faced with someone who either saw or heard of his guilt: “And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it …” (Leviticus 5:1). Heavy penalties fell on anyone who lied to a court. The ninth commandment may well have immediate reference to such a concrete court situation (Exodus 20:16). If so, it serves to sanction proper judicial procedure, to safeguard individuals from secret accusation and condemnation and giving them the right and privilege of selfdefense. In the exchange between Jacob and Laban mentioned above, Jacob also cites God as a “witness” (Genesis 31:50) between them, the one who will see violations; God, however, is also the Judge. Although human courts are (as a rule) to keep judge and “witness” separate, the “witnesses” do participate in executing the penalty upon the guilty party (Deuteronomy 17:7), even as God does.VED-OT Witness.5

    B. Verb.VED-OT Witness.6

    ‛Ûd (עוּד, Strong's #5749), “to take as witness, bear witness, repeat, admonish, warn, assure protection, relieve.” This verb, which occurs 42 times in biblical Hebrew, has cognates in Ugaritic (perhaps), Arabic, Aramaic, Syriac, Phoenician, and Ethiopic.VED-OT Witness.7

    In 1 Kings 21:10 ‛Ûd means “to bear witness”: “And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him.…” The word means “to warn” in Jeremiah 6:10: “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear?”VED-OT Witness.8


    'Ishshâh (אִשָּׁה, Strong's #802), “woman; wife; betrothed one; bride; each.” This word has cognates in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It appears about 781 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods of the language.VED-OT Woman.2

    This noun connotes one who is a female human being regardless of her age or virginity. Therefore, it appears in correlation to “man” (ish): “… She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). This is its meaning in its first biblical usage: “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man [‘adam], made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Genesis 2:22). The stress here is on identification of womanhood rather than a family role.VED-OT Woman.3

    The stress on the family role of a “wife” appears in passages such as Genesis 8:16: “Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”VED-OT Woman.4

    In one special nuance the word connotes “wife” in the sense of a woman who is under a man’s authority and protection; the emphasis is on the family relationship considered as a legal and social entity: “And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered …” (Genesis 12:5).VED-OT Woman.5

    In Lamentations 2:20 'ishshâh is a synonym for “mother”: “Shall the women eat their [offspring, the little ones who were born healthy]?” In Genesis 29:21 (cf. Deuteronomy 22:24) it appears to connote “bride” or “betrothed one”: “And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.” Ecclesiastes 7:26 uses the word generically of “woman” conceived in general, or womanhood: “And I find more bitter than death the woman, whose heart is snares and nets …” (cf. Genesis 31:35).VED-OT Woman.6

    This word is used only infrequently of animals: “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female” (Genesis 7:2).VED-OT Woman.7

    This word can also be used figuratively describing foreign warriors and/or heroes as “women,” in other words as weak, unmanly, and cowardly: “In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the Lord of hosts …” (Isaiah 19:16).VED-OT Woman.8

    In a few passages 'ishshâh means “each” or “every”: “But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house …” (Exodus 3:22; cf. Amos 4:3). A special use of this nuance ouurs in passages such as Jeremiah 9:20, where in conjunction with re’ut (“neighbor”) it means “one” (female): “Yet hear the word of the Lord, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbor lamentation.”VED-OT Woman.9


    Môphêth (מֹפֵת, Strong's #4159), “wonder; sign; portent.” The 36 appearances of this word are in all periods of biblical literature except wisdom literature. Poetical literature manifests it only 5 times and only in the Psalter.VED-OT Wonder.2

    First, this word signifies a divine act or a special display of divine power: “When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand …” (Exodus 4:21—the first biblical occurrence of the word). Acts effecting the divine curses are called “wonders.” Thus the word does not necessarily refer to a miraculous act, if “miracle” means something outside the realm of ordinary providence.VED-OT Wonder.3

    Second, the word can represent a “sign” from God or a token of a future event: “This is the sign which the Lord hath spoken: Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out” (1 Kings 13:3). This sense sometimes has the nuance “symbol”: “Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you— indeed they are men who are a symbol …” (Zechariah 3:8, NASB; cf. Psalms 71:7).VED-OT Wonder.4


    A. Verbs. VED-OT Work.2

    Pâ‛al (פָּעַל, Strong's #6466), “to do, work.” Common to both ancient and modern Hebrew, this word is used in modern Hebrew in the sense of “to work, to act, to function.” Found only 57 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, it is used primarily as a poetic synonym for the much more common verb ‘ashah, “to do, to make.” Thus, almost half the occurrences of this verb are in the Book of Psalms. Pâ‛al is used for the first time in the Old Testament in the Song of Moses: “… The place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in …” (Exodus 15:17). There is no distinction in the use of this verb, whether God or man is its subject. In Psalms 15:2 man is the subject: “He that walketh uprightly and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.”VED-OT Work.3

    ‛Âśâh (עָשָׂה, Strong's #6213), “to make, do, create.” This root also occurs in Moabite and Phoenician (only in a proper name). It occurs in early extra-biblical Hebrew, Hebrew, and about 2,625 times in the Bible (in all periods). It should be distinguished from the second sense of ‛âśâh, “to squeeze.”VED-OT Work.4

    In its primary sense this verb represents the production of various objects. This includes making images and idols: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image …” (Exodus 20:4). The verb can mean to make something into something: “And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image …” (Isaiah 44:17). In an extended use this verb means to prepare a meal, a banquet, or even an offering: “And he [Abraham] took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them [his three guests] …” (Genesis 18:8).VED-OT Work.5

    In Genesis 12:5 ‛âśâh means “to acquire” (as it often does): “And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran.…” The “souls that they had gotten” probably were slaves.VED-OT Work.6

    Used in association with “Sabbath” or the name of other holy days, this word signifies “keeping” or “celebrating”: “All the congregation of Israel shall keep it [the Passover]” (Exodus 12:47). In a related sense the word means “to spend” a day: “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow?” (Ecclesiastes 6:12).VED-OT Work.7

    Depending upon its object, ‛âśâh has several other nuances within the general concept of producing some product. For example, with the object “book” the verb means “to write”: “… Of making many books there is no end …” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). The Bible also uses this word of the process of war: “These made war with Bera king of Sodom …” (Genesis 14:2). Sometimes the word represents an action: “And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them …” (Joshua 9:15). “To make a mourning” is to observe it: “… And he [Joseph] made a mourning for his father seven days” (Genesis 50:10). With “name” the verb means “to gain prominence and fame”: “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name …” (Genesis 11:4). With the word “workmanship” the word signifies “to work”: “And I have filled him with the spirit of God … , and in all manner of workmanship, … to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass” (Exodus 31:3-4).VED-OT Work.8

    ‛Âśâh may represent the relationship of an individual to another in his action or behavior, in the sense of what one does. So Pharaoh asks Abram: “What is this that thou hast done unto me?” (Genesis 12:18). Israel pledged: “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7). With the particle le the verb signifies inflicting upon another some act or behavior: “Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us?” (Genesis 20:9). With the particle ’im the word may mean “to show,” or “to practice” something toward someone. The emphasis here is on an ongoing mutual relationship between two parties obligating them to a reciprocal act: “O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master Abraham” (Genesis 24:12). In Genesis 26:29 ‛âśâh appears twice in the sense “to practice toward”: “That thou wilt do us no harm, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good.…”VED-OT Work.9

    Used absolutely this verb sometimes means “to take action”: “Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land …” (Genesis 41:34). In the Hebrew ‛âśâh has no object in this passage—it is used absolutely. Used in this manner it may also signify “to be active”: “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands” (Proverbs 31:13). In 1 Chronicles 28:10 the verb (used absolutely) means “to go to work,” to go about doing a task: “Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build a house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.”VED-OT Work.10

    This verb used of plants signifies “bringing forth.” In Genesis 1:11 it means “to bear” fruit: “… And the fruit tree [bearing] fruit after his kind.…” In another nuance this verb represents what a plant does in producing grain: “… It hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal …” (Hosea 8:7). The word signifies the production of branches, too: “It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine” (Ezekiel 17:8).VED-OT Work.11

    ‛Âśâh is used theologically of man’s response to divine commands. God commanded Noah: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood …” (Genesis 6:14). Similarly Israel was commanded “to construct” a sanctuary for God (Exodus 25:8). The manipulation of the blood of the sacrifice is what the priest is to do (Leviticus 4:20). The entire cultic activity is described by ‛âśâh: “As he hath done this day, so the Lord hath commanded to do …” (Leviticus 8:34). Thus in his acts a man demonstrates his inward commitment and, therefore, his relationship to God (Deuteronomy 4:13). Doing God’s commands brings life upon a man (Leviticus 18:5).VED-OT Work.12

    This verb is also applied specifically to all aspects of divine acts and actions. In the general sense of His actions toward His people Israel, the word first occurs in Genesis 12:2, where God promises “to make” Abram a great nation. *  is also the most general Old Testament expression for divine creating. Every aspect of this activity is described by this word: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth …” (Exodus 20:11). This is its meaning in its first biblical occurrence: “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament …” (Genesis 1:7). This word is used of God’s acts effecting the entire created world and individual men (Exodus 20:6). God’s acts and words perfectly correspond, so that what He says He does, and what He does is what He has said (Genesis 21:1; Psalms 115:3).VED-OT Work.13

    B. Noun. VED-OT Work.14

    Ma‛ăśeh (מַעֲשֶׂה, 4639), “work; deed; labor; behavior.” This noun is used 235 times in biblical Hebrew. Lamech, Noah’s father, in expressing his hope for a new world, used the noun for the first time in the Old Testament: “And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed” (Genesis 5:29). The word is scattered throughout the Old Testament and all types of literature.VED-OT Work.15

    The basic meaning of ma‛ăśeh is “work.” Lamech used the word to signify agricultural labor (Genesis 5:29). The Israelites were commanded to celebrate the Festival of the Firstfruits, as it signified the blessing of God upon their “labors” (Exodus 23:16). It is not to be limited to this. As the word is the most general word for “work,” it may be used to refer to the “work” of a skillful craftsman (Exodus 26:1), a weaver (26:36), a jeweler (28:11), and a perfumer (30:25). The finished product of the worker is also known as ma‛ăśeh: “And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats [literally, “work of a baker”] for Pharaoh.…” (Genesis 40:17); “And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels” [literally, “articles of work”] (Numbers 31:51). The artisan plied his craft during the work week, known in Hebrew as “the days of work,” and rested on the Sabbath: “Thus saith the Lord God; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened” (Ezekiel 46:1; cf. Exodus 23:12).VED-OT Work.16

    The phrase “work of one’s hands” signifies the worthlessness of the idols fashioned by human hands: “Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy” (Hosea 14:3). However, the prayer of the psalmist includes the request that the “works” of God’s people might be established: “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalms 90:17). Since the righteous work out God’s work and are a cause of God’s rejoicing, “the glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works” (Psalms 104:31).VED-OT Work.17

    In addition to “work,” ma‛ăśeh also denotes “deed,” “practice,” or “behavior.” Joseph asked his brothers, accused of having taken his cup of divination: “What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?” (Genesis 44:15). The Israelites were strongly commanded not to imitate the grossly immoral behavior of the Canaanites and the surrounding nations: “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances” (Leviticus 18:3; cf. Exodus 23:24). However, the Israelites did not listen to the warning, and they “were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.… Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions” (Psalms 106:35, 39).VED-OT Work.18

    Thus far, we have dealt with ma‛ăśeh from man’s perspective. The word may have a positive connotation (“work, deed”) as well as a negative (“corrupt practice”). The Old Testament also calls us to celebrate the “work” of God. The psalmist was overwhelmed with the majesty of the Lord, as he looked at God’s “work” of creation: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained” (Psalms 8:3; cf. 19:1; 102:25). The God of Israel demonstrated His love by His mighty acts of deliverance on behalf of Israel: “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that [out] lived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31; cf. versions).VED-OT Work.19

    All of God’s “works” are characterized by faithfulness to His promises and covenant: “For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalms 33:4).VED-OT Work.20

    Ma‛ăśeh is translated in the Greek as ergon (“deed; action; manifestation”) and poiema (“what is made; work; creation”). English translations are work (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV), “doing” (KJV and RSV), “practice” (NASB, NIV)VED-OT Work.21


    Shâchâh (שָׁחָה, Strong's #7812), “to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down.” This word is found in modern Hebrew in the sense of “to bow or stoop,” but not in the general sense of “to worship.” The fact that it is found more than 170 times in the Hebrew Bible shows something of its cultural significance. It is found for the first time in Genesis 18:2, where Abraham “bowed himself toward the ground” before the 3 messengers who announced that Sarah would have a son.VED-OT Worship.2

    The act of bowing down in homage is generally done before a superior or a ruler. Thus, David “bowed” himself before Saul (1 Samuel 24:8). Sometimes it is a social or economic superior to whom one bows, as when Ruth “bowed” to the ground before Boaz (Ruth 2:10). In a dream, Joseph saw the sheaves of his brothers “bowing down” before his sheaf (Genesis 37:5, 9-10). Shâchâh is used as the common term for coming before God in worship, as in 1 Samuel 15:25 and Jeremiah 7:2. Sometimes it is in conjunction with another Hebrew verb for bowing down physically, followed by “worship,” as in Exodus 34:8: “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” Other gods and idols are also the object of such worship by one’s prostrating oneself before them (Isaiah 2:20; 15, 17).VED-OT Worship.3


    A. Noun. VED-OT Wrath.2

    Chêmâh (חֵמָה, Strong's #2534), “wrath; heat; rage; anger.” This noun occurs in Semitic languages with the meanings “heat, wrath, poison, venom.” The noun, as well as the verb yacham, denotes a strong emotional state. The noun is used 120 times, predominantly in the poetic and prophetic literature, especially Ezekiel.VED-OT Wrath.3

    The first usage of chêmâh takes place in the story of Esau and Jacob. Jacob is advised to go to Haran with the hope that Esau’s “anger” will dissipate: “And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away” (Genesis 27:44).VED-OT Wrath.4

    The word indicates a state of anger. Most of the usage involves God’s “anger.” His “wrath” is expressed against Israel’s sin in the wilderness: “For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you” (Deuteronomy 9:19). The psalmist prayed for God’s mercy in the hour of God’s “anger”: “O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure” (Psalms 6:1). God’s “anger” against Israel was ultimately expressed in the exile of the Judeans to Babylon: “The Lord hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof” (Lamentations 4:11).VED-OT Wrath.5

    The metaphor “cup” denotes the judgment of God upon His people. His “wrath” is poured out: “Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart” (Isaiah 42:25); and the “cup of wrath” is drunk: “Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling …” (Isaiah 51:17).VED-OT Wrath.6

    Thus, God as the Almighty Potentate is angered by the sins and the pride of His people, as they are an insult to His holiness. In a derived sense, the rulers on earth are also described as those who are angered, but their “anger” is aroused from circumstances over which they have no control. Naaman was angry with Elisha’s advice (2 Kings 5:11-12); Ahasuerus became enraged with Vashti’s refusal to display her beauty before the men (Esther 1:12).VED-OT Wrath.7

    Chêmâh also denotes man’s reaction to everyday circumstances. Man’s “rage” is a dangerous expression of his emotional state, as it inflames everybody who comes close to the person in rage. “Wrath” may arise for many reasons. Proverbs speaks strongly against chêmâh, as jealousy (6:34); cf. “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” (Proverbs 27:4; cf. Ezekiel 16:38). The man in rage may be culpable of crime and be condemned: “Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment” (Job 19:29). The wise response to “rage” is a soft answer: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).VED-OT Wrath.8

    Chêmâh is associated with qin’ah, “jealousy,” and also with naqam, “vengeance,” as the angered person intends to save his name or avenge himself on the person who provoked him. In God’s dealing with Israel He was jealous of His Holy name, for which reason He had to deal justly with idolatrous Israel by avenging Himself: “That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered” (Ezekiel 24:8); but He also avenges His people against their enemies: “God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies” (Nahum 1:2). Other synonyms of chêmâh are ’ap, “anger,” and qetsep, “wrath,” as in Deuteronomy 29:27 and Jeremiah 21:5.VED-OT Wrath.9

    There are two special meanings of chêmâh: One is “heat,” as in “the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me” (Ezekiel 3:14). The other is “poison,” or “venom,” as in Deuteronomy 32:33: “Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.”VED-OT Wrath.10

    The Septuagint gives the following translations: orge (“anger; indignation; wrath”) and thumos (“passion; anger; wrath; rage”). The KVJ gives these senses: “fury; wrath; poison.”VED-OT Wrath.11

    B. Verb. VED-OT Wrath.12

    Yâcham (יָחַם, Strong's #3179), “to be fiery, be hot.” This verb, which occurs only 10 times in biblical Hebrew, is the root of the noun chemah.VED-OT Wrath.13

    In Deuteronomy 19:6 yâcham means “to be hot”: “Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer while his heart is hot, and overtake him.…”VED-OT Wrath.14


    A. Verb.VED-OT Write.2

    Kâthab (כָּתַב, Strong's #3789), “to write, inscribe, describe, take dictation, engrave.” This verb appears in most Semitic languages (not in Akkadian or Ugaritic). Biblical Hebrew attests around 203 occurrences (in all periods) and biblical Aramaic 7 occurrences.VED-OT Write.3

    Basically, this verb represents writing down a message. The judgment (ban) of God against the Amalekites was to be recorded in the book (scroll): “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14—the first biblical occurrence of the word).VED-OT Write.4

    One may “write” upon a stone or “write” a message upon it. Moses told Israel that after crossing the Jordan “thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: and thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law …” (Deuteronomy 27:2-3).VED-OT Write.5

    This use of the word implies something more than keeping a record of something so that it will be remembered. This is obvious in the first passage because the memory of Amalek is “to be recorded” and also blotted out. In such passages “to be recorded,” therefore, refers to the unchangeableness and binding nature of the Word of God. God has said it, it is fixed, and it will occur. An extended implication in the case of divine commands is that man must obey what God “has recorded” (Deuteronomy 27:2-3). Thus, such uses of the word describe a fixed body of authoritative instruction, or a canon. These 2 passages also show that the word does not tell us anything specific about how the message was composed. In the first instance Moses seems not to have merely “recorded” as a secretary but “to have written” creatively what he heard and saw. Certainly in Exodus 32:32 the word is used of creative writing by the author; God was not receiving dictation from anyone when He “inscribed” the Ten Commandments. In Deuteronomy 27:2-3 the writers must reproduce exactly what was previously given (as mere secretaries).VED-OT Write.6

    Sometimes kâthab appears to mean “to inscribe” and “to cover with inscription.” The 2 tablets of the testimony which were given to Moses by God were “tables of stone, written [fully inscribed] with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). The verb means not only to write in a book but “to write a book,” not just to record something in a few lines on a scroll but to complete the writing. Moses prays: “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—;and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written” (Exodus 32:32). Here “book” probably refers to a scroll rather than a book in the present-day sense.VED-OT Write.7

    Among the special uses of kâthab is the meaning “to record a survey.” At Shiloh, Joshua told Israel to choose three men from each tribe “and they shall arise, and go through the land, and describe it …” (Joshua 18:4).VED-OT Write.8

    A second extended nuance of kâthab is “to receive dictation”: “And Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah …” (Jeremiah 36:4). The word can also be used of signing one’s signature: “And because of all this we make [are cutting] a sure covenant, and write it; and our princes, Levites, and priests, seal unto it” (Nehemiah 9:38). Thus they “cut,” or completed, the agreement by having the representatives sign it. The cutting was the signing.VED-OT Write.9

    B. Nouns. VED-OT Write.10

    Kâthâb (כְּתָב, Strong's #3791), “something written; register; scripture.” This noun occurs 17 times in the Old TestamentVED-OT Write.11

    . In 1 Chronicles 28:19 kâthâb is used to mean “something written,” such as an edict: “All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.” The word also refers to a “register” (Ezra 2:62) and to “scripture” (Daniel 10:21).VED-OT Write.12

    Two other related nouns are ketobet and miktab. Ketobet occurs once to mean something inscribed, specifically a “tatooing” (Leviticus 19:28). Miktab appears about 9 times and means “something written, a writing” (Exodus 32:16; Isaiah 38:9).VED-OT Write.13

    Wroth, to Be; Angry

    A. Verb. VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.2

    Qâtsaph (קָצַף, Strong's #7107), “to be wroth, angry.” This verb appears 34 times and is found mainly in the Pentateuch and in the prophets, and a few times in the historical books and the poetic literature. The word is used in rabbinic Hebrew, but its use in modern Hebrew has been displaced by other verbs. It is an ancient Canaanite word; as a gloss it appeared in the Amarna Tablets with the meaning “to become worried,” or according to others, “to be embittered.” The relation with the Arabic cognate qacafa is doubtful.VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.3

    The general meaning of qâtsaph is a strong emotional outburst of anger, especially when man is the subject of the reaction. The first usage of the word brings this out: “And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers … and he put them in [custody] …” (Genesis 40:2-3; cf. 41:10). Moses became bitterly angry with the disobedient Israelites (Exodus 16:20). The leaders of the Philistines “were wroth” with Achish (1 Samuel 29:4), and Naaman was strongly irritated by Elisha’s lack of a sense of protocol (2 Kings 5:11). Elisha expressed his anger with Joash, king of Israel (2 Kings 13:19). King Ahasuerus deposed Vashti in his anger (Esther 1:12). In these examples an exalted person (generally a king) demonstrated his royal anger in radical measures against his subjects. He was in a position “to be angered” by the response of his subjects. It is rarer for a person “to become angry” with an equal. It is even rarer for a subject “to be angry” with his superior: “… Two of the king’s chamberlains … were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus” (Esther 2:21).VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.4

    The noun derived from qâtsaph particularly refers to God’s anger. The verb qâtsaph is used 11 times to describe man’s anger and 18 times to refer to God’s anger. This fact, coupled with the observation that the verb generally is an expression of a superior against a subject, explains why the biblical text more frequently uses qâtsaph to describe God’s anger. The object of the anger is often indicated by the preposition ‘al (“against”). “For I was afraid of the anger [‘ap] and hot displeasure [chemah], wherewith the Lord was wroth [qâtsaph] against [‘a] you to destroy you” (Deuteronomy 9:19). The Lord’s anger expresses itself against disobedience (Leviticus 10:6) and sin (Ecclesiastes 55:5ff.). However, people themselves can be the cause for God’s anger (Psalms 106:32). In the wilderness the Israelites provoked God to wrath by their disobedience and lack of faith: “Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord” (Deuteronomy 9:7; cf. vv. 8, 22). Moses spoke about God’s wrath against Israel’s disobedience which would in time be the occasion for the Exile (Deuteronomy 29:27), and the prophets amplify Moses’ warning of God’s coming “wrath” (Jeremiah 21:5). After the Exile, God had compassion on Israel and turned His anger against Israel’s enemies (Isaiah 34:2).VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.5

    In the Greek version we find the following translations: orgizomai (“to be angry”) and lupew (“to grieve, to pain, to be sad”).VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.6

    B. Noun.VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.7

    Qetseph (קֶצֶף, Strong's #7110), “wrath.” This noun occurs 28 times in biblical Hebrew and generally with reference to God. One occurrence of God’s “wrath” is in 2 Chronicles 29:8: “Wherefore the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah and Jerusalem.…” An example of man’s “wrath” appears in Esther 1:18: “Likewise shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus shall there arise too much contempt and wrath” (cf. Ecclesiastes 5:17).VED-OT Wroth, to Be; Angry.8

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