Jump to: ISBEEaston'sConcordanceThesaurusHebrewLibrarySubtopicsTerms
Easton's Bible Dictionary
A Persian governor of Samaria, who joined others in the attempt to prevent the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Ezra 4:7).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

ta'-be-el: A name meaning "good is God," borne by two persons in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:6, the King James Version, "Tabeal").

(1) The father of the man whom the kings of Israel and Damascus planned to place upon the throne of Judah (Isaiah 7:6). The form of the name Tabhe'el, suggests that he was a Syrian; his son evidently was a tool of Rezin, king of Damascus. The name is vocalized so as to read Tebeal (Tabhe'al), which might be translated "good for nothing," though some explain it as a pausal form, with the ordinary meaning. The change, probably due to a desire to express contempt, is very slight in Hebrew.

(2) A Persian official in Samaria (Tabhe'el) (Ezra 4:7). All that is known of him is that he joined with other officials in sending a letter to Artaxerxes for the purpose of hindering the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.

F. C. Eiselen


el'-der, (zaqen):

Among primitive peoples authority seems naturally to be invested in those who by virtue of greater age and, consequently, experience are best fitted to govern thus Iliad iii0.149. Later the idea of age became merged in that of dignity (Il. ii.404, ii0.57; Odyssey ii.14). In like manner the word patres came to be used among the Romans (Cic. Rep. 2, 8, 14). So also among the Germans authority was entrusted to those who were older; compare Tacitus Agricola. The same is true among the Arabians to the present day, the sheik being always a man of age as well as of authority.

From the first the Hebrews held this view of government, although the term "elder" came later to be used of the idea of the authority for which, at first, age was regarded necessary. Thus the office appears in both the Jahwist, J (9th century B.C.) (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 12:21; Exodus 24:1, of the elders of the Hebrews; and of the Egyptians, Genesis 50:7); and Elohist (E) (8th century B.C.) (Exodus 17:5; Exodus 18:12; Exodus 19:7 (the second Deuteronomist (D2)); Joshua 24:31, elders of Israel, or of the people. Compare the principle of selection of heads of tens, fifties, etc., Exodus 18:13, seventy being selected from a previous body of elders); compare Jahwist(J)-Elohist(E) (Numbers 11:16, 24). Seventy are also mentioned in Exodus 24:1, while in Judges 8:14 seventy-seven are mentioned, although this might be taken to include seven princes. Probably the number was not uniform.

Elder as a title continues to have place down through the times of the Judges (Judges 8:16; Judges 2:7); compare Ruth 4:2 into the kingdom. Saul asked to be honored before the elders (1 Samuel 15:30); the elders of Bethlehem appeared before Samuel (1 Samuel 16:4); the elders appeared before David in Hebron (2 Samuel 17:15 1 Chronicles 11:3); elders took part in the temple procession of Solomon (1 Kings 8:3 2 Chronicles 5:4). They continued through the Persian period Ezra 5:5, 9; Ezra 6:7, 14; 10:8, 14 Joel 1:14 margin and the Maccabean period APC Judith 6:16; 7:23; 8:10; 10:06; 13:12; 1Maccabees 12:35, while the New Testament presbuteros, Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:47, 57 Mark 8:31 Luke 9:22 Acts 4:5, 23 makes frequent mention of the office.

The elders served as local magistrates, in bringing murderers to trial (Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 21:1 Joshua 20:4), punishing a disobedient son (Deuteronomy 21:19), inflicting penalty for slander (Deuteronomy 22:15), for noncompliance with the Levirate marriage law (Deuteronomy 25:7), enforcing the Law (Deuteronomy 27:1), conducting the service in expiation of unwitting violation of the Law (Leviticus 4:13).

In certain passages different classes of officers are mentioned as "judges and officers" (Deuteronomy 16:18), "elders" and "officers" (Deuteronomy 31:28), "heads, tribes, elders officers" (Deuteronomy 29:10 Hebrew 9). It is probable that both classes were selected from among the elders, and that to one class was assigned the work of judging, and that the "officers" exercised executive functions (Schurer). In entirely Jewish communities the same men would be both officers of the community and elders of the synagogue. In this case the same men would have jurisdiction over civil and religious matters.


Schurer, GJV3, section 23, especially 175 Eng. edition, II, i, 149; Benzinger, H A2, 51; Deissmann, Bibelstudien, 153 (sv..); BDB, 278 (.); Preuschen, Griechisch-Deutsches Handworterbuch, under the word, 958.

W. N. Stearns









1. Definition

2. Signs Preceding the Parousia

3. Events Preceding the Parousia

(1) The Conversion of Israel

(2) The Coming of the Antichrist

4. The Manner of the Parousia


1. Its Universality

2. The Millennium

3. The Resurrection of Believers

4. The Resurrection-Body







I. Doctrinal and Religious Significance.

The subject of eschatology plays a prominent part in New Testament teaching and religion. Christianity in its very origin bears an eschatological character. It means the appearance of the Messiah and the inauguration of His work; and from the Old Testament point of view these form part of eschatology. It is true in Jewish theology the days of the Messiah were not always included in the eschatological age proper, but often regarded as introductory to it (compare Weber, Judische Theol. 2, 371). And in the New Testament also this point of view is to some extent represented, inasmuch as, owing to the appearance of the Messiah and the only partial fulfillment of the prophecies for the present, that which the Old Testament depicted as one synchronous movement is now seen to divide into two stages, namely, the present Messianic age and the consummate state of the future. Even so, however, the New Testament draws the Messianic period into much closer connection with the strictly eschatological process than Judaism. The distinction in Judaism rested on a consciousness of difference in quality between the two stages, the content of the Messianic age being far less spiritually and transcendentally conceived than that of the final state. The New Testament, by spiritualizing the entire Messianic circle of ideas, becomes keenly alive to its affinity to the content of the highest eternal hope, and consequently tends to identify the two, to find the age to come anticipated in the present. In some cases this assumes explicit shape in the belief that great eschatological transactions have already begun to take place, and that believers have already attained to at least partial enjoyment of eschatological privileges. Thus the present kingdom in our Lord's teaching is one in essence with the final kingdom; according to the discourses in John eternal life is in principle realized here; with Paul there has been a prelude to the last judgment and resurrection in the death and resurrection of Christ, and the life in the Spirit is the first-fruits of the heavenly state to come. The strong sense of this may even express itself in the paradoxical form that the eschatological state has arrived and the one great incision in history has already been made (Hebrews 2:3, 1; Hebrews 9:11; Hebrews 10:1; Hebrews 12:22-24). Still, even where this extreme consciousness is reached, it nowhere supersedes the other more common representation, according to which the present state continues to lie this side of the eschatological crisis, and, while directly leading up to the latter, yet remains to all intents a part of the old age and world-order. Believers live in the "last days," upon them "the ends of the ages are come," but "the last day," "the consummation of the age," still lies in the future (Matthew 13:39, 40, 49; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 28:20 John 6:39, 44, 54; John 12:48; 1 Corinthians 10:11 2 Timothy 3:1 Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26 James 5:3 1 Peter 1:5, 20 2 Peter 3:3 1 John 2:18 Jude 1:18).

The eschatological interest of early believers was no mere fringe to their religious experience, but the very heart of its inspiration. It expressed and embodied the profound supernaturalism and soteriological character of the New Testament faith. The coming world was not to be the product of natural development but of a Divine interposition arresting the process of history. And the deepest motive of the longing for this world was a conviction of the abnormal character of the present world, a strong sense of sin and evil. This explains why the New Testament doctrine of salvation has grown up to a large extent in the closest interaction with its eschatological teaching. The present experience was interpreted. in the light of the future. It is necessary to keep this in mind for a proper appreciation of the generally prevailing hope that the return of the Lord might come in the near future. Apocalyptic calculation had less to do with this than the practical experience that the earnest of the supernatural realities of the life to come was present in the church, and that therefore it seemed unnatural for the full fruition of these to be long delayed. The subsequent receding of this acute eschatological state has something to do with the gradual disappearance of the miraculous phenomena of the apostolic age.

II. General Structure.

New Testament eschatology attaches itself to the Old Testament and to Jewish belief as developed on the basis of ancient revelation. It creates on the whole no new system or new terminology, but incorporates much that was current, yet so as to reveal by selection and distribution of emphasis the essential newness of its spirit. In Judaism there existed at that time two distinct types of eschatological outlook. There was the ancient national hope which revolved around the destiny of Israel. Alongside of it existed a transcendental form of eschatology with cosmical perspective, which had in view the destiny of the universe and of the human race. The former of these represents the original form of Old Testament eschatology, and therefore occupies a legitimate place in the beginnings of the New Testament development, notably in the revelations accompanying the birth of Christ and in the earlier (synoptical) preaching of John the Baptist. There entered, however, into it, as held by the Jews, a considerable element of individual and collective eudaemonism, and it had become identified with a literalistic interpretation of prophecy, which did not sufficiently take into account the typical import and poetical character of the latter. The other scheme, while to some extent the product of subsequent theological development, lies prefigured in certain later prophecies, especially in Dnl, and, far from being an importation from Babylonian, or ultimately Persian, sources, as some at present maintain, represents in reality the true development of the inner principles of Old Testament prophetic revelation. To it the structure of New Testament eschatology closely conforms itself.

In doing this, however, it discards the impure motives and elements by which even this relatively higher type of Jewish eschatology was contaminated. In certain of the apocalyptic writings a compromise is attempted between these two schemes after this manner, that the carrying out of the one is merely to follow that of the other, the national hope first receiving its fulfillment in a provisional Messianic kingdom of limited duration (400 or 1,000 years), to be superseded at the end by the eternal state. The New Testament does not follow the Jewish theology along this path. Even though it regards the present work of Christ as preliminary to the consummate order of things, it does not separate the two in essence or quality, it does not exclude the Messiah from a supreme place in the coming world, and does not expect a temporal Messianic kingdom in the future as distinguished from Christ's present spiritual reign, and as preceding the state of eternity. In fact the figure of the Messiah becomes central in the entire eschatological process, far more so than is the case in Judaism. All the stages in this process, the resurrection, the judgment, the life eternal, even the intermediate state, receive the impress of the absolute significance which Christian faith ascribes to Jesus as the Christ. Through this Christocentric character New Testament eschatology acquires also far greater unity and simplicity than can be predicated of the Jewish schemes. Everything is practically reduced to the great ideas of the resurrection and the judgment as consequent upon the Parousia of Christ. Much apocalyptic embroidery to which no spiritual significance attached is eliminated. While the overheated fantasy tends to multiply and elaborate, the religious interest tends toward concentration and simplification.

III. Course of Development.

In New Testament eschatological teaching a general development in a well-defined direction is traceable. The starting-point is the historico-dramatic conception of the two successive ages. These two ages are distinguished as houtos ho aion, ho nun aion, ho enesios aion, "this age," "the present age" (Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:22 Luke 16:8 Romans 12:2 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 8; 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4 Galatians 1:4 Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12 1 Timothy 6:17 2 Timothy 4:10 Titus 2:12), and ho aion ekeinos, ho aion mellon, ho aion erchomenos, "that age," "the future age" (Matthew 12:32 Luke 18:30; Luke 20:35 Ephesians 2:7 Hebrews 6:5). In Jewish literature before the New Testament, no instances of the developed antithesis between these two ages seem to be found, but from the way in which it occurs in the teaching of Jesus and Paul it appears to have been current at that time. (The oldest undisputed occurrence is a saying of Johanan ben Zaqqay, about 80 A.D.) The contrast between these two ages is (especially with Paul) that between the evil and transitory, and the perfect and abiding. Thus, to each age belongs its own characteristic order of things, and so the distinction passes over into that of two "worlds" in the sense of two systems (in Hebrew and Aramaic the same word `olam, `olam, does service for both, in Greek aion usually renders the meaning "age," occasionally "world" (Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3), kosmos meaning "world"; the latter, however, is never used of the future world). Compare Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, I, 132-46. Broadly speaking, the development of New Testament eschatology consists in this, that the two ages are increasingly recognized as answering to two spheres of being which coexist from of old, so that the coming of the new age assumes the character of a revelation and extension of the supernal order of things, rather than that of its first entrance into existence. Inasmuch as the coming world stood for the perfect and eternal, and in the realm of heaven such a perfect, eternal order of things already existed, the reflection inevitably arose that these two were in some sense identical. But the new significance which the antithesis assumes does not supersede the older historicodramatic form. The higher world so interposes in the course of the lower as to bring the conflict to a crisis.

The passing over of the one contrast into the other, therefore, does not mark, as has frequently been asserted, a recession of the eschatological wave, as if the interest had been shifted from the future to the present life. Especially in the Fourth Gospel this "de-eschatologizing" process has been found, but without real warrant. The apparent basis for such a conclusion is that the realities of the future life are so vividly and intensely felt to be existent in heaven and from there operative in the believer's life, that the distinction between what is now and what will be hereafter enjoyed becomes less sharp. Instead of the supersedure of the eschatological, this means the very opposite, namely, its most real anticipation. It should further be observed that the development in question is intimately connected and keeps equal pace with the disclosure of the preexistence of Christ, because this fact and the descent of Christ from heaven furnished the clearest witness to the reality of the heavenly order of things. Hence, it is especially observable, not in the earlier epistles of Paul, where the structure of eschatological thought is still in the main historico-dramatic, but in the epistles of the first captivity (Ephesians 1:3, 10-22; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:9, 10; 4:9, 10; 6:12 Philippians 2:5-11; Philippians 3:20 Colossians 1:15, 17; Colossians 3:2; further, in Hebrews 1:2, 3; Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 3:4; Hebrews 6:5, 11; 7:13, 16; Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 11:10, 16; 12:22, 23). The Fourth Gospel marks the culmination of this line of teaching, and it is unnecessary to point out how here the contrast between heaven and earth in its christological consequences determines the entire structure of thought. But here it also appears how the last outcome of the New Testament progress of doctrine had been anticipated in the highest teaching of our Lord. This can be accounted for by the inherent fitness that the supreme disclosures which touch the personal life of the Saviour should come not through any third person, but from His own lips.

IV. General and Individual Eschatology.

In the Old Testament the destiny of the nation of Israel to such an extent overshadows that of the individual, that only the first rudiments of an individual eschatology are found. The individualism of the later prophets, especially Jeremiah and Ezekiel, bore fruit in the thought of the intermediate period. In the apocalyptic writings considerable concern is shown for the ultimate destiny of the individual. But not until the New Testament thoroughly spiritualized the conceptions of the last things could these two aspects be perfectly harmonized. Through the centering of the eschatological hope in the Messiah, and the suspending of the individual's share in it on his personal relation to the Messiah, an individual significance is necessarily imparted to the great final crisis. This also tends to give greater prominence to the intermediate state. Here, also, apocalyptic thought had pointed the way. None the less the Old Testament point of view continues to assert itself in that even in the New Testament the main interest still attaches to the collective, historical development of events. Many questions in regard to the intermediate period are passed by in silence. The Old Testament prophetic foreshortening of the perspective, immediately connecting each present crisis with the ultimate goal, is reproduced in New Testament eschatology on an individual scale in so far as the believer's life here is linked, not so much with his state after death, but rather with the consummate state after the final judgment. The present life in the body and the future life in the body are the two outstanding illumined heights between which the disembodied state remains largely in the shadow. But the same foreshortening of the perspective is also carried over from the Old Testament into the New Testament delineation of general eschatology. The New Testament method of depicting the future is not chronological. Things lying widely apart to our chronologically informed experience are by it drawn closely together. This law is adhered to doubtless not from mere limitation of subjective human knowledge, but by reason of adjustment to the general method of prophetic revelation in Old Testament and New Testament alike.

V. The Parousia.

1. Definition:

The word denotes "coming," "arrival." It is never applied to the incarnation of Christ, and could be applied to His second coming only, partly because it had already become a fixed Messianic term, partly because there was a point of view from which the future appearance of Jesus appeared the sole adequate expression of His Messianic dignity and glory. The explicit distinction between "first advent" and "second advent" is not found in the New Testament. It occurs in Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Testament of Abraham 92:16. In the New Testament it is approached in Hebrews 9:28 and in the use of epiphaneia for both the past appearance of Christ and His future manifestation (2 Thessalonians 2:8 1 Timothy 6:14 2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:1 Titus 2:11, 13). The Christian use of the word parousia is more or less colored by the consciousness of the present bodily absence of Jesus from His own, and consequently suggests the thought of His future abiding presence, without, however, formally coming to mean the state of the Saviour's presence with believers (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Parousia occurs in Matthew 24:3, 17, 39 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; James 5:7, 8 2 Peter 1:16; 2 Peter 3:4, 12; 1 1 John 2:28. A synonymous term is apokalupsis, "revelation," probably also of pre-Christian origin, presupposing the pre-existence of the Messiah in hidden form previous to His manifestation, either in heaven or on earth (compare Apocrypha Baruch 3:29; 1:20; Ezra 4; APC 2Esdras 7:28; Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Testament of Levi 18; John 7:27 1 Peter 1:20). It could be adopted by Christians because Christ had been withdrawn into heaven and would be publicly demonstrated the Christ on His return, hence used with special reference to enemies and unbelievers (Luke 17:30 Acts 3:21 1 Corinthians 16 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8 1 Peter 1:13, 10; 1 Peter 5:4). Another synonymous term is "the day of the (Our) Lord," "the day," "that day," "the day of Jesus Christ." This is the rendering of the well-known Old Testament phrase. Though there is no reason in any particular passage why "the Lord" should not be Christ, the possibility exists that in some cases it may refer to God (compare "day of God" in 2 Peter 3:12). On the other hand, what the Old Testament with the use of this phrase predicates of God is sometimes in the New Testament purposely transferred to Christ. "Day," while employed of the parousia generally, is, as in the Old Testament, mostly associated with the judgment, so as to become a synonym for judgment (compare Acts 19:38 1 Corinthians 4:3). The phrase is found in Matthew 7:22; Matthew 24:36 Mark 13:32 Luke 10:12; Luke 17:24; Luke 21:34 Acts 2:20 Romans 13:12 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14 Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4 (compare 5:5, 8); 2 Thessalonians 2:2 2 Timothy 1:12, 18; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 10:25 2 Peter 3:10.

2. Signs Preceding the Parousia:

The parousia is preceded by certain signs heralding its approach. Judaism, on the basis of the Old Testament, had worked out the doctrine of "the woes of the Messiah," chebhele ha-mashiach, the calamities and afflictions attendant upon the close of the present and the beginning of the coming age being interpreted as birth pains of the latter. This is transferred in the New Testament to the parousia of Christ. The phrase occurs only in Matthew 24:8 Mark 13:8, the idea, in Romans 8:22, and allusions to it occur probably in 1 Corinthians 7:26 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 5 Besides these general "woes," and also in accord with Jewish doctrine, the appearance of the Antichrist is made to precede the final crisis. Without Jewish precedent, the New Testament links with the parousia as preparatory to it, the pouring out of the Spirit, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the conversion of Israel and the preaching of the gospel to all the nations. The problem of the sequence and interrelation of these several precursors of the end is a most difficult and complicated one and, as would seem, at the present not ripe for solution. The "woes" which in our Lord's eschatological discourse (Matthew 24 Mark 13 Luke 21) are mentioned in more or less close accord with Jewish teaching are:

(1) wars, earthquakes and famines, "the beginning of travail";

(2) the great tribulation;

(3) commotions among the heavenly bodies; compare Revelation 6:2-17.

For Jewish parallels to these, compare Charles, Eschatology, 326, 327. Because of this element which the discourse has in common with Jewish apocalypses, it has been assumed by Colani, Weiffenbach, Weizsacker, Wendt, et al., that here two sources have been welded together, an actual prophecy of Jesus, and a Jewish or Jewish-Christian apocalypse from the time of the Jewish War 68-70 (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 5, 3). In the text of Mark this so-called "small apocalypse" is believed to consist of 13:7, 8, 14-20, 24-27, 30, 31. But this hypothesis mainly springs from the disinclination to ascribe to Jesus realistic eschatological expectations, and the entirely unwarranted assumption that He must have spoken of the end in purely ethical and religious terms only. That the typically Jewish "woes" bear no direct relation to the disciples and their faith is not a sufficient reason for declaring the prediction of them unworthy of Jesus. A contradiction is pointed out between the two representations, that the parousia will come suddenly, unexpectedly, and that it will come heralded by these signs. Especially in Mark 13:30, 32 the contradiction is said to be pointed. To this it may be replied that even after the removal of the assumed apocalypse the same twofold representation remains present in what is recognized as genuine discourse of Jesus, namely, in Mark 13:28, 29 as compared with 13:32, 33-37 and other similar admonitions to watchfulness. A real contradiction between 13:30 and 13:32 does not exist. Our Lord could consistently affirm both: "This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished," and "of that day or that hour knoweth no one." To be sure, the solution should not be sought by understanding "this generation" of the Jewish race or of the human race. It must mean, according to ordinary usage, then living generation. Nor does it help matters to distinguish between the prediction of the parousia within certain wide limits and the denial of knowledge as to the precise day and hour. In point of fact the two statements do not refer to the same matter at all. "That day or that hour" in 13:32 does not have "these things" of 13:30 for its antecedent. Both by the demonstrative pronoun "that" and by "but" it is marked as an absolute self-explanatory conception. It simply signifies as elsewhere the day of the Lord, the day of judgment. Of "these things," the exact meaning of which phrase must be determined from the foregoing, Jesus declares that they will come to pass within that generation; but concerning the parousia, "that (great) day," He declares that no one but God knows the time of its occurrence. The correctness of this view is confirmed by the preceding parable, Mark 13:28, 29, where in precisely the same way "these things" and the parousia are distinguished. The question remains how much "these things" (verse 29; Luke 21:31), "all these things" (Matthew 24:33, 14, Mark 13:30), "all things" (Luke 21:32) is intended to cover of what is described in the preceding discourse. The answer will depend on what is there represented as belonging to the precursors of the end, and what as strictly constituting part of the end itself; and on the other question whether Jesus predicts one end with its premonitory signs, or refers to two crises each of which will be heralded by its own series of signs. Here two views deserve consideration. According to the one (advocated by Zahn in his Commentary on Matthew, 652-66) the signs cover only Matthew 24:4-14.

What is related afterward, namely, "the abomination of desolation," great tribulation, false prophets and Christs, commotions in the heavens, the sign of the Son of Man, all this belongs to "the end" itself, in the absolute sense, and is therefore comprehended in the parousia and excepted from the prediction that it will happen in that generation, while included in the declaration that only God knows the time of its coming. The destruction of the temple and the holy city, though not explicitly mentioned in Matthew 24:4-14, would be included in what is there said of wars and tribulation. The prediction thus interpreted would have been literally fulfilled. The objections to this view are:

(1) It is unnatural thus to subsume what is related in 24:15-29 under "the end." From a formal point of view it does not differ from the phenomena of 24:4-14 which are "signs."

(2) It creates the difficulty, that the existence of the temple and the temple-worship in Jerusalem are presupposed in the last days immediately before the parousia.

The "abomination of desolation" taken from Daniel 8:13; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11; compare Sirach 49:2-according to some, the destruction of the city and temple, better a desecration of the temple-site by the setting up of something idolatrous, as a result of which it becomes desolate-and the flight from Judea, are put among events which, together with the parousia, constitute the end of the world. This would seem to involve chiliasm of a very pronounced sort. The difficulty recurs in the strictly eschatological interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 1, where "the man of sin" (see SIN, MAN OF) is represented as sitting in "the temple of God" and in Revelation 11:1, 2, where "the temple of God" and "the altar," and "the court which is without the temple" and "the holy city" figure in an episode inserted between the sounding of the trumpet of the sixth angel and that of the seventh. On the other hand it ought to be remembered that eschatological prophecy makes use of ancient traditional imagery and stereotyped formulas, which, precisely because they are fixed and applied to all situations, cannot always bear a literal sense, but must be subject to a certain degree of symbolical and spiritualizing interpretation. In the present case the profanation of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes may have furnished the imagery in which, by Jesus, Paul and John, anti-Christian developments are described of a nature which has nothing to do with Israel, Jerusalem or the temple, literally understood.

(3) It is not easy to conceive of the preaching of the gospel to all the nations as falling within the lifetime of that generation.

Read Complete Article...



Contents (A) Scope of Article (B) Dr. Charles' Work (C) Individual Religion in Israel


1. Idea of God 2. Idea of Man Body, Soul and Spirit 3. Sin and Death


Had Israel No Belief in a Future Life? 1. Reserve on This Subject: Hopes and Promises Largely Temporal 2. A Future State not Therefore Denied Belief Non-Mythological 3. Survival of Soul, or Conscious Part 4. The Hebrew Sheol


(a) Nature and Grace-Moral Distinctions (b) Religious Hope of Immortality 1. Sheol, Like Death, Connected with Sin 2. Religious Root of Hope of Immortality Not Necessarily Late 3. Hope of Resurrection (1) Not a Late or Foreign Doctrine (2) The Psalms (3) The Book of Job (4) The Prophets (5) Daniel-Resurrection of Wicked


Judgment a Present Reality 1. Day of Yahweh (1) Relation to Israel (2) To the Nations 2. Judgment beyond Death (1) Incompleteness of Moral Administration (2) Prosperity of Wicked (3) Suffering of Righteous with Wicked 3. Retribution beyond Death


1. Sources (1) Apocrypha (2) Apocalyptic Literature (3) Rabbinical Writings 2. Description of Views (1) Less Definite Conceptions (2) Ideas of Sheol (3) The Fallen Angels (4) Resurrection (5) Judgment The Messiah (6) The Messianic Age and the Gentiles (7) Rabbinical Ideas LITERATURE


Eschatology of the Old Testament (with Apocryphal and Apocalyptic Writings).

(A) Scope of Article:

By "eschatology," or doctrine of the last things, is meant the ideas entertained at any period on the future life, the end of the world (resurrection, judgment; in the New Testament, the Parousia), and the eternal destinies of mankind. In this article it is attempted to exhibit the beliefs on these matters contained in the Old Testament, with those in the Jewish apocryphal and apocalyptic writings that fill up the interval between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

(B) Dr. Charles' Work:

The subject here treated has been dealt with by many writers (see "Literature" below); by none more learnedly or ably than by Dr. R. H. Charles in his work on Hebrew, Jewish and Christian eschatology (A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity). The present writer is, however, unable to follow Dr. Charles in many of his very radical critical positions, which affect so seriously the view taken of the literary evidence, and of the development of Israel's religion; is unable, therefore, to follow him in his interpretation of the religion itself. The subject, accordingly, is discussed in these pages from a different point of view from his.

(C) Individual Religion in Israel.

One special point in which the writer is unable to follow Dr. Charles in his treatment, which may be noticed at the outset, is in his idea-now so generally favored-that till near the time of the Exile religion was not individual-that Yahweh was thought of as concerned with the well-being of the people as a whole, and not with that of its individual members. "The individual was not the religious unit, but the family or tribe" (op. cit., 58). How anyone can entertain this idea in face of the plain indications of the Old Testament itself to the contrary is to the present writer a mystery. There is, indeed, throughout the Old Testament, a solidarity of the individual with his family and tribe, but not at any period to the exclusion of a personal relation to Yahweh, or of individual moral and religious responsibility. The pictures of piety in the Book of Genesis are nearly all individual, and the narratives containing them are, even on the critical view, older than the 9th century. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, are all of them, to the writers of the history, individuals; Moses, Joshua, Caleb, are individuals; the deeds of individuals are counted to them for righteousness; the sins of others slay them. If there had been ten righteous persons in Sodom, it would have been spared (Genesis 18:32). It was as an individual that David sinned; as an individual he repented and was forgiven. Kings are judged or condemned according to their individual character. It is necessary to lay stress on this at the beginning; otherwise the whole series of the Old Testament conceptions is distorted.

I. Fundamental Ideas.

The eschatology of the Old Testament, as Dr. Charles also recognizes, is dependent on, and molded by, certain fundamental ideas in regard to God, man, the soul and the state after death, in which lies the peculiarity of Israel's religion. Only, these ideas are differently apprehended here from what they are in this writer's learned work.

1. Idea of God:

In the view of Dr. Charles, Yahweh (Yahweh), who under Moses became the God of the Hebrew tribes, was, till the time of the prophets, simply a national God, bound up with the land and with this single people; therefore, "possessing neither interest nor jurisdiction in the life of the individual beyond the grave.. Hence, since early Yahwism possessed no eschatology of its own, the individual Israelite was left to his hereditary heathen beliefs. These beliefs we found were elements of Ancestor Worship" (op. cit., 52; compare 35). The view taken here, on the contrary, is, that there is no period known to the Old Testament in which Yahweh-whether the name was older than Moses or not need not be discussed-was not recognized as the God of the whole earth, the Creator of the world and man, and Judge of all, nations. He is, in both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, the Creator of the first pair from whom the whole race springs; He judged the whole world in the Flood; He chose Abraham to be a blessing to the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3); His universal rule is acknowledged (Genesis 18:25); in infinite grace, displaying His power over Egypt, He chose Israel to be a people to Himself (Exodus 19:3-6). The ground for denying jurisdiction over the world of the dead thus falls. The word of Jesus to the Sadducees is applicable here: "Have ye not read. I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:31, 32). The Old Testament instances of resurrection in answer to prayer point in the same direction (1 Kings 17:21 2 Kings 4:34; compare Psalm 16:10; Psalm 49:15, etc.; see further, below).

2. Idea of Man:

According to Dr. Charles, the Old Testament has two contradictory representations of the constitution of man, and of the effects of death. The older or pre-prophetic view distinguishes between soul and body in man (pp. 37, 45), and regards the soul as surviving death (this is not easily reconcilable with the other proposition (p. 37) that the "soul or nephesh is identical with the blood"), and as retaining a certain self-consciousness, and the power of speech and movement in Sheol (pp. 39). This view is in many respects identical with that of ancestor worship, which is held to be the primitive belief in Israel (p. 41). The other and later view, which is thought to follow logically from the account in Genesis 2:7, supposes the soul to perish at death (pp. 41). We read there that "Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." The "breath of life" (nishmath chayyim) is identified with the "spirit of life" (ruach chayyim) of Genesis 6:17, and is taken to mean that the soul has no independent existence, but is "really a function of the material body when quickened by the (impersonal) spirit" (p. 42). "According to this view the annihilation of the soul ensues inevitably at death, that is, when the spirit is withdrawn" (p. 43). This view is held to be the parent of Sadduceeism, and is actually affirmed to be the view of Paul (pp. 43-44, 409)-the apostle who repudiated Sadduceeism in this very article (Acts 23:6-9). Body, Soul and Spirit.

The above view of man's nature is here rejected, and the consistency of the Old Testament doctrine affirmed. The Biblical view has nothing to do with ancestor worship (compare the writer's Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament, 135-36). In Genesis 1:26, 27 man is created in God's image, and in the more anthropomorphic narrative of Genesis 2:7, he becomes "a living soul" through a unique act of Divine inbreathing. The soul (nephesh) in man originates in a Divine inspiration (compare Job 32:8; Job 33:4 Isaiah 42:5), and is at once the animating principle of the body (the blood being its vehicle, Leviticus 17:11), with its appetites and desires, and the seat of the self-conscious personality, and source of rational and spiritual activities. It is these higher activities of the soul which, in the Old Testament, are specially called "spirit" (ruach). Dr. Charles expresses this correctly in what he says of the supposed earlier view ("the ruach had become the seat of the highest spiritual functions in man,"p. 46; see more fully the writer's God's Image in Man, 47). There is no ground for deducing "annihilation" from Genesis 2:7. Everywhere in Genesis man is regarded as formed for living fellowship with God, and capable of knowing, worshipping and serving Him.


3. Sin and Death:

It follows from the above account that man is regarded in the Old Testament as a compound being, a union of body and soul (embracing spirit), both being elements in his one personality. His destiny was not to death, but to life-not life, however, in separation of the soul from the body (disembodied existence), but continued embodied life, with, perhaps, as its sequel, change and translation to higher existence (thus Enoch, Elijah; the saints at the Parousia). This is the true original idea of immortality for man (see IMMORTALITY). Death, accordingly, is not, as it appears in Dr. Charles, a natural event, but an abnormal event-a mutilation, separation of two sides of man's being never intended to be separated-due, as the Scripture represents it, to the entrance of sin (Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:19, 22 Romans 5:12 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22). It is objected that nothing further is said in the Old Testament of a "Fall," and a subjection of man to death as the result of sin. In truth, however, the whole picture of mankind in the Old Testament, as in the New Testament, is that of a world turned aside from God, and under His displeasure, and death and all natural evils are ever to be considered in relation to that fact (compare Dillmann, Alttest. Theol., 368, 376; God's Image in Man, 198, 249). This alone explains the light in which death is regarded by holy men; their longing for deliverance from it (see below); the hope of resurrection; the place which resurrection-"the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23)-after the pattern of Christ's resurrection (Philippians 3:21), has in the Christian conception of immortality.

II. Conceptions of the Future Life-Sheol.

Had Israel No Belief in a Future Life?:

It is usual to find it contended that the Israelites, in contrast with other peoples, had not the conception of a future life till near the time of the Exile; that then, through the teaching of the prophets and the discipline of experience, ideas of individual immortality and of judgment to come first arose. There is, however, a good deal of ambiguity of language, if not confusion of thought, in such statements. It is true there is development in the teaching on a future life; true also that in the Old Testament "life" and "immortality" are words of pregnant meaning, to which bare survival of the soul, and gloomy existence in Sheol, do not apply. But in the ordinary sense of the expression "future life," it is certain that the Israelites were no more without that notion than any of their neighbors, or than most of the peoples and races of the world to whom the belief is credited.

1. Reserve on This Subject: Hopes and Promises Largely Temporal:

Israel, certainly, had not a developed mythology of the future life such as was found in Egypt. There, life in the other world almost over-shadowed the life that now is; in contrast with this, perhaps because of it, Israel was trained to a severer reserve in regard to the future, and the hopes and promises to the nation-the rewards of righteousness and penalties of transgression-were chiefly temporal. The sense of individual responsibility, as was shown at the commencement, there certainly was-an individual relation to God. But the feeling of corporate existence-the sense of connection between the individual and his descendants-was strong, and the hopes held out to the faithful had respect rather to multiplication of seed, to outward prosperity, and to a happy state of existence (never without piety as its basis) on earth, than to a life beyond death. The reason of this and the qualifications needing to be made to the statement will afterward appear; but that the broad facts are as stated every reader of the Old Testament will perceive for himself. Abraham is promised that his seed shall be multiplied as the stars of heaven, and that the land of Canaan shall be given them to dwell in (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15); Israel is encouraged by abundant promises of temporal blessing (Deuteronomy 11:8; Deuteronomy 28:1-14), and warned by the most terrible temporal curses (Deuteronomy 28:15); David has pledged to him the sure succession of his house as the reward of obedience (2 Samuel 7:11). So in the Book of Job, the patriarch's fidelity is rewarded with return of his prosperity (chapter 42). Temporal promises abound in the Prophets (Hosea 2:14; Hosea 14 Isaiah 1:19, 26, etc.); the Book of Proverbs likewise is full of such promises (3:13, etc.).

2. A Future State not Therefore Denied:

All this, however, in no way implies that the Israelites had no conceptions of, or beliefs in, a state of being beyond death, or believed the death of the body to be the extinction of existence. This was very far from being the case. A hope of a future life it would be wrong to call it; for there was nothing to suggest hope, joy or life in the good sense, in the ideas they entertained of death or the hereafter. In this they resembled most peoples whose ideas are still primitive, but to whom it is not customary to deny belief in a future state. They stand as yet, though with differences to be afterward pointed out, on the general level of Semitic peoples in their conceptions of what the future state was. This is also the view taken by Dr. Charles. He recognizes that early Israelite thought attributed a "comparatively large measure of life, movement, knowledge and likewise power (?) to the departed in Sheol" (op. cit., 41). A people that does this is hardly destitute of all notions of a future state. This question of Sheol now demands more careful consideration. Here again our differences from Dr. Charles will reveal themselves.

Belief Non-Mythological.

It would, indeed, have been amazing had the Israelites, who dwelt so long in Egypt, where everything reminded of a future life, been wholly destitute of ideas on that subject. What is clear is that, as already observed, they did not adopt any of the Egyptian notions into their religion. The simplicity of their belief in the God of their fathers kept them then and ever after from the importation of mythological elements into their faith. The Egyptian Amenti may be said, indeed, to answer broadly to the Hebrew Sheol; but there is nothing in Israelite thought to correspond to Osiris and his assessors, the trial in the hall of judgment, and the adventures and perils of the soul thereafter. What, then, was the Hebrew idea of Sheol, and how did it stand related to beliefs elsewhere?

3. Survival of Soul, or Conscious Part:

That the soul, or some conscious part of man for which the name may be allowed to stand, does not perish at death, but passes into another state of existence, commonly conceived of as shadowy and inert, is a belief found, not only among the lower, so-called nature-peoples, but in all ancient religions, even the most highly developed. The Egyptian belief in Amenti, or abode of the dead, ruled over by Osiris, is alluded to above; the Babylonian Arallu (some find the word "Sualu" = she'ol), the land of death, from which there is no return; the Greek Hades, gloomy abode of the shades of the departed, are outstanding witnesses to this conception (the various ideas may be seen, among other works, in Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality, I (ideas of lower races, Indian, Egyptian Babylonian, Persian and Greek beliefs); in Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, Religion of Ancient Babylonians, and Gifford Lectures, Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia; Dr. Charles, Eschatology, chapter iii, on Greek conceptions). The Hebrew conception of Sheol, the gathering-place of the dead, is not in essentials dissimilar. "The resemblance," says Dr. Salmond, "between the Hebrew Sheol, the Homeric Hades, and Babylonian Arallu is unmistakable" (op. cit., 3rd edition, 173). As to its origin, Dr. Charles would derive the belief from ancestor worship. He supposes that "in all probability Sheol was originally conceived as a combination of the graves of the clan or nation, and as thus its final abode" (op. cit., 33). It is far from proved, however, that ancestor worship had the role he assigns to it in early religion; and, in any case, the explanation inverts cause and effect. The survival of the soul or shade is already assumed before there can be worship of ancestors. Far simpler is the explanation that man is conscious from the first of a thinking, active principle within him which disappears when death ensues, and he naturally thinks of this as surviving somewhere else, if only in a ghost-like and weakened condition (compare Max Muller, Anthropological Religion, 195, 281, 337-38). Whatever the explanation, it is the case that, by a sure instinct, peoples of low and high culture alike all but universally think of the conscious part of their dead as surviving. On natural grounds, the Hebrews did the same. Only, in the Scriptural point of view, this form of survival is too poor to be dignified with the high name of "immortality."

4. The Hebrew Sheol:

It is not necessary to do more than sketch the main features of the Hebrew sheol (see SHEOL). The word, the etymology of which is doubtful (the commonest derivations are from roots meaning "to ask" or "to be hollow," sha'al), is frequently, but erroneously, translated in the Revised Version (British and American) "grave" or "hell." It denotes really, as already said, the place or abode of the dead, and is conceived of as situated in the depths of the earth (Psalm 63:9; Psalm 86:13 Ezekiel 26:20; Ezekiel 31:14; Ezekiel 32:18, 24; compare Numbers 16:30 Deuteronomy 32:22). The dead are there gathered in companies; hence, the frequently recurring expression, "gathered unto his people" (Genesis 25:8; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:33 Numbers 20:24, etc.), the phrase denoting, as the context shows, something quite distinct from burial. Jacob, e.g. was "gathered unto his people"; afterward his body was embalmed, and, much later, buried (Genesis 50:2). Poetical descriptions of Sheol are not intended to be taken with literalness; hence, it is a mistake, with Dr. Charles, to press such details as "bars" and "gates" (Job 17:16; Job 38:17 Psalm 9:14 Isaiah 38:10, etc.). In the general conception, Sheol is a place of darkness (Job 10:21, 22 Psalm 143:3), of silence (Psalm 94:17; Psalm 115:17), of forgetfulness (Psalm 88:12 Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10). It is without remembrance or praise of God (Psalm 6:5), or knowledge of what transpires on earth (Job 14:21). Even this language is not to be pressed too literally. Part of it is the expression of a depressed or despairing (compare Isaiah 38:10) or temporarily skeptical (thus in Ecclesiastes; compare 12:7, 13, 14) mood; all of it is relative, emphasizing the contrast with the brightness, joy and activity of the earthly life (compare Job 10:22, "where the light is as midnight"-comparative). Elsewhere it is recognized that consciousness remains; in Isaiah 14:9 the shades (repha'im) of once mighty kings are stirred up to meet the descending king of Babylon (compare Ezekiel 32:21). If Sheol is sometimes described as "destruction" (Job 26:6 margin; Job 28:22 Proverbs 15:11 margin) and "the pit" (Psalm 30:9; Psalm 55:23), at other times, in contrast with the weariness and trouble of life, it is figured and longed for as a place of "rest" and "sleep" (Job 3:17; Job 14:12, 13). Always, however, as with other peoples, existence in Sheol is represented as feeble, inert, shadowy, devoid of living interests and aims, a true state of the dead (on Egyptian Babylonian and Greek analogies, compare Salmond, op. cit., 54-55, 73-74, 99, 173-74). The idea of Dr. Charles, already commented on, that Sheol is outside the jurisdiction of Yahweh, is contradicted by many passages (Deuteronomy 32:22 Job 26:6 Proverbs 15:11 Psalm 139:8 Amos 9:2, etc.; compare above).

III. The Religious Hope-Life and Resurrection.

(a) Nature and Grace-Moral Distinctions:

Such is Sheol, regarded from the standpoint of nature; a somewhat different aspect is presented when it is looked at from the point of view of grace. As yet no trace is discernible between righteous and wicked in Sheol; the element of retribution seems absent. Reward and punishment are in this world; not in the state beyond. Yet one must beware of drawing too sweeping conclusions even here. The state, indeed, of weakened consciousness and slumbrous inaction of Sheol does not admit of much distinction, and the thought of exchanging the joys of life for drear existence in that gloomy underworld may well have appalled the stoutest hearts, and provoked sore and bitter complainings. Even the Christian can bewail a life brought to a sudden and untimely close. But even on natural grounds it is hardly credible that the pious Israelite thought of the state of the godly gathered in peace to their people as quite the same as those who perished under the ban of God's anger, and went down to Sheol bearing their iniquity. There is a pregnancy not to be overlooked in such expressions as, "The wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol" (Psalm 9:17), a "lowest Sheol" unto which God's anger burns (Deuteronomy 32:22), "uttermost parts of the pit" (Isaiah 14:15 Ezekiel 32:23) to which the proud and haughty in this life are consigned. Dr. Charles goes so far as to find a "penal character of Sheol" in Psalms 49 and 73 (op. cit., 74). Consolation breathes in such utterances as, "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for there is a happy end to the man of peace" (Psalm 37:37), or (with reference to the being taken from the evil to come), "He entereth into peace; they rest in their beds, each one that walketh in his uprightness" (Isaiah 57:2; compare Isaiah 57:21 "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked"). Even Balaam's fervent wish, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his" (Numbers 23:10), seems weakened when interpreted only of the desire for a green and blessed old age. It is possible to read too much into Old Testament expressions; the tendency at the present time would seem to be to read a great deal too little

(P. Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture, I, 173, 422, may profitably be consulted).

(b) Religious Hope of Immortality:

To get at the true source and nature of the hope of immortality in the Old Testament, however, it is necessary to go much farther than the idea of any happier condition in Sheol. This dismal region is never there connected with ideas of "life" or "immortality" in any form. Writers who suppose that the hopes which find utterance in passages of Psalms and Prophets have any connection with existence in Sheol are on an altogether wrong track. It is not the expectation of a happier condition in Sheol, but the hope of deliverance from Sheol, and of restored life and fellowship with God, which occupies the mind. How much this implies deserves careful consideration.

1. Sheol, Like Death, Connected with Sin:

It has already been seen that, in the Old Testament, Sheol, like death, is not the natural fate of man. A connection with sin and judgment is implied in it. Whatever Sheol might be to the popular, unthinking mind, to the reflecting spirit, that really grasped the fundamental ideas of the religion of Yahweh, it was a state wholly contrary to man's true destiny. It was, as seen, man's dignity in distinction from the animal, that he was not created under the law of death. Disembodied existence, which is of necessity enfeebled, partial, imperfect existence, was no part of the Divine plan for man. His immortality was to be in the body, not out of it. Separation of soul and body, an after-existence of the soul in Sheol, belong to the doom of sin. Dr. Salmond fully recognizes this in his discussion of the subject. "The penal sense of death colors all that the Old Testament says of man's end. It is in its thoughts where it is not in its words" (op. cit., 159; see the whole passage; compare also Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, I, 242, English translation; A. B. Davidson, Theology of the Old Testament, 432, 439). The true type of immortality is therefore to be seen in cases like those of Enoch (Genesis 5:24; compare Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11); of a bare "immortality of the soul," Scripture has nothing to say.

It is on all hands conceded that, so far as the hope of immortality, in any full or real sense, is found in the Old Testament, it is connected with religious faith and hope. It has not a natural, but a religious, root. It springs from the believer's trust and confidence in the living God; from his conviction that God-his God-who has bound him to Himself in the bonds of an unchanging covenant, whose everlasting arms are underneath him (Deuteronomy 33:27; compare Psalm 90:1), will not desert him even in Sheol-will be with him there, and will give him victory over its terrors (compare A. B. Davidson, Commentary on Job, 293-95; Salmond, op. cit., 175).

2. Religious Root of Hope of Immortality:

Life is not bare existence; it consists in God's favor and fellowship (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 63:3). The relevant passages in Psalms and Prophets will be considered after. Only, it is contended by the newer school, this hope of immortality belongs to a late stage of Israel's religion-to a period when, through the development of the monotheistic idea, the growth of the sense of individuality, the acute feeling of the contradictions of life, this great "venture" of faith first became possible. One asks, however, Was it so? Was this hope so entirely a matter of "intuitous ventures, and forecasts of devout souls in moments of deepest experience or keenest conflict," as this way of considering the matter represents? Not Necessarily Late.

That the hope of immortality could only exist for strong faith is self-evident. But did strong faith come into existence only in the days of the prophets or the Exile? Exception has already been taken to the assumption that monotheism was a late growth, and that individual faith in God was not found in early times. It is not to be granted without demur that, as now commonly alleged, the Psalms and the Book of Job, which express this hope, are post-exilian products.

Read Complete Article...


(Eua; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, Heua):

"Eve" occurs twice in the New Testament and both references are in the Pauline writings. In 1 Timothy 2:12-14 woman's place in teaching is the subject of discussion, and the writer declares that she is a learner and not a teacher, that she is to be in quietness and not to have dominion over a man. Paul elsewhere expressed this same idea (see 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35). Having stated his position in regard to woman's place, he used the Genesis account of the relation of the first woman to man to substantiate his teaching. Paul used this account to illustrate woman's inferiority to man, and he undoubtedly accepted it at its face value without any question as to its historicity. He argued that woman is inferior in position, for "Adam was first formed, then Eve." She is inferior in character, for "Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression."


In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul is urging loyalty to Christ, and he uses the temptation of Eve to illustrate the ease with which one is corrupted. Paul seems to have had no thought but that the account of the serpent's beguiling Eve should be taken literally.

A. W. Fortune


ev, (chawwah, "life"; Eua; the name given, as the Scripture writer says, Genesis 3:20 (Zoe), from her unique function as "the mother of all living"):

The first created woman; created secondarily from Adam (or man) as a "help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18-22), and later named and designated as the mother of the human race.

For the literary type and object of the story of Eve, see under ADAM, i, 2.

1. The Names Given to Her:

Two names are given to her, both bestowed by the man, her mate. The first, ishshah, "woman" (literally, "man-ess"), is not strictly a name but a generic designation, referring to her relation to the man; a relation she was created to fulfill in default of any true companionship between man and the beasts, and represented as intimate and sacred beyond that between child and parents (Genesis 2:18-24). The second, Eve, or "life," given after the transgression and its prophesied results, refers to her function and destiny in the spiritual history or evolution of which she is the beginning (Genesis 3:16, 20). While the names are represented as bestowed by the man, the remarks in Genesis 2:24 and 3:20b may be read as the interpretative addition of the writer, suited to the exposition which it is the object of his story to make.

2. Her Relation to Man:

As mentioned in the article ADAM, the distinction of male and female, which the human species has in common with the animals, is given in the general (or P) account of creation (Genesis 1:27); and then, in the more particularized (or J) account of the creation of man, the human being is described at a point before the distinction of sex existed. This second account may have a different origin, but it has also a different object, which does not conflict with but rather supplements the other. It aims to give the spiritual meanings that inhere in man's being; and in this the relation of sex plays an elemental part. As spiritually related to the man-nature, the woman-nature is described as derivative, the helper rather than the initiator, yet equal, and supplying perfectly the man's social and affectional needs. It is the writer's conception of the essential meaning of mating and marriage. To bring out its spiritual values more clearly he takes the pair before they are aware of the species meanings of sex or family, while they are "naked" yet "not ashamed" Genesis 2:25, and portrays them purely as companions, individual in traits and tendencies, yet answering to each other. She is the helpmeet for him (ezer keneghdo, "a help answering to him").

3. Her Part in the Change of Condition:

True to her nature as the being relatively acted upon rather than acting, she is quicker than the man to respond to the suggestion initiated by the serpent and to follow it out to its desirable results. There is eagerness of desire in her act of taking the fruit quite different from the quasi matter-of-course attitude of the man. To her the venture presents itself wholly from the alluring side, while to him it is more like taking a desperate risk, as he detaches himself even from the will of God in order to cleave to her. All this is delicately true to the distinctive feminine and masculine natures. A part of her penalty is henceforth to be the subordinated one of the pair (Genesis 3:16), as if for her the values of life were to be mediated through him. At the same time it is accorded to her seed to perpetuate the mortal antipathy to the serpent, and finally to bruise the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15).

4. In Subsequent History:

After these opening chapters of Genesis, Eve is not once mentioned, nor even specifically alluded to, in the canonical books of the Old Testament. It was not in the natural scope of Old Testament history and doctrine, which were concerned with Abraham's descendants, to go back to so remote origins as are narrated in the story of the first pair. The name Eve occurs once in the Apocrypha, in the prayer of Tobit (APC Tobit 8:6): "Thou madest Adam, and gavest him Eve his wife for a helper and a stay; of them came the seed of men"; the text then going on to quote Genesis 2:18. In 1 Esdras 4:20, 21 there is a free quotation, or rather paraphrase, of Genesis 2:24. But not even in the somber complaints of 2 Esdras concerning the woe that Adam's transgression brought upon the race is there any hint of Eve's part in the matter.

(see under ADAM IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, iii, 2)

John Franklin Genung


lan'-gwaj (Greek).



1. The Old Point of View

2. The Revolution

3. The Proof of the New Position

(1) The Papyri

(2) The Ostraka

(3) The Inscriptions

(4) Modern Greek

(5) Historical and Comparative Grammar

4. Characteristics of the Vernacular "Koine"






I. The Vernacular "Koine" the Language of the New Testament.

1. The Old Point of View:

The ghost of the old Purist controversy is now laid to rest for good and all. The story of that episode has interest chiefly for the historian of language and of the vagaries of the human intellect. See Winer-Thayer, Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, 1869, 12-19, and Schmiedel's Winer, sectopm 2, for a sketch of this once furious strife. In the 17th century various scholars tried to prove that the Greek of the New Testament was on a paragraph with the literary Attic of the classic period. But the Hebraists won the victory over them and sought to show that it was Hebraic Greek, a special variety, if not dialect, a Biblical Greek The 4th edition of Cremer's Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek (translated by W. Urwick, 1892) quotes, with approval, Rothe's remark (Dogmatik, 1863, 238):

"We may appropriately speak of a language of the Holy Ghost. For in the Bible it is evident that the Holy Spirit has been at work, moulding for itself a distinctively religious mode of expression out of the language of the country which it has chosen as its sphere, and transforming the linguistic elements which it found ready to hand, and even conceptions already existing, into a shape and form appropriate to itself and all its own." Cremer adds: "We have a very clear and striking proof of this in New Testament Greek."

This was only twenty years ago and fairly represented the opinion of that day. Hatch in 1889 (Essays in Biblical Greek, 34) held that with most of the New Testament words the key lay in the Septuagint. But Winer (Winer-Thayer, 20) had long ago seen that the vernacular koine was "the special foundation of the diction of the New Testament," though he still admitted "a Jewish-Greek, which native Greeks did not entirely understand" (p. 27). He did not see the practical identity of New Testament Greek with the vernacular koine-("common" Greek), nor did Schmiedel in the 8. Auflage of Winer (I. Theil; II. Theil, erstes Heft, 1894-97). In the second edition of his Grammar of New Testament Greek (English translation by Thackeray, 1905, 2), Blass sees the dawn of the new day, though his book was first written before it came. Viteau (Etude sur le grec du Nouveau Testament, I, Le verbe, 1893, II, Le sujet, 1896) occupies wholly the old position of a Judaic Greek. An extreme instance of that view is seen in Guillemard's Hebraisms in the Greek Testament (1879).

2. The Revolution:

A turn toward the truth comes with H. A. A. Kennedy's Sources of the New Testament Greek (1895). He finds the explanation of the vocabulary of both the Septuagint and the New Testament to be the vernacular which he traces back to Aristophanes. It is a good exercise to read Westcott's discussion of the "Language of the NT" in DB, III (1888), and then turn to Moulton, "Language of the New Testament," in the 1-vol HDB. Westcott says: "The chief peculiarities of the syntax of the New Testament lie in the reproduction of Hebrew forms." Moulton remarks: "There is no reason to believe that any New Testament writer who ever lived in Palestine learned Greek only as a foreign language when he went abroad." Still better is it to read Moulton, "New Testament Greek in the Light of Modern Discovery" in Cambridge Biblical Essays (1909, 461-505); Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (1911); or Angus, "The koine, the Language of the New Testament," Princeton Review, January, 1910, 42-92. The revolution has come to stay. It is now clear that the Greek of the New Testament is not a jargon nor a patois. In all essential respects it is just the vernacular koine of the 1st century A.D., the lingua franca of the Greek-Roman empire, the legacy of Alexander the Great's conquest of the East. This world-speech was at bottom the late Attic vernacular with dialectical and provincial influences. It was not a decaying tongue, but a virile speech admirably adapted to the service of the many peoples of the time. The able article in volume III of HDB on the "Language of the New Testament" by Dr. J. H. Thayer appeared in 1900, and illustrates how quickly an encyclopedia article may become out of date. There is a wealth of knowledge here displayed, as one would expect, but Thayer still speaks of "this species of Greek," "this peculiar idiom,.... Jewish Greek," though he sees that its basis is "the common or spoken Greek." The last topic discussed by him is "Problems." He little thought that the biggest "problem" so near solution was the character of the language itself. It was Adolph Deissmann, then of Heidelberg, now of Berlin, who opened the new era in the knowledge of the language of the New Testament. His Bibelstudien (zumeist aus den Papyri und Inschriften zur Geschichte der Sprache, des Schrifttums und der Religion des hellenistischen Judentums und des Urchristentums) appeared in 1895. In this epoch-making volume he proved conclusively from the papyri and the inscriptions that many of the seeming Hebraisms in the Septuagint and the New Testament were common idioms in the vernacular koine. He boldly claimed that the bulk of the Hebraisms were falsely so termed, except in the case of translating Greek from the Hebrew or Aramaic or in "perfect" Hebraisms, genuine Greek usage made more common by reason of similarity to the Semitic idiom. In 1897 he produced Neue Bibelstudien, sprachgeschichtliche Beitrage zumeist aus den Papyri und Inschriften zur Erklarung des Neuen Testaments.

In 1901 (2nd edition in 1903) these two volumes were translated as one by A. Grieve under the title Bible Studies. Deissmann's other volumes have confirmed his thesis. The most important are New Light on the New Testament (1907), The Philology of the Greek Bible (1908), Licht vom Osten (1908), Light from the Ancient East (translation by Strachan, 1910), Paul in the Light of Social and Religious History (1912). In Light from the Ancient East, Deissmann illustrates the New Testament language with much detail from the papyri, ostraka and inscriptions. He is now at work on a new lexicon of the New Testament which will make use of the fresh knowledge from these sources.

The otherwise helpful work of E. Preuschen, Vollstandiges griechisch-deutsches Handworterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (1908-10), fails to utilize the papyri and inscriptions while drawing on the Septuagint and the New Testament Apocrypha and other early Christian literature. But this has been done by Ebeling in his Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zum New Testament, 1913. The next step was made by A. Thumb, the great philologian, in his Griechische Sprache im Zeitalter des Hellenismus; Beitrage zur Geschichte und Beurteilung der "koine," 1901, in which the real character of the koine was for the first time properly set forth.

Winer and Blass had both lamented the need of a grammar of the koine, and that demand still exists, but Thumb went a long way toward supplying it in this volume. It is to be hoped that he will yet prepare a grammar of the koine. Thumb's interests cover the whole range of comparative philology, but he has added in this field "Die Forschungen fiber die hellenistische Sprache in den Jahren 1896-1901," Archiv fur Papyrusforschung, II, 396 f; "Prinzipienfragen der Koina-Forschung," Neue Jahrb. fur das kl. Alt., 1906; "Die sprachgeschichtliche Stellung des biblischen Griechisch," Theologische Rundschau, V, 85-99.

The other most important name to add is that of J. Hope Moulton, who has the credit of being the first to apply the new knowledge directly to the New Testament Greek His Grammar of New Testament Greek, I, Prolegomena (1906, 2nd edition, 1906, 3rd edition, 1908, German translation in 1911, Einleitung in die Sprache des New Testament) is a brilliant piece of work and relates the Greek of the New Testament in careful detail to the vernacular koine, and shows that in all important points it is the common Greek of the time and not a Hebraic Greek. Moulton probably pressed his point too far in certain respects in his zeal against Hebraisms, but the essential position of Deissmann and Moulton is undoubtedly sound.

Moulton had previously published the bulk of this material as "Grammatical Notes from the Papyri," The Expositor, 1901, 271-82; 1903, 104-21, 423-39; The Classical Review, 1901, 31-37, 434-41; 1904, 106-12, 151-55; "Characteristics of New Testament Greek," The Expositor, 1904.

In 1909 appeared his essay, Greek in the Light of Modern Discovery (see above). Since 1908, The Expositor has had a series of papers by J.H. Moulton and George Milligan called "Lexical Notes from the Papyri," which are very useful on the lexical side of the language. Thus the study is fairly launched on its new career. In 1900, A.T. Robertson produced a Syllabus on the New Testament Greek Syntax from the standpoint of comparative philology, which was rewritten in 1908, with the added viewpoint of the papyri researches, as A Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament (2nd edition, 1909, 3rd edition, 1912; translations in Italian in 1910, German and French in 1911, Dutch in 1912). In October, 1909, S. Angus published a good article in the Harvard Theological Review on "Modern Methods in New Testament Philology," followed in January, 1910, by another in the Princeton Review on "The koine, the Language of the New Testament." The new knowledge appears also in Jakob Wackernagel, "Die griechische Sprache" (pp. 291-318, 2nd edition, of Die griechische und lateinische Literatur und Sprache, 1907). L. Radermachcr has set forth very ably "die sprachlichen Vorgange in ihrem Zusammenhang," in his Neutestamentliche Grammatik: Das Griechisch des Neuen Testaments im Zusammenhang mit der Volkssprache. It is in reality the background of the New Testament Greek and is a splendid preparation for the study of the Greek New Testament. A full discussion of the new knowledge in grammatical detail has been prepared by A.T. Robertson under the title A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Moulton and Schmiedel are planning also to complete their works.

3. The Proof of the New Position:

The proof of the new position is drawn from several sources:

(1) The Papyri.

These rolls have lain in the museums of the world many years and attracted little attention. For lists of the chief collections of the papyri see Moulton, Prolegomena, 259-62; Milligan, Selections from the Greek Papyri, xi, xii; Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemaerzeit; Lautund Wortlehre, vii-x; Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 20-41; Robertson, Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Bibliography. New volumes of papyri as a result of recent explorations in Egypt are published each year. See PAPYRUS, and in the other encyclopedias under the word. Most of the papyri discovered belong to the period of the koine (the first three centuries B.C. and A.D. in round numbers), and with great wealth of illustration they show the life of the common people of the time, whether in Egypt or Herculaneum (the two chief regions represented). There are various degrees of culture shown, as can be seen in any of the large volumes of Grenfell and Hunt, or in the handbooks of Lietzmann, Griechische Papyri (1905), and of Milligan, Greek Papyri (1910). They come from the scrap-heaps of the long ago, and are mainly receipts, contracts, letters of business or love, military documents, etc. They show all grades of culture, from the illiterate with phonetic spelling to the man of the schools. But we have here the language of life, not of the books. In a most startling way one notes the similarities of vocabulary, forms, and syntax between the language of the papyri of the 1st century A.D. and that of the New Testament books. As early as 1778, F.W. Sturz, made use of the Charta Borgiana, "the first papyrus ever brought to Europe" (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 39), and in 1841 Thiersch likewise saw the value of the papyri for the philology of the Septuagint. But the matter was not pressed. Lightfoot threw out a hint about the value of letters of the people, which was not followed till Deissmann saw the point; compare Moulton, Prol., 242. It is not necessary here to illustrate the matter at length. Deissmann takes up in detail the "Biblical" words in Thayer's Lexicon, and has no difficulty in finding most of them in the papyri (or inscriptions). Thus plerophoreo, is shown to be common in the papyri. See Deissmann, Bible Studies and Light from the Ancient East, for extensive lists. The papyri show also the same meanings for many words once thought peculiar to the Bible or the New Testament. An instance is seen in the official sense of presbuteros, in the papyri, 5 ho presbuteros les komes (Pap. Lugd. A 35), "without doubt an official designation" (Deissmann, Bible Studies, 155). So adelphos, for members of the community, anastrophe, for manner of life, antilempsis, "help," leitourgia, "public service," paroikos, "sojourner," etc. (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 107). R. Helbing (Grammatik der Septuaginta, 1908) and H. John Thackeray (A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint, 1909) have applied the new knowledge to the language of the Septuagint, and it has been discussed with much ability in the first volumes. The use of the papyri for grammatical purposes is made easier by the excellent volume of E. Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemaerzeit; Laut-und Wortlehre (1906), though his "Syntax," is still a desideratum. Useful also is G. Cronert, Memoria Graeca Herculanensis (1903).

(2) The Ostraka.

The literature on this subject is still small in bulk. In 1899 Ulrich Wilcken published Griechische Ostraka aus Aegypten und Nubien, and in 1902 W.E. Crum produced his book of Christian ostraka called Coptic Ostraca from the Collections of the Egypt Exploration Fund, the Cairo Museum, and Others. This was followed in 1905 by H.R. Hall's Coptic and Greek Texts of the Christian Period from Ostraka, Stelae, etc. These broken pieces of pottery were used by the lowest classes as writing material. It was very widely used because it was so very cheap. Wilcken has done more than anyone else to collect and decipher the ostraka. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 46) notes that Cleanthes the Stoic "wrote on ostraka or on leather" because too poor to buy papyrus. So he quotes the apology of a Christian for using potsherd for a letter: "Excuse me that I cannot find papyrus as I am in the country" (Crum, Coptic Ostraca, 55). The use of apecho, on an ostrakon for a receipt in full, illustrates well the frequent use of this word in the New Testament (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 111).

(3) The Inscriptions.

Here caution must be used since many of the inscriptions give, not the vernacular, but the literary language. The official (legal and military) decrees often appear in very formal style. But a number do preserve the vernacular idiom and often have the advantage of being dated. These inscriptions are chiefly on stone, but some are on metal and there are a few wax tablets. The material is vast and is constantly growing. See list of the chief collections in Deissmann's Light from the Ancient East, 10-20. Boeckh is the great name here. As early as 1779 Walch (Observationes in Matt. ex graecis inscriptionibus) made use of Greek inscriptions for New Testament exegesis, and R.A. Lipsius says that his father (K.H.A. Lipsius, author of Grammatische Untersuchungen uber die biblische Gracitat) "contemplated a large grammar of the Greek Bible in which he would have availed himself of the discoveries in modern epigraphy" (Deissmann, Light, etc., 15). Schmiedel has made good use of the inscriptions so far in his revision of Winer; H.A.A. Kennedy (Sources of New Testament Greek, 1895), H. Anz (Subsidia ad Cogn., etc., 1894), R. Helbing (Grammatik der Septuaginta, 1908), J. Psichari (Essai sur le Grec de la Septante, 1908), H. John Thackeray (A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint, 1909), and R. Meister (Prol. zu einer Grammatik der Septuaginta, 1907) turned to good account the inscriptions for the linguistic problems of the Septuagint, as indeed Hatch (Essays in Biblical Greek, 1889) had already done. W. Dittenberger added some valuable "Grammatica et orthographica" to his Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (2 volumes, 1903, 1905). See also E. L. Hicks and G. F. Hill, Greek Historical Inscriptions (1901), and Hicks's paper "On Some Political Terms Employed in the New Testament," Classical Review, 1887, 4;, 42;. W. M. Ramsay's Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (2 volumes, 1895, 1897) and his other works show keen insight in the use of the inscriptions. Deissmann's Bible Studies (1895, 1901) applied the knowledge of the inscriptions to the Septuagint and to the New Testament. In his Light from the Ancient East (1910) copious use is made of the inscriptions for New Testament study. Moulton (Prol., 1906, 258, for lists) is alive to the value of the inscriptions for New Testament grammar, as indeed was Blass (Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch, 1896) before him.

Compare further, G. Thieme, Die Inschriften von Magnesia am Maander und das Neue Testament (1906); T. Nageli, Der Wortschatz des Apostels Paulus (1905), and J. Rouffiac, Recherches sur les caracteres du Grec dans le New Testament d'apres les Inscr. de Priene (1911). Special treatises or phases of the grammar of the inscriptions appear in Meisterhans-Schwyzer, Grammatik der attischen Inschriften (1900); Nachmanson, Laute und Formen der magnetischen Inschriften (1896); Schweizer, Grammatik der pergamenischen Inschriften (1898).

Moulton and Milligan have drawn freely also on the inscriptions for their "Lexical Studies" running in The Expositor (1908 and the years following). The value of the inscriptions for the Greek of the New Testament is shown at every turn. For instance, prototokos, is no longer a "Biblical" word. It appears in a metrical inscription (undated) of Trachonitis on a tomb of a pagan "high priest" and "friend of the gods" (Deissmann, Light, etc., 88); compare Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca, etc., number 460. Even agape, occurs on a pagan inscription of Pisidia (Papers of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2, 57). See , further, W.H.P. Hatch's "Some Illustrations of New Testament Usage from Greek Inscriptions of Asia Minor," Journal of Biblical Literature, 1908, 134-146.

(4) Modern Greek.

As early as 1834 Heilmeier saw that the modern Greek vernacular went back to the koine (Moulton, Prologoumena, 29), but it is only in recent years that it was clearly seen that the modern Greek of the schools and usually in the newspapers is artificial, and not the real vernacular of today. Mullach's work (Grammatik der griechischen Vulgarsprache, 1856) was deficient in this respect. But Jannaris' Historical Greek Grammar (1897) carries the history of the vernacular Greek along with the literary style. Hatzidakis, Einleitung in die neugriechische Grammatik, 1892, clears the air very much and connects the modern Greek with the New Testament. But it is to Thumb that we are indebted for the best knowledge of the vernacular (he demotike) as opposed to the literary language (he kathareuousa) of today. Mitsotakis (Praktische Grammatik, 1891) had treated both together, though Wied (Die Kunst, die neugriechische Volksprache) gave only the vernacular. But Wied is only elementary. Thumb alone has given an adequate treatment of the modern Greek vernacular, showing its unity and historical contact with the vernacular koine (Handbuch der neugriechischen Volkssprache, 1895; Thumb-Angus, Handbook of Modern Greek Vernacular, 1912). Thus one can see the living stream of the New Testament speech as it has come on down through the ages. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of modern Greek vernacular in the knowledge of New Testament Greek. The disappearance of the optative, the vanishing of the infinitive before hina, and itacism are but instances of many others which are luminous in the light of the modern Greek vernacular. See Psichari, Essais de grammaire historique neo-grecque (1886-89).

(5) Historical and Comparative Grammar.

From this source the koine gets a new dignity. It will take one too far afield to sketch here the linguistic revolution wrought since the publication of, and partly caused by, Bopp's Vergleichende Grammatik (1857), following Sir William Jones' discovery of Sanskrit. The great work of Brugmann and Delbruck (Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen, I-V, 1892-1909) marks the climax of the present development, though many workers have won distinction in this field. The point to accent here is that by means of comparative philology the Greek language is seen in its proper relations with other languages of the Indo-Germanic family, and the right interpretation of case, preposition, mode, tense, voice, etc., is made possible. The old traditional empiricism is relegated to the scrap-heap, and a new grammatical science consonant with the facts has taken its place. See Delbruck, Introduction to the Study of Language (1882), Giles, Short Manual of Comparative Philology (1901), for a resume of the facts. Wright, Comparative Grammar of the Greek Language (1912), applies the new learning to the Greek tongue. The progress in classical scholarship is well shown by Sandys in his History of Classical Scholarship (I-III, 1906-8) and by Gudeman, Geschichte der klass. Philologie, 2. Aufl, 1909. Innumerable monographs have enriched the literature of this subject. It is now feasible to see the Greek language as a whole, and grasp its historical unity. See n in this light the koine is not a dying tongue or a corrupt dialect. It is a normal and natural evolution of the Greek dialects into a world-speech when Alexander's conquests made it possible. The vernacular koine which has developed into the modern Greek vernacular was itself the direct descendant of the Attic vernacular which had its roots in the vernacular of the earlier dialects. The dialectical developments are closely sketched by Thumb, Handbuch der griechischen Dialekte (1909), and by Buck, Introduction to the Study of Greek Dialects (1910), not to mention the older works of Hoffmann, Meister, etc. Jannaris has undertaken in his Historical Greek Grammar (1897) to sketch and interpret the facts of the Greek tongue throughout its long career, both in its literary and vernacular aspects. He has succeeded remarkably well on the whole, though not quite seeing the truth about the modern Greek vernacular. Schanz is seeking to lay the foundation for still better work by his Beitrage zur historischen Syntax der griechischen Sprache (1882 and the years following). But the New Testament student must be open to all the new light from this region, and it is very great. See , further, Dieterich, Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der griech. Sprache von der hellen. Zeit (1898).

4. Characteristics of the Vernacular "Koine":

As already indicated, the Greek of the New Testament is in the main just the vernacular koine of the 1st century A.D., though Greek as used by men of ability and varying degrees of culture. The most striking difference between the vernacular koine and the literary Attic is seen in the vocabulary. The writers in the literary koine show more likeness to the classic Attic, but even they reveal the changes due to the intervening centuries. There was, of course, no violent break. The changes came gradually and naturally. It is mainly at this point that Deissmann has done such brilliant work in his Bible Studies and other books. He has taken the lists of "Biblical" and "ecclesiastical" words, as given by Cremer and Thayer, and has shown from the papyri, ostraka, inscriptions, or koine writers that they are not peculiar to the Bible, but belong to the current speech of the time. The proof is so overwhelming and extensive that it cannot be given here. Some words have not yet been found in the non-Biblical koine, but they may be any day. Some few words, of course, belong to the very nature of Christianity christianos, for instance), but apostolos, baptismos, paroikos, sunagoge, and hundreds of others can no longer be listed as "Biblical." New meanings come to old words also. Compare daimonion. It is interesting to note that the New Testament shows many of the words found in Aristophanes, who caught up the vernacular of his day. The koine uses more words from the lower strata of society. Aristotle likewise has many words common in the koine, since he stands at the parting of the ways between the old dialects and the new koine of Alexander's conquests. The koine develops a fondness for compound and even double compound (sesquipedalian) words; compare, for instance, anekdiegetos; aneklaletos; anexereunetos; antapokrinomai; oikodespotes; oligopsuchos; prosanapleroo; sunantilambanomai; huperentugchano; chrusodaktulios, etc. The use of diminutives is also noteworthy in the koine as in the modern Greek: compare thugatrion; klinarion; korasion; kunarion; onarion; opsarion; ploiarion; otion, etc. The formation of words by juxtaposition is very common as in plerophoreo, cheiro-graphon. In phonetics it is to be noticed that "ei", "oi", "ee", "eei", "u", "i" all had the value of "ee" in "feet." This itacism was apparent in the early koine. So ai = e and o and oo were not sharply distinguished. The Attic tt became ss, except in a few instances, like elatto, kreitton. The tendency toward de-aspiration (compare Ionic) was manifest; compare eph' helpidi, for the reverse process. Elision is less frequent than in Attic, but assimilation is carried farther. The variable final consonants "n" (nu) and "s" (sigma) are used generally before consonants. We find "-ei-" for "-iei-" as in pein. outheis, and metheis, are common till 100 B.C., when they gradually disappear before oudeis, and medeis. In general there is less sense of rhythm and more simplicity and clearness. Some of the subtle refinements of form and syntax of the classic did not survive in the koine vernacular. In accidence only a few points may be noted. In substantives the Ionic "-res" is frequent. The Attic second declension vanishes. In the third declension forms like nuktan, show assimilation to the first. Both charin, and charita, occur. Contraction is sometimes absent (compare Ionic) as in oreon. Adjectives show forms like asphalen, and indeclinable pleres, appears, and pan, for panta (compare megan), dusi, for duoin. The dual is gone. Even the dual pronouns hekateros, and poteros, are rare. tis, is occasionally used like hostis. hos ean, is more frequent than hos an, in the 1st century A.D. The two conjugations blend more and more into one, as the -mi forms vanish. There is some confusion in the use of -ao and -eo verbs, and new presents occur like apoktenno, optano, steko. The forms ginomai, ginosko, are the rule now. There is much increase in aorists like escha, and imperfects like eicha. The form -osan (eichosan, eschosan) occasionally appears. Quite frequent is a perfect like dedokan, and the augment is often absent in the plu-perfect as in dedokei. Per contra, a double augment occurs in apekateste, and a treble augment in eneochthesan. The temporal augment is often absent with diphthong as in oikodomethe. The koine Greek has -tosan, not -nton. In syntax the tendency is toward simplicity, to short sentences, the paratactic construction, and the sparing use of particles. The vernacular koine avoids both the bombast of Asianism and the artificiality of Atticism. There is, indeed, more freedom in violating the rules of concord as to gender, number, and case. The nominativus pendens is common. The comparative does duty often for the superlative adjective, and the superlative generally has the elative sense. The accusative is increasingly common with verbs. The line between transitive and intransitive verbs is not a hard-and-fast one. The growth in the use of prepositions both with nouns and in composition is quite noticeable, but some of the older prepositions, like amphi, are vanishing. The cases used with various prepositions are changing. The instrumental use of en, is very common. Many new adverbial and prepositional phrases have developed. The optative is nearly dead and the infinitive (apart from the use of tou, en to, eis to, with the infinitive) is decaying before hina. The future participle is rare. me, begins to encroach on ou, with infinitives and participles. The periphrastic conjugation is specially common. The direct discourse is more frequent than the indirect. The non-final use of hina, is quite noticeable. There are, besides, dialectical and provincial peculiarities, but these do not destroy the real unity of the vernacular koine any more than do individual traits of separate writers.

II. Literary Elements in the New Testament.

Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 245) is disposed to deny any literary quality to the New Testament books save the Epistle to the Hebrews. "The Epistle to the Hebrews shows us Christianity preparing for a flight from its native levels into the higher region of culture, and we are conscious of the beginnings of a Christian world-literature." He speaks of it also as "a work which seems to hang in the background like an intruder among the New Testament company of popular books." One feels that this is an extreme position and cannot be justified by the facts. It is true that Peter and John were agrammatoi kai idiotai (Acts 4:13), and not men of the schools, but this was certainly not the case with Luke and Paul who were men of literary culture in the truest sense. Luke and Paul were not Atticists, but that artificial idiom did not represent the best type of culture. Deissmann admits that the New Testament has become literature, but, outside of He, he denies any literary quality in its composition. Paul, for instance, wrote only "letters," not "epistles." But Romans and Ephesians confront us. See Milligan, Greek Papyri, xxxi, for a protest against the sweeping statement of Deissmann on this point. One need not go to the extreme of Blass, "Die rhythmische Komposition des Hebr. Brides," Theol. Studien und Kritik, 1902, 420-61; Die Rythmen der asiatischen und romischen Kunstprosa, 1905, to find in Hebrews and Paul's writings illustrations of the artificial rules of the Asianists. There is undoubtedly rhythm in Paul's eloquent passages (compare 1 Corinthians 13; 15), but it is the natural poetic quality of a soul aflame with high passions, not conformity to rules of rhetoric. To deny literary quality to Luke and Paul is to give a narrow meaning to the word "literary" and to be the victim of a theory. Christianity did make use of the vernacular koine, the wonderful world-speech so providentially at hand. But the personal equation figured here as always. Men of culture differ in their conversation from illiterate men and more nearly approximate literary style. It is just in Luke, Paul, and the author of He that we discover the literary flavor of men of ability and of culture, though free from artificiality and pedantry. The eloquence of He is that of passion, not of the art of Asianism. Indeed, the Gospels all show literary skill in the use of material and in beauty of language.

Read Complete Article...




1. Members of Semitic Family

2. The Name Hebrew

3. Old Hebrew Literature


1. Oldest Form of Language

2. The Hebrew of the Old Testament

3. Its Uniformity

4. The Cause Thereof

5. Differences Due to Age

6. Differences of Style

7. Foreign Influences

8. Poetry and Prose

9. Home of the Hebrew Language

10. Its Antiquity

11. When Hebrew Became a Dead Language


1. Characteristic Sounds

2. Letters Representing Two Sounds

3. Consonants Representing Vowels

4. The Syllable

5. Three-Letter Roots

6. Conjugations or Derived Stems

7. Absence of Tenses

8. The Pronouns

9. Formation of Nouns

10. Internal Inflexion

11. Syntax of the Verb

12. Syntax of the Noun

13. Poverty of Adjectives


1. Aramaic Portions of the Old Testament

2. Phonology

3. Grammar

4. Syntax

5. Aramaic More Decadent than Hebrew


1. Concrete and Abstract

2. View of Nature

3. Pictorial Imagination

4. Prose and Poetry

5. Hebrew Easy of Translation


There were only two languages employed in the archetypes of the Old Testament books (apart from an Egyptian or Persian or Greek word here and there), namely, Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic, both of which belong to the great family of languages known as Semitic.

I. The Semitic Languages.

The languages spoken in Southwestern Asia during the historical period dealt with in the Bible have been named Shemitic, after the son of Noah from whom the majority of peoples speaking these languages-Arabs, Hebrews, Arameans and Assyrians (Genesis 10:21)-were descended. To show, however, that the description does not fit exactly the thing described-the Elamites and Lydians having probably not spoken a Shemitic language, and the Canaanites, including Phoenicians, with the colonists descended from those at Carthage and elsewhere in the Mediterranean coast lands, as well as the Abyssinians (Ethiopians), who did, being reckoned descendants of Ham (Genesis 9:18; Genesis 10:6)-the word is now generally written "Semitic," a term introduced by Eichhorn (1787). These languages were spoken from the Caspian Sea to the South of Arabia, and from the Mediterranean to the valley of the Tigris.

1. Members of Semitic Family:

The following list shows the chief members of this family:

(1) South Semitic or Arabic:

Including the language of the Sabean (Himyaritic) inscriptions, as well as Ge'ez or Ethiopic. Arabic is now spoken from the Caucasus to Zanzibar, and from the East Indies to the Atlantic.

(2) Middle Semitic or Canaanitish:

Including Hebrew, old and new, Phoenician, with Punic, and Moabite (language of MS).

(3) North Semitic or Aramaic:


(a) East Aramaic or Syrian (language of Syrian Christians), language of Babylonian Talmud, Mandean;

(b) West or Palestinian Aramaic of the Targums, Palestinian Talmud (Gemara), Biblical Aramaic ("Chaldee"), Samaritan, language of Nabatean inscriptions.

(4) East Semitic:

Language of Assyria-Babylonian inscriptions.

2. The Name Hebrew:

With the exception of a few chapters and fragments mentioned below, the Old Testament is written entirely in Hebrew. In the Old Testament itself this language is called "the Jews' " (2 Kings 18:26, 28). In Isaiah 19:18 it is called poetically, what in fact it was, "the language (Hebrew `lip') of Canaan." In the appendix to the Septuagint of Job it is called Syriac; and in the introduction to Ecclesiasticus it is for the first time-that is, in 130 B.C.-named Hebrew. The term Hebrew in the New Testament denotes the language of the Old Testament in Revelation 9:11, but in John 5:2; John 19:13, 17 this term means the vernacular Aramaic. In other passages it is doubtful which is meant. Josephus uses the same name for both. From the time of the Targums, Hebrew is called "the sacred tongue" in contrast to the Aramaic of everyday use. The language of the Old Testament is called Old Hebrew in contrast to the New Hebrew of the Mishna, the rabbinic, the Spanish poetry, etc.

3. Old Hebrew Literature: Of Old Hebrew the remains are contained almost entirely in the Old Testament. A few inscriptions have been recovered, i.e., the Siloam Inscriptions, a Hebrew calendar, a large number of ostraka from Samaria, a score of pre-exilic seals, and coins of the Maccabees and of the time of Vespasian and Hadrian.


E. Renan, Histoire generale et systeme compare des langues semitiques; F. Hommel, Die semit. Volker u. Sprachen; the comparative grammars of Wright and Brockelmann; CIS; article "Semitic Languages" in Encyclopedia Brit, and Murray's Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

II. History of the Hebrew Language.

Hebrew as it appears to us in the Old Testament is in a state of decadence corresponding to the present position of spoken Arabic. In the earliest period it no doubt resembled the classical Arabic of the 7th and following centuries. The variations found between the various strata of the language occurring in the Old Testament are slight compared with the difference between modern and ancient Arabic.

1. Oldest Form of Language:

Hebrew was no doubt originally a highly inflected language, like classical Arabic. The noun had three cases, nominative, genitive, and accusative, ending in -um', -im, -am, respectively, as in the Sabean inscriptions. Both verbs and nouns had three numbers (singular, dual and plural) and two genders, masculine and feminine In the noun the dual and plural had two cases. The dual and 2nd and 3rd person plural and 2nd person singular feminine of the imperfect of the verb ended in nun. In certain positions the "m" of the endings -um, -im, -am in the noun was dropped. The verb had three moods, indicative, subjunctive, and jussive, ending in -u, -a, and -, respectively; as well as many forms or stems, each of which had an active and passive voice.

2. The Hebrew of the Old Testament:

In the Hebrew of the Old Testament most of these inflexions have disappeared. Of the three cases of the noun only the accusative -am has survived in a few adverbial forms, such as 'omnam, "truly." The dual has entirely disappeared from the verb, and also from the noun, with the exception of things that occur in pairs, such as hand, eye, which have no plural. The nom. case of the dual and plural of the noun has disappeared, and the oblique case is used for both. Except in cases of poetic archaism the final nun of the verb has been lost, and, as the final vowels have fallen away in verbs, as well as in nouns, the result is that the jussive forms serve for indicative and subjunctive also. Many of the forms or stems have fallen into desuetude, and the passive forms of two alone are used.

3. Its Uniformity:

One of the most remarkable facts connected with the Hebrew of the Old Testament is that although that literature extends through a period of over 1,000 years, there is almost no difference between the language of the oldest parts and that of the latest. This phenomenon is susceptible of several explanations. In the first place, nearly the whole of the Old Testament literature is religious in character, and as such the earliest writings would become the model for the later, just as the Koran-the first prose work composed in Arabic which has survived-has become the pattern for all future compositions. The same was true for many centuries of the influence of Aristophanes and Euripides upon the language of educated Greeks, and, it is said, of the influence of Confucius upon that of the learned Chinese.

4. The Cause Thereof:

But a chief cause is probably the fact that the Semitic languages do not vary with time, but with place. The Arabic vocabulary used in Morocco differs from that of Egypt, but the Arabic words used in each of these countries have remained the same for centuries-in fact, since Arabic began to be spoken in them. Similarly, the slight differences which are found in the various parts of the Old Testament are to be ascribed, not to a difference of date, but to the fact that some writers belonged to the Southern Kingdom, some to the Northern, some wrote in Palestine, some in Babylonia (compare Nehemiah 13:23, 24 Judges 12:6; Judges 18:3).

5. Differences Due to Age:

The Old Testament literature falls into two main periods: that composed before and during the Babylonian exile, and that which falls after the exile. But even between these two periods the differences of language are comparatively slight, so that it is often difficult or impossible to say on linguistic grounds alone whether a particular chapter is pre-exilic or post-exilic, and scholars of the first rank often hold the most contrary opinions on these points. For instance, Dillmann places the so-called Document P (Priestly Code) before Document D (Deuteronomic Code) in the regal period, whereas most critics date D about 621 and P about 444 B.C.

6. Differences of Style:

It is needless to add that the various writers differ from one another in point of style, but these variations are infinitesimal compared with those of Greek and Latin authors, and are due, as has been said above, largely to locality and environment. Thus the style of Hosea is quite different from that of his contemporary Amos, and that of Deutero-Isaiah shows very distinctly the mark of its place of composition.

7. Foreign Influences:

A much more potent factor in modifying the language was the influence of foreign languages upon Hebrew, especially in respect to vocabulary. The earliest of these was probably Egyptian but of much greater importance was Assyrian, from which Hebrew gained a large number of loan words. It is well known that the Babylonian script was used for commercial purposes throughout Southwestern Asia, even before the Hebrews entered Canaan (see TEXT AND MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT), but the influence of Babylon upon Palestine seems to have been greatly exaggerated. The main point of contact is in the mythology, which may have been common to both peoples. In the later, especially post-exilic stages of the language, many Aramaisms are found in respect to syntax as well as vocabulary; and in later phases still, Persian and even Greek words are found.

8. Poetry and Prose:

As in other languages, so in Hebrew, the vocabulary of the poetical literature differs from that of the prose writers. In Hebrew, however, there is not the hard-and-fast distinction between these two which obtains in the classics. Whenever prose becomes elevated by the importation of feeling, it falls into a natural rhythm which in Hebrew constitutes poetry. Thus most of the so-called prophetical books are poetical in form. Another mark of poetry is a return to archaic grammatical forms, especially the restoration of the final nun in the verb.

9. Home of the Hebrew Language:

The form of Semitic which was indigenous in the land of Canaan is sometimes called Middle Semitic. Before the Israelites entered the country, it was the language of the Canaanites from whom the Hebrews took it over. That Hebrew was not the language of Abraham before his migration appears from the fact that he is called an Aramean (Deuteronomy 26:5), and that Laban's native language was Aramaic (Genesis 31:47). A further point is that the word "Sea" is used for the West and "Negeb" for the South, indicating Palestine as the home of the language (so Isaiah 19:18).

10. Its Antiquity:

As the aboriginal inhabitants of the land of Canaan were not Semites, we cannot infer the existence of the Hebrew language any earlier than the first immigrations of Semites into Palestine, that is, during the third millennium B.C. It would thus be a much younger member of the Semitic family than Assyrian-Babylonian, which exhibits all the marks of great antiquity long before the Hebrew language is met with.

11. When Hebrew Became a Dead Language:

The Babylonian exile sounded the death-knell of the Hebrew language. The educated classes were deported to Babylon or fled to Egypt, and those who remained were not slow to adopt the language used by their conquerors. The old Hebrew became a literary and sacred tongue, the language of everyday life being probably Aramaic. Whatever may be the exact meaning of Nehemiah 8:8, it proves that the people of that time had extreme difficulty in understanding classical Hebrew when it was read to them. Yet for the purpose of religion, the old language continued to be employed for several centuries. For patriotic reasons it was used by the Maccabees, and by Bar Cochba (135 A.D.).


Gesenius, Geschichte der hebr. Sprache und Schrift; Bertheau, "Hebr. Sprache" in RE, 2nd edition; see also "Literature" in the following section.

III. Chief Characteristics of Hebrew.

The special marks which particularly distinguish a language may be found in its alphabet, in its mode of inflection, or in its syntax.

1. Characteristic Sounds:

The Hebrew alphabet is characterized by the large number of guttural sounds which it contains, and these are not mere palatals like the Scotch or German chapter, but true throat sounds, such as are not found in the Aryan languages. Hence, when the Phoenician alphabet passed over into Greece, these unpronounceable sounds, " ` " (`ayin), "ch" (cheth), "h" (he), " ' " ('aleph) were changed into vowels, A, E, H, O. In Hebrew the guttural letters predominate. "In the Hebrew dictionaries the four gutturals occupy considerably more than a fourth part of the volume; the remaining eighteen letters occupying considerably less than three-fourths." Besides the guttural, there are three strong consonants "m" (mem), "q" (qoph), and "ts" (tsade), which are sounded with compression of the larynx, and are quite different from our "t," "k" and "s." In Greek, the first was softened into a "th" (theta), the other two were dropped as letters but retained as numerals.

2. Letters Representing Two Sounds:

Though the Hebrew alphabet comprises no more than 22 letters, these represent some 30 different sounds, for the 6 letters b, g, d, k, p and t, when they fall immediately after a vowel, are pronounced bh(v), gh, dh, kh, ph (f) and th. Moreover, the gutturals "ch" (cheth) and " ` " (`ayin) each represent two distinct sounds, which are still in use in Arabic. The letter "h" is sometimes sounded at the end of a word as at the beginning.

3. Consonants Representing Vowels:

A peculiarity of the Hebrew alphabet is that the letters are all consonants. Four of these, however, were very early used to represent vowel and diphthong sounds, namely, " ' ", "h", "w" and "y". So long as Hebrew was a spoken language no other symbols than these 22 letters were used. It was not until the 7th century A.D. at the earliest that the well-known elaborate system of signs to represent the vowels and other sounds was invented (see TEXT AND MANUSCRIPTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).

4. The Syllable:

A feature of the Hebrew language is that no word or syllable may begin with a vowel: every syllable begins with a consonant. This is also true of the other Semitic languages, except Assyrian-Babylonian. When in the course of word-formation a syllable would begin with a vowel, the slight consonant ' ('aleph) is prefixed. Moreover, more than two consonants may not stand without vowels intervening, as in the English word "strength." At most, two consonants may begin a syllable, and even so a slight vowel is sounded between them, as qero'. A word may end in two consonants without vowels, as 'amart, but no word or syllable ends in more than two.

5. Three-Letter Roots:

The outstanding feature of the Semitic family of languages is the root, consisting of three consonants. Practically, the triliteral root is universal. There are a few roots with more than three letters, but many of the quadriliteral roots are formed by reduplication, as kabkab in Arabic. Many attempts have been made to reduce three-letter stems to two-letter by taking the factors common to several roots of identical meaning. Thus duwm, damah, damam, "to be still," seem all to come from a root d-m. It is more probable, however, that the root is always triliteral, but may appear in various forms.

6. Conjugations or Derived Stems:

From these triliteral roots all parts of the verbs are formed. The root, which, it ought to be stated, is not the infinitive, but the 3rd singular masculine perfect active, expresses the simple idea without qualification, as shabhar, "he broke." The idea of intensity is obtained by doubling the middle stem letter, as shibber, "he broke in fragments"; the passive is expressed by the u-vowel in the first place and the a-vowel in the last, as shubbar, "it was broken in fragments." The reflexive sense prefixes an "n" to the simple root, or a "t" (taw) to the intensive, but the former of these is often used as a passive, as nishbar, "it was broken," hithqaddesh, "he sanctified himself." The causative meaning is given by prefixing the letter "h", as malakh, "he was king," himlikh, "he caused (one) to be king." A somewhat similar method of verb building is found outside the Semitic language, for example, in Turkish. In some of these Semitic languages the number of formations is very numerous. In Hebrew also there are traces of stems other than those generally in use.

7. Absence of Tenses:

There are no tenses in Hebrew, in our sense of the word. There are two states, usually called tenses, the perfect and the imperfect. In the first the action is regarded as accomplished, whether in the past or future, as shabhar, "he broke," "he has broken," "he will have broken," or (in prophetic narrative) "he will break"; in the second, the action is regarded as uncompleted, "he will break," "he was breaking," "he is breaking," etc. The present is often expressed by the participle.

8. The Pronouns:

The different persons, singular and plural, are expressed by affixing to the perfect, and by prefixing to the imperfect, fragments of the personal pronouns, as shabharti, "I broke," shabharnu, "we broke," nishbor, "we will break," and so on. The fragments which are added to the perfect to express the nominative of the pronouns are, with some modification, especially the change of "t" into "k", added to the verb to express the accusative, and to the noun to express the genitive; for example, shabharta, "you broke," shebharekha, "he broke you," bethekha, "your house"; capharnu, "we counted," cepharanu, "he counted us," ciphrenu, "our book."

9. Formation of Nouns:

The same principles are followed in regard to the noun as to the verb. Many nouns consist solely of the three stem-letters articulated with one or with two vowels, except that monosyllables generally become dissyllabic, owing to the difficulty of pronouncing two vowelless consonants together: thus, melekh, "king," cepher, "book," goren, "threshingfloor" (instead of malk, ciphr, gorn), dabhar, "a word or thing," qarobh, "near." Nouns denoting place, instrument, etc., are often formed by prefixing the letter "m" to the root, as mishpat, "justice" from shaphat, "he judged," mazlegh, "a fork." Intensity is, given to the root idea, as in the verb, by doubling the middle consonant: thus, choresh "working," charash (for charrash), "workman"; gonebh, "stealing," gannabh, "a thief." Similarly, words denoting incurable physical defects, 'illem, "dumb," `iwwer, "blind," cheresh (for chirresh), "deaf and dumb." The feminine of nouns, as of the 3rd person of verbs, is formed by adding the letter "t", which when final is softened to "h", gebhirah, "queen-mother," "mistress," but gebhirtekh, "your mistress."

10. Internal Inflexion:

The inflexion of both verbs and nouns is accompanied by a constant lengthening or shortening of the vowels of the word, and this according to two opposite lines. In verbs with vowel-affixes the penultimate vowel disappears, as halakh, "he went," halekhu, "they went"; in the noun the ante-penultimate vowel disappears, as dabhar, "a word," plural debharim. As the vowel system, as stated above, is very late, the vocalization cannot be accepted as that of the living tongue. It represents rather the cantillation of the synagogue; and for this purpose, accents, which had a musical as well as an interpunctional value, have been added.

11. Syntax of the Verb:

Hebrew syntax is remarkable for its simplicity. Simple sentences predominate and are usually connected by the conjunction "and." Subordinate sentences are comparatively rare, but descriptive and temporal clauses are not uncommon. In the main narrative, the predicates are placed at the beginning of the sentence, first simply in the root form (3rd singular masculine), and then only when the subject has been mentioned does the predicate agree with it. Descriptive and temporal clauses may be recognized by their having the subject at the beginning (e.g. Genesis 1:2). A curious turn is given to the narrative by the fact that in the main sentences, if the first verb is perfect, those which follow are imperfect, and vice versa, the conjunction which coordinates them receiving a peculiar vocalization-that of the definite article. In the English Bible, descriptive and temporal clauses are often rendered as if they were parts of the main sentence, for example, in the first verses of Genesis of which the literal translation is somewhat as follows: "At the beginning of God's creating heaven and earth, when the earth was without form and void, and God's spirit (or, a great wind) moved upon the face of the water, God said, Let there be light." It will thus be seen that the structure of Hebrew narrative is not so simple as it appears.

12. Syntax of the Noun:

In the Semitic languages, compound words do not occur, but this deficiency is made up by what is called the construct state. The old rule, that the second of two nouns which depend on one another is put in the genitive, becomes, in Hebrew, the first of two such nouns is put in the construct state. The noun in the construct state loses the definite article, and all its vowels are made as short as possible, just as if it were the beginning of a long word: for example, ha-bayith, "the house," but beth ha-melekh, "the house of the king," "the palace"; dabhar, "a word," but dibhere ruach, "words of wind," "windy words."

13. Poverty of Adjectives:

The Hebrew language is very poor in adjectives, but this is made up for by a special use of the construct state just mentioned. Thus to express magnitude the word "God" is added in the gen. case, as in the example above (Genesis 1:2), "a mighty wind" = a wind of God; Psalm 36:6, "the lofty mountains" = the mountains of God (so 68:15); 80:10, "goodly cedars" = cedars of God; so "a holy man" = a man of God; "the sacred box" = the ark of God, and so on; compare in the New Testament, Matthew 27:54, "the son of God" = Luke 23:47, "a righteous (man)." Matthew was thinking in Aramaic, Luke in Greek. A similar use is made of other words, e.g. "stubborn" = hard of neck; "impudent" = hard of face; "extensive" = broad of hands; "miserable" = bitter of soul.


The articles on the Hebrew Language in Schenkel's Bibel-Lexikon, 1875, by Noldeke; in Encyclopedia Brit, 9th edition, by Robertson Smith; 11th edition by Noldeke; in the Imperial Bible Dict., 1866, by T. H. Weir; also those in HDB, EB.


A. B. Davidson's Elementary Hebrew Grammar and Syntax; Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, English translation by Cowley, 2nd edition.


Brown, Briggs and Driver, Hebrew and English Lexicon; Gesenius, Handworterbuch, 15th edition; Feyerabend, Hebrew-English Pocket Dictionary; Breslau, English and Hebrew Dictionary.

IV. Biblical Aramaic.

1. Aramaic Portions of the Old Testament:

The Aramaic portions of the Old Testament are the following: Ezra 4:8-6:18; Ezra 7:11-26 Daniel 2:4-7:28 Genesis 31:47 (two words); Jeremiah 10:11. The language in which they are written used to be called Chaldee, but is now generally known simply as Biblical Aramaic. It represents a further declension from classical Semitic as compared with the Hebrew. The following are the principal points in which Biblical Aramaic differs from Hebrew.

2. Phonology:

The accent is placed on the last syllable, the first vowel disappearing, e.g. `abhadh for Hebrew `abhadh. It is curious that the same feature is found in Algerene and Moroccan Arabic: thus qacr becomes qcar. Dentals take the place of sibilants: dehabh for zahabh; telath for shalosh. The strong Hebrew "ts" (tsade) frequently becomes " ` " (`ayin), and Hebrew " ` " (`ayin) becomes " ' " ('aleph): thus, 'ar`a' for 'erets; `uq for tsuq.

3. Grammar:

In Hebrew the definite article is the prefix hal (ha-); in Aramaic the affix a'; the latter, however, has almost lost its force. The dual is even more sparingly used than in Hebrew. The passive forms of verbs and those beginning with nun ("n") are practically wanting; the passive or reflexive forms are made by prefixing the letter "t" to the corresponding active forms, and that much more regularly than in Hebrew, there being three active and three passive forms.

4. Syntax:

In regard to syntax there is to be noted the frequent use of the participle instead of a finite verb, as in Hebrew; the disuse of the conjunction "and" with the vocalization of the article; and the disuse of the construct state in nouns, instead of which a circumlocution with the relative di is employed, e.g. tselem di dhehabh, "an image of gold." The same periphrasis is found also in West African Arabic.

5. Aramaic More Decadent than Hebrew:

It will thus be seen that if Hebrew represents a decadent form of an original classical language which was very similar to classical Arabic, Biblical Arabic stands on a still lower level. It is not to be supposed that Hebrew passed into Aramaic, though on the analogy of Arabic that view is not untenable. Rather, the different Semitic languages became fixed at different epochs. Arabic as a literary language crystallized almost at the source; Hebrew and the spoken Arabic of the East far down the stream; and Aramaic and Moroccan Arabic farthest down of all.


Kautzsch, Grammatik; Strack, Abriss des bibl. Aramaisch; Marti, Bibl. aram. Sprache; the articles on "Aramaic" or "Chaldee" in the Biblical Dicts. cited under III, and article ARAMAIC LANGUAGE in this Encyclopedia; the Hebrew text of Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, edition by Baer. Hebrew Dictionaries. generally include Biblical Aramaic.

V. Literary Characteristics of the Semites.

1. Concrete and Abstract:

The thinking of the Hebrews, like that of other Semites, was done, not in the abstract, but in the concrete. Thus, we find the material put for the immaterial, the expression for the thought, the instrument for the action, the action for the feeling. This mode of expression frequently gives rise to striking anthropomorphisms. Thus we have the eye for watchfulness or care (Psalm 33:18); the long hand for far-reaching powers (Isaiah 59:1); broken teeth for defeated malice (Psalm 3:7); the sword for slaughter (Psalm 78:62); haughty eyes for superciliousness (Proverbs 6:17); to say in the heart for to think (Psalm 10:6). It would be an interesting study to examine to what extent these expressions have been taken over from Hebrew into English.

2. View of Nature:

The Hebrew does not know the distinction between animate and inanimate Nature. All Nature is animate (Psalm 104:29). The little hills rejoice (Psalm 65:12); the mountains skip (Psalm 114:4); the trees clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12); even the stones may cry out (Luke 19:40). Such expressions are not to be taken as mere poetical figures of speech; they are meant quite literally. All Nature is one: man is merely a part of Nature (Psalm 104:23), even if he be the highest part (Psalm 8:5). Hence, perhaps, it arises that there is no neuter gender in the Semitic languages.

3. Pictorial Imagination:

The highly imaginative nature of the Hebrew comes into play when he is recounting past events or writing history. To his mind's eye all past events are present. He sees history taking place before his eyes as in a picture. Thus the perfect may generally be translated by the English past tense with "have," the imperfect by the English present tense with "is" or "is going to." In livelier style the participle is used: "They are entering the city, and behold Samuel is coming out to meet them" (1 Samuel 9:14). Hence, the oratio recta is always used in preference to the oratio obliqua. Moreover, the historian writes exactly as the professional story-teller narrates. Hence, he is always repeating himself and returning upon his own words (1 Samuel 5:1, 2).

4. Prose and Poetry:

A result of the above facts is that there is no hard-and-fast distinction in Hebrew between prose and poetry. Neither is there in Hebrew, or in the Semitic language generally, epic or dramatic poetry, because their prose possesses these qualities in a greater degree than does the poetry of other races. All Hebrew poetry is lyric or didactic. In it there is no rhyme nor meter. The nearest approach to meter is what is called the qinah strophe, in which each verse consists of two parallel members, each member having five words divided into three and then two. The best example of this is to be found in Psalm 19:7-9, and also in the Book of LAMENTATIONS (which see), from which the verse has received its name.

Read Complete Article...



The Term "Law"

Austin's Definition of Law


1. The Law in the Teaching of Christ

(1) Authority of the Law Upheld in the Sermon on the Mount

(a) Christ and Tradition

(b) Sin of Murder

(c) Adultery and Divorce

(d) Oaths

(e) Retaliation

(f) Love to Neighbors-Love of Enemies

(2) Other References to the Law in the Teaching of Christ

(a) Traditions of the Elders and the 5th Commandment

(b) Christ's Answer to the Young Ruler

(c) Christ's Answer to the Lawyer

(d) References in the Fourth Gospel

2. The Law in Relation to the Life of Christ

(1) In His Infancy

(2) In His Ministry

3. The Law in Relation to the Death of Christ

(1) Christ Charged with Blasphemy under the Jewish Law

(2) Christ Charged with Treason under the Roman Law

4. How Christ Fulfilled the Law in All Its Parts


1. Stephen's Witness

2. Practice of Peter and Paul

3. Allusions to the Roman Law


1. In Romans

2. In Galatians

3. In the Other Pauline Epistles

4. In the Epistle to the Hebrews

5. In the Epistle of James

6. In the Epistles of Peter and John


The Term "Law":

The Greek word for "law" is nomos, derived from nemo, "to divide," "distribute," "apportion," and generally meant anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, usage, law; in the New Testament a command, law.

Austin's Definition of Law:

It may not be amiss to note the definition of law given by a celebrated authority in jurisprudence, the late Mr. John Austin: "A law, in the most general and comprehensive acceptation in which the term, in its literal meaning, is employed, may be said to be a rule laid down for the guidance of an intelligent being, by an intelligent being having power over him." Under this comprehensive statement, he classifies "laws set by God to His human creatures, and laws set by men to men." After analyzing the three ideas, command as the expression of a particular desire; duty or obligation, signifying that one is bound or obliged by the command to pursue a certain course of conduct, and sanction, indicating the evil likely to be incurred by disobedience, he thus summarizes: "The ideas or notions comprehended by the term command are the following:

(1) a wish or desire conceived by a rational being that another rational being shall do or forbear;

(2) an evil to proceed from the former and to be incurred by the latter in case the latter comply not with the wish;

(3) an expression or intimation of the wish by words or other signs."

This definition makes it clear that the term "laws of nature" can be used only in a metaphorical sense, the metaphorical application being suggested as Austin shows by the fact that uniformity or stability of conduct is one of the ordinary consequences of a law proper, consequently, "Wherever we observe a uniform order of events, or a uniform order of coexisting phenomena, we are prone to impute that order to a law set by its author, though the case presents us with nothing that can be likened to a sanction or a duty." As used in the New Testament it will be found generally that the term "law" bears the sense indicated by Austin, and includes "command," "duty" and "sanction."

I. Law in the Gospels.

Naturally we first turn to the Gospels, where the word "law" always refers to the Mosaic law, although it has different applications. That law was really threefold: the Moral Law, as summed up in the Decalogue, the Ceremonial Law, prescribing the ritual and all the typical enactments, and what might be called the Civil or Political Law, that relating to the people in their national, political life. The distinction is not closely observed, though sometimes the reference emphasizes one aspect, sometimes another, but generally the whole Law without any discrimination is contemplated. Sometimes the Law means the whole Old Testament Scriptures, as in John 10:34; John 12:34; John 15:25. At other times the Law means the Pentateuch, as in Luke 24:44.

1. The Law in the Teaching of Christ:

The Law frequently appears in the teaching of Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount He refers most specifically and fully to it. It is frequently asserted that He there exposes the imperfection of the Law and sets His own authority against its authority. But this seems to be a superficial and an untenable view. Christ indeed affirms very definitely the authority of the Law: "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets" (Matthew 5:17). Here the term would seem to mean the whole of the Pentateuch "I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished" (Matthew 5:17, 18). A similar utterance is recorded in Luke 16:17: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall."

(1) Authority of the Law Upheld in the Sermon on the Mount.

The perfection and permanence of the Law as well as its authority are thus indicated, and the following verse in Matthew still further emphasizes the authority, while showing that now the Lord is speaking specifically of the moral law of the Decalogue: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (5:19). These impressive sentences should be borne in mind in considering, the utterances that follow, in which there seems a contrast between the Law and His own teaching, and from which has been drawn the inference that He condemns and practically abrogates the Law. What Jesus really does is to bring out the fullness of meaning that is in the Law, and to show its spirituality and the wideness of its reach. He declares that the righteousness of His disciples must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). Their righteousness consisted largely in a punctilious observance of the external requirements of the Law; the disciples must yield heart obedience to the inner spirit of the Law, its external and internal requirements.

(a) Christ and Tradition:

Jesus then proceeds to point out the contrast, not so much between His own teaching and that of the Law, as between His interpretation of the Law and the interpretation of other teachers: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time" (the King James Version), "to them of old time" the Revised Version (British and American) (Matthew 5:21). Either rendering is grammatically allowable, but in either case it is evidently not the original utterance of Moses, but the traditional interpretation, which He had in view "Ye have heard that it was said"; Christ's usual way of quoting the Old Testament is, "It is written" or some other formula pointing to the written Word; and as He has just referred to the written Law as a whole, it would be strange if He should now use the formula "It was said" in reference to the particular precepts. Evidently He means what was said by the Jewish teachers.

(b) Sin of Murder:

This is further confirmed by the citations: "Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment." The second clause is not found in the Pentateuch as a distinct statement, but it is clearly the generalization of the teachers. Christ does not set Himself in opposition to Moses; rather does He enjoin obedience to the precepts of the scribes when, sitting in Moses' seat, they truly expound the Law (Matthew 23:1-8). But these teachers had so expounded the command as if it only referred to the act of murder; so Christ shows the full and true spiritual meaning of it: "But I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:22).


(c) Adultery and Divorce:

Again, "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Matthew 5:27). The traditional teaching confined this mainly to the outward act, `But I say unto you,' says Christ, `that adultery pertains even to the lustful thought' (Matthew 5:28). In dealing with this matter He passes to the law of divorce which was one of the civil enactments, and did not stand on the same level with the moral precept against committing adultery, nay, the very carrying out of the civil provision might lead to a real breach of the moral precept, and in the interests of the precept itself, in the very desire to uphold the authority of the moral law, Christ pronounces against divorce on any ground, save that of fornication. Later on, as recorded in Matthew 19:3-9, He was questioned about this same law of divorce, and again He condemns the light way in which divorce was treated by the Jews, and affirms strongly the sanctity of the marriage institution, showing that it was antecedent to the Mosaic code-was from the beginning, and derived its binding force from the Divine pronouncement in Genesis 2:24, rounded upon the nature of things; while as to the Mosaic law of divorce, lie declares that it was permitted on account of the hardness of their hearts, but that no other cause than fornication was sufficient to dissolve the marriage tie. This civil enactment, justified originally on account of the inability of the people to rise to the true moral ideal of the Decalogue, Christ claims authority to transcend, but in doing so He vindicates and upholds the law which said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."


(d) Oaths:

The next precept Jesus cites is one partly civil and partly ritual, concerning the taking of oaths. The words are not found in the Pentateuch as a definite enactment; they are rather a gathering up of several utterances (Leviticus 19:12 Numbers 30:2 Deuteronomy 23:21), and again the form of the citation suggests that it is the rabbinical interpretation that is in question. But the kind of swearing allowed by the law was the very opposite of ordinary profane swearing. It was intended, indeed, to guard the 3rd commandment against taking the name of Yahweh in vain. Christ in condemning the flippant oaths allowed by the rabbis was really asserting the authority of that 3rd command; lie was enforcing its spirituality and claiming the reverence due to the Divine name. Into the question how far the words of Christ bear upon oath-taking in a court of law we need not enter. His own response to the adjuration of the high priest when practically put upon His oath (Matthew 26:63, 64) and other instances (Romans 1:9 2 Corinthians 1:23 Galatians 1:20 Philippians 1:8 1 Thessalonians 2:5 Hebrews 6:16, 17 Revelation 10:5, 6) would tend to show that such solemn appeals to God are not embraced in Christ's prohibition: "Swear not at all"; but undoubtedly the ideal speech is that of the simple asseveration, the "Yes" or "No" of the man, who, conscious that he speaks in the presence of God, reckons his word inviolable, needing no strengthening epithet, though as between man and man an oath may be necessary for confirmation and an end of strife.


(e) Retaliation:

He next touches upon the "law of retaliation": "an eye for an eye" (Matthew 5:38), and consistently with our understanding of the other sayings, we think that here Christ is dealing with the traditional interpretation which admitted of personal revenge, of men taking the law into their own hands and revenging themselves. Such a practice Christ utterly condemns, and inculcates instead gentleness and forbearance, the outcome of love even toward enemies. This law, indeed, finds place among the Mosaic provisions, but it appears there, not as allowing personal spite to gratify itself in its own way, but as a political enactment to be carried out by the magistrates and so to discountenance private revenge. Christ shows that the spirit of His gospel received by His people would supersede the necessity for these. requirements of the civil code; although His words are not to be interpreted quite literally, for He himself when smitten on the one cheek did not turn the other to the smiter (John 18:22, 23), and the principle of the law of retaliation still holds good in the legislative procedure of all civilized nations, and according to the New Testament teaching, will find place even in the Divine procedure in the day of judgment.


(f) Love to Neighbors-Love of Enemies:

The last saying mentioned in the Sermon clearly reveals its rabbinical character: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy" (Matthew 5:43). The first part is indeed the injunction of the Law, the second part is an unwarrantable addition to it. It is only this part that Christ virtually condemns when He says, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44). That the interpretation of these teachers was unwarrantable may be seen from many passages in the Pentateuch, the Prophets and the Psalms, which set forth the more spiritual aspect of the Law's requirement; and as to this particular precept, we need only refer to Proverbs 25:21, 22, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat." Christ while condemning the addition unfolds the spiritual import of the command itself, for the love of neighbor rightly interpreted involves love of enemies; and so on another occasion (Luke 10:25-37) He answers the lawyer's question, "Who is my neighbor?" by the parable of the Good Samaritan, showing that everyone in need is our neighbor.


The last reference in the Sermon on the Mount to the Law fully bears out the idea that Christ really upheld the authority while elucidating the spirituality of the Law, for He declares that the principle embodied in the "Golden Rule" is a deduction from, is, indeed, the essence of, "the law and the prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

(2) Other References to the Law in the Teaching of Christ.

We can only glance at the other references to the Law in the teaching of Christ. In Matthew 11:13, "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John," the Law in its teaching capacity is in view, and perhaps the whole of the Pentateuch is meant. In Matthew 12:1-8, in rebutting the charge brought against His disciples of breaking the Sabbath, He cites the case of David and his men eating the showbread, which it was not lawful for any but the priests to partake of; and of the priests doing work on the Sabbath day which in other men would be a breach of the Law; from which He deduces the conclusion that the ritual laws may be set aside under stress of necessity and for a higher good. In that same chapter (12:10-13) He indicates the lawfulness of healing-doing good-on the Sabbath day.

(a) Traditions of the Elders and the 5th Commandment:

In Matthew 15:1-6 we have the account of the Pharisees complaining that the disciples transgressed the traditions of the elders by eating with unwashed hands. Jesus retorts upon them with the question: "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" citing the specific case of the 5th commandment which was evaded and virtually broken by their ingenious distinction of qorban. This is a very instructive incident in its bearing upon the point which we have sought to enforce-that it was the traditional interpretation and not the Law itself which Jesus condemned or corrected.

(b) Christ's Answer to the Young Ruler:

To the young ruler (Matthew 19:16-42) He presents the commandments as the rule of life, obedience to which is the door to eternal life, especially emphasizing the manward aspect of the Law's claims. The young man, professing to have kept them all, shows that he has not grasped the spirituality of their requirements, and it is further to test him that Christ calls upon him to make the "great renunciation" which, after all, is not in itself an additional command so much as the unfolding of the spiritual and far-reaching character of the command, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

(c) Christ's Answer to the Lawyer:

To the lawyer who asks Him which is the great commandment in the Law, He answers by giving him the sum of the whole moral law. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:35-39). In Mark's report (Mark 12:31), He adds, "There is none other commandment greater than these," and in that of Matthew He says, "On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40); both utterances showing the high estimation in which He held the Law.

(d) References in the Fourth Gospel:

In His discussion with the Jews, recorded in John 7, He charges them with failure to keep the Law: "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you doeth the law?" (7:19). And referring to the healing of the impotent man on the Sabbath day, a deed which had roused their ire, He shows how one law may conflict with another. Moses had enjoined circumcision, and sometimes the time for circumcising would fall on the Sabbath day. Yet with all their reverence for the Sabbath day, they would, in order to keep the law of circumcision, perform the rite on the Sabbath day, and so, He argues, it is unreasonable to complain of Him because on the Sabbath day He had fulfilled the higher law of doing good, healing a poor sufferer. In none of all Christ's utterances is there any slight thrown upon the Law itself; it is always held up as the standard of right and its authority vindicated.

2. The Law in Relation to the Life of Christ:

The passages we have considered show the place of the Law in the teaching of Christ, but we also find that He had to sustain a practical relation to that Law. Born under the Law, becoming part of a nation which honored and venerated the Law, every part of whose life was externally regulated by it, the life of Jesus Christ could not fail to be affected by that Law. We note its operation:

(1) In His Infancy.

On the eighth day He was circumcised (Luke 2:21), thus being recognized as a member of the covenant nation, partaking of its privileges, assuming its responsibilities. Then, according to the ritual law of purification, He is presented in the temple to the Lord (Luke 2:22-24), while His mother offers the sacrifice enjoined in the "law of the Lord," the sacrifice she brings pathetically witnessing to her poverty, "a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons" being the alternative allowed to those who were not able to provide a lamb (Leviticus 12). The Divine approval is set upon this consecrating act, for it is while it is being done concerning Him after "the custom of the law" (Leviticus 12:27), that the Spirit of God comes upon Simeon and prompts the great prophecy which links all the Messianic hopes with the Baby of Bethlehem.

Again, according to the Law His parents go up to the Passover feast when the wondrous child has reached His 12th year, the age when a youthful Jew assumed legal responsibility, becoming "a son of the Law," and so Jesus participates in the festal observances, and His deep interest in all that concerns the temple-worship and the teaching of the Law is shown by His absorption in the conversation of the doctors, whose questions He answers so intelligently, while questioning them in turn, and filling them with astonishment at His understanding (Luke 2:42-47).

(2) In His Ministry.

In His ministry He ever honors the Law. He reads it in the synagogue. He heals the leper by His sovereign touch and word, but He bids him go and show himself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded (Matthew 8:4). And again, when the lepers appeal to Him, His response which implies the healing is, "Go and show yourselves unto the priests" (Luke 17:14). He drives out of the temple those that defile it (Matthew 21:12, 13 John 2:15-17), because of His zeal for the honor of His Father's house, and so, while showing His authority, emphasizes the sanctity of the temple and its services. So, while claiming to be the Son in the Father's house, and therefore above the injunctions laid upon the servants and strangers, He nevertheless pays the temple-tax exacted from every son of Israel (Matthew 17:24-27). He attends the various feasts during His ministry, and when the shadows of death are gathering round Him, He takes special pains to observe the Passover with His disciples. Thus to the ceremonial law He renders continuous obedience, the motto of His life practically being His great utterance to the Baptist: "Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). If He obeyed the ceremonial law, unquestionably He obeyed the moral law. His keenest-eyed enemies could find no fault in Him in regard to His moral conduct. His absolute sinlesshess attests the translation of the moral law into actual life.

3. The Law in Relation to the Death of Christ:

We enter not upon theological question as to the relation of the death of Christ to the penal inflictions of the Law Divinely enforced on behalf of sinners-that touches the doctrine of the Atonement-we only note the fact that His death was brought about in professed accordance with the Law. The chief priests, in hatred, sent officers to take Him, but overawed by His matchless eloquence, these officers returned empty-handed. In their chagrin, the chief priests can only say that the people who follow Him now not the Law and are cursed (John 7:49). Nicodemus, on this occasion, ventures to remonstrate: "Doth our law judge a man, except it first hear from himself?" (John 7:51). This sound legal principle these men are bent on disregarding; their one desire is to put an end to the life of this man, who has aroused their jealousy and hatred, and at last when they get Him into their hands, they strain the forms of the Law to accomplish their purpose. There is no real charge that can be brought against Him. They dare not bring up the plea that He broke the Sabbath, for again and again He has answered their cavils on that score. He has broken no law; all they can do is to bribe false witnesses to testify something to His discredit. The trumpery charge, founded upon a distorted reminiscence of His utterance about destroying the temple, threatens to break down.

(1) Christ Charged with Blasphemy under the Jewish Law.

Then the high priest adjures Him to say upon oath whether or not He claims to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Such a claim would assuredly, if unfounded, be blasphemy, and according to the Law, be punishable by death. On a previous occasion the Jews threatened to stone Him for this-to them-blasphemous claim. Now when Jesus calmly avows that He is the Son of God, the high priest, rending his clothes, declares that no further proof is needed. He has confessed to the blasphemy, and unanimously the council votes Him worthy of death (Matthew 26 Mark 14 Luke 22). If Jesus Christ were not what He claimed to be, then the priests were right in holding Him guilty of blasphemy; it never occurred to them to consider whether the claim after all might not be true.

(2) Christ Charged with Treason under the Roman Law.

Not only is the Jewish law invoked to accomplish His death, but also the Roman law. On one other occasion Christ had come into touch with the law of Rome, namely, when asked the ensnaring question by the Herodians as to the lawfulness of giving tribute to Caesar (Matthew 22:17 Mark 12:14 Luke 20:22). Now the Jews need the Roman governor's authorization for the death penalty, and Jesus must be tried before him. The charge cannot now be blasphemy-the Roman law will have nothing to say to that-and so they trump up a charge of treason against Caesar.

In preferring it, they practically renounce their Messianic hopes. The charge, however, breaks down before the Roman tribunal, and only by playing on the weakness of Pilate do they gain their end, and the Roman law decrees His death, while leaving the Jews to see to the carrying out of the sentence. In this the evangelist sees the fulfillment of Christ's words concerning the manner of His death, for stoning would have been the Jewish form of the death penalty, not crucifixion.

SeeJESUS CHRIST, III, E), ii, 3, 4.

4. How Christ Fulfilled the Law in All Its Parts:

Looking at the whole testimony of the Gospels, we can see how it was that Christ fulfilled the Law. He fulfilled the moral law by obeying, by bringing out its fullness of meaning, by showing its intense spirituality, and He established it on a surer basis than ever as the eternal law of righteousness. He fulfilled the ceremonial and typical law, not only by conforming to its requirements, but by realizing its spiritual significance. He filled up the shadowy outlines of the types, and, thus fulfilled, they pass away, and it is no longer necessary for us to observe the Passover or slay the daily lamb: we have the substance in Christ. He also cleared the Law from the traditional excrescences which had gathered round it under the hands of the rabbis. He showed that the ceremonial distinction between meats clean and unclean was no longer necessary, but showed the importance of true spiritual purity (Matthew 15:11 Mark 7:18-23). He taught His disciples those great principles when, after His resurrection, "beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). And as He opened their mind that they might understand the Scriptures, He declared, "These are my words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24:44). John sums this up in his pregnant phrase, "The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The grace was in contrast to the condemnation of the moral law, the truth was the antithesis to the shadowy outline of the types and ceremonies.

II. Law in the Acts of the Apostles.

Without considering questions of authenticity and historicity in relation to this book which professes to be the earliest church history, we briefly note the place of the Law therein indicated. In the book we have an account of the transition from Judaism to fully developed Christianity, and the Law comes into view in various ways. The disciples, like other Jews, observe the feast of Pentecost, and even after the descent of the Spirit, they frequent the temple and observe the hours of prayer.

1. Stephen's Witness:

The full-orbed gospel proclaimed by Stephen arouses the suspicion and enmity of the stricter sects of the Jews, who accuse him before the council of speaking blasphemous words against the holy place and the Law. But this was the testimony of suborned witnesses, having doubtless its foundation in the fact that Stephen's teaching emphasized the grace of the gospel. Stephen's own defense honors the Law as given by Moses, "who received living oracles" (Acts 7:38), shows how disloyal the people had been, and closes by charging them not only with rejecting and slaying the Righteous One, but of failing to keep the Law "as it was ordained by angels" (Acts 7:53).

2. Practice of Peter and Paul:

Peter's strict observance of the ceremonial law is shown in connection with his vision which teaches him that the grace of God may pass beyond the Jewish pale (Acts 10). Paul's preaching emphasizes the fulfilling the Scriptures, Law and Prophecy, by Jesus Christ. The gist of his message, as given in his first reported sermon, is, "By him everyone that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38 f). The conversion of the Gentiles brings up the question of their relation to the ceremonial law, specifically to circumcision. The decision of the council at Jerusalem treats circumcision as unnecessary for the Gentiles, and only enjoins, in relation to the Mosaic ritual, abstinence from things strangled and from blood (Acts 15). The after-course of events would show that this provision was for the time of transition.

Read Complete Article...



1. Torah ("Law")

2. Synonyms of Torah

(1) Mitswah ("Command")

(2) `Edhah ("Witness," "Testimony")

(3) MishpaTim ("Judgments")

(4) Chuqqim ("Statutes")

(5) Piqqudhim ("Precepts")


1. The Critical Dating of the Laws

2. Groups of Laws in P (the Priestly Code)

3. The Book of the Covenant

(1) Judgments. Compared with Code of Hammurabi

(2) Basis of Law of Covenant. Earlier Customs

4. The Book of the Law of Deuteronomy 31

5. The Law of Holiness

6. The Final Compilation


1. The Civil Law

(1) Servants and the Poor

(2) Punishments

(3) Marriage

(4) Sabbaths and Feasts

2. The Ceremonial Law

(1) Origin of Sacrifice

(2) The Levitical Ritual

(3) The Law Truly a Torah



Law, at least as custom, certainly existed among the Hebrews in the times before Moses, as appears from numerous allusions to it, both in matters civil and ceremonial, in the earlier Scriptures. But we have no distinct account of such law, either as to its full contents or its enactment. Law in the Old Testament practically means the Law promulgated by Moses (having its roots no doubt in this earlier law or custom), with sundry later modifications or additions, rules as to which have been inserted in the record of the Mosaic law.

The following are matters of pre-Mosaic law or custom to which allusion is made in Genesis and Exodus: the offering of sacrifice and the use of altars (Genesis, passim); the religious use of pillars (Genesis 28:18); purification for sacrifice (Genesis 35:2); tithes (Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22); circumcision (Genesis 17:10 Exodus 4:25 f); inquiry at a sanctuary (Genesis 25:22); sacred feasts (Exodus 5:1, etc.); priests (Exodus 19:22); sacred oaths (Genesis 14:22); marriage customs (Genesis 16; 24; 25:06:00; 29:16-30); birthright (Genesis 25:31-34); elders (Genesis 24:2; Genesis 50:7 Exodus 3:16); homicide (Genesis 9:6), etc. We proceed at once to the Law of Moses.

I. Terms Used.

The Hebrew word rendered "law" in our Bibles is torah. Other synonymous words either denote (as indeed does torah itself) aspects under which the Law may be regarded, or different classes of law.

1. Torah ("Law"):

Torah is from horah, the Hiphil of yarah. The root meaning is "to throw"; hence, in Hiphil the word means "to point out" (as by throwing out the hand), and so "to direct"; and torah is "direction." Torah may be simply "human direction," as the "law of thy mother" in Proverbs 1:8; but most often in the Old Testament it is the Divine law. In the singular it often means a law, the plural being used in the same sense; but more frequently torah in the singular is the general body of Divinely given law. The word tells nothing as to the way in which the Law, or any part of it, was first given; it simply points out the general purpose of the Law, namely, that it was for the guidance of God's people in the various matters to which it relates. This shows that the end of the Law lay beyond the mere obedience to such and such rules, that end being instruction in the knowledge of God and of men's relation to Him, and guidance in living as the children of such a God as He revealed Himself to be. This is dwelt upon in the later Scriptures, notably in Psalm 19 and Psalm 119.

In the completed Canon of the Old Testament, torah technically denotes the Pentateuch (Luke 24:44) as being that division of the Old Testament Scriptures which contains the text of the Law, and its history down to the death of Moses, the great lawgiver.

2. Synonyms of Torah:

(1) Mitswah ("Command")

Mitswah, "command" (or, in the plural, "commands"), is a term applied to the Law as indicating that it is a charge laid upon men as the expression of God's will, and therefore that it must be obeyed.

(2) `Edhah ("Witness," "Testimony")

`Edhah, "witness" or "testimony" (in plural "testimonies"), is a designation of God's law as testifying the principles of His dealings with His people. So the ark of the covenant is called the "ark of the testimony" (Exodus 25:22), as containing "the testimony" (Exodus 25:16), i.e. the tables of the Law upon which the covenant was based. The above terms are general, applying to the torah at large; the two next following are of more restricted application.

(3) MishpaTim ("Judgments")

MishpaTim, "judgments": MishpaT in the singular sometimes means judgment in an abstract sense, as in Genesis 18:19 Deuteronomy 32:4; sometimes the act of judging, as in Deuteronomy 16:18, 19; Deuteronomy 17:9; Deuteronomy 24:17. But "judgments" (in the plural) is a term constantly used in connection with, and distinction from, statutes, to indicate laws of a particular kind, namely, laws which, though forming part of the torah by virtue of Divine sanction, originated in decisions of judges upon cases brought before them for judgment. See further below.

(4) Chuqqim ("Statutes")

Chuqqim, "statutes" (literally, "laws engraven"), are laws immediately enacted by a lawgiver. "Judgments and statutes" together comprise the whole law (Leviticus 18:4 Deuteronomy 4:1, 8 the King James Version). So also we now distinguish between consuetudinary and statute law.

(5) Piqqudhim ("Precepts")

Piqqudhim, "precepts": This term is found only in the Psalms. It seems to mean rules or counsels provided to suit the various circumstances in which men may be placed. The term may perhaps be meant to apply both to the rules of the actual torah, and to others found, e.g. in the writings of prophets and "wise men."

II. The Written Record of the Law.

The enactment of the Law and its committal to writing must be distinguished. With regard to the former, it is distinctly stated (John 1:17) that "the law was given through Moses"; and though this does not necessarily imply that every regulation found in the Pentateuch is his, a large number of the laws are expressly ascribed to him. As regards the latter, we are distinctly told that Moses wrote certain laws or collections of laws (Exodus 17:14; Exodus 24:4, 7 Deuteronomy 31:9). These, however, form only a portion of the whole legislation; and therefore, whether the remaining portions were written by Moses, or-if not by him-when and by whom, is a legitimate matter of inquiry.

It is not necessary here to discuss the large question of the literary history of the Pentateuch, but it must briefly be touched upon. The Pentateuch certainly appears to have reached its present form by the gradual piecing together of diverse materials. Deuteronomy (D) being a separate composition, a distinction would seem to have been clearly established by critical examination between a number of paragraphs in the remaining books which apparently must once have formed a narrative by themselves, and other paragraphs, partly narrative but chiefly legislative and statistical, which appear to have been subsequently added. Without endorsing any of the critical theories as to the relation of these, one to the other, or as to the dates of their composition, we may, in a general way, accept the analysis, and adopt the well-known symbol JE (Jahwist-Elohim) to distinguish the former, and P (Priestly Code) the latter. Confining ourselves to their legislative contents, we find in JE a short but very important body of law, the Law of the Covenant, stated in full in Exodus 20-23, and repeated as to a portion of it in Exodus 34:10-28. All the rest of the legislation is contained in P and Deuteronomy.

1. The Critical Dating of the Laws:

We are distinctly told in Exodus that the law contained in Exodus 20-23 was given through Moses. Rejecting this statement, critics of the school of Wellhausen affirm that its true date must be placed considerably later than the time of Joshua. They maintain that previous to their conquest of Canaan the Israelites were mere nomads, ignorant of agriculture, the practice of which, as well as their culture in general, they first learned from the conquered Canaanites. Therefore (so they argue), as the law of Exodus 20-23 presupposes the practice of agriculture, it cannot have been promulgated until some time in the period of the Judges at the earliest; they place it indeed in the early period of the monarchy. All this, however, is mere assumption, support for which is claimed in some passages in which a shepherd life is spoken of, but with utter disregard of others which show that both in the patriarchal period and in Egypt the Israelites also cultivated land. See B.D. Eerdmans, "Have the Hebrews Been Nomads?" The Expositor, August and October, 1908. It can indeed be shown that this law was throughout in harmony with what must have been the customs and conceptions of the Israelites at the age of the exodus (Rule, Old Testament Institutions). Professor Eerdmans in his Alttestamentliche Studien, Part III (1910), vigorously defends the Mosaic origin of the Book of the Covenant.

The same critics bring down the date of the legislation of Deuteronomy to the time of Josiah, or at most a few years earlier. They affirm (wrongly) that the chief object of Josiah's reformation narrated in 2 Kings 23 was the centralization of worship at the temple in Jerusalem. They rightly attribute the zeal which carried the reform through to the discovery of the "Book of the Law" (22:8). Then arguing that the frequent previous practice of worship at high places implied the non-existence of any law to the contrary, they conclude that the rule of Deuteronomy 12 was a rule recently laid down by the temple priesthood, and written in a book in Moses' name, this new book being what was "found in the house of Yahweh." But this argument is altogether unsound: its grave difficulties are well set out in Moller's Are the Critics Right? And here again careful study vindicates the Mosaic character of the law of Deuteronomy as a whole and of Deuteronomy 12 in particular. M. Edouard Naville in La decouverte de la loi sous le roi Josias propounds a theory which he supports by a most interesting argument: that the book found was a foundation deposit, which must therefore have been built over by masonry at the erection of the temple by Solomon.

Equally unsound, however plausible, are the arguments which would make the framing of the Levitical ritual the work of the age of Ezra. The difficulties created by this theory are far greater than those which it is intended to remove. On this also see Moller, Are the Critics Right?

Rejecting these theories, it will be assumed in the present article that the various laws are of the dates ascribed to them in the Pentateuch; that whatever may be said as to the date of some "of the laws," all which are therein ascribed to Moses are truly so ascribed.

2. Groups of Laws in P (the Priestly Code):

The laws in P are arranged for the most part in groups, with which narrative is sometimes intermingled. These e.g. are some of the groups: Exodus 25-31; Leviticus 1-7; 15-Nov; Numbers 1-4, etc. The structure and probable history of these groups are very interesting. That many of them must have undergone interpolation appears certain from the following considerations. Each of the groups, and often one or more paragraphs within a group, is headed by a recurring formula, "Yahweh spake unto Moses (or unto Aaron, or unto Moses and Aaron), saying." We might at first expect that the contents of each group or paragraph so headed would consist solely of what Yahweh had said unto Moses or Aaron, but this is not always so. Not infrequently some direction is found within such a paragraph which cannot have been spoken to Moses, but must have come into force at some later date. Unless then we reject the statement of the formula, unless we are prepared to say that Yahweh did not speak unto Moses, we can only conclude that these later directions were at some time inserted by an editor into paragraphs which originally contained Mosaic laws only. That this should have been done would be perfectly natural, when we consider that the purpose of such an editor would be not only to preserve (as has been done) the record of the original Law, but to present a manual of law complete for the use of his age, a manual (to use a modern phrase) made complete to date.

That the passages in question were indeed interpolations appears not only from the fact that their removal rids the text of what otherwise would be grave discrepancies, but because the passages in question sometimes disturb the sequence of the context. Moreover, by thus distinguishing between laws promulgated (as stated) by Moses, and laws to which the formula of statement was not intended to apply, we arrive at the following important result. It is that the former laws can all be shown to be in harmony one with another and with the historical data of the Mosaic age; while the introduction of the later rules is also seen to be what would naturally follow by way of adaptation to the circumstances of later times, and the gradual unfolding of Divine purpose.

It would be much too long a task here to work this out in detail: it has been attempted by the writer of this article in Old Testament Institutions, Their Origin and Development. Two instances, however, may be mentioned.

Instances of interpolation-In Exodus 12:43; (English Revised Version) we read, "This is the ordinance of the passover: there shall no alien eat thereof; but every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof." This was the original Mosaic rule introduced by the formula in 12:43. But in 12:48, 49 it is said that sojourners (when circumcised) may eat of the passover. This was plainly a relaxation of later date, made in accordance with the principle which is enlarged upon in Isaiah 56:3-8.

According to Leviticus 23:34, 39 a, 40-42, the Feast of Tabernacles was a feast of seven days only. This was the Mosaic rule as appears from the formula in 23:33, and in certain other passages. But as a development in the feast's observance, an eighth day was subsequently added, and therefore insertions to that effect were made here at 23:36 and 39b. The introduction of this additional day would be in keeping with that elaboration in the observance of the "set feasts" which we find in Numbers 28 and 29, as compared with the simpler observance of the same days ordered in Leviticus 23. Here again the formula in Numbers 28:1 plainly covered a few verses immediately following, but not the whole content of the two chapters.

Premising then the existence in writing from an early age of numerous groups of Mosaic laws and their subsequent interpolation, the ultimate compilation of these groups together with other matter and their arrangement in the order in which we now find them must have been the work, perhaps indeed of the interpolator, but in any case of some late editor. These numerous groups do not, however, make up the whole legislative contents of the Pentateuch; for a very large portion of these contents consists of three distinct books of law, which we must now examine. These were the "Book of the Covenant," the "Book of the Law" of Deuteronomy 31:26, and the so-called "Law of Holiness."

3. The Book of the Covenant:

This book, expressly so named (Exodus 24:7), is stated to have been written by Moses (24:3, 1). It must have comprised the contents of Exodus 20-23. The making of the covenant at Sinai, led up to by the revealing words of Exodus 3:12-17; Exodus 6:2-8; 19:3-6, was a transaction of the very first importance in the religious history of Israel. God's revelation of Himself to Israel being very largely, indeed chiefly, a revelation of His moral attributes (Exodus 34:6, 7), could only be effectively apprehended by a people who were morally fitted to receive it. Hence, it was that Israel as a nation was now placed by God in a stated relation to Himself by means of a covenant, the condition upon which the covenant was based being, on His people's part, their obedience to a given law. This was the law contained in the "Book of the Covenant."

It consisted of "words of Yahweh" and "Judgments" (Exodus 24:3 the King James Version). The latter are contained in Exodus 21:1-22:17; the former in Exodus 20, in the remaining portion of Exodus 22, and Exodus 23. The "judgments" (the American Standard Revised Version "ordinances") relate entirely to matters of right between man and man; the "words of Yahweh" relate partly to these and partly to duties distinctively religious.

(1) Judgments. Compared with Code of Hammurabi.

The "judgments" appear to be taken from older consuetudinary law; not necessarily comprising the whole of that law, but so much of it as it pleased God now to stamp with His express sanction and to embody in this Covenant Law. They may well be compared with those contained in the so-called Code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon, who is thought to have been the Amraphel of Genesis 14. These are called "the judgments of righteousness which Hammurabi the mighty king confirmed." The resemblances in form and in subject between the two sets of "judgments" are very striking. All alike have the same structure, beginning with a hypothetical clause, "if so and so," and then giving the rule applicable in the third person. All alike relate entirely to civil, as distinguished from religious, matters, to rights and duties between man and man. All seem to have had a similar origin in judgments passed in the first place on causes brought before judges for decision: both sets therefore represent consuetudinary law.

(2) Basis of Law of Covenant. Earlier Customs.

It is remarkable that, alike in matters of right between man and man, and in matters relating directly to the service of God, the Law of the Covenant did little (if anything) more than give a new and Divinely attested sanction to requirements which, being already familiar, appealed to the general conscience of the community. If, indeed, in the "words of Yahweh" there was any tightening of accustomed moral or (more particularly) religious requirements, e.g. in the first and second commandments of the Decalogue, it would seem to have been by way of enforcing convictions which must have been already gaining hold upon the minds of at least the more thoughtful of the people, and that in large measure through the lessons impressed upon them by the events of their recent history. In no other Way could the Law of the Covenant have appealed to their conscience, and so formed a foundation on which the covenant could be securely based.

As in the "judgments" we have a ratification of old consuetudinary law; as again in the second table of the Decalogue we have moral rules in accordance with a standard of moral right-no doubt already acknowledged-very similar indeed to that of the "negative confession" in the Egyptian Book of the Dead; so in the more especially religious rules of the Law of the Covenant we find, not new rules or an establishment of new institutions, but a new sanction of what was already old. These "words of Yahweh" assume the rendering of service to Yahweh: they do not enjoin it as if it were a new thing, but they enjoin that the Israelites shall not add to His service also the service of other gods (Exodus 20:3; Exodus 23:24). They assume the observance of the three "feasts," they enjoin that these shall be kept to Yahweh-"unto me," i.e. "unto me only" (Exodus 23:14, 17). They assume the making of certain offerings to Yahweh, they enjoin that these shall be made liberally-"of the first," i.e. of the best-and without delay (Exodus 22:29 f). They assume the rendering of worship by sacrifice, and the existence of an accustomed ritual, and therefore they do not lay down any scheme of ritual, but they give a few directions designed to guard against idolatry, or any practices tending either to irreverence or to low and false conceptions of God (Exodus 20:4-6, 23-26; Exodus 22:31; Exodus 23:18 f). While insisting upon the observance of the three "feasts," spoken of as already accustomed, it is remarkable that they contain no command to keep the Passover, which as an annual observance was not yet an accustomed thing.

This absence of ritual directions is indeed very noticeable. It was in the counsel of God that He would in the near future establish a reconstituted ritual, based upon what was already traditional, but containing certain new elements, and so framed as more and more to foster spiritual conceptions of God and a higher ideal of holiness. This however was as yet a thing of the future. No mention therefore was made of it in the Law of the Covenant; that law was so restricted as that it should at once appeal to the general conscience of the people, and so be a true test of their desire to do what was right. This would be the firm basis on which to build yet higher things. It is impossible to estimate the true character of the subsequent legislation, i.e. of what in bulk is by far the larger part of the torah-except by first grasping the true character and motive of the Covenant, and the Covenant Law.


4. The Book of the Law of Deuteronomy 31:

Immediately after the making of the Covenant, Moses was called up into the mount, and there received instructions for the erection of the tabernacle, these being followed in due course by the rules of the reconstituted ceremonial of which the tabernacle was to be the home. All these for the present we must pass over.

Having arrived on the East of the Jordan, Moses, now at the close of his career, addressed discourses to the people, in which he earnestly exhorted them to live up to the high calling with which God had called them, in the land of which they were about to take possession. To this end he embodied in his discourse a statement of the Law by which they were to live. And then, as almost his last public act, he wrote "the words of this law in a book," and directed that the book should be placed "by the side of the ark of the covenant" (Deuteronomy 31:24-26). What now was this book? Was it Deuteronomy, in whole or in part? The most reasonable answer to this question is that the book actually written by Moses comprised at least the contents of Deuteronomy 5-26 and 28. Whether the whole or any parts of the remaining contents of Deuteronomy also formed part of this book, or were subsequently added to it, the whole being brought by a process of editing to our present Deuteronomy, is again a legitimate matter of inquiry.

Characteristics of Deuteronomy.

Regarding Deuteronomy 5-26 and 28 (with or without parts of other chapters) as the "book" of Deuteronomy 31:24-26, we find that it is a manual of instruction for the people at large-it is not a priest's manual. It deals with matters of morals, and of religion in its general principles, but only subordinately with matters of ritual: it warns against perils of idolatry and superstitious corruptions, common in the service of other gods, but which might by no means be mixed up with Yahweh's seryice: it insists upon righteous conduct between man and man, and very strongly inculcates humanity toward the poor and the dependent: it enjoins upon those in authority the impartial maintenance of right, as also fairness, moderation and mercy, in the administration of law and the infliction of punishment: it sets forth the fear of God as the guide of His people's actions, and the love of God in response to His mercy toward them. It does not lay down any scheme of ritual, though it gives rules (Deuteronomy 4:3-21) as to things which might not be eaten as unclean; it also gives directions as to the disposal of tithes (Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Deuteronomy 26:12); it enlarges upon the direction in the Law of the Covenant for the observance of the three "feasts," adding to this the observance of the Passover (Deuteronomy 16); it lays down a law (expressed conditionally) restricting to one sanctuary the offering of at least the more solemn sacrifices (Deuteronomy 12); and it frequently inculcates liberality toward the Levites, both on account of the sacred services rendered by them, their dispersal among the tribes, and the precarious character of their livelihood. Like the Law of the Covenant it assumes the existence of an accustomed ceremonial, and it is remarkable that when there is occasion to do so it makes use of phraseology (Deuteronomy 12) similar to that of the ritual laws of Moses in Leviticus and Numbers.

It is quite possible that some interpolations may have been made in the text of Deuteronomy 5-26, but not on any sufficient scale to affect the general character of the original book. This "Book of the Law" then was an expansion of the Law of the Covenant, enforcing its principles, giving directions in greater detail for carrying them out, and setting them in a framework of exhortation, warning and encouragement. Thus, its relation to the covenant is indicated by Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Deuteronomy 29:1. This is that "book of the Law of Moses" of which frequent mention is made in the books of Kings, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah.

5. The Law of Holiness:

In marked contrast to the numerous rules, sometimes intermingled with narrative, which we find in Exodus 25-40; Leviticus 1-16, and throughout Numbers, we have in Leviticus 17-26 a collection of laws which evidently was once a book by itself. This, from its constant insistence upon holiness as a motive of conduct, has been called "the Law of Holiness." Though it contains many laws stated to have been spoken by Yahweh to Moses, we are not told by whom it was written, and therefore its authorship and date are a fair subject of inquiry. In its general design it bears much resemblance to the Law of the Covenant, and the Book of the Law contained in Deuteronomy. As in them, and especially in the latter, the laws are set up in a parenetic framework, the whole closing with promise of reward for obedience and a threat of punishment for disobedience (compare Exodus 23:20-33 Leviticus 26 Deuteronomy 28). Like them it deals much with moral duties: Leviticus 19 and 20 are practically an expansion of the Decalogue; but it deals also more than they do with ceremonial. With regard to both it sets forth as the motive of obedience the rule, "Be ye holy, for I am holy."

A Clue as to Date

A clue to its date is to be found in its conception of cleanness. The idea found in the Prophets and the New Testament that moral wrongdoing renders unclean must be based upon some earlier conception, namely, upon the Old Testament conception of ritual uncleanness. Now ritual uncleanness was originally physical uncleanness only; the idea of moral right or wrong did not enter into it at all: this is perfectly clear from the whole contents of Leviticus 11-15. On the other hand we find the idea of moral cleanness and uncleanness fully formed in the Psalms, Proverbs, and in the Prophets, including the earlier prophets, Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. In H (the Law of Holiness, Leviticus 17-26) we find an intermediate conception. We find that whereas in Leviticus 11-15 sexual acts which were lawful rendered unclean equally with those which were unlawful, in H, adultery and incest are denounced as rendering specially unclean, the idea being that their technical uncleanness became more intensely unclean through their immorality (Leviticus 18:24-30). Similarly, converse with familiar spirits and wizards, which probably involved physical defilement (perhaps through the ingredients used in charms), is mentioned as specially causing defilement, probably as such technical defilement would be intensified by the unlawfulness of dealing with familiar spirits and wizards at all (Leviticus 19:31). Sins, however, which did not in themselves entail physical uncleanness, such e.g. as injustice, are not mentioned in H as rendering unclean, though they are so regarded in the Prophets.

Read Complete Article...




No one questions the presence of poetry of a high order in the Old Testament. The Study of the Old Testament as the literature of the ancient Hebrews has been critically made, and the attention of even the ordinary reader of the Scriptures called to the beauty and wealth of its poetic passages. The message of the New Testament is so vitally spiritual and concerned with religion that but little attention has been paid to it as literature. Naturally it would be strange if the poetic inspiration which runs like a tide through the prophetic and post-exilic periods of the Old Testament should altogether cease under the clearer spiritual dispensation of the New Testament. The fact is that it does not cease, but that under every fundamental rule for poetic utterance, save that of rhyme, the New Testament is seen to be rich in imaginative vision, in religion touched by emotion, and in poetic expression. The Gospels, the Pauline Epistles, and the Epistle of James, all afford examples of lofty poetic utterance, while the message of Jesus is saturated with words which readily lend themselves to song. In fact it is thought by some that Jesus was no less careful of the form than of the content of His message, and that all the finer types of Hebrew poetry found in the Old Testament can be matched from His sayings, even when tested by the same rules.

In the Gospels that of Luke gives us our best examples of poetry. "No sooner have we passed through the vestibule of his Gospel than we find ourselves within a circle of harmonies" (Burton, in the Expositor's Bible). From the poetic utterances of Mary, Elisabeth, Zacharias, Simeon, and the Angels, the church gains her Magnificat, Beatitude, Benedictus, Nunc Dimittis and Glorias.

The utterances of John the Baptist are filled with a rugged desert vision and an expression which reveals a form of poesy in no wise to be mistaken for prose.

Paul presents many of his ideas in harmonious and beautiful forms. He knew the secular poets of his day, and has immortalized Cleanthes' Hymn to Zeus (Acts 17:28). He also quotes from Epimenides and the Athenian dramatist Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33). Paul knew the poetry of the Hebrews, and enriches his own message with many quotations from it. He was acquainted with the Christian hymnology of his own times, as is seen in Ephesians 5:14 and 1 Timothy 3:16. He offers also original flashes of poetic inspiration and utterance, a good example of which is found in Romans 8:31-37.

Who could doubt the poetic imagery of James? He might almost be called the poet of social justice and of patient waiting under affliction for the will of God to come to men.

When one comes to the words of Jesus he discovers that in a very true sense His speech answers to the requirements for Hebrew poetry. Examples of synonymous, antithetic, synthetic and causal parallelism are the rule rather than the exception in the utterances of Jesus. For the synonymous form see Matthew 10:24; for the antithetic see Luke 6:41; for the synthetic and causal forms see Luke 9:23 and Matthew 6:7. Not alone are these forms of Hebrew poetry found in the words of Jesus, but also the more involved and sustained poetic utterances (Luke 7:31-32).

No one can question the deep emotional quality, the vivid imagination and spiritual idealism of Jesus. That the form of His speech is adequately set to poetic inspiration and conforms to the laws for Hebrew poetry has not been so freely acknowledged. Independently of theory advanced in Did Jesus Write His Own Gospel? (William Pitt MacVey), every student of the literature of the New Testament must be grateful for the chapter on "The Poems of Jesus."

Spirituality and poetry have a kinship, and the interpretation of any message is aided by the adequate knowledge of its form. When the New Testament has thus been carefully studied as literature, it will be seen, not only that Jesus was a poet, but that the entire New Testament, if not as rich as the Old Testament in poetic passages, is sufficiently poetic to receive treatment as such in religious encyclopedias.


C. E. Schenk

Strong's Hebrew
2870b. Tabeel -- perhaps "God is good," a Pers. officer
... 2870a, 2870b. Tabeel. 2871 . perhaps "God is good," a Pers. officer.
Transliteration: Tabeel Short Definition: Tabeel. Word ...
/hebrew/2870b.htm - 5k

2870. tab'el -- "good for nothing," an Aramean (Syrian)
... Tabeal, Tabeel From towb and 'el; pleasing (to) God; Tabeel, the name of a Syrian
and of a Persian -- Tabeal, Tabeel. see HEBREW towb. see HEBREW 'el. ...
/hebrew/2870.htm - 5k

2870a. Tabeal -- "good for nothing," an Aramean (Syrian)
... 2870, 2870a. Tabeal. 2870b . "good for nothing," an Aramean (Syrian).
Transliteration: Tabeal Short Definition: Tabeel. Word Origin ...
/hebrew/2870a.htm - 5k


Tiglath-Pileser iii. And the Organisation of the Assyrian Empire ...
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7. <. ...
/.../chapter iitiglath-pileser iii and the.htm

The Holy City; Or, the New Jerusalem:
... I say, these things are lying words, and forged even in the heart of 'Bishlam,
Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions' (Ezekiel 4:7). For verily ...
/.../bunyan/the works of john bunyan volumes 1-3/the holy city or the.htm

Tabeel (2 Occurrences)
...TABEEL. ta'-be-el: A name meaning "good is God," borne by two persons in the
Old Testament (Isaiah 7:6, the King James Version, "Tabeal"). ...
/t/tabeel.htm - 101k

Ta'be-el (1 Occurrence)
Ta'be-el. Tabeel, Ta'be-el. Tab'eel . Multi-Version Concordance Ta'be-el
(1 Occurrence). ... Tabeel, Ta'be-el. Tab'eel . Reference Bible.
/t/ta'be-el.htm - 6k

Mithredath (2 Occurrences)
... the sacred vessels to the returning Jewish exiles (Ezra 1:8). (2) A Persian, perhaps
an official, who was associated with Bishlam and Tabeel in corresponding ...
/m/mithredath.htm - 8k

Bishlam (1 Occurrence)
... In 1 Esdras the reading is "Belemus." "And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam,
Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, unto Artaxerxes, king ...
/b/bishlam.htm - 7k

Interpreted (19 Occurrences)
... Ezra 4:7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the
rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of ...
/i/interpreted.htm - 12k

Immanuel (3 Occurrences)
... In the event of Ahaz' refusal, they planned to depose him, and to set the son
of Tabeel, a choice of their own, upon the throne of David. ...
/i/immanuel.htm - 16k

... TOBIEL. to-bi'-el, to'-bi-el (Tobiel, Codex Alexandrinus Tobiel): The father
of Tobit (Tobit 1:1); another form of "Tabeel" "God is good.". ...
/t/tobiel.htm - 6k

... officials in Samaria who wrote a letter to Artaxerxes which caused the rebuilding
of Jerusalem to be stopped for a time (1 Esdras 2:16) = "Tabeel" of Ezra 4:7. ...
/t/tabellius.htm - 6k

Terrorize (1 Occurrence)
... Isaiah 7:6 Let us go up against Judah, troubling her, and forcing our way into her,
and let us put up a king in her, even the son of Tabeel: (See NAS). ...
/t/terrorize.htm - 6k

Tab'eel (1 Occurrence)
... Ezra 4:7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the
rest of his companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of ...
/t/tab'eel.htm - 6k

Bible Concordance
Tabeel (2 Occurrences)

Ezra 4:7 In the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian character, and set forth in the Syrian language.

Isaiah 7:6 "Let's go up against Judah, and tear it apart, and let's divide it among ourselves, and set up a king in its midst, even the son of Tabeel."



Tabeel: A Persian official in Samaria

Related Terms

Ta'be-el (1 Occurrence)

Mithredath (2 Occurrences)

Bishlam (1 Occurrence)

Interpreted (19 Occurrences)

Immanuel (3 Occurrences)



Terrorize (1 Occurrence)

Tab'eel (1 Occurrence)

Tebaliah (1 Occurrence)

Terrify (27 Occurrences)

Translated (15 Occurrences)

Tabeal (1 Occurrence)

Mith'redath (2 Occurrences)

Pekah (11 Occurrences)

Colleagues (8 Occurrences)

Conquer (12 Occurrences)

Ar-ta-xerx'es (14 Occurrences)

Aramaean (13 Occurrences)

Associates (26 Occurrences)

Ahaz (42 Occurrences)

Syrian (12 Occurrences)

Script (5 Occurrences)

Artaxerxes (14 Occurrences)

Companions (58 Occurrences)

Forcing (25 Occurrences)

Persia (30 Occurrences)

Character (27 Occurrences)

Troubling (51 Occurrences)

Wrote (74 Occurrences)

Let's (74 Occurrences)

Divide (71 Occurrences)

Tongue (160 Occurrences)

Tear (97 Occurrences)

Isaiah (64 Occurrences)

Walls (152 Occurrences)

Friends (152 Occurrences)

Letter (112 Occurrences)

Aramaic (12 Occurrences)

Text (5 Occurrences)

Language (112 Occurrences)

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Top of Page
Top of Page