ra’-a-ma (ra‘ma’): Thus spelled only in 1Ch 1:9; elsewhere "Raamah" (ra‘mah). A son of Cush and father of Sheba and Dedan (Ge 10:7 = 1Ch 1:9). In Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre (Eze 27:22) the tribe of Raamah is mentioned along with Sheba as a mercantile people who provided the inhabitants of Tyre with spices, precious stones and gold. It has generally been identified with Regina, mentioned by Ptolemy and Steph. Byzantr. as a city in Southeastern Arabia on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The Septuagint (Rhegma) itself supposes this site. But the Arabic name of the city here indicated is spelled with a "g" and so gives rise to a phonological difficulty. A more probable identification has been found in the Sabean ra‘mah in Southwestern Arabia near Me‘in in the north of Marib. Me‘in was the capital of the old Minaean kingdom.

A. S. Fulton


ra-a-mi’-a (ra‘amyah; Codex Vaticanus Naamia; Codex Alexandrinus, Rheelma): One of the leading men who returned with Zerubbabel from captivity (Ne 7:7). In the corresponding passage in Ezr 2:2, where the same list is named, a slight variation in form is given. "Reelaiah" is the name found in this passage. Doubtless, one is a corruption of the other. Both have the same root meaning.s generally been identified with Regina, mentioned by Ptolemy and Steph. Byzantr. as a city in Southeastern Arabia on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The Septuagint (Rhegma) itself supposes this site. But the Arabic name of the city here indicated is spelled with a "g" and so gives rise to a phonological difficulty. A more probable identification has been found in the Sabean ra‘mah in Southwestern Arabia near Me‘in in the north of Marib. Me‘in was the capital of the old Minaean kingdom.


ra-am’-sez, ram’-e-sez (Ex 1:11), (Ge 47:11; Ex 12:37; Nu 33:3,5) (ra‘mecec, ra‘amcec; Rhamesse; Egyptian Ra-messu, "Ra created him" (or "it")):

1. The Meaning of "Store-Cities":

One of the two "settlements" (mickenoth) built, or "built up," by the Hebrews for the Pharaoh, the other being Pithom, to which the Septuagint adds a third, namely, "On which is Heliopolis," a town near Cairo (Ex 1:11). The Hebrew term mickenoth comes from a root meaning "to settle down" (Arabic sakan, "settlement," Assyrian sakanu or shakanu, "to set"), but it is rendered "strong cities" in Septuagint, "treasure cities" in the King James Version, and (incorrectly) "store-cities" in the Revised Version: The "land of Rameses," where Jacob and his sons settled, was apparently the "field of Zoan" (see ZOAN), thus lying in the Delta East of the Bubastic branch of the Nile.

2. The Meaning of the Name:

It is often assumed that no city called Rameses would have existed before the time of Rameses II, or the 14th century BC, though even before Rameses I the name occurs as that of a brother of Horemhib under the XVIIIth Dynasty. The usual translation "Child of Ra" is grammatically incorrect in Egyptian and as Ra was an ancient name for the "sun" it seems possible that a town may have borne the title "Ra created it" very early. The mention of Rameses in Ge (47:11) is often regarded as an anachronism, since no scholar has supposed that Jacob lived as late as the time of Rameses II. This would equally apply to the other notices, and at most would serve to mark the age of the passages in the Pentateuch where Rameses is mentioned, but even this cannot be thought to be proved (see EXODUS). According to De Rouge (see Pierret, Vocab. Hieroglyph., 1875, 143) there were at least three towns in Lower Egypt that bore the name Pa Rames-ses ("city of Rameses"); but Brugsch supposes that the place mentioned in the Old Testament was Zoan, to which Rameses II gave this name when making it his capital in the Delta. Dr. Budge takes the same view, while Dr. Naville and others suppose that the site of Raamses has still to be found.

3. Situation:

There appears to have been no certain tradition preserving the site, for though Silvia (about 385 AD) was told that it lay 4 miles from the town of Arabia (see GOSHEN), she found no traces of such a place. Brugsch ("A New City of Rameses, 1876," Aegyptische Zeitschrift, 69) places one such city in the southern part of Memphis itself. Goodwin (Rec. of Past, Old Series, VI, 11) gives an Egyptian letter describing the "city of Rameses-Miamun," which appears to be Zoan, since it was on the seacoast. It was a very prosperous city when this letter was written, and a pa-khennu or "palace city." It had canals full of fish, lakes swarming with birds, fields of lentils, melons, wheat, onions and sesame, gardens of vines, almonds and figs. Ships entered its harbor; the lotus and papyrus grew in its waters. The inhabitants greeted Rameses II with garlands of flowers. Besides wine and mead, of the "conqueror’s city," beer was brought to the harbor from the Kati (in Cilicia), and oil from the "Lake Sagabi." There is no reason to suppose that Zoan was less prosperous in the early Hyksos age, when the Hebrews dwelt in its plain, whatever be the conclusion as to the date when the city Rameses received that name. The description above given agrees with the Old Testament account of the possession given by Joseph to his family "in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses" (Ge 47:11).

C. R. Conder


rab’-mag (rabh-magh; . Septuagint has it as a proper noun, Rhabamath): The name of one of the Babylonian princes who were present at the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, during the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah (Jer 39:3,13). The word is a compound, the two parts seemingly being in apposition and signifying tautologically the same thing. The last syllable or section of the word, magh, was the designation among the Medes, Persians and Babylonians for priests and wise men. Its original significance was "great" or "powerful"; Greek megas, Latin magis, magnus. The first syllable, rabh, expresses practically the same idea, that of greatness, or abundance in size, quantity, or power. Thus it might be interpreted the "allwise" or "all-powerful" prince, the chief magician or physician. It is, therefore, a title and not a name, and is accordingly put in appositive relations to the proper name just preceding, as "Nergal-sharezer, the Rab-mag," translated fully, "Nergal-sharezer the chief prince or magician."


In harmony with the commonly accepted view, the proper rendering of the text should be, "All the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, to wit, Nergal-sharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, (the) Rab-saris, Nergal-sharezer, (the) Rab-mag" (Jer 39:3); and "so Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushazban, (the) Rab-saris, and Nergal-sharezer, (the) Rab-mag, and all the chief officers of the king of Babylon" (Jer 39:13).

Walter G. Clippinger


rab’-sa-ris (rabh-caric): As with Rab-mag, which is not regarded as a name, but a title, so this is to be regarded as a descriptive title for the person whose name precedes it (see RAB-MAG). The first part, rabh, signifies "great" or "chief," the second, caric, is the title for eunuch or chamberlain. The translation then would be chief eunuch or the chief of the eunuchs (or chamberlains).

The oriental custom was for the king to surround himself with a number of eunuchs, who performed varied kinds of services, both menial and dignified. They usually had charge of his harem; sometimes they occupied court positions. Frequently they superintended the education of the youth. The term itself was sometimes used to designate persons in places of trust who were not emasculated. The above title describes the highest or chief in rank of these eunuchs.


The full title is used 3 times, once in connection with the titles of other important officers who were sent by the king of Assyria with a large army to demand the surrender of Jerusalem. The passage would be translated properly, ‘And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan and the Rab-saris (the chief eunuch) and the Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah’ (2Ki 18:17). Again, it refers to a Babylonian whose real name was Sarsechim, who with the other Babylonian princes sat in the middle gate during the capture of Jerusalem. This event is described as having occurred in the 11th year of Zedekiah, king of Judah (Jer 39:3). The third use is in connection with the name Nebushazban, who, with the other chief officers of the king of Babylon, sent and took Jeremiah out of the court of the guard and committed him to Gedaliah, who was to take him home to dwell with his own people (Jer 39:13).

Thus, it is seen that based upon this accepted theory the three titles would be in their connections as follows:

(1) simply "the chief eunuch,"

(2) Sarsechim, the Rab-saris (or chief eunuch), and

(3) Nebushazban, the Rab-saris (or chief eunuch).

See also ASSYRIA, sec. X.

Walter G. Clippinger



(1) (rabbah; Rhabba, Rhabbath, Rhabban. The full name is rabbath bene ‘ammon; he akra ton huion Ammon, Rhabbath huion Ammon, "Rabbah of the children of Ammon"): This alone of the cities of the Ammonites is mentioned in Scripture, so we may take it as the most important. It is first named in connection with the "bed" or sarcophagus of Og, king of Bashan, which was said to be found here (De 3:11). It lay East of the territory assigned to Gad (Jos 13:25). Whatever may have been its history in the interval, it does not appear again in Scripture till the time of David. This monarch sent an embassy of sympathy to King Hanun when his father Nahash died. The kindness was met by wanton insult, which led to the outbreak of war. The Ammonites, strengthened by Aramean allies, were defeated by the Israelites under Joab, and took refuge in Rabbah. After David’s defeat of the Arameans at Helam a year later, the Ammonites were exposed alone to the full-force of Israel, the ark of the covenant being carried with the troops. The country was ravaged and siege was laid to Rabbah. It was during this siege that Uriah the Hittite by David’s orders was exposed "in the forefront of the hottest battle" (2Sa 11:15), where, treacherously deserted by his comrades, he was slain. How long the siege lasted we do not know; probably some years; but the end was in sight when Joab captured "the city of waters" (2Sa 12:27). This may mean that he had secured control of the water supply. In the preceding verse he calls it the "royal city." By the chivalry of his general, David was enabled in person to enjoy the honor of taking the city. Among the booty secured was the crown of Melcom, the god of the Ammonites. Such of the inhabitants as survived he treated with great severity (2Sa 12:26-31; 1Ch 20:1 ).

In the utterances of the prophets against Ammon, Rabbah stands for the people, as their most important, or perhaps their only important, city (Jer 49:2,3; Eze 21:20; 25:5; Am 1:14). Jer 49:4 speaks of the "flowing valley"—a reference perhaps to the abundance of water and fruitfulness—and the treasures in which she gloried. Eze 21:21 represents the king of Babylon at "the head of the two ways" deciding by means of the divining arrows whether he should march against Jerusalem or against Rabbah. Amos seems to have been impressed with the palaces of Rabbah.

The city retained its importance in later times. It was captured by Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 BC), who called it Philadelphia. It was a member of the league of ten cities. Antiochus the Great captured it by means of treachery (Polyb. v.71). Josephus (BJ, III, iii, 3) names it as lying East of Peraea. In the 4th century AD, it ranked with Bostra and Gerasa as one of the great fortified cities of Coele-Syria (Ritter, Erdkunde, XV, ii, 1154 f). It became the seat of a bishop. Abulfeda (1321 AD) says that Rabbah was in ruins at the time of the Moslem conquest.

Rabbah is represented by the modern ‘Amman, a ruined site with extensive remains, chiefly from Roman times, some 14 miles Northeast of Heshbon, and about 22 miles East of the Jordan. It lies on the northern bank of Wady ‘Amman, a tributary of the upper Jabbok, in a well-watered and fruitful valley. Possibly the stream which rises here may be "the waters" referred to in 2Sa 12:27. Ancient Rabbah may have stood on the hill now occupied by the citadel, a position easy of defense because of its precipitous sides. The outer walls of the citadel appear to be very old; but it is quite impossible to say that anything Ammonite is now above ground. The citadel is connected by means of an underground passage with a large cistern or tank to the North, whence probably it drew its watersupply. This may be the passage mentioned in the account of the capture of the city by Antiochus. "It is," says Conder (Heth and Moab, 158), "one of the finest Roman towns in Syria, with baths, a theater, and an odeum, as well as several large private masonry tombs built in the valley probably in the 2nd century. The fortress on the hill, now surrounding a considerable temple, is also probably of this same date. The church with two chapels farther North, and perhaps some of the tombs, must belong to a later age, perhaps the 4th century. The fine mosque and the fine Moslem building on the citadel hill cannot be earlier than the 7th, and are perhaps as late as the 11th century; and we have thus relics of every building epoch except the Crusading, of which there appears to be no indication."

The place is now occupied by Arabs and Circassians who profit by the riches of the soil. It is brought into contact with the outside world by means of the Damascus-Hejaz Railway, which has a station here.

(2) (ha-rabbah; Codex Vaticanus Sotheba; Codex Alexandrinus Arebba): An unidentified city of Judah named along with Kiriath-jearim (Jos 15:60).

W. Ewing


rab’-i, rab’-i (rabbi; rhabbi, or rhabbei): A term used by the Jews of their religious teachers as a title of respect, from rabh, "great," so "my great one" (compare Latin magister), once of masters of slaves, but later of teachers (Mt 23:7); therefore translated by didaskalos, "teacher" (Mt 23:8; Joh 1:38; compare Joh 1:49). In the King James Version frequently rendered "Master" (Mt 26:25,49; Mr 9:5; 11:21; 14:45; Joh 4:31; 9:2; 11:8). John the Baptist (Joh 3:26), as well as Christ, is addressed with the title (Joh 1:49; 6:25), both by disciples and others. Jesus forbade its use among His followers (Mt 23:8). Later (Galilean) form of same, RABBONI (which see).

See TALMUD for Rabbinical literature.

Edward Bagby Pollard


rab’-ith (ha-rabbith; Codex Vaticanus Dabeiron; Codex Alexandrinus Rhabboth): A town in the territory of Issachar (Jos 19:20) which is probably represented today by Raba, a village in the southern part of the Gilboa range and North of Ibzaq. The "ha" is, of course, the definite article.


rab’-l: This word is not found in the King James Version. the Revised Version (British and American) has it once as the translation of agoraios (literally, "lounger in the market place"), in Ac 17:5, where it replaces "baser sort" of the King James Version. It has the common meaning of an unruly, lawless set who are ready to join a mob.


rab-o’-ni, rab-o’-ni (rhabboni, "my great master" (Mr 10:51); rhabbouni (Westcott-Hort rhabbounei), (Joh 20:16)).of agoraios (literally, "lounger in the market place"), in Ac 17:5, where it replaces "baser sort" of the King James Version. It has the common meaning of an unruly, lawless set who are ready to join a mob.



rab’-sha-ke, rab-sha’-ke (rabhshaqeh): A compound word, the first part, rabh, indicating "head" or "chief" (see RAB-MAG; RAB-SARIS). The second part, which in the Aramaic, probably meant "cupbearer," had in this connection and elsewhere, according to later discoveries, an extended significance, and meant chief officer, i.e. chief of the heads or captains.

Rabshakeh was one of the officers sent by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, with the Tartan and the Rabsaris to demand the surrender of Jerusalem, which was under siege by the Assyrian army (2Ki 18:17,19,26,27,28,37; 19:4,8; Isa 36:2,4,11,12,13,22; 37:4,8). The three officers named went from Lachish to Jerusalem and appeared by the conduit of the upper pool. Having called upon King Hezekiah, his representatives Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, Shebnah, the scribe, and Joah, the recorder, appeared. Rabshakeh sent through them a message to the king in which he represented himself as the spokesman for the king of Assyria. He derided King Hezekiah in an insolent fashion in representing his trust in Egypt as a bruised reed which would pierce the hand. Likewise his confidence in Yahweh was vain, for He also would be unable to deliver them. Then the officers of the king replied, requesting him to speak in the Syrian language-which they understood, and not in the Jews’ language which the people on the wall understood. This he refused to do, speaking still more loudly in order that they might hear and be persuaded. By bribery and appeal, by promise and by deception he exhorted them to turn traitor to Hezekiah and surrender to him. The people, however, true to the command of Hezekiah (2Ki 18:36), "held their peace, and answered him not a word." Afterward Rabshakeh returned and "found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah". (2Ki 19:8). From this description it is inferred that Rabshakeh was a man of considerable literary attainment, being able, in all probability, to speak in three languages. He had, in addition to his official power, dauntless courage, an insolent spirit and a characteristic oriental disregard for veracity.

Walter G. Clippinger


ra’-ka, ra-ka’>( rhaka, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek with Codices Sinaiticus (corrected), Vaticanus, Codex E, etc.; rhacha, Tischendorf with Codices Sinaiticus (original hand) and Bezae; Aramaic reqa’, from req, "empty"): Vain or worthless fellow; a term of contempt used by the Jews in the time of Christ. In the Bible, it occurs in Mt 5:22 only, but John Lightfoot gives a number of instances of the use of the word by Jewish writers (Hot. Hebrew., edition by Gandell, Oxford, 1859, II, 108). Chrysostom (who was acquainted with Syriac as spoken in the neighborhood of Antioch) says it was equivalent to the Greek su, "thou," used contemptuously instead of a man’s name. Jerome rendered it inanis aut vacuus absque cerebro. It is generally explained as expressing contempt for a man’s intellectual capacity (=" you simpleton!"), while more (translated "thou fool"), in the same verse is taken to refer to a man’s moral and religious character (=" you rascal!" "you impious fellow!"). Thus we have three stages of anger, with three corresponding grades of punishment:

(1) the inner feeling of anger (orgizomenos), to be punished by the local or provincial court (te krisei, "the judgment");

(2) anger breaking forth into an expression of scorn (Raca), to be punished by the Sanhedrin (to sunedrio, "the council");

(3) anger culminating in abusive and defamatory language (More), to be punished by the fire of Gehenna.

This view, of a double climax, which has been held by foremost English and Gor. commentators, seems to give the passage symmetry and gradation. But it is rejected among others by T. K. Cheyne, who, following J. P. Peters, rearranges the text by transferring the clause "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council" to the end of the preceding verse (Encyclopaedia Biblica, IV, cols. 4001 f). There certainly does not seem to be trustworthy external evidence to prove that the terms "the judgment," "the council," "the Gehenna of fire" stand to each other in a relation of gradation, as lower and higher legal courts, or would be so understood by Christ’s hearers. What is beyond dispute is that Christ condemns the use of disparaging and insulting epithets as a supreme offense against the law of humanity, which belongs to the same category as murder itself. It should be added, however, that it is the underlying feeling and not the verbal expression as such that constitutes the sin. Hence, our Lord can, without any real inconsistency, address two of His followers as "foolish men" (Lu 24:25, anoetoi, practically equivalent to Raca, as is also James’s expression, "O vain man," Jas 2:20).

D. Miall Edwards


ra’-kal (rakhal, "trader"): A place in Judah, enumerated among "the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt," to the elders of which he sent a share of his spoils (1Sa 30:29). The Septuagint reading "Carmel" has been adopted, by many, because of the similarity of the words in Hebrew (rakal and karmel) and because there was a Carmel in the neighborhood of Hebron (Jos 15:55; 1Sa 15:12), which figures in the story of David’s adventures when pursued by Saul (1Sa 25) in a manner that makes it improbable that he would overlook the place in his good fortune (the King James Version "Rachal").

Nathan Isaacs


ras (merox; agon, dromos).

See GAMES, I, 2; II, 3.





ra’-kab (Rhachab): the King James Version; Greek form of "Rahab" (thus Mt 1:5 the Revised Version (British and American)).





ra’-chel (rachel, "ewe"; Rhachel (Ge 29:6; Jer 31:15, the King James Version "Rahel")):

1. Biography:

An ancestress of Israel, wife of Jacob, mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Rachel was the younger daughter of Laban, the Aramean, the brother of Jacob’s mother; so Rachel and Jacob were cousins. They met for the first time upon the arrival of Jacob at Haran, when attracted by her beauty he immediately fell in love with her, winning her love by his chivalrous act related in Ge 29:10 ff. According to the custom of the times Jacob contracted with Laban for her possession, agreeing to serve him 7 years as the stipulated price (29:17-20). But when the time had passed, Laban deceived Jacob by giving him Leah instead of Rachel. When Jacob protested, Laban gave him Rachel also, on condition that Jacob serve 7 years more (29:21-29). To her great dismay "Rachel was barren" (Ge 29:30,31), while Leah had children. Rachel, envious of her sister, complained to Jacob, who reminded her that children are the gift of God. Then Rachel resorted to the expedient once employed by Sarah under similar circumstances (16:2 ff); she bade Jacob take her handmaid Bilhah, as a concubine, to "obtain children by her" (30:3). Da and Naphtali were the offspring of this union. The evil of polygamy is apparent from the dismal rivalry arising between the two sisters, each seeking by means of children to win the heart of Jacob. In her eagerness to become a mother of children, Rachel bargained with Leah for the mandrakes, or love-apples of her son Reuben, but all to no avail (Ge 30:14). Finally God heard her prayer and granted her her heart’s desire, and she gave birth to her firstborn whom she named Joseph (Ge 30:22-24).

Some years after this, when Jacob fled from Laban with his wives, the episode of theft of the teraphim of Laban by Rachel, related in Ge 31:19,34,35, occurred. She hoped by securing the household gods of her father to bring prosperity to her own new household. Though she succeeded by her cunning in concealing them from Laban, Jacob later, upon discovering them, had them put away (35:2-4). In spite of all, she continued to be the favorite of Jacob, as is clearly evidenced by 33:2, where we are told that he assigned to her the place of greatest safety, and by his preference for Joseph, her son. After the arrival in Canaan, while they were on the way from Beth-el to Ephrath, i.e. Bethlehem, Rachel gave birth to her second son, Benjamin, and died (35:16 ff).

2. Character:

In a marked manner Rachel’s character shows the traits of her family, cunning and covetousness, so evident in Laban, Rebekah and Jacob. Though a believer in the true God (Ge 30:6,8,22), she was yet given to the superstitions of her country, the worshipping of the teraphim, etc. (Ge 31:19). The futility of her efforts in resorting to self-help and superstitious expedients, the love and stronger faith of her husband (Ge 35:2-4), were the providential means of purifying her character. Her memory lived on in Israel long after she died. In Ru 4:11, the names of Rachel and Leah occur in the nuptial benediction as the foundresses of the house of Israel.


(matstsebheth qebhurath rachel): In Ge 35:20 we read: "Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave: the same is the Pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day," i.e. the time of the writer. Though the pillar, i.e sepulchral monument, has long disappeared, the spot is marked until this day, and Christians, Jews and Mohammedans unite in honoring it. The present tomb, which, apparently, is not older than the 15th century, is built in the style of the small-domed buildings raised by Moslems in honor of their saints. It is a rough structure of four square walls, each about 23 ft. long and 20 ft. high; the dome rising 10 ft. higher is used by Mohammedans for prayer, while on Fridays the Jews make supplication before the empty tomb within. It is doubtful, but probable, that it marks the exact spot where Rachel was buried. There are, apparently, two traditions as to the location of the place. The oldest tradition, based upon Ge 35:16-20; 48:7, points to a place one mile North of Bethlehem and 4 miles from Jerusalem. Mt 2:18 speaks for this place, since the evangelist, reporting the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem, represents Rachel as weeping for her children from her neighboring grave. But according to 1Sa 10:2 ff, which apparently represents another tradition, the place of Rachel’s grave was on the "border of Benjamin," near Beth-el, about 10 miles North of Jerusalem, at another unknown Ephrath. This location, some believe, is corroborated by Jer 31:15, where the prophet, in relating the leading away of the people of Ramah, which was in Benjamin, into captivity, introduces Rachel the mother of that tribe as bewailing the fate of her descendants. Those that believe this northern location to be the place of Rachel’s grave take the words, "the same is Beth-lehem," in Ge 35:19; 48:7, to be an incorrect gloss; but that is a mere assumption lacking sufficient proof.o, following J. P. Peters, rearranges the text by transferring the clause "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council" to the end of the preceding verse (Encyclopaedia Biblica, IV, cols. 4001 f). There certainly does not seem to be trustworthy external evidence to prove that the terms "the judgment," "the council," "the Gehenna of fire" stand to each other in a relation of gradation, as lower and higher legal courts, or would be so understood by Christ’s hearers. What is beyond dispute is that Christ condemns the use of disparaging and insulting epithets as a supreme offense against the law of humanity, which belongs to the same category as murder itself. It should be added, however, that it is the underlying feeling and not the verbal expression as such that constitutes the sin. Hence, our Lord can, without any real inconsistency, address two of His followers as "foolish men" (Lu 24:25, anoetoi, practically equivalent to Raca, as is also James’s expression, "O vain man," Jas 2:20).

Mr. Nathan Strauss, of New York City, has purchased the land surrounding Rachel’s grave for the purpose of erecting a Jewish university in the Holy Land.

S. D. Press


rad’-a-i, ra-da’-i (radday, "beating down"(?)): The 5th of the 7 sons of Jesse, father of David, according to 1Ch 2:14 Septuagint, Codex Alexdrinus, "Rhaddai"; Lucian, "Rhedai"; others, "Zaddai".epulchral monument, has long disappeared, the spot is marked until this day, and Christians, Jews and Mohammedans unite in honoring it. The present tomb, which, apparently, is not older than the 15th century, is built in the style of the small-domed buildings raised by Moslems in honor of their saints. It is a rough structure of four square walls, each about 23 ft. long and 20 ft. high; the dome rising 10 ft. higher is used by Mohammedans for prayer, while on Fridays the Jews make supplication before the empty tomb within. It is doubtful, but probable, that it marks the exact spot where Rachel was buried. There are, apparently, two traditions as to the location of the place. The oldest tradition, based upon Ge 35:16-20; 48:7, points to a place one mile North of Bethlehem and 4 miles from Jerusalem. Mt 2:18 speaks for this place, since the evangelist, reporting the slaughter of the innocents of Bethlehem, represents Rachel as weeping for her children from her neighboring grave. But according to 1Sa 10:2 ff, which apparently represents another tradition, the place of Rachel’s grave was on the "border of Benjamin," near Beth-el, about 10 miles North of Jerusalem, at another unknown Ephrath. This location, some believe, is corroborated by Jer 31:15, where the prophet, in relating the leading away of the people of Ramah, which was in Benjamin, into captivity, introduces Rachel the mother of that tribe as bewailing the fate of her descendants. Those that believe this northern location to be the place of Rachel’s grave take the words, "the same is Beth-lehem," in Ge 35:19; 48:7, to be an incorrect gloss; but that is a mere assumption lacking sufficient proof.o, following J. P. Peters, rearranges the text by transferring the clause "and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council" to the end of the preceding verse (Encyclopaedia Biblica, IV, cols. 4001 f). There certainly does not seem to be trustworthy external evidence to prove that the terms "the judgment," "the council," "the Gehenna of fire" stand to each other in a relation of gradation, as lower and higher legal courts, or would be so understood by Christ’s hearers. What is beyond dispute is that Christ condemns the use of disparaging and insulting epithets as a supreme offense against the law of humanity, which belongs to the same category as murder itself. It should be added, however, that it is the underlying feeling and not the verbal expression as such that constitutes the sin. Hence, our Lord can, without any real inconsistency, address two of His followers as "foolish men" (Lu 24:25, anoetoi, practically equivalent to Raca, as is also James’s expression, "O vain man," Jas 2:20).


ra’-di-ant (nahar, "to sparkle" i.e. (figurative) be cheerful; hence (from the sheen of a running stream), to flow, i.e. (figurative) assemble; flow (together), be lightened): the American Standard Revised Version substitutes the active "radiant" for the passive "were lightened" in Ps 34:5; Isa 60:5 (English Revised Version, the King James Version "flow together"). As the earth and moon, both being dark, face a common sun and lighten each other, they are not only lightened, but radiant. So with the believers, "They looked unto him (Yahweh), and were radiant." Thus nahar combines the two ideas of being lightened and flowing together. This appears, also, in a different connection, in Isa 60:5, "Then thou shalt see and be radiant." "It is liquid light—light that ripples and sparkles and runs across the face; .... the light which a face catches from sparkling water" (G.A. Smith, Isaiah, II, 430).

M. O. Evans



See SHIPS AND BOATS, II, 1, (2).


raf’-ter (So 1:17).



Plural in Pr 23:21, "Drowsiness will clothe a man with rags" (qera’im "torn garment"; compare 1Ki 11:30), and figuratively in Isa 64:6 the King James Version, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," in the sense of "tattered clothing" (beghedh, the Revised Version (British and American) "garment"). In Jer 38:11,12 the American Standard Revised Version translates cechabhah, as "rag" (the King James Version, the English Revised Version "old cast clout"), while the King James Version, the English Revised Version use "rotten rag" for melach (the American Standard Revised Version "worn-out garment"). Both cechabhah and melach mean "worn out."


ra’-go (Rhagau (Westcott-Hort): the King James Version; Greek form of "Reu" (thus, the Revised Version (British and American)) (Lu 3:35).


ra’-jez, ra’-go

1. Location:

("Rages," Tobit 1:14; 4:1,20; 5:5; 6:9,12; 9:2; "Ragau," Judith 1:5,15; Rhagai, Rhaga, Rhage, Rhagau; in Darius’ Behistun Inscriptions, II, 71, 72, Raga, a province; in Avesta, Vend. I, 15, Ragha, city and province; perhaps, "the excellent"): In Eastern Media, one forced march from Caspian Gates, 11 days’ journey from Ecbatana, 5 1/2 miles South of present Tehran; the capital of the province of the same name, though by Ptolemy called Rhagiana.

2. History:

(1) Ancient.

A very ancient city, the traditional birthplace of Zoroaster (Zarathustra; Pahlavi Vendidad, Zad sparad XVI, 12, and Dabistan i Mazahib). In Yasna XIX, 18, of the Avesta, it is thus mentioned: "The Zoroastrian, four-chief-possessing Ragha, hers are the royal chiefs, both the house-chief, the village-chief, and the town-chief: Zoroaster is the fourth." In Vend. I, 15: "As the tenth, the best of both districts and cities, I, who am Ahura Mazda, did create Ragha, which possesses the three classes," i.e. fire-priests, charioteers, husbandmen. Later it was the religious center of magism. A large colony of captive Israelites settled there. Destroyed in Alexander’s time, it was rebuilt by Seleucus Nicator (circa 300 BC), who named it Europos. Later, Arsaces restored it and named it Arsacia.

(2) Medieval.

In the early Middle Ages Ragha, then called Rai, was a great literary and often political center with a large population. It was the birthplace of Harun’al Rashid (763 AD). It was seized and plundered (1029 AD) by Sultan Machmud, but became Tughril’s capital. In the Vis o Roman (circa 1048 AD) it is an important place, 10 days journey across the Kavir desert from Merv. It was a small provincial town in about 1220 AD. It was sacked by Mongols in 1220 AD and entirely destroyed under Ghazan Khan circa 1295. A Zoroastrian community lived there in 1278 AD, one of whom composed the Zardtusht-Namah. (3) Present Condition.

Near the ruins there now stands the village of Shah Abdu’l ‘Acim, connected with Tehran by the only railway in Persia (opened in 1888).


Ptolemy, Diodorus Siculus, Pliny, Strabo; Ibnu’l Athir, Jami’u t Tawarikh, Tarikh i Jahan-gusha Yaqut; Justi, Iranisches Namenbuch; E.G. Browne, Literary Hist of Persia; modern travelers.

W. St. Clair Tisdall


ra-gu’-el, rag’-u-el (Rhagouel): "The friend of God," of Ecbatana, the husband of Edna, father of Sarah, and father-in-law of Tobias (Tobit 3:7,17; 6:10; 7:2 f; 14:12). In Tobit 7:2 he is called cousin of Tobit, and in Tobit 6:10 the King James Version he is erroneously represented as "cousin" of Tobias =" kinsman" in the Revised Version (British and American). In Enoch 20:4 Raguel appears as one of the archangels, perhaps by confusion for Raphael (Tobit 3:17). Another form of the name is REUEL (which see). one of whom composed the Zardtusht-Namah.


ra-gu’-el, rag’-u-el (re‘u’-el; Septuagint: Rhagouel): The Midianite chothen, i.e. either father-in-law or brother-in-law of Moses (Nu 10:29 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "Reuel"), the father of Hobab, called a Kenite, who is likewise described as a chothen of Moses (Jud 4:11). See RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILY. Moses’ wife’s father is called re‘u’el in Ex 2:18 where Lucian reads "Iothor" and English Versions of the Bible "Reuel," which transliteration is adopted in the Revised Version (British and American) in Nu 10:29 also. In other passages the chothen of Moses is called "Jether" or "Jethro." Among the harmonizations suggested the following are worthy of consideration:

(a) that all are names or perhaps titles of one man (Rashi);

(b) that Reuel was the father of Hobab and Jethro, that Jethro was the father-in-law of Moses, and that the word "father" is used for grandfather in Ex 2:18;

(c) that Reuel was the father-in-law and Jethro and Hobab brothers-in-law;

(d) that either Reuel or Hobab is to be identified with Jethro.

None of these views is free from difficulty, nor is the view of those who would give Jethro as the name in the Elohist (E) and Reuel as that in the Jahwist (Jahwist) and (J-E).

See also REUEL.

Nathan Isaacs



(1) (rachabh, "broad"; in Josephus, Ant, V, i, 2, 7, Rhachab; Heb 11:31 and Jas 2:25, Rhaab): A zonah, that is either a "harlot," or, according to some, an "innkeeper" in Jericho; the Septuagint porne, "harlot"). The two spies sent by Joshua from Shittim came into her house and lodged there (Jos 2:1). She refused to betray them to the king of Jericho, and when he demanded them, she hid them on the roof of her house with stalks of flax that she had laid in order to dry. She pretended that they had escaped before the shutting of the gate, and threw their pursuers off their track. She then told the spies of the fear that the coming of the Israelites had caused in the minds of the Canaanites—"Our hearts did melt .... for Yahweh your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath"—and asked that the men promise to spare her father, mother, brothers and sisters, and all that they had. They promised her to spare them provided they would remain in her house and provided she would keep their business secret. Thereupon she let them down by a cord through the window, her house being built upon the town wall, and gave them directions to make good their escape (Jos 2:1-24). True to their promise, the Israelites under Joshua spared Rahab and her family (Jos 6:16 the King James Version); "And," says the author of Josh, "she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day." Her story appealed strongly to the imagination of the people of later times. Heb 11:31 speaks of her as having been saved by faith; James, on the other hand, in demonstrating that a man is justified by works and not by faith only, curiously chooses the same example (Jas 2:25). Jewish tradition has been kindly disposed toward Rahab; one hypothesis goes so far as to make her the wife of Joshua himself (Jew Encyclopedia, under the word). Naturally then the other translation of zonah, deriving it from zun, "to feed," instead of zanah, "to be a harlot," has been preferred by some of the commentators.

(2) (@Rhachab): Josephus, Ant, V, 1, 2, 7, so spells the name of (1) Septuagint and New Testament contra). The wife of Salmon and mother of Booz (Boaz) according to the genealogy in Mt 1:5. Query, whether there was a tradition identifying (1) and (2); see Lightfoot, Horae Hob on Mt 1:5.

(3) (rahabh, literally, "storm," "arrogance"): A mythical sea-monster, probably referred to in several passages where the word is translated as a common noun "pride" (Job 9:13), "the proud" (Job 26:12; compare Ps 89:10). It is used in parallelism with tannin, "the dragon" (Isa 51:9). It is most familiar as an emblem of Egypt, ‘the boaster that sitteth still’ (Isa 30:7; Ps 87:4; compare Ps 89:10). The Talmud in Babha’ Bathra’ speaks of rahabh as sar ha-yam, "master of the sea."


Nathan Isaacs


ra’-ham (racham, "pity," "love"): Son of Shema, and father of Jorkeam (1Ch 2:44).


ra’-hel (Jer 31:15 the King James Version).



rad (1Sa 27:10).

See WAR, 3.


ral, ral’-ing, ral’-er: To "rail" on (in modern usage "against") anyone is to use insolent or reproachful language toward one. It occurs in the Old Testament as the translation of charaph (2Ch 32:17, "letters to rail on Yahweh"), and of ‘it (1Sa 25:14, of Nabal, "he railed at them," the English Revised Version "flew upon them," margin "railed on"). In the New Testament "to rail" is the translation of blasphemeo (Mr 15:29; Lu 23:39; "railing," 1Ti 6:4; 2Pe 2:11; Jude 1:9). The word loidoria, rendered railing" in 1Pe 3:9 the King James Version, is in the Revised Version (British and American) "reviling," and loidoros, "railor," in 1Co 5:11 is in the Revised Version (British and American) "reviler."

See also RACA.

W. L. Walker





(malakos): In Mt 11:8 English Versions of the Bible, where Jesus, speaking of John the Baptist, asks "What went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment?" where "raiment," though implied, is not expressed in the best text, but was probably added from Lu 7:25 parallel. It is equivalent to "elegant clothing," such as courtiers wore, as shown by the words following, "Behold, they that wear soft raiment are in kings’ houses." John had bravely refused to play courtier and had gone to prison for it. In the early days of Herod the Great some scribes who attached themselves to him laid aside their usual plain clothing and wore the gorgeous raiment of courtiers (Jost, in Plumptre).

George B. Eager


ran (maTar, Arabic (?), maTar, "rain" geshem, "heavy rain" moreh, "early rain," yoreh, "former rain," malqosh, "latter rain"; brecho, huetos):

1. Water-Supply in Egypt and Palestine:

In Egypt there is little or no rainfall, the water for vegetation being supplied in great abundance by the river Nile; but in Syria and Palestine there are no large rivers, and the people have to depend entirely on the fall of rain for water for themselves, their animals and their fields. The children of Israel when in Egypt were promised by Yahweh a land which "drinketh water of the rain of heaven" (De 11:11). Springs and fountains are found in most of the valleys, but the flow of the springs depends directly on the fall of rain or snow in the mountains.

2. Importance of Rain in Season:

The cultivation of the land in Palestine is practically dry farming in most of the districts, but even then some water is necessary, so that there may be moisture in the soil. In the summer months there is no rain, so that the rains of the spring and fall seasons are absolutely essential for starting and maturing the crops. The lack of this rain in the proper time has often been the cause of complete failure of the harvest. A small difference in the amount of these seasonal rains makes a large difference in the possibility of growing various crops without irrigation. Ellsworth Huntington has insisted on this point with great care in his very important work, Palestine and Its Transformation. The promise of prosperity is given in the assurance of "rain in due season" (Le 26:4 the King James Version). The withholding of rain according to the prophecy of Elijah (1Ki 17:1) caused the mountain streams to dry up (1Ki 17:7), and certain famine ensued. A glimpse of the terrible suffering for lack of water at that time is given us. The people were uncertain of another meal (1Ki 17:12), and the animals were perishing (1Ki 18:5).

3. Amount of Rainfall:

Palestine and Syria are on the borderland between the sea and the desert, and besides are so mountainous, that they not only have a great range of rainfall in different years, but a great variation in different parts of the country.

The amount of rain on the western slopes is comparable with that in England and America, varying from 25 to 40 inches per annum, but it falls mostly in the four winter months, when the downpour is often very heavy, giving oftentimes from 12 to 16 inches in a month. On the eastern slopes it is much less, varying from 8 to 20 inches per annum. The highest amount falls in the mountains of Lebanon where it averages about 50 inches. In Beirut the yearly average is 35,87 inches. As we go South from Syria, the amount decreases (Haifa 27,75, Jaffa 22,39, Gaze 17,61), while in the Sinaitic Peninsula there is little or none. Going from West to East the change is much more sudden, owing to the mountains which stop the clouds. In Damascus the average is less than 10 inches. In Jerusalem the average for 50 years is 26,16 in., and the range is from 13,19 in 1870 to 41,62 in 1897. The yearly records as given by J. Glaisher and A. Datzi in Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly from 1861 to 1910, 50 years, are given in the accompanying table.


ran’-bo (qesheth, translated "a bow"; iris, "rainbow"): As most of the rainfall in Palestine is in the form of short heavy showers it is often accompanied by the rainbow. Most beautiful double bows are often seen, and occasionally the moon is bright enough to produce the bow. It is rather remarkable that there are so few references to the rainbow in the Bible. The Hebrew qesheth is the ordinary word for a bow, there being no special word for rainbow.

The interpretation of the significance of the bow in the sky is given at the close of the story of the flood, where it is called "the token of the covenant" of Yahweh with Noah that there should be no more flood: "I do set my bow in the cloud, .... and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh" (Ge 9:13,15). This addition to the story of the flood is not found in other mythical accounts. The foundation for the interpretation of the bow in this way seems to be that while His bow is hung in the sky God must be at peace with His people. The glory of God is likened to "the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain" (Eze 1:28). The rainbow forms a striking part of the vision in Re 4:3: "And there was a rainbow round about the throne."

Alfred H. Joy


Year Amount

1861 27.30"

1862 21.86"

1863 26.54"

1864 15.51"

1865 18.19"

1866 18.55"

1867 29.42"

1868 29.10"

1869 18.61"

1870 13.19"

1871 23.17"

1872 22.26"

1873 22.72"

1874 29.75"

1875 27.01"

1876 14.41"

1877 26.00"

1878 32.21"

1879 18.04"

1880 32.11"

1881 16.50"

1882 26.72"

1883 31.92" 1884 23.16"

1885 29.47"

1886 31.69"

1887 29.81"

1888 37.79"

1889 13.16"

1890 35.51"

1891 34.72"

1892 31.23"

1893 30.54"

1894 35.38"

1895 23.15"

1896 32.90"

1897 41.62"

1898 28.66"

1899 22.43"

1900 21.20"

1901 17.42"

1902 25.51"

1903 18.04"

1904 34.48"

1905 34.22"

1906 28.14"

1907 27.22"

1908 31.87"

1909 21.13"

1910 24.64"

The amount of rainfall in ancient times was probably about the same as in present times, though it may have been distributed somewhat differently through the year, as suggested by Huntington. Conder maintains that the present amount would have been sufficient to support the ancient cities (Tent-Work in Palestine). Trees are without doubt fewer now, but meteorologists agree that trees do not produce rain.

4. Dry and Rainy Seasons;

The rainfall is largely on the western slopes of the mountains facing the sea, while on the eastern slopes there is very little. The moisture-laden air comes up from the sea with the west and southwest wind. When these currents strike the hills they are thrown higher up into the cooler strata, and the moisture condenses to form clouds and rain which increases on the higher levels. Having passed the ridge of the hills, the currents descend on the other side to warmer levels, where the moisture is easily held in the form of vapor so that no rain falls and few clouds are seen, except in the cold mid-winter months.

The summer months are practically rainless, with very few clouds appearing in the sky. From May 1 to the middle of October one can be sure of no rain; "The winter is past; the rain is over" (So 2:11), so many sleep on the roofs of the houses or in tents of leaves and branches in the fields and vineyards throughout the summer. The continuous hot droughts make the people appreciate the springs and fountains of fresh running water and the cool shade of rock and tree.

The rainy season from October to May may be divided into three parts, the former, the winter, and the latter rains, and they are often referred to under these names in the Old Testament.

The "former rains" are the showers of October and the first part of November. They soften the parched ground so that the winter grain may be sown before the heavy continuous rains set in. The main bulk of the rain falls in the months of December, January and February. Although in these months the rains are frequent and heavy, a dark, foggy day is seldom seen. The "latter rains" of April are the most highly appreciated, because they ripen the fruit and stay the drought of summer. They were considered a special blessing: Yahweh "will come .... as the latter rain that watereth the earth" (Ho 6:3); "They opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain" (Job 29:23); and as a reason for worshipping Yahweh who sent them, "Let us now fear Yahweh our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in its season" (Jer 5:24).

The rain storms always come from the sea with a west or southwest wind. The east wind is a hot wind and the "north wind driveth away rain" (Pr 25:23, the King James Version). "Fair weather cometh out of the north" (Job 37:22, the King James Version).

5. Biblical Uses:

The Psalmist recognizes that the "showers that water the earth" (Ps 72:6) are among the choicest blessings from the hand of Yahweh: "The early rain covereth it with blessings" (Ps 84:6). The severest punishment of Yahweh was to withhold the rain, as in the time of Ahab and Elijah, when the usual rain did not fall for three years (1Ki 17); "the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you, and he shut up the heavens, so that there shall be no rain, and the land shall not yield its fruit; and ye perish quickly" (De 11:17). Too much rain is also a punishment, as witness the flood (Ge 7:4) and the plague of rain and hail (Ezr 10:9). Sending of rain was a reward for worship and obedience: "Yahweh will open unto thee his good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain of thy land in its season, and to bless all the work of thy hand" (De 28:12). Yahweh controls the elements and commands the rain: "He made a decree for the rain" (Job 28:26); "For he saith to the snow, Fall thou on the earth; likewise to the shower of rain" (Job 37:6). LITERATURE

Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly; meteorological observations from the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tiberias; various observers; Zeitschrift des deutschen Paldstina-Vereins; H. Hilderscheid, Die Niederschlagsverhdltnisse Paldstinas in alter and neuer Zeit; C. R. Conder, Tent-Work in Palestine; Edward Hull, Mount Seir, Sinai and Western Palestine; Ellsworth Huntington, Palestine and Its Transformation; bulletin of the Syrian Protestant College Observatory, Meteorological Observations in Beirut and Syria.

Alfred H. Joy


raz: "To raise" in the Old Testament is most frequently the translation of the Hiphil form of qum, "to cause to arise," e.g. raising up seed (Ge 38:8), a prophet (De 18:18), judges (Jud 2:16,18), etc.; also of ‘ur, "to awake," "stir up" (Ezr 1:5 the King James Version; Isa 41:2, etc.), with other words. In the New Testament the chief words are egeiro, "to awaken," "arouse" (Mt 3:9; Lu 1:69; 3:8, etc.), frequently of raising the dead; and anistemi (Mt 22:24; Joh 6:39, etc.; Ac 2:24 (30 the King James Version), etc.), with compounds of the former. Among the Revised Version (British and American) changes may be noted, "to stir the fire" for "from raising" (Ho 7:4); "raiseth high his gate" for "exalteth his gate" (Pr 17:19); the American Standard Revised Version, "can it be raised from the roots thereof" for "pluck it up by the roots thereof" (Eze 17:9 the King James Version and the English Revised Version); "raised up" for "rise again" (Mt 20:19; compare Mt 26:32; Ro 8:34; Col 3:1).

W. L. Walker


ra’-z’-n-kaks: the Revised Version (British and American) gives this rendering for the King James Version "foundations" in Isa 16:7 (Hebrew ‘ashishah from ‘ashash, "to found," "make firm," "press"). The trade in these would cease through the desolation of the vineyards. For the King James Version "flagons of wine" in Ho 3:1, the Revised Version (British and American) gives "cakes of raisins," such as were offered to the gods of the land, the givers of the grape (compare So 2:5). See next article.



(1) cimmuqim; staphides, translated "dried grapes," Nu 6:3; mentioned in all other references as a portable food for a march or journey. Abigail supplied David with "a hundred clusters of raisins," among other things, in the wilderness of Paran (1Sa 25:18); David gave two clusters of raisins to a starving Egyptian slave of the Amalekites at Besor (1Sa 30:12); raisins formed part of the provision brought to David at Hebron for his army (1Ch 12:40); Ziba supplied David, when flying from Absalom, with a hundred clusters of raisins (2Sa 16:1).

(2) ‘ashishah, something "pressed together," hence, a "cake." In Ho 3:1, mention is made of ‘ashishe ‘anabhim (pemmata meta staphidos), "cakes of raisins": "Yahweh loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love (margin "or them that love") cakes of raisins." These are supposed to have been cakes of dried, compressed grapes offered to false gods. Gratz considers that the Hebrew words are a corruption of ‘asherim and chammanim ("sun images"). Compare Isa 17:8; 27:9. In other passages "cakes" stands alone without "raisins," but the translation "cakes of raisins" is given in 2Sa 6:19; 1Ch 16:3; So 2:5 (the King James Version "flagons"); Isa 16:7 margin "foundations."

Raisins are today, as of old, prepared in considerable quantities in Palestine, especially at es-Salt, East of the Jordan. The bunches of grapes are dipped in a strong solution of potash before being dried.

E. W. G. Masterman


ra’-kem (raqem, the pausal form of reqem): The eponym of a clan of Machir (1Ch 7:16).



rak’-ath (raqqath; Codex Vaticanus Omathadaketh; Codex Alexandrinus Rhekkath): The Greek is obviously the result of confusing the two names Rakkath and Hammath, taking "r" in the former for "d". Rakkath was one of the fortified cities in Naphtali (Jos 19:35). It is named between Hammath and Chinnereth. Hammath is identified with the hot baths to the South of Tiberias. There are traces of ancient fortifications here. The rabbis think that Tiberias was built on the site of Rakkath. Certain it is that Herod’s town was built upon an ancient site, the graves of the old inhabitants being disturbed in digging the new foundations (Neubauer, Geog. du Talmud, 208).

W. Ewing


rak’-on (ha-raqqon; Hierakon).


RAM (1)

ram (ram, "high," "exalted"):

(1) An ancestor of David (Ru 4:19 (Arran); Mt 1:3,4 (Aram); in 1Ch 2:9 he is called the "brother," but in 2:25, the "son of Jerahmeel" (compare 2:27). Ram as the son of Hezron appears more likely than Ram the son of Jerahmeel, since, according to the narratives of 1 and 2 Samuel, David cannot have been a Jerahmeelite.

(2) Name of Elihu’s family (Job 32:2). It is an open question as to whether Ram should be taken as a purely fictitious name, invented by the author of the Elihu speeches, or whether it is that of some obscure Arab tribe. In Ge 22:21 Aram is a nephew of Buz (compare Elihu the Buzite), and the conjecture was at one time advanced that Ram was a contraction of Aram; but this theory is no longer held to be tenable. The suggestion that the initial "a" (the Hebrew letter, ‘aleph) has been changed by a scribal error into "h" (the Hebrew letter, he) is more acceptable. Rashi, the rabbinical commentator, takes the quaint position that Ram is identical with Abraham.

Horace J. Wolf

RAM (2)


(1) The ordinary word is ‘ayil, which is remarkably near to ‘ayyal, "deer" (compare Latin caper, capra, "goat," and capreolus, "wild goat" or "roe-buck"; also Greek dorkas, "roe-buck" or "gazelle").

(2) dekhar, literally, "male" (Ezr 6:9,17; 7:17).

(3) kar, "battering ram" (Eze 4:2; 21:22); elsewhere "lamb" (De 32:14, etc.).

(4) ‘attudh, properly "he-goat" ("ram," Ge 31:10,12 the King James Version).







ra’-ma (Rhama): the King James Version; Greek form of RAMAH (which see) (Mt 2:18).


ra’-ma (ha-ramah, without the definite article only in Ne 11:33; Jer 31:15): The name denotes height, from root rum, "to be high," and the towns to which it applied seem all to have stood on elevated sites.

(1) Codex Vaticanus Arael; Codex Alexandrinus Rhama: A fenced city in the lot assigned to Naphtali (Jos 19:36). Only in this passage is the place referred to. It is probably identical with the modern er-Rameh, a large Christian village on the highway from Cafed to the coast, about 8 miles West-Southwest of that city. To the North rises the mountain range which forms the southern boundary of Upper Galilee. In the valley to the South there is much rich land cultivated by the villagers. The olives grown here are very fine, and fruitful vineyards cover many of the surrounding slopes. No remains of antiquity are to be seen above ground; but the site is one likely to have been occupied in ancient times.

(2) Rhama: A city that is mentioned only once, on the boundary of Asher (Jos 19:29). The line of the boundary cannot be followed with certainty; but perhaps we may identify Ramah with the modern Ramiyeh, a village situated on a hill which rises in the midst of a hollow, some 13 miles Southeast of Tyre, and 12 miles East of the Ladder of Tyre. To the Southwest is a marshy lake which dries up in summer. Traces of antiquity are found in the cisterns, a large reservoir and many sarcophagi. To the West is the high hill Belat, with ancient ruins, and remains of a temple of which several columns are still in situ.

(3) Codex Vaticanus Rhama; Codex Alexandrinus Iama, and other forms: A city in the territory of Benjamin named between Gibeon and Beeroth (Jos 18:25). The Levite thought of it as a possible resting-place for himself and his concubine on their northward journey (Jud 19:13). The palm tree of Deborah was between this and Bethel (Jud 4:5). Baasha, king of Samaria, sought to fortify Ramah against Asa, king of Judah. The latter frustrated the attempt, and carried off the materials which Bassha had collected, and with them fortified against him Geba of Benjamin and Mizpah (1Ki 15:17; 2Ch 16:5). Here the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard released Jeremiah after he had been carried in bonds from Jerusalem (Jer 40:1). It figures in Isaiah’s picture of the Assyrians’ approach (Isa 10:29). It is named by Hosea in connection with Gibeah (5:8), and is mentioned as being reoccupied after the exile (Ezr 2:26; Ne 7:30). It was near the traditional tomb of Rachel (Jer 31:15; compare 1Sa 10:2; Mt 2:18, the King James Version "Rama").

From the passages cited we gather that Ramah lay some distance to the North of Gibeah, and not far from Gibeon and Beeroth. The first is identified with Tell el-Ful, about 3 miles North of Jerusalem. Two miles farther North is er-Ram. Gibeon (el-Jib) is about 3 miles West of er-Ram, and Beeroth (el-Bireh) is about 4 miles to the North Eusebius, Onomasticon places Ramah 6 Roman miles North of Jerusalem; while Josephus (Ant., VIII, xii, 3) says it lay 40 furlongs from the city. All this points definitely to identification with er-Ram. The modern village crowns a high limestone hill to the South of the road, a position of great strength. West of the village is an ancient reservoir. In the hill are cisterns, and a good well to the South.

(4) Aramathaim: The home of Elkanah and Hannah, and the birthplace of Samuel (1Sa 1:19; 2:11, etc.). In 1Sa 1:1 it is called "Ramathaim-zophim" (ha-ramathayim-tsophim). The phrase as it stands is grammatically incorrect, and suggests tampering with the text. It might possibly be translated "Ramathaim of the Zuphites." It was in Mt. Ephraim, within accessible distance of Shiloh, whither Samuel’s parents went up from year to year to worship and to sacrifice (1:3). From Ramah as a center Samuel went on circuit annually, to judge Israel, to Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah (7:16 f). It is very probable that this is the city in which, guided by his servant, Saul first made the acquaintance of Samuel (9:6,10), where there was a high place (9:12). Hither at all events came the elders of Israel with their demand that a king should be set over them (8:4 f). After his final break with Saul, Samuel retired in sorrow to Ramah (15:34 f). Here, in Naioth, David found asylum with Samuel from the mad king (19:18, etc.), and hence, he fled on his ill-starred visit to Nob (20:1). In his native city the dust of the dead Samuel was laid (25:1; 28:3). In 1 Macc 11:34 it is named as one of the three toparchies along with Aphaerema and Lydda, which were added to Judea from the country of Samaria in 145 BC. Eusebius, Onomasticon places it near Diospolis (Euseb.) in the district of Timnah (Jerome).

There are two serious rivals for the honor of representing the ancient Ramah.

(a) Beit Rima, a village occupying a height 13 miles East-Northeast of Lydda (Diospolis), 12 miles West of Shiloh, and about the same distance Northwest of Bethel. This identification has the support of G. A. Smith (Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 254), and Buhl (Geographic des Alten Palestina, 170).

(b) Ramallah, a large and prosperous village occupying a lofty position with ancient remains. It commands a wide prospect, especially to the West. It lies about 8 miles North of Jerusalem, 3 West of Bethel, and 12 Southwest of Shiloh. The name meaning "the height" or "high place of God" may be reminiscent of the high place in the city where Saul found Samuel. In other respects it agrees very well with the Biblical data.

Claims have also been advanced on behalf of Ramleh, a village 2 miles Southwest of Lydda, in the plain of Sharon. This, however, is out of the question, as the place did not exist before Arab times. Others support identification with Neby Samwil, which more probably represents the ancient MIZPAH (which see).

(5) Ramah of the South, the King James Version "Ramath of the South": Ramath is the construct form of Ramah (Jos 19:8) (ra’math neghebh; Bameth kata liba). A city in that part of the territory of Judah which was allotted to Simeon. It stands here in apposition to Baalath-beer, and is probably a second name for the same place. It seems to correspond also with "Ramoth (plural) of the South" (1Sa 30:27), a place to which David sent a share of the spoil taken from the Amalekites. In this passage Septuagint retains the singular form, Rhama notou. Identification has been suggested with Qubbet el-Baul, about 37 miles South of Hebron; and with Kurnub a little farther South. There is no substantial ground for either identification.

(6) Codex Vaticanus Rhemmoth; Codex Alexandrinus Rhamoth: Ramah in 2Ki 8:29; 2Ch 22:6, is a contraction of Ramoth-gilead.

W. Ewing


ra’-math, (Jos 19:8 the King James Version).

See RAMAH, (5).


ra’-math-le’-hi (ramath lechi, "the hill" or "height of Lehi"; Anairesis siagonos): So the place is said to have been called where Samson threw away the jaw-bone of an ass, with which he had slain 1,000 Philistines (Jud 15:17). The Septuagint seems to have supposed that the name referred to the "heaving" or throwing up of the jaw-bone. The Hebrew, however, corresponds to the form used in other placenames, such as Ramath-mizpeh, and must be read as "Ramah of Lehi." The name Lehi may have been given because of some real or imagined likeness in the place to the shape of a jaw-bone (Jud 15:9,14,19). It may have been in Wady es-Sarar, not far from Zorah and Timnath; but the available data do not permit of certain identification.


W. Ewing


ra’-math-miz’-pe (ramath ha-mitspeh; Codex Vaticanus Araboth kata ten Massepha, Codex Alexandrinus Ramoth kata ten Maspha: A place mentioned in Jos 13:26 in a statement of the boundary of Gad, between Heshbon and Betonim. It may possibly be identical with MIZPAH, (1).



See RAMAH, (4).


ra-ma-tha’-im, ram’-a-them (1 Macc 11:34; the King James Version).

See RAMAH, (4).


ra’-math-it (ha-ramathi; Codex Vaticanus ho ek Rhael; Codex Alexandrinus ho Rhamathaios): So Shimei is called who was set by David over the vineyards (1Ch 27:27). There is nothing to show to which Ramah he belonged.


ram’-e-sez, ra-me’-sez.



ra-mi’-a (ramyah, "Yah has loosened" or "Yah is high"): One of the Israelites, of the sons of Parosh, mentioned in the register of those who had offended in the matter of foreign marriages (Ezr 10:25). The form of the name in 1 Esdras (9:26), "Hiermas," presupposes a Hebrew form yeremyah or possibly yirmeyah =" Jeremiah."



(1) ra’moth; he Rhamoth: A city in the territory of Issachar assigned to the Gershonite Levitea (1Ch 6:73), mentioned between Daberath and Anem. It seems to correspond to "Remeth" in Jos 19:21, and to "Jarmuth" in 21:29, and is possibly identical with er-Rameh about 11 miles Southwest of Jenin.

(2) Ramoth of the South.

See RAMAH, (5).

(3) Ramoth in Gilead.



ra’-moth (ramoth, Qere for yeremoth (Ezr 10:29 the King James Version); the Revised Version margin Kethibh makes the name similar to those in Ezr 10:26,27): One of the offenders in the matter of foreign marriages. The English Revised Version and the American Standard Revised Version, adopting Kethibh, read JEREMOTH (which see).


(Job 28:18 King James Version margin).



ra’-moth-gil’-e-ad (ramoth gil’adh; Codex Vaticanus Rhemmath Galadd; Codex Alexandrinus Rhammoth, and other forms): A great and strong city East of the Jordan in the territory of Gad, which played an important part in the wars of Israel. It is first mentioned in connection with the appointment of the Cities of Refuge (De 4:43; Jos 20:8). It was assigned to the Merarite Levites (Jos 21:38; 1Ch 6:80). In these four passages it is called "Ramoth in Gilead" (ramoth ba-gil’adh). This form is given wrongly by the King James Version in 1Ki 22:3. In all other places the form "Ramoth-gilead" is used.e to the shape of a jaw-bone (Jud 15:9,14,19). It may have been in Wady es-Sarar, not far from Zorah and Timnath; but the available data do not permit of certain identification.

1. History:

Here Ben-geber was placed in charge of one of Solomon’s administrative districts (1Ki 4:13), which included Havvoth-jair and "the region of Argob, which is in Bashan." The city was taken from Omri by the Syrians under Ben-hadad I (Ant., VIII, xv, 3 ff), and even after the defeat of Ben-hadad at Aphek they remained masters of this fortress. In order to recover it for Israel Ahab invited Jehoshaphat of Judah to accompany him in a campaign. Despite the discouragement of Micalab, the royal pair set out on the disastrous enterprise. In their attack on the city Ahab fought in disguise, but was mortally wounded by an arrow from a bow drawn "at a venture" (1Ki 22:1-40; 2Ch 18). The attempt was renewed by Ahab’s son Joram; but his father’s ill fortune followed him, and, heavily wounded, he retired for healing to Jezreel (2Ki 8:28 ff; 2Ch 22:5 f). During the king’s absence from the camp at Ramoth-gilead Jehu was there anointed king of Israel by Elisha (2Ki 9:1 ff; 2Ch 22:7). He proved a swift instrument of vengeance against the doomed house of Ahab. According to Josephus (Ant., IX, vi, 1) the city was taken before Joram’s departure. This is confirmed by 2Ki 9:14 ff. The place is not mentioned again, unless, indeed, it be identical with "Mizpeh" in 1 Macc 5:35.

2. Identification:

It is just possible that Ramoth-gilead corresponds to MIZPAH, (1), and to RAMATH-MIZPEH. The spot where Laban and Jacob parted is called both Galeed and Mizpah. Ramath may become Ramoth, as we see in the case of Ramah of the South.

Merrill identifies the city with Jerash, the splendid ruins of which lie in Wady ed-Deir, North of the Jabbok. He quotes the Bah Talmud (Makkoth 9b) as placing the Cities of Refuge in pairs, so that those on the East of the Jordan are opposite those on the West Shechem, being the middle one of the three West of the Jordan, should have Ramorb-gilead nearly opposite to it on the East, and this would place its site at Gerasa, the modern Jerash (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, under the word). But the words of the Talmud must not be interpreted too strictly. It seems very probable that Golan lay far South of a line drawn due East from Qedes (Kedesh-naphtali). No remains have been discovered at Jerash older than Greek- Roman times, although the presence of a fine perennial spring makes occupation in antiquity probable. The place could be approached by chariots along Wady ‘Ajlun, and the country adjoining was not unsuitable for chariot evolutions.

Conder and others have suggested Reimun, an ancient site to the West of Jerash. The absence of any source of good water-supply is practically fatal to this identification. Buhl (Geographic des Alten Palestina, 261 ff) favors el-Jil‘ad, a ruined site on a hill South of the Jabbok; see GILEAD, (1). Eusebius and Jerome (Onomasticon, under the word) contradict each other, the former placing Ramoth-gilead 15 miles West, and the latter 15 miles East of Philadelphia. It is clear, however, that this is a mere slip on Jerome’s part, as both say it is near the Jabbok. Many have identified it with es-Salt, which is indeed 15 miles West of ‘Amman (Philadelphia), but it is 10 miles South of the Jabbok, and so can hardly be described as near that river. It is also no place for chariot warfare. The case against identification with Ramoth-gilead is conclusively stated by G.A. Cooke in Driver’s Deuteronomy, xx.

In suggesting these sites sufficient attention has not been given to what is said in 1Ki 4. The authority of the king’s officer in Ramoth-gilead extended over the land of Argob in Bashan, as well as over the towns of Jair in Gilead. A situation therefore to the North of Mahanaim must be sought. Guthe would find it at er-Remtheh, on the pilgrim road, about 10 miles South of Mezerib (compare Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 586 ff). Cheyne’s suggestion of Salkhad, away on the crest of the mountain of Bashan, is out of the question. Caleb Hauser (Palestine Exploration Fund Statement, 1906, 304 f) argues in favor of Beit Ras, over 11 miles Southeast of Gadara, a position commanding all Northern Gilead and as favorably situated as Jerash for chariot warfare and communication with the West of Jordan. "Here we have the heights of Northern Gilead. Ramoth, Capitolias, and Beit Ras are in their respective languages idiomatic equivalents. It is improbable that a large city like Capitolins should have superseded anything but a very important city of earlier times." We must be content to leave the question open meantime.

W. Ewing


ram’-part (La 2:8; Na 3:8).



The skin of the sheep, roughly tanned with all the wool on, is the common winter jacket of the shepherd or peasant, the ram’s being considered especially desirable (compare Heb 11:37). Hence, the appropriateness of these skins in the covering of the tabernacle (Ex 25:5, etc.).



ranj: "Range" and "rank" have the same derivation, and in the sense of a "row" (of men, etc.) they were formerly interchangeable. "Range" with this meaning is found in 2Ki 11:8,15 the King James Version parallel 2Ch 23:14 (the Revised Version (British and American) "rank"; sedherah, "row"). Hence, "to range" is "to set in a line" (Judith 2:16; 2 Macc 12:20, diatasso) or "to move in a line" or, simply, "to roam," whence "a ranging bear" (Pr 28:15; shaqaq, "run to and fro"). A cooking "range" is a stove on which pots, etc., can be set in a row, but the kirayim of Le 11:35 is a much more primitive affair, composed, probably, of two plates (kirayim is a dual). In Job 39:8 "range of the mountains" is good modern use, but ythr, should be pointed yathur (not yethur as in Massoretic Text) and connected with tur, "search." So translate. "He searcheth out the mountains as his pasture."

Burton Scott Easton



(1) ‘orach, used in Joe 2:7 of the advance of the locust army which marched in perfect order and in straight lines, none crossing the other’s track.

(2) ma‘arakhah, "battle array" (1Ch 12:38 the King James Version; compare 1Sa 4:16; 17:22,48).



ranks (prasid, "a square plot of ground," "a garden-bed"): "They sat down in ranks" (Mr 6:40); the several reclining ranks formed, as it were, separate plots or "garden-beds."


ran’-sum (the noun occurs in the English Bible 12 times (Ex 21:30 the King James Version pidhyon; Ex 30:12; Job 33:24; 36:18; Pr 6:35; 13:8; 21:18; Isa 43:3, kopher; Mt 20:28; Mr 10:45, lutron; 1Ti 2:6, antilutron); the verbal form occurs 4 times (Isa 35:10; Ho 13:14, padhah; Isa 51:10 the King James Version; Jer 31:11, ga’al; these two Hebrew verbs are generally rendered in other passages by the English "redeem"))

1. Usage by Christ

2. Old Testament Usage—the Law

(1) General Cases

(2) Redemption Money—the Firstborn

(3) Connection with Sacrifice

(4) Typical Reference to the Messiah

3. The Psalms and Job

4. Apostolic Teaching

5. To Whom Was the Ransom Paid?

(1) Not to Satan

(2) To Divine Justice

(a) Redemption by Price

(b) Redemption by Power


1. Usage by Christ:

The supremely important instance is the utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ as reported by Matthew and Mark (Mt 20:28; Mr 10:45), and in looking at it we shall be able, by way of illustration, to glance at the Old Testament passages. The context refers to the dispute among the disciples concerning position in the Kingdom, with their misconception of the true nature of Christ’s Kingdom. Christ makes use of the occasion to set forth the great law of service as determining the place of honor in that Kingdom, and illustrates and enforces it by showing that its greatest exemplification is to be found in His own mission: "For the Son of man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister" (Mr 10:45). His ministry, however, was to pass into the great act of sacrifice, of which all other acts of self-sacrifice on the part of His people would be but a faint reflection—"and to give his life (soul) a ransom for many" (same place). He thus gives a very clear intimation of the purpose and meaning of His death; the clearest of all the intimations reported by the synoptists. The word He uses bears a well-established meaning, and is accurately rendered by our word "ransom," a price paid to secure the freedom of a slave or to set free from liabilities and charges, and generally the deliverance from calamity by paying the forfeit. The familiar verb luo, "to loose," "to set free," is the root, then lutron, that which secures the freedom, the payment or forfeit; thence come the cognate verb lutroo, "to set free upon payment of a ransom," "to redeem"; lutrosis, "the actual setting free," "the redemption," and lutrotes, "the redeemer." The favorite New Testament word for "redemption" is the compound form, apolutrosis.

2. Old Testament Usage—the Law:

The word lutron was common in Greek classical literature, constantly bearing the sense of "ransom price," and was frequently connected with ritual usage, with sacrifice and expiation. But for the full explanation of our Lord’s great thought we have to look to the Old Testament usage. The two leading Hebrew verbs translated in our version by "redeem," are generally rendered in the Septuagint by lutroo, and derivatives of these words conveying the idea of the actual price paid are translated by this very word lutron.

(1) General Cases.

In Ex 21:30 we have the law concerning the case of the person killed by an ox; the ox was to be killed and the owner of it was also liable to death but the proviso was made, "If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him" (the King James Version). The Hebrew for "sum of money" is kopher, literally, "atonement" (the Revised Version (British and American) "ransom"); the word for "ransom" (the Revised Version (British and American) "redemption") is pidhyon (from padhah); the Septuagint renders both by lutron (rather by the plural form lutra). In Le 25, among the directions in relation to the Jubilee, we have the provision (25:23) that the land was not to be sold "in perpetuity," but where any portion has been sold, opportunity is to be given for re-purchase: "Ye shall grant a redemption for the land" (25:24). The Hebrew is ge’ullah, a derivative of ga’al, the Septuagint lutra. In 25:25,26, the case is mentioned of a man who through poverty has sold part of his land; if a near kinsman is able to redeem it he shall do so; if there is no one to act this brotherly part, and the man himself is able to redeem it, then a certain scale of price is arranged. In the Hebrew it is again ga’al that is used with the cognate go’el for "kinsman." The last clause rendered in the King James Version, "and himself be able to redeem it" (in the Revised Version (British and American) "and he be waxed rich and find sufficient to redeem it"), is literally, "and his hand shall acquire and he find sufficient for its redemption"; the Septuagint has the verb lutroo in the first part, and renders the clause pretty literally, "and there be furnished to his hand and there be found with him the sufficient price (lutra) of it." In Le 25:51,52, in reference to the redemption of the Jew sold into slavery, we have twice in the Hebrew the word ge’ullah, rendered in English accurately "the pricen of his redemption"; and by Septuagint with equal accuracy, in both cases, lutra, "the ransom-price." In Le 27:31 the King James Version, the phrase "if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes" is intended to represent the emphatic Hebrew idiom, "if a man redeeming will redeem," which is rendered by Septuagint ean de lutrotai lutro anthropos.

(2) Redemption Money—the Firstborn.

But perhaps the most important passage is the law concerning the half-shekel to be paid by every Israelite from 20 years old and upward when a census was taken. It was to be the same for rich and poor, and it was called "atonement money," "to make atonement for their souls." In the opening words of the law, as given in Ex 30:12 (the King James Version), we read "Then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord"—the Hebrew kopher; the Septuagint rendering is lutra tes psuches autou, "a ransom price for his soul." All the people were thus considered as doomed and needing atonement, and it is significant that this atonement money paid at the first census furnished the silver for the sockets of the tabernacle boards, intimating that the typical tabernacle was built upon atonement. The same thought, that the people’s lives were forfeited, comes out in the provision for the consecration of the Levites, recorded in full in Nu 3:40-51. The firstborn represented the people. God claimed all the firstborn as forfeited to Himself, teaching that Israel deserved the same punishment as the Egyptians, and was only spared by the grace of Yahweh, and in virtue of the sprinkled blood. Now He takes to Himself for His services the Levites as the equivalent of the firstborn, and when it was found that the number of the firstborn exceeded the number of the Levites, equivalence was maintained by ransoming at a certain price the surplus of the firstborn males. In the Septuagint account, lutra occurs 4 times, twice for the phrase "those to be redeemed," and twice for "redemption money." Thus the idea of ransom for the forfeited life became familiar to the people as educated by the typical system, and redemption expressed the sum total of their hopes for the future, however faulty might be their conception of the nature of that redemption.

(3) Connection with Sacrifice.

It is also clear in the typical teaching that sacrifice and ransom were closely related. Even in classical Greek, as we have noted, the two conceptions were connected, and it is not surprising to find it so in the Old Testament. Kopher, we have seen, is literally, "atonement" and comes from kaphar, literally, "to cover," and thence by covering to make atonement, or to cover by making atonement; and so it is in the Piel form, the most common and technical Hebrew word for making atonement, or expiation, or propitiation, and is frequently rendered in the Greek by hilaskomai, often too by the compound exilaskomai. In Ex 21:30, kopher, we noted, is used interchangeably with pidhyon, both being represented in the Septuagint by lutra, and so in Ex 30:12; Nu 35:31,32; the Hebrew kopher is lutra in the Greek In the latter place, where it is twice stated that no satisfaction shall be taken for the life of a murderer, the Hebrew is kopher, the Septuagint has lutra; the Revised Version (British and American) has "ransom;" the King James Version has "satisfaction."

(4) Typical Reference to the Messiah.

Sacrifice was thus linked with ransom. Sacrifice was the divinely-appointed covering for sin. The ransom for the deliverance of the sinner was to be by sacrifice. Both the typical testimony of the Law and the prophetic testimony gave prominence to the thought of redemption. The Coming One was to be a Redeemer. Redemption was to be the great work of the Messiah. The people seem to have looked for the redemption of the soul to God alone through the observance of their appointed ritual, while redemption, in the more general sense of deliverance from all enemies and troubles, they linked with the advent of the Messiah. It required a spiritual vision to see that the two things would coincide, that the Messiah would effect redemption in all its phases and fullness by means of ransom, of sacrifice, of expiation.

Jesus appeared as the Messiah in whom all the old economy was to be fulfilled. He knew perfectly the meaning of the typical and prophetic testimony; and with that fully in view, knowing that His death was to fulfill the Old Testament types and accomplish its brightest prophetic anticipations, He deliberately uses this term lutron to describe it (Mt 20:28); in speaking of His death as a ransom, He also regarded it as a sacrifice, an expiatory offering. The strong preposition used intensifies the idea of ransom and expiation, even to the point of substitution. It is anti, "instead of," and the idea of exchange, equivalence, substitution cannot be removed from it. In Nu 3:45, "Take the Levites instead of all the first-born," the Septuagint uses anti, which, like the English "instead of," exactly represents the Hebrew tachath; and all three convey most unmistakably the idea of substitution. And as the Levites were to be substituted for the firstborn, so for the surplus of the firstborn the "ransom money" was to be substituted, that idea, however, being clearly enough indicated by the use of the genitive. Indeed the simpler way of describing a ransom would be with the genitive, the ransom of many; or as our version renders, "a ransom for many"; but just because the ransom here is not simply a money payment, but is the actual sacrifice of the life, the substitution of His soul for many, He is appropriately said "to give his soul a ransom instead of many." The Kingdom of God which Christ proclaimed was so diverse in character from that which Salome and her sons anticipated that, so far from appearing in dazzling splendor, with distinguished places of power for eager aspirants, it was to be a spiritual home for redeemed sinners. Men held captive by sin needed to be ransomed that they might be free to become subjects of the Kingdom, and so the ransom work, the sufferings and death of Christ, must lie at the very foundation of that Kingdom. The need of ransom supposes life forfeited; the ransom paid secures life and liberty; the life which Christ gives comes through His ransoming death.

3. The Psalms and Job:

Besides the passages in the Pentateuch which we have noted, special mention should be made of the two great passages which bear so closely upon the need of spiritual redemption, and come into line with this great utterance of Christ. Ps 49:7,8, "None of them can by any means redeem (padhah; lutroo) his brother, nor give to God a ransom (kopher; exilasma) for him (for the redemption of their life is costly, and it faileth forever)." (The Hebrew gives pidhyon for "redemption"; the Greek has "the price of the redemption of his soul.") No human power or skill, no forfeit in money or service or life can avail to ransom any soul from the doom entailed by sin. But in Ps 49:15 the triumphant hope is expressed, "But God will redeem (padhah; lutroo) my soul from the power of Sheol." In Job 33:24, "Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom": God is the speaker, and whatever may be the particular exegesis of the passage in its original application, it surely contains an anticipation of the gospel redemption. This divine eureka is explained in the light of Christ’s utterance; it finds its realization through the cross: "I have found a ransom," for "the Son of Man" has given "his soul a ransom for many."

4. Apostolic Teaching:

This great utterance of the Saviour may well be considered as the germ of all the apostolic teaching concerning redemption, but it is not for us to show its unfolding beyond noting that in apostolic thought the redemption was always connected with the death, the sacrifice of Christ.

Thus, Paul (Eph 1:7), "In whom we have our redemption through his blood." Thus Peter (1Pe 1:18,19), "Ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things .... but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ." So in Heb 9:12 it is shown that Christ "through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption"; and in the Apocalypse (Re 5:9) the song is, "Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood men of every tribe," etc. In all but the last of these passages there is an echo of the very word used by Christ, apolutrosis and lutrosis, both being connected with lutron. In 1Ti 2:5,6 Paul has a still closer verbal coincidence when he says, "Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all" (antilutron). The word used in the Apocalypse is agorazo, to buy in the open market, and is frequently used of the redeeming work of Christ (Re 14:3,4; 2Pe 2:1; 1Co 6:20; 7:23). In the two places where Paul uses it he adds the means of purchase: "Ye were bought with a price," which from his point of view would be equivalent to ransom. In the passage in Ga 3:13; 4:5, Paul uses the compound exagorazo, which is equivalent to "redeem, buy off, deliver by paying the price."

5. To Whom Was the Ransom Paid?:

The question "Who receives the ransom?" is not directly raised in Scripture, but it is one that not unnaturally occurs to the mind, and theologians have answered it in varying ways.

(1) Not to Satan.

The idea entertained by some of the Fathers (Irenaeus, Origen) that the ransom was given to Satan, who is conceived of as having through the sin of man a righteous claim upon him, which Christ recognizes and meets, is grotesque, and not in any way countenanced by Scripture.

(2) To Divine Justice.

But in repudiating it, there is no need to go so far as to deny that there is anything answering to a real ransoming transaction. All that we have said goes to show that, in no mere figure of speech, but in tremendous reality, Christ gave "his life a ransom," and if our mind demands an answer to the question to whom the ransom was paid, it does not seem at all unreasonable to think of the justice of God, or God in His character of Moral Governor, as requiring and receiving it. In all that Scripture asserts about propitiation, sacrifice, reconciliation in relation to the work of Christ, it is implied that there is wrath to be averted, someone to be appeased or satisfied, and while it may be enough simply to think of the effects of Christ’s redeeming work in setting us free from the penal claims of the Law—the just doom of sin—it does not seem going beyond the spirit of Scripture to draw the logical inference that the ransom price was paid to the Guardian of that holy law, the Administrator of eternal justice. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us" (Ga 3:13). This essential, fundamental phase of redemption is what theologians, with good Scripture warrant, have called redemption by blood, or by price, as distinguished from the practical outcome of the work of Christ in the life which is redemption by power.

(a) Redemption by Price:

As to Satan’s claims, Christ by paying the ransom price, having secured the right to redeem, exercises His power on behalf of the believing sinner. He does not recognize the right of Satan. He is the "strong man" holding his captives lawfully, and Christ the "stronger than he" overcomes him and spoils him, and sets his captives free (Lu 11:21,22). In one sense men may be said to have sold themselves to Satan, but they had no right to sell, nor he to buy, and Christ ignores that transaction and brings "to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14), and so is able to "deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb 2:15).

(b) Redemption by Power:

Many of the Old Testament passages about the redemption wrought on behalf of God’s people illustrate this redemption by power, and the redemption by power is always founded on the redemption by price; the release follows the ransom. In the case of Israel, there was first the redemption by blood—the sprinkled blood of the Paschal Lamb which sheltered from the destroying angel (Ex 12)—and then followed the redemption by power, when by strength of hand Yahweh brought His people out from Egypt (Ex 13:14), and in His mercy led forth the people which He had redeemed (Ex 15:13).

So under the Gospel when "he hath visited and wrought redemption for his people" (Lu 1:68), He can "grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies should serve him without fear" (Lu 1:74). It is because we have in Him our redemption through His blood that we can be delivered out of the power of darkness (Col 1:13,14).



See works on New Testament Theology (Weiss, Schmid, Stevens, etc.); articles in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes); Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels. Archibald M’Caig




ra’-fa (rapha’):

(1) In the Revised Version margin these names are substituted for "the giant" in 1Ch 20:4,6,8 and in 2Sa 21:16,18,20,22. The latter passage states that certain champions of the Philistines who were slain by David’s warriors had been born to the raphah in Gath. The text is corrupt; Raphah is probably an eponym. Originally the name of one of the Philistines who was of the body "Rephaites" stood in the text. The plural of this word, or at least a plural of this stem, is REPHAIM (which see).

(2) Raphah (the King James Version "Rapha"), a descendant of Saul (1Ch 8:37).


Horace J. Wolf


ra’-a-el, ra’-fa-el (repha’el, from rapha’ ‘el, "God has healed"; Rhaphael): The name of the angel who, as Azarias, guides Tobias to ECBATANA and RAGES (which see). The purpose of his mission is, in accordance with his name, to cure Tobit of blindness, and to deliver Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, from the power of the evil spirit Asmodaeus (Tobit 3:8; 12:14). Later, in addition, when he reveals himself (Tobit 12:15), he declares that he is "one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and go in before the glory of the Holy One." These seven angels are derived, according to Dr. Kohut, from the seven Am-shaspands (Amesha-spentas) of Zoroastrianism (compare Re 4:5). At the head of the elaborate angelology of the Enoch books there are "four presences," and Raphael is one of them (En 40:9; 54:6). In the first of these passages Raphael is the healer; in the second, he with Michael, Gabriel and Phanuel lead the wicked away to punishment. These four presences seem related to the four "living creatures" of Ezekiel (1:5) and of the Apocalypse (Re 4:6). While this is the general representation of Raphael’s position in Enoch, in 20:3 he is named among the angels who "watch," whose number according to the Greek text is seven. Raphael shared in the function assigned to the archangels, in the Oracula Sibyllina, of leading souls to the judgment seat of God (II, 215, Alexandre’s text). He occupies a prominent place in Jewish medieval writings; he with Michael and Gabriel cured Abraham (Yoma’ 37a); according to the book Zohar, Raphael conveyed to Adam a book containing 72 kinds of wisdom in 670 writings. The painters of the Renaissance frequently depicted Raphael.

J. E. H. Thomson


raf’-a-im, ra-fa’-im (Codex Vaticanus omits; Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus have Rhapha(e)in): An ancestor of Judith (Judith 8:1).


ra’-fon (@Rhapheion]): The place where in his campaign East of Jordan Judas inflicted disastrous defeat on the host of Timotheus, the fugitives fleeing for refuge to the temple at Carnaim (1 Macc 5:37 ff; Ant, XII, viii, 4). The same place is doubtless referred to by Pliny as "Raphana" (NH, v.16). It may possibly be represented by the modern Rafeh, on the East of the pilgrimage road, about 17 miles North of Der‘ah, and 11 miles Northeast of Tell el-‘Ash‘ary. It is a mile and a half North of Wady Kanawat, which would thus be the "brook" mentioned in the narrative. It is perhaps far enough away from Carnaim, if this is rightly placed at Tell el-‘Ash‘ary.

W. Ewing


ra’-fu (raphu’," one healed"): The father of Palti, the spy selected from the tribe of Benjamin (Nu 13:9).


ras’-ez (Rhaasseis, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus, Rhasseis; Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Tharsis; Old Latin Thiras et Rasis): The children of Rasses are mentioned with Put, Lud and the children of Ishmael as having been subdued by Holofernes (Judith 2:23).

Their identity is a matter of conjecture only. Some think Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Tharsis (= Tarsus) is meant, others Rosh (Eze 38:2,3; 39:1), others Rhosos, a mountain range and city South from Anunus, on the Gulf of Issus. Most probably a district, not a town, is named, situated in the eastern part of Asia Minor.

S. F. Hunter


ra-thu’-mus (Rhathumos): One of those who joined in writing a letter to protest to Artaxerxes against the Jews (1 Esdras 2:16 ff). In 1 Esdras 2:17 he is styled "story-writer," the Revised Version margin "recorder" (ho ta prospiptonta sc. (graphon) =" Rehum the chancellor" of Ezr 4:8, Rathumus being a Greek form of Rehum. In 1 Esdras 2:16 his title appears as an independent proper name, BEELTETHMUS (which see) (here the King James Version margin gives "Bahumus," a misprint), and in 1 Esdras 2:25 R. and Beeltethmus are given as distinct persons.


ra’-vn (‘orebh; korax; Latin Corvus corax): A large family of the smaller birds of prey belonging to the genus Corvus corax. A bird of such universal distribution that it is known from Iceland to Japan, all over Asia, Europe and Africa, but almost extinct and not of general distribution in our own country. In no land is it more numerous than in Palestine In general appearance it resembles the crow, but is much larger, being almost two feet long, of a glossy black, with whiskers around the beak, and rather stiff-pointed neck feathers. A bird exhibiting as much intelligence as any, and of a saucy, impudent disposition, it has been an object of interest from the beginning. It has been able to speak sentences of a few words when carefully taught, and by its uncanny acts has made itself a bird surrounded by superstition, myth, fable, and is connected with the religious rites of many nations. It is partially a carrion feeder, if offal or bodies are fresh; it also eats the young of other birds and very small animals and seeds, berries and fruit, having as varied a diet as any bird. It is noisy, with a loud, rough, emphatic cry, and its young are clamorous feeding time.

Aristotle wrote that ravens drove their young from their location and forced them to care for themselves from the time they left the nest. This is doubtful. Bird habits and characteristics change only with slow ages of evolution. Our ravens of today are, to all intents, the same birds as those of Palestine in the time of Moses, and ours follow the young afield for several days and feed them until the cawing, flapping youngsters appear larger than the parents. In Pliny’s day, ravens had been taught to speak, and as an instance of their cunning he records that in time of drought a raven found a bucket containing a little water beside a grave and raised it to drinking level by dropping in stones.

Palestine has at least 8 different species of ravens. This bird was the first sent out by Noah in an effort to discover if the flood were abating (Ge 8:6-8). Because it partially fed on carrion it was included among the abominations (see Le 11:15; De 14:14). On 1Ki 17:4-6, see ELIJAH and the present writer’s Birds of the Bible, 401-3. Among the marvels of creation and providence in Job 38:41, we have this mention of the raven,

"Who provideth for the raven his prey,

When his young ones cry unto God,

And wander for lack of food?"

The answer to this question is in Ps 147:9:

"He giveth to the beast his food,

And to the young ravens which cry."

Both these quotations point out the fact that the young are peculiarly noisy. In Pr 30:17 it is indicated that the ravens, as well as eagles, vultures and hawks, found the eye of prey the vulnerable point, and so attacked it first. The Hebrew ‘orebh means "black," and for this reason was applied to the raven, so the reference to the locks of the bridegroom in the So of Solomon becomes clear (So 5:11). The raven is one of the birds indicated to prey upon the ruins of Edom (Isa 34:11). The last reference is found in Lu 12:24: "Consider the ravens, that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them." This could have been said of any wild bird with equal truth.

Gene Stratton-Porter


rav’-n, rav’-in: "Raven" (verb) is from "rapine," "violent plundering, used for Taraph, in Ge 49:27; Ps 22:13; Eze 22:25,27, while "ravin" (noun) is the object ravened, in Na 2:12 the torn carcasses (Terephah). So "ravenous bird" (Isa 46:11; Eze 39:4) is a bird of prey (not a "hungry bird"), ‘ayiT, literally, "a screecher." "Ravenous beast" in Isa 35:9 is for parits, "violent one." In the New Testament harpax, "rapacious," is translated "ravening" in Mt 7:15, while for the cognate harpage (Lu 11:39), the King James Version gives "ravening," the Revised Version (British and American) "extortion."


ra’-zis (Rhazeis): "An elder of Jerusalem," "lover of his countrymen," and for his good will toward them called "father of the Jews," accused before the Syrian general Nicanor as an opponent of Hellenism. In order to escape falling into the hands of Nicanor’s soldiers he committed suicide with the greatest determination in a rather revolting manner (2 Macc 14:37 ff), in his death calling upon "the Lord of life" in the hope of a resurrection. His suicide—contrary to Jewish sentiment—was regarded with approbation by the author of 2 Macc (14:42,43).


ra’-zer (ta‘ar, "knife" (Nu 6:5; Ps 52:2; Isa 7:20; Eze 5:1), morah, "razor" (Jud 13:5; 16:17; 1Sa 1:11)).



red’-ing (miqra’; anagnosis): As a noun occurs once in the Old Testament (Ne 3:8) and 3 times in the New Testament (Ac 13:15; 2Co 3:14; 1Ti 4:13), each time with reference to the public reading of the Divine Law. The verb "to read" (qara’; anaginosko) occurs frequently both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament: (1) often in the sense of reading aloud to others, especially of the public reading of God’s Law or of prophecy, as by Moses (Ex 24:7), Ezra (Ne 8:3,18), Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lu 4:16), of the regular reading of the Law and the Prophets in the synagogues (Ac 13:27; 15:21), and of the reading of apostolic epistles in the Christian church (Col 4:16; 1Th 5:27); (2) also in the sense of reading to one’s self, whether the divine word in Law or prophecy (De 17:19; Ac 8:28-30, etc.), or such things as private letters (2Ki 5:7; 19:14; Ac 23:34, etc.).

D. Miall Edwards


red’-i (]~mahir]): Occurs twice in the sense of apt, skillful (Ezr 7:6; Ps 45:1). the Revised Version (British and American) gives "ready" for "fit" (Pr 24:27), for "asketh" (Mic 7:3), for "prepared" (Mr 14:15), for "not be negligent" (2Pe 1:12).


re-a’-ya, re-i’-a (re’ayah, "Yah has seen"; Septuagint: Codex Vaticanus, Rhada, A, Rheia):

(1) The eponym of a Calebite family (1Ch 4:2). The word "Reaiah" should probably be substituted for "Haroeh" in 1Ch 2:52, but both forms may be corruptions.

(2) A Reubenite (1Ch 5:5, the King James Version "Reaia").


(3) The family name of a company of Nethinim (Ezr 2:47; Ne 7:50 = RAPC 1Es 5:31).


rep’-ing (qatsar; therizo): Reaping in ancient times, as at present, consisted in either pulling up the grain by the roots or cutting it with a sickle (see SICKLE), and then binding the stalks into bundles to be carried to the threshing-floor. If the Egyptian sculptures are true to life, reaping was sometimes divided into two operations, the heads of grain and the stalks being reaped separately. In Palestine and Syria both pulling and cutting are still practiced, the former when the ground is stony and the spears scarce. Even where the sickle is used, much of the grain comes up by the roots, owing to the toughness of the dried stalks or the dullness of the sickle. The reaper sometimes wears pieces of cane on the fingers of the hand which gathers the grain in order to protect them from injury by the sharp grasses or the sickle. There were definite laws established by the Hebrews in regard to reaping (Le 19:9; 23:10; 25:5,11; De 16:9). Samuel mentions the task of reaping the harvest as one of the requirements which would be made by the king for whom the people were clamoring (1Sa 8:12).


The certainty of the consequences of good and evil doing were often typified by the sowing and the reaping of harvests (Job 4:8; Pr 22:8; Ho 8:7; 10:12,13; 2Co 9:6; Ga 6:7,8). "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy" is found in the liberated captives’ song (Ps 126:5). "He that regardeth the clouds shall not reap," i.e. a lack of faith in God’s care will be punished (Ec 11:4); compare also the lesson of trust drawn from the birds (Mt 6:26; Lu 12:24). Sowing and not reaping the harvest is mentioned as a punishment for disobedience (Job 31:8; Jer 12:13; Mic 6:15). Reaping where he sowed not, showed the injustice of the landlord (Mt 25:26), as did also the withholding of the reapers’ wages (Jas 5:4). In God’s Kingdom there is a division of labor: "He that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" (Joh 4:36-38). In John’s vision he saw an angel reap the earth (Re 14:15,16).


James A. Patch


rer’-word (’acaph, "to gather," Nu 10:25; Jos 6:9 (the King James Version margin "gathering host"); Isa 52:12).



re’-z’n, re’-z’n-a-b’l, re’-z’n-ing (yakhach, etc.; logos, dialogizomai, -ismos, etc.): "Reason" with related terms, has a diversity of meanings, representing a large number of Hebrew and Greek words and phrases. In the sense of "cause" or "occasion" it stands in 1Ki 9:15 for dabhar, "a word" (the Revised Version margin "account"), but in most cases renders prepositional forms as "from," "with," "because of," "for the sake," etc. As the ground or argument for anything, it is the translation of ta‘am (Pr 26:16, the Revised Version margin "answers discreetly"), of yakhach, as in Isa 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together" (compare Job 13:3; 15:3); in 1Sa 12:7, the word is shaphaT, the Revised Version (British and American) "that I may plead," etc. The principal Greek words for "reason," "reasoning," are those given above. The Christian believer is to be ready to give a reason (logos) for the hope that is in him (1Pe 3:15 the King James Version). "Reason" as a human faculty or in the abstract sense appears in Apocrypha in The Wisdom of Solomon 17:12 (logismos); Ecclesiasticus 37:16, "Let reason (logos) go before every enterprise," the Revised Version (British and American) "be the beginning of every work." In Ac 18:14, "reason would" is literally, kata logon, "according to reason"; in Ro 12:1, for "reasonable (logikos) service," the Revised Version (British and American) has "spiritual," and in the margin "Greek ‘belonging to the reason.’ " In the Revised Version (British and American) "reason," etc., occurs much oftener than in the King James Version (compare Le 17:11; De 28:47; Jud 5:22; Job 20:2; 23:7, etc.; Lu 3:15; 12:17; Ac 17:17, etc.).

W. L. Walker


re-bek’-a (rebha‘, "fourth part"; Septuagint: Codex Vaticanus Rhobe; Codex Alexandrinus Rhebek): One of the five chieftains of Midian who were slain by the Israelites, under Moses (Nu 31:8; Jos 13:21). Like his comrades, he is termed a "king" in Numbers, but a "chief" or "prince" in Joshua.


re-bek’-a (ribhqah; Septuagint and New Testament Rhebekka, whence the usual English spelling Rebecca): Daughter of Bethuel and an unknown mother, grand-daughter of Nahor and Milcah, sister of Laban, wife of Isaac, mother of Esau and Jacob.

Her name is usually explained from the Arabic, rabqat, "a tie-rope for animals," or, rather, "a noose" in such a rope; its application would then by figure suggest the beauty (?) of her that bears it, by means of which men are snared or bound; The root is found in Hebrew only in the noun meaning "hitching-place" or "stall," in the familiar phrase "fatted calf" or "calf of the stall," and in view of the meaning of such names as Rachel and Eglah the name Rebekah might well mean (concrete for abstract, like riqmah, chemdah, etc.) a "tied-up calf" (or "lamb"?), one therefore peculiarly choice and fat.

Rebekah is first mentioned in the genealogy of the descendants of Nahor, brother of Abraham (Ge 22:20-24). In fact, the family is there carried down just so far as is necessary in order to introduce this woman, for whose subsequent appearance and role the genealogy is obviously intended as a preparation. All this branch of the family of Terah had remained in Aram when Abraham and Lot had migrated to Canaan, and it is at Haran, "the city of Nahor," that we first meet Rebekah, when in Genesis 24 she is made known to Abraham’s servant at the well before the gate.

That idyllic narrative of the finding of a bride for Isaac is too familiar to need rehearsal and too simple to require comment. Besides, the substance both of that story and of the whole of Rebekah’s career is treated in connection with the sketches of the other actors in the same scenes. Yet we note from the beginning the maiden’s decision of character, which appears in every line of the narrative, and prepares the reader to find in subsequent chapters the positive, ambitious and energetic woman that she there shows herself.

Though the object of her husband’s love (Ge 24:67), Rebekah bore him no children for 20 years (Ge 25:20,26). Like Sarah, she too was barren, and it was only after that score of years and after the special intercession of Isaac that God at length granted her twin sons. "The purpose of God according to election," as Paul expresses the matter in Ro 9:11, was the cause of that strange oracle to the wondering, inquiring parents, "The elder shall serve the younger" (Ge 25:23).

Whether because of this oracle or for some other reason, it was that younger son, Jacob, who became the object of his mother’s special love (Ge 25:28). She it was who led him into the deception practiced upon Isaac (Ge 27:5-17), and she it was who devised the plan for extricating Jacob from the dangerous situation into which that deception had brought him (Ge 27:42-46). When the absence of Jacob from home became essential to his personal safety, Rebekah proposed her own relations in Aram as the goal of his journey, and gave as motive the desirability of Jacob’s marrying from among her kindred. Probably she did not realize that in sending her favorite son away on this journey she was sending him away from her forever. Yet such seems to have been the case. Though younger than Isaac, who was still living at an advanced age when Jacob returned to Canaan a quarter of a century later, Rebekah seems to have died during that term. We learn definitely only this, that she was buried in the cave of Machpelah near Hebron (Ge 49:31).

Outside of Genesis, Rebekah is alluded to in Scripture only in the passage from Romans (9:10-12) already cited. Her significance there is simply that of the wife of Isaac and the mother of two sons of such different character and destiny as Esau and Jacob. And her significance in Gen, apart from this, lies in her contribution to the family of Abraham of a pure strain from the same eastern stock, thus transmitting to the founders of Israel both an unmixed lineage and that tradition of separateness from Canaanite and other non-Hebrew elements which has proved the greatest factor in the ethnological marvel of the ages, the persistence of the Hebrew people.

J. Oscar Boyd


re-buk’:As a verb "rebuke" is in the Old Testament the translation of ga‘ar and yakhach; another word, ribh, in Ne 5:7, is in the Revised Version (British and American) translated "contended with." "Rebuke" (noun) is most frequently the translation of ge‘arah; also in the King James Version of cherpah (Isa 25:8; Jer 15:15, the Revised Version (British and American) "reproach"), and of a few other words signifying reproach, etc. "Rebuker" (mucar, literally, "correction," "chastisement") in Ho 5:2 has the Revised Version margin "Hebrew ‘rebuke.’" In the New Testament "to rebuke" is most often the translation of epitimao (Mt 8:26; 16:22; 17:18, etc.); also in the King James Version of elegcho, always in the Revised Version (British and American) rendered "reprove" (1Ti 5:20; Tit 1:13; 2:15; Heb 12:5; Re 3:19). Another word is epipletto (once, 1Ti 5:1); "without rebuke" in Php 2:15 is in the Revised Version (British and American) "without blemish." On the other hand, the Revised Version (British and American) has "rebuke" for several words in the King James Version, as for "reprove" (2Ki 19:4; Isa 37:4), "reproof" (Job 26:11; Pr 17:10), "charged" (Mr 10:48). In Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3, the English Revised Version has "reprove" for "rebuke," and in the margin "decide concerning," which is text in the American Standard Revised Version. In Ecclesiasticus 11:7 we have the wise counsel: "Understand first, and then rebuke" (epitimao).

W. L. Walker


re’-ka (rekhah; Codex Vaticanus Rhechab; Codex Alexandrinus Rhepha; the King James Version Rechah): In 1Ch 4:12 certain persons are described as "the men of Recah," but there is absolutely no information either about the place or its position.





re-sev’-er: Found in the King James Version (Isa 33:18); but the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "he that weighed the tribute." The Hebrew is shoqel, which means "one who weighs," "a weigher."


re’-kab, rek’-a-bits (rekhabh, rekhabhim): Rechab is the name of two men of some prominence in the Old Testament records:

(1) A Benjamite of the town of Beeroth, son of Rimmon (2Sa 4:2); he and his brother Baanah were "captains" of the military host of Ish-bosheth. On the death of Abner (2Sa 3:30) the two brothers treacherously entered Ish-bosheth’s house, when at noon he was resting and helpless, beheaded him, and escaped with the head to David at Hebron (2Sa 4:6-8). They expected to receive reward and honor from David for the foul deed, which left him without a rival for the throne of all Israel. But the just and noble-minded king ordered their immediate execution (2Sa 4:9-12), as in the case of the Amalekite, who asserted that he had killed Saul (2Sa 1). For some reason the Beerothites left their own town and fled to Gittaim, another town in Benjamin, where they were still living when the Books of Samuel were written (2Sa 4:3).

(2) The more prominent of the men bearing this name was a Kenite (see KENITES), a descendant of Hammath (1Ch 2:55). A part of the Kenite tribe joined the Israelites during the wilderness wanderings (Nu 10:29-32; Jud 1:16; 4:17), becoming identified with the tribe of Judah, although Heber and Jael his wife were settled in Northern Palestine (Jud 4:17). Rechab was the ancestor or founder of a family, or order, in Israel known as the Rechabites, who at various times were conspicuous in the religious life of the nation. The most notable member of this family was Jehonadab (2Ki 10:15 ff, 23), or Jonadab, as he is called in Jer 35. Jehonadab was a zealous Yahweh-worshipper and took part with Jehu in the extirpation of Baal-worship and the house of Ahab. He set for his descendants a vow of asceticism: that they should drink no wine, nor plant fields or vineyards, nor build nor live in houses throughout their generations (Jer 35:6,7). That must have been a singular feature in Palestinian life: the simple, nomadic life of this family from generation to generation in the midst of settled agricultural and industrial conditions! They followed this simple life in order to guard against the enervating tendencies of sensualism, and as a covenant of fidelity to Yahweh, to whom they wholly devoted themselves when they joined themselves to Israel. Jeremiah used the Rechabites, who had been driven into Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s investment of the land, as an object-lesson to covenant-breaking Judah. The Rechabites, hungry and thirsty, refused wine when it was set before them, because of the command of their ancestor Jonadab (Jer 35:8-10); but Judah refused to heed Yahweh’s commands or to keep His covenant (Jer 35:14,15).

If the Rechab of Ne 3:14 is the same as this Kenite, then his descendant Malchijah, who assisted Nehemiah in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, may have abandoned the vow of his ancestors, for he was "ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem" (i.e. "house of the vineyard").

Edward Mack


re’-ka (rekhah).



re-klin’-ing (Joh 13:23).



rek’-on-sil, rek-on-sil-i-a’-shun (@katallasso], katallage, also the compound form apokatallasso; once the cognate diallassomai is used in Mt 5:24):

1. The Terms

(1) New Testament Usage

(2) Old Testament Usage

(3) Special Passage in 1 Samuel 29:4

(4) Usage in the Apocrypha

2. Non-doctrinal Passage—Matthew 5:24

3. Doctrinal Passages (1) Romans 5

(2) 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

(3) Ephesians 2:16

(4) Colossians 1:20-22


1. The Terms:

(1) New Testament Usage.

In the last case, Mt 5:24, the word is not used in a doctrinal sense, though its use is very helpful in considering the force of the other terms. All the other instances are in Paul’s Epistles (Ro 5:10; 1Co 7:11; 2Co 5:18-20, the verb; Ro 5:11; 11:15; 2Co 5:18,19, the noun; Eph 2:16; Col 1:22, the compound). The word "reconcile" has a double meaning and usage, and the context must in each case determine how it is to be taken. The great doctrine is the reconciliation of God and men, but the question to be decided is whether it is God who is reconciled to men, or men who are reconciled to God, and different schools of theology emphasize one side or the other. The true view embraces both aspects. The word "to reconcile" means literally to exchange, to bring into a changed relationship. Some maintain that it is only a change in the sinner that is intended, a laying aside of his enmity, and coming into peaceful relations with God. But that manifestly does not exhaust the meaning, nor is it in the great Pauline passages the primary and dominant meaning.

(2) Old Testament Usage.

The Old Testament usage does not materially help in the elucidation of the New Testament terms, for though the word occurs in a number of passages in the King James Version, it is in the Revised Version (British and American) generally changed to "atonement," which more accurately represents the Hebrew kaphar, which is generally rendered by "atonement," and by hilaskomai or exilaskomai in the Greek (In one passage of the New Testament (Heb 2:17), the phrase "to make reconciliation" represents the Greek hilaskomai, and is better rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) by "to make propitiation.") The making atonement or propitiation is the basis of the reconciliation, the means of its accomplishment, and the fact that the translators of the King James Version sometimes rendered kaphar by "reconcile" shows that they understood reconciliation to have the Godward aspect. Whatever may be said of the nature of the atonement or propitiation in the old dispensation, it was something contemplated as appeasing or satisfying, or at least in some way affecting God so as to make Him willing, or render it possible for Him, to enter into, or abide in, gracious relations with men. In one passage in the Old Testament where "reconciliation" occurs (2Ch 29:24) it represents a different Hebrew word, but here the Revised Version (British and American) has changed it into "sin-offering," which is in harmony with the general meaning and usage of the Hebrew.

(3) Special Passage in 1 Samuel 29:4.

There is yet another Hebrew word rendered "reconcile" in 1Sa 29:4, and inasmuch as this passage in the Septuagint has as the equivalent of the Hebrew the Greek word diallasso, it is of some importance in guiding to the New Testament meaning. On one occasion when the Philistines gathered together to battle against Israel, David and his band of men accompanied Achish king of Gath to the muster-place. "The princes of the Philistines" did not at all appreciate the presence of "these Hebrews," and although Achish testified in favor of David’s fidelity, they were very indignant, and demanded that David and his men be sent back, "lest in the battle he become an adversary to us: for wherewith should this fellow reconcile himself unto his lord? should it not be with the heads of these men?" The Hebrew is ratsah, which means "to be pleased with" or "to accept favorably," and the Hithpael form here used is "to make himself pleasing or acceptable," "to reconcile himself." But assuredly the Philistines’ idea of David reconciling himself to Saul was not that he should lay aside his enmity against Saul, and so become friends with him. The enmity was on Saul’s side, and the thought of the princes was that David by turning against them in the battle would gratify Saul, and lead him to lay aside his enmity against David.

(4) Usage in the Apocrypha.

It may be noted that in 2 Macc 5:20, katallage is used evidently of the Godward side: "And the place which was forsaken in the wrath of the Almighty was, at the reconciliation of the great Sovereign, restored again with all glory." The verb occurs in 2 Macc 1:5 when again the Godward side seems intended, though not perhaps so certainly: "May God .... hearken to your supplications, and be reconciled with you," and in 7:33: "If for rebuke and chastening our living Lord has been angered a little while, yet shall he again be reconciled with his own servants," and 8:29: "They besought the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants." In these two, especially the last, it is unquestionably the laying aside of the divine displeasure that is meant.

2. Non-doctrinal Passage—Matthew 5:24:

Before passing on to look at the great utterances in the Epistles, we may now look at the non-doctrinal passage referred to at the beginning. There is, indeed, another non-doctrinal instance in 1Co 7:11, where the wife who has departed from her husband is enjoined either to "remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband." But as it is indeterminate whether the wife or the husband is the offending party, and so which is the one to be influenced, the passage does not help us much. But Mt 5:24 is a very illuminating passage. Here as in the passage from 1 Samuel, the word used is diallasso, but it is practically identified in meaning with katallasso. The injunction is given by Christ to the one who is at variance with his brother, not to complete his offering until first he has been reconciled to his brother. But the whole statement shows that it is not a question of the one who is offering the gift laying aside his enmity against his brother, but the reverse. Christ says, "If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest (not that thou hast a grudge against thy brother but) that thy brother hath aught against thee"—the brother was the offended one, he is the one to be brought round—"leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Plainly it means that he should do something to remove his brother’s displeasure and so bring about a reconciliation.

3. Doctrinal Passages:

(1) Romans 5.

Turning now to Ro 5, how stands the matter? Paul has been speaking of the blessed results of justification; one of these results is the shedding abroad of the love of God in the heart. Then he dwells upon the manifestation of that love in the death of Christ, a love that was displayed to the loveless, and he argues that if in our sinful and unloving state we were embraced by the love of God, a fortiori that love will not be less now that it has already begun to take effect. If He loved us when we were under His condemnation sufficiently to give His Son to die for our salvation, much more shall His love bestow upon us the blessings secured by that death. "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him" (Ro 5:9).

(a) The Fact of Divine Wrath:

It is well to note, then, that there is "wrath" on the part of God against sin and sinners. One of the key-thoughts of the apostle in this epistle is that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Ro 1:18), and the coming day of judgment is "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Ro 2:5). And because of this stern fact, the gospel is a revelation not only of love, but specifically "a righteousness of God" (Ro 1:17). And he shows that the essence of the gospel is found in the propitiatory death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ro 3:24,25,26), through whom alone can men who have been "brought under the judgment of God" (Ro 3:19) find justification, salvation, deliverance from the wrath of God (Ro 4:25; 5:1-6). Of course it is not necessary to add that the wrath of God is not to be thought of as having any unworthy or capricious element in it—it is the settled opposition of His holy nature against sin.

(b) Reconciliation, Godward, as Well as Manward:

The apostle proceeds (Ro 5:10): "For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life." Now if, as many maintain, it is only the reconciliation on the manward side that is meant, that the manifested love led to the sinner laying aside his enmity, it would entirely reverse the apostle’s argument. He is not arguing that if we have begun to love God we may reckon upon His doing so and so for us, but because He has done so much, we may expect Him to do more. The verse is parallel to the preceding, and the being reconciled is on the same plane as being justified; the being justified was God’s action, and so is the reconciling. Justification delivers from "the wrath of God"; reconciliation takes effect upon enemies.

(c) The Meaning of the Word "Enemies":

The word "enemies" is important. By those who take the manward aspect of reconciliation as the only one, it is held that the word must be taken actively—those who hate God. But the passive meaning, "hatred of God," seems far the preferable, and is indeed demanded by the context. Paul uses the verb echthroi, "enemies," in Ro 11:28, in antithesis to "beloved" of God, and that is the consistent sense here. The enemies are those who are the objects of the wrath of the previous verse. And when we were thus hated of God, the objects of His just displeasure on account of our sin, "we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." God laid aside His enmity, and in the propitiatory death of Christ showed Himself willing to receive us into His favor.

(d) The Manward Side:

By this propitiation, therefore, the barrier was removed, and, God having assumed a gracious attitude toward the sinner, it is possible for the sinner now, influenced by His love, to come into a friendly relationship with God. And so in the second phrase, the two meanings, the Godward and the manward, may coalesce: "being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." The reconciliation becomes mutual, for there is no kind of doubt that sinners are enemies to God in the active sense, and require to lay aside their hostility, and so be reconciled to Him. But the first step is with God, and the reconciliation which took place in the death of His Son could only be the Godward reconciliation, since at that time men were still uninfluenced by His love. But, perhaps, just because that first reconciliation is brought about through the divine love which provides the propitiation, the apostle avoids saying "God is reconciled," but uses the more indirect form of speech. The manward aspect is emphasized in the next verse, although the Godward is not lost sight of: "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Ro 5:11). It is therefore something that comes from God and does not proceed from man. God is the first mover; He makes the reconciliation as already indicated, and then the fruit of it is imputed to the believing sinner, and the very fact that our receiving the reconciliation, or being brought into a state of reconciliation; follows the being reconciled of Ro 5:10, shows that the other is divine reconciliation as the basis of the human.

(2) 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.

(a) The Godward Aspect Primary:

In the same way the great passage in 2Co 5:18-20 cannot be understood apart from the conception that there is a reconciliation on the divine side. There is unquestionably reference to the human side of the matter as well, but, as in Romans, the Godward aspect is primary and dominating: "All things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation." It might be possible to argue from the King James Version that this describes the process going on under gospel influences, men being brought into gracious relations with God, but the aorist of the Greek rightly rendered by the Revised Version (British and American), "who reconciled us to himself," points back to the historic time when the transaction took place. It cannot be simply the surrender of the sinner to God that is meant, though that comes as a consequence; it is a work that proceeds from God, is accomplished by God, and because of the accomplishment of that work it is possible for a ministry of reconciliation to be entrusted to men. To make this mean the human aspect of the reconciliation, it would be necessary unduly to confine it to the reconciliation of Paul and his fellow-workers, though even then it would be a straining of language, for there is the other historic act described, "and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation." The plain meaning is that through Jesus Christ, God established the basis of agreement, removed the barrier to the sinner’s approach to Himself, accomplished the work of propitiation, and, having done so, He entrusts His servants with the ministry of reconciliation, a ministry which, basing itself upon the great propitiatory, reconciling work of Christ, is directed toward men, seeking to remove their enmity, to influence them in their turn to be reconciled with God. This is more clearly set forth in the verse which follows, which in explaining the ministry of reconciliation says: "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses." Here there can be no question that the historic Incarnation is meant, and the reconciling of the world can be nothing other than the objective work of atonement culminating in the cross. And in that transaction there can be no thought of the sinner laying aside his hostility to God; it is God in Christ so dealing with sin that the doom lying upon the guilty is canceled, the wrath is averted, propitiation is made.

(b) The Manward Side also Prominent:

God, in a word, enters into gracious relations with a world of sinners, becomes reconciled to man. This being done, gracious influences can be brought to bear upon man, the chief of which is the consideration of this stupendous fact of grace, that God has in Christ dealt with the question of sin. This is the substance of the "word of reconciliation" which is preached by the apostle. So he continues, "We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God." Here is the human side. The great matter now is to get the sinner to lay aside his enmity, to respond to the gracious overtures of the gospel, to come into harmony with God. But that is only possible because the reconciliation in the Godward aspect has already been accomplished. If the first reconciliation, "the reconciliation of the world unto himself," had been the laying aside of human enmity, there could now be no point in the exhortation, "Be ye reconciled to God."

(3) Ephesians 2:16.

The two passages where the compound word occurs are in complete harmony with this interpretation. Eph 2:16: "And might reconcile them both (Jew and Gentile) in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby," is the outcome of Christ "making peace" (2:15), and the reconciling work is effected through the cross, reconciliation both Godward and manward, and, having made peace, it is possible for Christ to come and preach peace to them that are far off—far off even though the reconciling work of the cross has been accomplished.

(4) Colossians 1:20-22.

So in Col 1:20, "And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens." Here the thought of the apostle trembles away into infinity, and there seems a parallel to the thought of Heb 9:23, that according to the typical teaching even "the things in the heavens" in some way stood in need of cleansing. May it be that the work of Christ in some sense affected the angelic intelligence, making it possible for harmony to be restored between redeemed sinners and the perfect creation of God? In any case, the reconciling all things unto Himself is not the laying aside of the creaturely hostility, but the determining of the divine attitude. Then comes the specific reference to the human side, "And you, being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death"; there, as in Romans, the two phases coalescing, God appearing gracious through the work of Christ, sinners coming into gracious relation with Him. "Having made peace through the blood of his cross," the ground of peace has been established. Christ has done something by His death which makes it possible to offer peace to men. God has laid aside His holy opposition to the sinner, and shows Himself willing to bring men into peace with Himself. He has found satisfaction in that great work of His Son, has been reconciled, and now calls upon men to be reconciled to Him—to receive the reconciliation.



See the works on New Testament Theology of Weiss, Schmid, Stevens, etc.; Denney, Death of Christ; articles on "Reconciliation" in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, etc.

Archibald M’Caig


rek’-ord, rek’-ord:

(1) The English word, where it occurs in the Old Testament and the New Testament in the sense of testimony, is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) "witness" (De 30:19; 31:28; Joh 1:19,32; 8:13,14; Ro 10:2, etc.). See WITNESS. But in Job 16:19 for the King James Version "my record," the Revised Version (British and American) has "he that voucheth for me."

(2) In Ezr 4:15; 6:2 (dokhran, dikhron), and Es 6:1 (zikkaron), the word denotes Persian state chronicles; compare 1 Macc 14:23; 2 Macc 2:1.


re-kor’-der (mazkir; the Revised Version margin "chronicler"): A high functionary in the court of the Jewish kings, part of whose duty seems to have been to chronicle the events of the reign, but who also occupied a position corresponding with that of the modern vizier (2Sa 8:16; 20:24; 1Ch 18:15, etc.). His high rank is shown by the facts that, with other officers, he represented Hezekiah in speaking with Rabshakeh (2Ki 18:18), and, in the reign of Josiah, superintended the repairs of the temple (2Ch 34:8).


re-kuv’-er: "Recover" has

(1) the transitive meaning of "to retake" or "regain" (anything); and

(2) the intransitive sense of "to regain health" or "become well."

In Judith 14:7 it means "restore to consciousness." In the former sense it is in the Old Testament the translation of natsal, "to snatch away" (Jud 11:26; 1Sa 30:8,22; in Ho 2:9, the Revised Version (British and American) "pluck away"); also of shubh (Qal and Hiphil 1Sa 30:19 the King James Version; 2Sa 8:3, etc.), and of various other words in single instances. In 2Ki 5:3,6,7,11, "to restore to health" is ‘acaph. In its intransitive sense "recover" is chiefly the translation of chayah, "to live," "revive" (2Ki 1:2, etc.; Isa 38:9,21). "Recover" appears only twice in the King James Version of the New Testament; Mr 16:18 (for kalos hexousin) and 2Ti 2:26 (from ananepho, the Revised Version margin "Greek: ‘return to soberness’ "); but the Revised Version (British and American) has "recover" for "do well" in Joh 11:12 (sothesetai; margin "Greek: ‘be saved’")." Recovering" (of sight) (anablepsis) occurs in Lu 4:18.

W. L. Walker


See COLORS, (10).








(yam-cuph (Ex 10:19 and often), but in many passages it is simply hayam, "the sea"‘ Septuagint with 2 or 3 exceptions renders it by he eruthra thalassa, "the Red Sea"; Latin geographers Mare Rubrum):

1. Name

2. Peculiarities

3. Old Testament References

4. Passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites


(1) Steep Banks of the Channel

(2) Walls Formed by the Water

(3) The East Winds

(4) The Miraculous Set Aside


1. Name:

The Hebrew name yam-cuph has given rise to much controversy. Yam is the general word for sea, and when standing alone may refer to the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, or the Sea of Galilee. In several places it designates the river Nile or Euphrates. Cuph means a rush or seaweed such as abounds in the lower portions of the Nile and the upper portions of the Red Sea. It was in the cuph on the brink of the river that the ark of Moses was hidden (Ex 2:3,5). But as this word does not in itself mean red, and as that is not the color of the bulrush, authorities are much divided as to the reason for this designation. Some have supposed that it was called red from the appearance of the mountains on the western coast, others from the red color given to the water by the presence of zoophytes, or red coral, or some species of seaweed. Others still, with considerable probability, suppose that the name originated in the red or copper color of the inhabitants of the bordering Arabian peninsula. But the name yam-cuph, though applied to the whole sea, was especially used with reference to the northern part, which is alone mentioned in the Bible, and to the two gulfs (Suez and Aqabah) which border the Sinaitic Peninsula, especially the Gulf of Suez.

2. Pecularities:

The Red Sea has a length of 1,350 miles and an extreme breadth of 205 miles. It is remarkable that while it has no rivers flowing into it and the evaporation from its surface is enormous, it is not much salter than the ocean, from which it is inferred that there must be a constant influx of water from the Indian Ocean through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, together with an outflow of the more saline water beneath the surface. The deepest portion measures 1,200 fathoms. Owing to the lower land levels which prevailed in recent geological times, the Gulf of Suez formerly extended across the lowland which separates it from the Bitter Lakes, a distance of 15 or 20 miles now traversed by the Suez Canal, which encountered no elevation more than 30 ft. above tide. In early historic times the Gulf ended at Ismailia at the head of Lake Timsah. North of this the land rises to a height of more than 50 ft. and for a long time furnished a road leading from Africa into Asia. At a somewhat earlier geological (middle and late Tertiary) period the depression of the land was such that this bridge was also submerged, so that the Red Sea and the Mediterranean were connected by a broad expanse of water which overflowed the whole surface of Lower Egypt.

The evidence of the more recent depression of the land surface in all Lower Egypt is unmistakable. Raised beaches containing shells and corals still living in the Red Sea are found at various levels up to more than 200 ft. above tide. One of the most interesting of these is to be seen near the summit of the "Crow’s Nest," a half-mile South of the great pyramids, where, near the summit of the eminence, and approximately 200 ft. above tide, on a level with the base of the pyramids, there is a clearly defined recent sea beach composed of water-worn pebbles from 1 inches to 1 or 2 ft. in diameter, the interstices of which are filled with small shells loosely cemented together. These are identified as belonging to a variable form, Alectryonia cucullata Born, which lives at the present time in the Red Sea. On the opposite side of the river, on the Mokattam Hills South of Cairo, at an elevation of 220 ft. above tide, similar deposits are found containing numerous shells of recent date, while the rock face is penetrated by numerous borings of lithodomus mollusks (Pholades rugosa Broc.). Other evidences of the recent general depression of the land in this region come from various places on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. According to Lartet at Ramleh, near Jaffa, a recent beach occurs more than 200 ft. above sea-level containing many shells of Pectunculus violascens Lamk, which is at the present time the most abundant mollusk on the shore of the adjoining Mediterranean. A similar beach has been described by Dr. Post at Lattakia, about 30 miles North of Beirut; while others, according to Hull, occur upon the island of Cyprus. Further evidence of this depression is also seen in the fact that the isthmus between Suez and the Bitter Lakes is covered with recent deposits of Nile mud, holding modern Red Sea shells, showing that, at no very distant date, there was an overflow of the Nile through an eastern branch into this slightly depressed level. The line of this branch of the Nile overflow was in early times used for a canal, which has recently been opened to furnish fresh water to Suez, and the depression is followed by the railroad. According to Dawson, large surfaces of the desert North of Suez, which are now above sea-level, contain buried in the sand "recent marine shells in such a state of preservation that not many centuries may have elapsed since they were in the bottom of the sea" (Egypt and Syria, 67).

3. Old Testament References:

The Red Sea is connected with the children of Israel chiefly through the crossing of it recorded in Exodus (see 4, below); but there are a few references to it in later times. Solomon is said (1Ki 9:26) to have built a navy at "Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in the land of Edom." This is at the head of the Gulf of Aqabah, the eastern branch of the Red Sea. Here his ships were manned by Hiram king of Tyre with "shipmen that had knowledge of the sea" (1Ki 9:27). And (1Ki 9:28) "they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold." But Eloth was evidently lost to Israel when Edom successfully revolted in the time of Joram (2Ki 8:20). For a short time, however, it was restored to Judah by Amaziah (2Ki 14:22); but finally, during the reign of Ahaz, the Syrians, or more probably, according to another reading, the Edomites, recovered the place and permanently drove the Jews away. But in 1Ki 22:48 Jehoshaphat is said to have "made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber"; while in 2Ch 20:36 Jehoshaphat is said to have joined with Ahaziah "to make ships to go to Tarshish; and they made the ships in Ezion-geber."

Unless there is some textual confusion here, "ships of Tarshish:" is simply the name of the style of the ship, like "East Indiaman," and Tarshish in Chronicles may refer to some place in the East Indies. This is the more likely, since Solomon’s "navy" that went to Tarshish once every 3 years came "bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks," which could hardly have come from any other place than India.

See SHIPS AND BOATS, II, 1, (2).

4. Passage through the Red Sea by the Israelites:

Until in recent times it was discovered that the Gulf of Suez formerly extended 30 miles northward to the site of the present Ismailia and the ancient Pithom, the scene of the Biblical miracle was placed at Suez, the present head of the Gulf. But there is at Suez no extent of shoal water sufficient for the east wind mentioned in Scripture (Ex 14:21) to have opened a passage-way sufficiently wide to have permitted the host to have crossed over in a single night. The bar leading from Suez across, which is now sometimes forded, is too insignificant to have furnished a passage-way as Robinson supposed (BR(3), I, 56-59). Besides, if the children of Israel were South of the Bitter Lakes when there was no extension of the Gulf North of its present limits, there would have been no need of a miracle to open the water, since there was abundant room for both them and Pharaoh’s army to have gone around the northern end of the Gulf to reach the eastern shore, while South of Suez the water is too deep for the wind anywhere to have opened a passage-way. But with an extension of the waters of the Gulf to the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah, rendered probable by the facts cited in the previous paragraph, the narrative at once so perfectly accords with the physical conditions involved as to become not only easily credible, but self-evidencing.

The children of Israel were at Rameses (Ex 12:37) in the land of Goshen, a place which has not been certainly identified, but could not have been far from the modern Zagazig at the head of the Fresh Water Canal leading from the Nile to the Bitter Lakes. One day’s journey eastward along Wady Tumilat, watered by this canal brought them to Succoth, a station probably identical with Thuket, close upon the border line separating Egypt from Asia. Through the discoveries of Naville in 1883 this has been identified as Pithom, one of the store-cities built by Pharaoh during the period of Hebrew oppression (Ex 1:11). Here Naville uncovered vast store pits for holding grain built during the reign of Rameses II and constructed according to the description given in Ex 1: the lower portions of brick made with straw, the middle with stubble, and the top of simple clay without even stubble to hold the brick together (see Naville, "The Store-City Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1885; M. G. Kyle, "A Re-examination of Naville’s Works," Records of the Past, VIII, 1901, 304-7). The next day’s journey brought them to Etham on the "edge of the wilderness" (Ex 13:20; Nu 33:6), probably in the vicinity of the modern Ismailia at the head of Lake Timsah. From this point the natural road to Palestine would have been along the caravan route on the neck of land referred to above as now about 50 ft. above sea-level. Etham was about 30 miles Southeast of Zoan or Tanis, the headquarters at that time of Pharaoh, from which he was watching the movements of the host. If they should go on the direct road to Palestine, his army could easily execute a flank movement and intercept them in the desert of Etham. But by divine command (Ex 14:2) Moses turned southward on the west side of the extension of the Red Sea and camped "before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon" (Ex 14:22 Nu 33:5-7). At this change of course Pharaoh was delighted, seeing that the children of Israel were "entangled in the land" and "the wilderness" had "shut them in." Instead of issuing a flank movement upon them, Pharaoh’s army now followed them in the rear and "overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth," the location of which is essential to a proper understanding of the narrative which follows.

In Ex 14:2, Pi-hahiroth is said to be "between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon." Now though Migdol originally meant "watch-tower," it is hardly supposable that this can be its meaning here, otherwise the children of Israel would have been moving directly toward a fortified place. Most probably, therefore, Migdol was the tower-like mountain peak marking the northeast corner of Jebel Geneffeh, which runs parallel with the Bitter Lakes, only a short distance from their western border. Baal-zephon may equally well be some of the mountain peaks on the border of the Wilderness of Paran opposite Cheloof, midway between the Bitter Lakes and Suez. In the clear atmosphere of the region this line of mountains is distinctly visible throughout the whole distance from Ismailia to Suez. There would seem to be no objection to this supposition, since all authorities are in disagreement concerning its location. From the significance of the name it would seem to be the seat of some form of Baal worship, naturally a mountain. Brugsch would identify it with Mr. Cassius on the northern shore of Egypt. Naville (see Murray’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, "Red Sea, Passage of") would connect it with the hill called Tussum East of Lake Timsah, where there is a shrine at the present day visited every year about July 14 by thousands of pilgrims to celebrate a religious festival; but, as this is a Mohammedan festival, there seems no reason to connect it with any sanctuary of the Canaanites. Dawson favors the general location which we have assigned to Pi-hahiroth, but would place it beside the narrow southern portion of the Bitter Lakes.

Somewhere in this vicinity would be a most natural place for the children of Israel to halt, and there is no difficulty, such as Naville supposes, to their passing between Jebel Geneffeh and the Bitter Lakes; for the mountain does not come abruptly to the lake, but leaves ample space for the passage of a caravan, while the mountain on one side and the lake on the other would protect them from a flank movement by Pharaoh and limit his army to harassing the rear of the Israelite host. Protected thus, the Israelites found a wide plain over which they could spread their camp, and if we suppose them to be as far South as Cheloof, every condition would be found to suit the narrative which follows. Moses was told by the Lord that if he would order the children of Israel to go forward, the sea would be divided and the children of Israel could cross over on dry ground. And when, in compliance with the divine command, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen" (Ex 14:21-30). But when the children of Israel were safely on the other side the waters returned and overwhelmed the entire host of Pharaoh. In the So of Moses which follows, describing the event, it is said that the waters were piled up by the "blast of thy (God’s) nostrils" (Ex 15:8), and again, verse 10, "Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them." Thus 3 times the wind is mentioned as the means employed by God in opening the water. The competency of the wind temporarily to remove the water from the passage connecting the Gulf of Suez with the Bitter Lakes, provided it was only a few feet deep, is amply proved by facts of recent observation. Major General Tullock of the British army (Proc. Victoria Inst., XXVIII, 267-80) reports having witnessed the driving off of the water from Lake Menzaleh by the wind to such an extent as to lower the level 6 ft., thus leaving small vessels over the shallow water stranded for a while in the muddy bottom. According to the report of the Suez Canal Company, the difference between the highest and the lowest water at Suez is 10 ft. 7 inches, all of which must be due to the effect of the wind, since the tides do not affect the Red Sea. The power of the wind to affect water levels is strikingly witnessed upon Lake Erie in the United States, where according to the report of the Deep Waterways Commission for 1896 (165, 168) it appears that strong wind from the Southwest sometimes lowers the water at Toledo, Ohio, on the western end of the lake to the extent of more than 7 ft., at the same time causing it to rise at Buffalo at the eastern end a similar amount; while a change in the wind during the passage of a single storm reverses the effect, thus sometimes producing a change of level at either end of the lake of 14 ft. in the course of a single day. It would require far less than a tornado to lower the water at Cheloof sufficiently to lay bare the shallow channel which we have supposed at that time to separate Egypt from the Sinaitic Peninsula.



Several objections to this theory, however, have been urged which should not pass without notice.

(1) Steep Banks of the Channel:

Some have said that the children of Israel would have found an insuperable obstacle to their advance in the steep banks on either side of the supposed channel. But there were no steep banks to be encountered. A gentle sag leads down on one side to the center of the depression and a correspondingly gentle rise leads up on the other.

(2) Walls Formed by the Water:

Much has also been made of the statement (Ex 14:22) that "the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left"; but when we consider the rhetorical use of this word "wall" it presents no difficulty. In Pr 18:11 we are told that "The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, And as a high wall in his own imagination." In Isa 26:1 we are told that God will appoint salvation "for walls and bulwarks." Again Nahum (3:8) says of Egypt that her "rampart was the sea (margin "the Nile"), and her wall was of the sea." The water upon either side of the opening served the purpose of a wall for protection. There was no chance for Pharaoh to intercept them by a flank movement. Nor is there need of paying further attention to the poetical expressions in the So of Moses, where among other things it is said "that the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea," and that the "earth (instead of the water) swallowed them."

(3) The East Winds:

Again it is objected that an east wind does not come from the right direction to produce the desired result. On the other hand it is an east wind only which could have freed the channel from water. A north wind would have blown the water from the Bitter Lakes southward, and owing to the quantity of water impounded would have increased the depth of the water in the narrow passage from the southern end of Suez. An east wind, however, would have pressed the water out from the channel both ways, and from the contour of the shore lines would be the only wind that could have done so.

(4) The Miraculous Set Aside:

Again, it is objected that this explanation destroys the miraculous character of the event. But it should be noted that little is said in the narrative about the miraculous. On the other hand, it is a straightforward statement of events, leaving their miraculous character to be inferred from their nature. On the explanation we have given the transaction it is what Robinson felicitously calls a mediate miracle, that is, a miracle in which the hand of God is seen in the use of natural forces which it would be impossible for man to command. If anyone should say that this was a mere coincidence, that the east wind blew at the precise time that Moses reached the place of crossing, the answer is that such a coincidence could have been brought about only by supernatural agency. There was at that time no weather bureau to foretell the approach of a storm. There are no tides on the Red Sea with regular ebb and flow. It was by a miracle of prophecy that Moses was emboldened to get his host into position to avail themselves of the temporary opportunity at exactly the right time. As to the relation of the divine agency to the event, speculation is useless. The opening of the sea may have been a foreordained event in the course of Nature which God only foreknew, in which case the direct divine agency was limited to those influences upon the human actors that led them to place themselves where they could take advantage of the natural opportunity. Or, there is no a priori difficulty in supposing that the east wind was directly aroused for this occasion; for man himself produces disturbances among the forces of Nature that are as far-reaching in their extent as would be a storm produced by direct divine agency. But in this case the disturbance is at once seen to be beyond the powers of human agency to produce.

It remains to add an important word concerning the evidential value of this perfect adjustment of the narrative to the physical conditions involved. So perfect is this conformity of the narrative to the obscure physical conditions involved, which only recent investigations have made clear, that the account becomes self-evidencing. It is not within the power of man to invent a story so perfectly in accordance with the vast and complicated conditions involved. The argument is as strong as that for human design when a key is found to fit a Yale lock. This is not a general account which would fit into a variety of circumstances. There is only one place in all the world, and one set of conditions in all history, which would meet the requirements; and here they are all met. This is scientific demonstration. No higher proof can be found in the inductive sciences. The story is true. It has not been remodeled by the imagination, either of the original writers or of the transcribers. It is not the product of mythological fancy or of legendary accretion.


Dawson, Egypt and Syria; Hull, Mt. Seir, Sinai and Western Palestine; Naville, "The Store-City Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," Egyptian Exploration Fund, 1885; Kyle, "Bricks without Straw at Pithom: A Re-examination of Naville’s Works," Records of the Past, VIII, 1901, 304-7; Wright, Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, 83-117.

George Frederick Wright


re-dem’-er, re-demp’-shun (paraq, "to tear loose," "to rescue," padhah, ga’al; agorazo, referring to purchase, lutroumai, from lutron, "a ransom"):

1. Gradual Moralizing of Idea of Redemption

2. Redemption as Life in Individual

3. Redemption as Social

4. Redemption as Process

5. Moral Implications in Scriptural Idea of Redeemer

6. Uniqueness of Son of God as Redeemer


The idea of redemption in the Old Testament takes its start from the thought of property (Le 25:26; Ru 4:4 ). Money is paid according to law to buy back something which must be delivered or rescued (Nu 3:51; Ne 5:8). From this start the word "redemption" throughout the Old Testament is used in the general sense of deliverance. God is the Redeemer of Israel in the sense that He is the Deliverer of Israel (De 9:26; 2Sa 7:23; 1Ch 17:21; Isa 52:3). The idea of deliverance includes deliverance from all forms of evil lot, from national misfortune (Isa 52:9; 63:9; compare Lu 2:38), or from plague (Ps 78:35,52), or from calamity of any sort (Ge 48:16; Nu 25:4,9). Of course, the general thought of the relation of Israel to God was that God had both a claim upon Israel (De 15:15) and an obligation toward Israel (1Ch 17:21; Ps 25:22). Israel belonged to Him, and it was by His own right that He could move into the life of Israel so as to redeem Israel. On the other hand, obligation was upon Him to redeem Israel.

In the New Testament the idea of redemption has more a suggestion of ransom. Men are held under the curse of the law (Ga 3:13), or of sin itself (Ro 7:23 f). The Redeemer purchases their deliverance by offering Himself as payment for their redemption (Eph 1:7; 1Pe 1:18).

1. Gradual Moralizing of Idea of Redemption:

Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament there is to be observed a gradual moralizing of the meaning of redemption. The same process of moralizing has continued throughout all the Christian ages. Starting with the idea of redemption price, conceived almost in material terms, religious thought has advanced to conceptions entirely moral and spiritual. Through the Scriptures, too, the idea of redemption becomes more specffic with the progress of Christian revelation. In the beginning God is the Redeemer from distresses of all kinds. He redeems from calamity and from sorrows. This general idea, of course, persists throughout the revelation and enters largely into our thinking of today, but the growing moral discernment of the Biblical writers comes to attach more and more importance to sin as the chief disturber of man’s welfare. We would not minimize the force of the Scriptural idea that God is the Deliverer from all misfortune to which man falls heir, but the Scriptural emphasis moves more and more to deliverance from sin. Paul states this deliverance as a deliverance from the law which brings sin out into expression, but we must not conceive his idea in any artificial fashion. He would have men delivered not only from the law, but also from the consequences of evil doing and from the spirit of evil itself (Ro 8:2).

2. Redemption as Life in the Individual:

In trying to discern the meaning of redemption from sin, toward which the entire progress of Biblical and Christian thought points, we may well keep in mind the Master’s words that He came that men might have life and might have it more abundantly (Joh 10:10). The word "life" seems to be the final New Testament word as a statement of the purpose of Christ. God sent His Son to bring men to life. The word "life,"‘ however, is indefinite. Life means more at one period of the world’s history than at another. It has the advantage, nevertheless, of always being entirely intelligible in its essential significance. Our aim must be to keep this essential significance in mind and at the same time to provide for an increasing fullness and enlargement of human capacity and endeavor. The aim of redemption can only be to bring men to the fullest use and enjoyment of their powers. This is really the conception implicit even in the earliest statements of redemption. The man redeemed by money payment comes out of the prison to the light of day, or he comes out of slavery into freedom, or he is restored to his home and friends. The man under the law is redeemed from the burden and curse of the law. Paul speaks of his experience under the law as the experience of one chained to a dead body (Ro 7:24). Of course, relief from such bondage would mean life. In the more spiritual passages of the New Testament, the evil in men’s hearts is like a blight which paralyzes their higher activities (Joh 8:33-51). In all redemption, as conceived of in Christian terms, there is a double element. There is first the deliverance as from a curse. Something binds a man or weights him down: redemption relieves him from this load. On the other hand, there is the positive movement of the soul thus relieved toward larger and fuller life. We have said that the Biblical emphasis is always upon deliverance from sin as the essential in redemption, but this deliverance is so essential that the life cannot progress in any of its normal activities until it is redeemed from evil. Accordingly in the Scriptural thought all manner of blessings follow deliverance. The man who seeks first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness finds all other things added unto him (Mt 6:33). Material, intellectual and social blessings follow as matters of course from the redemption of the inner spirit from evil. The aim of redemption, to beget in men’s hearts the will to do right, once fulfilled, leads men to seek successfully along all possible avenues for life. This, of course, does not mean that the redeemed life gives itself up to the cultivation of itself toward higher excellencies. It means that the redeemed life is delivered from every form of selfishness. In the unselfish seeking of life for others the redeemed life finds its own greatest achievement and happiness (Mt 16:25).

3. Redemption as Social:

Just as the idea of redemption concerned itself chiefly with the inner spirit; so also it concerns itself with the individual as the object of redemption. But as the redemption of the inner spirit leads to freedom in all realms of life, so also the redemption of the individual leads to large social transformations. It is impossible to strike out of the Scriptures the idea of a redeemed humanity. But humanity is not conceived of in general or class terms. The object of redemption is not humanity, or mankind, or the masses. The object of redemption is rather men set in relation to each other as members of a family. But it would do violence to the Scriptural conception to conceive of the individual’s relations in any narrow or restricted fashion (1Co 12:12-27).

An important enlargement of the idea of redemption in our own time has come as men have conceived of the redemption of individuals in their social relationships. Very often men have thought of redemption as a snatching of individuals from the perils of a world in itself absolutely wicked. Even the material environment of men has at times been regarded as containing something inherently evil. The thought of redemption which seems most in line with Scriptural interpretation would seem to be that which brings the material and social forces within reach of individual wills. Paul speaks of the whole creation groaning and travailing in pain waiting for the revelation of the sons of God (Ro 8:22). This graphic figure sets before us the essentially Christian conception of the redemption of the forces in the midst of which men are placed. Those redeemed for the largest life, by the very force of their life, will seize all powers of this world to make them the servants of divine purposes. The seer saw a great multitude which no man could number, of every kindred and nation and tongue, shouting the joys of salvation (Re 7:9), yet the implication nowhere appears that these were redeemed in any other fashion than by surrendering themselves to the forces of righteousness.

4. Redemption as Process:

We have said that the aim of redemption is to bring men to the largest and fullest life. We have also said that "life" is a general term. To keep close to the Scriptural conceptions we would best say that the aim of redemption is to make men like Christ (Ro 8:9). Otherwise, it might be possible to use the word "life" so as to imply that the riotous exercise of the faculties is what we mean by redemption. The idea of redemption, as a matter of fact, has been thus interpreted in various times in the history of Christian thinking. Life has been looked upon as sheer quantitative exuberance—the lower pleasures of sense being reckoned as about on the same plane with the higher. We can see the moral and spiritual anarchy which would thus be brought about. In Christ’s words to His disciples He once used the expression, "Ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you" (Joh 15:3). In this particular context the idea does not seem to be that of an external washing. Christ seems rather to mean that His disciples are cleansed as a vineyard is cleansed by pruning away some of the branches that others may bear fruit. In other words, the redemption of life is to be interpreted so that stress is laid upon the qualitative rather than the quantitative. Christ indeed found place in His instructions and in His own life for the normal and healthy activities of human existence. He was not an ascetic; He went to feasts and to weddings, but His emphasis was always upon life conceived of in the highest terms. We can say then that the aim of redemption is to beget in men life like that in Christ.

5. Moral Implications in the Scriptural Idea of Redeemer:

Moreover, redemption must not be conceived of in such fashion as to do away with the need of response upon the part of the individual will. The literal suggestion of ransom has to do with paying a price for a man’s deliverance, whether the man is willing to be delivered or not. Of course, the assumption in the mind of the Biblical writers was that any man in prison or in slavery or in sickness would be overjoyed at being redeemed; but in dealing with men whose lives are set toward sin we cannot always make this assumption. The dreadfulness of sin is largely in the love of sinning which sinning begets. Some thinkers have interpreted redemption to mean almost a seizing of men without regard to their own will. It is very easy to see how this conception arises. A man who himself hates sin may not stop to realize that some other men love sin. Redemption, to mean anything, must touch this inner attitude of will. We cannot then hold to any idea of redemption which brings men under a cleansing process without the assent of their own wills. If we keep ourselves alive to the growing moral discernment which moves through the Scriptures, we must lay stress always upon redemption as a moral process. Not only must we say that the aim of redemption is to make men like Christ, but we must say also that the method of redemption must be the method of Christ, the method of appealing to the moral will. There is no Scriptural warrant for the idea that men are redeemed by fiat. The most we can get from the words of Christ is a statement of the persistence of God in His search for the lost: ‘(He goeth) after that which is lost, until he finds it’ (Lu 15:4). Some would interpret these words to mean that the process of redemption continues until every man is brought into the kingdom. We cannot, in the light of the New Testament, limit the redeeming love of God; but we cannot, on the other hand, take passages from figurative expressions in such sense as to limit the freedom of men. The redemption must be conceived of as respecting the moral choices of men. In our thought of the divine search for the control of inner human motive we must not stop short of the idea of men redeemed to the love of righteousness on its own account. This would do away with the plan of redeeming men by merely relieving them of the consequences of their sins. Out of a changed life, of course, there must come changed consequences. But the Scriptural teaching is that the emphasis in redemption is always moral, the turning to life because of what life is.

Having thus attempted to determine, at least in outline, the content of the Christian idea of redemption, it remains for us to point out some implications as to the work of the Redeemer. Throughout the entire teaching on redemption in the Scriptures, redemption is set before us primarily as God’s own affair (Joh 3:16). God redeems His people; He redeems them out of love for them. But the love of God is not to be conceived of as mere indulgence, partiality, or good-humored affection. The love of God rests down upon moral foundations. Throughout the Scriptures, therefore, we find implied often, if not always clearly stated, the idea that God is under obligations to redeem His people. The progress of later thinking has expanded this implication with sureness of moral discernment. We have come to see the obligations of power. The more powerful the man the heavier his obligations in the discharge of this power. This is a genuinely Christian conception, and this Christian conception we apply to the character of God, feeling confident that we are in line with Scriptural teaching. Hence, we may put the obligations of God somewhat as follows: God is the most obligated being in the universe. If a man is under heavy obligations to use aright the power of controlling the forces already at work in the world, how much heavier must be the obligations on the Creator who started these forces! The obligation becomes appalling to our human thought when we think that creation includes the calling of human beings into existence and endowing them with the unsolicited boon of freedom. Men are not in the world of their own choice. Vast masses of them seem to be here as the outworking of impulses almost blind. The surroundings of men make it very easy for them to sin. The tendencies which at least seem to be innate are too often tragically inclined toward evil. Men seem, of themselves, utterly inadequate for their own redemption. If there is to be redemption it must come from God, and the Christian thought of a moral God would seem to include the obligation on the part of God to redeem those whom He has sent into the world. Christ has made clear forever the absolutely binding nature of moral considerations. If the obligation to redeem men meant everything to Christ, it must also mean everything to the God of Christ. So we feel in line with true Christian thinking in the doctrine that redemption comes first as a discharge of the obligations on the part of God Himself.

If we look for the common thought in all the Christian statements of God’s part in redemption we find it in this: that in all these statements God is conceived of as doing all that He can do for the redemption of man. If in earlier times men conceived of the human race as under the dominion of Satan, and of Satan as robbed of his due by the deliverance of man and therefore entitled to some compensation, they also conceived of God Himself as paying the ransom to Satan. If they thought of God as a feudal lord whose dignity had been offended by sin, they thought of God as Himself paying the cost due to offended dignity. If their idea was that a substitute for sinners must be furnished, the idea included the thought of God as Himself providing a substitute. If they conceived of the universe as a vast system of moral laws—broken by sin—whose dignity must be upheld, they thought of God Himself as providing the means for maintaining the dignity of the laws. If they conceived of men as saved by a vast moral influence set at work, they thought of this influence as proceeding, not from man, but from God. The common thought in theories of redemption then, so far as concerns God’s part, is that God Himself takes the initiative and does all He can in the discharge of the obligation upon Himself. Each phrasing of the doctrine of redemption is the attempt of an age of Christian thinking to say in its own way that God has done all that He can do for men.

6. Uniqueness of the Son of God as Redeemer:

It is from this standpoint that we must approach the part played by Christ in redemption. This is not the place for an attempt at formal statement, but some elements of Christian teaching are, at least in outline, at once clear. The question is, first, to provide some relation between God and Christ which will make the redemptive work of Christ really effective. Some have thought to find such a statement in the conception that Christ is a prophet. They would empty the expression, "Son of God," of any unique meaning; they would make Christ the Son of God in the same sense that any great prophet could be conceived of as a son of God. Of course, we would not minimize the teaching of the Scripture as to the full humanity of Christ, and yet we may be permitted to voice our belief that the representation of Christ as the Redeemer merely in the same sense in which a prophet is a redeemer does not do justice to the Scripture teaching; and we feel, too, that such a solution of the problem of Christ would be inadequate for the practical task of redemption. If Christ is just a prophet giving us His teaching we rejoice in the teaching, but we are confronted with the problem as to how to make the teaching effective. If it be urged that Christ is a prophet who in Himself realized the moral ideal, we feel constrained to reply that this really puts Christ at a vast distance from us. Such a doctrine of Christ’s person would make Him the supreme religious genius, but the human genius stands apart from the ordinary mass of men. He may gather up into Himself and realize the ideals of men; He may voice the aspirations of men and realize those aspirations; but He may not be able to make men like unto Himself. Shakespeare is a consummate literary genius. He has said once and for all many things which the common man thinks or half thinks. When the common man comes upon a phrase of Shakespeare he feels that Shakespeare has said for all time the things which he would himself have said if he had been able. But the appreciation of Shakespeare does not make the ordinary man like Shakespeare; the appreciation of Christ has not proved successful in itself in making men like unto Christ.

If, on the contrary, without attempting formal theological construction, we put some real meaning into the idea of Christ as the Son of God and hold fast to a unique relationship between Christ and God which makes Christ the greatest gift that God can give us, we find indeed that Christ is lifted up to essentially divine existence; but we find also that this divinity does not estrange Him from us. Redemption becomes feasible, not merely when we have a revelation of how far up man can go, but when we have also a revelation of how far down God can come. If we can think of God as having in some real way come into the world through His Son Jesus Christ, that revelation makes Christ the Lord who can lead us to redemption.

Such a conception furnishes the dynamic which we must have in any real process of redemption. We need not only the ideal, but we need power by which to reach the ideal. If we can feel that the universe is under the sway of a moral God, a God who is under obligations to bear the burdens of men, and who willingly assumes these obligations, we really feel that moral life at its fullest and best is the greatest fact in the universe. Moreover, we must be true to the Scriptures and lift the entire conception of redemption beyond the realm of conscience to the realm of the heart. What the conscience of God calls for, the love of God willingly discharges. The Cross of Christ becomes at once the revelation of the righteousness of God and the love of God. Power is thus put back of human conscience and human love to move forward toward redemption (Ro 8:35-39).

The aim of the redemption in Christ then is to lift men out of death toward life. The mind is to be quickened by the revelation of the true ideals of human life. The conscience is to be reenforced by the revelation of the moral God who carries on all things in the interests of righteousness. The heart is to be stirred and won by the revelation of the love which sends an only begotten Son to the cross for our redemption. And we must take the work of Christ, not as a solitary incident or a mere historic event, but as a manifestation of the spirit which has been at work from the beginning and works forever. The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world (Re 13:8); the spirit of God revealed in the cross of Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. We have in the cross a revelation of holy love which, in a sense, overpowers and at the same time encourages. The cross is the revelation of the length to which God is willing to go in redemption rather than set aside one jot or tittle of His moral law. He will not redeem men except on terms which leave them men. He will not overwhelm them in any such manner as to do away with their power of free choice. He will show men His own feeling of holiness and love. In the name of a holy love which they can forever aspire after, but which they can never fully reach, men call to Him for forgiveness and that forgiveness men find forever available.

It remains to add one further item of Scriptural teaching, namely that redemption is a continuous process. If we may again use the word "life," which has been the key to this discussion, we may say that the aim of redemption is to make men progressively alive. There are not limits to the development of human powers touched by the redemptive processes of God. The cross is a revelation of divine willingness to bear with men who are forever being redeemed. Of course, we speak of the redeemed man as redeemed once and for all. By this we mean that he is redeemed once and for all in being faced about and started in a right direction, but the progress toward full life may be faster or slower according to the man and the circumstances in the midst of which he is placed. Still the chief fact is the direction in which the man is moving. The revelation of God who aids in redemption is of the God who takes the direction as the chief fact rather than the length of the stride or the rate of the movement. Every man is expected to do his best. If he stumbles he is supposed to find his way to his feet; if he is moving slowly, he must attempt to move faster; if he is moving at a slower rate than he can attain, he must strive after the higher rate, but always the dynamic force is the revelation of the holy love of God.

The Scriptures honor the prophets in whatever land or time they appear. The Scriptures welcome goodness under any and all circumstances. They have a place for a "light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world," but they still make it clear that the chief force in the redemption of men is the revelation of holy love in Jesus Christ. The redemption, we repeat, is never conceived of in artificial or mechanical terms. If any man hath not the spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ (Ro 8:9). The aim of redemption is to beget this spirit, and this spirit is life.


H. C. Sheldon, Systematic Theology; Clarke, Outline of Christian Theology; Brown, Christian Theology in Outline; Mackintosh, Doctrine of Person of Christ; Bowne, Studies in Christianity; Tymms, The Christian Atonement.

Francis J. McConnell





re-dound’ (from re-," back," and undare, "to surge as a wave"): To be sent back as a reaction, to overflow; occurs only as the translation of perisseuo, "to be over and above," "to superabound" (frequent in the New Testament); in 2Co 4:15, "might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God," the Revised Version (British and American) "may cause the thanksgiving to abound."



(1) achu, translated "reed-grass" (Ge 41:2,18; Job 8:11 margin). See FLAG.

(2) ‘ebheh, translated "swift," margin "reed" (Job 9:26). The "ships of reed" are the light skiffs made of plaited reeds used on the Nile; compare "vessels of papyrus" (Isa 18:2).

(3) ‘aghammim, translated "reeds," margin "marshes," Hebrew "pools" (Jer 51:32); elsewhere "pools" (Ex 7:19; 8:5; Isa 14:23, etc.). See POOL.

(4) ‘aroth; achi, translated "meadows," the King James Version "paper reeds" (Isa 19:7). See MEADOW.

(5) qaneh; kalamos (the English "cane" comes from Hebrew via Latin and Greek canna), "stalk" (Ge 41:5,22); "shaft" (Ex 37:17, etc.); "reed," or "reeds" (1Ki 14:15; 2Ki 18:21; Isa 36:6; 42:3; Ps 68:30, the King James Version "spearman"); "calamus" (Ex 30:23; So 4:14; Eze 27:19); "sweet cane," margin "calamus" (Isa 43:24; Jer 6:20); "bone" (Job 31:22); used of the cross-beam of a "balance" (Isa 46:6); "a measuring reed" (Eze 40:3); "a staff of reed," i.e. a walking-stick (Isa 36:6; Eze 29:6); the "branches" of a candlestick (Ex 37:18).

(6) kalamos, "a reed shaken with the wind" (Mt 11:7; Lu 7:24); "a bruised reed" (Mt 12:20); they put "a reed in his right hand" (Mt 27:29,30); "They smote his head with a reed" (Mr 15:19); "put it on a reed" (Mt 27:48; Mr 15:36); "a measuring reed" (Re 11:1; 21:15,16); "a pen" (3 Joh 1:13).

It is clear that qaneh and its Greek equivalent kalamos mean many things. Some refer to different uses to which a reed is put, e.g. a cross-beam of a balance, a walking-stick, a measuring rod, and a pen (see above), but apart from this qaneh is a word used for at least two essentially different things:

(1) an ordinary reed, and

(2) some sweet-smelling substance.

(1) The most common reed in Palestine is the Arundo donax (Natural Order Gramineae), known in Arabic as qacabfarasi, "Persian reed." It grows in immense quantities in the Jordan valley along the river and its tributaries and at the oases near the Dead Sea, notably around ‘Ain Feshkhah at the northwest corner. It is a lofty reed, often 20 ft. high, of a beautiful fresh green in summer when all else is dead and dry, and of a fine appearance from a distance in the spring months when it is in full bloom and the beautiful silky panicles crown the top of every reed. The "covert of the reed" (Job 40:21) shelters a large amount of animal and bird life. This reed will answer to almost all the requirements of the above references.

(2) Qaneh is in Jer 6:20 qualified qaneh ha-Tobh, "sweet" or "pleasant cane," and in Ex 30:23, qeneh bhosem, "sweet calamus," or, better, a "cane of fragrance." So 4:14; Isa 43:24; Eze 27:19 all apparently refer to the same thing, though in these passages the qaneh is unqualified. It was an ingredient of the holy oil (Ex 30:23); it was imported from a distance (Jer 6:20; Eze 27:19), and it was rare and costly (Isa 43:24). It may have been the "scented calamus" (Axorus calamus) of Pliny (NH, xii.48), or some other aromatic scented reed or flag, or, as some think, some kind of aromatic bark. The sweetness refers to the scent, not the taste.


E. W. G. Masterman


mezh’-ur-ing (qeneh ha-middah): In Ezekiel’s vision of the temple a "man" (an angel) appears with a "measuring reed" to measure the dimensions of the temple (Eze 40:3 ff; 42:16 ). The reed is described as 6 cubits long, "of a cubit and a handbreadth each," i.e. the cubit used was a handbreadth longer than the common cubit (see CUBIT; WEIGHTS AND MEASURES; TEMPLE). In the Apocalypse this idea of a measuring reed reappears for measuring the temple (Re 11:1) and the holy city (Re 21:15,16, "a golden reed"). The thought conveyed is exactitude in the dimensions of these edifices, symbolic of the symmetry and perfection of God’s church.

James Orr


(Ge 41:2,18; Job 8:11 margin).

See FLAG, (2); REED, (1).


re-el-a’-ya, re-el-i’-a (re‘elyah): One of the 12 chiefs who returned with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:2 parallel Ne 7:7). In the passage in Ne the name is Raamiah" (ra‘amyah), and in 1 Esdras 5:8 "Resaias." Which is the original, it is almost impossible to decide; "Reelaiah" seems preferable.


re-el’-i-as (Codex Alexandrinus Rheelias (Fritzschel); Codex Vaticanus followed by Swete, Boroleias; the King James Version Reelius): One of the "leaders" with Zerubbabel in the return from exile (1 Esdras 5:8, margin "Reelaiah"). It occupies the place of "Bigvai" in Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7, but in form it must be the equivalent of "Reelaiah" of Ezr and "Raamiah" of Nehemiah. It is perhaps a duplicate of "Resaias."


re-e-sa’-yas, re-e-si’-as: the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) RESAIAS (which see).


re-fin’-er, re-fin’-ing: Two Hebrew words have been translated "refine": (1) tsaraph, literally, to "fuse" (Zec 13:9; Isa 48:10; Mal 3:2,3, etc.). The same word is rendered also "tried" (Ps 66:10); "melt" (Jer 6:29 the King James Version); "purge" (Isa 1:25). (2) zaqaq, literally, to "strain" or "sift." In the case of silver and gold the term probably referred to some washing process in connection with refining, as in Mal 3:3 both tsaraph and zaqaq are used (1Ch 28:18; 29:4; Job 28:1). The same word in Isa 25:6 referred to the straining of wine. Greek puroo, in the passive, literally, "to be ignited," is translated "refined," in Re 1:15; 3:18.

The ancient process of refining gold has already been described under METALLURGY (which see). Most of the Bible references are to the refining of silver (Pr 25:4; Zec 13:9; Isa 48:10). The silver used by the ancients was probably obtained by smelting lead sulfide ore, rich in silver (argentiferous galena). After the ore had been reduced to a metallic condition, the lead was separated from the silver by blowing hot air over the surface of the melted metal. The lead was thus changed to lead oxide which, in a powdered condition, was driven away by the air blast. The resulting lead oxide, called in the Bible silver dross, was used for glazing pottery (Pr 26:23), a use to which it is still put by Syrian potters. The description of refining in Eze 22:18-22 may indicate that a flux (compare "as with lye," Isa 1:25 the American Revised Version margin) was sometimes added to the melted metal to dissolve the oxides of copper, lead, tin and iron as they formed, thus leaving the silver pure. Crude processes similar to those described above are used in the Taurus Mountains today.


In the various Bible references the refining of precious metals is used figuratively to illustrate the kind of trial God’s children are called upon to go through. If they are of the right metal the dross will finally be blown away, leaving pure, clear, shining silver. If of base metal they will be like the dross described in Jer 6:29,30. The refiner may blow fiercely, but in vain, for nothing but lead dross appears.

James A. Patch


re-form’ (yacar): The word in the Revised Version (British and American) is found only in Le 26:23, in the phrase "ye will not be reformed." The meaning is, "to be instructed," or, more fully, "to let one’s self be chastened," i.e. by God’s discipline to learn the lessons of this chastening.

The Hebrew word is the same in a similar connection in Jer 6:8, where it is rendered, "Be thou instructed," and in Jer 31:18, "I was chastised." Ps 2:10 ("instructed"); Pr 29:19 ("corrected") use the Hebrew term of admonition by the words of man.

The King James Version also has "reform" in 2 Esdras 8:12; The Wisdom of Solomon 9:18.


ref-or-ma’-shun: The word is found only in Heb 9:10, being the translation of diorthosis, in its only occurrence. This Greek word means etymologically "making straight," and was used of restoring to the normally straight condition that which is crooked or bent. In this passage it means the rectification of conditions, setting things to rights, and is a description of the Messianic time.


re-fresh’, re-fresh’-ing: "Refresh" occurs a few times in the Old Testament as the translation of naphash, "to take breath," figurative "to be refreshed" (Ex 23:12; 31:17; 2Sa 16:14); of rawach, "to have room (1Sa 16:23; Job 32:20, margin "find relief," the King James Version margin "may breathe"); of ca‘adh, "to support" (1Ki 13:7); and in the New Testament as the translation of anapauo, "to give rest" (1Co 16:18; 2Co 7:13; Phm 1:7,20; in compound middle, Ro 15:32 the King James Version); also of anapsucho, "to invigorate," "revive" (2Ti 1:16), and other words. "Refreshing" is in Isa 28:12 marge‘ah, "rest" or "quiet"; and in Ac 3:19, anapsuxis, "seasons of refreshing," through the coming of Jesus, the Christ; compare 2 Esdras 11:46 and the King James Version, Sirach 43:22 hilaroo).

W. L. Walker


ref’-uj: A place of resort and safety. The principal words in the Old Testament are machceh (Ps 14:6; 46:1; 62:7,8; Isa 4:6, etc.), and manoc (2Sa 22:3; Ps 59:16, etc.), both applied chiefly to God as a "refuge" for His people. For the King James Version "refuge" in De 33:27, the Revised Version (British and American) has "dwelling-place," and in Ps 9:9, "high tower." Conversely, the Revised Version (British and American) has "refuge" for the King James Version "shelter" in Ps 61:3, and "hope" in Jer 17:17.


‘are ha-miqlaT; poleis ton phugadeuterion (compare 1 Macc 10:28), and other forms):

1. Location:

Six cities, three on each side of the Jordan, were set apart and placed in the hands of the Levites, to serve as places of asylum for such as might shed blood unwittingly. On the East of the Jordan they were Bezer in the lot of Reuben, Ramoth-gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in the territory of Manasseh. On the West of the Jordan they were Hebron in Judah, Shechem in Mt. Ephraim, and Kedesh in Naphtali (Nu 35:6,14; Jos 20:2,7 ff; 21:13,21,27,32,38; Bezer is named in Jos 21:36, but not described as a City of Refuge). An account of these cities is given in separate articles under their names. De 19:2 speaks of three cities thus to be set apart, referring apparently to the land West of the Jordan.

2. Purpose:

From time immemorial in the East, if a man were slain the duty of avenging him has lain as a sacred obligation upon his nearest relative. In districts where more primitive conditions prevail, even to this day, the distinction between intentional and unintentional killing is not too strictly observed, and men are often done to death in revenge for what was the purest accident. To prevent such a thing where possible, and to provide for a right administration of justice, these cities were instituted. Open highways were to be maintained along, which the manslayer might have an unobstructed course to the city gate.

3. Regulations:

The regulations concerning the Cities of Refuge are found in Nu 35; De 19:1-13; Jos 20. Briefly, everything was to be done to facilitate the flight of the manslayer, lest the avenger of blood, i.e. the nearest of kin, should pursue him with hot heart, and, overtaking him, should smite him mortally. Upon reaching the city he was to be received by the elders and his case heard. If this was satisfactory, they gave him asylum until a regular trial could be carried out. They took him, apparently, to the city or district from which he had fled, and there, among those who knew him, witnesses were examined. If it were proved that he was not a willful slayer, that he had no grudge against the person killed, and had shown no sign of purpose to injure him, then he was declared innocent and conducted back to the city in which he had taken refuge, where he must stay until the death of the high priest. Then he was free to return home in safety. Until that event he must on no account go beyond the city boundaries. If he did, the avenger of blood might slay him without blame. On the other hand, if he were found guilty of deliberate murder, there was no more protection for him. He was handed over to the avenger of blood who, with his own hand, took the murderer’s life. Blood-money, i.e. money paid in compensation for the murder, in settlement of the avenger’s claim, was in no circumstances permitted; nor could the refugee be ransomed, so that he might "come again to dwell in the land" until the death of the high priest (Nu 35:32).

A similar right of refuge seems to have been recognized in Israel as attaching to the altar in the temple at Jerusalem (1Ki 1:50; 2:28; compare Ex 21:12 f). This may be compared with the right of asylum connected with the temples of the heathen.

W. Ewing


re-fuz’:Formerly used with the additional meaning "reject," and hence, the change from the King James Version to the Revised Version (British and American) in 1Sa 16:7; Eze 5:6; 1Ti 4:4; 1Pe 2:7, etc.


re-fut’:Only in Jude 1:22, the American Revised Version margin "And some refute while they dispute with you," where the Revised Version (British and American) in the text reads "And on some have mercy, who are in doubt."

The Greek text of Jude 1:22,23 is very uncertain, being given very differently in the various manuscripts. the Revised Version (British and American) text follows the two oldest manuscripts, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Instead of eleate, "have mercy," the reading elegchete, "refute," "convict," has the powerful support of Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraemi, the best cursives, Vulgate, Memphitic, Armenian and Ethiopian versions, and is placed in the text by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles (Westcott-Hort in list of "Suspected Readings" says: "Some primitive error probable: perhaps the first eleate an interpolation"). Compare Jude 1:15, where the same Greek word occurs in the same sense (the King James Version "convince," the Revised Version (British and American) "convict"); compare also 1Ti 5:20; Tit 1:9, where the same idea of refuting the sinful occurs.

D. Miall Edwards


re’-gem (reghem, "friend" (?)): A Calebite, the son of Jahdai (1Ch 2:47), mentioned as the eponym of a Calebite family or clan.


re’-gem-me’-lek, re’-gem-mel’-ek (reghem melekh): One of a deputation sent to inquire concerning the propriety of continuing the commemoration of the destruction of the temple by holding a fast (Zec 7:2). The text of the passage is in disorder. The name may mean "friend of the king"; hence, some have sought to remove the difficulty by interpreting reghem melekh as a title, not a personal name, reading the clause, "They of Beth-el had sent SHAREZER (q.v. (2)), the friend of the king."


re-jen-er-a’-shun, re-:


1. First Biblical Sense (Eschatological)

2. Second Biblical Sense (Spiritual)


1. In the Old Testament

2. In the Teaching of Jesus

3. In Apostolic Teaching




I. The Term Explained.

The theological term "regeneration" is the Latin translation of the Greek expression palingenesia, occurring twice in the New Testament (Mt 19:28; Tit 3:5). The word is usually written paliggenesia, in classical Greek. Its meaning is different in the two passages, though an easy transition of thought is evident.

1. First Biblical Sense (Eschatological):

In Mt 19:28 the word refers to the restoration of the world, in which sense it is synonymical to the expressions apokatastasis panton, "restoration of all things" (Ac 3:21; the verb is found in Mt 17:11, apokatastsei panta, "shall restore all things"), and anapsuxis, "refreshing" (Ac 3:19), which signifies a gradual transition of meaning to the second sense of the word under consideration. It is supposed that regeneration in this sense denotes the final stage of development of all creation, by which God’s purposes regarding the same are fully realized, when "all things (are put) in subjection under his feet" (1Co 15:27). This is a "regeneration in the proper meaning of the word, for it signifies a renovation of all visible things when the old is passed away, and heaven and earth are become new" (compare Re 21:1). To the Jew the regeneration thus prophesied was inseparably connected with the reign of the Messiah.

We find this word in the same or very similar senses in profane literature. It is used of the renewal of the world in Stoical philosophy. Josephus (Ant., XI, iii, 9) speaks of the anaktesis kai paliggenesia tes patridos, "a new foundation and regeneration of the fatherland," after the return from the Babylonian captivity. Philo (ed. Mangey, ii.144) uses the word, speaking of the post-diluvial epoch of the earth, as of a new world, and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (xi.1), of a periodical restoration of all things, laying stress upon the constant recurrence and uniformity of all happenings, which thought the Preacher expressed by "There is no new thing under the sun" (Ec 1:9). In most places, however, where the word occurs in philosophical writings, it is used of the "reincarnation" or "subsequent birth" of the individual, as in the Buddhistic and Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls (Plut., edition Xylander, ii.998c; Clement of Alexandria, edition Potter, 539) or else of a revival of life (Philo i.159). Cicero uses the word in his letters to Atticus (vi.6) metaphorically of his return from exile, as a new lease of life granted to him.


2. Second Biblical Sense (Spiritual):

This sense is undoubtedly included in the full Biblical conception of the former meaning, for it is unthinkable that a regeneration in the eschatological sense can exist without a spiritual regeneration of humanity or the individual. It is, however, quite evident that this latter conception has arisen rather late, from an analysis of the former meaning. It is found in Tit 3:5 which, without absolute certainty as to its meaning, is generally interpreted in agreement with the numerous nouns and verbs which have given the dogmatical setting to the doctrine of regeneration in Christian theology. Clement of Alexandria is the first to differentiate this meaning from the former by the addition of the adjective pneumatike, "spiritual" (compare anapsuxis, Ac 3:20; see REFRESHING). In this latter sense the word is typically Christian, though the Old Testament contains many adumbrations of the spiritual process expressed thereby.

II. The Biblical Doctrine of Regeneration.

1. In the Old Testament:

It is well known that in the earlier portions of the Old Testament, and to a certain degree all through the Old Testament, religion is looked at and spoken of more as a national possession, the benefits of which are largely visible and tangible blessings. The idea of regeneration here occurs therefore—though no technical expression has as yet been coined for the process—in the first meaning of the word elucidated above. Whether the divine promises refer to the Messianic end of times, or are to be realized at an earlier date, they all refer to the nation of Israel as such, and to individuals only as far as they are partakers in the benefits bestowed upon the commonwealth. This is even true where the blessings prophesied are only spiritual, as in Isa 60:21,22. The mass of the people of Israel are therefore as yet scarcely aware of the fact that the conditions on which these divine promises are to be attained are more than ceremonial and ritual ones. Soon, however, great disasters, threatening to overthrow the national entity, and finally the captivity and dispersion which caused national functions to be almost, if not altogether, discontinued, assisted in the growth of a sense of individual or personal responsibility before God. The sin of Israel is recognized as the sin of the individual, which can be removed only by individual repentance and cleansing. This is best seen from the stirring appeals of the prophets of the exile, where frequently the necessity of a change of attitude toward Yahweh is preached as a means to such regeneration. This cannot be understood otherwise than as a turning of the individual to the Lord. Here, too, no ceremony or sacrifice is sufficient, but an interposition of divine grace, which is represented under the figure of a washing and sprinkling from all iniquity and sin (Isa 1:18; Jer 13:23). It is not possible now to follow in full the development of this idea of cleansing, but already in Isa 52:15 the sprinkling of many nations is mentioned and is soon understood in the sense of the "baptism" which proselytes had to undergo before their reception into the covenant of Israel. It was the symbol of a radical cleansing like that of a "new-born babe," which was one of the designations of the proselyte (compare Ps 87:5; see also the tractate Yebhamoth 62a). Would it be surprising that Israel, which had been guilty of many sins of the Gentiles, needed a similar baptism and sprinkling? This is what Eze 36:25 suggests: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." In other passages the cleansing and refining power of fire is alluded to (e.g. Mal 3:2), and there is no doubt that John the Baptist found in such passages the ground for his practice of baptizing the Jews who came to him (Joh 1:25-28 and parallel’s).

The turning of Israel to God was necessarily meant to be an inward change of attitude toward Him, in other words, the sprinkling with clean water, as an outward sign, was the emblem of a pure heart. It was Isaiah and Jeremiah who drew attention to this (Isa 57:15; Jer 24:7; 31:33-35; 32:38-40, et passim). Here again reference is made to individuals, not only to the people in general (Jer 31:34). This promised regeneration, so lovingly offered by Yahweh, is to be the token of a new covenant between God and His people (Jer 31:31; Eze 11:19-21; 18:31,32; 37:23,24).

The renewing and cleansing here spoken of is in reality nothing else than what De 30:6 had promised, a circumcision of the heart in contradistinction to the flesh, the token of the former (Abrahamic) covenant (of circumcision, Jer 4:4). As God takes the initiative in making the covenant, the conviction takes root that human sin and depravity can be effectually eliminated only by the act of God Himself renewing and transforming the heart of man (Ho 14:4). This we see from the testimony of some of Israel’s best sons and daughters, who also knew that this grace was found in the way of repentance and humiliation before God. The classical expression of this conviction is found in the prayer of David: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right (margin "stedfast") spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with a willing spirit" (Ps 51:10-12). Jeremiah puts the following words into the mouth of Ephraim: "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned" (Jer 31:18). Clearer than any passages of the Old Testament, John the Baptist, forerunner of Christ and last flaming torch of the time of the earlier covenant, spoke of the baptism, not of water, but of the Holy Spirit and of fire (Mt 3:11; Lu 3:16; Joh 1:33), leading thus to the realization of Old Testament foreshadowings which became possible by faith in Christ.

2. In the Teaching of Jesus:

In the teaching of Jesus the need of regeneration has a prominent place, though nowhere are the reasons given. The Old Testament had succeeded—and even the Gentile conscience agreed with it—in convincing the people of this need. The clearest assertion of it and the explanation of the doctrine of regeneration is found in the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus (Joh 3). It is based upon

(1) the observation that man, even the most punctilious in the observance of the Law, is dead and therefore unable to "live up" to the demands of God. Only He who gave life at the beginning can give the (spiritual) life necessary to do God’s will.

(2) Man has fallen from his virginal and divinely-appointed sphere, the realm of the spirit, the Kingdom of God, living now the perishing earthly life. Only by having a new spiritual nature imparted to him, by being "born anew" (Joh 3:3, the Revised Version margin "from above," Greek anothen), by being "born of the Spirit" (Joh 3:6,8), can he live the spiritual life which God requires of man.

These words are a New Testament exegesis of Ezekiel’s vision of the dead bones (Eze 37:1-10). It is the "breath from Yahweh," the Spirit of God, who alone can give life to the spiritually dead.

But regeneration, according to Jesus, is more than life, it is also purity. As God is pure and sinless, none but the pure in heart can see God (Mt 5:8). This was always recognized as impossible to mere human endeavor. Bildad the Shuhite declared, and his friends, each in his turn, expressed very similar thoughts (Job 4:17; 14:4): "How then can man be just with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold, even the moon hath no brightness, and the stars are not pure in his sight: how much less man, that is a worm! and the son of man, that is a worm!" (Job 25:4-6).

To change this lost condition, to impart this new life, Jesus claims as His God-appointed task: "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lu 19:10); "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly" (Joh 10:10). This life is eternal, imperishable: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand" (Joh 10:28). This life is imparted by Jesus Himself: "It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life" (Joh 6:63). This life can be received on the condition of faith in Christ or by coming to Him (Joh 14:6). By faith power is received which enables the sinner to overcome sin, to "sin no more" (Joh 8:11).

The parables of Jesus further illustrate this doctrine. The prodigal is declared to have been "dead" and to be "alive again" (Lu 15:24). The new life from God is compared to a wedding garment in the parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son (Mt 22:11). The garment, the gift of the inviting king, had been refused by the unhappy guest, who, in consequence, was ‘cast out into the outer darkness’ (Mt 22:13).

Finally, this regeneration, this new life, is explained as the knowledge of God and His Christ: "And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ" (Joh 17:3). This seems to be an allusion to the passage in Hosea (4:6): "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me."

3. In Apostolic Teaching:

It may be said in general that the teaching of the apostles on the subject of regeneration is a development of the teaching of Jesus on the lines of the adumbrations of the Old Testament. Considering the differences in the personal character of these writers, it is remarkable that such concord of views should exist among them. Paul, indeed, lays more stress on the specific facts of justification and sanctification by faith than on the more comprehensive head of regeneration. Still the need of it is plainly stated by Paul. It is necessary to salvation for all men. "The body is dead because of sin" (Ro 8:3-11; Eph 2:1). The flesh is at enmity with God (Eph 2:15); all mankind is "darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God" (Eph 4:18). Similar passages might be multiplied. Paul then distinctly teaches that thus is a new life in store for those who have been spiritually dead. To the Ephesians he writes: "And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins" (2:1), and later on: "God, being rich in mercy, .... made us alive together with Christ" (2:4,5). A spiritual resurrection has taken place. This regeneration causes a complete revolution in man. He has thereby passed from under the law of sin and death and has come under "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Ro 8:2). The change is so radical that it is possible now to speak of a "new creature" (2Co 5:17; Ga 6:15, margin "new creation"), of a "new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph 4:24), and of "the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him" (Col 3:10). All "old things are passed away; behold, they are become new" (2Co 5:17).

Paul is equally explicit regarding the author of this change. The "Spirit of God," the "Spirit of Christ" has been given from above to be the source of all new life (Ro 8); by Him we are proved to be the "sons" of God (Ga 4:6); we have been adopted into the family of God (huiothesia, Ro 8:15; Ga 4:5). Thus Paul speaks of the "second Adam," by whom the life of righteousness is initiated in us; just as the "first Adam" became the leader in transgression, He is "a life-giving spirit" (1Co 15:45). Paul himself experienced this change, and henceforth exhibited the powers of the unseen world in his life of service. "It is no longer I that live," he exclaims, "but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me" (Ga 2:20).

Regeneration is to Paul, no less than to Jesus, connected with the conception of purity and knowledge. We have already noted the second New Testament passage in which the word "regeneration" occurs (Tit 3:5): "According to his mercy he saved us, through the washing (margin "laver") of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." In 1Co 12:13 such cleansing is called the baptism of the Spirit in agreement with the oft-repeated promise (Joe 2:28 (in the Hebrew text 3:1); Mt 3:11; Mr 1:8; Lu 3:16; Ac 1:5; 11:16). There is, of course, in these passages no reference to mere water baptism, any more than in Eze 36:25. Water is but the tertium comparationis. As water cleanseth the outer body, so the spirit purifies the inner man (compare 1Co 6:11; 1Pe 3:21).

The doctrine that regeneration redounds in true knowledge of Christ is seen from Eph 3:15-19 and 4:17-24, where the darkened understanding and ignorance of natural man are placed in contradistinction to the enlightenment of the new life (see also Col 3:10). The church redeemed and regenerated is to be a special "possession," an "heritage" of the Lord (Eph 1:11,14), and the whole creation is to participate in the final redemption and adoption (Ro 8:21-23).

James finds less occasion to touch this subject than the other writers of the New Testament. His Epistle is rather ethical than dogmatical in tone, still his ethics are based on the dogmatical presuppositions which fully agree with the teaching of other apostles. Faith to him is the human response to God’s desire to impart His nature to mankind, and therefore the indispensable means to be employed in securing the full benefits of the new life, i.e. the sin-conquering power (1:2-4), the spiritual enlightenment (1:5) and purity (1:27). There seems, however, to be little doubt that James directly refers to regeneration in the words: "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (1:18). It is supposed by some that these words, being addressed "to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion" (1:1), do not refer to individual regeneration, but to an election of Israel as a nation and so to a Christian Israel. In this case the aftermath would be the redemption of the Gentiles. I understand the expression "first-fruits" in the sense in which we have noticed Paul’s final hope in Ro 8:21-32, where the regeneration of the believing people of God (regardless of nationality) is the first stage in the regeneration or restoration of all creation. The "implanted (the Revised Version margin "inborn") word" (Jas 1:21; compare 1Pe 1:23) stands parallel to the Pauline expression, "law of the Spirit" (Ro 8:2).

Peter uses, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, the words "refreshing" (Ac 3:19) and "restoration of all things" (Ac 3:21) of the final completion of God’s plans concerning the whole creation, and accordingly looks here at God’s people as a whole. In a similar sense he says in his Second Epistle, after mentioning "the day of God": "We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2Pe 3:13). Still he alludes very plainly to the regeneration of individuals (1Pe 1:3,13). The idea of a second birth of the believers is clearly suggested in the expression, "newborn babes" (1Pe 2:2), and in the explicit statement of 1Pe 1:23: "having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth." It is in this sense that the apostle calls God "Father" (1Pe 1:17) and the believers "children of obedience" (1Pe 1:14), i.e. obedient children, or children who ought to obey. We have seen above that the agent by which regeneration is wrought, the incorruptible seed of the word of God, finds a parallel in Paul’s and James’s theology. All these expressions go back probably to a word of the Master in Joh 15:3. We are made partakers of the word by having received the spirit. This spirit (compare the Pauline "lifegiving spirit," 1Co 15:45), the "mind" of Christ (1Pe 4:1), is the power of the resurrected Christ active in the life of the believer. Peter refers to the same thought in 1Pe 3:15,21. By regeneration we become "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession" in whom divine virtues, "the excellencies of him who called you" (1Pe 2:9), are manifested. Here the apostle uses well-known Old Testament expressions foreshadowing New Testament graces (Isa 61:6; 66:21; Ex 19:6; De 7:6), but he individualizes the process of regeneration in full agreement with the increased light which the teaching of Jesus has brought. The theology of Peter also points out the contact of regeneration with purity and holiness (1Pe 1:15,16) and true knowledge (1Pe 1:14) or obedience (1Pe 1:14; 3:16). It is not surprising that the idea of purity should invite the Old Testament parallel of "cleansing by water." The flood washed away the iniquity of the world "in the days of Noah," when "eight souls were saved through water: which also after a true likeness (the Revised Version margin "in the antitype") doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation (the Revised Version margin "inquiry," "appeal") of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection (-life) of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 3:20,21).

The teaching of John is very closely allied with that of Jesus, as we have already seen from the multitude of quotations we had to select from John’s Gospel to illustrate the teaching of the Master. It is especially interesting to note the cases where the apostle didactically elucidates certain of these pronouncements of Jesus. The most remarkable apostolic gloss or commentary on the subject is found in Joh 7:39. Jesus had spoken of the change which faith in Him ("coming to him") would cause in the lives of His disciples; how divine energies like "rivers of water" should issue forth from them; and the evangelist continues in explanation: "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." This recognition of a special manifestation of divine power, transcending the experience of Old Testament believers, was based on the declaration of Christ, that He would send "another Comforter (the Revised Version (British and American) "advocate," "helper," Greek Parakletos), that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth" (Joh 14:16,17).

In his Epistles, John shows that this Spirit bestows the elements of a Godlike character which makes us to be "sons of God," who before were "children of the devil" (1 Joh 3:10,24; 4:13, etc.). This regeneration is "eternal life" (1 Joh 5:13) and moral similarity with God, the very character of God in man. As "God is love," the children of God will love (1 Joh 5:2). At the same time it is the life of God in man, also called fellowship with Christ, victorious life which overcomes the world (1 Joh 5:4); it is purity (1 Joh 3:3-6) and knowledge (1 Joh 2:20).

The subject of regeneration lies outside of the scope of the Epistle to the Hebrews, so that we look in vain for a clear dogmatical statement of it. Still the epistle does in no place contradict the dogma, which, on the other hand, underlies many of the statements made. Christ, "the mediator of a better covenant, which hath been enacted upon better promises" (8:6), has made "purification of sins" (1:3). In contradistinction to the first covenant, in which the people approached God by means of outward forms and ordinances, the "new covenant" (8:13) brought an "eternal redemption" (9:12) by means of a divine cleansing (9:14). Christ brings "many sons unto glory" and is "author of their salvation" (2:10). Immature Christians are spoken of (as were the proselytes of the Old Testament) as babies, who were to grow to the stature, character and knowledge of "full-grown men" (5:13,14).

III. Later Development of the Doctrine.

Very soon the high spiritual meaning of regeneration was obscured by the development of priestcraft within the Christian church. When the initiation into the church was thought of as accomplished by the mediation of ministers thereto appointed, the ceremonies hereby employed became means to which magic powers were of necessity ascribed. This we see plainly in the view of baptismal regeneration, which, based upon half-understood passages of Scripture quoted above, was taught at an early date. While in the post-apostolic days we frequently find traces of a proper appreciation of an underlying spiritual value in baptism (compare Didache vii) many of the expressions used are highly misleading. Thus Gregory Nazianzen (Orations, xi.2) calls baptism the second of the three births a child of God must experience (the first is the natural birth, the third the resurrection). This birth is "of the day, free, delivering from passions, taking away every veil of our nature or birth, i.e. everything hiding the divine image in which we are created, and leading up to the life above" (Ullmann, Gregor v. Nazienz, 323). Cyril of Jerusalem (Cat., xvii, c. 37) ascribes to baptism the power of absolution from sin and the power of endowment with heavenly virtues. According to Augustine baptism is essential to salvation, though the baptism of blood (martyrdom) may take the place of water baptism, as in the case of the thief at the cross (Augustine, De Anima et Eius Origine, i.11, c. 9; ii.14, c. 10; ii.16, c. 12). Leo the Great compares the spirit-filled water of baptism with the spirit-filled womb of the virgin Mary, in which the Holy Spirit engenders a sinless child of God (Serm. xxiv.3; xxv.5; see Hagenbach, Dogmengeschichte, section 137).

In general this is still the opinion of pronounced sacrmentarians, while evangelical Christianity has gone back to the teaching of the New Testament.

IV. Present Significance.

Although a clear distinction is not always maintained between regeneration and other experiences of the spiritual life, we may summarize our belief in the following theses:

(1) Regeneration implies not merely an addition of certain gifts or graces, a strengthening of certain innate good qualities, but a radical change, which revolutionizes our whole being, contradicts and overcomes our old fallen nature, and places our spiritual center of gravity wholly outside of our own powers in the realm of God’s causation.

(2) It is the will of God that all men be made partakers of this new life (1Ti 2:4) and, as it is clearly stated that some fall short of it (Joh 5:40), it is plain that the fault thereof lies with man. God requires all men to repent and turn unto Him (Ac 17:30) before He will or can effect regeneration. Conversion, consisting in repentance and faith in Christ, is therefore the human response to the offer of salvation which God makes. This response gives occasion to and is synchronous with the divine act of renewal (regeneration). The Spirit of God enters into union with the believing, accepting spirit of man. This is fellowship with Christ (Ro 8:10; 1Co 6:17; 2Co 5:17; Col 3:3).

(3) The process of regeneration is outside of our observation and beyond the scope of psychological analysis. It takes place in the sphere of subconsciousness. Recent psychological investigations have thrown a flood of light on the psychic states which precede, accompany and follow the work of the Holy Spirit. "He handles psychical powers; He works upon psychical energies and states; and this work of regeneration lies somewhere within the psychical field." The study of religious psychology is of highest value and greatest importance. The facts of Christian experience cannot be changed, nor do they lose in value by the most searching psychological scrutiny.

Psychological analysis does not eliminate the direct workings of the Holy Spirit. Nor can it disclose its process; the "underlying laboratory where are wrought radical remedial processes and structural changes in the psychical being as portrayed in explicit scriptural utterances: ‘Create in me a clean heart’ (Ps 51:10); ‘Ye must be born again’ (Joh 3:7 the King James Version); ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new’ (2Co 5:17 the King James Version), is in the region of subconsciousness. To look in the region of consciousness for this Person or for His work is fruitless and an effort fraught with endless confusion. Christian psychology thus traces to its deep-lying retreat the divine elaboration of the regenerated life. Here God works in the depths of the soul as silently and securely as if on the remotest world of the stellar universe" (H. E. Warner, Psychology of the Christian Life, 117).

(4) Regeneration manifests itself in the conscious soul by its effects on the will, the intelligence and the affections. At the same time regeneration supplies a new life-power of divine origin, which enables the component parts of human nature to fulfill the law of God, to strive for the coming of God’s kingdom, and to accept the teachings of God’s spirit. Thus regenerate man is made conscious of the facts of justification and adoption. The former is a judicial act of God, which frees man from the law of sin and absolves him from the state of enmity against God; the latter an enduement with the Spirit, which is an earnest of his inheritance (Eph 1:14). The Spirit of God, dwelling in man, witnesses to the state of sonship (Ro 8:2,15,16; Ga 4:6).

(5) Regeneration, being a new birth, is the starting-point of spiritual growth. The regenerated man needs nurture and training. He receives it not merely from outside experiences, but from an immanent power in himself, which is recognized as the power of the life of the indwelling Christ (Col 1:26,27). Apart from the mediate dealings of God with man through word and sacraments, there is therefore an immediate communication of life from God to the regenerate.

(6) The truth which is mentioned as the agent by whom regeneration is made possible (Joh 8:32; Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:23), is nothing else than the Divine Spirit, not only the spoken or written word of God, which may convince people of right or wrong, but which cannot enable the will of man to forsake the wrong and to do the right, but He who calls Himself the Truth (Joh 14:6) and who has become the motive power of regenerated life (Ga 2:20).

(7) Recent philosophy expressive of the reaction from the mechanical view of bare materialism, and also from the depreciation of personality as seen in socialism, has again brought into prominence the reality and need of personal life. Johannes Muller and Rudolf Eucken among others emphasize that a new life of the spirit, independent of outward conditions, is not only possible, but necessary for the attainment of the highest development. This new life is not a fruit of the free play of the tendencies and powers of natural life, but is in sharp conflict with them. Man as he is by nature stands in direct contrast to the demands of the spiritual life. Spiritual life, as Professor Eucken says, can be implanted in man by some superior power only and must constantly be sustained by superior life. It breaks through the order of causes and effects; it severs the continuity of the outer world; it makes impossible a rational joining together of realities; it prohibits a monastic view of the immediate condition of the world. This new life derives its power not from mere Nature; it is a manifestation of divine life within us (Hauptprobleme der Religionsphilosophie, Leipzig, 1912, 17 ff; Der Kampf um einen geistigen Lebensinhalt, Leipzig, 1907; Grundlinien einer neuen Lebensanschauung, Leipzig, 1907; Johannes Muller, Bausteine fur personliche Kultur, 3 volumes, Munchen, 1908). Thus the latest development of idealistic philosophy corroborates in a remarkable way the Christian truth of regeneration.



New Testament Theologies by Weiss, Beyschlag, Holtzmann, Schlatter, Feine, Stevens, Sheldon, Weinel. Textbooks on Systematic Theology: articles "Bekehrung" by R. Seeberg; "Wiedergeburt" by O. Kirn in Hauck-Herzog RE3; "Regeneration" by J. V. Bartlett in HDB; "Conversion" by J. Strachan in ERE; George Jackson, The Fact of Conversion, London, 1908; Newton H. Marshall, Conversion; or, the New Birth, London, 1909; J. Herzog, Der Begriff der Bekehrung, Giessen, 1903; P. Feine, Bekehrung im New Testament und in der Gegenwart, Leipzig, 1908; P. Gennrich, Die Lehre yon der Wiedergeburt, Leipzig, 1907. Psychological: W. James, Varieties of Religious Experience, 189-258; G. Stanley Hall, Adolescence, II, 281-362; G. A. Coe, The Spiritual Life, New York, 1900; E. D. Starbuck, Psychology of Religion, New York, 1911; G. B. Cutten, Psychological Phenomena of Christianity, London, 1909; H. E. Warner, The Psychology of the Christian Life, New York, 1910; H. W. Clark, The Philosophy of Christian Experience, London, 1906; Harold Begbie, Broken Earthenware, or Twice-Born Men, London, 1909; M. Scott Fletcher, The Psychology of the New Testament, London, 1912.

John L. Nuelsen



re’-jun: A "district," as in modern English. The word "region" is used by English Versions of the Bible interchangeably with "country," "coasts," etc., for various Hebrew and Greek terms, but "region round about" is usually in the King James Version and invariably in the Revised Version (British and American) the translation of perichoros, "surrounding country." For a possible technical use of "region" in Ac 16:6 and the Revised Version (British and American) 18:23.






re-ha-bi’-a (rechabhyah, rechabhyahu, "Yah is wide"): Son of Eliezer, and grandson of Moses. Eponym of a Levitical family (1Ch 23:17; 24, 21; 26:25).


re-hurs’ (sum, dabhar, naghadh, tanah; anaggello): Usually means simply "to relate," "to tell," "to declare" (Ex 17:14; Jud 5:11; 1Sa 8:21; 17:31; Ac 14:27); with "rehearse from the beginning" in Ac 11:4 for archomai, "begin" (so the Revised Version (British and American)). the Revised Version (British and American) has preserved uniformity by translating anaggello by "rehearse" also in Ac 15:4, and has introduced "rehearse" as the translation of exegeomai, throughout (Lu 24:35; Ac 10:8; 15:12,14; 21:19), except in Joh 1:18 ("declare"). Sirach 19:7, the King James Version has "rehearse" for deuteroo, "repeat" (so the Revised Version (British and American)).


re’-hob (rechobh; Rhoob, Rhaab):

(1) Etymologically the word means "broad" and might be applied either to a road or a plain. Rehob is given (Nu 13:21) as the northern limit of Israel as reached by the spies. This agrees with the position assigned to Beth-rehob in the narrative of the settlement of the Danites (Jud 18:28). It is mentioned again along with the kingdom of Zobah in connection with the wars of Saul (1Sa 14:47 Septuagint Lag.), and as having been associated with, Zobah and Maacah against David in the Ammonite war and as having been defeated by him (2Sa 10:6). Robinson sought to identify it with Hunin, but it hardly suits the references. Buhl (GAP, 240) following Thomson (LB, II, 547) seeks it at Paneas (modern Banias). This would suit all the requirements of the capital, Beth-rehob, which might then be the second Rehob, assigned as part of the territory of Sidon to the tribe Asher (Jos 19:28,30; Jud 18:28). We must, however, assign to the kingdom of Rehob a territory extending from the settlements of the Danites to the "entering in of Hamath" or to Libo (modern Leboue), i.e. the Great Plain of Coele-Syria bounded by Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon and within the limits indicated.

(2) Two separate towns belonging to Asher (Jos 19:28; 19:30). One of them was given to the Gershonite Levites (Jos 21:31), and one is mentioned as remaining in the hands of the Canaanites (Jud 1:31).

(3) Father of Hadadezer, king of Aram Zobah, who was overwhelmed by David at the Euphrates (2Sa 8:3,12).

(4) One of the Levites who sealed Nehemiah’s covenant on the 24th Tishri, 444 BC (Ne 10:11).

W. M. Christie


re-ho-bo’-am (rechabh‘am, "the people is enlarged," or perhaps "Am is wide" Rhoboam; "Roboam," Mt 1:7 the King James Version):

1. The Disruption of the Kingdom

2. Underlying Causes of Disruption

3. Shemaiah Forbids Civil War

4. Rehoboam’s Prosperity

5. Shishak’s Invasion

6. His Death

The son and successor of Solomon, the last king to claim the throne of old Israel and the first king of Judah after the division of the kingdom. He was born circa 978 BC. His mother was Naamah, an Ammonitess. The account of his reign is contained in 1Ki 14:21-31; 2Ch 10-12. The incidents leading to the disruption of the kingdom are told in 1Ki 11:43-12:24; 2Ch 9:31-11:4.

1. The Disruption of the Kingdom:

Rehoboam was 41 years old (2Ch 12:13) when he began to reign Septuagint 1Ki 12:24 a says 16 years). He ascended the throne at Jerusalem immediately upon his father’s death with apparently no opposition. North Israel, however, was dissatisfied, and the people demanded that the king meet them in popular assembly at Shechem, the leading city of Northern Israel. True, Israel was no longer, if ever, an elective monarchy. Nevertheless, the people claimed a constitutional privilege, based perhaps on the transaction of Samuel in the election of Saul (1Sa 10:25), to be a party to the conditions under which they would serve a new king and he become their ruler: David, in making Solomon his successor, had ignored this wise provision, and the people, having lost such a privilege by default, naturally deemed their negligence the cause of Solomon’s burdensome taxes and forced labor. Consequently, they would be more jealous of their rights for the future, and Rehoboam accordingly would have to accede to their demand. Having come together at Shechem, the people agreed to accept Rehoboam as their king on condition that he would lighten the grievous service and burdensome taxes of his father. Rehoboam asked for three days’ time in which to consider the request. Against the advice of men of riper judgment, who assured him that he might win the people by becoming their servant, he chose the counsel of the younger men, who were of his own age, to rule by sternness rather than by kindness, and returned the people a rough answer, saying: "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (1Ki 12:14). Rehoboam, however, misjudged the temper of the people, as well as his own ability. The people, led by Jeroboam, a leader more able than himself, were ready for rebellion, and so force lost the day where kindness might have won. The threat of the king was met by the Marseillaise of the people: "What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David" (1Ki 12:16). Thus the ten tribes dethroned Rehoboam, and elected Jeroboam, their champion and spokesman, their king (see JEROBOAM). Rehoboam, believing in his ability to carry out his threat (1Ki 12:14), sent Adoram, his taskmaster, who no doubt had quelled other disturbances, to subdue the populace, which, insulted by indignities and enraged by Rehoboam’s renewed insolence, stoned his messenger to death. Realizing, for the first time, the seriousness of the revolt, Rehoboam fled ignominiously back to Jerusalem, king only of Judah and of the adjacent territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The mistake of Rehoboam, was the common mistake of despots. He presumed too much on privilege not earned by service, and on power for which he was not willing to render adequate compensation.

2. Underlying Causes of Disruption:

It is a mistake, however, to see in the disruption the shattering of a kingdom that had long been a harmonious whole. From the earliest times the confederation of tribes was imperfectly cemented. They seldom united against their common foe. No mention is made of Judah in the list of tribes who fought with Deborah against Sisera. A chain of cities held by the Canaanites, stretching across the country from East to West, kept the North and the South apart. Different physical characteristics produced different types of life in the two sections. Old jealousies repeatedly fanned into new flame intensified the divisions due to natural and artificial causes. David labored hard to break down the old antagonisms, but even in his reign Israel rebelled twice. Northern Israel had produced many of the strongest leaders of the nation, and it was not easy for them to submit to a ruler from the Judean dynasty. Solomon, following David’s policy of unification, drew the tribes closely together through the centralization of worship at Jerusalem and through the general splendor of his reign, but he, more than any other, finally widened the gulf between the North and the South, through his unjust discriminations, his heavy taxes, his forced labor and the general extravagances of his reign. The religion of Yahweh was the only bond capable of holding the nation together. The apostasy of Solomon severed this bond. The prophets, with their profound knowledge of religious and political values, saw less danger to the true worship of Yahweh in a divided kingdom than in a united nation ruled over by Rehoboam, who had neither political sagacity nor an adequate conception of the greatness of the religion of Yahweh. Accordingly, Ahijah openly encouraged the revolution, while Shemaiah gave it passive support.

3. Shemaiah Forbids Civil War:

Immediately upon his return to Jerusalem, Rehoboam collected a large army of 180,000 men (reduced to 120,000 in the Septuagint’s Codex Vaticanus), for the purpose of making war against Israel. The expedition, however, was forbidden by Shemaiah the prophet on the ground that they should not fight against their brethren, and that the division of the kingdom was from God. Notwithstanding the prohibition, we are informed that "there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually" (1Ki 14:30; 2Ch 12:15).

4. Rehoboam’s Prosperity:

Rehoboam next occupied himself in strengthening the territory which still remained to him by fortifying a number of cities (2Ch 11:5-12). These cities were on the roads to Egypt, or on the western hills of the Judean Shephelah, and were doubtless fortifled as a protection against Egypt. According to 2Ch 11:13-17, Rehoboam’s prosperity was augmented by an immigration of priests and Levites from Israel, who came to Jerusalem because of their opposition to the idolatrous worship instituted by Jeroboam. All who were loyal to Yahweh in the Northern Kingdom are represented as following the example of the priests and Levites in going to Jerusalem, not simply to sacrifice, but to reside there permanently, thus strengthening Rehoboam’s kingdom. In view of the fact that Rehoboam added to the innovations of his father, erected pillars of Baal in Jerusalem long before they were common in Northern Israel, and that he permitted other heathen abominations and immoralities, it seems that the true worship of Yahweh received little encouragement from the king himself. As a further evidence of his prosperity, Chronicles gives an account of Rehoboam’s family. Evidently he was of luxurious habit and followed his father in the possession of a considerable harem (2Ch 11:18-23). He is said to have had 18 wives and 60 concubines, (2Ch 11:21; the Septuagint’s Codex Vaticanus and Josephus, Ant, VIII, x, 1 give "30 concubines").

5. Shishak’s Invasion:

One of the direct results of the disruption of the kingdom was the invasion of Palestine by Shishak, king of Egypt, in the 5th year of Rehoboam. Shishak is Sheshonk. I, the first king of the XXIId or Bubastite Dynasty. He is the same ruler who granted hospitality to Jeroboam when he was obliged to flee from Solomon (1Ki 11:40). The Septuagint (1Ki 12:24 e) informs us that Jeroboam married Ano, the sister of Shishak’s wife, thus becoming brother-in-law to the king of Egypt. It is therefore easy to suppose that Jeroboam, finding himself in straits in holding his own against his rival, Rehoboam, called in the aid of his former protector. The results of this invasion, however, are inscribed on the temple at Karnak in Upper Egypt, where a list of some 180 (Curtis, "Chronicles," ICC) towns captured by Shishak is given. These belong to Northern Israel as well as Judah, showing that Shishak exacted tribute there as well as in Judah, which seems scarcely reconcilable with the view that he invaded Palestine as Jeroboam’s ally. However, the king of Israel, imploring the aid of Shishak against his rival, thereby made himself vassal to Egypt. This would suffice to make his towns figure at Karnak among the cities subjected in the course of the campaign. The Chronicler saw in Shishak an instrument in the hand of God for the punishment of R. and the people for the national apostasy. According to 2Ch 12:3, Shishak had a force of 1,200 chariots and 60,000 horsemen to which Josephus adds 400,000 foot-soldiers, composed of Lubim, Sukkum and Ethiopians. No resistance appears to have been offered to the advance of the invading army. Not even Jerusalem seems to have stood a siege. The palace and the temple were robbed of all their treasures, including the shields of gold which Solomon had made. For these Rehoboam later substituted shields of brass (2Ch 12:9,10).

6. His Death:

Rehoboam died at the age of fifty-eight, after having reigned in Jerusalem for 17 years. His son Abijah became his successor. He was buried in Jerusalem. Josephus says that in disposition he was a proud and foolish man, and that he "despised the worship of God, till the people themselves imitated his wicked actions" (Ant., VIII, x, 2).

S. K. Mosiman


re-ho’-both, re-ho’-both (rehobhoth, "broad places"; Euruchoria): One of the wells dug by Isaac (Ge 26:22). It is probably the Rubuta of the Tell el-Amarna Letters (Petrie, numbers 256, 260; see also The Expository Times, XI, 239 (Konig), 377 (Sayce)), and it is almost certainly identical with the ruin Ruchaibeh, 8 hours Southwest of Beersheba. Robinson (BR, I, 196-97) describes the ruins of the ancient city as thickly covering a "level tract of 10 to 12 acres in extent"; "many of the dwellings had each its cistern, cut in the solid rock"; "once this must have been a city of not less than 12,000 or 15,000 inhabitants. Now it is a perfect field of ruins, a scene of unutterable desolation, across which the passing stranger can with difficulty find his way." Huntington (Palestine and Its Transformation, 124) describes considerable remains of a suburban population extending both to the North and to the South of this once important place.

E. W. G. Masterman


(rehobhoth ha-nahar; Codex Vaticanus Rhooboth (Rhoboth in Chronicles) he para potamon; Codex Alexandrinus Rhoboth): This city is mentioned only as the residence of Shaul, one of the rulers of Edom (Ge 36:37; 1Ch 1:48). There is nothing to guide us with certainty as to the situation of the city. Eusebius (Onomasticon) places it in Idumaea (Gebalene), but no trace of a name resembling this has been found in the district. "The river" usually means the Euphrates. If the city could have been so far from Edom, it might be identified with Rahaba on the West of the river, 8 miles South of its confluence with the Khabur. Winckler thinks it might possibly be on the boundary between Palestine and Egypt, "the river" being Wady el-‘Arish, "the brook of Egypt" (Nu 5; Jos 15:4, etc.).

W. Ewing


r.-ur, r.-ir (rehobhoth ‘ir, "Rehoboth City"; Septuagint he Rhohbos (Rhooboth) polis, "the city Rhoobos, Rhooboth"):

1. Probably Rebit Ninua:

The second of the cities built by Asshur (the Revised Version (British and American) by Nimrod) in Assyria (Ge 10:11,12). Unlike the other three, the exact equivalent of this name is not found in Assyrian literature Fried. Delitzsch points out (Wo lag das Paradies? 260 f) that rechobhoth is the equivalent of the Assyrian rebite, "streets," and suggests that the site referred to may be the Rebit Ninua, "streets of Nineveh," mentioned by Sargon of Assyria in connection with the peopling of Maganubba (Khorsabad or Dur-Sarru-kin; see NINEVEH); and it was through this tract that Esar-haddon, his grandson, caused the heads of the kings of Kundi and Sidon to be carried in procession when he returned from his expedition to the Mediterranean.

2. Or, Possibly, the Old Capital, Assur:

Though the probabilities in favor of Rebit Ninua are great, it is doubtful whether a suburb could have been regarded as a foundation worthy of a primitive ruler, and that a very important city, Assur, the old capital of Assyria, would rather be expected. One of the groups expressing its name is composed of the characters Sag-uru, or, dialectically, Sab-eri, the second element being the original of the Hebrew ‘ir. As the "center-city," Assur may have been regarded as the city of broad spaces (rechobhoth)—its ruins are of considerable extent. The German explorers there have made many important discoveries of temples, temple- towers, palaces and streets, the most picturesque in ancient times being the twin tower-temples of Anu (the sky) and Adad (Hadad). The ruins lie on the Tigris, about 50 miles South of Nineveh. It practically ceased to be the capital about the middle of the 8th century BC.


T. G. Pinches


re’-hum (rechum, or rechum):

(1) One of the twelve heads of the Jewish community returning from captivity with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7 (by a copyist’s error "Nehum"); Ne 12:3; RAPC 1Es 5:8, "Roimus").

(2) A Persian officer of high rank (literally, "master of judgment, taste, reason") who with others wrote a letter against Jerusalem to King Artaxerxes (Ezr 4:8,9,17,23).

(3) Son of Bani, a Levite, one of the wall-builders under Nehemiah (Ne 3:17).

(4) One of the signers of the covenant in Ne 10:25.

(5) In Ne 12:3 (omitted in the Septuagint) one Rehum is mentioned with those who went up with Zerubbabel. It is probable that we should read here "Harim" (charim for rechum of Ne 12:15).

W. N. Stearns


re’-i (re‘i, "friendly"; Rhesei): Rei, Shimei and the Gibborim who belonged to David are listed among those who did not join Adonijah in his attempt on the throne (1Ki 1:8). The name is very uncertain. Winckler (Geschichte, II, 247) identifies him with Ira, the Jairite, who was a "priest to David" (2Sa 20:26 the Revised Version margin); he tries to prove that this Ira (or Jair) was a priest of Bethlehem. Stade (GVI, I, 293, note 1) holds that Shimei and Rei were two officers of David’s bodyguard. Josephus (Ant., VII, xiv, 4) has ho Daouidou philos, thus making Shimei a "friend," the courtier of 2Sa 15:37; 16:16, and omitting Rei entirely. This would call for an original reading re‘h ha-melekh, or re‘eh ha-melekh, and is too wide a variant from the Massoretic Text. Assuming that Rei belongs in the text, it is safe to conjecture that he was an officer of the royal guard.

Horace J. Wolf


ran: The Hebrew word malekhuth, may be rendered "kinghood," "royal dignity," "kingdom," "government" ("reign"). The verb is malakh, "to be king" ("to reign as king"), "to become king," "to accede to the throne," "to assume royal power publicly" and, generally speaking, "to become powerful." In the New Testament hegemonia, basileia, basileuein. The word is used, either as a noun or as a verb, of Yahweh (God), the Messiah (Christ) and men (kings, etc.); then of such terms as sin, death, grace; of the woman in Revelation and, conditionally, of the Christians; once, ironically, of the Corinthians. "Reign" as a noun referring to the time of reigning occurs in 1Ki 6:1 (Solomon); 2Ki 24:12 (Nebuchadnezzar); 1Ch 4:31 (David; compare 1Ch 29:30); 2Ch 36:20 ("until the reign of the kingdom of Persia"); Ne 12:22 (Darius); Es 2:16 (Ahasuerus); Lu 3:1 (Tiberius Caesar). More often occurs the verb "to reign," malakh, basileuein. It is applied to:

(1) Yahweh at the close of the song of Moses (Ex 15:18); "Yahweh reigneth" (1Ch 16:31; compare Ps 93:1; 96:10; 99:1; Re 19:6); "God reigneth over the nations" (Ps 47:8); "Yahweh of hosts will reign in mount Zion" (Isa 24:23; compare Mic 4:7); "Thy God reigneth" (Isa 52:7); "Thou hast taken thy great power and didst reign" (Re 11:17, meaning probably "thou didst assume thy might");

(2) the Messiah (Christ) as a just and righteous king (Jer 23:5); an eternal king (Lu 1:33; compare Re 11:15); punishing and subduing His enemies (Lu 19:14,27; 1Co 15:25).

(3) Men (kings, etc.), in regard to the source of their power ("By me (i.e. the wisdom of God), kings reign" (Pr 8:15)); respecting legitimate succession (2Ch 23:3); meaning "to have power or dominion" (Ge 37:8 and Job 34:30); in regard to an essential characteristic (Isa 32:1); in connection with the covenant of Yahweh with David (Jer 33:21); then the word is used in 1Sa 12:12, where Samuel reminds the children of Israel of their demanding a king of him (compare verse 14); of Saul (1Sa 13:1; compare 1Sa 11:12); of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth (2Sa 2:10); of David (2Sa 5:4 f; compare 2Sa 3:21); of Adonijah (1Ki 1:11,24; compare 1Ki 2:15); of Solomon (1Ki 1:13); quite frequently of the kings of Judah and Israel (in the Books of Kings and Chronicles); of the kings of Edom (Ge 36:31); of Jabin, king of Canaan, in Razor (Jud 4:2); of Abimelech, Jerubbaal’s son, in Jotham’s fable (Jud 9:8-15); of Hanun, king of the Ammonites (2Sa 10:1); of Rezon and his men in Damascus (1Ki 11:24); of Hazael and Ben-hadad, kings of Syria (2Ki 8:15, 13:24); of Esar-haddon, king of Assyria (2Ki 19:37); of Ahasuerus, king of Persia (Es 1:1); of Archelaus (Mt 2:22).

(4) In the New Testament the term basileuein, "to reign," is used to illustrate and emphasize the power of sin, death and grace (Ro 5:14,17,21; 6:12). Sin, the vitiating mental factor, is to be looked upon as being constantly and resolutely bent on maintaining or regaining its hold upon man, its power being exercised and reinforced by the lusts of the body. Death, the logical outcome of sin, at once testifies to the power of sin and its inherent corruption, while grace is the restoring spiritual factor following up and combating everywhere and always the pernicious influence of sin. It strives to dethrone sin, and to establish itself in man as the only dominating force.

(5) In describing the future glorious state of the believers, the New Testament uses the expression of those who endure (in faith; compare 2Ti 2:12); of those ‘purchased unto God with the blood of the Lamb’ (Re 5:10); of those partaking in the first resurrection (Re 20:6); of the servants of God, "they shall reign for ever and ever" (Re 22:5); on the other hand, it teaches us not to anticipate the privileges of heaven, while our Christian life is anything but satisfactory (1Co 4:8), and Re 17:18 shows us the terrible fate of the woman, the great city (the corrupt church), "which reigneth over the kings of the earth."

See further KING, KINGDOM.

William Baur


ranz (kilyah; nephros, words promiscuously translated "heart," "inward parts," "kidneys" or "reins." The latter word, which is derived from Latin "renes" through Old French "reins", has given place in modern English to the word "kidneys" (see Skeat, Concise Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, 398). the Revised Version (British and American) has, however, retained the older word, at least in the margin, in all passages in which it is found in the King James Version): According to Hebrew psychology the reins are the seat of the deepest emotions and affections of man, which God alone can fully know. Thus the Revised Version (British and American) has substituted "heart" for "reins" in the text of Job 19:27; Ps 7:9; 16:7; 26:2; 73:21; Pr 23:16; Jer 11:20; 12:2; 17:10; 20:12; the translation "inward parts" is found but once (Ps 139:13). In one passage the King James Version has translated the Hebrew [~halac ("loins") with "reins" (Isa 11:5), where the Revised Version (British and American) has rightly substituted "waist" (which see). The Greek word nephros (which is etymologically allied to the Middle English nere, Get. Niere; see Skeat, ibid, 231, under the word "Kidney") is found in 1 Macc 2:24; Re 2:23.


H. L. E. Luering


re’-kem (rekem, "friendship"):

(1) One of the five kings of Midian slain by the Israelites under Moses (Nu 31:8; Jos 13:21 (Codex Vaticanus Rhobok; Codex Alexandrinus Rhokom)). Like his companions, he is called a "king" in Numbers, but a "prince" or "chieftain" in the passage in Josh. The two references are hardly related; both are based on an earlier tradition.glish Language, 398). the Revised Version (British and American) has, however, retained the older word, at least in the margin, in all passages in which it is found in the King James Version): According to Hebrew psychology the reins are the seat of the deepest emotions and affections of man, which God alone can fully know. Thus the Revised Version (British and American) has substituted "heart" for "reins" in the text of Job 19:27; Ps 7:9; 16:7; 26:2; 73:21; Pr 23:16; Jer 11:20; 12:2; 17:10; 20:12; the translation "inward parts" is found but once (Ps 139:13). In one passage the King James Version has translated the Hebrew halac ("loins") with "reins" (Isa 11:5), where the Revised Version (British and American) has rightly substituted "waist" (which see). The Greek word nephros (which is etymologically allied to the Middle English nere, Get. Niere; see Skeat, ibid, 231, under the word "Kidney") is found in 1 Macc 2:24; Re 2:23. compare Mic 4:7); "Thy God reigneth" (Isa 52:7); "Thou hast taken thy great power and didst reign" (Re 11:17, meaning probably "thou didst assume thy might"); (2) the Messiah (Christ) as a just and righteous king (Jer 23:5); an eternal king (Lu 1:33; compare Re 11:15); punishing and subduing His enemies (Lu 19:14,27; 1Co 15:25).

(2) Eponym of a Calebite family (1Ch 2:43 (Rhekom). Probably a town in Southern Judah. A town of this name is given as belonging to Benjamin (Jos 18:27).

(3) A city of Benjamin, mentioned with Irpeel and Taralah (Jos 18:27); the site is unknown.

See also RAKEM.

Horace J. Wolf




1. In General

2. Parents and Children

3. Brothers and Sisters

4. Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, Kinsmen


1. Husband and Wife

2. Father-in-Law, etc.

3. Brother-in-Law, etc.


1. Foster-Father

2. Master and Servants

3. Host and Guest

4. The Dependent Stranger

The family or domestic relations of the Bible include

(1) those of consanguinity or blood relationship,

(2) affinity or marriage relationship, and

(3) legal convention.

Those of consanguinity may be divided into lineal and collateral groups; the former are those of parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and ancestors and descendants in general; the latter are those of brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts in relation to nephews and nieces, cousins of various degrees, including mere tribesmen and even remoter kinsfolk. The relations of affinity include besides that of husband and wife or concubine, the relations among rival wives, and their children, those of father-in-law and mother-in-law in relation to son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and those of brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. The domestic relations based on legal convention are either legal fictions or the results of agreement: among the former we must include those of foster-father or mother and foster-children; among the latter the relations between master and the various classes of servants and slaves held by the ancient Hebrews, those between host and guest, especially where they became covenant brothers, and between the citizen and the stranger who had attached himself to him for his protection.

I. Consanguinity.

1. In General:

Genealogies were carefully kept by the ancient Hebrews (compare those of Genesis, Numbers, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Matthew, Luke), not only because they formed the basis of a man’s title to his property (Nu 27:8-11; exceptional case, Nu 36:1-12), but also because on one’s pedigree depended the right of his family to intermarry with the priestly caste. Descent was traced through the father; a man’s closest association was therefore with his father’s family, and he was ordinarily referred to as the son of his father, thus Isaac the son of Abraham (Ge 25:19), Joshua the son of Nun, Caleb the son of Jephunneh (Nu 14:6). Still there are instances of men named for their mothers (Joab the son of Zeruiah), and a man’s relation with his mother’s family was fully recognized in the laws forbidding incest. No lineal relatives were permitted to intermarry (Le 18:7,10). The relations of ancestors and descendants were considered so close that the ordinary terms of relationship between children and parents are used constantly in relation to grandparents and remoter ancestors. The wishes of a great-grandfather are respected long after his death as the wishes of a father (Jer 35:16).

2. Parents and Children:

The father (’abh; pater) was the head of the family (mishpachah) or household (bayith), which was a religious (1Sa 20:6,29; Ex 12:3; Job 1:5) as well as a social and political unit, consisting usually of a combination of families in the modern sense. As long as polygamy prevailed a family would include at least the several groups of children of the wives and concubines. The Bible represents the Hebrew father as commanding (Ge 50:16; Jer 35:6 ff; Pr 6:20), instructing (Pr 1:8; 4:1), and rebuking (Ge 37:10; Nu 12:14); at the same time, as loving (Ge 25:28; 37:4; 44:20), pitying (Ps 103:13), and blessing his household (Ge 27:41), rejoicing over its triumphs (Pr 10:1; 15:20), or grieving over its misfortunes (Ge 37:35). The mother, too (’em; meter), naturally displays love and care (Ge 25:28; Pr 4:3; Isa 49:15; 66:13). To the Hebrew woman childlessness was considered the greatest of misfortunes (1Sa 1:10 , of Hannah; Ge 30:23, of Rachel). Children were looked upon as a blessing from God (Ps 127:3) and the defenders of the home (Ps 127:4,5). In early life a child was more directly under the control of the mother than the father; the mother was its first teacher (Pr 1:8). Thereafter the father was expected to direct the training of the son (ben; huios, teknon) (Ge 18:19; Ex 12:26; 13:8,14,15; De 6:7), while the daughter (bath; thugater) probably remained with the mother until her marriage (Mic 7:6). Both parents are looked upon in the Law as objects of honor (Ex 20:12 parallel De 5:16 (the Fifth Commandment); Ex 21:15; Le 20:9; De 27:16; Pr 20:20; Eze 22:7; Mic 7:6), obedience (Ge 28:7; Le 19:3; De 21:18 ff; Pr 1:8; 30:17) and love (1Ki 19:20; Pr 28:24; 30:11). The control of parents was so great as to include the right to sell daughters in marriage, but not, without restrictions, into slavery (Ex 21:7-11; compare Ex 22:16 ff; Ne 5:5), and never into a life of shame (Le 19:29); they could chastise children (De 8:5; 21:18; Pr 13:24; compare Ecclesiasticus 30:1-13), and in the early days even exerted the power of life and death over them (Ge 22; Jud 11:39; Le 18:21; 20:2-5; 2Ki 23:10; compare Mt 15:4). This power, at least for sacrificial purposes, was entirely removed by the Law, and changed, even for punishment, in the case of a stubborn, rebellious, gluttonous and disobedient son to a mere right of complaint to the proper authorities (De 21:18-21), who were to put him to death. Infanticide by exposure, such as was common among other ancient peoples, seems never to have been practiced by the Hebrews. That the children were nevertheless the chattels of the parents seems to be attested from the fact that they could be seized for the debts of the father (2Ki 4:1). The father could annul the vows of his daughter (Nu 30:3-5), and damages for wrongs done to her were paid to him, as in English law "for loss of services" (De 22:29). A widowed or divorced daughter could return to her father (Ge 38:11; Le 22:13; Ru 1:15). At his death the mother would become the actual, if not the legal, head of the household (2Ki 8:1-6, the Shunammite woman; RAPC Tob 1:8, Tobit’s grandmother; compare the position of the mother of Jesus). This was especially true of the queen mother (gebhirah), whose name is usually given in the accounts of the kings of Judah (1Ki 1:11; 2:19, where a throne at the king’s right hand was set for the king’s mother; 1Ki 11:26; 14:21,31; 15:2,10,13; 22:42; 2Ki 8:26; 10:13; 14:2; 15:2,33; 18:2; 21:1,19; 22:1; 23:31,36; 24:8,12,15,18; 2Ch 22:2; Jer 13:18; 22:26; see QUEEN MOTHER). While it is true that the position of the widowed mother depended to some extent on the will of her son (1Ki 2:18 ), it must be remembered that the sense of filial duty was highly developed among all classes in Palestine (Jos 2:13,18; 6:23; 1Sa 22:3; 2Sa 19:37; 1Ki 19:20). The rebellion of children marked the acme of social degeneration (Mic 7:6; Pr 30:11); on the other hand the "great day" according to Malachi (4:5 (Hebrew 3:23)) is one of conciliation of parents and children.

3. Brothers and Sisters:

The terms "brother" (’ach; adelphos) and "sister" (’ahoth; adelphe) apply to children of the same father and mother (Ge 4:2), and also to children of one father (Ge 20:12) or of one mother (Ge 43:7; Le 18:9; 20:17). The brother as well as the father was the natural protector of the honor of his sister; thus, the sons of Jacob speak of Dinah as "our daughter" (Ge 34:17). Absalom feels more deeply aggrieved over the crime against Tamar than does David himself (2Sa 13:21). The brother’s other duties toward a sister were very much like those of a father (So 8:8). The Law strictly forbids the intermarriage of brother and sister, whether of the same father and mother or not, whether born at home or born abroad, as a "disgraceful thing" (chesedh, a different word from checedh, "kindness" (Le 18:9,11; 20:17). In earlier times marriage between half-brother and sister was allowable (Ge 20:12; compare 2Sa 13:13). In fact, we are expressly told that the laws against incest were not obeyed by the Egyptians or the Canaanites (Le 18:3 ff; 20:23). Brotherly sentiment was highly developed (Ge 24:60; Jos 2:13; Pr 17:17; compare Le 25:35; De 15:11 f; 25:3); the dwelling of brothers together in unity is considered good and pleasant (Ps 133:1). Brothers were ever ready to protect or avenge each other (2Sa 3:27). Indeed, it is part of the unwritten, common law, recognized though not necessarily approved in the Bible, that the brother or next of kin, the go’el, is expected to avenge a death (Nu 35:19 ff; De 19:6; Jos 20:3; 2Sa 14:11), and no punishment is meted out to prevent such self-help, unless it occurs in a refuge-city. A brother was also expected to ransom a captive or slave (Le 25:48; Ps 49:7). Half-brothers were of course not so near as brothers of the full blood (compare Joseph and his brothers), and it is not surprising to find the sons of a wife despising and driving out the son of a harlot (Jud 11:1, Jephthah). The words "brother" and "sister" are used frequently of more distant relationships (see below) and figuratively of a friend.

4. Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, Kinsmen:

The Hebrew dodh (Le 10:4, "uncles"; Nu 36:11, "cousins"; 1Sa 14:50), coming from a primitive caressing word, possibly indicating "dandle" "fondle" "love" means both "uncle" and "beloved." It is used of the father’s and also of the mother’s brother, and the corresponding feminine form (dodhah) is used of the father’s sister (Ex 6:20; compare Nu 26:59) and even of the father’s brother’s wife (Le 18:14; 20:20). Intermarriage between nephew and aunt (i.e. father’s sister, mother’s sister, or father’s brother’s wife, or, in general, uncle’s wife) was prohibited (Le 18:12,13,14; 20:19,20), though nothing is said of intermarriage between uncle and niece nor between cousins (compare Nu 36:11). On the relations between uncle and nephew compare the Bible accounts of Jacob and Laban, Abraham and Lot, David and Joab, etc. In a more general sense the word [~dodh is used of kinsmen, Am 6:10 (where the dodh, "even he that burneth him" (mecarepho, perhaps "maternal uncle"; the Jewish Encyclopedia, under the word "Cremation"), takes charge of a dead body); ben dodh is used of cousin (compare ben ‘ahi ‘immo, brother of his mother," etc.) and bath dodh of a female cousin. For other relations of this and remoter degrees the word for brother is loosely used (e.g. of nephews, Ge 13:8; 14:14, etc.; of tribesmen, Le 21:10; and of more distant relatives, De 2:4,8; 23:7).

II. Affinity.

1. Husband and Wife:

The husband (’ish; compare ba‘al, Ho 2:16; aner), though in a sense leaving father and mother for his wife (’ishshah; gune) (Ge 2:24), under normal conditions remained a member of his father’s family. If such passages as Ge 2:24; 21:10; 24:5,67; 30:3; 31:31; Jud 4:17 ff; 5:24 ff; 8:19; 9:3, indicate the existence in pre-Biblical times of a matriarchate, the allusions are at least too vague to justify the predication of its persistence in Biblical times. The wife was "taken" by her husband, or "given" by her father or, in the case of a servant, by her master or mistress (Ge 2:22; 16:3; 34:9,21), and although the contract was between the men (Ge 29; 34:16; Ex 22:16; De 22:29; Ru 4:10) or the parents (Ge 21:21; 24), it is probable that the consent of the girl was usually asked (Ge 24:58). Love between the young people was given due consideration (as in the case of Samson, Shechem, Jacob and Rachel (Ge 29:18), David and Michal (1Sa 18:20)); at least it developed among married people, so that Hosea could compare the attitude of husband toward wife to that of Yahweh toward Israel. As a matter of legal right, it is probable that throughout the Orient long before the events narrated in the Book of Esther, every man did "bear rule in his own house" (Es 1:22). In fact a precedent for the Persian decree has been traced as far back as the first human pair (Ge 3:16). Nevertheless, we find many instances in which the wife seems to take the lead in the affairs of the household, as in the case of Samson’s parents (Jud 13:23), of the Shunammite woman (2Ki 4), of Jael (Jud 4:18 ff; 5:24 ), of Achsah (Jos 15:18 f; Jud 1:12 f), and in less pleasant matters of Jezebel (1Ki 18:4; 21), Sapphira (Ac 5:2), and Zeresh (Es 5:14), who were at least consulted in the affairs of their several households. Abraham is even commanded by the voice of God, "In all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice" (Ge 21:12). That most women were not so fortunate is probably best attested by the fact that at least in the earlier times the best of them had to resort to stratagem to accomplish their purposes (as in the cases of Rebekah (Ge 27:6 ), Rachel (Ge 31:34), Leah (Ge 30:16) and Abigail (1Sa 25:18 ), and even to get information as to their husband’s affairs (Sarah, Ge 18:10; Rebekah, Ge 27:5)). Perhaps their humbler sisters in later days accomplished their ends by being so contentious as to attract the notice of two proverb-collectors (Pr 21:9; 25:24). Though we have no instance of the exercise of the right of life and death over the wife by the husband, and though it is clear that the Hebrew husband had no power of sale (compare Ex 21:8), it is frequently asserted on the basis of the one-sided divorce doctrine of the Old Testament (De 24:1), and on the basis of analogy with other ancient laws, as well as because the wife is spoken of in conjunction with property (Ex 20:17) and because the husband exercised the right to annul the wife’s vows (Nu 30:6), that the wife occupied in the ordinary Hebrew home a very subordinate position. It must not be forgotten, however, that the husband owed duties to the wife (Ex 21:10). It must also be borne in mind that great divergence existed at different times and places, and in different stations of society. Most of our Old Testament evidence pertains to the wealthier classes. The two extremes of the women that are "at ease in Zion" (Isa 32:9-20; compare Am 4:1 ff; 6:1 ) and the busy "good wife" described in Pr 31:10 ff are hardly exceeded in the most complex society today. The latter probably gives the fairer as well as the more wholesome picture of the functions of the wife in the home, and it is significant that her husband as well as her sons are expected to call her blessed (Pr 31:28).

It is difficult to estimate the extent to which polygamy and concubinage were practiced in ancient Palestine, but it is clear that the former practice was discouraged even among kings (De 17:17), and the latter, an outgrowth of slavery, was not held in high repute (compare De 21:10-14). The position of a less-favored wife (De 21:15, "hated") was naturally unpleasant, and her relations with other wives of her husband decidedly bitter—they were called each other’s tsaroth, literally, "vexers" (the Revised Version (British and American) "rivals," Le 18:18; 1Sa 1:6, the King James Version "adversary"; compare Ecclesiasticus 37:11)—even when they were sisters (as in the case of Rachel and Leah, Ge 30:1). Hence, the Law forbade the marrying of two sisters (Le 18:18). On the other hand so strong was the desire of a Hebrew mother for children that the childless wife welcomed the children of a maidservant born to her husband as her own (Ge 30:1-12, etc.).

2. Father-in-Law, etc.:

In normal Hebrew society, for reasons already explained, the relations of a family with the husband’s parents (cham, from chamoth) were closer than those with the wife’s parents (chothen, feminine chotheneth; pentheros, penthera. Where under special conditions a man remained with his wife’s tribe after marriage, as in the case of Jacob, serving out his mohar, or Moses fleeing from the wrath of the Egyptians, or the sons of Elimelech sojourning in the land of Moab because of the famine in Palestine, his identity with his own tribe was not destroyed, and at the first opportunity the natural impulse was to return to his own country. The bride, on the other hand, leaving her people, would become a member of her husband’s family, with all the rights and duties of a daughter (Mic 7:6). Thus Judah can order Tamar burned for violation of the obligations of a widow (Ge 38:24). No doubt the position of the daughter-in-law varied in the Hebrew home between the extremes of those who vexed their parents-in-law unto-the death (Ge 26:35; 27:46; 28:8) and the one who said to her mother-in-law, "Yahweh do so to me .... if aught but death part thee and me" (Ru 1:17). Parents-in-law and children-in-law were considered too closely related to intermarry (Le 18:15; 20:12,14).

3. Brother-in-Law, etc.:

A woman’s brother acting in loco parentis might perform all the offices of a father-in-law and possibly be called chothen (Ge 24:50,55; 34:11 ). Naturally, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law would be considered too closely related to intermarry (Le 18:16,18; 20:21). Nevertheless the husband’s brother (yabham) was expected to marry the childless widow to establish the name of the deceased on his inheritance (De 25:5-10). This custom dated back to Canaanitic practice (Ge 38:8), and from the connection between marrying the childless widow and the redemption of land may be called a part of the land law of Palestine (Ru 4:1-12; compare Jer 32:6 ). In practice the Levirate was probably considered more in the nature of a moral duty than a privilege (De 25:7; Ru 4:6), and devolved not only on the brother, but on other members of a deceased husband’s family in the order of the nearness of their relationship to him (Ru 3:12). In the Hebrew family brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law would form part of the same household. In this relation as in others we find both ideal friendship (David and Jonathan, 1Sa 18:3; 2Sa 1:26) and petty jealousies (in the matter of Moses’ wife, Nu 12:1).

III. Other Domestic Relations.

1. Foster-father:

The Hebrew ‘omen, feminine ‘omeneth (participle of ‘aman), literally, "nourishing," is translated "nursing father" (Nu 11:12; Isa 49:23), nursing mother" (Isa 49:23), "nurse" (Ru 4:16; 2Sa 4:4), or simply as the equivalent of "bringing up" (2Ki 10:1,5; Es 2:7). In the case of Esther and of Ahab’s children, and possibly in the other instances referred to, the relation of foster-parents is suggested. The foster-children under such conditions obeyed the words of the foster-father as the words of a father (Es 2:20). Michal is spoken of as the mother of Merab’s two children (2Sa 21:8) because she reared them (Sanhedhrin 19b). Adoption in the Roman sense was, however, hardly to be expected in a polygamous society where the childless father could remarry. Nevertheless, Jacob adopts Manasseh and Ephraim (Ge 48:5), and thereby makes them the fathers of tribes. According to Josephus, while Abraham was childless he adopted Lot (Ant., I, vii, 1), and the daughter of Pharaoh adopted Moses (Ant., II, ix, 7; compare Ex 2:10). In New Testament times the notion of adoption was so familiar that Paul uses the word figuratively of conversion (huiothesia, Ro 8:15; 9:4; Ga 4:5; Eph 1:5).

2. Master and Servants:

The "family" as the word is used of ancient peoples included dependents. The Hebrew mishpachah is connected with the word shiphchah, "maidservant," as the Latin familia is connected with famulus, "servant." For a discussion of the various classes of servants and slaves, Hebrew and foreign, male and female, see SLAVERY.

3. Host and Guest:

When Lot protested against betraying his visitors to the men of Sodom, forasmuch as they had come under the shadow of his roof, and he even preferred to give his daughters to the mob rather than fail in his duties as a host (Ge 19:8), he was acting on the ancient principle of guest-friendship (compare Greek xenia), which bound host and guest by sacred ties. In the light of this principle the act of Jael, who receives Sisera as a guest, and then betrays him, becomes startling and capable of explanation only on the basis of the intense hatred existing at the time, and justifiable, if at all, only on theory that all is fair in war (Jud 4:18-21; 5:24-27). The nomads of ancient times and even the post-exilic Hebrews, like the Arabs of today, were bound by a temporary covenant whenever there was "salt between them," that is, in the relation of host and guest (Ezr 4:14; compare the expression "covenant of salt," 2Ch 13:5; Nu 18:19). In the early Christian church breaking bread together served as a sort of a berith ‘ahim, or covenant of brothers. In large households such as those of a king, those that ate at the table were members of the household (2Sa 9:11, compared to sons; compare also 2Sa 9:7,10,13; 19:28; 1Ki 2:7; 4:27; 18:19).


4. The Dependent Stranger:

The ger or stranger (as indicated by the expression "thy stranger" (Ex 20:10; Le 25:6; De 5:14; 29:11; 31:12; compare De 1:16), Hebrew gero, literally, "his stranger") attached himself to an influential Hebrew for protection. Thus we read of a "sojourner of the priest’s" (Le 22:10, toschabh; compare Le 25:6) who was in many respects a dependent, but still to be distinguished from a servant (Le 22:11). The Mosaic Law commands that such strangers be treated with consideration (Ex 12:49; 20:10; 22:21 ff; 23:9; Le 19:33; De 1:16; 10:18; 14:21, etc.; Ps 146:9) and even with love (De 16:14; Le 19:34).


Nathan Isaacs and Ella Davis Isaacs


re-les’:(1) The forgiveness of a debt (shemiTTah (De 15:1,2,9; 31:10; see JUBILEE YEAR)), with verb shamaT, "to release," De 31:2,3. (2) To exempt from taxation or military service (hanachah, "release," "rest" (Es 2:18)). Some would render "granted a holiday." (3) To set a prisoner or slave at liberty (apoluo, "to let go free" (Mt 27:15 parallel Joh 19:10), etc.).


re-lij’-un: "Religion" and "religious" in Elizabethan English were used frequently to denote the outward expression of worship. This is the force of threskeia, translated "religion" in Ac 26:5; Jas 1:26,27 (with adjective threskos, "religious"), while the same noun in Col 2:18 is rendered "worshipping" ("cult" would give the exact meaning). And in the same external sense "religion" is used by the King James Version for latreia, "worship" (so the Revised Version (British and American)), in I Macc 1:43; 2:19,22. Otherwise "Jews’ religion" (or "religion of the Jews") appears in 2 Macc 8:1; 14:38 (the Revised Version (British and American) bis); Ga 1:13,14 (Ioudaismos, "Judaism"); and "an alien religion" in 2 Macc 6:24 (allophulismos, "that belonging to another tribe"). The neglect of the external force of "religion" has led to much reckless misquoting of Jas 1:26,27. Compare Ac 17:22.


Burton Scott Easton






re-man’-der (yathar, "to be left," she’erith, "remnant"): In 2Sa 14:7 "residue" would have been clearer (compare Ps 76:10), but the changes of the Revised Version (British and American) in Le 6:16; 7:16,17 are pointless (contrast Ex 29:34).


rem-a-li’-a (remalyahu, "whom Yahweh has adorned"): The father of Pekah (2Ki 15:25 ff; Isa 7:4 ff; 8:6). The contemptuous allusion to Pekah as "the son of Remaliah" in Isa 7:4 (similarly "the son of Kish," 1Sa 10:11) may be a slur on Remaliah’s humble origin.


re-mem’-ber, re-mem’-brans: "Remember" is mostly the translation, in the Old Testament, of zakhar, and in the New Testament of mnaomai (Mt 5:23; 26:75; Joh 2:17, etc.), and of [@mnemoneuo (Mt 16:9; Mr 8:18; Lu 17:32, etc.), and "remembrance" the translation of derivatives of these (zekher, anamnesis, etc.). There are a few other words. "To remember" is used of God in remembering persons (Ge 8:1; 19:29, etc.), His covenant (Ge 9:15; Ex 2:24; Eze 16:60, etc.), in answering prayer (Jud 16:28; Ne 13:14,22; Ps 20:3, etc.), and in other ways. Men are exhorted to "remember" God’s dealings with them, His commandments (De 8:2,18; Jud 8:34; 1Ch 16:12, etc.), the Sabbath (Ex 20:8), etc. A specially solemn command is that relating to the Lord’s Supper in Lu 22:19; 1Co 11:24,25, "This do in remembrance of me." "Remembrancer" (writer of chronicles) occurs in the King James Version margin of 2Sa 8:16; 20:24; 1Ki 4:3; 1Ch 18:15 (text "recorder," the Revised Version margin "chronicler"). In Isa 62:6, the Revised Version (British and American) reads, "ye that are Yahweh’s remembrancers." the Revised Version (British and American) has frequent changes on the King James Version text, as "have marked" (1Sa 15:2); "make mention of" (Ps 20:7; 77:11; So 1:4); "remember" for "be ye mindful of" (1Ch 16:15); "memorial" for "remembrance" (Isa 57:8); in the American Standard Revised Version, "to his holy memorial name" (Ps 30:4; 97:12, the English Revised Version "to his holy name," margin "Hebrew ‘memorial’ "); in 2Ti 1:5, "having been reminded of" for the King James Version "call to remembrance," etc.

W. L. Walker


re’-meth, rem’-eth (remeth; Codex Vaticanus Rhemmas; Codex Alexandrinus Rhamath): A place in the territory of Issachar named with En-gannim (Jos 19:21). It is probably identical with Ramoth of 1Ch 6:73, and Jarmuth of Jos 21:29. It is represented today by the village er-Rameh, situated on a hill which rises abruptly from the green plain about 11 miles Southwest of Jenin (Engannim). While the southern boundary of Issachar was, roughly, the southern edge of the plain of Esdraelon, the possessions of the tribes seem sometimes to have overlapped.



re-mish’-un (aphesis, paresis): The two Greek words, of which the latter occurs only in Ro 3:25, were translated by the same English word in the King James Version. In the Revised Version (British and American), paresis is translation "passing over." It is contrasted with the other term as pretermission with remission. Remission is exemption from the consequences of an offense, forgiveness; pretermission is the suspension of the penalty (Philippi, Ellicott, Trench (Synonyms, XXXIII), Weiss; compare Ac 17:30). Cremer (Lexicon of N T Gr) regards the meaning of the two words as identical, except that the one refers to the Old Testament and the other to the New Testament. Sins are remitted when the offender is treated as though the offense had never been committed. Remission is restricted to the penalty, while forgiveness refers more particularly to the person, although it may be used also of the sin itself. Remission also is used of offenses against God’s law; forgiveness, against either divine or human law.


H. E. Jacobs


rem’-on (rimmon, Jos 19:7).



rem’-on-meth’-o-ar, rem’-on-me-tho’-ar (rimmon ha-metho’-ar (Jos 19:13)).

See RIMMON, (3).


rem’-nant: Remnant is the translation of yether, "what is left over" (De 3:11; 28:54; Jos 12:4, etc.); of she’-ar, "the rest" (Ezr 3:8 the King James Version; Isa 10:20,21,22; 11:16, etc.; Ze 1:4); more frequently of she’-erith, "residue," etc. (2Ki 19:4,31; 2Ch 34:9; Ezr 9:14; Isa 14:30, etc.). As the translation of the last-mentioned two words, "remnant" has a special significance in the prophecies of Isaiah, as denoting "a holy seed," or spiritual kernel, of the nation which should survive impending judgment and become the germ of the people of God, being blessed of God and made a blessing (compare Mic 2:12; 4:7; 5:7,8; 7:18; also Ze 2:7; 3:13; Hag 1:12,14; Zec 8:6; Joe 2:32). Paul, in Ro 9:27, quotes from Isa 10:22 f, "the remnant (kataleimma, "what is left over"] shall be saved"; compare also Ro 11:5 (where the word is leimma) with 2Ki 19:4. Several other Hebrew words are less frequently translated "remnant": ‘ahar, "after"; yathar, "to be left over," etc.; in the New Testament (the King James Version) we have also loipos, "left," "remaining" (Mt 22:6; Re 11:13, etc.).

For "remnant" the Revised Version (British and American) has "overhanging part" (Ex 26:12), "rest" (Le 14:18, etc.); on the other hand gives "remnant" for "posterity" (Ge 45:7), for "rest" (Jos 10:20; 1Ch 4:43; Isa 10:19), for "residue" (Hag 2:2; Zec 8:11), etc.

W. L. Walker








re-nu’:The word is used in various senses:

(1) of material things, e.g. Ps 104:30; here it means to give a new appearance, to refresh, to restore the face of the earth;

(2) in 1Sa 11:14, to establish more firmly the kingdom by reinstalling King Saul;

(3) in 2Ch 15:8, to rebuild or repair the broken altar;

(4) in La 5:21, "renew our days," restore the favors of former days;

(5) in Isa 41:1, ‘let them gather together, or marshal their strongest arguments for answer’;

(6) in Ps 103:5; Isa 40:31, it refers to the restoring of spiritual strength;

(7) in the New Testament it invariably refers to spiritual renewal, e.g. Ro 12:2; 2Co 4:16; Eph 4:23; Col 3:10; Tit 3:5; Heb 6:6; all derivatives of kainos, "new."

G. H. Gerberding


re-par’ (machceh, "refuge"): In Joe 3:16, for the King James Version The Lord will be the hope of his people" the King James Version margin renders "place of repair," or, "harbour" = haven of repair. the Revised Version (British and American) gives "refuge." Other words are chazaq, "to strengthen," "harden," "fix" (2Ki 12:5 and often; Ne 3$); rapha’ "to heal" (1Ki 18:30); ‘amadh, "to cause to stand still" (Ezr 9:9); chayah, "to revive" (1Ch 11:8); caghar, "to close up" (1Ki 11:27).

In the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha for huporrapto, "to patch up" (Sirach 50:1); episkeuazo, "to get ready" (1 Macc 12:37). In 1 Macc 14:34 occurs "reparation" (modern English "repairs") for epanorthosis, "straightening up."

M. O. Evans




1. To Repent—"to Pant," "to Sigh"

2. To Repent—"to Turn" or "Return"


1. Repent—"to Care," "Be Concerned"

2. Repent—"to Change the Mind"

3. Repent—"to Turn Over," "to Turn Upon," "to Turn Unto"


1. The Intellectual Element

2. The Emotional Element

3. The Volitional Element


To get an accurate idea of the precise New Testament meaning of this highly important word it is necessary to consider its approximate synonyms in the original Hebrew and Greek The psychological elements of repentance should be considered in the light of the general teaching of Scripture.

I. Old Testament Terms.

1. To Repent—"to Pant," "to Sigh":

The Hebrew word naham, is an onomatopoetic term which implies difficulty in breathing, hence, "to pant," "to sigh," "to groan." Naturally it came to signify "to lament" or "to grieve," and when the emotion was produced by the desire of good for others, it merged into compassion and sympathy, and when incited by a consideration of one’s own character and deeds it means "to rue," "to repent." To adapt language to our understanding, God is represented as repenting when delayed penalties are at last to be inflicted, or when threatened evils have been averted by genuine reformation (Ge 6:6; Jon 3:10). This word is translated "repent" about 40 times in the Old Testament, and in nearly all cases it refers to God. The principal idea is not personal relation to sin, either in its experience of grief or in turning from an evil course. Yet the results of sin are manifest in its use. God’s heart is grieved at man’s iniquity, and in love He bestows His grace, or in justice He terminates His mercy. It indicates the aroused emotions of God which prompt Him to a different course of dealing with the people. Similarly when used with reference to man, only in this case the consciousness of personal transgression is evident. This distinction in the application of the word is intended by such declarations as God "is not a man, that he should repent" (1Sa 15:29; Job 42:6; Jer 8:6).

2. To Repent—"to Turn" or "Return":

The term shubh, is most generally employed to express the Scriptural idea of genuine repentance. It is used extensively by the prophets, and makes prominent the idea of a radical change in one’s attitude toward sin and God. It implies a conscious, moral separation, and a personal decision to forsake sin and to enter into fellowship with God. It is employed extensively with reference to man’s turning away from sin to righteousness (De 4:30; Ne 1:9; Ps 7:12; Jer 3:14). It quite often refers to God in His relation to man (Ex 32:12; Jos 7:26). It is employed to indicate the thorough spiritual change which God alone can effect (Ps 85:4). When the term is translated by "return" it has reference either to man, to God, or to God and man (1Sa 7:3; Ps 90:13 (both terms, nacham and shubh; Isa 21:12; 55:7). Both terms are also sometimes employed when the twofold idea of grief and altered relation is expressed, and are translated by "repent" and "return" (Eze 14:6; Ho 12:6; Jon 3:8).

II. New Testament Terms.

1. Repent—"to Care," "Be Concerned":

The term metamelomai, literally signifies to have a feeling or care, concern or regret; like nacham, it expresses the emotional aspect of repentance. The feeling indicated by the word may issue in genuine repentance, or it may degenerate into mere remorse (Mt 21:29,32; 27:3). Judas repented only in the sense of regret, remorse, and not in the sense of the abandonment of sin. The word is used with reference to Paul’s feeling concerning a certain course of conduct, and with reference to God in His attitude toward His purposes of grace (2Co 7:8 the King James Version; Heb 7:21).

2. Repent—"to Change the Mind":

The word metanoeo, expresses the true New Testament idea of the spiritual change implied in a sinner’s return to God. The term signifies "to have another mind," to change the opinion or purpose with regard to sin. It is equivalent to the Old Testament word "turn." Thus, it is employed by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles (Mt 3:2; Mr 1:15; Ac 2:38). The idea expressed by the word is intimately associated with different aspects of spiritual transformation and of Christian life, with the process in which the agency of man is prominent, as faith (Ac 20:21), and as conversion (Ac 3:19); also with those experiences and blessings of which God alone is the author, as remission and forgiveness of sin (Lu 24:47; Ac 5:31). It is sometimes conjoined with baptism, which as an overt public act proclaims a changed relation to sin and God (Mr 1:4; Lu 3:3; Ac 13:24; 19:4). As a vital experience, repentance is to manifest its reality by producing good fruits appropriate to the new spiritual life (Mt 3:8).

3. Repent—"to Turn Over," "to Turn Upon," "to Turn Unto":

The word epistrepho, is used to bring out more clearly the distinct change wrought in repentance. It is employed quite frequently in Ac to express the positive side of a change involved in New Testament repentance, or to indicate the return to God of which the turning from sin is the negative aspect. The two conceptions are inseparable and complementary. The word is used to express the spiritual transition from sin to God (Ac 9:35; 1Th 1:9); to strengthen the idea of faith (Ac 11:21); and to complete and emphasize the change required by New Testament repentance (Ac 26:20).

There is great difficulty in expressing the true idea of a change of thought with reference to sin when we translate the New Testament "repentance" into other languages. The Latin version renders it "exercise penitence" (poenitentiam agere). But "penitence" etymologically signifies pain, grief, distress, rather than a change of thought and purpose. Thus Latin Christianity has been corrupted by the pernicious error of presenting grief over sin rather than abandonment of sin as the primary idea of New Testament repentance. It was easy to make the transition from penitence to penance, consequently the Romanists represent Jesus and the apostles as urging people to do penance (poenitentiam agite). The English word "repent" is derived from the Latin repoenitere, and inherits the fault of the Latin, making grief the principal idea and keeping it in the background, if not altogether out of sight, the fundamental New Testament conception of a change of mind with reference to sin. But the exhortations of the ancient prophets, of Jesus, and of the apostles show that the change of mind is the dominant idea of the words employed, while the accompanying grief and consequent reformation enter into one’s experience from the very nature of the case.

III. The Psychological Elements.

1. The Intellectual Element:

Repentance is that change of a sinner’s mind which leads him to turn from his evil ways and live. The change wrought in repentance is so deep and radical as to affect the whole spiritual nature and to involve the entire personality. The intellect must function, the emotions must be aroused, and the will must act. Psychology shows repentance to be profound, personal and all-pervasive. The intellectual element is manifest from the nature of man as an intelligent being, and from the demands of God who desires only rational service. Man must apprehend sin as unutterably heinous, the divine law as perfect and inexorable, and himself as coming short or falling below the requirements of a holy God (Job 42:5,6; Ps 51:3; Ro 3:20).

2. The Emotional Element:

There may be a knowledge of sin without turning from it as an awful thing which dishonors God and ruins man. The change of view may lead only to a dread of punishment and not to the hatred and abandonment of sin (Ex 9:27; Nu 22:34; Jos 7:20; 1Sa 15:24; Mt 27:4). An emotional element is necessarily involved in repentance. While feeling is not the equivalent of repentance, it nevertheless may be a powerful impulse to a genuine turning from sin. A penitent cannot from the nature of the case be stolid and indifferent. The emotional attitude must be altered if New Testament repentance be experienced. There is a type of grief that issues in repentance and another which plunges into remorse. There is a godly sorrow and also a sorrow of the world. The former brings life; the latter, death (Mt 27:3; Lu 18:23; 2Co 7:9,10). There must be a consciousness of sin in its effect on man and in its relation to God before there can be a hearty turning away from unrighteousness. The feeling naturally accompanying repentance implies a conviction of personal sin and sinfulness and an earnest appeal to God to forgive according to His mercy (Ps 51:1,2,10-14).

3. The Volitional Element:

The most prominent element in the psychology of repentance is the voluntary, or volitional. This aspect of the penitent’s experience is expressed in the Old Testament by "turn", or "return," and in the New Testament by "repent" or "turn." The words employed in the Hebrew and Greek place chief emphasis on the will, the change of mind, or of purpose, because a complete and sincere turning to God involves both the apprehension of the nature of sin and the consciousness of personal guilt (Jer 25:5; Mr 1:15; Ac 2:38; 2Co 7:9,10). The demand for repentance implies free will and individual responsibility. That men are called upon to repent there can be no doubt, and that God is represented as taking the initiative in repentance is equally clear. The solution of the problem belongs to the spiritual sphere. The psychical phenomena have their origin in the mysterious relations of the human and the divine personalities. There can be no external substitute for the internal change. Sackcloth for the body and remorse for the soul are not to be confused with a determined abandonment of sin and return to God. Not material sacrifice, but a spiritual change, is the inexorable demand of God in both dispensations (Ps 51:17; Isa 1:11; Jer 6:20; Ho 6:6).

Repentance is only a condition of salvation and not its meritorious ground. The motives for repentance are chiefly found in the goodness of God, in divine love, in the pleading desire to have sinners saved, in the inevitable consequences of sin, in the universal demands of the gospel, and in the hope of spiritual life and membership in the kingdom of heaven (Eze 33:11; Mr 1:15; Lu 13:1-5; Joh 3:16; Ac 17:30; Ro 2:4; 1Ti 2:4). The first four beatitudes (Mt 5:3-6) form a heavenly ladder by which penitent souls pass from the dominion of Satan into the Kingdom of God. A consciousness of spiritual poverty dethroning pride, a sense of personal unworthiness producing grief, a willingness to surrender to God in genuine humility, and a strong spiritual desire developing into hunger and thirst, enter into the experience of one who wholly abandons sin and heartily turns to Him who grants repentance unto life.


Various theological works and commentaries Note especially Strong, Systematic Theology, III, 832-36; Broadus on Mt 3:2, American Comm.; article "Busse" (Penance). Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche.

Byron H. Dement


rep-e-tish’-unz: In Mt 6:7 only, "Use not vain repetitions," for battalogeo (so Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus), a word found nowhere else and spelled variously in the manuscripts, battologeo in Codices K, L, M; etc., batologeo in Codices F G, blattologeo in Codex Bezae (probably influenced by the Latin blatero, "talk idly"); presumably connected with battarizo, "stammer," and perhaps formed under the influence of the Aramaic beta’," speak carelessly," or baTel, "useless." Whether, however battalogeo means the constant repetition of the same phrase or the mechanical recitation of a long series of obscure or meaningless formulas (if, indeed, a distinction between the acts was thought of) cannot be determined. Either practice is abundantly evidenced as a "heathen" custom of the day, and either can be classed as "much speaking."


Burton Scott Easton


re’-fa-el, ref’-a-el (repha’el, "God has healed"; Rhaphael): The eponym of a family of gatekeepers (1Ch 26:7). The name occurs in Tobit and Enoch ("Raphael"); it probably belongs to a group of late formations. See Gray, HPN, 225, 311.


re’-fa (rephach (the form is corrupt); Rhaphe): The eponym of an Ephraimite family (1Ch 7:25).


re-fa’-ya, re-fi’-a (rephayah, probably "Yah is healing"; Septuagint Rhaphaia(s)) :

(1) In David’s family, Septuagint also Rhaphal (1Ch 3:21).

(2) A captain of Simeon (1Ch 4:42).

(3) A grandson of Issachar, Septuagint also Rhaphara (1Ch 7:2).

(4) A descendant of Saul (1Ch 9:43; in 1Ch 8:37 called "Raphah" (raphah); Septuagint also Raphai).

(5) One of the repairers of the wall under Nehemiah (Ne 3:9).


ref’-a-im, re-fa’-im (repha’-im, from rapha’," a terrible one "hence "giant," in 1Ch 20:4, yelidhe ha-rapha’," sons of the giant"; the King James Version, Rephaims): A race of aboriginal or early inhabitants East of the Jordan in Ashterothkarnaim (Ge 14:5) and in the valley of Rephaim Southwest of Jerusalem (Jos 15:8). They associated with other giant races, as the Emim and Anakim (De 2:10,11) and the Zamzummim (De 2:20). It is probable that they were all of the same stock, being given different names by the different tribes who came in contact with them. The same Hebrew word is rendered "the dead," or "the shades" in various passages (Job 26:5 margin; Ps 88:10 margin; Pr 2:18 margin; Pr 9:18 margin; Pr 21:16 margin; Isa 14:9 margin; Isa 26:14,19 margin). In these instances the word is derived from rapheh, "weak," "powerless," "a shadow" or "shade."

H. Porter


(‘emeq repha’-im; koilas Rhaphaeim, koilas ton Titanon): This was a fertile vale (Isa 17:5), to the Southwest of Jerusalem (Jos 15:8; 18:16; the King James Version "Valley of the Giants"), on the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here David repeatedly defeated the invading Philistines (2Sa 5:18,22; 23:13; 1Ch 11:15; 14:9). It is located by Josephus between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Ant., VII, iv, i; xii, 4). It corresponds to the modern el-Biqa‘, which falls away to the Southwest from the lip of the valley of Hinnom. The name in ancient times may perhaps have covered a larger area, including practically all the land between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the head-waters of Nahr Ruben are collected.

W. Ewing


re’-fan: A name for Chiun, the planet Saturn.



ref’-i-dim (rephidhim, "rests"; Rhaphidin): A station in the Wanderings, between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai (Ex 17:1,8; 19:2; Nu 33:14). The host expected to find water here; to their distress the streams were dry, and water was miraculously provided. Palmer (Desert of the Exodus, 158 ff) states cogent reasons for identifying Rephidim with Wady Feiran. It is the most fertile part of the peninsula, well watered, with a palm grove stretching for miles along the valley. Palmer speaks of passing through the palm grove as a "most delightful" walk; "the tall, graceful trees afforded a delicious shade, fresh water ran at our feet, and, above all, bulbuls flitted from branch to branch uttering their sweet notes." His camp was pitched at "the mouth of Wady ‘Aleyat, a large open space completely surrounded by steep, shelving mountains of gneiss, the fantastic cleavage of which added greatly to the beauty of the scene. Palms and tamarisks were dotted all around, and on every knoll and mountain slope were ruined houses, churches, and walls, the relics of the ancient monastic city of Paran. Behind our tents rose the majestic mass of Serbal, and beneath the rocky wall opposite ran a purling brook, only a few inches in depth, but still sufficiently cool, clear, and refreshing."

Such a place as this the Amalekites would naturally wish to preserve for themselves against an invading people. For these desert dwellers, indeed, the possession of this watered vale may well have been a matter of life and death.

If this identification is correct, then Jebel Tachuneh, "Mount of the mill," a height that rises on the North of the valley, may have been the hill from which Moses, with Aaron and Hur, viewed the battle.

W. Ewing

REPROBATE rep’-ro-bat: This word occurs in the English Bible in the following passages: Jer 6:30 (the Revised Version (British and American) "refuse"); Ro 1:28; 2Co 13:5,6,7; 2Ti 3:8; Tit 1:16. In all these cases the Greek has adokimos. The same Greek word, however, is found with other renderings in Isa 1:22 ("dross"); Pr 25:4 ("dross"); 1Co 9:27 ("castaway," the Revised Version (British and American) "rejected"). The primary meaning of adokimos is "not-received," "not-acknowledged." This is applied to precious metals or money, in the sense of "not-current," to which, however, the connotation "not-genuine" easily attaches itself. It is also applied to persons who do not or ought not to receive honor or recognition. This purely negative conception frequently passes over into the positive one of that which is or ought to be rejected, either by God or men. Of the above passages 1Co 9:27 uses the word in this meaning. Probably Ro 1:28, "God gave them up unto a reprobate mind" must be explained on the same principle: the nous of the idolatrous heathen is permitted by God to fall into such extreme forms of evil as to meet with the universal rejection and reprobation of men. Wettstein’s interpretation, "an unfit mind," i.e. incapable of properly performing its function of moral discrimination, has no linguistic warrant, and obliterates the wordplay between "they refused to have God in their knowledge (ouk edokimasan)," and "God gave them up to a reprobate (= unacknowledged, adokimos) mind." Even Tit 1:16, "unto every good work reprobate," affords no instance of the meaning unfit, but belongs to the following rubric.

The close phonetic resemblance and etymological affinity of dokimos to the verb dokimazo, "to try," "test," has caused the notion of "being tested," "tried," and its opposite of "being found wanting in the test" to associate itself more or less distinctly with the adjectives dokimos and adokimos. Thus the more complex meaning results of that which is acknowledged or rejected, because it has approved or not approved itself in testing. This connotation is present in 2Co 13:5,6,7; 2Ti 3:8; Tit 1:16; Heb 6:8. In the first two of these passages the word is used of Christians who ostensibly were in the true faith, but either hypothetically or actually are represented as having failed to meet the test. "Reprobate unto every good work" (Tit 1:16) are they who by their life have disappointed the expectation of good works. The "reprobate (rejected) land" of Heb 6:8 is land that by bearing thorns and thistles has failed to meet the test of the husband man. It should be noticed, however, that adokimos, even in these cases, always retains the meaning of rejection because of failure in trial; compare in the last-named passage: "rejected and nigh unto cursing."


Cremer, Biblisch-theologisches Worterbuch der neutestamentlichen Gracitat(10), 356-57.

Geerhardus Vos


re-proof’, re-proov’:"Reprove" in Elizabethan English had a variety of meanings ("reject" "disprove" "convince," "rebuke"), with "put to the proof" (see 2Ti 4:2 the Revised Version margin) as the force common to all, although in modern English the word means only "rebuke" (with a connotation of deliberateness). the King James Version uses the word chiefly (and the Revised Version (British and American) exclusively, except in 2 Esdras 12:32; 14:13; 2 Macc 4:33) for yakhach, and elegcho, words that have very much the same ambiguities of meaning. Hence, a fairly easy rendition into English was possible, but the result included all the ambiguities of the original, and to modern readers such a passage as "But your reproof, what doth it reprove? Do ye think to reprove words" (Job 6:25,26 the American Standard Revised Version) is virtually incomprehensible. The meaning is, approximately: "What do your rebukes prove? Are you quibbling about words?" In Joh 16:8 no single word in modern English will translate elegcho, and "reprove" (the King James Version), "convince" (King James Version margin), and "convict" (Revised Version) are all unsatisfactory. The sense is: "The Spirit will teach men the true meaning of these three words: sin, righteousness, judgment."

Burton Scott Easton


rep’-til, -til: Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) in Mic 7:17 has reptilis for zohale, "crawling things," the American Standard Revised Version "worms of the earth," the King James Version margin "creeping things."



rep-u-ta’-shun: the King James Version uses "reputation" where modern English would use "repute," as connoting prominence rather than moral character. Hence, the Revised Version’s change to "repute" in Ga 2:2 (for dokeo, "seem," perhaps with a slightly sarcastic touch). The Revised Version’s alteration of "reputation" into "have in honor" (Ac 5:34; Php 2:29) is to secure uniformity of translation for the derivatives of time, "honor," but the Revised Version (British and American) retains "reputation" in Susanna, verse 64. The King James Version’s "made himself of no reputation" in Php 2:7 is a gloss. See KENOSIS. On Ec 10:1 see the commentaries.


re-kwir’:"Require" meant originally "seek after," whence "ask," and so (as in modern English) "demand." All meanings are common in the King James Version (e.g. 1Sa 21:8; Ec 3:15; Ezr 8:22; 1Co 4:2), and the Revised Version (British and American) has made little change.





re-sa’-yas, re-si’-as (Rhesaias; the King James Version Reesaias): One of the "leaders" with Zerubbabel in the return (1 Esdras 5:8) =" Reelaiah" in Ezr 2:2, "Raamiah" in Ne 7:7. The name is apparently duplicated in 1 Esdras 5:8 in the form "Reelias."


re’-sen (recen; Septuagint Dasen, Dasem):

1. The Name and Its Native Equivalent:

The Greek forms show that the Septuagint translators had "d", for "r", but the reading of the Massoretic Text is to be preferred. Resen—the last of the four cities mentioned in Ge 10:11,12 as having been founded by Nimrod (the King James Version by Asshur)—probably represents the Assyrian pronunciation of the place-name Res-eni, "fountainhead." The only town so named in the inscriptions is one of 18 mentioned by Sennacherib in the Bavian inscription as places from which he dug canals connecting with the river Khosr—in fact, it was one of the sources of Nineveh’s water supply. It probably lay too far North, however, to be the city here intended. Naturally the name "Resen" could exist in any place where there was a spring.

2. Possibly the Modern Selamiyeh:

As the Biblical text requires a site lying between Nineveh and Calah (Kouyunjik and Nimroud), it is generally thought to be represented by the ruins at Selamiyeh, about 3 miles North of the latter city. It is noteworthy that Xenophon (Anab. iii.4) mentions a "great" city called Larissa as occupying this position, and Bochart has suggested that it is the same place. He supposes that when the inhabitants were asked to what city the ruins belonged, they answered la Resen, "to Resen," which was reproduced by the Greeks as Larissa. Xenophon describes its walls as being 25 ft. wide, 100 ft. high, and 2 parasangs in circuit. Except for the stone plinth 20 ft. high, they were of brick. He speaks of a stone-built pyramid near the city—possibly the temple-tower at Nimroud.


T. G. Pinches


rez’-er-vwor, -vwar (miqwah; the King James Version ditch (Isa 22:11)).



resh, rash "r": The 20th letter of the Hebrew alphabet; transliterated in this Encyclopedia as "r". It came also to be used for the number 200. For name, etc., see ALPHABET.


re’-shef (resheph, "flame" or "fire-bolt"): Personal name found in Phoenician as a divine name. In the Old Testament the name of a descendant of Ephraim, the eponym of an Ephraimite family or clan (1Ch 7:25).





re-spekt’:The phrase nasa’ phanim, means literally, "lift up the face," and, among other translations, is rendered indifferently "accept" or "respect the person" in the King James Version (contrast Pr 18:5 and 24:23). As applied to a (prostrate) suppliant, the phrase means "receive him with favor," and is so used in 1Sa 25:35; Mal 1:8,9 (compare Ge 19:21, etc.). By a shift in force the phrase came to mean "accept the person instead of the cause" or "show partiality" (Job 13:8,10 the American Standard Revised Version), and is so used commonly. A literal translation into Greek gave lambano prosopon (Sirach 35:13 (32:16); Lu 20:21; Ga 2:6), with the noun prosopolempsia, "face-taking" (Ro 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; Jas 2:1), rendered uniformly "respect of persons" in English Versions of the Bible. A noun prosopolemptes, "respecter of persons," and a verb prosopolempteo, are found Ac 10:34; Jas 2:9. God’s judgment rests solely on the character of the man and will be influenced by no worldly (Eph 6:9) or national (Ro 2:11) considerations.

See also ACCEPT.

Burton Scott Easton


(nuach, menuchah, "cessation from motion," "peace," "quiet," etc.; anapausis, [@katapausis): "Rest" in the above sense is of frequent occurrence, and is the translation of several words with various applications and shades of meaning, chiefly of the words given above. It is applied to God as ceasing from the work of creating on the 7th day (Ge 2:2 f) ; as having His place of rest in the midst of His people in the temple (1Ch 28:2; Ps 132:8,14); as resting in His love among His people (Ze 3:17, the Revised Version margin "Hebrew, ‘be silent’ "). The 7th day was to be one of rest (Ex 16:23; 31:15; see SABBATH); the land also was to have its rest in the 7th year (Le 25:4 f). Yahweh promised His people rest in the land He should give them; this they looked forward to and enjoyed (De 12:9; Jos 11:23). "To rest on" often means to come upon to abide, as of the Spirit of Yahweh (Nu 11:25 f; Isa 11:2), of wisdom (Pr 14:33), of anger (Ec 7:9). There is again the "rest" of the grave (Job 3:13,17,18; Isa 57:2; Da 12:13). Rest is sometimes equivalent to trust, reliance (2Ch 14:11, the Revised Version (British and American) "rely"). Hence, rest in Yahweh (Ps 37:7, etc.); "rest" in the spiritual sense is not, however, prominent in the Old Testament. In the New Testament Christ’s great offer is rest to the soul (Mt 11:28). In Heb 4:1 ff, it is argued from God’s having promised His people a "rest"—a promise not realized in Canaan (4:8)—that there remains for the people of God "a Sabbath rest" (sabbatismos, 4:9). For "rest" the Revised Version (British and American) has "solemn rest" (Ex 16:23; 31:15, etc.), "resting-place" (Ps 132:8,14; Isa 11:10), "peace" (Ac 9:31), "relief" (2Co 2:13; 7:5), etc.

See also REMNANT.

W. L. Walker





res-to-ra’-shun: The idea of a restoration of the world had its origin in the preaching of the Old Testament prophets. Their faith in the unique position and mission of Israel as the chosen people of God inspired in them the conviction that the destruction of the nation would eventually be followed by a restoration under conditions that would insure the realization of the original divine purpose. When the restoration came and passed without fulfillment of this hope, the Messianic era was projected into the future. By the time of Jesus the conception became more or less spiritualized, and the anticipation of a new order in which the consequences of sin would no longer appear was a prominent feature of the Messianic conception. In the teaching of Jesus and the apostles such a restoration is taken for granted as a matter of course.

In Mt 17:11 (compare Mr 9:12), the moral and spiritual regeneration preached by John the Baptist is described as a restoration and viewed as a fulfillment of Mal 4:6. It is "to be observed, however, that the work of John could be characterized as restoration only in the sense of an inception of the regeneration that was to be completed by Jesus. In Mt 19:28 Jesus speaks of a regeneration (palingenesia) of the world in terms that ascribe to the saints a state of special felicity. Perhaps the most pointed expression of the idea of restoration as a special event or crisis is found in the address of Peter (Ac 3:21), where the restoration is described as an apokatastasis panton, and is viewed as a fulfillment of prophecy.

In all the passages cited the restoration is assumed as a matter with which the hearers are familiar, and consequently its nature is not unfolded. The evidence is, therefore, too limited to justify any attempt to outline its special features. Under such circumstances there is grave danger of reading into the language of the Scriptures one’s own conception of what the restoration is to embody. We are probably expressing the full warrant of the Scripture when we say that the reconstruction mentioned in these passages contemplates the restoration of man, under the reign of Christ, to a life in which the consequences of sin are no longer present, and that this reconstruction is to include in some measure a regeneration of both the physical and the spiritual world.

Whether the benefits of the restoration are to accrue to all men is also left undefined in the Scriptures. In the passages already cited only the disciples of Christ appear in the field of vision. Certain sayings of Jesus are sometimes regarded as favorable to the more inclusive view. In Joh 12:32 Jesus speaks of drawing all men to Himself, but here, as in Joh 3:14,15, it is to be observed that while Christ’s sacrifice includes all men in its scope, its benefits will doubtless accrue to those only who respond willingly to His drawing power. The saying of Caiaphas (Joh 11:52) is irrelevant, for the phrase, "the children of God that are scattered abroad," probably refers only to the worthy Jews of the dispersion. Neither can the statements of Paul (Ro 11:32; 1Co 15:22; Eph 1:9,10; Col 1:20; 1Ti 2:4; 4:10; Tit 2:11) be pressed in favor of the restorationist view. They affirm only that God’s plan makes provision for the redemption of all, and that His saving will is universal. But men have wills of their own, and whether they share in the benefits of the salvation provided depends on their availing themselves of its privileges. The doctrine of the restoration of all can hardly be deduced from the New Testament.


Russell Benjamin Miller


rez-u-rek’-shun (in the New Testament anastasis, with verbs anistemi, "stand up," and egeiro, "raise." There is no technical term in the Old Testament, but in Isa 26:19 are found the verbs chayah, "live," kum "rise," kic "awake").


1. Nationalism

2. Speculation

3. Religious Danger

4. Belief in Immortality

5. Resurrection

6. Greek Concepts


1. The Old Testament

2. The Righteous

3. The Unrighteous 4. Complete Denial


1. Mark 12:18-27

2. In General


1. References

2. Pauline Doctrine

3. Continuity

4. 2 Corinthians 5


1. New Testament Data

2. Interpretation


I. Israel and Immortality.

1. Nationalism:

It is very remarkable that a doctrine of life after death as an essential part of religion was of very late development in Israel, although this doctrine, often highly elaborated, was commonly held among the surrounding nations. The chief cause of this lateness was that Israel’s religion centered predominantly in the ideal of a holy nation. Consequently the individual was a secondary object of consideration, and the future of the man who died before the national promises were fulfilled either was merged in the future of his descendants or else was disregarded altogether.

2. Speculation:

Much speculation about life after death evidently existed, but it was not in direct connection with the nation’s religion. Therefore, the Old Testament data are scanty and point, as might be expected, to non-homogeneous concepts. Still, certain ideas are clear. The living individual was composed of "flesh" and nephesh, or ruach (a trichotomy appears to be post-Biblical, despite 1Th 5:23; see PSYCHOLOGY). In the individual nephesh and ruach seem to be fairly synonymous words, meaning primarily "breath," as the animating principle of the flesh (so for the lower animals in Ps 104:29,30). But nephesh came to be used to denote the "inner man" or "self" (De 12:20, etc.; see HEART), and so in English Versions of the Bible is usually rendered "soul." But there are only a very few cases where nephesh is used for the seat of the personality after death (Ps 30:3; compare Ps 16:10; 38:17; Job 33:18, etc.), and nearly all of such passages seem quite late. Indeed, in some 13 cases the nephesh of a dead man is unmistakably his corpse (Le 19:28; Nu 5:2; Hag 2:13, etc.). It seems the question of what survives death was hardly raised; whatever existed then was thought of as something quite new. On the one hand the dead man could be called a "god" (1Sa 28:13), a term perhaps related to ancestor-worship. But more commonly the dead are thought of as "shades," repha’im (Job 26:5 margin, etc.), weak copies of the original man in all regards (Eze 32:25). But, whatever existence such "shades" might have, they had passed out of relation to Yahweh, whom the "dead praise not" (Ps 115:17,18; Isa 38:18,19), and there was no religious interest in them.

3. Religious Danger:

Indeed, any interest taken in them was likely to be anti-religious, as connected with necromancy, etc. (De 14:1; 26:14; Isa 8:19; Ps 106:28, etc.; see SORCERY), or as connected with foreign religions. Here, probably, the very fact that the surrounding nations taught immortality was a strong reason for Israel’s refusing to consider it. That Egypt held an elaborate doctrine of individual judgment at death, or that Persia taught the resurrection of the body, would actually tend to render these doctrines suspicious, and it was not until the danger of syncretism seemed past that such beliefs could be considered on their own merits. Hence, it is not surprising that the prophets virtually disregard the idea or that Ecclesiastes denies any immortality doctrine categorically.

4. Belief in Immortality:

Nonetheless, with a fuller knowledge of God, wider experience, and deeper reflection, the doctrine was bound to come. But it came slowly. Individualism reaches explicit statement in Eze 14$; 18$; 33$ (compare De 24:16; Jer 31:29,30), but the national point of view still made the rewards and punishments of the individual matters of this world only (Eze 14:14; Ps 37$, etc.), a doctrine that had surprising vitality and that is found as late as Sirach (1:13; 11:26). But as this does not square with the facts of life (Job), a doctrine of immortality, already hinted at (II, 1, below), was inevitable. It appears in full force in the post-Maccabean period, but why just then is hard to say; perhaps because it was then that there had been witnessed the spectacle of martyrdoms on a large scale (1 Macc 1:60-64).

5. Resurrection:

Resurrection of the body was the form immortality took, in accord with the religious premises. As the saint was to find his happiness in the nation, he must be restored to the nation; and the older views did not point toward pure soul-immortality. The "shades" led a wretched existence at the best; and Paul himself shudders at the thought of "nakedness" (2Co 5:3). The nephesh and ruach were uncertain quantities, and even the New Testament has no consistent terminology for the immortal part of man ("soul," Re 6:9; 20:4; "spirit," Heb 12:23; 1Pe 3:19; Paul avoids any term in 1Co 15, and in 2Co 5 says: "I"). In the Talmud a common view is that the old bodies will receive new souls (Ber. R. 2 7; 6 7; Vayy. R. 12 2; 15 1, etc.; compare Sib Or 4:187).

6. Greek Concepts:

Where direct Greek influence, however, can be predicated, pure soul-immortality is found (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 8:19,20; 9:15 (but Wisd’s true teaching is very uncertain); Enoch 102:4-105; 108; Slavonic Enoch; 4 Macc; Josephus, and especially Philo). According to Josephus (BJ, II, viii, 11) the Essenes held this doctrine, but as Josephus graecizes the Pharisaic resurrection into Pythagorean soul-migration (II, viii, 14; contrast Ant, XVIII, i, 3), his evidence is doubtful. Note, moreover, how Lu 6:9; 9:25; 12:4,5 has re-worded Mr 3:4; 8:36; Mt 10:28 for Greek readers. In a vague way even Palestinian Judaism had something of the same concepts (2 Esdras 7:88; 2Co 4:16; 12:2), while it is commonly held that the souls in the intermediate state can enjoy happiness, a statement first appearing in Enoch 22 (Jubilees 23:31 is hardly serious).

II. Resurrection in the Old Testament and Intermediate Literature.

1. The Old Testament:

For the reasons given above, references in the Old Testament to the resurrection doctrine are few. Probably it is to be found in Ps 17:15; 16:11; 49:15; 73:24, and in each case with increased probability, but for exact discussions the student must consult the commentaries. Of course no exact dating of these Psalm passages is possible. With still higher probability the doctrine is expressed in Job 14:13-15; 19:25-29, but again alternative explanations are just possible, and, again, Job is a notoriously hard book to date (see JOB, BOOK OF). The two certain passages are Isa 26:19 margin and Da 12:2. In the former (to be dated about 332 (?)) it is promised that the "dew of light" shall fall on the earth and so the (righteous) dead shall revive. But this resurrection is confined to Palestine and does not include the unrighteous. For Da 12:2 see below.

2. The Righteous:

Indeed, resurrection for the righteous only was thought of much more naturally than a general resurrection. And still more naturally a resurrection of martyrs was thought of, such simply receiving back what they had given up for God. So in Enoch 90:33 (prior to 107 BC) and 2 Macc 7:9,11,23; 14:46 (only martyrs are mentioned in 2 Macc); compare Re 20:4. But of course the idea once given could not be restricted to martyrs only, and the intermediate literature contains so many references to the resurrection of the righteous as to debar citation. Early passages are Enoch 91:10 (perhaps pre-Maccabean); Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Judah 25:4 (before 107). A very curious passage is Enoch 25:6, where the risen saints merely live longer than did their fathers, i.e. resurrection does not imply immortality. This passage seems to be unique.

3. The Unrighteous:

For a resurrection of unrighteous men (Da 12:2; Enoch 22:11; Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Benj. 10:7,8, Armenian text—in none of these cases a general resurrection), a motive is given in Enoch 22:13: for such men the mere condition of Sheol is not punishment enough. For a general resurrection the motive is always the final judgment, so that all human history may be summed up in one supreme act. The idea is not very common, and Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Benj. 10:7,8 (Greek text); Baruch 50:2; Enoch 51:1; Sib Or 4:178-90; Life of Adam (Greek) 10, and 2 Esdras 5:45; 7:32; 14:35 about account for all the unequivocal passages. It is not found in the earliest part of the Talmud, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, Test. Benj. 10:7,8 (Greek) has two resurrections.

4. Complete Denial:

Finally, much of the literature knows no immortality at all. Eccl, Sirach and 1 Maccabees are the most familiar examples, but there are many others. It is especially interesting that the very spiritual author of 2 Esdras did not think it worth while to modify the categorical denial in the source used in 13:20. Of course, the Jewish party that persisted most in a denial of any resurrection was the Sadducees (Mt 22:23 and parallel’s; Ac 23:8), with an extreme conservatism often found among aristocrats.

III. Teaching of Christ.

1. Mark 12:18-27:

The question is discussed explicitly in the familiar passage Mr 12:18-27 parallel Mt 22:23-33 parallel Lu 20:27-38. The Sadducees assumed that resurrection implies simply a resuscitation to a resumption of human functions, including the physical side of marriage. Their error lay in the low idea of God. For the Scriptures teach a God whose ability and willingness to care for His creatures are so unlimited that the destiny He has prepared for them is caricatured if conceived in any terms but the absolutely highest. Hence, there follows not only the truth of the resurrection, but a resurrection to a state as far above the sexual sphere as that of the angels. (The possibility of mutual recognition by husband and wife is irrelevant, nor is it even said that the resurrection bodies are asexual) Luke (20:36) adds the explanation that, as there are to be no deaths, marriage (in its relation to births) will not exist. It may be thought that Christ’s argument would support equally well the immortality of the soul only, and, as a matter of fact, the same argument is used for the latter doctrine in 4 Macc 7:18,19; 16:25. But in Jerusalem and under the given circumstances this is quite impossible. And, moreover, it would seem that any such dualism would be a violation of Christ’s teaching as to God’s care.

2. In General:

However, the argument seems to touch only the resurrection of the righteous, especially in the form given in Lu (compare Lu 14:14). (But that Luke thought of so limiting the resurrection is disproved by Ac 24:15.) Similarly in Mt 8:11 parallel Lu 13:28; Mr 13:27 parallel Mt 24:31. But, as a feature in the Judgment, the resurrection of all men is taught. Then the men of sodom, Tyre, Nineveh appear (Mt 11:22,24; 12:41,42 parallel Lu 10:14; 11:32), and those cast into Gehenna are represented as having a body (Mr 9:43-47; Mt 5:29,30; 10:28; 18:8,9). And at the great final assize (Mt 25:31-46) all men appear. In the Fourth Gospel a similar distinction is made (Joh 6:39,40,44,54; 11:25), the resurrection of the righteous, based on their union with God through Christ and heir present possession of this union, and (in Joh 5:28,29) the general resurrection to judgment. Whether these passages imply two resurrections or emphasize only the extreme difference in conditions at the one cannot be determined.

The passages in 4 Maccabees referred to above read: "They who care for piety with their whole heart, they alone are able to conquer the impulses of the flesh, believing that like our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, they do not die to God but live to God" (7:18,19); and "They knew that dying for God they would live to God, even as Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the patriarchs" (16:25). It is distinctly possible that our Lord’s words rnay have been known to the author of 4 Maccabees, although the possibility that Christ approved and broadened the tenets of some spiritually-minded few is not to be disregarded. More possible is it that 4 Maccabees influenced Luke’s Greek phraseology.


IV. The Apostolic Doctrine.

1. References:

For the apostles, Christ’s victory over death took the resurrection doctrine out of the realm of speculative eschatology. Henceforth, it is a fact of experience, basic for Christianity. Direct references in the New Testament are found in Ac 4:2; 17:18,32; 23:6; 24:15,21; Ro 4:17; 5:17; 6:5,8; 8:11; 11:15; 1Co 6:14; 15; 2Co 1:9; 4:14; 5:1-10; Php 3:10,11,21; Col 1:18; 1Th 4:13-18; 2Ti 2:18; Heb 6:2; 11:19,35; Re 20:4,5 (martyrs only); 20:12,13. Of these only Ac 24:15; Re 20:12,13, refer to a general resurrection with absolute unambiguity, but the doctrine is certainly contained in others and in 2Ti 4:1 besides.

2. Pauline Doctrine:

A theology of the resurrection is given fully by Paul. Basic is the conception of the union of the believer with Christ, so that our resurrection follows from His (especially Ro 6:5-11; Php 3:10,11). Every deliverance from danger is a foretaste of the resurrection (2Co 4:10,11). Indeed so certain is it, that it may be spoken of as accomplished (Eph 2:6). From another standpoint, the resurrection is simply part of God’s general redemption of Nature at the consummation (Ro 8:11,18-25). As the believer then passes into a condition of glory, his body must be altered for the new conditions (1Co 15:50; Php 3:21); it becomes a "spiritual" body, belonging to the realm of the spirit (not "spiritual" in opposition to "material"). Nature shows us how different "bodies" can be—from the "body" of the sun to the bodies of the lowest animals the kind depends merely on the creative will of God (1Co 15:38-41). Nor is the idea of a change in the body of the same thing unfamiliar: look at the difference in the "body" of a grain of wheat at its sowing and after it is grown! (1Co 15:37). Just so, I am "sown" or sent into the world (probably not "buried") with one kind of body, but my resurrection will see me with a body adapted to my life with Christ and God (1Co 15:42-44). If I am still alive at the Parousia, this new body shall be clothed upon my present body (1Co 15:53,54; 2Co 5:2-4) otherwise I shall be raised in it (1Co 15:52). This body exists already in the heavens (2Co 5:1,2), and when it is clothed upon me the natural functions of the present body will be abolished (1Co 6:13). Yet a motive for refraining from impurity is to keep undefiled the body that is to rise (1Co 6:13,14).

3. Continuity:

The relation of the matter in the present body to that in the resurrection body was a question Paul never raised. In 1Co 6:13,14 it appears that he thought of the body as something more than the sum of its organs, for the organs perish, but the body is raised. Nor does he discuss the eventual fate of the dead body. The imagery of 1Th 4:16,17; 1Co 15:52 is that of leaving the graves, and in the case of Christ’s resurrection, the type of ours, that which was buried was that which was raised (1Co 15:4). Perhaps the thought is that the touch of the resurrection body destroys all things in the old body that are unadapted to the new state; perhaps there is an idea that the essence of the old body is what we might call "non-material," so that decay simply anticipates the work the resurrection will do. At all events, such reflections are "beyond what is written."

4. 2 Corinthians 5:

A partial parallel to the idea of the resurrection body being already in heaven is found in Slavonic Enoch 22:8,9, where the soul receives clothing laid up for it (compare Ascension of Isaiah 7:22,23 and possibly Re 6:11). But Christ also speaks of a reward being already in heaven (Mt 5:12). A more important question is the time of the clothing in 2Co 5:1-5. A group of scholars (Heinrici, Schmiedel, Holtzmann, Clemen, Charles, etc.) consider that Paul has here changed his views from those of 1 Corinthians; that he now considers the resurrection body to be assumed immediately at death, and they translate 2Co 5:2,3 "‘ we groan (at the burdens of life), longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven’:because, when we shall be clothed with it, we shall have no more nakedness to experience" (Weizsacker’s translation of the New Testament). But 2 Corinthians would have been a most awkward place to announce a change of views, for it was written in part as a defense against inconsistency (1:17, etc.). The willingness to be absent from the body (5:8) loses all its point if another and better body is to be given at once. The grammatical reasons for the interpretation above (best stated by Heinrici) are very weak. And the translation given reads into the verse something that simply is not there. Consequently it is far better to follow the older interpretation of Meyer (B. Weiss, Bousset, Lietzmann, Bachmann, Menzies, etc.; Bachmann is especially good) and the obvious sense of the passage: Paul dreads being left naked by death, but finds immediate consolation at the thought of being with Christ, and eventual consolation at the thought of the body to be received at the Parousia. (In Php 1:21-24 this dread is overcome.)

Of a resurrection of the wicked, Paul has little to say. The doctrine seems clearly stated in 2Co 5:10 (and in 2Ti 4:1, unless the Pauline authorship of 2 Timothy is denied). But Paul is willing to treat the fate of the unrighteous with silence.

V. Summary.

1. New Testament Data:

The points in the New Testament doctrine of the resurrection of the righteous, then, seem to be these: The personality of the believer survives after death and is with Christ. But it is lacking in something that will be supplied at the consummation, when a body will be given in which there is nothing to hinder perfect intercourse with God. The connection of this body with the present body is not discussed, except for saying that some connection exists, with the necessity of a transformation for those alive at the end. In this state nothing remains that is inconsistent with the height to which man is raised, and in particular sexual relations (Mr 12:25) and the processes of nutrition (1Co 6:13) cease. For this end the whole power of God is available. And it is insured by the perfect trust the believer may put in God and by the resurrection of Christ, with whom the believer has become intimately united. The unrighteous are raised for the final vindication of God’s dealings in history. Two resurrections are found in Re 20:5,13 and quite possibly in 1Th 4:16; 1Co 15:23,24. Hence, the phrase first resurrection.


2. Interpretation:

Into the "blanks" of this scheme the believer is naturally entitled to insert such matter as may seem to him best compatible with his other concepts of Christianity and of philosophy. As is so often the case with passages in the Bible, the student marvels at the way the sacred writers were restrained from committing Christianity to metaphysical schemes that growth in human knowledge might afterward show to be false. But theologian must take care to distinguish between the revealed facts and the interpretation given them in any system that he constructs to make the doctrine conform to the ideas of his own time or circle—a distinction too often forgotten in the past and sometimes with lamentable results. Especially is it well to remember that such a phrase as "a purely spiritual immortality" rests on a metaphysical dualism that is today obsolete, and that such a phrase is hardly less naive than the expectation that the resurrection body will contain identically the material of the present body. We are still quite in the dark as to the relations of what we call "soul" and "body," and so, naturally, it is quite impossible to dogmatize. A. Meyer in his RGG article ("Auferstehung, dogmatisch") has some interesting suggestions. For an idealistic metaphysic, where soul and body are only two forms of God’s thought, the resurrection offers no difficulties. If the body be regarded as the web of forces that proceed from the soul, the resurrection would take the form of the return of those forces to their center at the consummation. If "body" be considered to embrace the totality of effects that proceed from the individual, at the end the individual will find in these effects the exact expression of himself (Fechner’s theory). Or resurrection may be considered as the end of evolution—the reunion in God of all that has been differentiated and so evolved and enriched. Such lines must be followed cautiously, but may be found to lead to results of great value.

In recent years the attention of scholars has been directed to the problem of how far the teachings of other religions assisted the Jews in attaining a resurrection doctrine. Practically only the Persian system comes into question, and here the facts seem to be these: A belief among the Persians in the resurrection of the body is attested for the pre-Christian period by the fragments of Theopompus (4th century BC), preserved by Diogenes Laertius and Aeneas of Gaza. That this doctrine was taught by Zoroaster himself is not capable of exact proof, but is probable. But on the precise details we are in great uncertainty. In the Avesta the doctrine is not found in the oldest part (the Gathas), but is mentioned in the 19th Yasht, a document that has certainly undergone post-Christian redaction of an extent that is not determinable. The fullest Persian source is the Bundahesh (30), written in the 9th Christian century. It certainly contains much very ancient matter, but the age of any given passage in it is always a problem. Consequently the sources must be used with great caution. It may be noted that late Judaism certainly was affected to some degree by the Persian religion (see Tob, especially), but there are so many native Jewish elements that were leading to a resurrection doctrine that familiarity with the Persian belief could have been an assistance only. Especially is it to be noted that the great acceptance of the doctrine lies in the post-Maccabean period, when direct Persian influence is hardly to be thought of.



The older works suffer from a defective understanding of the presuppositions, but Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality, is always useful. Brown, The Christian Hope, 1912, is excellent and contains a full bibliography. Charles, Eschatology, and article "Eschatology" in Encyclopedia Biblica are invaluable, but must be used critically by the thorough student, for the opinions are often individualistic. Wotherspoon’s article "Resurrection" in DCG is good; Bernard’s in HDB is not so good. On 1 Corinthians, Findlay or (better) Edwards; on 2 Corinthians, Menzies. In German the New Testament Theologies of Weiss, Holtzmann, Feine; Schaeder’s "Auferstehung" in PRE3. On 1 Cor, Heinrici and J. Weiss in Meyer (editions 8 and 9); on 2 Corinthians, Bachmann in the Zahn series. On both Corinthian epistles Bousset in the Schriften des New Testament of J. Weiss (the work of an expert in eschatology), and Lietzmann in his Handbuch.


Burton Scott Easton


1. First Proof: The Life of Jesus

2. Second Proof: The Empty Grave

3. Third Proof: Transformation of the Disciples

4. Fourth Proof: Existence of the Primitive Church

5. Fifth Proof: The Witness of Paul

6. Sixth Proof: The Gospel Record

7. Summary and ConClusion

8. Theology of the Resurrection


The Resurrection has always been felt to be vital in connection with Christianity. As a consequence, opponents have almost always concentrated their attacks, and Christians have centered their defense, upon it. It is therefore of the utmost importance to give attention to the subject, as it appears in the New Testament. There are several converging lines of evidence, and none can be overlooked. Each must have its place and weight. The issues at stake are so serious that nothing must be omitted.

1. First Proof: The Life of Jesus:

The first proof is the life of Jesus Christ Himself. It is always a disappointment when a life which commenced well finishes badly. We have this feeling even in fiction; instinct demands that a story should end well. Much more is this true of Jesus Christ. A perfect life characterized by divine claims ends in its prime in a cruel and shameful death. Is that a fitting close? Surely death could not end everything after such a noble career. The Gospels give the resurrection as the completion of the picture of Jesus Christ. There is no real doubt that Christ anticipated His own resurrection. At first He used only vague terms, such as, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." But later on He spoke plainly, and whenever He mentioned His death, He added, "The Son of man .... must be raised the third day." These references are too numerous to be overlooked, and, in spite of difficulties of detail, they are, in any proper treatment of the Gospels, an integral part of the claim made for Himself by Jesus Christ (Mt 12:38-40; 16:21; 17:9,23; 20:19; 27:63; Mr 8:31; 9:9,31; 10:34; 14:58; Lu 9:22; 18:33; Joh 2:19-21). His veracity is at stake if He did not rise. Surely the word of such a One must be given due credence. We are therefore compelled to face the fact that the resurrection of which the Gospels speak is the resurrection of no ordinary man, but of Jesus—that is of One whose life and character had been unique, and for whose shameful death no proper explanation was conceivable (Denhey, Jesus and the Gospel, 122 f). Is it possible that, in view of His perfect truthfulness of word and deed, there should be such an anti-climax as is involved in a denial of His assurance that He would rise again (C.H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection, 30)? Consider, too, the death of Christ in the light of His perfect life. If that death was the close of a life so beautiful, so remarkable, so Godlike, we are faced with an insoluble mystery—the permanent triumph of wrong over right, and the impossibility of believing in truth or justice in the world (C.H. Robinson, op. cit., 36). So the resurrection is not to be regarded as an isolated event, a fact in the history of Christ separated from all else. It must be taken in close connection with what precedes. The true solution of the problem is to be found in that estimate of Christ which "most entirely fits in with the totality of the facts" (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 14).

2. Second Proof: The Empty Grave:

Another line of proof is the fact of the empty grave and the disappearance of the body. That Jesus died and was buried, and that on the third morning the tomb was empty, is not now seriously challenged. The theory of a swoon and a recovery in the tomb is impossible, and to it Strauss "practically gives its deathblow" (Orr, op. cit., 43). At Christ’s burial a stone was rolled before the tomb, the tomb was sealed, and a guard was placed before it. Yet on the third morning the body had disappeared, and the tomb was empty. There are only two alternatives. His body must have been taken out of the grave by human hands or else by superhuman power. If the hands were human, they must have been those of His friends or of His foes. If His friends had wished to take out His body, the question at once arises whether they could have done so in the face of the stone, the seal and the guard. If His foes had contemplated this action, the question arises whether they would seriously have considered it. It is extremely improbable that any effort should have been made to remove the body out of the reach of the disciples. Why should His enemies do the very thing that would be most likely to spread the report of His resurrection? As Chrysostom said, "If the body had been stolen, they could not have stolen it naked, because of the delay in stripping it of the burial clothes and the trouble caused by the drugs adhering to it" (quoted in Day, Evidence for the Resurrection, 35). Besides, the position of the grave-clothes proves the impossibility of the theft of the body (see Greek of Joh 20:6,7; 11:44; Grimley, Temple of Humanity, 69, 70; Latham, The Risen Master; The Expository Times, XIII, 293 f; XIV, 510). How, too, is it possible to account for the failure of the Jews to disprove the resurrection? Not more than seven weeks afterward Peter preached in that city the fact that Jesus had been raised. What would have been easier or more conclusive than for the Jews to have produced the dead body and silenced Peter forever? "The silence of the Jews is as significant as the speech of the Christians" (Fairbairn, Studies in the Life of Christ, 357).

The fact of the empty tomb with the disappearance of the body remains a problem to be faced. It is now admitted that the evidence for the empty tomb is adequate, and that it was part of the primitive belief (Foundations, 134, 154). It is important to realize the force of this admission, because it is a testimony to Paul’s use of the term "third day" (see below) and to the Christian observance of the first day of the week. And yet in spite of this we are told that a belief in the empty tomb is impossible. By some writers the idea of resurrection is interpreted to mean the revival of Christ’s spiritual influence on the disciples, which had been brought to a close by His death. It is thought that the essential idea and value of Christ’s resurrection can be conserved, even while the belief in His bodily rising from the grave is surrendered (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 23). But how can we believe in the resurrection while we regard the basis of the primitive belief in it as a mistake, not to say a fraud? The disciples found the tomb empty, and on the strength of this they believed He had risen. How can the belief be true if the foundation be false? Besides, the various forms of the vision-theory are now gradually but surely being regarded as inadequate and impossible. They involve the change of almost every fact in the Gospel history, and the invention of new scenes and conditions of which the Gospels know nothing (Orr, op. cit., 222). It has never been satisfactorily shown why the disciples should have had this abundant experience of visions; nor why they should have had it so soon after the death of Christ and within a strictly limited period; nor why it suddenly ceased. The disciples were familiar with the apparition of a spirit, like Samuel’s, and with the resuscitation of a body, like Lazarus’, but what they had not experienced or imagined was the fact of a spiritual body, the combination of body and spirit in an entirely novel way. So the old theory of a vision is now virtually set aside, and for it is substituted theory of a real spiritual manifestation of the risen Christ. The question at once arises whether this is not prompted by an unconscious but real desire to get rid of anything like a physical resurrection. Whatever may be true of unbelievers, this is an impossible position for those who believe Christ is alive.

Even though we may be ready to admit the reality of telepathic communication, it is impossible to argue that this is equivalent to the idea of resurrection. Psychical research has not proceeded far enough as yet to warrant arguments being built on it, though in any case it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain material from this quarter which will answer to the conditions of the physical resurrection recorded in the New Testament. "The survival of the soul is not resurrection." "Whoever heard of a spirit being buried?" (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 229).

In view of the records of the Gospels and the general testimony of the New Testament, it is impossible to be "agnostic" as to what happened at the grave of Jesus, even though we are quite sure that He who died now lives and reigns. It is sometimes said that faith is not bound up with, holding a particular view of the relations of Christ’s present glory with the body that was once in Joseph’s tomb, that faithis to be exercised in the exalted Lord, and that belief in a resuscitation of the human body is no vital part of it. It is no doubt true that faith today is to be exercised solely in the exalted and glorified Lord, but faith must ultimately rest on fact, and it is difficult to understand how Christian faith can really be "agnostic" with regard to the facts about the empty tomb and the risen body, which are so prominent in the New Testament, and which form an essential part of the apostolic witness. The attempt to set faith and historical evidence in opposition to each other, which is so marked a characteristic of much modern thought will never satisfy general Christian intelligence, and if there is to be any real belief in the historical character of the New Testament, it is impossible to be "agnostic" about facts that are writ so large on the face of the records. When once the evidence for the empty tomb is allowed to be adequate, the impossibility of any other explanation than that indicated in the New Testament is at once seen. The evidence must be accounted for and adequately explained. And so we come again to the insuperable barrier of the empty tomb, which, together with the apostolic witness, stands impregnable against all the attacks of visional and apparitional theories. It is becoming more evident that these theories are entirely inadequate to account for the records in the Gospels, as well as for the place and power of those Gospels in the early church and in all subsequent ages. The force of the evidence for the empty grave and the disappearance of the body is clearly seen by the explanations suggested by various modern writers (those of Oscar Holtzmann, K. Lake, and A. Meyer can be seen in Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, chapter viii, and that of Reville in C. H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection of Christ, 69; see also the article by Streeter in Foundations). Not one of them is tenable without doing violence to the Gospel story, and also without putting forth new theories which are not only improbable in themselves, but are without a shred of real historical or literary evidence. The one outstanding fact which baffles all these writers is the empty grave.

Others suggest that resurrection means a real objective appearance of the risen Christ without implying any physical reanimation, that the "resurrection of Christ was an objective reality, but was not a physical resuscitation" (C. H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection of Christ, 12). But the difficulty here is as to the meaning of the term "resurrection." If it means a return from the dead, a rising again (re-), must there not have been some identity between that which was put in the tomb and the "objective reality" which appeared to the disciples? Wherein lies the essential difference between an objective vision and an objective appearance? If we believe the apostolic testimony to the empty tomb, why may we not accept their evidence to the actual resurrection? They evidently recognized their Master, and this recognition must have been due to some familiarity with His bodily appearance. No difficulty of conceiving of the resurrection of mankind hereafter must be allowed to set aside the plain facts of the record about Christ. It is, of course, quite clear that the resurrection body of Jesus was not exactly the same as when it was put in the tomb, but it is equally clear that there was definite identity as well as definite dissimilarity, and both elements must be faced and accounted for. There need be no insuperable difficulty if we believe that in the very nature of things Christ’s resurrection must be unique, and, since the life and work of Jesus Christ transcend our experience (as they certainly should do), we must not expect to bring them within the limitations of natural law and human history. How the resurrection body was sustained is a problem quite outside our ken, though the reference to "flesh and bones," compared with Paul’s words about "flesh and blood" not being able to enter the kingdom of God, may suggest that while the resurrection body was not constituted upon a natural basis through blood, yet that it possessed "all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature" (Church of England Article IV). We may not be able to solve the problem, but we must hold fast to all the facts, and these may be summed up by saying that the body was the same though different, different though the same. The true description of the resurrection seems to be that "it was an objective reality, but, that it was not merely a physical resuscitation." We are therefore brought back to a consideration of the facts recorded in the Gospels as to the empty tomb and the disappearance of the body, and we only ask for an explanation which will take into consideration all the facts recorded, and will do no violence to any part of the evidence. To predicate a new resurrection body in which Christ appeared to His disciples does not explain how in three days’ time the body which had been placed in the tomb was disposed of. Does not this theory demand a new miracle of its own (Kennett, Interpreter, V, 271)?

3. Third Proof: Transformation of the Disciples:

The next line of proof to be considered is the transformation of the disciples caused by the resurrection. They had seen their Master die, and through that death they lost all hope. Yet hope returned three days after. On the day of the crucifixion they were filled with sadness; on the first day of the week with gladness. At the crucifixion they were hopeless; on the first day of the week their hearts glowed with certainty. When the message of the resurrection first came they were incredulous and hard to be convinced, but when once they became assured they never doubted again. What could account for the astonishing change in these men in so short a time? The mere removal of the body from the grave could never have transformed their spirits and characters. Three days are not enough for a legend to spring up which should so affect them. Time is needed for a process of legendary growth. There is nothing more striking in the history of primitive Christianity than this marvelous change wrought in the disciples by a belief in the resurrection of their Master. It is a psychological fact that demands a full explanation. The disciples were prepared to believe in the appearance of a spirit, but they never contemplated the possibility of a resurrection (see Mr 16:11). Men do not imagine what they do not believe, and the women’s intention to embalm a corpse shows they did not expect His resurrection. Besides, a hallucination involving five hundred people at once, and repeated several times during forty days, is unthinkable. 4. Fourth Proof: Existence of the Primitive Church:

From this fact of the transformation of personal life in so incredibly short a space of time, we proceed to the next line of proof, the existence of the primitive church. "There is no doubt that the church of the apostles believed in the resurrection of their Lord" (Burkitt, The Gospel History and Its Transmission, 74).

It is now admitted on all hands that the church of Christ came into existence as the result of a belief in the resurrection of Christ. When we consider its commencement, as recorded in the Book of the Ac of the Apostles, we see two simple and incontrovertible facts:

(1) the Christian society was gathered together by preaching;

(2) the substance of the preaching was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was put to death on a cross, and would therefore be rejected by Jews as accursed of God (De 21:23).

Yet multitudes of Jews were led to worship Him (Ac 2:41), and a great company of priests to obey Him (Ac 6:7). The only explanation of these facts is God’s act of resurrection (Ac 2:36), for nothing short of it could have led to the Jewish acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Messiah. The apostolic church is thus a result of a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The early chapters of Ac bear the marks of primitive documents, and their evidence is unmistakable. It is impossible to allege that the early church did not know its own history, that myths and legends quickly grew up and were eagerly received, and that the writers of the Gospels had no conscience for principle, but manipulated their material at will, for any modern church could easily give an account of its history for the past fifty years or more (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 144). And it is simply absurd to think that the earliest church had no such capability. In reality there was nothing vague or intangible about the testimony borne by the apostles and other members of the church. "As the church is too holy for a foundation of rottenness, so she is too real for a foundation of mist" (Archbishop Alexander, The Great Question, 10).

5. Fifth Proof: The Witness of Paul:

One man in the apostolic church must, however, be singled out as a special witness to the resurrection. The conversion and work of Saul of Tarsus is our next line of proof. Attention is first called to the evidence of his life and writings to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some years ago an article appeared (E. Medley, The Expositor, V, iv, 359). inquiring as to the conception of Christ which would be suggested to a heathen inquirer by a perusal of Paul’s earliest extant writing, 1 Thessalonians. One point at least would stand out clearly—that Jesus Christ was killed (2:15; 4:14) and was raised from the dead (4:14). As this Epistle is usually dated about 51 AD—that is, only about 22 years after the resurrection—and as the same Epistle plainly attributes to Jesus Christ the functions of God in relation to men (1:1,6; 2:14; 3:11), we can readily see the force of this testimony to the resurrection. Then a few years later, in an epistle which is universally accepted as one of Paul’s, we have a much fuller reference to the event. In the well-known chapter (1Co 15) where he is concerned to prove (not Christ’s resurrection, but) the resurrection of Christians, he naturally adduces Christ’s resurrection as his greatest evidence, and so gives a list of the various appearances of Christ, ending with one to himself, which he puts on an exact level with the others: "Last of all he was seen of me also." Now it is essential to give special attention to the nature and particularity of this testimony. "I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures" (1Co 15:3 f). This, as it has often been pointed out, is our earliest authority for the appearances of Christ after the resurrection, and dates from within 30 years of the event itself. But there is much more than this: "He affirms that within 5 years of the crucifixion of Jesus he was taught that ‘Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures’ "( Kennett, Interpreter, V, 267). And if we seek to appreciate the full bearing of this act and testimony we have a right to draw the same conclusion: "That within a very few years of the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus was, in the mind of at least one man of education, absolutely irrefutable" (Kennett, op. cit., V, 267).

Besides, we find this narrative includes one small but significant statement which at once recalls a very definite feature of the Gospel tradition—the mention of "the third day." A reference to the passage in the Gospels where Jesus Christ spoke of His resurrection will show how prominent and persistent was this note of time. Why, then, should Paul have introduced it in his statement? Was it part of the teaching which he had "received"? What is the significance of this plain emphasis on the date of the resurrection? Is it not that it bears absolute testimony to the empty tomb? From all this it may be argued that Paul believed the story of the empty tomb at a date when the recollection was fresh, when he could examine it for himself, when he could make the fullest possible inquiry of others, and when the fears and opposition of enemies would have made it impossible for the adherents of Jesus Christ to make any statement that was not absolutely true. "Surely common sense requires us to believe that that for which he so suffered was in his eyes established beyond the possibility of doubt" (Kennett, op. cit., V, 271).

In view, therefore, of Paul’s personal testimony to his own conversion, his interviews with those who had seen Jesus Christ on earth before and after His resurrection, and the prominence given to the resurrection in the apostle’s own teaching, we may challenge attention afresh to this evidence for the resurrection. It is well known that Lord Lyttelton and his friend Gilbert West left Oxford University at the close of one academic year, each determining to give attention respectively during the long vacation to the conversion of Paul and the resurrection of Christ, in order to prove the baselessness of both. They met again in the autumn and compared experiences. Lord Lyttelton had become convinced of the truth of Paul’s conversion, and Gilbert West was convinced of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If, therefore, Paul’s 25 years of suffering and service for Christ were a reality, his conversion was true, for everything he did began with that sudden change. And if his conversion was true, Jesus Christ rose from the dead, for everything Paul was and did he attributed to the sight of the risen Christ.

6. Sixth Proof: The Gospel Record:

The next line of proof of the resurrection is the record in the Gospels of the appearances of the risen Christ, and it is the last in order to be considered. By some writers it is put first, but this is in forgetfulness of the dates when the Gospels were written. The resurrection was believed in by the Christian church for a number of years before our Gospels were written, and it is therefore impossible for these records to be our primary and most important evidence. We must get behind them if we are to appreciate fully the force and variety of the evidence. It is for this reason that, following the proper logical order, we have reserved to the last our consideration of the appearances of the risen Christ as given in the Gospels. The point is one of great importance (Denney, Jesus and the Gospel, 111).

Now, with this made clear, we proceed to consider the evidence afforded by the records of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ. Modern criticism of the Gospels during recent years has tended to adopt the view that Mark is the earliest, and that Matthew and Luke are dependent on it. This is said to be "the one solid result" (W. C. Allen, "St. Matthew," International Critical Commentary, Preface, vii; Burkitt, The Gospel History, 37) of the literary criticism of the Gospels. If this is so, the question of the records of the resurrection becomes involved in the difficult problem about the supposed lost ending of Mark, which, according to modern criticism, would thus close without any record of an appearance of the risen Christ. On this point, however, two things may be said at the present juncture: (1) There are some indications that the entire question of the criticism of the Gospels is to be reopened (Ramsay, Luke the Physician, chapter ii; see also Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 63 ff). (2) Even if the current theory be accepted, it would not seriously weaken the intrinsic force of the evidence for the resurrection, because, after all, Mark does not invent or "doctor" his material, but embodies the common apostolic tradition of his time (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 62).

We may, therefore, meanwhile examine the record of the appearances without finding them essentially affected by any particular theory of the origin and relations of the Gospels. There are two sets of appearances, one in Jerusalem and the other in Galilee, and their number, and the amplitude and weight of their testimony should be carefully estimated. While we are precluded by our space from examining each appearance minutely, and indeed it is unnecessary for our purpose to do so, it is impossible to avoid calling attention to two of them. No one can read the story of the walk to Emmaus (Lu 24), or of the visit of Peter and John to the tomb (Joh 20), without observing the striking marks of reality and personal testimony in the accounts. As to the former incident: "It carries with it, as great literary critics have pointed out, the deepest inward evidences of its own literal truthfulness. For it so narrates the intercourse of ‘a risen God’ with commonplace men as to set natural and supernatural side by side in perfect harmony. And to do this has always been the difficulty, the despair of imagination. The alternative has been put reasonably thus: Luke was either a greater poet, a more creative genius, than Shakespeare, or—he did not create the record. He had an advantage over Shakespeare. The ghost in Hamlet was an effort of laborious imagination. The risen Christ on the road was a fact supreme, and the Evangelist did but tell it as it was" (Bishop Moule, Meditations for the Church’s Year, 108). Other writers whose attitude to the Gospel records is very different bear the same testimony to the impression of truth and reality made upon them by the Emmaus narrative (A. Meyer and K. Lake, quoted in Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 176 f).

It is well known that there are difficulties connected with the number and order of these appearances, but they are probably due largely to the summary character of the story, and certainly are not sufficient to invalidate the uniform testimony to the two facts: (1) the empty grave, (2) the appearances of Christ on the third day. These are the main facts of the combined witness (Orr, op. cit., 212).

The very difficulties which have been observed in the Gospels for nearly nineteen centuries are a testimony to a conviction of the truth of the narratives on the part of the whole Christian church. The church has not been afraid to leave these records as they are because of the facts that they embody and express. If there had been no difficulties men might have said that everything had been artificially arranged, whereas the differences bear testimony to the reality of the event recorded. The fact that we possess these two sets of appearances—one in Jerusalem and one in Galilee—is really an argument in favor of their credibility, for if it had been recorded that Christ appeared in Galilee only, or Jerusalem only, it is not unlikely that the account might have been rejected for lack of support. It is well known that records of eyewitnesses often vary in details, while there is no question as to the events themselves. The various books recording the story of the Indian mutiny, or the surrender of Napoleon III at Sedan are cases in point, and Sir William Ramsay has shown the entire compatibility of certainty as to the main fact with great uncertainty as to precise details (Ramsay, Paul the Traveler, 29). We believe, therefore, that a careful examination of these appearances will afford evidence of a chain of circumstances extending from the empty grave to the day of the ascension.

7. Summary and Conclusion:

When we examine carefully all these converging lines of evidence and endeavor to give weight to all the facts of the case, it seems impossible to escape from the problem of a physical miracle. That the prima facie view of the evidence afforded by the New Testament suggests a miracle and that the apostles really believed in a true physical resurrection are surely beyond all question. And yet very much of present-day thought refuses to accept the miraculous. The scientific doctrine of the uniformity and continuity of Nature bars the way, so that from the outset it is concluded that miracles are impossible. We are either not allowed to believe (see Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 44), or else we are told that we are not required to believe (C. H. Robinson, Studies in the Resurrection of Christ, chapter ii), margin, the reanimation of a dead body. If we take this view, "there is no need, really, for investigation of evidence: the question is decided before the evidence is looked at" (Orr, op. cit., 46).

We challenge the tenableness of this position. It proves too much. We are not at all concerned by the charge of believing in the abnormal or unusual. New things have happened from the beginning of the present natural order, and the Christian faith teaches that Christ Himself was a "new thing," and that His coming as "God manifest in the flesh" was something absolutely unique. If we are not allowed to believe in any divine intervention which we may call supernatural or miraculous, it is impossible to account for the Person of Christ at all. "A Sinless Personality would be a miracle in time." Arising out of this, Christianity itself was unique, inaugurating a new era in human affairs. No Christian, therefore, can have any difficulty in accepting the abnormal, the unusual, the miraculous. If it be said that no amount of evidence can establish a fact which is miraculous, we have still to account for the moral miracles which are really involved and associated with the resurrection, especially the deception of the disciples, who could have found out the truth of the case; a deception, too, that has proved so great a blessing to the world. Surely to those who hold a true theistic view of the world this a priori view is impossible. Are we to refuse to allow to God at least as much liberty as we possess ourselves? Is it really thinkable that God has less spontaneity of action than we have? We may like or dislike, give or withhold, will or not will, but the course of Nature must flow on unbrokenly. Surely God cannot be conceived of as having given such a constitution to the universe as limits His power to intervene if necessary and for sufficient purpose with the work of His own hands. Not only are all things of Him, but all things are through Him, and to Him. The resurrection means the presence of miracle, and "there is no evading the issue with which this confronts us" (Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 53). Unless, therefore, we are prepared to accept the possibility of the miraculous, all explanation of the New Testament evidence is a pure waste of time.

Of recent years attempts have been made to account for the resurrection by means of ideas derived from Babylonian and other Eastern sources. It is argued that mythology provides the key to the problem, that not only analogy but derivation is to be found. But apart from the remarkable variety of conclusions of Babylonian archaeologists there is nothing in the way of historical proof worthy of the name. The whole idea is arbitrary and baseless, and prejudiced by the attitude to the supernatural. There is literally no link of connection between these oriental cults and the Jewish and Christian beliefs in the resurrection.

And so we return to a consideration of the various lines of proof. Taking them singly, they must be admitted to be strong, but taking them altogether, the argument is cumulative and sufficient. Every effect must have its adequate cause, and the only proper explanation of Christianity today is the resurrection of Christ. Thomas Arnold of Rugby, no ordinary judge of historical evidence, said that the resurrection was the "best-attested fact in human history." Christianity welcomes all possible sifting, testing, and use by those who honestly desire to arrive at the truth, and if they will give proper attention to all the facts and factors involved, we believe they will come to the conclusion expressed years ago by the Archbishop of Armagh, that the resurrection is the rock from which all the hammers of criticism have never chipped a single fragment (The Great Question, 24).

8. Theology of the Resurrection:

The theology of the resurrection is very important and calls for special attention. Indeed, the prominence given to it in the New Testament affords a strong confirmation of the fact itself, for it seems incredible that such varied and important truths should not rest on historic fact. The doctrine may briefly be summarized: (1) evidential: the resurrection is the proof of the atoning character of the death of Christ, and of His Deity and divine exaltation (Ro 1:4); (2) evangelistic: the primitive gospel included testimony to the resurrection as one of its characteristic features, thereby proving to the hearers the assurance of the divine redemption (1Co 15:1-4; Ro 4:25); (3) spiritual: the resurrection is regarded as the source and standard of the holiness of the believer. Every aspect of the Christian life from the beginning to the end is somehow associated therewith (Ro 6); (4) eschatological: the resurrection is the guaranty and model of the believer’s resurrection (1Co 15). As the bodies of the saints arose (Mt 27:52), so ours are to be quickened (Ro 8:11), and made like Christ’s glorified body (Php 3:21), thereby becoming spiritual bodies (1Co 15:44), that is, bodies ruled by their spirits and yet bodies. These points offer only the barest outline of the fullness of New Testament teaching concerning the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ.


Orr, The Resurrection of Jesus, 1908; W. J. Sparrow Simpson, The Resurrection and Modern Thought; Westcott, The Historic Faith and The Gospel of the Resurrection. Very full literary references in Bowen, The Resurrection in the New Testament, 1911, which, although negative in its own conclusions, contains a valuable refutation of many negative arguments.

W. H. Griffith Thomas




re-tan’:Several Hebrew words are thus translated: chazaq, "to hold fast" (Jud 7:8; 19:4; Job 2:9 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "hold fast"); Mic 7:18); ‘atsar, "to shut up" (only in Da 10:8,16; 11:6); tamakh, "to hold" (Pr 3:18; 4:4; 11:16 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "obtain")); in one case kala’ (Ec 8:8). In the New Testament krateo, is used in Joh 20:23 of the "retaining" of sins by the apostles (see RETENTION OF SINS); in Ro 1:28, the Revised Version (British and American) has "refused to have," margin "Greek, ‘did not approve,’ " for the King James Version "did not like to retain" (echo); and in Phm 1:13, substitutes "fain have kept" for "retained" (katecho). Sirach 41:16 has "retain" for diaphulasso, "keep."


re-tal-i-a’-shun, re-.



re-ten’-shun, (krateo, "to lay fast hold of" (Joh 20:23)): The opposite of "the remission of sins." Where there was no evidence of repentance and faith, the community of believers were unauthorized to give assurance of forgiveness, and, therefore, could only warn that the guilt of sin was retained, and that the sinner remained beneath God’s judgment.

While such retention has its place in connection with all preaching of the gospel, since the offers of grace are conditional, it is especially exercised, like the absolution, in the personal dealing of a pastor with a communicant, preparatory to the reception of the Lord’s Supper. As the absolution is properly an assurance of individual forgiveness, so the retention is an assurance of individual non-forgiveness. That the retention is exercised by the ministry, not as an order, but as the representatives of the congregation of believers to which Christ gave the power of the keys, is shown by Alford, Greek Testament, on above passage. See also Melanchthon, Appendix to the "Schmalkald Articles."

H. E. Jacobs



1. New Testament Terms

2. A Revelation of Wrath as Well as Grace

3. Witness of Natural Theology

4. Retribution the Natural Consequence of Sin

5. Also the Positive Infliction of Divine Wrath

6. Instances of Use of Orge and Thumos

7. Instances of Use of Greek Words for "Vengeance"

8. Words Meaning "Chastisement" Not Used of the Impenitent

9. Judgment Implies Retribution

10. Moral Sense Demands Vindication of God’s Righteousness

11. Scripture Indicates Certainty of Vindication


1. New Testament Terms:

The word as applied to the divine administration is not used in Scripture, but undoubtedly the idea is commonly enough expressed. The words which come nearest to it are orge, and thumos wrath attributed to God; ekdikeo, ekdikesis, ekdikos, and dike, all giving the idea of vengeance; kolasis, and timoria, "punishment"; besides krino, and its derivatives, words expressive of judgment.

2. A Revelation of Wrath as Well as Grace:

Romans 2 is full of the thought of retribution. The apostle, in 2:5,6, comes very near to using the word itself, and gives indeed a good description of the thing: the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, "who will render to every man according to his works." It is well in approaching the subject to remind ourselves that there is undoubtedly, as the apostle says, a Revelation of wrath. We are so accustomed to think of the gracious revelation which the gospel brings us, and to approach the subject of the doom of the impenitent under the influence of the kindly sentiments engendered thereby, and with a view of God’s gracious character as revealed in salvation, that we are apt to overlook somewhat the sterner facts of sin, and to misconceive the divine attitude toward the impenitent sinner. It is certainly well that we should let the grace of the gospel have full influence upon all our thinking, but we must beware of being too fully engrossed with one phase of the divine character. It is an infirmity of human nature that we find it difficult to let two seemingly conflicting conceptions find a place in our thought. We are apt to surrender ourselves to the sway of one or the other of them according to the pressure of the moment.

3. Witness of Natural Theology:

Putting ourselves back into the position of those who have only the light of natural theology, we find that all deductions from the perfections of God, as revealed in His works, combined with a consideration of man’s sin and want of harmony with the Holy One, lead to the conclusion announced by the apostle: "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Ro 1:18). Wrath implies punishment, punishment is decreed, punishment is denounced. The word of God but confirms the verdict which conscience forecasts. Nature teaches that punishment, retribution, must follow sin. Within the sphere of physical law this is clearly exemplified. No breach of the so-called laws of Nature is tolerated. Strictly speaking, the laws of Nature cannot be broken, but let a man fail to keep in harmony with them, and the natural consequences will be trouble, punishment, retribution. Harmony with law is blessing; collision with law is loss. Thus law in Nature "worketh wrath" to the neglecters of it. Punishment necessarily results. So we may well expect that in the higher sphere, God’s moral laws cannot be neglected or violated with impunity, and Scripture fully justifies the expectation and shows that sin must be punished. All things considered, the fact of punishment for sinners need not surprise; the fact of pardon is the surprising thing. The surprise of pardon has ceased to surprise us because we are so familiar with the thought. We know the "how" of it because of the revelation of grace. Grace, however, saves on certain conditions, and there is no such thing known in Scripture as indiscriminate, necessary, universal grace. It is only from the Bible that we know of the salvation by grace. That same revelation shows that the grace does not come to all, in the sense of saving all; though, of course, it may be considered as presented to all. Those who are not touched and saved by grace remain shut up in their sins. They are, and must be, in the nature of the case, left to the consequences of their sins, with the added guilt of rejecting the offered grace. "Except ye believe that I am he," said Incarnate Grace, "ye shall die in your sins" (Joh 8:24).

4. Retribution the Natural Consequence of Sin:

Another conclusion we may draw from the general Scriptural representation is that the future retribution is one aspect of the natural consequence of sin, yet it is also in another aspect the positive infliction of divine wrath. It is shown to be the natural outcome of sin in such passages as "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Ga 6:7); "He that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption" (Ga 6:8). It is not without suggestiveness that the Hebrew word ‘awon means both iniquity and punishment, and when Cain said "My punishment is greater than I can bear" (Ge 4:13), he really said "My iniquity is greater than I can bear"; his iniquity became his punishment. A due consideration of this thought goes a long way toward meeting many of the objections brought against the doctrine of future punishment.

5. Also the Positive Infliction of Divine Wrath:

The other statement, however, remains true and must be emphasized, that there is an actual infliction of divine wrath. All the great statements about the divine judgment imply this, and while it is wrong not to take account of the natural working out of sin in its terrible consequences, it is equally wrong, perhaps more so, to refuse to recognize this positive divine infliction of punishment. This, indeed, is the outstanding feature of retribution as it assumes form in Scripture. Even the natural consequences of sin, rightly viewed, are part of the divine infliction, since God, in the nature of things, has conjoined sin and its consequences, and part of the positive infliction is the judicial shutting up of the sinner to the consequences of his sin. So in the case of Cain, his iniquity became his punishment, inasmuch as God sentenced him to bear the consequences of that iniquity. On the other hand, we might say that even the terribly positive outpourings of God’s wrath upon the sinner are the natural consequences of sin, since sin in its very nature calls down the divine displeasure. Indeed, these two phases of future punishment are so very closely connected that a right view of the matter compels us to keep both before us, and no full explanation of the punishment is possible when either phase is ignored.

6. Instances of the Use of Orge and Thumos:

The terms in Scripture applied to the doom of sinners all imply divine displeasure, punitive action, retribution. The two outstanding Greek words for "wrath," orge and thumos, are both freely applied to God. Orge indicates settled displeasure, whereas thumos is rather the blazing out of the anger. The former is, as we should expect, more frequently applied to God, and, of course, all that is capricious and reprehensible in human wrath must be eliminated from the word as used of God. It indicates the settled opposition of His holy nature against sin. It was an affection found in the sinless Saviour Himself, for "he looked round about on them with anger" (Mr 3:5). In the Baptist’s warning "to flee from the wrath to come" (Mt 3:7; Lu 3:7), it is unquestionably the wrath of God that is meant, the manifestation of that being further described as the burning of the chaff with unquenchable fire (Mt 3:12). In Joh 3:36 it is said of the unbeliever that "the wrath of God" abideth on him. In Romans it is used at least 9 times in reference to God, first in Ro 1:18, the great passage we have already quoted about "the wrath of God revealed from heaven." The connection is a suggestive one and is often overlooked. In the passage Paul has quite a chain of reasons; he is ready to preach the gospel at Rome for he is not ashamed of the gospel; he is not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation; it is the "power of God" for therein is revealed the righteousness of God by faith; and this salvation by faith is a necessity "for the wrath of God is revealed," etc. Thus the divine wrath on account of sin is the dark background of the gospel message. Had there been no such just wrath upon men, there had been no need for the divine salvation. The despising of God’s goodness by the impenitent means a treasuring up of "wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Ro 2:3-5). God "visiteth with wrath" (Ro 3:5).

In Ro 4:15 the apostle shows that "the law worketh wrath" (i.e. brings down the divine displeasure), while in 5:9 he shows that believers are saved from wrath—undoubted wrath of God. The other two instances are in 9:22. Men are "by nature children of wrath" (Eph 2:3); surely not "wrathful children," but liable to the wrath of God, and because of evil deeds cometh "the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience" (Eph 5:6; Col 3:6). Christ "delivereth us from the wrath to come" (1Th 1:10); wrath has come upon the opposing Jews (1Th 2:16); but believers are not appointed unto wrath (1Th 5:9). With all these specific passages in view, to say nothing of the general teaching of the apostle on the question of coming judgment and punishment, it is utterly impossible to eliminate the idea of the divine displeasure against sinners, and His consequent retributive action toward them. Even Ritschl, who absolutely denies the great principle of retribution, of positive displeasure, admits that Paul teaches it; hence, the only way for him out of the difficulty is to reject Paul’s teaching as unauthoritative. Other references to the "wrath of God" are in Heb 3:11; 4:3; and 6 passages in the Apocalypse—Re 6:16 f; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15. Two of these refer to the "wrath of the Lamb," one of the most terrible phrases in the whole of the New Testament. Thumos is only used in the Apocalypse concerning God (Re 14:10-19; 15:1-7; 16:1-19; 19:15). In each case it refers to the manifestation, the blazing forth of the wrath; in the last two passages it is used in combination with orge, and is rendered "fierceness," the fierceness of His wrath.

7. Instances of Use of Greek Words for "Vengeance":

Ekdikeo, which means to avenge, is twice used of God (Re 6:10; 19:2); and ekdikesis, "vengeance," 6 times Lu 18:7 ff; Ro 12:19; 2Th 1:8; Heb 10:30). In the first two instances it is used by Jesus concerning the divine action; ekdikos, "avenger," occurs once in application to God (1Th 4:6); dike, "judgment" or "vengeance" is twice used of God (2Th 1:9; Jude 1:7). The use of these terms shows that the punishment inflicted on sinful men is strictly punishment of the vindicatory sort, the vindication of outraged justice, the infliction of deserved penalty. Very significant is the passage in 2Th 1:6, "It is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you." There is no question of bettering the offender.

8. Words Meaning "Chastisement" Not Used of the Impenitent:

It is very remarkable that the terms in Greek which would carry the meaning of punishment for the good of the offender are never used in the New Testament of the infliction which comes upon the impenitent; these are paideia and paideuo, and they are frequently used of the "chastisement" of believers, but not of the impenitent. It is often claimed that the word kolasis used in Mt 25:46 carries the meaning of chastisement for the improvement of the offender, but although Aristotle, in comparing it with timoria, may seem to suggest that it is meant for the improvement of the offender (what he really says is that it is tou paschontos heneka, "on account of the one suffering it," "has the punished one in view," whereas timoria is tou poiountos, "on account of the one inflicting" "that he may be satisfied"), the usage even in classical Greek is predominantly against making the supposed distinction. Both words are used interchangeably by the leading classical authors, including Aristotle himself, and kolasis is continually employed where no thought of betterment can be in question, while all admit that in Hellenistic Greek the distinction is not maintained, and in any case timoria is also used of the punishment of the sinner (Heb 10:29).

9. Judgment Implies Retribution:

All the representations of the coming day of judgment tell of the fact of retribution, and Christ Himself distinctly asserts it. Apart from His great eschatological discourses, concerning which criticism still hesitates and stammers, we have the solemn close of the Sermon on the Mount, and the pregnant statement of Mt 16:27, "The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds," and all the apostolic teaching upon the solemn theme is but the unfolding of the same great thought.

10. Moral Sense Demands Vindication of God’s Righteousness:

The conception of God as a perfect moral governor demands that His righteousness shall be fully vindicated. Looking at the course of history as it unfolds itself before us, we cannot fail to be struck with the anomalies which are presented. Righteousness does not always triumph, goodness is often put to shame, wickedness appears to be profitable, and wicked men often prosper while good men are under a cloud. Sometimes signal divine interpositions proclaim that God is indeed on the side of righteousness, but too often it seems as if He were unmindful, and men are tempted to ask the old question, "How doth God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?" (Ps 73:11), while the righteous say in their distress, "Yahweh, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?" (Ps 94:3). The moral sense cries out for some divine vindication, and the Scriptures, in harmony with this feeling, indicate that the final judgment will bring such vindication.

11. Scripture Indicates Certainty of Vindication:

In the Old Testament it is frequently presented as the solution of the baffling problems which beset the ethical sphere, as for instance in that fine utterance of religious philosophy in Ps 73; the Psalmist has before him all the puzzling elements of the problem; the prosperity, the insolent and aggressive prosperity of the wicked, the non-success, the oppression, the misery of the righteous; he is well-nigh overwhelmed by the contemplation, and nearly loses his footing on the eternal verities, until he carries the whole problem into the light of God’s presence and revelation, and then he understands that the end will bring the true solution.

So too the somber ruminations of the Preacher upon the contradictions arid anomalies and mysteries of human life, "under the sun," close in the reflection which throws its searchlight upon all the blackness: "This is the end of the matter: .... Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ec 12:13 f). In the light of the same truth, the apostles labored, believing that when the Lord comes He "will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (1Co 4:5). The more fully the subject is considered, the more we must feel that for the vindication of righteousness, the justification of the divine procedure, the rectification of wrongs, the explanation of mysteries, the reward and triumph of the righteous and the confession and punishment of the wicked, a great final, retributive judgment is Scriptural, reasonable, necessary.


See the articles on PUNISHMENT, EVERLASTING; JUDGMENT; SHEOL, etc., and the works cited there.

Archibald M’Caig


re’-u, roo (re‘u, Rhagau): A son of Peleg, a descendant of Shem (Ge 11:18 ff; 1Ch 1:25; Lu 3:35).


roo’-ben, ru’-ben (re’ubhen; Rhouben): The eldest son of Jacob, born to him by Leah in Paddan-aram (Ge 29:32).

1. Jacob’s Oldest Son:

This verse seems to suggest two derivations of the name. As it stands in Massoretic Text it means "behold a son"; but the reason given for so calling him is "The Lord hath looked upon my affliction," which in Hebrew is ra’ah be‘onyi, literally, "He hath seen my affliction." Of his boyhood we have only the story of the mandrakes (Ge 30:14). As the firstborn he should really have been leader among his father’s sons. His birthright was forfeited by a deed of peculiar infamy (Ge 35:22), and as far as we know his tribe never took the lead in Israel. It is named first, indeed, in Nu 1:5,20, but thereafter it falls to the fourth place, Judah taking the first (Nu 2:10, etc.). To Reuben’s intervention Joseph owed his escape from the fate proposed by his other brethren (Ge 37:29). Some have thought Reuben designed to set him free, from a desire to rehabilitate himself with his father. But there is no need to deny to Reuben certain noble and chivalrous qualities. Jacob seems to have appreciated these, and, perhaps, therefore all the more deeply lamented the lapse that spoiled his life (Ge 49:3 f). It was Reuben who felt that their perils and anxieties in Egypt were a fit recompense for the unbrotherly conduct (Ge 42:22). To assure his father of Benjamin’s safe return from Egypt, whither Joseph required him to be taken, Reuben was ready to pledge his own two sons (Ge 42:37). Four sons born to him in Canaan went down with Reuben at the descent of Israel into Egypt (Ge 46:8 f).

The incidents recorded are regarded by a certain school of Old Testament scholars as the vague and fragmentary traditions of the tribe, wrought into the form of a biography of the supposed ancestor of the tribe. This interpretation raises more difficulties than it solves, and depends for coherence upon too many assumptions and conjectures. The narrative as it stands is quite intelligible and self-consistent. There is no good reason to doubt that, as far as it goes, it is an authentic record of the life of Jacob’s son.

2. Tribal History:

At the first census in the wilderness Reuben numbered 46,500 men of war (Nu 1:21); at the second they had fallen to 43,730; see NUMBERS. The standard of the camp of Reuben was on the south side of the tabernacle; and with him were Simeon and Gad; the total number of fighting men in this division being 151,450. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says that the standard was a deer, with the legend "Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord." On the march this division took the second place (Nu 2:10 ). The prince of the tribe was Elizur ben Shedeur, whose oblation is described in Nu 7:30 ff. The Reubenite among the spies was Shammua ben Zaccur (13:4). It is possible that the conspiracy against Moses, organized by the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram, with the assistance of Korah the Levite (Nu 16), was an attempt on the part of the tribe to assert its rights as representing the firstborn. It is significant that the children of Korah did not perish (26:11). May not the influence of this incident on Moses’ mind be traced in his "blessing," wishing for the continuance of the tribe, indeed, but not in great strength (De 33:6)? This was a true forecast of the tribal history.

When the high plateau East of the Dead Sea and the Jordan fell into the hands of the Israelite invaders, these spacious pastoral uplands irresistibly attracted the great flock-masters of Reuben and Gad, two tribes destined to be neighbors during succeeding centuries. At their earnest request Moses allowed them their tribal possessions here subject to one condition, which they loyally accepted. They should not "sit here," and so discourage their brethren who went to war beyond the Jordan. They should provide for the security of their cattle, fortify cities to protect their little ones and their wives from the inhabitants of the land, and their men of war should go before the host in the campaign of conquest until the children of Israel should have inherited every man his inheritance (Nu 32:1-27). Of the actual part they took in that warfare there is no record, but perhaps "the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben" (Jos 15:6; 18:17) marked some memorable deed of valor by a member of the tribe. At the end of the campaign the men of Reuben, having earned the gratitude of the western tribes, enriched by their share of the spoils of the enemy, returned with honor to their new home. Along with their brethren of Gad they felt the dangers attaching to their position of isolation, cut off from the rest of their people by the great cleft of the Jordan valley. They reared therefore the massive altar of Ed in the valley, so that in the very throat of that instrument of severance there might be a perpetual witness to themselves and to their children of the essential unity of Israel. The western tribes misunderstood the action and, dreading religious schism, gathered in force to stamp it out. Explanations followed which were entirely satisfactory, and a threatening danger was averted (Jos 22). But the instincts of the eastern tribes were right, as subsequent history was to prove. The Jordan valley was but one of many causes of sundering. The whole circumstances and conditions of life on the East differed widely from those on the West of the river, pastoral pursuits and life in the open being contrasted with agricultural and city life.

The land given by Moses to the tribe of Reuben reached from the Arnon, Wady el-Mojib, in the South, to the border of Gad in the North. In Nu 32:34 cities of Gad are named which lay far South, Aroer being on the very lip of the Arnon; but these are probably to be taken as an enclave in the territory of Reuben. From Jos 13:15 ff it is clear that the northern border ran from some point North of the Dead Sea in a direction East-Northeast, passing to the North of Heshbon. The Dead Sea formed the western boundary, and it marched with the desert on the East. No doubt many districts changed hands in the course of the history. At the invasion of Tiglath-pileser, e.g., we read that Aroer was in the hands of the Reubenites, "and eastward .... even unto the entrance of the wilderness from the river Euphrates" (1Ch 5:8 f). Bezer the city of refuge lay in Reuben’s territory (Jos 20:8, etc.). A general description of the country will be found under MOAB; while the cities of Reuben are dealt with in separate articles.

Reuben and Gad, occupying contiguous districts, and even, as we have seen, to some extent overlapping, are closely associated in the history. Neither took part in the glorious struggle against Sisera (Jud 5:15 ). Already apparently the sundering influences were taking effect. They are not excepted, however, from "all the tribes of Israel" who sent contingents for the war against Benjamin (Jud 20:10; 21:5), and the reference in Jud 5:15 seems to show that Reuben might have done great things had he been disposed. The tribe therefore was still powerful, but perhaps absorbed by anxieties as to its relations with neighboring peoples. In guarding their numerous flocks against attack from the South, and sudden incursions from the desert, a warlike spirit and martial prowess were developed. They were "valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skillful in war" (1Ch 5:18). They overwhelmed the Hagrites with Jetur and Naphish and Nodab, and greatly enriched themselves with the spoil. In recording the raid the Chronicler pays a compliment to their religious loyalty: "They cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them, because they put their trust in him" (1Ch 5:19 ). Along with Gad and Manasseh they sent a contingent of 120,000 men "with all manner of instruments of war for the battle, .... men of war, that could order the battle array," men who "came with a perfect heart to Hebron, to make David king" (1Ch 12:37 f). Among David’s mighty men was Adina, "a chief of the Reubenites, and thirty with him" (1Ch 11:42). In the 40th year of David’s reign overseers were set over the Reubenites "for every matter pertaining to God, and for the affairs of the king" (1Ch 26:32). Perhaps in spite of the help given to David the Reubenites had never quite got over their old loyalty to the house of Saul. At any rate, when disruption came they joined the Northern Kingdom (1Ki 11:31).

The subsequent history of the tribe is left in much obscurity. Exposed as they were to hostile influences of Moab and the East, and cut off from fellowship with their brethren in worship, in their isolation they probably found the descent into idolatry all too easy, and the once powerful tribe sank into comparative insignificance. Of the immediate causes of this decline we have no knowledge. Moab established its authority over the land that had belonged to Reuben; and Mesha, in his inscription (M S), while he speaks of Gad, does not think Reuben worthy of mention. They had probably become largely absorbed in the northern tribe. They are named as suffering in the invasion of Hazael during the reign of Jehu (2Ki 10:32 f). That "they trespassed against the God of their fathers, and played the harlot after the gods of the peoples of the land" is given as the reason for the fate that befell them at the hands of Pul, king of Assyria, who carried them away, "and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river of Gozan" (1Ch 5:25 f).

The resemblance of Reuben’s case to that of Simeon is striking, for Simeon also appears to have been practically absorbed in the tribe of Judah. The prestige that should have been Reuben’s in virtue of his birthright is said to have passed to Joseph (1Ch 5:1). And the place of Reuben and Simeon in Israel is taken by the sons of Joseph, a fact referred to in the blessing of Jacob (Ge 48:5).

Ezekiel finds a place for Reuben in his picture of restored Israel (48:6). He appears also—in this case preceded by Judah only—in Re 7:5.

W. Ewing


roo’-ben-its (ha-re’ubheni; demoi Rhouben): Members of the tribe of Reuben (Nu 26:7, etc.). Adina, one of David’s mighty men, was a Reubenite (1Ch 11:42).


roo’-el (re‘u’el, "God is his friend"; the Septuagint Rhagouel):

(1) In the genealogical system Reuel is both a son of Esau by Basemath (Ge 36:4,10,13,17; 1Ch 1:35,37) and the father of the father-in-law of Moses, Hobab (Nu 10:29). In the account of the marriage of Zipporah to Moses (Ex 2:16-21) Jethro seems to be called Reuel (compare HOBAB). The various names of Jethro perplexed the Talmudists, too; some held that his real name was "Hobab," and that Reuel was his father. Reuel is probably a clan name (Gray, "Nu," ICC), and Hobab is a member of the clan ("son") of Reuel (Nu 10:29, the King James Version reads "Raguel").

(2) The father of Eliasaph, the prince of Gad (Nu 2:14), called (by some copyist’s mistake) "Deuel" in Nu 1:14; 7:42,47; 10:20. The Septuagint has uniformly Rhagouel.

(3) A Benjamite (1Ch 9:8). Horace J. Wolf


roo’-ma (re’umah): The concubine of Nahor (Ge 22:24).



1. Title

2. Uniqueness and Reality of Visions


1. Patristic Testimony

2. Testimony of Book Itself

3. Objections to Johannine Authorship—Relation to Fourth Gospel


1. Traditional Date under Domitian

2. The Nero-Theory

3. Composite Hypotheses—Babylonian Theory


1. General Scope

2. Detailed Analysis


1. General Scheme of Interpretation

2. The Newer Theories

3. The Book a True Prophecy



The last book of the New Testament. It professes to be the record of prophetic visions given by Jesus Christ to John, while the latter was a prisoner, "for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Re 1:9), in PATMOS (which see), a small rocky island in the Aegean, about 15 miles West of Ephesus. Its precursor in the Old Testament is the Book of Dnl, with the symbolic visions and mystical numbers of which it stands in close affinity. The peculiar form of the book, its relation to other "apocalyptic" writings, and to the Fourth Gospel, likewise attributed to John, the interpretation of its symbols, with disputed questions of its date, of worship, unity, relations to contemporary history, etc., have made it one of the most difficult books in the New Testament to explain satisfactorily.

I. Title and General Character of Book.

1. Title:

"Revelation" answers to apokalupsis, in Re 1:1. The oldest form of the title would seem to be simply, "Apocalypse of John," the appended words "the divine" (theologos, i.e. "theologian") not being older than the 4th century (compare the title given to Gregory of Nazianzus, "Gregory theologian"). The book belongs to the class of works commonly named "apocalyptic," as containing visions and revelations of the future, frequently in symbolical form (e.g. the Book of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Bar, the Apocalypse of Ezr; see APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE), but it is doubtful if the word here bears this technical sense. The tendency at present is to group the New Testament Apocalypse with these others, and attribute to it the same kind of origin as theirs, namely, in the unbridled play of religious fantasy, clothing itself in unreal visional form.

2. Uniqueness and Reality of Visions:

But there is a wide distinction. These other works are pseudonymous—fictitious; on the face of them products of imagination; betraying that this is their origin in their crude, confused, unedifying character. The Apocalypse bears on it the name of its author—an apostle of Jesus Christ (see below); claims to rest on real visions; rings with the accent of sincerity; is orderly, serious, sublime, purposeful, in its conceptions; deals with the most solemn and momentous of themes. On the modern Nerotheory, to which most recent expositors give adherence, it is a farrago of baseless fantasies, no one of which came true. On its own claim it is a product of true prophecy (Re 1:3; 22:18 f), and has or will have sure fulfillment. Parallels here and there are sought between it and the Book of Enoch or the Apocalypse of Ezra. As a rule the resemblances arise from the fact that these works draw from the same store of the ideas and imagery of the Old Testament. It is there the key is chiefly to be sought to the symbolism of John. The Apocalypse is steeped in the thoughts, the images, even the language of the Old Testament (compare the illustrations in Lightfoot, Galatians, 361, where it is remarked: "The whole book is saturated with illustrations from the Old Testament. It speaks not the language of Paul, but of Isaiah and Ezekiel and Daniel"). These remarks will receive elucidation in what follows.

II. Canonicity and Authority.

1. Patristic Testimony:

The two questions of canonicity and authorship are closely connected. Eusebius states that opinion in his day was divided on the book, and he himself wavers between placing it among the disputed books or ranking it with the acknowledged (homologoumena). "Among these," he says, "if such a view seem correct, we must place the Apocalypse of John" (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 25). That it was rightly so placed appears from a survey of the evidence. The first to refer to the book expressly is Justin Martyr (circa 140 AD), who speaks of it as the work of "a certain man, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ" (Dial, 81). Irenaeus (circa 180 AD) repeatedly and decisively declares that the Apocalypse was written by John, a disciple of the Lord (Adv. Haer., iv.20, 11; 30, 4; v.26, 1; 35, 2, etc.), and comments on the number 666 (v.30, 1). In his case there can be no doubt that the apostle John is meant. Andreas of Cappadocia (5th century) in a Commentary on the Apocalypse states that Papias (circa 130 AD) bore witness to its credibility, and cites a comment by him on Re 12:7-9. The book is quoted in the Epistle on the martyrs of Vienne and Lyons (177 AD); had a commentary written on it by Melito of Sardis (circa 170 AD), one of the churches of the Apocalypse (Euseb., HE, IV, 26); was used by Theophilus of Antioch (circa 168 AD) and by Apollonius (circa 210 AD; HE, V, 25)—in these cases being cited as the Apocalypse of John. It is included as John’s in the Canon of Muratori (circa 200 AD). The Johannine authorship (apostolic) is abundantly attested by Tertullian (circa 200 AD; Adv. Mar., iii.14, 24, etc.); by Hippolytus (circa 240 AD), who wrote a work upon it; by Clement of Alexandria (circa 200 AD); by Origen (circa 230 AD), and other writers. Doubt about the authorship of the book is first heard of in the obscure sect of the Alogi (end of the 2nd century), who, with Caius, a Roman presbyter (circa 205 AD), attributed it to Cerinthus. More serious was the criticism of Dionysius of Alexandria (circa 250 AD), who, on internal grounds, held that the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse could not have come from the same pen (Euseb., HE, VII, 25). He granted, however, that it was the work of a holy and inspired man—another John. The result was that, while "in the Western church," as Bousset grants, "the Apocalypse was accepted unanimously from the first" (EB, I, 193), a certain doubt attached to it for a time in sections of the Greek and Syrian churches. It is not found in the Peshitta, and a citation from it in Ephraim the Syrian (circa 373) seems not to be genuine. Cyril of Jerusalem (circa 386 AD) omits it from his list, and it is unmentioned by the Antiochian writers (Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret). The Canon attributed to the Council of Laodicea (circa 360 AD) does not name it, but it is doubtful whether this document is not of later date (compare Westcott; also Bousset, Die Offenb. Joh., 28). On the other hand, the book is acknowledged by Methodius, Pamphilus, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril Alex., Epiphanius, etc.

2. Testimony of Book Itself:

The testimony to the canonicity, and also to the Johannine authorship, of the Apocalypse is thus exceptionally strong. In full accordance with it is the claim of the book itself. It proclaims itself to be the work of John (Re 1:1,4,9; 22:8), who does not, indeed, name himself an apostle, yet, in his inspired character, position of authority in the Asian churches, and selection as the medium of these revelations, can hardly be thought of as other than the well-known John of the Gospels and of consentient church tradition. The alternative view, first suggested as a possibility by Eusebius, now largely favored by modern writers, is that the John intended is the "presbyter John" of a well-known passage cited by Eusebius from Papias (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 39). Without entering into the intricate questions connected with this "presbyter John"—whether he was really a distinct person from the apostle (Zahn and others dispute it), or whether, if he was, he resided at Ephesus (see JOHN, GOSPEL OF)—it is enough here to say that the reason already given, viz: the importance and place of authority of the author of the Apocalypse in the Asian churches, and the emphatic testimony above cited connecting him with the apostle, forbid the attribution of the book to a writer wholly unknown to church tradition, save for this casual reference to him in Papias. Had the assumed presbyter really been the author, he could not have dropped so completely out of the knowledge of the church, and had his place taken all but immediately by the apostle.

3. Objections to Johannine Authorship—Relation to Fourth Gospel:

One cause of the hesitancy regarding the Apocalypse in early circles was dislike of its millenarianism; but the chief reason, set forth with much critical skill by Dionysius of Alexandria (Euseb., HE, VII, 25), was the undoubted contrast in character and style between this work and the Fourth Gospel, likewise claiming to be from the pen of John. Two works so diverse in character—the Gospel calm, spiritual, mystical, abounding in characteristic expressions as "life," "light," "love," etc., written in idiomatic Greek; the Apocalypse abrupt, mysterious, material in its imagery, inexact and barbarous in its idioms, sometimes employing solecisms—could not, it was argued, proceed from the same author. Not much, beyond amplification of detail, has been added to the force of the arguments of Dionysius. There were three possibilities—either first, admitting the Johannine authorship of the Apocalypse, to assail the genuineness of the Gospel—this was the method of the school of Baur; or, second, accepting the Gospel, to seek a different author for the Apocalypse—John the presbyter, or another: thus not a few reverent scholars (Bleek, Neander, etc.); or, third, with most moderns, to deny the Johannine authorship of both Gospel and Apocalypse, with a leaning to the "presbyter" as the author of the latter (Harnack, Bousset, Moffatt, etc.). Singularly there has been of late in the advanced school itself a movement in the direction of recognizing that this difficulty of style is less formidable than it looks—that, in fact, beneath the surface difference, there is a strong body of resemblances pointing to a close relationship of Gospel and Apocalypse. This had long been argued by the older writers (Godet, Luthardt, Alford, Salmon, etc.), but it is now more freely acknowledged. As instances among many may be noted the use of the term "Logos" (Re 19:13), the image of the "Lamb," figures like "water of life" words and phrases as "true," "he that overcometh," "keep the commandments," etc. A striking coincidence is the form of quotation of Zec 12:10 in Joh 19:37 and Re 1:7. If the Greek in parts shows a certain abruptness and roughness, it is plainly evidenced by the use of the correct constructions in other passages that this is not due to want of knowledge of the language. "The very rules which he breaks in one place he observes in others" (Salmon). There are, besides, subtle affinities in the Greek usage of the two books, and some of the very irregularities complained of are found in the Gospel (for ample details consult Bousset, op. cit.; Godet, Commentary on John, I, 267-70, English translation; Alford, Greek Test., IV, 224-28; Salmon, Introduction to the New Testament, 233-43, 2nd edition; the last-named writer says: "I have produced instances enough to establish decisively that there is the closest possible affinity between the Revelation and the other Johannine books"). Great differences in character and style no doubt still remain. Some, to leave room for these, favor an early date for the Apocalypse (68-69 BC; on this below); the trend of opinion, however, now seems, as will be shown, to be moving back to the traditional date in the reign of Domitian, in which case the Gospel will be the earlier, and the Apocalypse the later work. This, likewise, seems to yield the better explanation. The tremendous experiences of Patmos, bursting through all ordinary and calmer states of consciousness, must have produced startling changes in thought and style of composition. The "rapt seer" will not speak and write like the selfcollected, calmly brooding evangelist.

III. Date and Unity of the Book.

1. Traditional Date under Domitian:

Eusebius, in summing up the tradition of the Church on this subject, assigns John’s exile to Patmos, and consequently the composition of the Apocalypse, to the latter part of the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD). Irenaeus (circa 180 AD) says of the book, "For it was seen, not a long time ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian" (Adv. Haer., v.30, 3). This testimony is confirmed by Clement of Alexandria (who speaks of "the tyrant"), Origen, and later writers. Epiphanius (4th century), indeed, puts (Haer., li.12, 233) the exile to Patmos in the reign of Claudius (41-54 AD); but as, in the same sentence, he speaks of the apostle as 90 years of age, it is plain there is a strange blunder in the name of the emperor. The former date answers to the conditions of the book (decadence of the churches; widespread and severe persecution), and to the predilection of Domitian for this mode of banishment (compare Tacitus, History i.2; Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 18).

2. The Nero-Theory:

This, accordingly, may be regarded as the traditional date of composition of the Apocalypse, though good writers, influenced partly by the desire to give time for the later composition of the Gospel, have signified a preference for an earlier date (e.g. Westcott, Salmon). It is by no means to be assumed, however, that the Apocalypse is the earlier production. The tendency of recent criticism, it will be seen immediately, is to revert to the traditional date (Bousset, etc.); but for a decade or two, through the prevalence of what may be called the "Nero-theory" of the book, the pendulum swung strongly in favor of its composition shortly after the death of Nero, and before the destruction of Jerusalem (held to be shown to be still standing by Re 11), i.e. about 68-69 AD. This date was even held to be demonstrated beyond all question. Reuss may be taken as an example. According to him (Christian Theology of the Apostolic Age, I, 369 ff, English translation), apart from the ridiculous preconceptions of theologians, the Apocalypse is "the most simple, most transparent book that prophet ever penned." "There is no other apostolical writing the chronology of which can be more exactly fixed." "It was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, under the emperor Galba—that is to say, in the second half of the year 68 of our era." He proceeds to discuss "the irrefutable proofs" of this. The proof, in brief, is found in the beast (not introduced till Re 13) with seven heads, one of which has been mortally wounded, but is for the present healed (Re 13:3). "This is the Roman empire, with its first 7 emperors, one of whom is killed, but is to live again as Antichrist" (compare Re 17:10 f). The key to the whole book is said to be given in Re 13:18, where the number of the beast is declared to be 666. Applying the method of numerical values (the Jewish Gematria), this number is found to correspond with the name "Nero Caesar" in Hebrew letters (omitting the yodh, the Hebrew letter "y"). Nero then is the 5th head that is to live again; an interpretation confirmed by rumors prevalent at that time that Nero was not really dead, but only hidden, and was soon to return to claim his throne. As if to make assurance doubly sure, it is found that by dropping the final "n" in "Neron," the number becomes 616—a number which Irenaeus in his comments on the subject (v.30,1) tells us was actually found in some ancient copies. The meaning therefore is thought to be clear. Writing under the emperor Galba, the 6th emperor (reckoning from Augustus), the author anticipates, after a short reign of a 7th emperor (Re 17:10), the return of the Antichrist Nero—an 8th, but of the 7, with whom is to come the end. Jerusalem is to be miraculously preserved (Re 11), but Rome is to perish. This is to happen within the space of 3 1/2 years. "The final catastrophe, which was to destroy the city and empire, was to take place in three years and a half. .... The writer knows .... that Rome will in three years and a half perish finally, never to rise again." It does not matter for this theory that not one of the things predicted happened—that every anticipation was falsified. Nero did not return; Jerusalem was not saved; Rome did not perish; 3 1/2 years did not see the end of all things. Yet the Christian-church, though the failure of every one of these predictions had been decisively demonstrated, received the book as of divine inspiration, apparently without the least idea that such things had been intended (see the form of theory in Renan, with a keen criticism in Salmon’s Introduction to the New Testament, lecture xiv).

3. Composite Hypotheses—Babylonian Theory:

What is to be said with reference to this "Nero-theory" belongs to subsequent sections: meanwhile it is to be observed that, while portions of theory are retained, significant changes have since taken place in the view entertained of the book as a whole, and with this of the date to be assigned to it. First, after 1882, came a flood of disintegrating hypotheses, based on the idea that the Apocalypse was not a unity, but was either a working up of one or more Jewish apocalypses by Christian hands, or at least incorporated fragments of such apocalypses (Uslter, Vischer, Weizsacker, Weyland, Pfieiderer, Spitta, etc.). Harnack lent his influential support to the form of this theory advocated by Vischer, and for a time the idea had vogue. Very soon, however, it fell into discredit through its own excesses (for details on the different views, see Bousset, or Moffatt’s Introduction to the New Testament, 489 ff), and through increasing appreciation of the internal evidence for the unity of the book. Gunkel, in his Schopfung und Chaos (1895), started another line of criticism in his derivation of the conceptions of the book, not from Jewish apocalypse, but from Babylonian mythology. He assailed with sharp criticism the "contemporary history" school of interpretation (the "Nero-theory" above), and declared its "bankruptcy." The number of the beast, with him, found its solution, not in Nero, but in the Hebrew name for the primeval chaos. This theory, too, has failed in general acceptance, though elements in it are adopted by most recent interpreters. The modified view most in favor now is that the Apocalypse is, indeed, the work of a Christian writer of the end of the 1st century, but embodies certain sections borrowed from Jewish apocalypse (as Re 7:1-8, the 144,000; Re 11, measuring of the temple and the two witnesses; especially Re 12, the woman and red dragon—this, in turn, reminiscent of Babylonian mythology). These supposed Jewish sections are, however, without real support in anything that is known, and the symbolism admits as easily of a Christian interpretation as any other part of the book. We are left, therefore, as before, with the book as a unity, and the tide of opinion flows back to the age of Domitian as the time of its origin. Moffatt (connecting it mistakenly, as it seems to us, with Domitian’s emphasis on the imperial cult, but giving also other reasons) goes so far as to say that "any earlier date for the book is hardly possible" (Expository Greek Testament, V, 317). The list of authorities for the Domitianie date may be seen in Moffatt, Introduction, 508.

IV. Plan and Analysis of the Book.

1. General Scope:

The method of the book may thus be indicated. After an introduction, and letters to the seven churches (Re 1-3), the properly prophetic part of the book commences with a vision of heaven (Re 4; 5), following upon which are two series of visions of the future, parallel, it would appear, to each other—the first, the 7 seals, and under the 7th seal, the 7 trumpets (Re 6:1-11:19, with interludes in Re 7$ and again in Re 10$; 11:1-12:1); the second, the woman and her child (Re 12), the 2 beasts (Re 13), and, after new interludes (Re 14), the bowls and 7 last plagues (Re 15$; 16$). The expansion of the last judgments is given in separate pictures (the scarlet woman, doom of Babylon, Har-Magedon, Re 17-19); then come the closing scenes of the millennium, the last apostasy, resurrection and judgment (Re 20), followed by the new heavens and new earth, with the descending new Jerusalem (Re 21; 22). The theme of the book is the conflict of Christ and His church with anti-Christian powers (the devil, the beast, the false prophet, Re 16:13), and the ultimate and decisive defeat of the latter; its keynote is in the words, "Come, Lord Jesus" (Re 22:20; compare Re 1:7); but it is to be noticed, as characteristic of the book, that while this "coming" is represented as, in manner, ever near, the end, as the crisis approaches, is again always postponed by a fresh development of events. Thus, under the 6th seal, the end seems reached (Re 6:12-17), but a pause ensues (Re 7), and on the opening of the seventh seal, a new series begins with the trumpets (Re 8:2 ). Similarly, at the sounding of the 6th trumpet, the end seems at hand (Re 9:12-21), but a new pause is introduced before the last sounding takes place (Re 11:15 ). Then is announced the final victory, but as yet only in summary. A new series of visions begins, opening into large perspectives, till, after fresh interludes, and the pouring out of 6 of the bowls of judgment, Har-Magedon itself is reached; but though, at the outpouring of the 7th bowl, it is proclaimed, "It is done" (Re 16:17), the end is again held over till these final judgments are shown in detail. At length, surely, in Re 19, with the appearance of the white horseman—"The Word of God" (19:13)—and the decisive overthrow of all his adversaries (19:18-21), the climax is touched; but just then, to our surprise, intervenes the announcement of the binding of Satan for 1,000 years, and the reign of Jesus and His saints upon the earth (the interpretation is not here discussed), followed by a fresh apostasy, and the general resurrection and judgment (Re 20). Precise time-measures evidently fail in dealing with a book so constructed: the 3 1/2 years of the Nero-interpreters sink into insignificance in its crowded panorama of events. The symbolic numbers that chiefly rule in the book are "seven," the number of completeness (7 spirits, seals, trumpets, bowls, heads of beasts); "ten," the number of worldly power (10 horns); "four," the earthly number (4 living creatures, corners of earth, winds, etc.); 3 1/2 years—42 months—"time, and times, and half a time" (Re 12:14) = 1,260 days, the period, borrowed from Da (7:25; 12:7), of anti-Christian ascendancy.

2. Detailed Analysis:

The following is a more detailed analysis:


1. Title and Address (Re 1:1-8)

2. Vision of Jesus and Message to the Seven Churches of the Province of Asia (Re 1:9-20)

3. The Letters to the Seven Churches (Re 2; 3)

(1) Ephesus (Re 2:1-7)

(2) Smyrna (Re 2:8-11)

(3) Pergamos (Re 2:12-17)

(4) Thyatira (Re 2:18-29)

(5) Sardis (Re 3:1-6)

(6) Philadelphia (Re 3:7-13)

(7) Laodicea (Re 3:14-22)


1. The Vision of Heaven

(1) Adoration of the Creator (Re 4)

(2) The 7-Sealed Book; Adoration of God and the Lamb (Re 5)

2. Opening of Six Seals (Re 6)

(1) The White Horse (Re 6:1,2)

(2) The Red Horse (Re 6:3,4)

(3) The Black Horse (Re 6:5,6)

(4) The Pale Horse (Re 6:7,8)

(5) Souls under the Altar (Re 6:9-11)

(6) The Wrath of the Lamb (Re 6:12-17)

3. Interludes (Re 7)

(1) Sealing of 144,000 on Earth (Re 7:1-8)

(2) Triumphant Multitude in Heaven (Re 7:9-17)

4. Opening of Seventh Seal: under This Seven Trumpets, of Which Six Now Sounded (Re 8; 9)

(1) Hail and Fire on Earth (Re 8:7)

(2) Burning Mountain in Sea (Re 8:8,9)

(3) Burning Star on Rivers and Fountains (Re 8:10,11)

(4) One-third Sun, Moon, and Stars Darkened (Re 8:12). "Woe"—Trumpets (Re 8:13)

(5) The Fallen Star-Locusts (Re 9:1-11)

(6) Angels Loosed from Euphrates—the Horseman (Re 9:12-21)

5. Interludes—

(1) Angel with Little Book (Re 10)

(2) Measuring of Temple and Altar—the Two Witnesses (Re 11:1-13)

6. Seventh Trumpet Sounded—Final Victory (Re 11:14-19)


1. The Woman and Child; the Red Dragon and His Persecutions (Re 12)

2. The Beast from the Sea, Seven-headed, Ten-horned (Re 13:1-10); the Two-horned Beast (Re 13:11-18)

3. Interludes (Re 14)

(1) The Lamb on Mt. Zion; the 144,000 (Re 14:1-5)

(2) The Angel with "an Eternal Gospel" (Re 14:6,7)

(3) Second Angel—(Anticipatory) Proclamation of Fall of Babylon (Re 14:8)

(4) Third Angel—Doom of Worshippers of the Beast (Re 14:9-12)

(5) Blessedness of the Dead in the Lord (Re 14:13)

(6) The Son of Man and the Great Vintage (Re 14:14-20)

4. The Seven Last Plagues—the Angels and Their Bowls: the Preparation in heaven (Re 15)—the Outpouring (Re 16)

(1) On Earth (Re 16:2)

(2) On Sea (Re 16:3)

(3) On Rivers and Fountains (Re 16:4-7)

(4) On Sun (Re 16:8,9)

(5) On Seat of Beast (Re 16:10,11)

(6) On Euphrates—Har-Magedon (Re 16:12-16)

(7) In the Air—Victory and Fall of Babylon (Re 16:17-21)


1. The Scarlet Woman on Beast—Her Judgment (Re 17)

2. Doom of Babylon and Lament over Her (Re 18)

3. Interlude—Announcement of Marriage of the Lamb (Re 19:1-10)

4. Rider on White Horse ("The Word of God") and His Armies—Last Battle and Doom of Beast, False Prophet, and Their Followers (Re 19:11-21)


1. Satan Bound; First Resurrection and Reign of Saints for 1,000 Years (Re 20:1-6)

2. Loosing of Satan and Final Conflict—Doom of Adversaries and of the Devil (Re 20:7-10)

3. General Resurrection and Last Judgment (Re 20:11-15)

4. New Heavens and New Earth

(1) The New Jerusalem from Heaven (Re 21:1-9)

(2) Description of the City (Re 21:10-27)

(3) Blessedness of Its Citizens (Re 22:1-7)

(4) Epilogue (Re 22:8-21)

V. Principles of Interpretation.

1. General Scheme of Interpretation:

As a book intended for the consolation of the church under present and future afflictions, the Apocalypse is meant by its author to be understood (Re 1:3; 22:7). He must have been aware, however, that, while its general scope might be apprehended, mystery must rest upon many of its symbols, till the time of their actual fulfillment. The book relates to "things which must shortly come to pass" (Re 1:1)—in their beginnings at least—and the divers interpretations since put upon its prophecies are the best evidence of the difficulties attaching to them. Schemes of interpretation have generally been grouped into praeterist (the prophecies being regarded as already fulfilled), futurist (the fulfillment being thrown wholly into the future), and the historical (the fulfillment being looked for in the continuous history of the church from John’s day till the end).

(1) The older praeterist view may be taken as represented by Moses Stuart, who finds the fulfillment of Re 6-11 in the destruction of Jerusalem (Commentary, 520 ff), and of Re 13-19 in the reign of Nero (690 ff). Even he, however, has to interpret the chapter on the last things of the future.

(2) The futurist view connects the whole with the times of the second advent and the millennium. The beast is an individual who shall then appear as Antichrist. This rejects the plain intimations of the book that the events predicted lay, in their beginnings at least, immediately in the future of the writer.

(3) The historical view connects the various symbols with definite occurrences—as the invasions which overthrew the Roman Empire (the first 4 trumpets), the Saracens (first woe-trumpet), the Turks (second woe-trumpet), the papacy (the beast, Re 13; the scarlet woman, Re 17), etc. A day-year principle is applied to the periods (1,260 days—1,260 years). As representatives of this view may be mentioned Mode, Vitringa, Sir Isaac Newton, Elliott in Horae Apocalypticae, A. Barnes.

2. The Newer Theories:

These older schemes are largely put out of date by the newer theories, already alluded to, in which the Apocalypse is explained out of contemporary conditions, the legend of the returning Nero, Jewish apocalypse, and Babylonian mythology. These are praeterist theories also, but differ from the older in that in them all real prophecy is denied. A mainstay of such theories is the declaration of the book that the events announced are close at hand (Re 1:1,3; 22:20). When, however, it is remembered that, on any view, this nearness includes a period of 1,000 years before the judgment and descent of the new Jerusalem, it will be felt that it will not do to give these expressions too restricted a temporal significance. The horizon is wider. The coming of Christ is ever near—ever approaching—yet it is not to be tied down to "times and seasons"; it is more of the nature of a process and has anticipatory exemplifications in many crises and providential events forecasting the end (see above). The "coming," e.g. to the church at Ephesus (Re 2:5), or to the church at Pergamos (Re 9:16)—contingent events—can hardly exhaust the full meaning of the Parousia. The Nero-theory demands a date at latest under Galba, but that date we have seen to be generally abandoned. Those who place it under Vespasian (omitting three short reigns) sacrifice the advantage of dating the book before the destruction of Jerusalem, and have to fall back on a supposititious Jewish fragment in Re 11, which those who incorporated it must have known had never been fulfilled. The attempt to give a "contemporary historical" interpretation to the symbols of the successive churches, as Gunkel has acutely shown, completely breaks down in practice, while Gunkel’s own attempt at a Babylonian explanation will be judged by most to be overstrained. "Dragon" in the Old Testament and elsewhere may be associated with widespread oriental ideas, but the definite symbolism of the Apocalypse in Re 12 has no provable connection with Babylonian myths. There is the widest disagreement in theories of "composite" origin (from Jewish apocalypse). What seems simple and demonstrable to one has no plausibility to others. A form of "Nero Caesar," indeed, yields the mystic 666, but so do 1,000 other names—almost any name, with proper manipulation (compare Salmon, lecture xiv). Lastly, the returning-Nero legend yields no satisfactory explanation of the language in Re 13:3,12,14; 17:11. The theory is that these words allude to the belief that Nero would return from the dead and become Antichrist (see above). Tacitus attests that there were vague rumors that Nero had not really died (Hist. ii.8), and later a pretender arose in Parthia taking advantage of this feeling (Suet. Nero. 57). The idea of Nero returning from the dead is categorically stated in Sib Or 5:363-70 (circa 120 AD); compare Sib Or 4:119-22 (circa 80 AD). Augustine mentions the idea (City of God, xx.19, 3), but without connection with the Apocalypse. By Domitian’s time, however, it was perfectly certain that Nero had not returned, and there was no longer, on this interpretation, any appositeness in speaking of a "head" the "deathstroke" of which was healed (Re 13:3), which became the "eighth head" of Re 17:11—if, indeed, the apostle could be conceived capable of being influenced by such vagaries. The events predicted lay, evidently, still in the future. It may be added that neither Irenaeus, nor any early interpreter, seems to have heard of the connection of 666 with "Nero." Ireneus himself suggests the solution Lateinos (compare Salmon, ut supra).

3. The Book a True Prophecy:

It is not proposed here to attempt the lines of a positive interpretation. If it is once recognized that the Apocalypse is a book of true prophecy, that its symbols stand for something real, and that its perspective is not to be limited to a brief period like 3 1/2 years, the way is opened, not, indeed, for a reading into it of a series of precise historical occurrences, but still for doing justice to the truth which lies at the basis of the historical interpretation, namely, that there are here prefigured the great crises in the age-long conflict of Christ and His church with pagan and anti-Christian adversaries. Events and tendencies may be grouped, or under different forms may relate to the same subject (e.g. the 144,000 sealed on earth—a spiritual Israel—in Re 7:1-8, and the triumphant multitude in heaven, 7:9-17); successions of events may be foreshortened; different pictures may overlap; but, shining through the symbols, great truths and facts which have historical realization appear. There is no need for supposing that, in a drama of this range, the "heads" of the beast of Re 13 and 17 (behind whom is the Dragon-enemy, Satan, of Re 12) stand, in contrariety to the analogy of Daniel, for seven individual emperors, and that "the image of the beast," which has life given to it and "speaks" (Re 13:14,15), is the statue of the emperor; or that such tremendous events as the fall of the Roman Empire, or the rise of the papacy—with which, however, must be combined all ecclesiastical anti-Christianism—or the false prophecy of later intellectual anti-Christianism have no place in the symbolism of the book. Sane, reverent thought will suggest many lines of correspondence with the course of God’s providence, which may serve to illuminate its dark places. More than this need not be said here.

VI. Theology of the Book.

On this it is hardly necessary to dwell, for expositors are now well agreed that in its great doctrines of God, Christ, man, sin, redemption, the teaching of the Apocalypse does not vary essentially from the great types in the Epistles. The assonances with John’s mode of thinking have already been alluded to. It is granted by all writers that the Christology is as high as anywhere in the New Testament. "It ought unhesitatingly to be acknowledged," says Reuss, "that Christ is placed in the Apocalypse on a paragraph with God" (op. cit., I, 397-98; compare Re 1:4,17; 2:8; 5:12-14; 22:13, etc.). Not less striking are the correspondences with the teaching of Paul and of Peter on redemption through the blood of Christ (Re 1:5; 5:9; 7:14; 14:4, etc.). The perverted conception of the school of Baur that we have in the book an anti-Pauline manifesto (thus also Pfieiderer; compare Hibbert Lectures, 178), is now practically dead (see the criticism of it by Reuss, op. cit., I, 308-12). The point in which its eschatology differs from that of the rest of the New Testament is in its introduction of the millennium before the final resurrection and judgment. This enlarges, but does not necessarily contradict, the earlier stage of thought.


Moses Stuart, Commentary on Apocalypse; Alford, Greek Testament, IV, "The Revelation"; S. Davidson, Introduction to the New Testament (3rd edition), 176 ff; G. Salmon, Introduction to the New Testament (2nd edition), lects xiii, xiv; Elliott, Horae Apocalypticae, with literature there mentioned; Farrar, Early Days of Christianity, chapter xxviii; Milligan, Discussions on the Apocalypse; H. Gunkel, Schopfung und Chaos; W. Bousset, Die Offenbarung Johannis, and article "Apocalypse" in EB, I; C. Anderson Scott, "Revelation" in Century Bible; J. Moffatt, Introduction to Literature of the New Testament (with notices of literature); also "Revelation" in Expositor’s Bible; Trench, Epistles to the Seven Churches; W. M. Rarnsay, Letters to the Seven Churches; H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of John.

James Orr




1. The Religion of the Bible the Only Supernatural Religion

2. General and Special Revelation

(1) Revelation in Eden

(2) Revelation among the Heathen


1. Place of Revelation among the Redemptive Ac of God

2. Stages of Material Development


1. The Several Modes of Revelation

2. Equal Supernaturalness of the Several Modes

3. The Prophet God’s Mouthpiece

4. Visionary Form of Prophecy

5. "Passivity" of Prophets

6. Revelation by Inspiration

7. Complete Revelation of God in Christ


1. The Ordinary Forms

2. "Word of Yahweh" and "Torah"

3. "The Scriptures"


I. The Nature of Revelation.

1. The Religion of the Bible the Only Supernatural Religion:

The religion of the Bible is a frankly supernatural religion. By this is not meant merely that, according to it, all men, as creatures, live, move and have their being in God. It is meant that, according to it, God has intervened extraordinarily, in the course of the sinful world’s development, for the salvation of men otherwise lost. In Eden the Lord God had been present with sinless man in such a sense as to form a distinct element in his social environment (Ge 3:8). This intimate association was broken up by the Fall. But God did not therefore withdraw Himself from concernment with men. Rather, He began at once a series of interventions in human history by means of which man might be rescued from his sin and, despite it, brought to the end destined for him. These interventions involved the segregation of a people for Himself, by whom God should be known, and whose distinction should be that God should be "nigh unto them" as He was not to other nations (De 4:7; Ps 145:18). But this people was not permitted to imagine that it owed its segregation to anything in itself fitted to attract or determine the Divine preference; no consciousness was more poignant in Israel than that Yahweh had chosen it, not it Him, and that Yahweh’s choice of it rested solely on His gracious will. Nor was this people permitted to imagine that it was for its own sake alone that it had been singled out to be the sole recipient of the knowledge of Yahweh; it was made clear from the beginning that God’s mysteriously gracious dealing with it had as its ultimate end the blessing of the whole world (Ge 12:2,3; 17:4,5,6,16; 18:18; 22:18; compare Ro 4:13), the bringing together again of the divided families of the earth under the glorious reign of Yahweh, and the reversal of the curse under which the whole world lay for its sin (Ge 12:3). Meanwhile, however, Yahweh was known only in Israel. To Israel God showed His word and made known His statutes and judgments, and after this fashion He dealt with no other nation; and therefore none other knew His judgments (Ps 147:19 f). Accordingly, when the hope of Israel (who was also the desire of all nations) came, His own lips unhesitatingly declared that the salvation He brought, though of universal application, was "from the Jews" (Joh 4:22). And the nations to which this salvation had not been made known are declared by the chief agent in its proclamation to them to be, meanwhile, "far off," "having no hope" and "without God in the world" (Eph 2:12), because they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenant of the promise.

The religion of the Bible, thus announces itself, not as the product of men’s search after God, if haply they may feel after Him and find Him, but as the creation in men of the gracious God, forming a people for Himself, that they may show forth His praise. In other words, the religion of the Bible presents itself as distinctively a revealed religion. Or rather, to speak more exactly, it announces itself as the revealed religion, as the only revealed religion; and sets itself as such over against all other religions, which are represented as all products, in a sense in which it is not, of the art and device of man.

It is not, however, implied in this exclusive claim to revelation—which is made by the religion of the Bible in all the stages of its history—that the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that in them is, has left Himself without witness among the peoples of the world (Ac 14:17). It is asserted indeed, that in the process of His redemptive work, God suffered for a season all the nations to walk in their own ways; but it is added that to none of them has He failed to do good, and to give from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. And not only is He represented as thus constantly showing Himself in His providence not far from any one of them, thus wooing them to seek Him if haply they might feel after Him and find Him (Ac 17:27), but as from the foundation of the world openly manifesting Himself to them in the works of His hands, in which His everlasting power and divinity are clearly seen (Ro 1:20). That men at large have not retained Him in their knowledge, or served Him as they ought, is not due therefore to failure on His part to keep open the way to knowledge of Him, but to the darkening of their senseless hearts by sin and to the vanity of their sin-deflected reasonings (Ro 1:21 ), by means of which they have supplanted the truth of God by a lie and have come to worship and serve the creature rather than the ever-blessed Creator. It is, indeed, precisely because in their sin they have thus held down the truth in unrighteousness and have refused to have God in their knowledge (so it is intimated); and because, moreover, in their sin, the revelation God gives of Himself in His works of creation and providence no longer suffices for men’s needs, that God has intervened supernaturally in the course of history to form a people for Himself, through whom at length all the world should be blessed.

2. General and Special Revelation:

It is quite obvious that there are brought before us in these several representations two species or stages of revelation, which should be discriminated to avoid confusion. There is the revelation which God continuously makes to all men: by it His power and divinity are made known. And there is the revelation which He makes exclusively to His chosen people: through it His saving grace is made known. Both species or stages of revelation are insisted upon throughout the Scriptures. They are, for example, brought significantly together in such a declaration as we find in Ps 19: "The heavens declare the glory of God .... their line is gone out through all the earth" (19:1,4); "The law of Yahweh is perfect, restoring the soul" (19:7). The Psalmist takes his beginning here from the praise of the glory of God, the Creator of all that is, which has been written upon the very heavens, that none may fail to see it. From this he rises, however, quickly to the more full-throated praise of the mercy of Yahweh, the covenant God, who has visited His people with saving instruction. Upon this higher revelation there is finally based a prayer for salvation from sin, which ends in a great threefold acclamation, instinct with adoring gratitude: "O Yahweh, my rock, and my redeemer" (19:14). "The heavens," comments Lord Bacon, "indeed tell of the glory of God, but not of His will according to which the poet prays to be pardoned and sanctified." In so commenting, Lord Bacon touches the exact point of distinction between the two species or stages of revelation. The one is adapted to man as man; the other to man as sinner; and since man, on becoming sinner, has not ceased to be man, but has only acquired new needs requiring additional provisions to bring him to the end of his existence, so the revelation directed to man as sinner does not supersede that given to man as man, but supplements it with these new provisions for his attainment, in his new condition of blindness, helplessness and guilt induced by sin, of the end of his being.

These two species or stages of revelation have been commonly distinguished from one another by the distinctive names of natural and supernatural revelation, or general and special revelation, or natural and soteriological revelation. Each of these modes of discriminating them has its particular fitness and describes a real difference between the two in nature, reach or purpose. The one is communicated through the media of natural phenomena, occurring in the course of nature or of history; the other implies an intervention in the natural course of things and is not merely in source but in mode supernatural. The one is addressed generally to all intelligent creatures, and is therefore accessible to all men; the other is addressed to a special class of sinners, to whom God would make known His salvation. The one has in view to meet and supply the natural need of creatures for knowledge of their God; the other to rescue broken and deformed sinners from their sin and its consequences. But, though thus distinguished from one another, it is important that the two species or stages of revelation should not be set in opposition to one another, or the closeness of their mutual relations or the constancy of their interaction be obscured. They constitute together a unitary whole, and each is incomplete without the other. In its most general idea, revelation is rooted in creation and the relations with His intelligent creatures into which God has brought Himself by giving them being. Its object is to realize the end of man’s creation, to be attained only through knowledge of God and perfect and unbroken communion with Him. On the entrance of sin into the world, destroying this communion with God and obscuring the knowledge of Him derived from nature, another mode of revelation was necessitated, having also another content, adapted to the new relation to God and the new conditions of intellect, heart and will brought about by sin. It must not be supposed, however, that this new mode of revelation was an ex post facto expedient, introduced to meet an unforeseen contingency. The actual course of human development was in the nature of the case the expected and the intended course of human development, for which man was created; and revelation, therefore, in its double form was the divine purpose for man from the beginning, and constitutes a unitary provision for the realization of the end of his creation in the actual circumstances in which he exists. We may distinguish in this unitary revelation the two elements by the cooperation of which the effect is produced; but we should bear in mind that only by their cooperation is the effect produced. Without special revelation, general revelation would be for sinful men incomplete and ineffective, and could issue, as in point of fact it has issued wherever it alone has been accessible, only in leaving them without excuse (Ro 1:20). Without general revelation, special revelation would lack that basis in the fundamental knowledge of God as the mighty and wise, righteous and good maker and ruler of all things, apart from which the further revelation of this great God’s interventions in the world for the salvation of sinners could not be either intelligible, credible or operative.

(1) Revelation in Eden.

Only in Eden has general revelation been adequate to the needs of man. Not being a sinner, man in Eden had no need of that grace of God itself by which sinners are restored to communion with Him, or of the special revelation of this grace of God to sinners to enable them to live with God. And not being a sinner, man in Eden, as he contemplated the works of God, saw God in the unclouded mirror of his mind with a clarity of vision, and lived with Him in the untroubled depths of his heart with a trustful intimacy of association, inconceivable to sinners. Nevertheless, the revelation of God in Eden was not merely "natural." Not only does the prohibition of the forbidden fruit involve a positive commandment (Ge 2:16), but the whole history implies an immediacy of intercourse with God which cannot easily be set to the credit of the picturesque art of the narrative, or be fully accounted for by the vividness of the perception of God in His works proper to sinless creatures. The impression is strong that what is meant to be conveyed to us is that man dwelt with God in Eden, and enjoyed with Him immediate and not merely mediate communion. In that case, we may understand that if man had not fallen, he would have continued to enjoy immediate intercourse with God, and that the cessation of this immediate intercourse is due to sin. It is not then the supernaturalness of special revelation which is rooted in sin, but, if we may be allowed the expression, the specialness of supernatural revelation. Had man not fallen, heaven would have continued to lie about him through all his history, as it lay about his infancy; every man would have enjoyed direct vision of God and immediate speech with Him. Man having fallen, the cherubim and the flame of a sword, turning every way, keep the path; and God breaks His way in a round-about fashion into man’s darkened heart to reveal there His redemptive love. By slow steps and gradual stages He at once works out His saving purpose and molds the world for its reception, choosing a people for Himself and training it through long and weary ages, until at last when the fullness of time has come, He bares His arm and sends out the proclamation of His great salvation to all the earth.

(2) Revelation among the Heathen.

Certainly, from the gate of Eden onward, God’s general revelation ceased to be, in the strict sense, supernatural. It is, of course, not meant that God deserted His world and left it to fester in its iniquity. His providence still ruled over all, leading steadily onward to the goal for which man had been created, and of the attainment of which in God’s own good time and way the very continuance of men’s existence, under God’s providential government, was a pledge. And His Spirit still everywhere wrought upon the hearts of men, stirring up all their powers (though created in the image of God, marred and impaired by sin) to their best activities, and to such splendid effect in every department of human achievement as to command the admiration of all ages, and in the highest region of all, that of conduct, to call out from an apostle the encomium that though they had no law they did by nature (observe the word "nature") the things of the law. All this, however, remains within the limits of Nature, that is to say, within the sphere of operation of divinely-directed and assisted second causes. It illustrates merely the heights to which the powers of man may attain under the guidance of providence and the influences of what we have learned to call God’s "common grace." Nowhere, throughout the whole ethnic domain, are the conceptions of God and His ways put within the reach of man, through God’s revelation of Himself in the works of creation and providence, transcended; nowhere is the slightest knowledge betrayed of anything concerning God and His purposes, which could be known only by its being supernaturally told to men. Of the entire body of "saving truth," for example, which is the burden of what we call "special revelation," the whole heathen world remained in total ignorance. And even its hold on the general truths of religion, not being vitalized by supernatural enforcements, grew weak, and its knowledge of the very nature of God decayed, until it ran out to the dreadful issue which Paul sketches for us in that inspired philosophy of religion which he incorporates in the latter part of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.

Behind even the ethnic development, there lay, of course, the supernatural intercourse of man with God which had obtained before the entrance of sin into the world, and the supernatural revelations at the gate of Eden (Ge 3:8), and at the second origin of the human race, the Flood (Ge 8:21,22; 9:1-17). How long the tradition of this primitive revelation lingered in nooks and corners of the heathen world, conditioning and vitalizing the natural revelation of God always accessible, we have no means of estimating. Neither is it easy to measure the effect of God’s special revelation of Himself to His people upon men outside the bounds of, indeed, but coming into contact with, this chosen people, or sharing with them a common natural inheritance. Lot and Ishmael and Esau can scarcely have been wholly ignorant of the word of God which came to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob; nor could the Egyptians from whose hands God wrested His people with a mighty arm fail to learn something of Yahweh, any more than the mixed multitudes who witnessed the ministry of Christ could fail to infer something from His gracious walk and mighty works. It is natural to infer that no nation which was intimately associated with Israel’s life could remain entirely unaffected by Israel’s revelation. But whatever impressions were thus conveyed reached apparently individuals only: the heathen which surrounded Israel, even those most closely affiliated with Israel, remained heathen; they had no revelation. In the sporadic instances when God visited an alien with a supernatural communication—such as the dreams sent to Abimelech (Ge 20) and to Pharaoh (Ge 40$; 41$) and to Nebuchadnezzar (Da 2:1 ) and to the soldier in the camp of Midian (Jud 7:13)—it was in the interests, not of the heathen world, but of the chosen people that they were sent; and these instances derive their significance wholly from this fact. There remain, no doubt, the mysterious figure of Melchizedek, perhaps also of Jethro, and the strange apparition of Balaam, who also, however, appear in the sacred narrative only in connection with the history of God’s dealings with His people and in their interest. Their unexplained appearance cannot in any event avail to modify the general fact that the life of the heathen peoples lay outside the supernatural revelation of God. The heathen were suffered to walk in their own ways (Ac 14:16).

II. The Process of Revelation.

Meanwhile, however, God had not forgotten them, but was preparing salvation for them also through the supernatural revelation of His grace that He was making to His people. According to the Biblical representation, in the midst of and working confluently with the revelation which He has always been giving of Himself on the plane of Nature, God was making also from the very fall of man a further revelation of Himself on the plane of grace. In contrast with His general, natural revelation, in which all men by virtue of their very nature as men share, this special, supernatural revelation was granted at first only to individuals, then progressively to a family, a tribe, a nation, a race, until, when the fullness of time was come, it was made the possession of the whole world. It may be difficult to obtain from Scripture a clear account of why God chose thus to give this revelation of His grace only progressively; or, to be more explicit, through the process of a historical development. Such is, however, the ordinary mode of the Divine working: it is so that God made the worlds, it is so that He creates the human race itself, the recipient of this revelation, it is so that He builds up His kingdom in the world and in the individual soul, which only gradually comes whether to the knowledge of God or to the fruition of His salvation. As to the fact, the Scriptures are explicit, tracing for us, or rather embodying in their own growth, the record of the steady advance of this gracious revelation through definite stages from its first faint beginnings to its glorious completion in Jesus Christ.

1. Place of Revelation among the Redemptive Ac of God:

So express is its relation to the development of the kingdom of God itself, or rather to that great series of divine operations which are directed to the building up of the kingdom of God in the world, that it is sometimes confounded with them or thought of as simply their reflection in the contemplating mind of man. Thus it is not infrequently said that revelation, meaning this special redemptive revelation, has been communicated in deeds, not in words; and it is occasionally elaborately argued that the sole manner in which God has revealed Himself as the Saviour of sinners is just by performing those mighty acts by which sinners are saved. This is not, however, the Biblical representation. Revelation is, of course, often made through the instrumentality of deeds; and the series of His great redemptive acts by which He saves the world constitutes the pre-eminent revelation of the grace of God—so far as these redemptive acts are open to observation and are perceived in their significance. But revelation, after all, is the correlate of understanding and has as its proximate end just the production of knowledge, though not, of course, knowledge for its own sake, but for the sake of salvation. The series of the redemptive acts of God, accordingly, can properly be designated "revelation" only when and so far as they are contemplated as adapted and designed to produce knowledge of God and His purpose and methods of grace. No bare series of unexplained acts can be thought, however, adapted to produce knowledge, especially if these acts be, as in this case, of a highly transcendental character. Nor can this particular series of acts be thought to have as its main design the production of knowledge; its main design is rather to save man. No doubt the production of knowledge of the divine grace is one of the means by which this main design of the redemptive acts of God is attained. But this only renders it the more necessary that the proximate result of producing knowledge should not fail; and it is doubtless for this reason that the series of redemptive acts of God has not been left to explain itself, but the explanatory word has been added to it. Revelation thus appears, however, not as the mere reflection of the redeeming acts of God in the minds of men, but as a factor in the redeeming work of God, a component part of the series of His redeeming acts, without which that series would be incomplete and so far inoperative for its main end. Thus, the Scriptures represent it, not confounding revelation with the series of the redemptive acts of God, but placing it among the redemptive acts of God and giving it a function as a substantive element in the operations by which the merciful God saves sinful men. It is therefore not made even a mere constant accompaniment of the redemptive acts of God, giving their explanation that they may be understood. It occupies a far more independent place among them than this, and as frequently precedes them to prepare their way as it accompanies or follows them to interpret their meaning. It is, in one word, itself a redemptive act of God and by no means the least important in the series of His redemptive acts.

This might, indeed, have been inferred from its very nature, and from the nature of the salvation which was being worked out by these redemptive acts of God. One of the most grievous of the effects of sin is the deformation of the image of God reflected in the human mind, and there can be no recovery from sin which does not bring with it the correction of this deformation and the reflection in the soul of man of the whole glory of the Lord God Almighty. Man is an intelligent being; his superiority over the brute is found, among other things, precisely in the direction of all his life by his intelligence; and his blessedness is rooted in the true knowledge of his God—for this is life eternal, that we should know the only true God and Him whom He has sent. Dealing with man as an intelligent being, God the Lord has saved him by means of a revelation, by which he has been brought into an evermore and more adequate knowledge of God, and been led ever more and more to do his part in working out his own salvation with fear and trembling as he perceived with ever more and more clearness how God is working it out for him through mighty deeds of grace.

2. Stages of Material Development:

This is not the place to trace, even in outline, from the material point of view, the development of God’s redemptive revelation from its first beginnings, in the promise given to Abraham—or rather in what has been called the Protevangelium at the gate of Eden—to its completion in the advent and work of Christ and the teaching of His apostles; a steadily advancing development, which, as it lies spread out to view in the pages of Scripture, takes to those who look at it from the consummation backward, the appearance of the shadow cast athwart preceding ages by the great figure of Christ. Even from the formal point of view, however, there has been pointed out a progressive advance in the method of revelation, consonant with its advance in content, or rather with the advancing stages of the building up of the kingdom of God, to subserve which is the whole object of revelation. Three distinct steps in revelation have been discriminated from this point of view. They are distinguished precisely by the increasing independence of revelation of the deeds constituting the series of the redemptive acts of God, in which, nevertheless, all revelation is a substantial element. Discriminations like this must not be taken too absolutely; and in the present instance the chronological sequence cannot be pressed. But, with much interlacing, three generally successive stages of revelation may be recognized, producing periods at least characteristically of what we may somewhat conventionally call theophany, prophecy and inspiration. What may be somewhat indefinitely marked off as the Patriarchal age is characteristically "the period of Outward Manifestations, and Symbols, and Theophanies": during it "God spoke to men through their senses, in physical phenomena, as the burning bush, the cloudy pillar, or in sensuous forms, as men, angels, etc. ..... In the Prophetic age, on the contrary, the prevailing mode of revelation was by means of inward prophetic inspiration": God spoke to men characteristically by the movements of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. "Prevailingly, at any rate from Samuel downwards, the supernatural revelation was a revelation in the hearts of the foremost thinkers of the people, or, as we call it, prophetic inspiration, without the aid of external sensuous symbols of God" (A.B. Davidson, Old Testament Prophecy, 1903, p. 148; compare pp. 12-14, 145 ff). This internal method of revelation reaches its culmination in the New Testament period, which is preeminently the age of the Spirit. What is especially characteristic of this age is revelation through the medium of the written word, what may be called apostolic as distinguished from prophetic inspiration. The revealing Spirit speaks through chosen men as His organs, but through these organs in such a fashion that the most intimate processes of their souls become the instruments by means of which He speaks His mind. Thus, at all events there are brought clearly before us three well-marked modes of revelation, which we may perhaps designate respectively, not with perfect discrimination, it is true, but not misleadingly,

(1) external manifestation,

(2) internal suggestion, and

(3) concursive operation.


III. The Modes of Revelation.

1. Modes of Revelation:

Theophany may be taken as the typical form of "external manifestation"; but by its side may be ranged all of those mighty works by which God makes Himself known, including express miracles, no doubt, but along with them every supernatural intervention in the affairs of men, by means of which a better understanding is communicated of what God is or what are His purposes of grace to a sinful race. Under "internal suggestion" may be subsumed all the characteristic phenomena of what is most properly spoken of as "prophecy": visions and dreams, which, according to a fundamental passage (Nu 12:6), constitute the typical forms of prophecy, and with them the whole "prophetic word," which shares its essential characteristic with visions and dreams, since it comes not by the will of man but from God. By "concursive operation" may be meant that form of revelation illustrated in an inspired psalm or epistle or history, in which no human activity—not even the control of the will—is superseded, but the Holy Spirit works in, with and through them all in such a manner as to communicate to the product qualities distinctly superhuman. There is no age in the history of the religion of the Bible, from that of Moses to that of Christ and His apostles, in which all these modes of revelation do not find place. One or another may seem particularly characteristic of this age or of that; but they all occur in every age. And they occur side by side, broadly speaking, on the same level. No discrimination is drawn between them in point of worthiness as modes of revelation, and much less in point of purity in the revelations communicated through them. The circumstance that God spoke to Moses, not by dream or vision but mouth to mouth, is, indeed, adverted to (Nu 12:8) as a proof of the peculiar favor shown to Moses and even of the superior dignity of Moses above other organs of revelation: God admitted him to an intimacy of intercourse which He did not accord to others. But though Moses was thus distinguished above all others in the dealings of God with him, no distinction is drawn between the revelations given through him and those given through other organs of revelation in point either of Divinity or of authority. And beyond this we have no Scriptural warrant to go on in contrasting one mode of revelation with another. Dreams may seem to us little fitted to serve as vehicles of divine communications. But there is no suggestion in Scripture that revelations through dreams stand on a lower plane than any others; and we should not fail to remember that the essential characteristics of revelations through dreams are shared by all forms of revelation in which (whether we should call them visions or not) the images or ideas which fill, or pass in procession through, the consciousness are determined by some other power than the recipient’s own will. It may seem natural to suppose that revelations rise in rank in proportion to the fullness of the engagement of the mental activity of the recipient in their reception. But we should bear in mind that the intellectual or spiritual quality of a revelation is not derived from the recipient but from its Divine Giver. The fundamental fact in all revelation is that it is from God. This is what gives unity to the whole process of revelation, given though it may be in divers portions and in divers manners and distributed though it may be through the ages in accordance with the mere will of God, or as it may have suited His developing purpose—this and its unitary end, which is ever the building up of the kingdom of God. In whatever diversity of forms, by means of whatever variety of modes, in whatever distinguishable stages it is given, it is ever the revelation of the One God, and it is ever the one consistently developing redemptive revelation of God.

2. Equal Supernaturalness of the Several Modes:

On a prima facie view it may indeed seem likely that a difference in the quality of their supernaturalness would inevitably obtain between revelations given through such divergent modes. The completely supernatural character of revelations given in theophanies is obvious. He who will not allow that God speaks to man, to make known His gracious purposes toward him, has no other recourse here than to pronounce the stories legendary. The objectivity of the mode of communication which is adopted is intense, and it is thrown up to observation with the greatest emphasis. Into the natural life of man God intrudes in a purely supernatural manner, bearing a purely supernatural communication. In these communications we are given accordingly just a series of "naked messages of God." But not even in the Patriarchal age were all revelations given in theophanies or objective appearances. There were dreams, and visions, and revelations without explicit intimation in the narrative of how they were communicated. And when we pass on in the history, we do not, indeed, leave behind us theophanies and objective appearances. It is not only made the very characteristic of Moses, the greatest figure in the whole history of revelation except only that of Christ, that he knew God face to face (De 34:10), and God spoke to him mouth to mouth, even manifestly, and not in dark speeches (Nu 12:8); but throughout the whole history of revelation down to the appearance of Jesus to Paul on the road to Damascus, God has shown Himself visibly to His servants whenever it has seemed good to Him to do so and has spoken with them in objective speech. Nevertheless, it is expressly made the characteristic of the Prophetic age that God makes Himself known to His servants "in a vision," "in a dream" (Nu 12:6). And although, throughout its entire duration, God, in fulfillment of His promise (De 18:18), put His words in the mouths of His prophets and gave them His commandments to speak, yet it would seem inherent in the very employment of men as instruments of revelation that the words of God given through them are spoken by human mouths; and the purity of their supernaturalness may seem so far obscured. And when it is not merely the mouths of men with which God thus serves Himself in the delivery of His messages, but their minds and hearts as well—the play of their religious feelings, or the processes of their logical reasoning, or the tenacity of their memories, as, say, in a psalm or in an epistle, or a history—the supernatural element in the communication may easily seem to retire still farther into the background. It can scarcely be a matter of surprise, therefore, that question has been raised as to the relation of the natural and the supernatural in such revelations, and, in many current manners of thinking and speaking of them, the completeness of their supernaturalness has been limited and curtailed in the interests of the natural instrumentalities employed. The plausibility of such reasoning renders it the more necessary that we should observe the unvarying emphasis which the Scriptures place upon the absolute supernaturalness of revelation in all its modes alike. In the view of the Scriptures, the completely supernatural character of revelation is in no way lessened by the circumstance that it has been given through the instrumentality of men. They affirm, indeed, with the greatest possible emphasis that the Divine word delivered through men is the pure word of God, diluted with no human admixture whatever.

3. The Prophet God’s Mouthpiece:

We have already been led to note that even on the occasion when Moses is exalted above all other organs of revelation (Nu 12:6 ), in point of dignity and favor, no suggestion whatever is made of any inferiority, in either the directness or the purity of their supernaturalness, attaching to other organs of revelation. There might never afterward arise a prophet in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face (De 34:10). But each of the whole series of prophets raised up by Yahweh that the people might always know His will was to be like Moses in speaking to the people only what Yahweh commanded them (De 18:15,18,20). In this great promise, securing to Israel the succession of prophets, there is also included a declaration of precisely how Yahweh would communicate His messages not so much to them as through them. "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee," we read (De 18:18), "and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." The process of revelation through the prophets was a process by which Yahweh put His words in the mouths of the prophets, and the prophets spoke precisely these words and no others. So the prophets themselves ever asserted. "Then Yahweh put forth his hand, and touched my mouth," explains Jeremiah in his account of how he received his prophecies, "and Yahweh said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth" (Jer 1:9; compare Jer 5:14; Isa 51:16; 59:21; Nu 22:35; 23:5,12,16). Accordingly, the words "with which" they spoke were not their own but the Lord’s: "And he said unto me," records Ezekiel, "Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them" (Eze 3:4). It is a process of nothing other than "dictation" which is thus described (2Sa 14:3,19), though, of course, the question may remain open of the exact processes by which this dictation is accomplished. The fundamental passage which brings the central fact before us in the most vivid manner is, no doubt, the account of the commissioning of Moses and Aaron given in Ex 4:10-17; 7:1-7. Here, in the most express words, Yahweh declares that He who made the mouth can be with it to teach it what to speak, and announces the precise function of a prophet to be that he is "a mouth of God," who speaks not his own but God’s words. Accordingly, the Hebrew name for "prophet" (nabhi’), whatever may be its etymology, means throughout the Scriptures just "spokesman," though not "spokesman" in general, but Spokesman by way of eminence, that is, God’s spokesman; and the characteristic formula by which a prophetic declaration is announced is: "The word of Yahweh came to me," or the brief "saith Yahweh" (ne’um Yahweh). In no case does a prophet put his words forward as his own words. That he is a prophet at all is due not to choice on his own part, but to a call of God, obeyed often with reluctance; and he prophesies or forbears to prophesy, not according to his own will but as the Lord opens and shuts his mouth (Eze 3:26 f) and creates for him the fruit of the lips (Isa 57:19; compare Isa 6:7; 50:4). In contrast with the false prophets, he strenuously asserts that he does not speak out of his own heart ("heart" in Biblical language includes the whole inner man), but all that he proclaims is the pure word of Yahweh.

4. Visionary Form of Prophecy:

The fundamental passage does not quite leave the matter, however, with this general declaration. It describes the characteristic manner in which Yahweh communicates His messages to His prophets as through the medium of visions and dreams. Neither visions in the technical sense of that word, nor dreams, appear, however, to have been the customary mode of revelation to the prophets, the record of whose revelations has come down to us. But, on the other hand, there are numerous indications in the record that the universal mode of revelation to them was one which was in some sense a vision, and can be classed only in the category distinctively so called. The whole nomenclature of prophecy presupposes, indeed, its vision-form. Prophecy is distinctively a word, and what is delivered by the prophets is proclaimed as the "word of Yahweh." That it should be announced by the formula, "Thus saith the Lord," is, therefore, only what we expect; and we are prepared for such a description of its process as: "The Lord Yahweh .... wakeneth mine ear to hear," He "hath opened mine ear" (Isa 50:4,5). But this is not the way of speaking of their messages which is most usual in the prophets. Rather is the whole body of prophecy cursorily presented as a thing seen. Isaiah places at the head of his book: "The vision of Isaiah .... which he saw" (compare Isa 29:10,11; Ob 1:1); and then proceeds to set at the head of subordinate sections the remarkable words, "The word that Isaiah .... saw" (2:1); "the burden (margin "oracle") .... which Isaiah .... did see" (13:1). Similarly there stand at the head of other prophecies: "the words of Amos .... which he saw" (Am 1:1); "the word of Yahweh that came to Micah .... which he saw" (Mic 1:1); "the oracle which Habakkuk the prophet did see" (Hab 1:1 margin); and elsewhere such language occurs as this: "the word that Yahweh hath showed me" (Jer 38:21); "the prophets have seen .... oracles" (La 2:14); "the word of Yahweh came .... and I looked, and, behold" (Eze 1:3,4); "Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing" (Eze 13:3); "I .... will look forth to see what he will speak with me, .... Yahweh .... said, Write the vision" (Hab 2:1 f). It is an inadequate explanation of such language to suppose it merely a relic of a time when vision was more predominantly the form of revelation. There is no proof that vision in the technical sense ever was more predominantly the form of revelation than in the days of the great writing prophets; and such language as we have quoted too obviously represents the living point of view of the prophets to admit of the supposition that it was merely conventional on their lips. The prophets, in a word, represent the divine communications which they received as given to them in some sense in visions.

It is possible, no doubt, to exaggerate the significance of this. It is an exaggeration, for example, to insist that therefore all the divine communications made to the prophets must have come to them in external appearances and objective speech, addressed to and received by means of the bodily eye and ear. This would be to break down the distinction between manifestation and revelation, and to assimilate the mode of prophetic revelation to that granted to Moses, though these are expressly distinguished (Nu 12:6-8). It is also an exaggeration to insist that therefore the prophetic state must be conceived as that of strict ecstasy, involving the complete abeyance of all mental life on the part of the prophet (amentia), and possibly also accompanying physical effects. It is quite clear from the records which the prophets themselves give us of their revelations that their intelligence was alert in all stages of their reception of them. The purpose of both these extreme views is the good one of doing full justice to the objectivity of the revelations vouchsafed to the prophets. If these revelations took place entirely externally to the prophet, who merely stood off and contemplated them, or if they were implanted in the prophets by a process so violent as not only to supersede their mental activity but, for the time being, to annihilate it, it would be quite clear that they came from a source other than the prophets’ own minds. It is undoubtedly the fundamental contention of the prophets that the revelations given through them are not their own but wholly God’s. The significant language we have just quoted from Eze 13:3: "Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing," is a typical utterance of their sense of the complete objectivity of their messages. What distinguishes the false prophets is precisely that they "prophesy out of their own heart" (Eze 13:2-17), or, to draw the antithesis sharply, that "they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Yahweh" (Jer 23:16,26; 14:14). But these extreme views fail to do justice, the one to the equally important fact that the word of God, given through the prophets, comes as the pure and unmixed word of God not merely to, but from, the prophets; and the other to the equally obvious fact that the intelligence of the prophets is alert throughout the whole process of the reception and delivery of the revelation made through them.


That which gives to prophecy as a mode of revelation its place in the category of visions, strictly so called, and dreams is that it shares with them the distinguishing characteristic which determines the class. In them all alike the movements of the mind are determined by something extraneous to the subject’s will, or rather, since we are speaking of supernaturally given dreams and visions, extraneous to the totality of the subject’s own psychoses. A power not himself takes possession of his consciousness and determines it according to its will. That power, in the case of the prophets, was fully recognized and energetically asserted to be Yahweh Himself or, to be more specific, the Spirit of Yahweh (1Sa 10:6,10; Ne 9:30; Zec 7:12; Joe 2:28,29). The prophets were therefore ‘men of the Spirit’ (Ho 9:7). What constituted them prophets was that the Spirit was put upon them (Isa 42:1) or poured out on them (Joe 2:28,29), and they were consequently filled with the Spirit (Mic 3:8), or, in another but equivalent locution, that "the hand" of the Lord, or "the power of the hand" of the Lord, was upon them (2Ki 3:15; Eze 1:3; 3:14,22; 33:22; 37:1; 40:1), that is to say, they were under the divine control. This control is represented as complete and compelling, so that, under it, the prophet becomes not the "mover," but the "moved" in the formation of his message. The apostle Peter very purely reflects the prophetic consciousness in his well-known declaration: ‘No prophecy of scripture comes of private interpretation; for prophecy was never brought by the will of man; but it was as borne by the Holy Spirit that men spoke from God’ (2Pe 1:20,21).

5. "Passivity" of Prophets:

What this language of Peter emphasizes—and what is emphasized in the whole account which the prophets give of their own consciousness—is, to speak plainly, the passivity of the prophets with respect to the revelation given through them. This is the significance of the phrase: ‘it was as borne by the Holy Spirit that men spoke from God.’ To be "borne" (pherein) is not the same as to be led (agein), much less to be guided or directed (hodegein): he that is "borne" contributes nothing to the movement induced, but is the object to be moved. The term "passivity" is, perhaps, however, liable to some misapprehension, and should not be overstrained. It is not intended to deny that the intelligence of the prophets was active in the reception of their message; it was by means of their active intelligence that their message was received: their intelligence was the instrument of revelation. It is intended to deny only that their intelligence was active in the production of their message: that it was creatively as distinguished from receptively active. For reception itself is a kind of activity. What the prophets are solicitous that their readers shall understand is that they are in no sense coauthors with God of their messages. Their messages are given them, given them entire, and given them precisely as they are given out by them. God speaks through them: they are not merely His messengers, but "His mouth." But at the same time their intelligence is active in the reception, retention and announcing of their messages, contributing nothing to them but presenting fit instruments for the communication of them—instruments capable of understanding, responding profoundly to and zealously proclaiming them.

There is, no doubt, a not unnatural hesitancy abroad in thinking of the prophets as exhibiting only such merely receptive activities. In the interests of their personalities, we are asked not to represent God as dealing mechanically with them, pouring His revelations into their souls to be simply received as in so many buckets, or violently wresting their minds from their own proper action that He may do His own thinking with them. Must we not rather suppose, we are asked, that all revelations must be "psychologically mediated," must be given "after the mode of moral mediation," and must be made first of all their recipients’ "own spiritual possession"? And is not, in point of fact, the personality of each prophet clearly traceable in his message, and that to such an extent as to compel us to recognize him as in a true sense its real author? The plausibility of such questionings should not be permitted to obscure the fact that the mode of the communication of the prophetic messages which is suggested by them is directly contradicted by the prophets’ own representations of their relations to the revealing Spirit. In the prophets’ own view they were just instruments through whom God gave revelations which came from them, not as their own product, but as the pure word of Yahweh. Neither should the plausibility of such questionings blind us to their speciousness. They exploit subordinate considerations, which are not without their validity in their own place and under their own limiting conditions, as if they were the determining or even the sole considerations in the case, and in neglect of the really determining considerations. God is Himself the author of the instruments He employs for the communication of His messages to men and has framed them into precisely the instruments He desired for the exact communication of His message. There is just ground for the expectation that He will use all the instruments He employs according to their natures; intelligent beings therefore as intelligent beings, moral agents as moral agents. But there is no just ground for asserting that God is incapable of employing the intelligent beings He has Himself created and formed to His will, to proclaim His messages purely as He gives them to them; or of making truly the possession of rational minds conceptions which they have themselves had no part in creating. And there is no ground for imagining that God is unable to frame His own message in the language of the organs of His revelation without its thereby ceasing to be, because expressed in a fashion natural to these organs, therefore purely His message. One would suppose it to lie in the very nature of the case that if the Lord makes any revelation to men, He would do it in the language of men; or, to individualize more explicitly, in the language of the man He employs as the organ of His revelation; and that naturally means, not the language of his nation or circle merely, but his own particular language, inclusive of all that gives individuality to his self-expression. We may speak of this, if we will, as "the accommodation of the revealing God to the several prophetic individualities." But we should avoid thinking of it externally and therefore mechanically, as if the revealing Spirit artificially phrased the message which He gives through each prophet in the particular forms of speech proper to the individuality of each, so as to create the illusion that the message comes out of the heart of the prophet himself. Precisely what the prophets affirm is that their messages do not come out of their own hearts and do not represent the workings of their own spirits. Nor is there any illusion in the phenomenon we are contemplating; and it is a much more intimate, and, we may add, a much more interesting phenomenon than an external "accommodation" of speech to individual habitudes. It includes, on the one hand, the "accommodation" of the prophet, through his total preparation, to the speech in which the revelation to be given through him is to be clothed; and on the other involves little more than the consistent carrying into detail of the broad principle that God uses the instruments He employs in accordance with their natures.

No doubt, on adequate occasion, the very stones might cry out by the power of God, and dumb beasts speak, and mysterious voices sound forth from the void; and there have not been lacking instances in which men have been compelled by the same power to speak what they would not, and in languages whose very sounds were strange to their ears. But ordinarily when God the Lord would speak to men He avails Himself of the services of a human tongue with which to speak, and He employs this tongue according to its nature as a tongue and according to the particular nature of the tongue which He employs. It is vain to say that the message delivered through the instrumentality of this tongue is conditioned at least in its form by the tongue by which it is spoken, if not, indeed, limited, curtailed, in some degree determined even in its matter, by it. Not only was it God the Lord who made the tongue, and who made this particular tongue with all its peculiarities, not without regard to the message He would deliver through it; but His control of it is perfect and complete, and it is as absurd to say that He cannot speak His message by it purely without that message suffering change from the peculiarities of its tone and modes of enunciation, as it would be to say that no new truth can be announced in any language because the elements of speech by the combination of which the truth in question is announced are already in existence with their fixed range of connotation. The marks of the several individualities imprinted on the messages of the prophets, in other words, are only a part of the general fact that these messages are couched in human language, and in no way beyond that general fact affect their purity as direct communications from God.

6. Revelation by Inspiration:

A new set of problems is raised by the mode of revelation which we have called "concursive operation." This mode of revelation differs from prophecy, properly so called, precisely by the employment in it, as is not done in prophecy, of the total personality of the organ of revelation, as a factor. It has been common to speak of the mode of the Spirit’s action in this form of revelation, therefore, as an assistance, a superintendence, a direction, a control, the meaning being that the effect aimed at—the discovery and enunciation of divine truth—is attained through the action of the human powers—historical research, logical reasoning, ethical thought, religious aspiration—acting not by themselves, however, but under the prevailing assistance, superintendence, direction, control of the Divine Spirit. This manner of speaking has the advantage of setting this mode of revelation sharply in contrast with prophetic revelation, as involving merely a determining, and not, as in prophetic revelation, a supercessive action of the revealing Spirit. We are warned, however, against pressing this discrimination too far by the inclusion of the whole body of Scripture in such passages as 2Pe 1:20 f in the category of prophecy, and the assignment of their origin not to a mere "leading" but to the "bearing" of the Holy Spirit. In any event such terms as assistance, superintendence, direction, control, inadequately express the nature of the Spirit’s action in revelation by "concursive operation." The Spirit is not to be conceived as standing outside of the human powers employed for the effect in view, ready to supplement any inadequacies they may show and to supply any defects they may manifest, but as working confluently in, with and by them, elevating them, directing them, controlling them, energizing them, so that, as His instruments, they rise above themselves and under His inspiration do His work and reach His aim. The product, therefore, which is attained by their means is His product through them. It is this fact which gives to the process the right to be called actively, and to the product the right to be called passively, a revelation. Although the circumstance that what is done is done by and through the action of human powers keeps the product in form and quality in a true sense human, yet the confluent operation of the Holy Spirit throughout the whole process raises the result above what could by any possibility be achieved by mere human powers and constitutes it expressly a supernatural product. The human traits are traceable throughout its whole extent, but at bottom it is a divine gift, and the language of Paul is the most proper mode of speech that could be applied to it: "Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth" (1Co 2:13); "The things which I write unto you .... are the commandment of the Lord" (1Co 14:37).


7. Complete Revelation of God in Christ:

It is supposed that all the forms of special or redemptive revelation which underlie and give its content to the religion of the Bible may without violence be subsumed under one or another of these three modes—external manifestation, internal suggestion, and concursive operation. All, that is, except the culminating revelation, not through, but in, Jesus Christ. As in His person, in which dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, He rises above all classification and is sui generis; so the revelation accumulated in Him stands outside all the divers portions and divers manners in which otherwise revelation has been given and sums up in itself all that has been or can be made known of God and of His redemption. He does not so much make a revelation of God as Himself is the revelation of God; He does not merely disclose God’s purpose of redemption, He is unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. The theophanies are but faint shadows in comparison with His manifestation of God in the flesh. The prophets could prophesy only as the Spirit of Christ which was in them testified, revealing to them as to servants one or another of the secrets of the Lord Yahweh; from Him as His Son, Yahweh has no secrets, but whatsoever the Father knows that the Son knows also. Whatever truth men have been made partakers of by the Spirit of truth is His (for all things whatsoever the Father hath are His) and is taken by the Spirit of truth and declared to men that He may be glorified. Nevertheless, though all revelation is thus summed up in Him, we should not fail to note very carefully that it would also be all sealed up in Him—so little is revelation conveyed by fact alone, without the word—had it not been thus taken by the Spirit of truth and declared unto men. The entirety of the New Testament is but the explanatory word accompanying and giving its effect to the fact of Christ. And when this fact was in all its meaning made the possession of men, revelation was completed and in that sense ceased. Jesus Christ is no less the end of revelation than He is the end of the law.

IV. Biblical Terminology.

1. The Ordinary Forms:

There is not much additional to be learned concerning the nature and processes of revelation, from the terms currently employed in Scripture to express the idea. These terms are ordinarily the common words for disclosing, making known, making manifest, applied with more or less heightened significance to supernatural acts or effects in kind. In the English Bible (the King James Version) the verb "reveal" occurs about 51 times, of which 22 are in the Old Testament and 29 in the New Testament. In the Old Testament the word is always the rendering of a Hebrew term galah, or its Aramaic equivalent gelah, the root meaning of which appears to be "nakedness." When applied to revelation, it seems to hint at the removal of obstacles to perception or the uncovering of objects to perception. In the New Testament the word "reveal" is always (with the single exception of Lu 2:35) the rendering of a Greek term apokalupto (but in 2Th 1:7; 1Pe 4:13 the corresponding noun apokalupsis), which has a very similar basal significance with its Hebrew parallel. As this Hebrew word formed no substantive in this sense, the noun "revelation" does not occur in the English Old Testament, the idea being expressed, however, by other Hebrew terms variously rendered. It occurs in the English New Testament, on the other hand, about a dozen times, and always as the rendering of the substantive corresponding to the verb rendered "reveal" (apokalupsis). On the face of the English Bible, the terms "reveal," "revelation" bear therefore uniformly the general sense of "disclose," "disclosure." The idea is found in the Bible, however, much more frequently than the terms "reveal" "revelation" in English Versions of the Bible. Indeed, the Hebrew and Greek terms exclusively so rendered occur more frequently in this sense than in this rendering in the English Bible. And by their side there stand various other terms which express in one way or another the general conception.

In the New Testament the verb phaneroo, with the general sense of making manifest, manifesting, is the most common of these. It differs from apokalupto as the more general and external term from the more special and inward. Other terms also are occasionally used: epiphaneia, "manifestation" (2Th 2:8; 1Ti 6:14; 2Ti 1:10; 4:1; Tit 2:13; compare epiphaino, Tit 2:11; 3:4); deiknuo (Re 1:1; 17:1; 22:1,6,8; compare Ac 9:16; 1Ti 4:15); exegomai (Joh 1:18), of which, however, only one perhaps—chrematizo (Mt 2:12,22; Lu 2:20; Ac 10:22; Heb 8:5; 11:7; 12:25); p chrematismos (Ro 11:4)—calls for particular notice as in a special way, according to its usage, expressing the idea of a divine communication.

In the Old Testament, the common Hebrew verb for "seeing" (ra’ah) is used in its appropriate stems, with God as the subject, for "appearing," "showing": "the Lord appeared unto .... ";" the word which the Lord showed me." And from this verb not only is an active substantive formed which supplied the more ancient designation of the official organ of revelation: ro’eh, "seer"; but also objective substantives, mar’ah, and mar’eh, which were used to designate the thing seen in a revelation—the "vision." By the side of these terms there were others in use, derived from a root which supplies to the Aramaic its common word for "seeing," but in Hebrew has a somewhat more pregnant meaning, chazah. Its active derivative, chozeh, was a designation of a prophet which remained in occasional use, alternating with the more customary nabhi’, long after ro’eh, had become practically obsolete; and its passive derivatives chazon, chizzayon, chazuth, machazeh provided the ordinary terms for the substance of the revelation or "vision." The distinction between the two sets of terms, derived respectively from ra’ah and chazah, while not to be unduly pressed, seems to lie in the direction that the former suggests external manifestations and the latter internal revelations. The ro’eh is he to whom divine manifestations, the chozeh he to whom divine communications, have been vouchsafed; the mar’eh is an appearance, the chazon and its companions a vision. It may be of interest to observe that mar’ah is the term employed in Nu 12:6, while it is chazon which commonly occurs in the headings of the written prophecies to indicate their revelatory character. From this it may possibly be inferred that in the former passage it is the mode, in the latter the contents of the revelation that is emphasized. Perhaps a like distinction may be traced between the chazon of Da 8:15 and the mar’eh of the next verse. The ordinary verb for "knowing," yadha‘, expressing in its causative stems the idea of making known, informing, is also very naturally employed, with God as its subject, in the sense of revealing, and that, in accordance with the natural sense of the word, with a tendency to pregnancy of implication, of revealing effectively, of not merely uncovering to observation, but making to know. Accordingly, it is paralleled riot merely with galah (Ps 98:2 ‘The Lord hath made known his salvation; his righteousness hath he displayed in the sight of the nation’), but also with such terms as lamadh (Ps 25:4 ‘Make known to me thy ways, O Lord: teach me thy paths’). This verb yadha‘ forms no substantive in the sense of "revelation" (compare da‘ath, Nu 24:16; Ps 19:3). 2. "Word of Yahweh" and "Torah":

The most common vehicles of the idea of "revelation" in the Old Testament are, however, two expressions which are yet to be mentioned. These are the phrase, "word of Yahweh," and the term commonly but inadequately rendered in the English Versions of the Bible by "law." The former (debhar Yahweh, varied to debhar ‘Elohim or debhar ha-’Elohim; compare ne’um Yahweh, massa’ Yahweh) occurs scores of times and is at once the simplest and the most colorless designation of a divine communication. By the latter (torah), the proper meaning of which is "instruction," a strong implication of authoritativeness is conveyed; and, in this sense, it becomes what may be called the technical designation of a specifically divine communication. The two are not infrequently brought together, as in Isa 1:10: "Hear the word of Yahweh, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law (margin "teaching") of our God, ye people of Gomorrah"; or Isa 2:3 margin; Mic 4:2: "For out of Zion shall go forth the law (margin "instruction"), and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem." Both terms are used for any divine communication of whatever extent; and both came to be employed to express the entire body of divine revelation, conceived as a unitary whole. In this comprehensive usage, the emphasis of the one came to fall more on the graciousness, and of the other more on the authoritativeness of this body of divine revelation; and both passed into the New Testament with these implications. "The word of God," or simply "the word," comes thus to mean in the New Testament just the gospel, "the word of the proclamation of redemption, that is, all that which God has to say to man, and causes to be said" looking to his salvation. It expresses, in a word, precisely what we technically speak of as God’s redemptive revelation. "The law," on the other hand, means in this New Testament use, just the whole body of the authoritative instruction which God has given men. It expresses, in other words, what we commonly speak of as God’s supernatural revelation. The two things, of course, are the same: God’s authoritative revelation is His gracious revelation; God’s redemptive revelation is His supernatural revelation. The two terms merely look at the one aggregate of revelation from two aspects, and each emphasizes its own aspect of this one aggregated revelation.

Now, this aggregated revelation lay before the men of the New Testament in a written form, and it was impossible to speak freely of it without consciousness of and at least occasional reference to its written form. Accordingly we hear of a Word of God that is written, (Joh 15:25; 1Co 15:54), and the Divine Word is naturally contrasted with mere tradition, as if its written form were of its very idea (Mr 7:10); indeed, the written body of revelation—with an emphasis on its written form—is designated expressly ‘the prophetic word’ (2Pe 1:19).

3. "The Scriptures":

More distinctly still, "the Law" comes to be thought of as a written, not exactly, code, but body of Divinely authoritative instructions. The phrase, "It is written in your law" (Joh 10:34; 15:25; Ro 3:19; 1Co 14:21), acquires the precise sense of, "It is set forth in your authoritative Scriptures, all the content of which is ‘law,’ that is, divine instruction." Thus, "the Word of God," "the Law," came to mean just the written body of revelation, what we call, and what the New Testament writers called, in the same high sense which we give the term, "the Scriptures." These "Scriptures" are thus identified with the revelation of God, conceived as a well-defined corpus, and two conceptions rise before us which have had a determining part to play in the history of Christianity—the conception of an authoritative Canon of Scripture, and the conception of this Canon of Scripture as just the Word of God written. The former conception was thrown into prominence in opposition to the Gnostic heresies in the earliest age of the church, and gave rise to a richly varied mode of speech concerning the Scriptures, emphasizing their authority in legal language, which goes back to and rests on the Biblical. usage of "Law." The latter it was left to the Reformation to do justice to in its struggle against, on the one side, the Romish depression of the Scriptures in favor of the traditions of the church, and on the other side the Enthusiasts’ supercession of them in the interests of the "inner Word." When Tertullian, on the one hand, speaks of the Scriptures as an "Instrument," a legal document, his terminology has an express warrant in the Scriptures’ own usage of torah, "law," to designate their entire content. And when John Gerhard argues that "between the Word of God and Sacred Scripture, taken in a material sense, there is no real difference," he is only declaring plainly what is definitely implied in the New Testament use of "the Word of God" with the written revelation in mind. What is important to recognize is that the Scriptures themselves represent the Scriptures as not merely containing here and there the record of revelations—"words of God," toroth—given by God, but as themselves, in all their extent, a revelation, an authoritative body of gracious instructions from God; or, since they alone, of all the revelations which God may have given, are extant—rather as the Revelation, the only "Word of God" accessible to men, in all their parts "law," that is, authoritative instruction from God.


Herman Witsius, "De Prophetis et Prophetia" in Miscell. Sacr., I, Leiden, 1736, 1-318; G. F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, English translation, Edinburgh, 1874, I, part I (and the appropriate sections in other Biblical Theologies); H. Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek(2), I, Kampen, 1906, 290-406 (and the appropriate sections in other dogmatic treatises); H. Voigt, Fundamentaldogmatik, Gotha, 1874, 173 ff; A. Kuyper, Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology, English translation, New York, 1898, Division III, Chapter ii; A. E. Krauss, Die Lehre von der Offenbarung, Gotha, 1868; C. F. Fritzsche, De revelationis notione biblica, Leipzig, 1828; E. W. Hengstenberg, The Christology of the O T, ET2, Edinburgh, 1868, IV, Appendix 6, pp. 396-444; E. Konig, Per Offenbarungsbegriff des Altes Testament, Leipzig, 1882; A. B. Davidson, Old Testament Prophecy, 1903; W. J. Beecher, The Prophets and the Promise, New York, 1905; James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World, 1893, as per Index, "Revelation," and Revelation and Inspiration, London and New York, 1910. Also: T. Christlieb, Modern Doubt and Christian Belief, English translation, New York, 1874; G. P. Fisher, The Nature and Method of Revelation, New York, 1890; C. M. Mead, Supernatural Revelation, 1889; J. Quirmbach, Die Lehre des h. Paulus von der naturlichen Gotteserkenntnis, etc., Freiburg, 1906. Benjamin B. Warfield


rev’-el-ingz (komos): The word is found both in the King James Version and in the Revised Version (British and American) in The Wisdom of Solomon 14:23 (the Revised Version (British and American) "revels," orgiastic heathen worship is in point); 2 Macc 6:4; Ga 5:21; 1Pe 4:3. In Ga 5:21 it is classed with fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, etc., as one of the works of the flesh. In 1Pe 4:3 it is spoken of the Gentiles and is classcd with drunkenness and carousings and such like. In Ro 13:13 the Revised Version has "revelling" instead of the King James Version "rioting," and in 2Pe 2:13, "revel" replaces "riot." Similarly in Am 6:7, "revelry" replaces "banquet." The obvious meaning of the word is excessive and boisterous intemperance and lustful indulgence.

G. H. Gerberding


re-venj’, re-venj’-er: The same Hebrew and Greek words are used to express the idea of "to avenge" and "to revenge" (naqam, or derivative; ekdikeo, or derivative). In English these words are synonymous in that they are both used to express the infliction of punishment upon the wrongdoer, but "to take revenge" may also imply a spiteful, wrong or malignant spirit. In the latter case, the Revised Version (British and American) preserves "revenge" (compare Jer 20:10; Eze 25:15; 25:17 is an anthropomorphism), but, wherever it is synonymous with "avenge," this word is used (compare Nu 31:2,3; Ps 79:10; Na 1:2; RAPC Jdt 13:20; Ro 13:4; 2Co 7:11; 10:6 the Revised Version (British and American); the King James Version has "revenge" in all these cases). In De 32:42, the King James Version "revenge" is a wrong translation. Read with the Revised Version (British and American) "from the head of the leaders of the enemy" or the Revised Version margin "the hairy head of the enemy."


A. L. Breslich



(1) appethom, "revenue or income" (Ezr 4:13 the King James Version);

(2) tebhu’ah, "increase," "revenue" (Pr 8:19; 15:6; Isa 23:3; Jer 12:13); prosodos, "income" (2 Macc 3:3; 4:8 (the Revised Version (British and American) "fund"); 9:16).


rev’-er-ens: In the Old Testament, "reverence" occurs as the translation of two Hebrew words, yare’ and shachah. The root idea of the former is "fear." It is used to express the attitude toward God Himself, as in Ps 89:7 the King James Version; or toward His sanctuary, as in Le 19:30; 26:2. So the group of ideas there would be "fear," "awe," "reverence." The root idea of the second is "falling down," as prostration of the body. It is used to express the bearing toward another who is considered superior, as in 2Sa 9:6 the King James Version; 1Ki 1:31 the King James Version; Es 3:2,5. The group of ideas here, therefore, is "honor," "obeisance," "reverence."

In the New Testament "reverence" occurs as the translation of three Greek words, aidos, phobeomai, and entrepomai. In the first, the idea is "modesty" (Heb 12:28; compare 1Ti 2:9). In the second, "fear" (Eph 5:33 the King James Version), though here it is used to set forth the attitude of proper subjection on the part of a wife toward her husband (compare 1Pe 3:2,5). In the third, the idea is that of the "self-valuation of inferiority," and so sets forth an attitude toward another of doing him honor (Mt 21:37; Mr 12:6; Lu 20:13; Heb 12:9).

In the Apocrypha entrepomai occurs in The Wisdom of Solomon 2:10; Sirach 4:22. In addition, proskuneo, "make obeisance," occurs in Judith 10:23; 14:7; thaumazo, "wonder," Sirach 7:29, and aischunomai, "be ashamed," Baruch 4:15.

"Reverend" occurs in the Old Testament in Ps 111:9, of the name of God (yare’), and in the Apocrypha in 2 Macc 15:12, "a man reverend (aidemon, "modest") in bearing," and in the New Testament the Revised Version (British and American) has "reverent in demeanor" (hieroprepes) in Tit 2:3 and "reverend" in Php 4:8 margin (semnos).

E. J. Forrester





re-viv’, reviv’-ing: revive is the translation of chayah, "to live," "cause to live," used of restoration to life (Ge 45:27; Jud 15:19, etc.); of rebuilding (Ne 4:2); of restoration to well-being (Ps 85:6 (the Revised Version (British and American) "quicken"); Ps 138:7; Isa 57:15; Ho 6:2; 14:7); of Yahweh’s gracious work for His people (Hab 3:2, "revive thy work in the midst of the years," etc.); "reviving" is the translation of michydh "preservation" or "means of life" (Ezr 9:8,9). "Revive" occurs in the New Testament as the translation of anazao, "to live again" (Ro 7:9, 14:9, the King James Version "Christ both died, and rose, and revived," the Revised Version (British and American) (omitting "and rose") "Christ died and lived again" zao).

In 1 Macc 13:7 the Revised Version (British and American) we have "And the spirit of the people revived," anazopureo, "to stir or kindle up as a fire," the same word as in 2Ti 1:6, the Revised Version (British and American) "stir up the gift of God, which is in thee," margin "Greek: ‘stir into flame.’"

In view of the frequent modern use of "revive" and "revival," it is worthy of notice that it is to Timothy himself the exhortation is addressed. We too often merely pray for "revivals," forgetting that it is for us to "stir into flame" the gift of the Spirit which we have already received of God. It is ours from Him, but we let it lie dormant, as a slumbering ember merely.

W. L. Walker


re-word’:In modern English (except when influenced by the Biblical forms) a "reward" is something given in recognition of a good act. In English Versions of the Bible, however, "reward" is used quite generally for anything given, and the term covers the recompense of evil (Ps 91:8), wages (1Ti 5:18 the King James Version), bribes (Mic 7:3), and gifts (Jer 40:5 the King James Version). The Revised Version (British and American) has specialized the meaning in a number of cases (Ps 94:2; Eze 16:34; Jer 40:5, etc.), but not systematically.


re’-zef (retseph;

1. Forms of the Name:

Codex Vaticanus Rhapheis; Rhaphes; Codex Alexandrinus ten Rhapheth (2Ki 19:12), B Q margin Rhapheth Codex Sinaiticus Q Rhafes; Codex Alexandrinus Rhapheis (Isa 37:12); Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Roseph (2Ki 19:12), Reseph (Isa 37:12)): One of the places referred to by Sennacherib’s Rabshakeh when delivering that king’s message to Hezekigh demanding the surrender of Jerusalem. The names which precede are Gozan and Haran; and "the children of Eden that were Telassar" follows.

2. Now Called Rucafa:

It is now represented by Rucafa, East of Tipsah and Northeast of Hamath, and is regarded as the (Rhesapha) of Ptolemy (v.15). It was for some time under Assyrian dominion, and appears in a geographical list (2 R 53, 37a) preceded by Arrapba (Arrapachitis) and Halabbu (Halah), and followed by Tamnunu, uder the form of Rasappa (elsewhere Racapi).

3. Its Assyrian Governors:

From the Eponym Canons, Ninip-kibsi-ucur was, it appears, prefect in 839 BC, Uras-eres from 804 to 775 BC, Sin-sallimanni in 747, and Bel-emuranni in 737 BC. Judging from their names, all these were Assyrians, but a seemingly native governor, Abda’u (or Abda’i), possibly later than the foregoina, is mentioned in a list of officials (K. 9921). Yabutu was sanu (deputy-governor?) of Rezeph in 673 BC. Its mention in the Assyrian geographical lists implies that Rezeph was an important trade-center in Old Testament times.

T. G. Pinches





re’-zin (retsin; Rhaasson): The last of the kings of Syria who reigned in Damascus (2Ki 15:37; 16:5-10; Isa 7:1; 8:4-7). Alona with Pekah, the son of Remaliah, who reigned 20 years over Israel in Samaria, he joined in the Syro-Ephraimitic war aaainst Ahaz, the king of Judah. Together they laid siege to Jerusalem, but were unsuccessful in the effort to take it (2Ki 16:5; Isa 7:1). It was to calm the fears, and to restore the fainting spirits of the men of Judah, that Isaiah was commissioned by the Lord to assure them that the schemes of "these two tails of smoking firebrands" (Isa 7:4) were destined to miscarry. It was then, too, that the sign was aiven of the vigin who should conceive, and bear a son, and should call his name Immanuel. Rezin had to content himself on this campaign to the South with the capture of Elath from the men of Judah and its restoration to the men of Edom, from whom it had been taken and made a seaport by Solomon (2Ki 16:6, where it is agareed that "Syria" and "Syrians" should be read "Edom" and "Edomites," which in the Hebrew script are easy to be mistaken for one another, and are in fact often mistaken). Rezin, however, had a more formidable enemy to encounter on his return to Damascus. Ahaz, like kings of Judah before and after him, placed his reliance more on the arm of flesh than on the true King of his people, and appealed to Tiglath-pileser III, of Assyria, for help. Ahaz deliberately sacrificed the independence of his country in the terms of his offer of submission to the Assyrian: "I am thy servant and thy son" (2Ki 16:7). Tiglath-pileser had already carried his arms to the West and ravaged the northern border of Israel; and now he crossed the Euphrates and hastened to Damascus, slaying Rezin and carrying his people captive to Kir (2Ki 16:9). In the copious Annals of Tialath-pileser, Rezin figures with the designation Racunu(ni), but the tablet recording his death, found and read by Sir Henry Rawlinson, has been irrecoverably lost, and only the fact of its existence and loss remains (Schrader, COT, I, 252, 257). With the death of Rezin the kingdom of Damascus and Syria came to an end.

Rezin, Sons of: Mentioned among the Nethinim (Ezr 2:48), who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel from captivity (compare Ne 7:50).


Schrader, COT, as above; Driver, Authority, 99 ff,

T. Nicol.


re’-zon (rezon; Rhazon): Son of Eliadah, and a subject of Hadadezer, king of Zobah (1Ki 11:23). The name appears to be given as chezyon; Hazein (1Ki 15:18; see HEZION), where he is the father of Tabrimmon, whose son Ben-hadad I is known through his leaaue with Asa, king of Judah. When David conquered Zobah, Rezon renounced his allegiance to Hadadezer and became powerful as an independent chief, capturing Damascus and setting up as king. Along with Hadad, the noted Edomite patriot, he became a thorn in the side of Solomon, the one making himself obnoxious in the South, the other in the North, of the kingdom of Israel, both being animated with a bitter hatred of the common foe. It is said of Rezon that he "reigned over Syria" (1Ki 11:25), and if the surmise adopted by many scholars is correct that he is the same as Hezion (1Ki 15:18), then he was really the founder of the dynasty of Syrian kings so well known in the history of this period of Israel; and the line would run: Rezon, Tabrimmon, Ben-hadad I, and Ben-hadad II.


Burney on 1Ki 11:23 and 15:18 in Notes on Hebrew Text of Books of Kings; Winckler, Alttest. Untersuchunaen, 60 ff.

T. Nicol.


re-ji-um: This city (@Rhegion] (Ac 28:13), the modern Reggio di Calabria) was a town situated on the east side of the Sicilian Straits, about 6 miles South of a point opposite Messana (Messina). Originally a colony of Chalcidian Greeks, the place enjoyed great prosperity in the 5th century BC, but was captured and destroyed by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, in 387 BC, when all the surviving inhabitants were sold into slavery (Diodorus xiv. 106-8, 111, 112). The city never entirely recovered from this blow, althouah it was partially restored by the younaer Dionysius. On the occasion of the invasion of Italy by Pyrrhus, the people of Rhegium had recourse to an alliance with Rome (280 BC) and received 4,000 Campanian troops within their walls, who turned out to be very unruly guests. For, in imitation of a similar band of mercenaries across the strait in Messana, they massacred the male inhabitants and reduced the women to slavery (Polybius i.7; Orosius iv.3). They were not punished by the Romans until 270 BC, when the town was restored to those of its former inhabitants who still survived. The people of Rhegium were faithful to their alliance with Rome during the Second Punic War (Livy xxiii.30; xxiv. 1; xxvi.12; xxix.6). At the time of the Social War they were incorporated with the Roman state, Rhegium becoming a municipality (Cicero Verr. v.60; Pro Archia, 3).

The ship in which Paul sailed from Melita to Puteoli encountered unfavorable winds after leaving Syracuse, and reached Rhegium by means of tacking. It waited at Rhegium a day for a south wind which bore it to Puteoli (Ac 28:13), about 180 miles distant, where it probably arrived in about 26 hours.

George H. Allen


re’-sa (Rhesa): A son of Zerubbabel in the genealogy of Jesus according to Luke (Lu 3:27).


ri-nos’-er-os: This word is found in the King James Version margin to Isa 34:7 ("rhinocerots") for re’emim, the King James Version "unicorns," the Revised Version (British and American) "wild-oxen." The word is quite inappropriate to the passage, which refers to the land of Edom. The one-horned rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis, is confined to India. Other rhinoceroses are found in India and in equatorial Africa, but it is hardly to be presumed that these animals were meant by the Hebrew writers.



ro’-da (Rhode, "rose"): A maid in the house of Mary the mother of John Mark. She came to answer when Peter knocked at Mary’s door after his miraculous release from prison. On recognizing his voice, she so forgot herself with joy that she neglected to open the door, but ran in to tell the others the glad news. They would not believe her, thinking she was mad; and when she persisted in her statement they said it must be his angel. The Jewish belief was that each man had a guardian angel assigned to him. Peter continued knocking, and was ultimately admitted (Ac 12:12 ).

S. F. Hunter


rodz (Rhodos): An island (and city) in the Aegean Sea, West of Caria, rough and rocky in parts, but well watered and productive, though at present not extensively cultivated. Almost one-third of the island is now covered with trees in spite of earlier deforestation. The highest mountains attain an altitude of nearly 4,000 ft. The older names were Ophiusa, Asteria, Trinacria, Corymbia. The capital in antiquity was Rhodes, at the northeastern extremity, a strongly fortitled city provided with a double harbor. Near the entrance of the harbor stood one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—a colossal bronze statue dedicated to Helios. Tiffs colossus, made by Chares about 290 BC, at a cost of 300 talents ($300,000 in 1915), towered to the height of 104 ft.

In the popular mind—both before and after Shakespeare represented Caesar as bestriding the world like a colossus—this gigantic figure is conceived as an image of a human being of monstrous size with leas spread wide apart, at the entrance of the inner harbor, so huge that the largest ship with sails spread could move in under it; but the account on which this conception is based seems to have no foundation.

The statue was destroyed in 223 BC by an earthquake. It was restored by the Romans. In 672 AD the Saracens sold the ruins to a Jew. The quantity of metal was so areat that it would fill the cars of a modern freight train (900 camel loads).

The most ancient cities of Rhodes were Ialysus, Ochyroma, and Lindus. The oldest inhabitants were immigrants from Crete. Later came the Carians. But no real advance in civilization was made before the immigration of the Dorians under Tlepolemus, one of the Heraclidae, and (after the Trojan war) Aethaemanes. Lindus, Ialysus and Camirus formed with Cos, Cnidus and Halicarnassus the so-called Dorian Hexapolis (Six Cities), the center of which was the temple of the Triopian Apollo on the coast of Caria. Rhodes now founded many colonies—in Spain (Rhode), in Italy (Parthenope, Salapia, Sirus, Sybaris), in Sicily (Gela), in Asia Minor (Soli), in Cilicia (Gaaae), and in Lycia (Corydalla). The island attained no political greatness until the three chief cities formed a confederation and rounded the new capital (Rhodes) in 408 BC. In the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, Rhodes sided with the Athenians, but, after 19 years of loyalty to Athens, went over to the Spartans (412 BC). In 394, when Conon appeared with his fleet before the city, the island fell into the hands of the Athenians again. A garrison was stationed at Rhodes by Alexander the Great. After his death this garrison was driven out by the Rhodians. It is at this time that the really great period of the island’s history begins. The inhabitants bravely defended their capital against Demetrius Poliorcetes in 304 BC—the same Demetrius who two years before had won a naval victory and had coins stamped with a "Victory" that is the counterpart of the "Winaed Victory" which commands the unbounded admiration of the modern world—and extended their dominion over a strip of the Carian coast, as well as over several of the neiahboring islands, and for the first time in the history of the world established an international maritime and commercial law. The arts and sciences now began to flourish in the fair island in the southeastern Aegean. Aeschines, the famous orator of Athens, fled to Rhodes after his defeat by Demosthenes, and rounded a school of oratory, which was attended by many Romans. Rhodes became the faithful ally of Rome after the defeat of Antiochus in 189 BC. As a reward for her loyalty she received Caria. In 168, however, only a small portion of this territory remained under Rhodian sway (Peraea, or the Chersonesus). In 42 BC the island was devastated by Cassius. Later it was made a part of the Roman province of Asia (44 AD). Strabo says that he knows no city so splendid in harbor, walls and streets. When the Roman power declined, Rhodes fell into the hands of Caliph Moawijah, but later was taken by the Greeks, from whom at a later date the Genoese wrested the island. In 1249 John Cantacuzenus attempted to recover Rhodes, but in vain. Finally, however, success crowned the efforts of the Greeks under Theodoros Protosebastos. In 1310 the Knights of John, who had been driven from Palestine, made Rhodes their home. After the subjuaation of the island by Sultan Soliman in 1522 the Knights of John removed to Malta, and Rhodes has remained uninterruptedly a possession of the Sublime Porte down to the recent war between Turkey and the Balkan allies, forming, with the other islands, the province of the "Islands of the White Sea" (Archipelago). It has a Christian governor whose seat, though mostly at Rhodes, is sometimes at Chios. The population of the island has greatly diminished by emigration. In 1890 the total number of inhabitants was 30,000 (20,000 Greeks, 7,000 Mohammedans, 1,500 Jews). The chief products of Rhodes are wheat, oil, wine, figs and tropical fruits. A very important industry is the exportation of sponges. The purity of the air and the mildness of the climate make Rhodes a most delightful place to live in during the fall, winter and early spring. The city, built in the shape of an amphitheater, has a magnificent view toward the sea. It contains several churches made out of old mosques. The once famous harbor is now almost filled with sand. The inhabitants number nearly 12,000 (all Turks and Jews). Rhodes is mentioned in the New Testament only as a point where Paul touched on his voyage southward from the Hellespont to Caesarea (Ac 21:1); but in 1 Macc 15:23 we are informed that it was one of the states to which the Romans sent letters in behalf of the Jews.


Berg, Die Insel Rhodes (Braunschweig, 1860-62): Schneiderwirth, Geschichte der Insel Rhodes (Heiligenstadt, 1868); Guerin, L’ile de Rhodes, 2nd edition, Paris, 1880; Biliotti and Cottrel, L’ile de Rhodes (Paris, 1881); Torr, Rhodes in Ancient Times (Cambridge, 1885) and Rhodes in Modern Times (1887).

J. E. Harry


rod’-o-kus (Rhodokos): A Jewish traitor who disclosed the plans of Judas to Antiochus (Eupator) (2 Macc 13:21) 162 BC. Of his fate nothing more is known.


(tsela‘, tsal‘ah; Aramaic ‘ala‘): The Hebrew words designate the "side," "flank," thence the "ribs." They are found thus translated only in connection with the creation of Eve: "He (Yahweh) took one of his (Adam’s) ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: and the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, made he (margin "builded he into") a woman" (Ge 2:21,22). The Aramaic word is only found in Da 7:5.

Twice the Revised Version (British and American) uses the word "rib" in a figurative sense of two beams or rafters built in to the ark of the covenant and the altar of incense, on which the golden rings were fastened, which served to carry ark and altar by means of staves (Ex 30:4; 37:27).

A curious mistranslation has crept into the King James Version, which here follows Jewish commentators or etymologists, in four passages in 2 Samuel (2:23; 3:27; 4:6; 20:10), where the "fifth rib" is mentioned as the place of the body under which spears or swords are thrust, so as to cause lethal wounds. The Hebrew word chomesh, which indeed means "fifth," is here a noun, derived from a root meaning "to be staunch," "stalwart," "stout" "fleshy," "obese" (compare chamush, "armed," "equipped soldier"; Arabic el khamis (el chamis), "the army," which, however, Arabic lexicographers explain as meaning "fivefold," namely, vanguard, right and left wing, center and rear guard). The word is to be translated "abdomen," "belly." the Revised Version (British and American) renders correctly "into the body."

H. L. E. Luering


ri’-ba-i, ri’-bi (ribhay; Septuagint Rheiba, with variants): A Benjamite, the father of ITTAI (which see), one of David’s "mighty men" (2Sa 23:29 parallel 1Ch 11:31).


rib’-and, rib’-an (pathil (Nu 15:38 the King James Version)).

See COLOR, (2); CORD, (4).


rib’-la (ribhlah; Rheblatha, with variants):

(1) Riblah in the land of Hamath first appears in history in 608 BC. Here Pharaoh-necoh, after defeating Josiah at Megiddo and destroying Kadytis or Kadesh on the Orontes, fixed his headquarters, and while in camp he deposed Jehoahaz and cast him into chains, fixed the tribute of Judah, and appointed Jehoiakim king (2Ki 23:31-35). In 588 BC Nebuchadnezzar, at war with Egypt and the Syrian states, also established his headquarters at Riblah, and from it he directed the subjugation of Jerusalem. When it fell, Zedekiah was carried prisoner to Riblah, and there, after his sons and his nobles had been slain in his presence, his eyes were put out, and he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon (2Ki 25:6,20; Jer 39:5-7; 52:8-11). Riblah then disappears from history, but the site exists today in the village of Ribleh, 35 miles Northeast of Baalbek, and the situation is the finest that could have been chosen by the Egyptian or Babylonian kings for their headquarters in Syria. An army camped there had abundance of water in the control of the copious springs that go to form the Orontes. The Egyptians coming from the South had behind them the command of the rich corn and forage lands of Coele-Syria, while the Babylonian army from the North was equally fortunate in the rich plains extending to Hamath and the Euphrates. Lebanon, close by, with its forests, its hunting grounds and its snows, ministered to the needs and luxuries of the leaders. Riblah commanded the great trade and war route between Egypt and Mesopotamia, and, besides, it was at the dividing-point of many minor routes. It was in a position to attack with facility Phoenicia, Damascus or Palestine, or to defend itself against attack from those places, while a few miles to the South the mountains on each side close in forming a pass where a mighty host might easily be resisted by a few. In every way Riblah was the strategical point between North and South Syria. Riblah should probably be read for Diblah in Eze 6:14, while in Nu 34:11 it does not really appear. See (2).

(2) A place named as on the ideal eastern boundary of Israel in Nu 34:11, but omitted in Eze 47:15-18. The Massoretic Text reads "Hariblah"; but the Septuagint probably preserves the true vocalization, according to which we should translate "to Harbel." It is said to be to the east of ‘Ain, and that, as the designation of a district, can only mean Merj ‘Ayun, so that we should seek it in the neighborhood of Hermon, one of whose spurs Furrer found to be named Jebel ‘Arbel.

W. M. Christie


rich’-ez, rich’-iz: Used to render the following Hebrew and Greek words:

(1) ‘Osher, which should, perhaps, be considered the most general word, as it is the most often used (Ge 31:16; Ec 4:8; Jer 9:23). It looks at riches simply as riches, without regard to any particular feature. Alongside this would go the Greek ploutos (Mt 13:22; Eph 2:7).

(2) Chocen (Pr 27:24; Jer 20:5), nekhacim and rekhush (Ge 36:7; Da 11:13,14 the King James Version) look at riches as things accumulated, collected, amassed.

(3) Hon looks upon riches as earnings, the fruit of toil (Ps 119:14; Pr 8:18; Eze 27:27).

(4) Hamon regards riches in the aspect of being much, this coming from the original idea of noise, through the idea of a multitude as making the noise, the idea of many, or much, being in multitude (Ps 37:16 the King James Version).

(5) Chayil regards riches as power (Ps 62:1; Isa 8:4; 10:14).

(6) Yithrah means "running over," and so presents riches as abundance (Jer 48:36 the King James Version). Along with this may be placed shua‘, which has the idea of breadth, and so of abundance (Job 36:19 the King James Version).

(7) Qinyan regards riches as a creation, something made (Ps 104:24; compare margin);

(8) (chrema) looks at riches as useful (Mr 10:23 f parallel). Like the New Testament, the Apoe uses only ploutos and chrema.

Material riches are regarded by the Scriptures as neither good nor bad in themselves, but only according as they are properly or improperly used. They are transitory (Pr 27:24); they are not to be trusted in (Mr 10:23; Lu 18:24; 1Ti 6:17); they are not to be gloried in (Jer 9:23); the heart is not to be set on them (Ps 62:10); but they are made by God (Ps 104:24), and come from God (1Ch 29:12); and they are the crown of the wise (Pr 14:24). Material riches are used to body forth for us the most precious and glorious realities of the spiritual realm. See, e.g., Ro 9:23; 11:33; Eph 2:7; Php 4:19; Col 1:27.


E. J. Forrester


rid, rid’-ans: "Rid" originally meant "rescue" (the King James Version Ge 37:22; Ex 6:6; Ps 82:4; 144:7,11), whence the meaning "remove" or "clean out" (Le 26:6 the King James Version, with "riddance" in Le 23:22; Ze 1:18). The word occurs in the American Standard Revised Version and in the English Revised Version in Ex 6:6.


rid’-’-l (chidhah; ainigma).



ri "Rye" (King James Version, Ex 9:32; Isa 28:25).



rit (yashar, mishpaT; dikaios, euthus): Many Hebrew words are translated "right," with different shades of meaning. Of these the two noted are the most important: yashar, with the sense of being straight, direct, as "right in the sight" of Yahweh (Ex 15:26; De 12:25, etc.), in one’s own eyes (Jud 17:6), "right words" (Job 6:25 the King James Version, yosher), "right paths" (Pr 4:11 the King James Version); and mishpaT "judgment" "cause" etc., a forensic term, as "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Ge 18:25). In Job 34:17, the Revised Version (British and American) has "justice" (34:6, "right"), etc. The word tsedheq, tsedhaqah, ordinarily translated "righteousness," are in a few cases rendered "right" (2Sa 19:28; Ne 2:20; Ps 9:4; 17:1; 119:75; Eze 18:5, etc.). In the New Testament the chief word is dikaios, primarily "even," "equal" (Mt 20:4; Lu 12:57, etc.); more generally the word is rendered "just" and "righteous." Euthus, used by Septuagint for yashar (1Sa 12:23; Ho 14:9), occurs a few times (Ac 8:21; 13:10; 2Pe 2:15); so orthos, "straight," "upright" (Lu 10:28). "Right-hand" or "side" represents Hebrew yamin and kindred forms (Ge 48:13,14,17; Ex 15:6, etc.); the Greek, in this sense, is dexios (Mt 6:3; 20:21, etc.).

Revised Version, among other changes, has "right" for the King James Version "judgment" in Job 27:2; 34:5, and for "right" in the King James Version substitutes "straight" in Ezr 8:21, "skillful" in Ec 4:4, margin "successful," etc. In Joh 1:12 the Revised Version (British and American) reads, "the right to become children of God" for the King James Version "the power" (exousia); in Mt 20:7,15 "right" is omitted, with the larger part of the verse. In 2Ti 2:15 "rightly dividing" (orthotomeo) is changed to "handling aright" with margin "holding a straight course in the word of truth. Or, rightly dividing the word of truth."

W. L. Walker


ri’-chus-nes (tsaddiq, adjective, "righteous," or occasionally "just" tsedheq, noun, occasionally =" riahteousness," occasionally =" justice"; dikaios, adjective, dikaiosune, noun, from dike, whose first meaning seems to have been "custom"; the general use suggested conformity to a standard: righteousness, "the state of him who is such as he ought to be" (Thayer)):

1. Double Aspect of Righteousness: Changing and Permanent

2. Social Customs and Righteousness

3. Changing Conception of Character of God: Obligations of Power

4. Righteousness as Inner

5. Righteousness as Social

6. Righteousness as Expanding in Content with Growth in Ideals of Human Worth


1. Double Aspect of Righteousness: Changing and Permanent:

In Christian thought the idea of righteousness contains both a permanent and a changing element. The fixed element is the will to do right; the changing factor is the conception of what may be right at different times and under different circumstances. Throughout the entire course of Christian revelation we discern the emphasis on the first factor. To be sure, in the days of later Pharisaism righteousness came to be so much a matter of externals that the inner intent was often lost sight of altogether (Mt 23:23); but, on the whole and in the main, Christian thought in all ages has recognized as the central element in righteousness the intention to be and do right. This common spirit binds together the first worshippers of God and the latest. Present-day conceptions of what is right differ by vast distances from the conceptions of the earlier Hebrews, but the intentions of the first worshippers are as discernible as are those of the doers of righteousness in the present day.

2. Social Customs and Righteousness:

There seems but little reason to doubt that the content of the idea of righteousness was determined in the first instance by the customs of social groups. There are some, of course, who would have us believe that what we experience as inner moral sanction is nothing but the fear of consequences which come through disobeying the will of the social group, or the feeling of pleasure which results as we know we have acted in accordance with the social demands. At least some thinkers would have us believe that this is all there was in moral feeling in the beginning. If a social group was to survive it must lay upon its individual members the heaviest exactions. Back of the performance of religious rites was the fear of the group that the god of the group would be displeased if certain honors were not rendered to him. Merely to escape the penalties of an angry deity the group demanded ceremonial religious observances. From the basis of fear thus wrought into the individuals of the group have come all our loftier movements toward righteousness.

It is not necessary to deny the measure of truth there may be in this account. To point out its inadequacy, however, a better statement would be that from the beginning the social group utilized the native moral feeling of the individual for the defense of the group. The moral feeling, by which we mean a sense of the difference between right and wrong, would seem to be a part of the native furnishing of the mind. It is very likely that in the beginning this moral feeling was directed toward the performance of the rites which the group looked upon as important.


As we read the earlier parts of the Old Testament we are struck by the fact that much of the early Hebrew morality was of this group kind. The righteous man was the man who performed the rites which had been handed down from the beginning (De 6:25). The meaning of some of these rites is lost in obscurity, but from a very early period the characteristic of Hebrew righteousness is that it moves in the direction of what we should call today the enlargement of humanity. There seemed to be at work, not merely the forces which make for the preservation of the group, not merely the desire to please the God of the Hebrews for the sake of the material favors which He might render the Hebrews, but the factors which make for the betterment of humanity as such. As we examine the laws of the Hebrews, even at so late a time as the completion of the formal Codes, we are indeed struck by traces of primitive survivals (Nu 5:11-31). There are some injunctions whose purpose we cannot well understand. But, on the other hand, the vast mass of the legislation had to do with really human considerations. There are rules concerning Sanitation (Le 13), both as it touches the life of the group and of the individual; laws whose mastery begets emphasis, not merely upon external consequences, but upon the inner result in the life of the individual (Ps 51:3); and prohibitions which would indicate that morality, at least in its plainer decencies, had come to be valued on its own account. If we were to seek for some clue to the development of the moral life of the Hebrews we might well find it in this emphasis upon the growing demands of human life as such. A suggestive writer has pointed out that the apparently meaningless commandment, "Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk" (Ex 23:19), has back of it a real human purpose, that there are some things which in themselves are revolting apart from any external consequences (see also Le 18).

3. Changing Conception of Character of God: Obligations of Power:

An index of the growth of the moral life of the people is to be found in the changing conception of the character of God. We need not enter into the question as to just where on the moral plane the idea of the God of the Hebrews started, but from the very beginning we see clearly that the Hebrews believed in their God as one passionately devoted to the right (Ge 18:25). It may well be that at the start the God of the Hebrews was largely a God of War, but it is to be noticed that His enmity was against the peoples who had little regard for the larger human considerations. It has often been pointed out that one proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures is to be found in their moral superiority to the Scriptures of the peoples around about the Hebrews. If the Hebrew writers used material which was common property of Chaldeans, Babylonians, and other peoples, they nevertheless used these materials with a moral difference. They breathed into them a moral life which forever separates them from the Scriptures of other peoples. The marvel also of Hebrew history is that in the midst of revoltingly immoral surroundings the Hebrews grew to such ideals of human worth. The source of these ideals is to be found in their thougth of God. Of course, in moral progress there is a reciprocal effect; the thought of God affects the thought of human life and the thought of human life affects the thought of God; but the Hebrews no sooner came to a fresh moral insight than they made their moral discovery a part of the character of God. From the beginning, we repeat, the God of the Hebrews was a God directed in His moral wrath against all manner of abominations, aberrations and abnormalities. The purpose of God, according to the Hebrews, was to make a people "separated" in the sense that they were to be free from anything which would detract from a full moral life (Le 20:22).

We can trace the more important steps in the growth of the Hebrew ideal. First, there was an increasingly clear discernment that certain things are to be ruled out at once as immoral. The primitive decencies upon which individual and social life depended were discerned at an early period (compare passages in Leviticus cited above). Along with this it must be admitted there was a slower approach to some ideals which we today consider important, the ideals of the marriage relations for example (De 24:1,2). Then there was a growing sense of what constitutes moral obligation in the discharge of responsibilities upon the part of men toward their fellows (Isa 5:8,23). There was increasing realization also of what God, as a moral Being, is obligated to do. The hope of salvation of nations and individuals rests at once upon the righteousness of God.

By the time of Isaiah the righteousness of God has come to include the obligations of power (Isa 63:1). God will save His people, not merely because He has promised to save them, but because He must save them (Isa 42:6). The must is moral. If the people of Israel show themselves unworthy, God must punish them; but if a remnant, even a small remnant, show themselves faithful, God must show His favor toward them. Moral worth is not conceived of as something that is to be paid for by external rewards, but if God is moral He must not treat the righteous and the unrighteous alike. This conception of what God must do as an obligated Being influences profoundly the Hebrew interpretation of the entire course of history (Isa 10:20,21).

Upon this ideal of moral obligation there grows later the thought of the virtue of vicarious suffering (Isaiah 53). The sufferings of the good man and of God for those who do not in themselves deserve such sufferings (for them) are a mark of a still higher righteousness (see HOSEA). The movement of the Scriptures is all the way from the thought of a God who gives battle for the right to the thought of a God who receives in Himself the heaviest shocks of that battle that others may have opportunity for moral life.

These various lines of moral development come, of course, to their crown in the New Testament in the life and death of Christ as set before us in the Gospels and interpreted by the apostles. Jesus stated certain moral axioms so clearly that the world never will escape their power. He said some things once and for all, and He did some things once and for all; that is to say, in His life and death He set on high the righteousness of God as at once moral obligation and self-sacrificing love (Joh 3:16) and with such effectiveness that the world has not escaped and cannot escape this righteous influence (Joh 12:32). Moreover, the course of apostolic and subsequent history has shown that Christ put a winning and compelling power into the idea of righteousness that it would otherwise have lacked (Ro 8:31,32).

4. Righteousness as Inner:

The ideas at work throughout the course of Hebrew and Christian history are, of course, at work today. Christianity deepens the sense of obligation to do right. It makes the moral spirit essential. Then it utilizes every force working for the increase of human happiness to set on high the meaning of righteousness. Jesus spoke of Himself as "life," and declared that He came that men might have life and have it more abundantly (Joh 10:10). The keeping of the commandments plays, of course, a large part in the unfolding of the life of the righteous Christian, but the keeping of the commandments is not to be conceived of in artificial or mechanical fashion (Lu 10:25-37). With the passage of the centuries some commandments once conceived of as essential drop into the secondary place, and other commandments take the controlling position. In Christian development increasing place is given for certain swift insights of the moral spirit. We believe that some things are righteous because they at once appeal to us as righteous. Again, some other things seem righteous because their consequences are beneficial, both for society and for the individual. Whatever makes for the largest life is in the direction of righteousness. In interpreting life, however, we must remember the essentially Christian conception that man does not live through outer consequences alone. In all thought of consequences the chief place has to be given to inner consequences. By the surrender of outward happiness and outward success a man may attain inner success. The spirit of the cross is still the path to the highest righteousness.

5. Righteousness as Social:

The distinctive note in emphasis upon righteousness in our own day is the stress laid upon social service. This does not mean that Christianity is to lose sight of the worth of the individual in himself. We have come pretty clearly to see that the individual is the only moral end in himself. Righteousness is to have as its aim the upbuilding of individual lives. The commandments of the righteous life are not for the sake of society as a thing in itself. Society is nothing apart from the individuals that compose it; but we are coming to see that individuals have larger relationships than we had once imagined and greater responsibilities than we had dreamed of. The influence of the individual touches others at more points than we had formerly realized. We have at times condemned the system of things as being responsible for much human misery which we now see can be traced to the agency of individuals. The employer, the day-laborer, the professional man, the public servant, all these have large responsibilities for the life of those around. The unrighteous individual has a power of contaminating other individuals, and his deadliness we have just begun to understand. All this is receiving new emphasis in our present-day preaching of righteousness. While our social relations are not ends in themselves, they are mighty means for reaching individuals in large numbers. The Christian conception of redeemed humanity is not that of society as an organism existing on its own account, but that of individuals knit very closely together in their social relationships and touching one another for good in these relationships (1Co 1:2; Re 7:9,10). If we were to try to point out the line in which the Christian doctrine of righteousness is to move more and more through the years, we should have to emphasize this element of obligation to society. This does not mean that a new gospel is to supersede the old or even place itself alongside the old. It does mean that the righteousness of God and the teaching of Christ and the cross, which are as ever the center of Christianity, are to find fresh force in the thought of the righteousness of the Christian as binding itself, not merely by commandments to do the will of God in society, but by the inner spirit to live the life of God out into society.

6. Righteousness as Expanding in Content with Growth in Ideals of Human Worth:

In all our thought of righteousness it must be borne in mind that there is nothing in Christian revelation which will tell us what righteousness calls for in every particular circumstance. The differences between earlier and later practical standards of conduct and the differences between differing standards in different circumstances have led to much confusion in the realm of Christian thinking. We can keep our bearing, however, by remembering the double element in righteousness which we mentioned in the beginning; on the one hand, the will to do right, and, on the other, the difficulty of determining in a particular circumstance just what the right is. The larger Christian conceptions always have an element of fluidity, or, rather, an element of expansiveness. For example, it is clearly a Christian obligation to treat all men with a spirit of good will or with a spirit of Christian love. But what does love call for in a particular case? We can only answer the question by saying that love seeks for whatever is best, both for him who receives and for him who gives. This may lead to one course of conduct in one situation and to quite a different course in another. We must, however, keep before us always the aim of the largest life for all persons whom we can reach. Christian righteousness today is even more insistent upon material things, such as sanitary arrangements, than was the Code of Moses. The obligation to use the latest knowledge for the hygienic welfare is just as binding now as then, but "the latest knowledge" is a changing term. Material progress, education, spiritual instruction, are all influences which really make for full life.

Not only is present-day righteousness social and growing; it is also concerned, to a large degree, with the thought of the world which now is. Righteousness has too often been conceived of merely as the means of preparing for the life of some future Kingdom of Heaven. Present-day emphasis has not ceased to think of the life beyond this, but the life beyond this can best be met and faced by those who have been in the full sense righteous in the life that now is. There is here no break in true Christian continuity. The seers who have understood Christianity best always have insisted that to the fullest degree the present world must be redeemed by the life-giving forces of Christianity. We still insist that all idea of earthly righteousness takes its start from heavenly righteousness, or, rather, that the righteousness of man is to be based upon his conception of the righteousness of God. Present-day thinking concerns itself largely with the idea of the Immanence of God. God is in this present world. This does not mean that there may not be other worlds, or are not other worlds, and that God is not also in those worlds; but the immediate revelation of God to us is in our present world. Our present world then must be the sphere in which the righteousness of God and of man is to be set forth. God is conscience, and God is love. The present sphere is to be used for the manifestation of His holy love. The chief channel through which that holy love is to manifest itself is the conscience and love of the Christian believer. But even these terms are not to be used in the abstract. There is an abstract conscientiousness which leads to barren living: the life gets out of touch with things that are real. There is an experience of love which exhausts itself in well-wishing. Both conscience and love are to be kept close to the earth by emphasis upon the actual realities of the world in which we live.


G. B. Stevens, The Christian Doctrine of Salvation; A. E. Garvie, Handbook of Christian Apologetics; Borden P. Bowne, Principles of Ethics; Newman Smyth, Christian Ethics; A. B. Bruce, The Kingdom of God; W. N. Clarke, The Ideal of Jesus; H. C. King, The Ethics of Jesus.

Francis J. McConnell



(1) The rock Rimmon (cela‘ rimmon; he petra Rhemmon): The place of refuge of the 600 surviving Benjamites of Gibeah (Jeba‘) who "turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon, and abode in the rock of Rimmon four months" (Jud 20:45,47; 21:13). Robinson’s identification (RB, I, 440) has been very generally accepted. He found a conical and very prominent hill some 6 miles North-Northeast of Jeba‘ upon which stands a village called Rummon. This site was known to Eusebius and Jerome (OS 146 6; 287 98), who describe it as 15 Roman miles from Jerusalem. Another view, which would locate the place of refuge of the Benjamites in the Mugharet el jai, a large cavern on the south of the Wady Suweinit, near Jeba‘, is strongly advocated by Rawnsley and Birch (see PEF, III, 137-48). The latter connects this again with 1Sa 14:2, where Saul, accompanied by his 600, "abode in the uttermost part of Gibeah" under the pomegranate tree (Rimmon).

(2) (rimmon; Eremmon, or Rhemmoth): A city in the Negeb, near the border of Edom, ascribed to Judah (Jos 15:32) and to Simeon (Jos 19:7; 1Ch 4:32, the King James Version "Remmon"). In Zec 14:10 it is mentioned as the extreme South of Judah—"from Geba to Rimmon, South of Jerusalem." In the earlier references Rimmon occurs in close association with ‘Ain (a spring), and in Ne 11:29, what is apparently the same place, ‘Ain Rimmon, is called En-rimmon (which see).

(3) (rimmon (Jos 19:13), rimmonah, in some Hebrew manuscripts dimah (see DIMNAH) (Jos 21:35), and rimmono (1Ch 6:77)): In the King James Version we have "Remmon-methoar" in Jos 19:13, but the Revised Version (British and American) translates the latter as "which stretcheth." This was a city on the border of Zebulun (Jos 19:13) allotted to the Levites (Jos 21:35, "Dimnah"; 1Ch 6:77). The site is now the little village of Rummaneh on a low ridge South of the western end of the marshy plain el Battauf in Galilee; there are many rock-cut tombs and cisterns. It is about 4 miles North of el Mesh-hed, usually considered to be the site of Gath-hepher. See PEF, I, 363, Sh VI.

E. W. G. Masterman


(rimmon, "pomegranate"; see RIMMON-PEREZ):

(1) A Syrian god. Naaman the Syrian leper after being cured is troubled over the fact that he will still have to bow down in the house of the Syrian god, Rimmon, when his master goes into the house to worship leaning on his hand (2Ki 5:18). Elisha answers him ambiguously: "Go in peace." Judging from Naaman’s position and this incident, Rimmon must have been one of the leading gods of the Syrians worshipped in Damascus. He has been identified with Rammanu, the Assyrian god of wind, rain and storm. The name appears in the Syrian personal names HADADRIMMON and TABRIMMON (which see) and its meaning is dubious (ramamu, "to thunder" (?))

(2) A Benjamite of Beeroth, whose sons Baanah and Rechab assassinated Ish-bosheth (2Sa 4:2,5,9).

Nathan Isaacs


See RIMMON, (1).


rim-mon-pe’-rez (rimmon perets; the King James Version Rimmon-parez): A desert camp of the Israelites (Nu 33:19 f), unidentified. Gesenius translates rimmon as "pomegranate," the place deriving its name from the abundance of pomegranates. But Conder derives it from ramam, "to be high," and translates it "cloven height."



rim-mo’-na, rimmo’-no.

See RIMMON, (3).


(Anglo-Saxon, Hring, "ring"): The word renders (the American Standard Revised Version) two Hebrew words (in the King James Version and the English Revised Version three) and two Greek words. Tabba‘ath, the principal Hebrew word, is from Tabha‘, "sink," either because the ring is something "cast" or molded, or, more probably, since the principal use of the ring was as a seal, because it "sank" into the wax or clay that received the impression. In Exodus, Tabba‘ath, "ring," is a detail of furniture or equipment, as the rings of the ark through which the staves were thrust (Ex 25:12, etc.), rings for curtains, in the high priest’s ephod (Ex 28:28; 39:21), etc. Its other use was perhaps the original, to describe the article of personal adornment worn on the finger, apparently in the Old Testament always a signet-ring, and as such an indispensable article of masculine attire. Such a ring Pharaoh gave Joseph as a symbol of authority (Ge 41:42); and Ahasuerus gave Haman (Es 3:10); with it the royal missive was sealed (Es 3:12; 8:8 twice, 10). It was also a feminine ornament in Isaiah’s list of the fashionable feminine paraphernalia, "the rings and the nose-jewels" (quite likely rings also) (Isa 3:21). Either as ornaments or for their intrinsic value, or both, rings were used as gifts for sacred purposes from both men and women: "brooches, and ear-rings, and signet-rings" (margin "nose-rings") (Ex 35:22); "bracelets, rings (the American Standard Revised Version "signet-rings"), ear-rings" (Nu 31:50 the King James Version). chotham, "signet," mentioned in Ge 38:18,25; Ex 28:11,21,36; Ex 39:6,14,30; Jer 22:24; Hag 2:23, etc., was probably usually a seal ring, but in Ge 38 and elsewhere the seal may have been swung on wire, and suspended by a cord from the neck. It was not only an identification, but served as a stamp for signature. galil, "circle" (compare "Galilee," "Circle" of the Gentiles), rendered "ring" in Es 1:6; So 5:14, may rather mean "cylinder" or "rod" of metal. Earring (which see) in the King James Version is from totally different words: nezem, whose etymology is unknown, aghil, "round," or lachash, "amulet"; so the Revised Version (British and American). The "rings" of the wheels in Eze 1:18 (the King James Version) are gabh, "curved," and mean "rims" (American Standard Revised Version), "felloes." Egyptians especially wore a great profusion of rings, principally of silver or gold, engraved with scarabaei, or other devices. In the New Testament the ring, daktulios, "finger-ring," is a token of means, position, standing: "put a ring on his hand" (Lu 15:22). Perhaps also it included the right to give orders in his father’s name. To be chrusodaktulios, "golden-ringed," perhaps with more than one, indicated wealth and social rank: "a man with a gold ring" (Jas 2:2).


Philip Wendell Crannell


ring’-led-er: In Ac 24:5 the translation of protostates, "one who stands first." Not an opprobrious word in the Greek.


ring’-strekt (the King James Version and the English Revised Version ringstraked): Ge 30:35,39,40; 31:8 (twice), 10,12 for ‘aqodh. In the context of Ge 30:35, etc., ‘aqodh certainly denotes defective coloring of some sort, but the exact meaning of the word is uncertain. The translation "ringstreaked" ("marked with circular bands") comes from connecting the word with the Hebrew root ‘-q-d, "to bind" (Ge 22:9), but this connection is dubious.


rin’-a (rinnah, "praise to God"; Septuagint: Codex Vaticanus Ana; Codex Alexandrinus Rhannon): A Judahite, according to Massoretic Text a son of Shimon (1Ch 4:20). But the Septuagint makes him a son of Hanan (Codex Vaticanus Phana; Codex Alexandrinus Anan) by reading "ben" in the next name (Ben-hanan) as "son of."


ri’-ut: Properly, "unrestrained behavior" of any sort, but in modern English usually connoting mob action, although such phrases as a "riotous banquet" are still in common use. the King James Version uses the word in the first sense, and it is retained by the Revised Version (British and American) in Lu 15:13; Tit 1:6; 1Pe 4:4 for asotos, asotia, "having no hope of safety," "profligate]." In Pr 23:20; 28:7 the Revised Version (British and American) has preferred "gluttonous," "glutton," in Ro 13:13, "revelling," and in 2Pe 2:13, "revel."

Burton Scott Easton


ri’-fath (riphath): A son of Gomer, the eldest son of Japhet (Ge 10:3; 1Ch 1:6, where Massoretic Text and the Revised Version (British and American) read DIPHATH (which see)). Josephus (Ant., I, vi, 1) identifies the Ripheans with the Paphlagonians, through whose country on the Black Sea ran the river "Rhebas" (Pliny, NH, vi.4).


riz’-ing (se’eth, "a tumor," "swelling" (Le 13:2,10, etc.)).



ris’-a (riccah, "dew"): A camp of the Israelites in the wilderness wanderings between Libnah and Kehelathah (Nu 33:21 f).



rith’-ma (rithmah, "broom"): A desert camp of the Israelites (Nu 33:18,19). The name refers to the white desert broom.




(1) The usual word is nahar (Aramaic nehar (Ezr 4:10, etc.)), used of the rivers of Eden (Ge 2:10-14), often of the Euphrates (Ge 15:18, etc.), of Abana and Pharpar (2Ki 5:12), the river of Gozan (2Ki 17:6), the river Chebar (Eze 1:1), the rivers (canals?) of Babylon (Ps 137:1), the rivers of Ethiopia (Isa 18:1; Ze 3:10). Compare nahr, the common Arabic word for "river."

(2) ye’or, according to BDB from Egyptian iotr, ‘io’r, "watercourse," often of the Nile (Ex 1:22, etc.). In Isa 19:6, for ye’ore matsor, the King James Version "brooks of defense," the Revised Version (British and American) has "streams of Egypt." In Isa 19:7,8, for ye’or, the King James Version "brooks," and Zec 10:11, the King James Version "river," the Revised Version (British and American) has "Nile." In Job 28:10, the King James Version "He cutteth out rivers among the rocks," the Revised Version (British and American) has "channels," the Revised Version margin "passages."

(3) There are nearly 100 references to nachal. In about half of these the King James Version has "brook" and in about half "river." the Revised Version (British and American) has more often "brook" or "valley." But the Revised Version (British and American) has river in "whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers" (Le 11:9); "the river Jabbok" (De 2:37; Jos 12:2); the stream issuing from the temple (Eze 47:5-12). the Revised Version (British and American) has "brook of Egypt," i.e. el-‘Arish (Nu 34:5; Jos 15:47; 1Ki 8:65; 2Ki 24:7; 2Ch 7:8; Am 6:14, "of the Arabah"); "brook (the King James Version "river") of Kanah" (Jos 16:8); "valley (the King James Version "river") of the Arnon" (De 2:24). English Versions of the Bible has "valley": of Gerar (Ge 26:17), of Zered (Nu 21:12), but "brook Zered" (De 2:13), of Eschol (Nu 32:9), of Sorek (Jud 16:4), of Shittim (Joe 3:18). English Versions of the Bible has "brook": Besor (1Sa 30:10), Kidron (2Sa 15:23), Gaash, (2Sa 23:30), Cherith (1Ki 17:3); also the feminine nachalah, "brook (the King James Version "river") of Egypt" (Eze 47:19; 48:28). The torrent-valley (wady) is often meant.

(4) pelegh, with feminine pelaggah, the King James Version "river," is in the Revised Version (British and American) translated "stream," except English Versions of the Bible "river of God" (Ps 65:9); "streams of water" (Ps 1:3; Pr 5:16; Isa 32:2; La 3:48); "streams of honey" (Job 20:17); "streams of oil" (Job 29:6).

(5) ‘aphiq, the King James Version "river," except English Versions of the Bible "water brooks" (Ps 42:1), is in the Revised Version (British and American) "watercourses" (Eze 6:3; 31:12; 32:6; 34:13; 35:8; 36:4,6), "water-brooks" (So 5:12; Joe 1:20).

(6) yubhal, English Versions of the Bible "river" (Jer 17:8). ‘ubhal, and ‘ubhal, English Versions of the Bible "river" (Da 8:2,3,6).

(7) potamos: of the Jordan (Mr 1:5); Euphrates (Re 9:14); "rivers of living water" (Joh 7:38); "river of water of life" (Re 22:1). So always in Greek for "river" in the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha (1 Esdras 4:23, etc.).


Alfred Ely Day






See EDEN (1).


riz’-i-a (ritsya’): An Asherite (1Ch 7:39).


riz’-pa (ritspah, "hot stone"; Josephus, Rhaispha): In 2Sa 3:7 the subject of a coarse slander. 2Sa 21 contains the pathetic story of Rizpah’s faithful watch over the bodies of her dead sons Mephibosheth and Armoni (21:10,11). Did this story suggest Tennyson’s "Rizpah"? A three years’ famine had made David anxious, and in seeking a reason for the affliction he concluded that it lay in Saul’s unavenged conduct to the Gibeonites (21:2). To appease Yahweh he gave up to the Gibeonites the two sons of Saul, Mephibosheth and Armoni, as well as Saul’s 5 grandsons (whether by Michal or Merab; see MERAB). These seven were hanged at Gibeah. Rizpah watched 5 months over their exposed bodies, but meanwhile the famine did not abate. Word was brought to David of Rizpah’s act (21:10,11), and it is possible that her action suggested to David his next step in expiation. At any rate, he remembered the uncared-for bones of Jonathan and Saul lying in ignominy at Jabesh-gilead, whither they had been carried by stealth after the Philistines had kept them hung in the streets of Beth-shan for some time. The bones were recovered and apparently mingled with the bones Rizpah had guarded, and they were together buried in the family grave at Zelah. We are told that then "God was entreated for the land" (21:14).

Henry Wallace


rod the King James Version (1Sa 27:10; compare 1Sa 23:27).







rob’-er, rob’-er-i: "Robber" represents no particular Hebrew word in the Old Testament, but in the Apocrypha and the New Testament is always a translation of lestes (see THIEF). In the King James Version Job 5:5; 18:9, "robber" stands for the doubtful word tsammim, the Revised Version (British and American) "hungry" in JOb 5:5 and "snare" in 18:9. The meaning is uncertain, and perhaps tseme’im, "thirsty," should be read in both places. Ps 62:10, "Become not vain in robbery," means "put not your trust in riches dishonestly gained." RV’s changes of the King James Version in Pr 21:7; Da 11:14; Na 3:1 are obvious. In Php 2:6 the King James Version reads "thought it not robbery to be equal with God." the English Revised Version has "a prize," while the English Revised Version margin and the American Standard Revised Version read "a thing to be grasped," the American Standard Revised Version rewording "counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped." The Greek here is harpagmos, a word derived from harpazo, "to ravish away," "carry off," "plunder" (compare "harpy"). Properly speaking, the termination -mos should give the derived noun an active sense, "the act of plundering," whence the King James Version’s "robbery." The verse would then mean "who thought that being on an equality with God did not consist in grasping," and this translation gives good sense in the context and has some excellent scholarly support. But a passive significance is frequently found despite a -mos termination, giving to harpagmos the sense of "thing grasped," as in the Revised Version (British and American). Usually English commentators take "grasped" as meaning "clung to"—"did not think equality with God should be clung to tenaciously"—but "to cling to" seems unknown as a translation of harpazo. Hence, render "a thing to be grasped at"—did not seek equality with God by selfish methods but by humbling himself." It is to be noticed, naturally, that Paul is thinking of "equality with God" simply in the sense of "receiving explicit adoration from men" (Php 2:10,11), and that the metaphysical relation of the Son to the Father is not at all in point.

See also GRASP.

Burton Scott Easton


(hierosuloi, "guilty of sacrilege"): A term used by the town clerk of Ephesus (Ac 19:37, the King James Version "robbers of churches"). As the temple of Diana (Artemas) had a great treasure-chamber, the offense might not be unknown among them; compare Ro 2:22.

In 2 Macc 4:42 the King James Version the epithet "church-robber" (the Revised Version (British and American) "author of the sacrilege") is applied to LYSIMACHUS (which see).



See DRESS, sec. 1, (3).


ro-bo’-am (Rhoboam). the King James Version; Greek form of "Rehoboam" (thus the Revised Version (British and American)) (Mt 1:7); successor of Solomon.


rok ((1) cela‘; (2) tsur (3) challamish, "flint"; compare Arabic khalanbus, "flint"; (4) kephim (Job 30:6;" Jer 4:29); compare Kephas, "Cephas" = Petros, "Peter" (Joh 1:42 the King James Version and the Revised Version margin); (5) petra):

1. Names:

Tsur and cela‘ are the words most often found, and there is no well-defined distinction between them. They are frequently coupled together in the parallelism which is characteristic of the Hebrew writers: e.g.

"Be thou to me a strong rock (tsur),

A house of defense to save me.

For thou art my rock (tsela) and my fortress"

(Ps 31:2,3).

"He clave rocks (tsur) in the wilderness,

And gave them drink abundantly as out of the depths.

He brought streams also out of the rock (sela),

And caused waters to run down like rivers"

(Ps 78:15,16).

It is plain here that the two words are used for the sake of variety, without any clear difference of meaning. Even challamish (translated "flint") is used in the same way with tsur in Ps 114:8:

"Who turned the rock (tsur) into a pool of water;

The flint (callamish) into a fountain of waters."

2. Figurative:

(1) Some of the most striking and beautiful imagery of the Bible is based upon the rocks. They are a symbol of God: "Yahweh is my rock, and my fortress" (2Sa 22:2; Ps 18:2; 71:3); "God, the rock of my salvation" (2Sa 22:47; compare Ps 62:2,7; 89:26); "my God the rock of my refuge" (Ps 94:22); "the rock of thy strength" (Isa 17:10); "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Ps 61:2); repeatedly in the song of Moses (De 32:3,4,18,30,31; compare 2Sa 22:32). Paul applies the rock smitten in the wilderness (Ex 17:6; Nu 20:11) to Christ as the source of living water for spiritual refreshment (1Co 10:4).

(2) The rocks are a refuge, both figuratively and literally (Jer 48:28; So 2:14); "The rocks are a refuge for the conies" (Ps 104:18). Many a traveler in Palestine has felt the refreshment of "the shade of a great rock in a weary land" (Isa 32:2). A very different idea is expressed in Isa 8:14, "And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense" (compare Ro 9:33; 1Pe 2:8).

(3) The rock is a symbol of hardness (Jer 5:3; compare Isa 50:7). Therefore, the breaking of the rock exemplifies the power of God (Jer 23:29; compare 1Ki 19:11). The rock is also a symbol of that which endures, "Oh that they .... were graven in the rock for ever!" (Job 19:23,24). A rock was an appropriate place for offering a sacrifice (Jud 6:20; 13:19). The central feature of the Mosque of ‘Umar in Jerusalem is Qubbat-uc-Cakhrat, the "dome of the rock." The rock or cakhrat under the dome is thought to be the site of Solomon’s altar of burnt offering, and further is thought to be the site of the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite which David purchased to build an altar to Yahweh.

3. Kinds of Rock:

(1) The principal rock of Palestine and Syria is limestone of which there are many varieties, differing in color, texture, hardness and degrees of impurity, some of the limestone having considerable admixtures of clay or sand. Some of the harder kinds are very dense and break with a conchoidal fracture similar to the fracture of flint. In rocks which have for ages been exposed to atmospheric agencies, erosion has produced striking and highly picturesque forms. Nodules and layers of flint are of frequent occurrence in the limestone.

(2) Limestone is the only rock of Western Palestine, with the exception of some local outpourings of basaltic rock and with the further exception of a light-brown, porous, partly calcareous sandstone, which is found at intervals along the coast. This last is a superficial deposit of Quaternary or recent age, and is of aeolian origin. That is, it consists of dune sands which have solidified under the influence of atmospheric agencies. This is very exceptional, nearly all stratified rocks having originated as beds of sand or mud in the bottom of the sea.

(3) In Sinai, Edom, Moab, Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon is found the Nubian sandstone, a silicious sandstone which, at least in the North, is of middle or lower Cretaceous age. In the South, the lower strata of this formation seem to be paleozoic. Most of it is not sufficiently coherent to make good building stone, though some of its strata are very firm and are even used for millstones. In some places it is so incoherent or friable that it is easily dug with the pick, the grains falling apart and forming sand that can be used in mortar. In color the Nubian sandstone is on the whole dark reddish brown, but locally it shows great variation, from white through yellow and red to black. In places it also has tints of blue. The celebrated rock tombs and temples of Petra are carved in this stone.

(4) Extensive areas of the northern part of Eastern Palestine are covered with igneous rock. In the Jaulan Southeast of Mt. Hermon, this has been for ages exposed to the atmosphere and has formed superficially a rich dark soil. Further Southeast is the Leja’ (Arabic "refuge"), a wild tract covered with a deposit of lava which is geologically recent, and which, while probably earlier than man, is still but little affected by the atmosphere. It is with difficulty traversed and frequently furnishes an asylum to outlaws.


Alfred Ely Day




r.-baj’-er: This term is found in the Revised Version margin for "coney," shaphan (Le 11:5; compare De 14:7; Ps 104:18; Pr 30:26). It is a translation of klip das, the name given. by the Boers to the Cape hyrax or coney.



(maqqel, maTTeh, shebheT; rhabdos): Little distinction can be drawn between the Hebrew words used for "rod" and "staff." Maqqel is the word used in Ge 30:37 ff for the twigs of poplar put by Jacob before his sheep, and in Jer 1:11 of the "rod of an almond-tree." MaTTeh is used of a rod in the hand, as the "rods" of Moses and of Aaron (Ex 4:2 ff; 7:9 , etc.). ShebheT is used, but sometimes also maTTeh, of the rod used for correction (Ex 21:20; 2Sa 7:14; Pr 10:13; 13:24; Isa 10:5, etc.). In Ps 23:4 ("Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me"), however, shebheT is the shepherd’s rod, figurative of divine guidance and care. In Eze 21:10,13, the word stands for the royal scepter. In the New Testament "rod" is used of a rod of correction (1Co 4:21), Aaron’s rod (Heb 9:4), a ruler’s rod "of iron" (severity, as in Re 2:27; 12:5; 19:15), a measuring rod (Re 11:1).

See also ARMOR, ARMS.

James Orr


rod’-a-nim: The reading of Massoretic Text in 1Ch 1:7 for the DODANIM (which see) of Ge 10:4, corresponding to the Rhodioi of the Septuagint in both passages. The Rodanim are generally identified as inhabitants of the island of RHODES (which see), well known to the ancient Phoenicians (Homer’s Iliad).


ro, ro’-buk: the King James Version has "roe" and "roebuck" for tsehi, tsebhiyah. the Revised Version (British and American) usually substitutes "gazelle" in the text (De 12:15, etc.) or margin (Pr 6:5, etc.), but retains "roe" in 2Sa 2:18; 1Ch 12:8; So 3:5; 7:3. So the Revised Version (British and American) has "gazelle" for the King James Version "roe" in Sirach 27:20 (dorkas). the Revised Version (British and American) has "roe-buck" for yachmur (De 14:5; 1Ki 4:23), where the King James Version has "fallow deer." In the opinion of the writer, ‘ayyal English Versions of the Bible "hart," should be translated "roe-buck," yachmur "fallow deer," and tsebhi "gazelle."


Alfred Ely Day


ro’-ge-lim, ro-ge’-lim (roghelim; Rhogelleim): The place whence came Barzillai the Gileadite to succor David in his flight from Absalom (2Sa 17:27; 19:31). It probably lay near the path followed by David, but it is not identical.


ro’-ga (Kethibh rohaghah, Qere rohgah): A name in the genealogy of Asher (1Ch 7:34).


ro’-i-mus (Rhoeimos; Codex Alexandrinus Rhomelios): One of the leaders with Zerubbabel in the return (1 Esdras 5:8) =" Rehum" in Ezr 2:2, of which it is the Greek form =" Nehum" in Ne 7:7.


rol: The usual form of book in Biblical times. It had been in use in Egypt for perhaps 2,000 years at the time when, according to the Pentateuch, the earliest Biblical books were written in this form. The Babylonian tablet seems to have been the prevailing form in Palestine up to about 1350 BC, but by 1100 BC, at least, the roll had been in established use for some time as far North as Byblos. Two Hebrew words, gillayon, meghillah, one Aramaic, cephar, and one Greek word, biblion, are so translated in the King James Version. Cephar (Ezr 6:1, the Revised Version (British and American) "archives, margin "books"), with the corresponding Hebrew form cepher, is the generic word for any whole work large or small, but as a book form (Isa 34:4) it may mean "roll," and, according to Blau (pp. 37, 45, etc.), it never does mean anything else. Both the other words seem to be connected with galal, "roll," which is the technical term for opening or closing a book. The meghillath cepher (Jer 36:2) means the unwritten roll, or the roll considered in its material form as contrasted with the work. Meghillah, which is found in Ezr 6:2 (English Versions of the Bible, "roll"), Jeremiah (often), Ezekiel (often) and Zechariah, is a somewhat late word, and came to mean a small roll (but with a complete work) as distinguished from a book, corresponding thus to the modern distinction of pamphlet and book or document and book. The word gillayon is translated in the Revised Version (British and American) as "tablet," and is universally regarded as meaning (Isa 8:1) some smooth surface, corresponding to the same word in Isa 3:23 which is rendered "hand-mirror." But "cylinder-seal" would possibly fit the sense in both cases; this being hung round the neck as an ornament in one case and inscribed with a personal name in the other.

Biblion is regarded by the Bible translators as equivalent to meghillah in the sense of small roll. It is in fact 4 times in the Septuagint of Jer 36 used as the translation for meghillah, but very much oftener it is the translation for cepher, for which in fact it is the correct technical equivalent (Birt, Buchrolle, 21). Indeed the "small book" (Thayer, Lexicon, 101) is hardly consistent with the ideas of the heavens as a scroll, of the Lamb’s Book of Life, or of the vast quantity of books of Joh 21:25, although in Lu 4:17 it may perhaps correspond closely with meghillah in the sense of a complete roll and work, which is at the same time a whole part of a larger work. Its use in Re 6:14 is reminiscent of Isa 34:4 ("scroll"), and is conclusive for the roll form. It is indeed always technically a roll and never codex or tablet.

It is not likely that Isaiah and John (here and in his Gospel, 21:25) refer directly to the Babylonian idea that the heavens are a series of written tablets or to the rabbinic saying that "if all the oceans were ink, all reeds pens, the heavens and earth sheets to write upon, and all men writers, still it would not suffice for writing out the teachings of my Masters" (Blau, op. cit., 34). Nevertheless, the "whole Cosmos" does suggest "the heavens and earth" as sheets to write on, and under all there does perhaps lurk a conception of the broad expanse of heaven as a roll for writing upon.


Birt, Die Buchrolle in der Kunst, Leipzig, 1907; Jew Encyclopedia, XI, 126-34, "Scroll of the Law"; Blau, Studien z. althebr. Buchwesen, Strassburg, 1902, 37-66, etc., and the literature under the article "Writing," especially Gardthausen, 134-54.

E. C. Richardson


rol’-er: the King James Version and the English Revised Version in Eze 30:21 for chittul, "bandage" (so the American Standard Revised Version). "Roller" was formerly a technical term in surgery for a wide bandage.


rol’-ing: Isa 17:13, the King James Version "like a rolling thing before the whirlwind," a noncommittal translation of galgal, "revolving thing," "wheel" (Ec 12:6). the Revised Version (British and American) "like the whirling dust before the storm" is probably right.



ro-mam-ti-e’-zer, ro-mam-ti-e’-zer (romamti ‘ezer, "highest help"): Son of Heman, appointed chief of the 24th division of singers in David’s time (1Ch 25:4,31).







1. Roman Empire a Result of Social Conflict

2. Coming of Monarchy

(1) Exhaustion of Parties

(2) Inability of Either Aristocracy or Democracy to Hold Equilibrium

(3) Precedents

(4) Withdrawal from Public Life: Individualism

(5) Industrial

(6) Military

(7) Imperial Interests

(8) Influence of Orient


1. Pax Romana and the Unification of the World

2. Cosmopolitanism

3. Eclecticism

4. Protection for Greek Culture

5. Linguistically

6. Materially

7. Tolerance

8. Pattern for a Universal Church

9. Roman Jurisprudence

10. Negative Preparation


1. Roman or State Religion

2. Non-Roman Religions—religiones licitae and religiones illicitae

(1) Judaism a religio licita

(2) Why Christianity Was Alone Proscribed

(3) Two Empires: Causes of Conflict

(a) Confusion of Spiritual and Temporal

(b) Unique Claims of Christianity

(c) Novelty of Christianity

(d) Intolerance and Exclusiveness of the Christian Religion and Christian Society

(e) Obstinatio

(f) Aggressiveness against Pagan Faith

(g) Christianos ad leones: Public Calamities

(h) Odium generis humani

(4) The Roman Empire Not the Only Disturbing Factor


1. Beginning of Christianity until Death of Nero, 68 AD

2. Flavian Period, 68-96 AD

3. The Antonine Period, 96-192 AD

4. Changing Dynasties, 192-284 AD

5. Diocletian until First General Edict of Toleration, 284-311 AD

6. First Edict of Toleration until Extinction of Western Empire, 311-476 AD


1. Negative Causes

2. Positive Causes


I. Outline of the Roman Empire.

1. Roman Empire a Result of Social Conflict:

The founding of the Roman empire was the grandest political achievement ever accomplished. The conquests of Alexander the Great, Charlemagne and Napoleon seem small compared with the durable structure reared by Julius and his successor, Augustus. In one sense Julius Caesar—the most wonderful man that Rome or any other country produced—was the founder of the empire, and Augustus the founder of the principate. But the Roman empire was the culmination of a long process of political, constitutional, and social growth which gives a lasting interest to Roman history. The Roman empire was the only possible solution of a 700 years’ struggle, and Roman history is the story of the conflict of class with class, patrician against plebeian, populus against plebs, the antagonism of oligarchy and democracy, plutocracy against neglected masses. It is the account of the triumphant march of democracy and popular government against an exclusive governing caste. Against heavy odds the plebeians asserted their rights till they secured at least a measure of social, political and legal equality with their superiors (see ROME, I, 2-4). But in the long conflict both parties degenerated until neither militant democracy nor despotic oligarchy could hold the balance with justice. Democracy had won in the uphill fight, but lost itself and was obliged to accept a common master with aristocracy. It was of no small importance for Christianity that the Roman empire—practically synonymous with the orbis terrarum—had been converging both from internal and external causes toward a one-man government, the political counterpart of a universal religion with one God and Saviour.

(1) Julius Caesar.

For a couple of generations political leaders had foreseen the coming of supreme power and had tried to grasp it. But it was Julius Caesar who best succeeded in exploiting democracy for his own aggrandizement. He proved the potent factor of the first triumvirate (60 BC); his consulship (59) was truly kingly. In 49 BC he crossed the Rubicon and declared war upon his country, but in the same year was appointed Dictator and thus made his enemies the enemies of his country. He vanquished the Pompeians—senatorial and republican—at Pharsalia in 48 BC, Thapsus in 46 BC, and Munda in 45 BC. Between 46 and the Ides of March 44 no emperor before Diocletian was more imperial. He was recognized officially as "demigod"; temples were dedicated to his "clemency." He encouraged the people to abdicate to him their privileges of self-government and right of election, became chief (princeps) of the senate and high priest (pontifex maximus), so that he could manipulate even the will of the gods to his own purposes. His plans were equally great and beneficent. He saw the necessity of blending the heterogeneous populations into one people and extending Roman citizenship. His outlook was larger and more favorable to the coming of Christianity than that of his successor, Augustus. The latter learned from the fate of Caesar that he had advanced too rapidly along the imperial path. It taught Augustus caution.

(2) Augustus.

Octavian (Augustus) proved the potent factor of the second triumvirate. The field of Actiuim on September 2, 31 BC, decided the fate of the old Roman republic. The commonwealth sank in exhaustion after the protracted civil and internecine strife. It was a case of the survival of the fittest. It was a great crisis in human history, and a great man was at hand for the occasion. Octavian realized that supreme power was the only possible solution. On his return to Rome he began to do over again what Caesar had done—gather into his own hands the reins of government. He succeeded with more caution and shrewdness, and became the founder of the Roman empire, which formally began on January 16, 27 BC, and was signalized by the bestowal of the title AUGUSTUS (which see). Under republican forms he ruled as emperor, controlling legislation, administration and the armies. His policy was on the whole adhered to by the Julio-Claudian line, the last of which was Nero (died 68 AD).

(3) Flavian Dynasty.

In 68 AD a new "secret of empire" was discovered, namely, that the principate was not hereditary in one line and that emperors could be nominated by the armies. After the bloody civil wars of 68, "the year of the four emperors," Vespasian founded the IInd Dynasty, and dynastic succession was for the present again adopted. With the Flavians begins a new epoch in Roman history of pronounced importance for Christianity. The exclusive Roman ideas are on the wane. Vespasian was of plebeian and Sabine rank and thus non-Roman, the first of many non-Roman emperors. His ideas were provincial rather than Roman, and favorable to the amalgamation of classes, and the leveling process now steadily setting in. Though he accepted the Augustan "diarchy," he began to curtail the powers of the senate. His son Titus died young (79-81). Domitian’s reign marks a new epoch in imperialism: his autocratic spirit stands half-way between the Augustan principate and the absolute monarchy of Diocletian. Domitian, the last of the "twelve Caesars" (Suetonius), was assassinated September 18, 96 AD. The soldiers amid civil war had elected the last dynasty. This time the senate asserted itself and nominated a brief series of emperors—on the whole the best that wore the purple.

(4) Adoptive or Antonine Emperors.

The Antonine is another distinct era marked by humane government, recognition of the rights of the provinces and an enlargement of the ideas of universalism. Under Trajan the empire was extended; a series of frontier blockades was established—a confession that Rome could advance no farther. Under Hadrian a policy of retreat began; henceforth Rome is never again on the aggressive but always on the defensive against restless barbarians. Unmistakable signs of weakness and decay set in under Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. This, the best and happiest period of Roman imperial government, was the beginning of the end. In this era we detect a growing centralization of authority; the senate practically becomes a tool of the emperor. A distinct civil service was established which culminated in bureaucracy under Hadrian.

(5) Changing Dynasties, 193-284 AD.

On the death of Commodus, whose reign 180-93 AD stands by itself, the empire was put up for sale by the soldiery and knocked down to the highest bidder. The military basis of the empire was emphasized—which was indeed essential in this period of barbaric aggressiveness to postpone the fall of the empire until its providential mission was accomplished. A rapid succession of rulers follows, almost each new ruler bringing a new dynasty. Those disintegrating forces set in which developed so rapidly from the reign of Diocletian. The pax Romana had passed; civil commotion accentuated the dangers from invading barbarians. Plague and famine depopulated rich provinces. Rome itself drops into the background and the provincial spirit asserts itself proportionally. The year 212 AD is memorable for the edict of Caracalla converting all the free population into Roman citizens.

(6) From Diocletian until Partition.

In the next period absolute monarchy of pure oriental type was established by Diocletian, one of the ablest of Roman rulers. He inaugurated the principle of division and subdivision of imperial power. The inevitable separation of East and West, with the growing prominence of the East, becomes apparent. Rome and Italy are reduced to the rank of provinces, and new courts are opened by the two Augusti and two Caesars. Diocletian’s division of power led to civil strife, until Constantine once more united the whole empire under his sway. The center of gravity now shifted from West to East by the foundation of Constantinople. The empire was again parceled out to the sons of Constantine, one of whom, Constantius, succeeded in again reuniting it (350 AD). In 364 it was again divided, Valentinian receiving the West and Valens the East.

(7) Final Partition.

On the death of Theodosius I (395), West and East fell to his sons Honorius and Arcadius, never again to be united. The western half rapidly degenerated before barbaric hordes and weakling rulers. The western provinces and Africa were overrun by conquering barbarians who set up independent kingdoms on Roman soil. Burgundians and Visigoths settled in Gaul; the latter established a kingdom in Spain. The Vandals under Genseric settled first in Southern Spain, then crossed to Africa and reduced it. Goths burst over Roman frontiers, settled in Illyria and invaded Italy. Alaric and his Goths spared Rome in 408 for a ransom; in 409 he appeared again and set up Attalus as king of the Romans, and finally in 410 he captured and sacked the city. It was again sacked by the Vandals under Genseric in 462, and, lastly, fell before Odoacer and his Germans in 476; he announced to the world that the empire of the West had ceased. The empire of the East continued at Constantinople the greatest political power through a chequred history down to the capture of the city in 1214 and its final capture by the Turks in 1453, when its spiritual and intellectual treasures were opened to western lands and proved of untold blessing in preparing the way for the Reformation of the 16th century. The East conquered the West intellectually and spiritually. In the East was born the religion of humanity.

2. Coming of the Monarchy:

(1) Exhaustion of Parties.

The Roman world had for two generations been steadily drifting toward monarchy, and at least one generation before the empire was set up clear minds saw the inevitable necessity of one-man government or supreme power, and each political leader made it his ambition to grasp it. The civil wars ceased for a century with the death of Antony. But the struggles of Tiberius Gracchus and Scipio Aemilianus, Caius Gracchus and Opimius, Drusus and Philippus, Marius and Sulla, Pompey and Caesar, and lastly Octavian and Antony had exhausted the state, and this exhaustion of political parties opened the way for monarchy. In fact it was a necessity for the welfare of the commonwealth that one should be elevated who could fairly hold the balance between oligarchy and the commons and duly recognize the claims of all parties. Even Cato Uticensis—the incarnation of republican ideas—admitted it would be better to choose a master than wait for a tyrant. The bloody wars could find no solution except the survival of the fittest. Moreover, the free political institutions of Rome had become useless and could no longer work under the armed oppression of factions. If any form of government, only supreme power would prove effectual amid an enfeebled, unpopular senate, corrupt and idle commons, and ambitious individuals.

(2) Inability of Either Aristocracy or Democracy to Hold Equilibrium.

Events had proved that a narrow exclusive aristocracy was incapable of good government because of its utterly selfish policy and disregard for the rights of all lower orders. It had learned to burke liberty by political murders. Neither was the heterogeneous population of later Rome disciplined to obey or to initiate just government when it had seized power. This anarchy within the body politic opened an easy way to usurpation by individuals. No republic and no form of free popular government could live under such conditions. Caesar said of the republic that it was "a name without any substance," and Curio declared it to be a "vain chimera." The law courts shared in the general corruption. The judicia became the bone of contention between the senate and the knights as the best instrument for party interests, and enabled the holders

(a) to receive large bribes,

(b) to protect their own order when guilty of the most flagrant injustice, and

(c) to oppress other orders.

Justice for all, and especially for conquered peoples, was impossible. Elective assemblies refused to perform their proper functions because of extravagant bribery or the presence of candidates in arms. In fact, the people were willing to forego the prerogative of election and accept candidates at the nomination of a despotic authority. The whole people had become incapable of self-government and were willing—almost glad—to be relieved of the necessity.

(3) Precedents.

Besides, precedents for one-man government, or the concentration of supreme power in one hand, were not wanting, and had been rapidly multiplying in Roman history as it drew nearer to the end of the republic. Numerous protracted commands and special commissions had accustomed the state to the novelty of obedience without participation in administration. The 7 consulships of Marius, the 4 of Cinna, the 3 extraordinary commissions of Pompey and his sole consulship, the dictatorship of Sulla without time limit, the two 5-year-period military commands of Caesar, his repeated dictatorships the last of which was to extend for 10 years—all these were pointing directly toward Caesarism.

(4) Withdrawal from Public Life: Individualism.

On another side the way was opened to supreme power by the increasing tendency for some of the noblest and best minds to withdraw from public life to the seclusion of the heart life and thus leave the field open for demagogic ambition. After the conquests of Alexander the Great, philosophy abandoned the civic, political or city-state point of view and became moral and individual. Stoicism adopted the lofty spiritual teachings of Plato and combined them with the idea of the brotherhood of humanity. It also preached that man must work out his salvation, not in public political life, but in the secret agonies of his own soul. This religion took hold of the noblest Roman souls who were conscious of the weariness of life and felt the desire for spiritual fellowship and comfort. The pendulum in human systems of thought generally swings to the opposite extreme, and these serious souls abandoned public life for private speculation and meditation. Those who did remain at the helm of affairs—like the younger Cato—were often too much idealists, living in the past or in an ideal Platonic republic, and proved very unequal to the practical demagogues who lived much in the present with a keen eye to the future. Also a considerable number of the moderate party, who in better days would have furnished leaders to the state, disgusted with the universal corruption, saddened by the hopeless state of social strife and disquieted by uncertainty as to the issue of victory for either contending party, held aloof and must have wished for and welcomed a paramount authority to give stability to social life. Monarchy was in the air, as proved by the sentiments of the two pseudo-Sallustian letters, the author of which calls upon Caesar to restore government and reorganize the state, for if Rome perish the whole world must perish with her.

(5) Industrial.

To another considerable class monarchy must have been welcome—the industrial and middle class who were striving for competence and were engaged in trade and commerce. Civil wars and the strife of parties must have greatly hindered their activity. They cast their lot neither with the optimates nor with the idle commonalty. They desired only a stable condition of government under which they could uninterruptedly carry on their trades.

(6) Military.

Military conditions favored supreme power. Not only had the lengthened commands familiarized the general with his legions and given him time to seduce the soldiery to his own cause, but the soldiery too had been petted and spoiled like the spoon-fed populace. The old republican safeguards against ambition had been removed. The ranks of the armies had also been swollen with large numbers of provincials and non-Romans who had no special sentiment about republican forms. We have seen the military power growing more and more prominent. The only way of averting a military despotism supported and prompted by the soldiers was to set up a monarchy, holding all the military, legislative and administrative functions of the state in due proportion. This was superior to a merely nominal republic always cringing under fear of military leaders.

(7) Imperial Interests.

Lastly, the aggression and conquests of the republic had brought about a state of affairs demanding an empire. The East and the West had been subdued; many provinces and heterogeneous populations were living under the Roman eagle. These provinces could not permanently be plundered and oppressed as under the republican senate. The jus civile of Rome must learn also the jus naturale and jus gentium. An exclusive selfish senatorial clique was incapable of doing justice to the conquered peoples. One supreme ruler over all classes raised above personal ambition could best meet their grievances. The senate had ruled with a rod of iron; the provinces could not possibly be worse under any form of government. Besides, monarchy was more congenial to the provincials than a republic which they could not comprehend.

(8) Influence of Orient.

The Orientals had long been used to living under imperial and absolute forms of government and would welcome such a form among their new conquerors. Besides, residence in the Orient had affected Roman military leaders with the thirst after absolute power. And no other form was possible when the old city-state system broke down, and as yet federal government had not been dreamed of. Another consideration: the vast and dissimilar masses of population living within the Roman dominions could more easily be held together under a king or emperor than by a series of ever-changing administrations, just as the Austro-Hungarian and the British empires are probably held together better under the present monarchies than would be possible under a republican system. This survey may make clear the permanent interest in Roman history for all students of human history. The Roman empire was established indeed in the fullness of the times for its citizens and for Christianity.

II. Preparation of the Roman Empire for Christianity.

About the middle of the reign of Augustus a Jewish child was born who was destined to rule an empire more extensive and lasting than that of the Caesars. It is a striking fact that almost synchronous with the planting of the Roman empire Christianity appeared in the world. Although on a superficial glance the Roman empire may seem the greatest enemy of early Christianity, and at times a bitter persecutor, yet it was in many ways the grandest preparation and in some ways the best ally of Christianity. It ushered in politically the fullness of the times. The Caesars—whatever they may have been or done—prepared the way of the Lord. A brief account must here be given of some of the services which the Roman empire rendered to humanity and especially to the kingdom of God.

1. Pax Romana and the Unification of the World:

The first universal blessing conferred by the empire was the famous pax Romana ("Roman peace"). The world had not been at peace since the days of Alexander the Great. The quarrels of the Diadochi, and the aggression of the Roman republic had kept the nations in a state of constant turmoil. A universal peace was first established with the beginning of the reign of Augustus and the closing of the temple of Janus. In all the countries round the Mediterranean and from distant Britain to the Euphrates the world was at rest. Rome had made an end of her own civil wars and had put a stop to wars among the nations. Though her wars were often iniquitous and unjustifiable, and she conquered like a barbarian, she ruled her conquests like a humane statesman. The quarrels of the Diadochi which caused so much turmoil in the East were ended, the territory of the Lagids; Attalids, Seleucids and Antigonids having passed under the sway of Rome. The empire united Greeks, Romans and Jews all under one government. Rome thus blended the nations and prepared them for Christianity. Now for the first time we may speak of the world as universal humanity, the orbis terrarum, he oikoumene (Lu 2:1), the genus humanum. These terms represented humanity as living under a uniform system of government. All were members of one earthly state; the Roman empire was their communis omnium patria.

2. Cosmopolitanism:

This state of affairs contributed largely to the spread of cosmopolitanism which had set in with the Macedonia conqueror. Under the Roman empire all national barriers were removed; the great cities—Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, etc.—became meeting-places of all races and languages. The Romans were everywhere carrying their laws and civilization; Greeks settled in thousands at all important centers as professors, merchants, physicians, or acrobats; Orientals were to be found in large numbers with their gods and mysteries in Rome, "the epitome of the world." In the Roman armies soldiers from all quarters of the empire became companions. And many thousands of slaves of fine education and high culture contributed much to cosmopolitanism. Being in many cases far superior in culture to their masters, they became their teachers. And in every city of importance, East or West, large bodies of the Jewish Diaspora were settled.

3. Eclecticism:

This cosmopolitanism gave great impetus to a corresponding eclecticism of thought. Nothing could have been more favorable to Christianity than this intermixture of all races and mutual exchange of thought. Each people discovered how much it had in common with its neighbors. From the days of the Diadochi, Stoicism had been preaching the gospel of a civic and ethical brotherhood of humanity. In the fusion of different philosophic systems the emphasis had shifted from the city-state or political or national to the moral and human point of view. All men were thus reduced to equality before the One; only virtue and vice were the differentiating factors. Men were akin with the divine—at least the wise and good—so that one poet could say, "We are His offspring."

Stoicism did a noble service in preparation for Christianity by preaching universalism along the path of individualism. It also furnished comfort and strength to countless thousands of weary human lives and ministered spiritual support and calm resignation at many a heathen deathbed. It may be declared to be the first system of religious thought—for it was a religion more than a philosophy—which made a serious study of the diseases of the human soul. We know of course its weakness and imperfections, that it was an aristocratic creed appealing only to the elect of mortals, that it had little message for the fallen and lower classes, that it was cold and stern, that it lacked—as Seneca felt—the inspiration of an ideal life. But with all its failures it proved a worthy pedagogue to a religion which brought a larger message than that of Greece. It afforded the spiritual and moral counterpart to the larger human society of which the Roman empire was the political and visible symbol. Hitherto a good citizen had been a good man. Now a good man is a good citizen, and that not of a narrow city-state, but of the world. Stoicism also proved tile interpreter and mouthpiece to the Roman empire of the higher moral and spiritual qualities of Greek civilization; it diffused the best convictions of Greece about God and man, selecting those elements that were universal and of lasting human value.


The mind of the Roman empire was further prepared for Christianity by the Jewish Diaspora. Greeks learned from Jews and Jews from Greeks and the Romans from both. The unification effected by Roman Law and administration greatly aided the Diaspora. Jewish settlements became still more numerous and powerful both in the East and West. Those Jews bringing from the homeland the spiritual monotheism of their race combined it with Greek philosophy which had been setting steadily for monotheism. With the Jews the exclusively national element was subordinated to the more human and universal, the ceremonial to the religious. They even adopted the world-language of that day—Greek—and had their sacred Scriptures translated into this language in which they carried on an active proselytism. The Roman spirit was at first essentially narrow and exclusive. But even the Romans soon fell beneath the spell of this cosmopolitanism and eclecticism. As their conquests increased, their mind was correspondingly widened. They adopted the policy of Alexander—sparing the gods of the conquered and admitting them into the responsibility of guarding Rome; they assimilated them with their own Pantheon or identified them with Roman gods. In this way naturally the religious ideas of conquered races more highly civilized than the conquerors laid hold on Roman minds.


4. Protection for Greek Culture:

Another inestimable service rendered to humanity and Christianity was the protection which the Roman power afforded the Greek civilization. We must remember that the Romans were at first only conquering barbarians who had little respect for culture, but idealized power. Already they had wiped out two ancient and superior civilizations—that of Carthage without leaving a trace, and that of Etruria, traces of which have been discovered in modern times. It is hard to conceive what a scourge Rome would have proved to the world had she not fallen under the influence of the superior culture and philosophy of Greece. Had the Roman Mars not been educated by Pallas Athene the Romans would have proved Vandals and Tartars in blotting out civilization and arresting human progress. The Greeks, on the other hand, could conquer more by their preeminence in everything that pertains to the intellectual life of man than they could hold by the sword. A practical and political power was needed to protect Greek speculation. But the Romans after causing much devastation were gradually educated and civilized and have contributed to the uplifting and enlightenment of subsequent civilizations by both preserving and opening to the world the spiritual qualities of Greece. The kinship of man with the divine, learned from Socrates and Plato, went forth on its wide evangel. This Greek civilization, philosophy and theology trained many of the great theologians and leaders of the Christian church, so that Clement of Alexandria said that Greek philosophy and Jewish law had proved schoolmasters to bring the world to Christ. Paul, who prevented Christianity from remaining a Jewish sect and proclaimed its universalism, learned much from Greek—especially from Stoic—thought. It is also significant that the early Christian missionaries apparently went only where the Greek language was known, which was the case in all centers of Roman administration.

5. Linguistically:

The state of the Roman empire linguistically was in the highest degree favorable to the spread of Christianity. The Greek republics by their enterprise, superior genius and commercial abilities extended their dialects over the Aegean Islands, the coasts of Asia Minor, Sicily and Magna Graecia. The preeminence of Attic culture and literature favored by the short-lived Athenian empire raised this dialect to a standard among the Greek peoples. But the other dialects long persisted. Out of this babel of Greek dialects there finally arose a normal koine or "common language." By the conquests of Alexander and the Hellenistic sympathies of the Diadochi this common Greek language became the lingua franca of antiquity. Greek was known in Northern India, at the Parthian court, and on the distant shores of the Euxine (Black Sea). The native land of the gospel was surrounded on all sides by Greek civilization. Greek culture and language penetrated into the midst of the obstinate home-keeping Palestinian Jews. Though Greek was not the mother-tongue of our Lord, He understood Greek and apparently could speak it when occasion required—Aramaic being the language of His heart and of His public teachings. The history of the Maccabean struggle affords ample evidence of the extent to Which Greek culture, and with it the Greek language, were familiar to the Jews. There were in later days Hellenistic bodies of devout Jews in Jerusalem itself. Greek was recognized by the Jews as the universal language: the inscription on the wall of the outer temple court forbidding Gentiles under pain of death to enter was in Greek. The koine became the language even of religion—where a foreign tongue is least likely to be used—of the large Jewish Diaspora. They perceived the advantages of Greek as the language of commerce—the Jews’ occupation—of culture and of proselytizing. They threw open their sacred Scriptures in the Septuagint and other versions to the Greek-Roman world, adapting the translation in many respects to the requirements of Greek readers. "The Bible whose God was Yahweh was the Bible of one people: the Bible whose God was (kurios, "Lord") was the Bible of humanity." When the Romans came upon the scene, they found this language so widely known and so deeply rooted they could not hope to supplant it. Indeed they did not try—except in Sicily and Magna Graecia—to suppress Greek, but rather gladly accepted it as the one common means of intercourse among the peoples of their eastern dominions.


Though Latin was of course the official language of the conquerors, the decrees of governors generally appeared with a Greek translation, so that they might be "understanded of the people," and Greek overcame Latin, as English drove out the French of the Norman invaders. Latin poets and historians more than once complained that Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit ("conquered Greece vanquished its stern conqueror"). With the spread of Latin there were two world-languages side by side for the whole Roman empire, but Greek was prevailingly the language of the eastern half of the Roman empire which was the first soil for Christian churches and the first half of the empire to be Christianized. Later when Christianity was able to extend her activity to the West, she found Latin ready as the common means of intercourse. That Rome respected Greek is greatly to her credit and much to the advantage of Christianity. For Christianity, when it began to aim at universalism, dropped its native Aramaic. The gospel in order to become a world-evangel was translated into Greek. The early Christian missionaries did not learn the languages or patois of the Roman empire, but confined themselves to centers of Greek culture. Paul wrote in Greek to the church in Rome itself, of which Greek was the language. And while Christianity was spreading through the Greek East under the unification of Roman administration, the Romans were Romanizing and leveling the West for Latin Christianity (see LATIN). In the West it may be noted that the first foothold of the Christian religion was in Greek—witness the church in Gaul.

6. Materially:

In material ways too Rome opened the way for Christianity by building the great highways for the gospel. The great system of roads that knit then civilized world together served not only the legions and the imperial escorts, but were of equal service to the early missionaries, and when churches began to spring up over the empire, these roads greatly facilitated that church organization and brotherhood which strengthened the church to overcome the empire. With the dawn of the pax Romana all these roads became alive once more with a galaxy of caravans and traders. Commerce revived and was carried on under circumstances more favorable than any that obtained till the past century. Men exchanged not only material things, but also spiritual things. Many of these early traders and artisans were Christians, and while they bought and sold the things that perish, they did not lose an opportunity of spreading the gospel. For an empire which embraced the Mediterranean shores, the sea was an important means of intercommunication; and the Mediterranean routes were safer for commerce and travel at that period than during any previous one. Pompey the Great had driven the pirates off the sea, and with the fall of Sextus Pompey no hostile maritime forces remained. The ships which plied in countless numbers from point to point of this great inland sea offered splendid advantages and opportunity for early Christian missionary enthusiasm.

7. Tolerance:

The large measure of freedom permitted by Roman authorities to the religions of all nations greatly favored the growth of infant Christianity. The Roman empire was never in principle a persecutor with a permanent court of inquisition. Strange cults from the East and Egypt flourished in the capital, and except when they became a danger to public morality or to the peace of society they were allowed to spread unchecked under the eyes of the police. See below on non-Roman religions.

8. Pattern for a Universal Church:

Further, the Roman empire afforded Christianity a material and outward symbol for its spiritual ambition. It enlarged the vision of the church. Only a citizen (Paul) of such a world-empire could dream of a religion for all humanity. If the Roman sword could so conquer and unify the orbis terrarum, the militant church should be provoked to attempt nothing less in the religious sphere. It also furnished many a suggestion to the early organizers of the new community, until the Christian church became the spiritual counterpart of the Roman empire. The Christians appropriated many a weapon from the arsenal of the enemy and learned from them aggressiveness, the value of thorough organization and of military methods.

9. Roman Jurisprudence:

Roman law in its origins was characterized by the narrowest exclusiveness, and the first formal Roman code was on Greek patterns, yet the Romans here as in so many other respects improved upon what they had borrowed and became masters of jurisprudence in the antique world. As their empire and conceptions expanded, they remodeled their laws to embrace all their subjects. One of the greatest boons conferred by Rome upon the antique world was a uniform system of good laws—the source of much of our European jurisprudence. The Roman law played an equally important role with the Jewish in molding and disciplining for Christianity. It taught men to obey and to respect authority, and proved an effective leveling and civilizing power in the empire. The universal law of Rome was the pedagogue for the universal law of the gospel.


10. Negative Preparation:

The Romans could offer their subjects good laws, uniform government and military protection, but not a satisfactory religion. A universal empire called for a universal religion, which Christianity alone could offer. Finally, not only by what Rome had accomplished but by what she proved incapable of accomplishing, the way of the Lord was made ready and a people prepared for His coming. It was a terrible crisis in the civilization and religion of antiquity. The old national religions and systems of belief had proved unable to soothe increasing imperious moral and spiritual demands of man’s nature. A moral bankruptcy was immanent. The old Roman religion of abstract virtues had gone down in formalism; it was too cold for human hearts. Man could no longer find the field of his moral activity in the religion of the state; he was no longer merely an atom in society performing religious rites, not for his own soul, but for the good of the commonwealth. Personality had been slowly emerging, and the new schools of philosophy called man away from the state to seek peace with God in the solitude of his own soul first of all. But even the best of these schools found the crying need of a positive, not a negative religion, the need for a perfect ideal life as a dynamic over ordinary human lives. Thus was felt an imperious demand for a new revelation, for a fresh vision or knowledge of God. In earlier days men had believed that God had revealed Himself to primitive wise men or heroes of their race, and that subsequent generations must accept with faith what these earlier seers, who stood nearer God, as Cicero said, had been pleased to teach of the divine. But soon this stock of knowledge became exhausted. Plato, after soaring to the highest point of poetic and philosophic thought about the divine, admitted the need of a demon or superman to tell us the secrets of eternity. With the early Roman empire began a period of tremendous religious unrest. Men tried philosophy, magic, astrology, foreign rites, to find a sure place of rest. This accounts for the rapid and extensive diffusion of oriental mysteries which promised to the initiated communion with God here, a "better hope" in death, and satisfied the craving for immortality beyond time. These were the more serious souls who would gladly accept the consolations of Jesus. Others, losing all faith in any form of religion, gave themselves up to blank despair and accepted Epicureanism with its gospel of annihilation and its carpe diem morals. This system had a terrible fascination for those who had lost themselves; it is presented in its most attractive form in the verses of Lucretius—the Omar Khayyam of Latin literature. Others again, unable to find God, surrendered themselves to cheerless skepticism. The sore need of the new gospel of life and immortality will be borne in upon the mind of those who read the Greek and Roman sepulchral inscriptions. And even Seneca, who was almost a Christian in some respects, speaks of immortality as a "beautiful dream" (bellum somnium), though tribulation later gave a clearer vision of the "city of God." Servius Sulpicius, writing to Cicero a letter of consolation on the death of his much-missed Tullia, had only a sad "if" to offer about the future (Cic. Fam. iv.5). Nowhere does the unbelief and pessimism of pre-Christian days among the higher classes strike one more forcibly than in the famous discussion recorded by Sallust (Bel. Cat. li f) as to the punishment of the Catilinarian conspirators. Caesar, who held the Roman high-priesthood and the highest authority on the religion of the state, proposes life imprisonment, as death would only bring annihilation and rest to these villains—no hereafter, no reward or punishment (eam cuncta mortalium mala dissolvere; ultra neque curae neque gaudio locum esse). Cato next speaks—the most religious man of his generation—in terms which cast no rebuke upon Caesar’s Epicureanism and materialism (ibid., 52). Cicero (In Cat. iv.4) is content to leave immortality an open question. The philosophers of Athens mocked Paul on Mars’ Hill when he spoke of a resurrection. Such was the attitude of the educated classes of the Greek-Roman world at the dawn of Christianity, though it cannot be denied that there was also a strong desire for continued existence. The other classes were either perfunctorily performing the rites of a dead national religion or wereseeking, some, excitement or aesthetic worship or even scope for their baser passions, some, peace and promise for the future, in the eastern mysteries. The distinction between moral and physical evil was coming to the surface, and hence, a consciousness of sin. Religion and ethics had not yet been united. "The throne of the human mind" was declared vacant, and Christianity was at hand as the best claimant. In fact, the Greek-Roman mind had been expanding to receive the pure teachings of Jesus.


III. Attitude of the Roman Empire to Religions.

1. Roman or State Religion:

The history of Roman religion reveals a continuous penetration of Italian, Etruscan, Greek, Egyptian and oriental worship and rites, until the old Roman religion became almost unrecognizable, and even the antiquarian learning of a Varro could scarcely discover the original meaning or use of

many Roman deities. The Roman elements or modes of worship progressively retreated until they and the foreign rites with which they were overlaid gave way before the might of Christianity. As Rome expanded, her religious demands increased. During the regal period Roman religion was that of a simple agricultural community. In the period between the Regifugium and the Second Punic War Roman religion became more complicated and the Roman Pantheon was largely increased by importations from Etruria, Latium and Magna Graecia. The mysterious religion of Etruria first impressed the Roman mind, and from this quarter probably came the Trinity of the Capitol (Jupiter, Juno, Minerva) previously introduced into Etruria from Greek sources, thus showing that the Romans were not the first in Italy to be influenced by the religion of Greece. New modes of worship, non-Roman in spirit, also came in from the Etruscans and foreign elements of Greek mythology. Latium also made its contribution, the worship of Diana coming from Aricia and also a Latin Jupiter. Two Latin cults penetrated even within the Roman pomoerium—that of Hercules and Castor, with deities of Greek origin. The Greek settlements in Southern Italy (Magna Graecia) were generous in their contributions and opened the way for the later invasion of Greek deities. The Sibylline Books were early imported from Cumae as sacred scriptures for the Romans. In 493 BC during a famine a temple was built to the Greek trinity Demeter, Dionysus, and Persephone, under the Latin names of Ceres, Liber, and Libera—the beginning of distrust in the primitive Roman numina and of that practice, so oft repeated in Roman history, of introducing new and foreign gods at periods of great distress. In 433 Apollo came from the same region. Mercury and Asclepius followed in 293 BC, and in 249 BC Dis and Proserpina were brought from Tarentum. Other non-Roman modes of approach to deity were introduced. Rome had been in this period very broad-minded in her policy of meeting the growing religious needs of her community, but she had not so far gone beyond Italy. A taste had also developed for dramatic and more aesthetic forms of worship. The period of the Second Punic War was a crisis in Roman religious life, and the faith of the Romans waned before growing unbelief. Both the educated classes and the populace abandoned the old Roman religion, the former sank into skepticism, the latter into superstition; the former put philosophy in the place of religion, the latter the more sensuous cults of the Orient. The Romans went abroad again to borrow deities—this time to Greece, Asia and Egypt. Greek deities were introduced wholesale, and readily assimilated to or identified with Roman deities (see ROME, III, 1). In 191 BC Hebe entered as Juventas, in 179 Artemis as Diana, in 138 Ares as Mars. But the home of religion—the Orient—proved more helpful. In 204 BC Cybele was introduced from Pessinus to Rome, known also as the Great Mother (magna mater)—a fatal and final blow to old Roman religion and an impetus to the wilder and more orgiastic cults and mysterious glamor which captivated the common mind. Bacchus with his gross immorality soon followed. Sulla introduced Ma from Phrygia as the counterpart of the Roman Bellona, and Egypt gave Isis. In the wars of Pompey against the pirates Mithra was brought to Rome—the greatest rival of Christianity. Religion now began to pass into the hands of politicians and at the close of the republic was almost entirely in their hands. Worship degenerated into formalism, and formalism culminated in disuse. Under the empire philosophic systems continued still more to replace religion, and oriental rites spread apace. The religious revival of Augustus was an effort to breathe life into the dry bones. His plan was only partly religious, and partly political—to establish an imperial and popular religion of which he was the head and centering round his person. He discovered the necessity of an imperial religion. In the East kings had long before been regarded as divine by their subjects. Alexander the Great, like a wise politician, intended to use this as one bond of union for his wide dominions. The same habit extended among the Diadochian kings, especially in Egypt and Syria. When Augustus had brought peace to the world, the Orient was ready to hail him as a god. Out of this was evolved the cult of the reigning emperor and of Roma personified. This worship gave religious unity to the empire, while at the same time magnifying the emperor. But the effort was in vain: the old Roman religion was dead, and the spiritual needs of the empire continued to be met more and more by philosophy and the mysteries which promised immortality. The cult of the Genius of the emperor soon lost all reality. Vespasian himself on his deathbed jested at the idea of his becoming a god. The emperor-worship declined steadily, and in the 3rd and 4th centuries oriental worships were supreme. The religion of the Roman empire soon became of that cosmopolitan and eclectic type so characteristic of the new era.

2. Non-Roman Religions: religiones licitae and religiones illicitae:

The non-Roman religions were divided into religiones licitae ("licensed worships") and religiones illicitae ("unlicensed"). The Romans at different times, on account of earthquakes, pestilences, famine or military disasters, introduced non-Roman cults as means of appeasing the numina. This generally meant that the cults in question could be performed with impunity by their foreign adherents. It legalized the collegia necessary for these worships from which Roman citizens were by law excluded. But, generally speaking, any people settling at Rome was permitted the liberty of its own native worship in so far as the exercise of it did not interfere with the peace of the state or corrupt the morals of society. On one occasion (186 BC), by a decree of the senate, a severe inquisition was instituted against the Bacchanalian rites which had caused flagrant immorality among the adherents. But Rome was never a systematic persecutor. These foreign rites and superstitions, though often forbidden and their professed adherents driven from the city, always returned stronger than ever. Roman citizens soon discovered the fascination of oriental and Greek mysteries, and devoted themselves to foreign gods while maintaining the necessary formalism toward the religion of the state. Very often too Roman citizens would be presidents of these religious brotherhoods. It should not be forgotten that the original moral elements had fallen out of Roman religion, and that it had become simply a political and military religion for the welfare of the state, not for the salvation of the individual. The individual must conform to certain prescribed rites in order to avert calamity from the state. This done, the state demanded no more, and left him a large measure of freedom in seeking excitement or aesthetic pleasure in the warm and more social foreign mysteries. Thus, while the Romans retained the distinction of religiones licitae and illicitae, they seldom used severity against the latter. Many unlicensed cults were never disturbed. In fact, the very idea of empire rendered toleration of non-Roman religions a necessity. Practically, though not theoretically, the empire abandoned the idea of religiones illicitae, while it retained it upon the statute-book to use in case of such an emergency as the Christian religion involved. Not only the government was tolerant, but the different varieties of religions were tolerant and on good terms with each other. The same man might be initiated into the mysteries of half a dozen divinities. The same man might even be priest of two or more gods. Some had not the slightest objection to worshipping Christ along with Mithra, Isis and Adonis. Men were growing conscious of the oneness of the divine, and credited their neighbors with worshipping the One Unknown under different names and forms. Hadrian is said to have meditated the erection of temples throughout the empire to the Unknown God.

(1) Judaism a "religio licita."

An interesting and, for the history of Christianity, important example of a religio licita is Judaism. No more exclusive and obstinate people could have been found upon whom to bestow the favor. Yet from the days of Julius Caesar the imperial policy toward the Jew and his religion was uniformly favorable, with the brief exception of the mad attempt of Gaius. The government often protected them against the hatred of the populace. Up to 70 AD they were allowed freely to send their yearly contribution to the temple; they were even allowed self-governing privileges and legislative powers among themselves, and thus formed an exclusive community in the midst of Roman society. Even the disastrous war of 68-70 AD and the fall of Jerusalem did not bring persecution upon the Jew, though most of these self-governing and self-legislating powers were withdrawn and the Jews were compelled to pay a poll-tax to the temple of the Capitoline Jupiter. Still their religion remained licensed, tolerated, protected. They were excused from duties impossible for their religion, such as military service. This tolerance of the Jewish religion was of incalculable importance to infant Christianity which at first professed to be no more than a reformed and expanded Judaism.

(2) Why Christianity Was Alone Proscribed.

The question next arises: If such was the universally mild and tolerant policy of the empire to find room for all gods and cults, and to respect the beliefs of all the subject peoples, how comes the anomaly that Christianity alone was proscribed and persecuted? Christianity was indeed a religio illicita, not having been accepted by the government as a religio licita, like Judaism. But this is no answer. There were other unlicensed religions which grew apace in the empire. Neither was it simply because Christianity was aggressive and given to proselytism and dared to appear even in the imperial household: Mithraism and Isism were militant and aggressive, and yet were tolerated. Nor was it simply because of popular hatred, for the Christian was not hated above the Jew. Other reasons must explain the anomaly.

(3) Two Empires: Causes of Conflict.

The fact was that two empires were born about the same time so like and yet so unlike as to render a conflict and struggle to the death inevitable. The Christians were unequivocal in asserting that the society for which they were waiting and laboring was a "kingdom."

(a) Confusion of Spiritual and Temporal:

They thought not merely in national or racial but in ecumenical terms. The Romans could not understand a kingdom of God upon earth, but confused Christian ambition with political. It was soon discovered that Christianity came not to save but to destroy and disintegrate the empire. Early Christian enthusiasm made the term "kingdom" very provoking to pagan patriotism, for many, looking for the Parousia of their Lord, were themselves misled into thinking of the new society as a kingdom soon to be set up upon the earth with Christ as king. Gradually, of course, Christians became enlightened upon this point, but the harm had been done. Both the Rein empire and Christianity were aiming at a social organization to embrace the genus humanum. But though these two empires were so alike in several points and the one had done so much to prepare the way for the other, yet the contrast was too great to allow conciliation. Christianity would not lose the atom in the mass; it aimed at universalism along the path of individualism—giving new value to human personality.

(b) Unique Claims of Christianity:

It seemed also to provoke Roman pride by its absurd claims. It preached that the world was to be destroyed by fire to make way for new heavens and a new earth, that the Eternal City (Rome) was doomed to fall, that a king would come from heaven whom Christians were to obey, that amid the coming desolations the Christians should remain tranquil.

(c) Novelty of Christianity:

Again after Christianity came from underneath the aegis of Judaism, it must have taken the government somewhat by surprise as a new and unlicensed religion which had grown strong under a misnomer. It was the newest and latest religion of the empire; it came suddenly, as it were, upon the stage with no past. It was not apparent to the Roman mind that Christianity had been spreading for a generation under the tolerance granted to Judaism (sub umbraculo licitae Judeorum religionis: Tert.), the latter of which was "protected by its antiquity," as Tacitus said. The Romans were of a conservative nature and disliked innovations. The greatest statesman of the Augustan era, Maecenas, advised the emperor to extend no tolerance to new religions as subversive of monarchy (Dio Cassius lii.36). A new faith appearing suddenly with a large clientele might be dangerous to the public peace (multitude ingens: Tac. Ann. xv.44; polu plethos Clem. Rom.; Cor 1 6).

(d) Intolerance and Exclusiveness of the Christian Religion and Christian Society:

In one marked way Christians contravcned the tolerant eclective spirit of the empire—the intolerance and absoluteness of their religion and the exclusiveness of their society. All other religions of the empire admitted compromise and eclecticism, were willing to dwell rather on the points of contact with their neighbors than on the contrast. But Christianity admitted no compromise, was intolerant to all other systems. It must be admitted that in this way it was rather unfair to other cults which offered comfort and spiritual support to thousands of the human race before the dawn of Christianity. But we shall not blame, when we recognize that for its own life and mission it was necessary to show itself at first intolerant. Many heathen would gladly accept Christ along with Mithra and Isis and Serapis. But Christianity demanded complete separation. The Jesus cult could tolerate no rival: it claimed to be absolute, and worshippers of Jesus must be separate from the world. The Christian church was absolute in its demands; would not rank with, but above, all worships. This spirit was of course at enmity with that of the day which enabled rival cults to co-exist with the greatest indifference. Add to this the exclusive state of Christian society. No pious heathen who had purified his soul by asceticism and the sacraments of antiquity could be admitted into membership unless he renounced things dear to him and of some spiritual value. In every detail of public life this exclusive spirit made itself felt. Christians met at night and held secret assemblies in which they were reputed to perpetrate the most scandalous crimes. Thyestean banquets, Oedipean incest, child murder, were among the charges provoked by their exclusiveness.

(e) Obstinatio:

Add to this also the sullen obstinacy with which Christians met the demands of imperial power—a feature very offensive to Rein governors. Their religion would be left them undisturbed if they would only render formal obedience to the religion of the state. Roman clemency and respect for law were baffled before Christian obstinacy. The martyr’s courage appeared as sheer fanaticism. The pious Aurelius refers but once to Christianity, and in the words psile parataxis, "sheer obstinacy," and Aristides apparently refers to Christianity as authadeia, stubbornness.

See PERSECUTION, sec. 18.

(f) Aggressiveness against Pagan Faith:

But the Christians were not content with an uncompromising withdrawal from the practices of heathen worship: they also actively assailed the pagan cult. To the Christians they became doctrines of demons. The imperial cult and worship of the Genius of the emperor were very unholy in their sight. Hence, they fell under the charges of disloyalty to the emperor and might be proved guilty of majestas. They held in contempt the doctrine that the greatness of Rome was due to her reverence for the gods; the Christians were atheists from the pagan point of view. And as religion was a political concern for the welfare of the state, atheism was likely to call down the wrath of divinity to the subversion of the state.

(g) Christianos ad leones: Public Calamities:

Very soon when disasters began to fall thickly upon the Roman empire, the blame was laid upon the Christians. In early days Rome had often sought to appease the gods by introducing external cults; at other times oriental cults were expelled in the interests of public morality. Now in times of disaster Christians became the scapegoats. If famine, drought, pestilence, earthquake or any other public calamity threatened, the cry was raised "the Christians to the lions" (see NERO; PERSECUTION, sec. 12). This view of Christianity as subversive of the empire survived the fall of Rome before Alaric. The heathen forgot—as the apologists showed—that Rome had been visited by the greatest calamities before the Christian era and that the Christians were the most self-sacrificing in periods of public distress, lending succor to pagan and Christian alike.

(h) Odium generis humani:

All prejudices against Christianity were summed up in odium generis humani, "hatred for the human race" or society, which was reciprocated by "hatred of the human race toward them." The Christians were bitterly hated, not only by the populace, but by the upper educated classes. Most of the early adherents belonged to the slave, freedman and artisan classes, "not many wise, not many noble." Few were Roman citizens. We have mentioned the crimes which popular prejudice attributed to this hated sect. They were in mockery styled Christiani by the Antiochians (a name which they at first resented), and Nazarenes by the Jews. No nicknames were too vile to attach to them—Asinarii (the sect that worshipped the ass’s head), Sarmenticii or Semaxii. Roman writers cannot find epithets strong enough. Tacitus reckons the Christian faith among the "atrocious and abominable things" (atrocia aut pudenda) which flooded Rome, and further designates it superstitio exitiabilis ("baneful superstition," Ann. xv.44), Suetonius (Ner. 16) as novel and maletic (novae ac maleficae), and the gentle Pliny (Ep. 97) as vile and indecent (prava immodica). Well might Justus say the Christians were "hated and reviled by the whole human race." This opprobrium was accentuated by the attacks of philosophy upon Christianity. When the attention of philosophers was drawn to the new religion, it was only to scorn it. This attitude of heathen philosophy is best understood in reading Celsus and the Christian apologists.

(4) The Roman Empire Not the Only Disturbing Factor.

Philosophy long maintained its aloofness from the religion of a crucified Galilean: the "wise" were the last to enter the kingdom of God. When later Christianity had established itself as a permanent force in human thought, philosophy deigned to consider its claims. But it was too late; the new faith was already on the offensive. Philosophy discovered its own weakness and began to reform itself by aiming at being both a philosophy and a religion. This is particularly the case in neo-Platonism (in Plotinus) in which reason breaks down before revelation and mysticism. Another force disturbing the peace of the Christian church was the enemy within the fold. Large numbers of heathen had entered the ecclesia bringing with them their oriental or Greek ideas, just as Jewish Christians brought their Judaism with them. This led to grave heresies, each system of thought distorting in its own way the orthodox faith. Later another ally joined the forces against Christianity—reformed paganism led by an injured priesthood. At first the cause of Christianity was greatly aided by the fact that there was no exclusive and jealous priesthood at the head of the Greek-Roman religion, as in the Jewish and oriental religions. There was thus no dogma and no class interested in maintaining a dogma. Religious persecution is invariably instituted by the priesthood, but in the Roman world it was not till late in the day when the temples and sacrifices were falling into desuetude that we find a priesthood as a body in opposition. Thus the Roman imperial power stood not alone in antagonism to Christianity, but was abetted and often provoked to action by

(a) popular hate,

(b) philosophy,

(c) pagan priesthood,

(d) heresies within the church.

IV. Relations between the Roman Empire and Christianity.

We have here to explain how the attitude of the Roman empire, at first friendly or indifferent, developed into one of fierce conflict, the different stages in the policy—if we can speak of any uniform policy—of the Roman government toward Christianity, the charges or mode of procedure on which Christians were condemned, and when and how the profession of Christianity (nomen ipsum) became a crime. We shall see the Roman empire progressively weakening and Christianity gaining ground. For the sake of clearness we shall divide the Roman empire into six periods, the first from the commencement of the Christian era till the last of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

1. Beginning of Christianity until Death of Nero, 68 AD:

At first the presence of the Christian faith was unknown to Roman authorities. It appeared first merely as a reformed and more spiritual Judaism; its earliest preachers and adherents alike never dreamed of severing from the synagogue. Christians were only another of the Jewish sects to which a Jew might belong while adhering to Mosaism and Judaism. But soon this friendly relation became strained on account of the expanding views of some of the Christian preachers, and from the introduction of Gentile proselytes. The first persecutions for the infant church came entirely from exclusive Judaism, and it was the Jews who first accused Christians before the Roman courts. Even so, the Roman government not only refused to turn persecutor, but even protected the new faith both against Jewish accusations and against the violence of the populace (Ac 21:31 f). And the Christian missionaries—especially Paul—soon recognized in the Roman empire an ally and a power for good. Writing to the Romans Paul counsels them to submit in obedience to the powers that be, as "ordained of God." His favorable impression must have been greatly enhanced by his mild captivity at Rome and his acquittal by Nero on the first trial. The Roman soldiers had come to his rescue in Jerusalem to save his life from the fanaticism of his own coreligionists. Toward the accusations of the Jews against their rivals the Romans were either indifferent, as Gallio the proconsul of Achaia, who "cared for none of those things" (Ac 18:12 ), or recognized the innocence of the accused, as did both Felix (Ac 24:1 ) and Porcius Festus (Ac 25:14 ). Thus the Romans persisted in looking upon Christians as a sect of the Jews. But the Jews took another step in formulating a charge of disloyalty (begun before Pilate) against the new sect as acting "contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus" (Ac 17:7; compare Ac 25:8). Christianity was disowned thus early by Judaism and cast upon its own resources. The increasing numbers of Christians would confirm to the Roman government the independence of Christianity. And the trial of a Roman citizen, Paul, at Rome would further enlighten the authorities.

The first heathen persecution of Christianity resulted from no definite policy, no apprehension of danger to the body politic, and no definite charges, but from an accidental spark which kindled the conflagration of Rome (July, 64 AD). Up to this time no emperor had taken much notice of Christianity. It was only in the middle of the reign of Augustus that Jesus was born. In the reign of Tiberius belong Jesus’ public ministry, crucifixion and resurrection; but his reign closed too early (37 AD) to allow any prominence to the new faith, though this emperor was credited with proposing to the senate a decree to receive Christ into the Roman pantheon—legend of course. Under the brief principate of the mad Gaius (37-41 AD) the "new way" was not yet divorced from the parent faith. Gaius caused a diversion in favor of the Christians by his persecution of the Jews and the command to set up his own statue in the temple. In the next reign (Claudius, 41-54 AD) the Jews were again harshly treated, and thousands were banished from Rome (Judaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit: Suet. Claud. 25). Some would see in this an action against the Christians by interpreting the words as meaning riots between Jews and Christians, in consequence of which some Christians were banished as Jews, but Dio Cassius (lx.6) implies that it was a police regulation to restrain the spread of Jewish worship. It was in the reign of Nero, after the fire of 64 AD, that the first hostile step was taken by the government against the Christians, earliest account of which is given by Tacitus (Ann. xv.44). Nero’s reckless career had given rise to the rumor that he was the incendiary, that he wished to see the old city burned in order to rebuild it on more magnificent plans. See NERO. Though he did everything possible to arrest the flames, even exposing his own life, took every means of alleviating the destitution of the sufferers, and ordered such religious rites as might appease the wrath of the gods, the suspicion still clung to him.

"Accordingly in order to dissipate the rumor, he put forward as guilty (subdidit reos) and inflicted the most cruel punishments on those who were hated for their abominations (flagitia) and called Christians by the populace. The originator of that name, Christus, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilatus in the reign of Tiberius, and the baneful superstition (exitiabilis superstitio) put down for the time being broke out again, not only throughout Judea, the home of this evil, but also in the City (Rome) where all atrocious and shameful (atrocia aut pudenda) things converge and are welcomed. Those therefore who confessed (i.e. to being Christians) were first arrested, and then by the information gained from them a large number (multitudo ingens) were implicated (coniuncti is the manuscript reading, not conuicti), not so much on the charge of incendiarism as for hatred of mankind (odio humani generis). The victims perished amid mockery (text here uncertain); some clothed in the skins of wild beasts were torn to pieces by dogs; others impaled on crosses in order to be set on fire to afford light by night after daylight had died. .... Whence (after these cruelties) commiseration began to be felt for them, though guilty and deserving the severest penalties (quamquam adversus sontes et novissima exempla meritos), for men felt their destruction was not from considerations of public welfare but to gratify the cruelty of one person (Nero)."

This passage—the earliest classical account of the crucifixion and the only mention of Pilate in a heathen author—offers some difficulties which require to be glanced at. It is held by some that Tacitus contradicts himself by writing subdidit reos at the beginning and sontes at the end, but sontes does not mean guilty of incendiarism, but guilty from the point of view of the populace and deserving severe punishment for other supposed flagitia, not for arson. It is thus quite clear that Tacitus regards the Christians as innocent, though he had not the slightest kindly feeling toward them. Qui fatebantur means most naturally, "those who confessed to being Christians," though Arnold argues that confiteri or profiteri would be the correct word for professing a religion. But this would contradict both the sense and the other evidences of the context; for if fatebantur could mean "confessed to arson," then the whole body of Christians should have been arrested, and, further, this would have diverted suspicion from Nero, which was not the case according to Tacitus. Some Christians boldly asserted their religion, others no doubt, as in Bithynia, recanted before tribulation. By indicio eorum Ramsay (Christianity in the Roman Empire, 233) understands "on the information elicited at their trial," i.e. from information gathered by the inquisitors in the course of the proceedings. This incidental information implicated a large number of others, hence Ramsay prefers the manuscript reading coniuncti to the correction conuicti. This is in order to explain the difficulty seemingly raised, namely, that the noblest Christians who boldly confessed their Christianity would seek to implicate brethren. But it is not impossible that some of these bold spirits did condescend to give the names of their coreligionists to the Roman courts. Hence, Hardy (Christianity and the Roman Government, 67) prefers the more usual rendering of indicio eorum as "on information received from them." This may have occurred either

(1) through torture, or

(2) for promised immunity, or

(3) on account of local jealousies.

The early Christian communities were not perfect; party strife often ran high as at Corinth. And in a church like that of Rome composed of Jewish and pagan elements and undoubtedly more cosmopolitan than Corinth, a bitter sectarian spirit is easy to understand. This as a probable explanation is much strengthened and rendered almost certain by the words of Clement of Rome, who, writing to the church at Corinth (chapter vi) from Rome only a generation after the persecution, and thus familiar with the internal history of the Roman ecclesia, twice asserts that a (polu plethos = Tac. multitudo ingens) of the Roman Christians suffered (dia zelos), "through jealousy or strife." The most natural and obvious meaning is "mutual or sectarian jealousy." But those who do not like this fact explain it as "by the jealousy of the Jews." Nothing is more easily refuted, for had it been the jealousy of the Jews Clement would not have hesitated one moment to say so. Those who are familiar with the Christian literature of that age know that the Christians were none too sensitive toward Jewish feelings. But the very fact that it was not the Jews made Clement rather modestly omit details the memory of which was probably still bearing fruit, even in his day. Once more correpti, usually rendered "arrested," is taken by Hardy as "put upon their trial." He argues that this is more in accord with Tacitean usage. A "huge multitude" need not cause us to distrust Tacitus. It is a relative term; it was a considerable number to be so inhumanly butchered. There is some hesitation as to whether odio humani generis is objective or subjective genitive: "hatred of the Christians toward the human race" or "hatred of the human race toward the Christians." Grammatically of course it may be either, but that it is the former there can be no doubt: it was of the nature of a charge against Christians (Ramsay).


Some have impugned the veracity of Tacitus in this very important passage, asserting that he had read back the feelings and state of affairs of his own day (half a century later) into this early Neronian period. This early appearance of Christianity as a distinct religion and its "huge multitude" seem impossible to some. Schiller has accordingly suggested that it was the Jews who as a body at Rome were persecuted, that the Christians being not yet distinct from Jews shared in the persecutions and suffered, not as Christians, but as Jews. But Tacitus is too trustworthy a historian to be guilty of such a confusion; besides, as proconsul in Asia he must have been more or less familiar with the origin of the Christian party. Also Poppea was at this time mistress of Nero’s affections and sufficiently influential with him to stay such a cruel persecution against those to whom she had a leaning and who claimed her as proselyte. Again, the Jewish faith was certe licita and a recognized worship of the empire.

The next question is, Why were the Christians alone selected for persecution? That they were so singled out we know, but exactly for what reason is hard to say with certainty. A number of reasons no doubt contributed.

(1) Farrar (Early Days chapter iv) sees "in the proselytism of Poppea, guided by Jewish malice, the only adequate explanation of the first Christian persecution," and Lightfoot is of the same opinion, but this by itself is inadequate, though the Jews would be glad of an opportunity of taking revenge on their aggressive opponents.

(2) Christians had already become in the eyes of the Roman authorities a distinct sect, either from the reports of the eastern provincial governors, where Christianity was making most headway, or from the attention attracted by Paul’s first trial. They were thus the newest religious sect, and as such would serve as victims to appease deity and the populace.

(3) Even if ingens multitudo be rhetorical, the Christians were no doubt considerably numerous in Rome. Their aggressiveness and active proselytism made their numbers even more formidable.

(4) They were uncompromising in their expression of their beliefs; they looked for a consummation of the earth by fire and were also eagerly expecting the Parousia of their king to reconstitute society. These tenets together with their calm faith amid the despair of others would easily cast suspicion upon them.

(5) For whatever reason, they had earned the opprobrium of the populace. "The hatred for the Jews passed over to hatred for the Christians" (Mommsen). A people whom the populace so detested must have fallen under the surveillance of the city police administration.

(6) A large proportion of the Christian community at Rome would be non-Roman and so deserve no recognition of Roman privileges.

These reasons together may or may not explain the singling-out of the Christians. At any rate they were chosen as scapegoats to serve Nero and his minion Tigellinus. The origin of the first persecution was thus purely accidental—in order to remove suspicion from Nero. It was not owing to any already formulated policy, neither through apprehension of any danger to the state, nor because the Christians were guilty of any crimes, though it gave an opportunity of investigation and accumulation of evidence. But accidental as this persecution was in origin, its consequences were of far reaching importance. There are three principal views as to the date of the policy of proscription of the new faith by the Roman government:

(1) the old view that persecution for the name, i.e. for the mere profession of Christianity, began under Trajan in 112 AD—a view now almost universally abandoned;

(2) that of Ramsay (Christianity in the Roman Empire, 242 ff, and three articles in The Expositor, 1893), who holds that this development from punishment for definite crimes (flagitia) to proscription "for the name" took place between 68 and 96 AD, and

(3) that of Hardy (Christianity and the Roman Government, 77), Mommsen (Expos, 1893, 1-7) and Sanday (ibid., 1894, 406 ff)—and adopted by the writer of this article—that the trial of the Christians under Nero resulted in the declaration of the mere profession of Christianity as a crime punishable by death.

Tacitus apparently represents the persecution of the Christians as accidental and isolated and of brief duration (in the place cited), while Suetonius (Ner. 16) mentions the punishment of Christians in a list of permanent police regulations for the maintenance of good order, into which it would be inconsistent to introduce an isolated case of procedure against the "baneful superstition" (Ramsay, op. cit., p. 230). But these two accounts are not contradictory, Tacitus giving the initial stage and Suetonius "a brief statement of the permanent administrative principle into which Nero’s action ultimately resolved itself" (ibid., 232). Nero’s police administration, then, pursued as a permanent policy what was begun merely to avert suspicion from Nero. But as yet, according to Ramsay, Christians were not condemned as Christians, but on account of certain flagitia attaching to the profession and because the Roman police authorities had learned enough about the Christians to regard them as hostile to society. A trial still must be held and condemnation pronounced "in respect not of the name but of serious offenses naturally connected with the name," namely, first incendiarism, which broke down, and secondly hostility to civilized society and charges of magic. The others agree so far with Ramsay as describing the first stages, but assert that odium humani generis was not of the nature of a definite charge, but disaffection to the social and political arrangements of the empire. At the outset a trial was needed, but soon as a consequence the trial could be dispensed with, the Christians being "recognized as a society whose principle might be summarized as odium generis humani." A trial became unnecessary; the religion itself involved the crimes, and as a religion it was henceforth proscribed. The surveillance over them and their punishment was left to the police administration which could step in at any time with severe measures or remain remiss, according as exigencies demanded. Christianity was henceforth a religio illicita. The Roman government was never a systematic persecutor. The persecution or non-persecution of Christianity depended henceforth on the mood of the reigning emperor, the character of his administration, the activity of provincial governors, the state of popular feeling against the new faith, and other local circumstances. There is no early evidence that the Neronian persecution extended beyond Rome, though of course the "example set by the emperor necessarily guided the action of all Roman officials." The stormy close of Nero’s reign and the tumultuous days till the accession of Vespasian created a diversion in favor of Christianity. Orosius (Hist. vii.7) is too late an authority for a general persecution (per omnes provincias pari persecutione excruciari imperavit; ipsum nomen exstirpare conatus ....). Besides, Paul after his acquittal seems to have prosecuted his missionary activity without any extraordinary hindrances, till he came to Rome the second time. This Neronian persecution is important for the history of Christianity: Nero commenced the principle of punishing Christians, and thus made a precedent for future rulers. Trouble first began in the world-capital; the next stage will be found in the East; and another in Africa and the West. But as yet persecution was only local. Nero was the first of the Roman persecutors who, like Herod Agrippa, came to a miserable end—a fact much dwelt upon by Lactantius and other Christian writers.

2. Flavian Period, 68-96 AD:

In the Flavian period no uniform imperial policy against Christianity can be discovered. According to Ramsay the Flavians developed the practice set by Nero from punishment of Christians for definite crimes to proscription of the name. But, as we have seen, the Neronian persecution settled the future attitude of the Roman state toward the new faith. The Flavians could not avoid following the precedent set by Nero. Christianity was spreading—especially in the East and at Rome. We have no account of any persecution under Vespasian (though Hilary erroneously speaks of him as a persecutor along with Nero and Decius) and Titus, but it does not follow that none such took place. As the whole matter was left to the police administration, severity would be spasmodic and called forth by local circumstances. The fall of Jerusalem must have had profound influence both on Judaism and on Christianity. For the former it did what the fall of Rome under Goths, Vandals, and Germans did for the old Roman religion—it weakened the idea of a national God bound up with a political religion. The cleft between Judaism and its rival would now become greater. Christianity was relieved from the overpowering influence of a national center, and those Jews who now recognized the futility of political dreams would more readily join the Christian faith. Not only the distinction but the opposition and hostility would now be more apparent to outsiders, though Vespasian imposed the poll-tax on Jewish Christians and Jews alike. No memory of harshness against Christianity under Vespasian has survived. Ramsay (op. cit., 257) would interpret a mutilated passage of Suetonius (Vesp. 15) as implying Vespasian’s reluctance to carry out justa supplicia against Christians.

Titus, "the darling of the human race," is not recorded as a persecutor, but his opinion of Judaism and Christianity as stated in the council of war before Jerusalem in 70 AD and recorded by Sulpicius Severus (Chron. ii.30, 6) is interesting as an approval of the policy adopted by Nero. Severus’ authority is undoubtedly Tacitus (Bernays and Mommsen). The authenticity of the speech as contradicting the account of Josephus has been impugned; at any rate it represents the point of view of Tacitus. Titus then advocates the destruction of the temple in order that the religion of the Jews and the Christians may be more thoroughly extirpated (quo plenius Judeorum et Christianorum religio tolleretur), since these religions though opposed to each other were of the same origin, the Christians having sprung from the Jews. If the root was removed the stem would readily perish (radice sublata, stirpem facile perituram). We know, however, of no active measures of Titus against either party, his short reign perhaps allowing no time for such.

It is Domitian who stands out prominently as the persecutor of this period, as Nero of the first period. His procedure against Christians was not an isolated act, but part of a general policy under which others suffered. His reign was a return to ancient principles. He attempted to reform morals, suppress luxury and vice, banish immoral oriental rites, actors, astrologers and philosophers. It was in his attempt to revive the national religion that he came in conflict with the universal religion. His own cousin, Flavius Clemens, was condemned apparently for Christianity (atheism), and his wife, Domitilla, was banished. The profession of Christianity was not sufficient for the condemnation of Roman citizens of high standing; hence the charges of atheism or majestas were put forward. Refusal to comply with the religion of the national gods could be brought under the latter. But for ordinary Roman citizens and for provincials the profession of Christianity merited death. No definite edict or general proscription was enacted; only the principle instituted by Nero was allowed to be carried out. There was, as Mommsen remarks, a standing proscription of Christians as of brigands, but harsh procedure against both was spasmodic and depended on the caprice or character of provincial governors. Domitian took one definite step against Christianity in establishing an easy test by which to detect those who were Christians and so facilitate inquiries. This test was the demand to worship the Genius of the emperor. This too was only part of Domitian’s general policy of asserting his own dominus et deus title and emphasizing the imperial cult as a bond of political union. The Apocalypse reflects the sufferings of the church in this reign.

3. The Antonine Period, 96-192 AD:

(1) Nerva and Trajan.

On the death of Domitian peace was restored to the Christian church which lasted throughout the brief reign of Nerva (96-98) and the first 13 years of Trajan. It is a curious fact that some of the best of the Roman emperors (Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Decius and Diocletian) were harsh to the Christians, while some of the worst (as Commodus, Caracalla, Heliogabalus) left them in peace (see PERSECUTION, 17). Christianity had been rapidly spreading in the interval of tranquillity. Pliny became governor of Bithynia in 111 AD and found, especially in the eastern part of his province, the temples almost deserted. Some Christians were brought before him and on established precedents were ordered to be executed for their religion. But Pliny soon discovered that many of both sexes and all ages, provincials and Roman citizens, were involved. The Roman citizens he sent to Rome for trial; but being of a humane disposition he shrank from carrying out the wholesale execution required by a consistent policy.

He wrote to Trajan telling him what he had already done, rather covertly suggesting tolerant measures. Should no distinction be made between old and young? Should pardon not be extended to those who recanted and worshipped the emperor’s image and cursed Christ? Should mere profession (nomen ipsum) be a capital offense if no crimes could be proven, or should the crimes rather be punished that were associated with the faith (an flagitia cohaerentia nomini)? He then explains his procedure: he gave those who were accused an abundant opportunity of recanting; those who persisted in this faith were executed. He considered their "stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy" (pertinaciam certe et inflexibilem obstinationem) as in itself deserving punishment. But the administration having once interfered found plenty to do. An anonymous list of many names was handed in, most of whom, however, denied being Christians. Informers then put forward others who likewise denied belonging to the faith. Pliny was convinced their meetings were harmless, and on examination of two deaconesses under torture discovered nothing but a perverse extravagant superstition (sup. pravam immodicam). Trajan replied that no universal and definite rule could be laid down, apparently confirming the correctness of Pliny’s action and perhaps disappointing Pliny in not yielding to his humane suggestions. Nevertheless, the emperor made three important concessions: (1) the Christians were not to be sought out by the police authorities, but if they were accused and convicted they must be punished; (2) anonymous information against them was not to be accepted; (3) even those suspected of flagitia in the past were to be pardoned on proving they were not Christians or on renouncing Christianity. Some regard this rescript of Trajan as the first official and legal authorization to proscribe Christianity; but we have already seen that Christianity as such was proscribed as a result of the Neronian investigations. Besides, there is not the slightest trace of any new principle of severity, either in the letters of Pliny or in the rescript of Trajan. The persecution of Christianity had been "permanent" like that of highwaymen, but not systematic or general. Neither was Trajan’s rescript an edict of toleration, though on the whole it was favorable to the Christians in minimizing the dangers to which they were exposed. The question was as yet purely one of administration.

Trajan initiated no procedure against Christians—in fact rather discouraged any, asking his lieutenant to close his eyes to offenders—and Pliny consulted him in the hope of obtaining milder treatment for the Christians by putting in question form what he really wished to be approved. Trajan’s rescript "marks the end of the old system of uncompromising hostility."


(2) Hadrian.

The reign of Hadrian (117-38) was a period of toleration for the Christians. He was no bigot, but tolerant and eclective, inquiring into all religions and initiated into several mysteries and willing to leave religion an open question. In Asia, where Christianity was making most progress, a state of terrorism was imminent if delatores were encouraged against Christians making a profession of delatio (giving information). As we saw in the letter of Pliny, even non-Christians were accused, and any professing Christian could be threatened by these informers in order to secure a bribe for proceeding no farther. Licinius Silvanus Granianus, like Pliny, found himself involved in difficulties and wrote to Hadrian for advice. Hadrian’s rescript in reply is addressed to Granianus’ successor, Minucius Fundanus, the proconsul of Asia, about 124 AD. The genuineness of this important document, though impugned by Overbeck, Keim and Lipsius, is vouched for by Mommsen, Hardy, Lightfoot and Ramsay. Indeed, it is much easier accounted for as authentic than as a forgery, for who but the broad-minded Hadrian could have written such a rescript? Apparently the questions put by the proconsul must have been of a similar nature to those extant of Pliny. The answer of Hadrian is a decided step in favor of Christianity and goes beyond that of Trajan:

(1) information is not to be passed over (a) lest the innocent suffer (as was the case under Pliny), and (b) lest informers should make a trade of lodging accusations;

(2) provincials accusing Christians must give proof that the accused have committed something illegal;

(3) mere petitions and acclamations against the Christians are not to be admitted;

(4) a prosecutor on failing to make good his case is to be punished.

These terms would greatly increase the risk for informers and lessen the dangers for Christians. That the name is a crime is not admitted, neither is this established principle rescinded. It is quite possible that Hadrian’s rescript "gave a certain stimulus toward the employment of the more definite and regular legal procedure."

(3) Antoninus Pius (138-161).

The liberal policy of Trajan and Hadrian was continued by Antoninus, though persecution occurred in his reign in which Ptolemeus and Lucius were executed at Rome and Polycarp at Smyrna. But he decidedly confirmed Hadrian’s policy of protecting the Christians uncondemned against mob violence in his letters to Larissae, Athens, Thessalonica and to "all the Hellenes." As at Smyrna, his "rescript was in advance of public feeling," and so was disregarded. Anonymous delation was also repressed.

(4) Marcus Aurelius (161-80).

Under Aurelius a strong reaction set in affecting the Christians, caused partly by the frontier disasters and devastating pestilence and partly by Aurelius’ policy of returning to ancient principles and reviving the Roman national religion. In this reign we find persecution extending to the West (Gaul) and to Africa—a step toward the general persecutions of the next century. Though no actual change was made by Aurelius, the leniency of the last three reigns is absent. No general edict or definite rescript of persecution was issued; the numerous martyrdoms recorded in this reign are partly due to the fuller accounts and the rise of a Christian literature. Christianity in itself still constituted a crime, and the obstinacy (parataxis) of Christians in itself deserved punishment. Aurelius seems to have actually rebuked the severity of the Roman governor at Lugdunum, and to have further discouraged the trade of informers against Christians. Tertullian actually styles him as debellator Christianorum ("protector of Christians"). We find as yet therefore no systematic or serious attempt to extirpate the new faith. The central government "was all this time without a permanent or steady policy toward the Christians. It had not yet made up its mind" (Hardy).

Under the rule of Commodus (180-192) Christians gain enjoyed a respite. The net result of the collisions between the new faith and the government in this period is somewhat differently estimated by Ramsay and by Hardy. The latter thinks (Christianity and Roman Government, 156 f) that Ramsay "has to some extent antedated the existence of anything like a policy of proscription," due to antedating the time when Christianity was regarded as a serious political danger. Hardy thinks that the Christian organization was never suspected as more than an abstract danger during the first two centuries. Had Rome taken the view that Christianity in its organization was a real danger and an imperium in imperio, she must have started a systematic exterminating policy during a period when Christianity could have least withstood it. When the empire did—as in the 3rd century—apprehend the practical danger and took the severest general measures, Christianity was already too strong to be harmed, and we shall find the empire henceforth each time worsted and finally offering terms.

4. Changing Dynasties, 192-284 AD:

In the next period the insecurity of the throne, when in less than 100 years about a score of candidates wore the purple and almost each new emperor began a new dynasty, enabled Christianity to spread practically untroubled. Further diversions in its favor were created by those fierce barbarian wars and by the necessity of renewed vigilance at the frontier posts. The Christians’ aloofness from political strife and their acquiescence in each new dynasty brought them generally into no collision with new rulers. Further, the fact that many of these emperors were non-Roman provincials, or foreigners who had no special attachment to the old Roman faith, and were eclectic in their religious views, was of much importance to the new eastern faith. Moreover, some of the emperors proved not only not hostile to Christianity, but positively friendly. In this period we find no severe (except perhaps that of Decius) and certainly no protracted persecution. The Christian church herself was organized on the principle of the imperial government, and made herself thus strong and united, so that when the storm did come she remained unshaken. In 202 Severus started a cruel persecution in Africa and Egypt, but peace was restored by the savage Caracalla (lacte Christiano educatus: Tert.). Heliogabalus assisted Christianity indirectly (1) by the degradation of Roman religion, and (2) by tolerance. According to one writer he proposed to fuse Christianity, Judaism and Samaritanism into one religion. Alexander Severus was equally tolerant and syncretic, setting up in his private chapel images of Orpheus, Apollonius, Abraham, and Christ, and engraving the golden rule on his palace walls and public buildings. He was even credited with the intention of erecting a temple to Christ. Local persecution broke out under Maximin the Thracian. The first general persecution was that of Decius, in which two features deserve notice: (1) that death was not the immediate result of Christian profession, but every means was employed to induce Christians to recant; (2) Roman authorities already cognizant of the dangers of Christian organization directed their efforts especially against the officers of the church. Gallus continued this policy, and Valerian, after first stopping persecution, tried to check the spread of the worship by banishing bishops and closing churches, and later enacted the death penalty. Gallienus promulgated what was virtually the first edict of toleration, forbade persecution and restored the Christian endowments. Christianity now entered upon a period of 40 years’ tranquillity: as outward dangers decreased, less desirable converts came within her gates and her adherents were overtaken in a flood of worldliness, stayed only by the persecution of Diocletian.

5. Diocletian until First General Edict of Toleration, 284-311 AD:

Like some other persecutors, Diocletian was one of the ablest Roman rulers. He was not disposed to proceed against the Christians, but was finally driven to harsh measures by his son-in-law Galerius. The first edict, February 24, 303, was not intended to exterminate Christianity, but to check its growth and weaken its political influence, and was directed principally against Bibles, Christian assemblies and churches. The second was against church organization. A third granted freedom to those who recanted, but sought to compel the submission of recalcitrants by tortures—a partial confession of failure on the part of the imperial government. Bloodshed was avoided and the death penalty omitted. But a fourth edict issued by Maximin prescribed the death penalty and required the act of sacrifice to the gods. In the same year (304) Diocletian, convinced of the uselessness of these measures, stayed the death penalty. The change of policy on the part of the emperor and his abdication next year were virtually a confession that the Galilean had conquered. After the persecution had raged 8 years (or 10, if we include local persecutions after 311), Galerius, overtaken by a loathsome disease, issued from Nicomedia with Constantine and Licinius the first general edict of toleration, April 30, 311. Christianity had thus in this period proved a state within a state; it was finally acknowledged as a religio licita, though not yet on equality with paganism.

6. First Edict of Toleration until Fall of Western Empire, 311-476 AD:

In the next period the first religious wars began, and Christianity was first placed on an equal footing with its rival, then above it, and finally it became the state religion of both West and East. As soon as Christianity had gained tolerance it immediately became an intolerant, bitter persecutor, both of its old rival and of heresy. Constantine, having defeated Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge (October 27, 312), became sole ruler of the West, and, in conjunction with his eastern colleague Licinius, issued the famous edict of toleration from Milan, March 30, 313, by which all religions were granted equal tolerance, and Christianity was thus placed on an equal footing with heathenism. Constantine’s favors toward the Christian faith were largely political; he wished simply to be on the winning side. With each fresh success he inclined more toward Christianity, though his whole life was a compromise. His dream was to weld pagan and Christian into one society under the same laws; he in no way prohibited paganism. With the rounding of Constantinople Christianity became practically the state religion—an alliance with baneful consequences for Christianity. It now began to stifle the liberty of conscience for which it had suffered so much, and orthodoxy began its long reign of intolerance. The sons of Constantine inherited their father’s cruel nature with his nominal Christianity. Constantine had left the old and the new religions on equal footing: his sons began the work of exterminating paganism by violence. Constantius when sole emperor, inheriting none of his father’s compromise or caution, and prompted by women and bishops, published edicts demanding the closing of the temples and prohibiting sacrifices. Wise provincial administrators hesitated to carry out these premature measures. Christianity was now in the ascendancy and on the aggressive. It not only persecuted paganism, but the dominant Christian party proscribed its rival—this time heterodoxy banishing orthodoxy. The violence and intolerance of the sons of Constantine justified the mild reaction under Julian the Apostate—the most humane member of the Constantine family. He made a "romantic" effort to reestablish the old religion, and while proclaiming tolerance for Christianity, he endeavored to weaken it by heaping ridicule upon its doctrines, rescinding the privileges of the clergy, prohibiting the church from receiving many bequests, removing Christians from public positions and forbidding the teaching of classics in Christian schools lest Christian tongues should become better fitted to meet heathen arguments, and lastly by adding renewed splendor to pagan service as a counter-attraction. But the moral power of Christianity triumphed. Dying on a battle-field, where he fought the Persians, he is said (but not on good authority) to have exclaimed, "Thou hast conquered, O Galilean" (nenikekas Galilaie). For a brief period after his death there was religious neutrality. Gratian—at the instigation of Ambrose—departed from this neutrality, removed the statue of Victory from the senate-house, refused the title and robes of pontifex maximus, prohibited bloody sacrifices, and dealt a severe blow to the old faith by withdrawing some of the treasury grants, thereby making it dependent on the voluntary system. Theodosius I, or the Great, adopted a strenuous religious policy against both heresy and paganism. His intolerance must be attributed to Ambrose—a bigot in whose eyes Jews, heretics and pagans alike had no rights. Systematic proscription of paganism began. In 381 Theodosius denied the right of making a will to apostates from Christianity, in 383 the right of inheritance, in 391 heathen public worship was interdicted, in 392 several acts of both private and public heathen worship were forbidden, and greater penalties were attached to the performance of sacrifice. Christian vandalism became rampant; all kinds of violence and confiscation were resorted to, monks or priests often leading the populace. For the present the West did not suffer so severely from fanatic iconoclasm. Under the sons of Theodosius the suppression of paganism was steadily pursued. Honorius in the West excluded (408 AD) pagans from civil and military offices; in a later edict (423) the very existence of paganism is doubted (paganos .... quamquam iam nullos esse credamus). That heathenism was still an attraction is proved by the repeated laws against apostasy. Under Valentinian III (423-55) and Theodosius II, laws were enacted for the destruction of temples or their conversion into Christian churches. In the western empire heathenism was persecuted till the end, and its final overthrow was hastened by the extinction of the western empire (476). In the East Justinian closed the heathen schools of philosophy at Athens (529 AD), and in a despotic spirit prohibited even heathen worship in private under pain of death.


V. Victory of Christianity and Conversion of the Roman Empire.

Christianity was now acknowledged as the religion of both East and West. It had also grown strong enough to convert the barbarians who overran the West. It restrained and educated them under the lead of the papacy, so that its conquests now extended beyond the Roman empire.

Merivale (preface to Conversion of Roman Empire) attributes the conversion of the Roman empire to four causes: (1) the external evidence of apparent fulfillment of prophecy and the evidence of miracles, (2) internal evidence as satisfying the spiritual wants of the empire and offering a Redeemer, (3) the example of the pure lives and heroic deaths of the early Christians, and (4) the success which attended the Christian cause under Constantine. Gibbon (chapter xv of Decline and Fall) seeks to account for the phenomenal success of Christianity in the empire by (1) the zeal and enthusiasm of the early Christians, (2) the belief of Christianity in immortality with both future rewards and future retributions, (3) miracles, (4) the high ethical code and pure morals of professing Christians, and (5) strong ecclesiastical organization on imperial patterns. But neither of these lists of causes seems to account satisfactorily for the progress and success of the religion of Jesus.

1. Negative Causes:

This was due in the first place to negative causes—the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the antique world, the internal rottenness and decay of heathen systems. All ancient national religions had failed and were abandoned alike by philosophers and the masses, and no universal religion for humanity was offered except by Christianity. Worship had degenerated into pure formalism which brought no comfort to the heart. An imperious demand for revelation was felt which no philosophy or natural religion could satisfy.

2. Positive Causes:

But it was to positive causes chiefly that the success of the new religion was due, among which were the zeal, enthusiasm, and moral earnestness of the Christian faith. Its sterling qualities were best shown in persecution and the heroic deaths of its adherents. Paganism, even with the alliance of the civil power and the prestige of its romantic past, could not withstand persecution. And when heathenism was thrown back on the voluntary system, it could not prosper as Christianity did with its ideals of self-sacrifice. The earnestness of early Christianity was raised to its highest power by its belief in a near second coming of the Lord and the end of the aeon. The means of propagation greatly helped the spread of Christianity, the principal means being the exemplary lives of its professors. It opposed moral and spiritual power to political. Besides, Christianity when once studied by the thinkers of the ancient world was found to be in accord with the highest principles of reason and Nature. But "the chief cause of its success was the congruity of its teaching with the spiritual nature of mankind" (Lecky). There was a deepseated earnestness in a large section of the ancient world to Whom Christianity offered the peace, comfort and strength desired. It was possessed also of an immense advantage over all competing religions of the Roman empire in being adapted to all classes and conditions and to all changes. There was nothing local or national about it; it gave the grandest expression to the contemporary ideal of brotherhood. Its respect for woman and its attraction for this sex gained it many converts who brought honor to it; in this respect it was far superior to its greatest rival, Mithraism. In an age of vast social change and much social distress it appealed to the suffering by its active self-denial for the happiness of others. As an ethical code it was equal and superior to the noblest contemporary systems. One incalculable advantage it could show above all religions and philosophies—the charm and power of an ideal perfect life, in which the highest manhood was held forth as an incentive to nobler living. The person of Jesus was an ideal and moral dynamic for both philosopher and the common man, far above any abstract virtue. "It was because it was true to the moral sentiments of the age, because it represented faithfully the supreme type of excellence to which men were then tending, because it corresponded with their religious wants, aims and emotions, because the whole spiritual being could then expand and expatiate under its influence that it planted its roots so deeply in the hearts of men" (Lecky, Hist of European Morals, chapter iii). Add to all this the favorable circumstances mentioned under "Preparation for Christianity," above (II), and we can understand how the Roman empire became the kingdom of Christ.


Ancient sources include Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Pliny’s Letters, x.97-98 (in Hardy’s edition), Dio Cassius (in Xiphilin), the apologists, Church Fathers, Inscriptions, etc.

Modern sources are too numerous to mention in full, but those most helpful to the student are: Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Merivale, Hist of the Romans under the Empire; The Fall of the Roman Republic, 1856; Conversion of the Roman Empire, 1865; Milman, Hist of Christianity; Hist of Latin Christianity; Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire; The Expositor, IV, viii, pp. 8 ff, 110 ff, 282 ff; E. G. Hardy, Christianity and the Roman Government, 1894; D. Duff, The Early Church: a Hist of Christianity in the First Six Centuries, Edinburgh, 1891; J. J. Blunt, A Hist of the Christian Church during the First Three Centuries, 1861; Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, 1907; Mommsen, "Der Religionsfrevel nach rom. Recht," in Hist. Zeit, 1890, LXIV (important); Provinces of the Roman Empire; The Expositor, 1893, pp. 6 ff; G. Boissier, La religion romaine d’Auguste aux Antonins; La fin du paganisme; Wissowa, Religion u. Kultus der Romer; Gerb. Uhlhorn, Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism, English translation by Smyth and Ropes, 1879; B. Aube, Histoire des persecutions de l’eglise jusqu’a la fin des Antonins, 1875; Schaff, Hist of the Christian Church (with useful bibliographies of both ancient and modern authorities); Orr, Neglected Factors in Early Church Hist; Keim, Ro u. Christentum; Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, English translation, London, 1910; Wendland, Die hellenistischromische Kultur2, 1912; F. Overbeck, "Gesetze der rom. Kaiser gegen die Christen," in his Studien, 1875; C. F. Arnold, Die Neronische Christenverfolgung; Stud. zur Gesch. der Plinianischen Christenverfolgung; Westcott, "The Two Empires," in commentary to Epistles. of John, 250-82; Friedlander, Sittengeschichte Roms; Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers; Lecky, Hist of European Morals, chapter iii. "The Conversion of Rome."

S. Angus



1. The Twelve Tables

2. Civil Procedure

3. Jus honorarium

4. The praetor peregrinus

5. Imperial Ordinances

6. Golden Age of Juristic Literature

7. Codification in the Later Empire


1. Jurisdiction in the Royal Period

2. The Right of Appeal

(1) Penalties

(2) The Porcian Law

3. Popular Jurisdiction Curtailed

4. Jurors

5. Disappearance of Criminal Courts

6. Right of Trial at Rome


In the present article we shall treat (I) Roman Private Law and (II) Criminal Law only, reserving a consideration of the development of the principles of constitutional law for the article on ROME, since it is so closely interwoven with the political history of the state.

It will be necessary to confine the discussion of private law to its external history, without attempting to deal with the substance of the law itself. In the treatment of criminal law attention will be directed chiefly to the constitutional guaranties which were intended to protect Roman citizens against arbitrary and unjust punishments, these being one of the most important privileges of Roman citizenship.


Roman law found its original source in the family as a corporation. The proprietary rights of the pater familias as representative of this primitive unit of organization are a fundamental element in private law, and the scope of the criminal jurisdiction of the state was limited by the power of life and death which was exercised by the head of the family over those who were under his authority, by virtue of which their transgressions were tried before the domestic tribunal.

It is likewise of fundamental importance to recall the fact that before the earliest period in the history of Roman law of which we have positive information, there must have been a time when a large number of different classes of crime were punished by the priests as sacrilege, in accordance with divine law (fas), by putting the offender to death as a sacrifice to the offended deity, while restitution for private violence or injustice was left to private initiative to seek. For a law of the Twelve Tables that the person guilty of cutting another’s grain by night should be hanged, as an offering to Ceres, is a survival of the older religious character of condemnation to death, and the right to kill the nocturnal thief and the adulterer caught in the act may be cited as survivals of primitive private vengeance The secular conception of crime as an offense against the welfare of the state gradually superseded the older conception, while private law arose when the community did away with the disorder incident to the exercise of self-help in attempting to secure justice, by insisting that the parties to a disagreement should submit their claims to an arbitrator.

I. Roman Private Law.

1. The Twelve Tables:

Roman private law was at first a body of unwritten usages handed down by tradition in the patrician families. The demand of the plebeians for the publication of the law resulted in the adoption of the famous Twelve Tables (449 BC), which was looked upon by later authorities as the source of all public and private law (quae nunc quoque in hoc immenso aliarum super alias acervatarum legum cumulo fons omnis publici privdtique est iuris: Livy iii.34, 6), although it was not a scientific or comprehensive code of all the legal institutions of the time. This primitive system of law was made to expand to meet the growing requirements of the republican community chiefly by means of interpretation and the jus honorarium, which corresponds to equity.

2. Civil Procedure:

The function of interpretation may be defined by mentioning the principal elements in civil procedure. The praetor, or magistrate, listened to the claims of the litigants and prepared an outline of the disputed issues, called a formula, which was submitted to the judex, or arbitrator, a jury, as it were, consisting of one man, who decided the questions of fact involved in the case. Neither praetor nor judex had special legal training. The court had recourse, therefore, for legal enlightenment to those who had gained distinction as authorities on the law, and the opinions, or responsa, of these scholars (jurisprudentes) formed a valuable commentary on the legal institutions of the time. In this way a body of rules was amassed by interpretative adaptation which the authors of the Twelve Tables would never have recognized.

3. Jus honorarium:

Jus honorarium derived its name from the circumstance that it rested upon the authority of magistrates (honor = magistracy). In this respect and because it was composed of orders issued for the purpose of affording relief in cases for which the existing law did not make adequate provision, this second agency for legal expansion may be compared with English equity. These orders issued by the praetors had legal force during the tenure of their office only; but those the expediency of which had been established by this period of trial were generally reissued by succeeding magistrates from year to year, so that in time a large, but uniform body of rules, subject to annual renewal, formed the greater part of the edict which was issued by the praetors before entering upon their term of office. By these means Roman law maintained a proper balance between elasticity and rigidity.

4. The praetor peregrinus:

After the institution of the praetor peregrinus (241 BC) who heard cases in which one or both of the parties were foreigners, a series of similar edicts proceeded from those who were chosen to this tribunal. The annual edicts of the praetor peregrinus became an important means for broadening Roman law, for the strangers who appeared in the court of this magistrate were mostly Greeks from Southern Italy, so that the principles of law which were gradually formulated as a basis for proceedings were largely an embodiment of the spirit of Greek law.

5. Imperial Ordinances:

Direct legislation superseded the other sources of law under the empire, taking the form, occasionally, of bills ratified by the people (leges), but usually of enactments of the senate (senatus consulta), or imperial ordinances. The latter, which eventually prevailed to the exclusion of all other types, may be classified as edicta, which were issued by the emperor on the analogy of the similar orders of the republican magistrates, decreta, or decisions of the imperial tribunal, which had force as precedents, and rescripta, which were replies by the emperor to requests for the interpretation of the law. All these acts of imperial legislation were known as constitutiones.

6. Golden Age of Juristic Literature:

In the 2nd century Salvius Julianus was commissioned to invest the praetorian edict with definite form. The Institutes of Gaius appearing about the same time became a model for subsequent textbooks on jurisprudence (Gaii institutionum commentarii quattuor, discovered by Niebuhr in 1816 at Verona in a palimpsest). This was the Golden Age of juristic literature. A succession of able thinkers, among whom Papinian, Paulus, Ulpian, Modestinus, and Gaius hold foremost rank (compare Codex Theodosianus 1, 4, 3), applied to the incoherent mass of legal material the methods of scientific investigation, developing a system of Roman law and establishing a science of jurisprudence.

7. Codification in the Later Empire:

The period of the later empire was characterized by various attempts at codification which culminated in the final treatment of the body of Roman law under Justinian. The work of the board of eminent jurists to whom this vast undertaking was entrusted was published in three parts: (1) the Code, which contains a selection of the imperial enactments since Hadrian in twelve books, (2) the Digest or Pandects, which is composed of extracts from the juristic literature in fifty books, and (3) the Institutes, which is a textbook in four books. In this form mainly Roman private law has come down to modern times, and has become, in the words of an eminent authority Bryce, Studies in History and Jurisprudence, Oxford, 1901), next to the Christian religion, the most plentiful source of the rules governing actual conduct throughout Western Europe.

II. Roman Criminal Law.

1. Jurisdiction in the Royal Period:

In the royal period criminal jurisdiction, in so far as it was a function of secular administration, belonged by right to the king. The titles quaestores parricidii and duumviri perduellionis, belonging to officials to whom the royal authority in these matters was occasionally delegated, indicate the nature of the earliest crimes brought under secular jurisdiction. The royal prerogative passed to the republican magistrates, and embraced, besides the right to punish crimes, the power to compel obedience to their own decrees (coercitio) by means of various penalties.

2. The Right of Appeal:

But the right of the people to final jurisdiction in cases involving the life or civil status of citizens was established by an enactment (lex Valeria) which is said to have been proposed by one of the first consuls (509 BC), and which granted the right of appeal to the assembly (provocatio) against the execution of a capital or other serious penalty pronounced by a magistrate (Cicero De Re Publica ii.31, 54; Livy ii.8, 2; Dionysius v.19). This right of appeal was reinforced or extended by subsequent enactments (leges Valeriae) in 449 and 299 BC. It was valid against penalties imposed by virtue of the coercive power of the magistrates as well as those based upon a regular criminal charge. Generally the magistrates made no provisional sentence of their own, but brought their charges directly before the people.

(1) Penalties.

The death penalty was practically abrogated in republican times by allowing the accused the alternative of voluntary exile. The Romans rarely employed imprisonment as a punishment. The imposition of fines above a certain amount was made subject to the right of appeal. At first the dictator possessed absolute power of life and death over the citizens, but this authority was limited, probably about 300 BC (Livy xxvii.6, 5), by being made subject to the right of appeal

(2) The Porcian Law.

The right of appeal to the people was valid within the city and as far as the first milestone; and although it was never extended beyond this limit, yet its protection was virtually secured for all Roman citizens, wherever they might be, by the provision of the Porcian law (of unknown date), which established their right to trial at Rome. In consequence of this a distinction of great importance was created in criminal procedure in the provinces, since Roman citizens were sent to Rome for trial in all serious cases, while other persons were subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the municipalities, except when the governor summoned them before his own tribunal.

3. Popular Jurisdiction Curtailed:

The exercise of popular jurisdiction in criminal matters was gradually curtailed by the establishment of permanent courts (quaestiones perpetuae) by virtue of laws by which the people delegated their authority to judge certain classes of cases. The first of these courts was authorized in 149 BC for the trial of charges of extortion brought against provincial governors. Compensation was the main purpose of accusers in bringing charges before this and later permanent courts, and for this reason, perhaps, the procedure was similar to that which was employed in civil cases. A praetor presided over the tribunal; a number of judices took the place of the single juror. The laws by which Sulla reorganized the systems of criminal jurisdiction provided for seven courts dealing individually with extortion, treason, peculation, corrupt electioneering practices, murder, fraud, and assault.

4. Jurors:

The judices, or jurors, were originally chosen from the senate. A law proposed by C. Gracchus transferred membership in all the juries to the equestrian class. Sulla replenished the senate by admitting about 300 members of the equestrian class, and then restored to it the exclusive control of the juries. But a judicial law of 70 BC provided for the equal representation of all three classes of the people in the courts. There were then about 1,080 names on the list of available jurors, of whom 75 seem to have been chosen for each trial (Cicero In Pisonem 40). Caesar abolished the plebeian jurors (Suetonius Caesar 41). Augustus restored the representatives of the third class (Suetonius Aug. 32), but confined their action to civil cases of minor importance. He likewise excused the members of the senate from service as jurors.

5. Disappearance of Criminal Courts:

The system of criminal courts (quaestiones perpetuae) diminished in importance under the empire and finally disappeared toward the close of the 2nd century. Their place was taken by the senate under the presidency of a consul, the emperor, and eventually by imperial officials by delegated authority from the emperor. In the first case the senate stood in somewhat the same relation to the presiding consul as the jurors in the permanent courts to the praetor. But the emperor and imperial officials decided without the help of a jury, so that after the 3rd century, when the judicial competence of the senate was gradually lost, trial by jury ceased to exist. An important innovation in the judicial system of the empire was the principle of appeal from the decision of lower courts to higher tribunals. For the emperors and eventually their delegates, chiefly the praefectus urbi and praefectus praetorio, heard appeals from Roman and Italian magistrates and provincial governors.

6. Right of Trial at Rome:

Under the early empire, provincial governors were generally under obligation to grant the demand of Roman citizens for the privilege of trial at Rome (Digest xlviii. 6, 7), although there appear to have been some exceptions to this rule (Pliny, Epist. ii.1l; Digest xlviii.8, 16). Lysias, tribune of the cohort at Jerusalem, sent Paul as prisoner to Caesarea, the capital of the province, so that Felix the procurator might determine what was to be done in his case, inasmuch as he was a Roman citizen (Ac 23:27), and two years later Paul asserted his privilege of being tried at Rome by the emperor for the same reason (Ac 25:11,21).

Roman citizens who were sent to Rome might be brought either before the senate or emperor, but cognizance of these cases by the imperial tribunal was more usual, and finally supplanted entirely that of the senate, the formula of appeal becoming proverbial: cives Romanus sum, provoco ad Caesarem (Kaisara epikaloumai: Ac 25:11).

As Roman citizenship became more and more widely extended throughout the empire its relative value diminished, and it is obvious that many of the special privileges, such as the right of trial at Rome, which were attached to it in the earlier period must have been gradually lost. It became customary for the emperors to delegate their power of final jurisdiction over the lives of citizens (ius gladii) to the provincial governors, and finally, after Roman citizenship had been conferred upon the inhabitants of the empire generally by Caracalla, the right of appeal to Rome remained the privilege of certain classes only, such as senators, municipal decurions (Digest xlviii.19, 27), officers of equestrian rank in the army, and centurions (Dio Cassius lii.22, 33).


Greenidge, The Legal Procedure of Cicero’s Time, Oxford, 1901; Kruger, Geschichte der Quellen u. Litteratur des romischen Rechts, Leipzig, 1888; Mommsen, Romisches Strafrecht, Leipzig, 1899; Roby, Roman Private Law in the Times of Cicero and of the Antonines, Cambridge, 1902; Sohm, The Institutes of Roman Law, translated by J.C. Ledlie, Oxford, 1892.

George H. Allen




ro’-man, ro’-manz.



1. Its Genuineness

2. Its Integrity

3. The Approximate Date

4. The Place of Writing

5. The Destination

6. The Language

7. The Occasion

8. Some Characteristics

9. Main Teachings of the Epistle

(1) Doctrine of Man

(2) Doctrine of God

(3) Doctrine of Son of God—Redemption; Justification

(4) Doctrine of the Spirit of God

(5) Doctrine of Duty

(6) Doctrine of Israel


This is the greatest, in every sense, of the apostolic letters of Paul; in scale, in scope, and in its wonderful combination of doctrinal, ethical and administrative wisdom and power. In some respects the later Epistles, Ephesians and Colossians, lead us to even higher and deeper arcana of revelation, and they, like Romans, combine with the exposition of truth a luminous doctrine of duty. But the range of Roman is larger in both directions, and presents us also with noble and far-reaching discussions of Christian polity, instructions in spiritual utterance and the like, to which those Epistles present no parallel, and which only the Corinthian Epistles rival.

1. Its Genuineness:

No suspicion on the head of the genuineness of the Epistle exists which needs serious consideration. Signs of the influence of the Epistle can be traced, at least very probably, in the New Testament itself; in 1 Peter, and, as some think, in James. But in our opinion Jas was the earlier writing, and Lightfoot has given strong grounds for the belief that the paragraph on faith and justification (Jas 2) has no reference to perversions of Pauline teaching, but deals with rabbinism. Clement of Rome repeatedly quotes Romans, and so do Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin. Marcion includes it in his list of Pauline Epistles, and it is safe to say in general Romans "has been recognized in the Christian church as long as any collection of Paul’s Epistles has been extant" (A. Robertson, in HDB, under the word). But above all other evidences it testifies to itself. The fabrication of such a writing, with its close and complex thought, its power and marked originality of treatment, its noble morale, and its spiritual elevation and ardor, is nothing short of a moral impossibility. A mighty mind and equally great heart live in every page, and a soul exquisitely sensitive and always intent upon truth and holiness. Literary personation is an art which has come to anything like maturity only in modern times, certainly not before the Renaissance. In a fully developed form it is hardly earlier than the 19th century. And even now who can point to a consciously personated authorship going along with high moral principle and purpose?

2. Its Integrity:

The question remains, however, whether, accepting the Epistle in block as Pauline, we have it, as to details, just as it left the author’s hands. Particularly, some phenomena of the text of the last two chapter invite the inquiry. We may—in our opinion we must—grant those chapters to be Pauline. They breathe Paul in every sentence. But do they read precisely like part of a letter to Rome? For example, we have a series of names (Ro 16:1-15), representing a large circle of personally known and loved friends of the writer, a much longer list than any other in the Epistles, and all presumably—on theory that the passage is integral to the Epistle—residents at Rome. May not such a paragraph have somehow crept in, after date, from another writing? Might not a message to Philippian, Thessalonian or Ephesian friends, dwellers in places where Paul had already established many intimacies, have fallen out of its place and found lodgment by mistake at the close of this letter to Rome? It seems enough to reply by one brief statement of fact. We possess some 300 manuscripts of Romans, and not one of these, so far as it is uninjured, fails to give the Epistle complete, all the chapters as we have them, and in the present order (with one exception, that of the final doxology). It is observable meanwhile that the difficulty of supposing Paul to have had a large group of friends living at Rome, before his own arrival there, is not serious. To and from Rome, through the whole empire, there was a perpetual circulation of population. Suppose Aquila and Priscilla (e.g.) to have recently returned (Ac 18:2) to Rome from Ephesus, and suppose similar migrations from Greece or from Asia Minor to have taken place within recent years; we can then readily account for the greetings of Ro 16.

Lightfoot has brought it out in an interesting way (see his Philippians, on 4:22) that many of the names (e.g. Amplias, Urbanus, Tryphena) in Ro 16 are found at Rome, in inscriptions of the early imperial age, in cemeteries where members of the widely scattered "household of Caesar" were interred. This at least suggests the abundant possibility that the converts and friends belonging to the "household" who, a very few years later, perhaps not more than three, were around him at Rome when he wrote to Philippi (Php 4:22), and sent their special greeting ("chiefly they") to the Philipplans, were formerly residents at Philippi, or elsewhere in Macedonia, and had moved thence to the capital not long before the apostle wrote to the Romans. A. Robertson (ut supra) comes to the conclusion, after a careful review of recent theories, "that the case for transferring this section .... from its actual connection to a lost Epistle to Ephesus is not made out."

Two points of detail in the criticism of the text of Romans may be noted. One is that the words "at Rome" (1:7,15) are omitted in a very few manuscripts, in a way to remind us of the interesting phenomenon of the omission of "at Ephesus" (Eph 1:1 margin). But the evidence for this omission being original is entirely inadequate. The fact may perhaps be accounted for by a possible circulation of Romans among other mission churches as an Epistle of universal interest. This would be much more likely if the manuscripts and other authorities in which the last two chapters are missing were identical with those which omit "at Rome," but this is not the case.

The other and larger detail is that the great final doxology (Ro 16:25-27) is placed by many cursives at the end of Romans 14, and is omitted entirely by three manuscripts and by Marcion. The leading uncials and a large preponderance of ancient evidence place it where we have it. It is quite possible that Paul may have reissued Romans after a time, and may only then have added the doxology, which has a certain resemblance in manner to his later (captivity) style. But it is at least likely that dogmatic objections led Marcion to delete it, and that his action accounts for the other phenomena which seem to witness against its place at the finale.

It is worth noting that Hort, a singularly fearless, while sober student, defends without reserve the entirety of the Epistle as we have it, or practically so. See his essay printed in Lightfoot’s Biblical Studies.

3. The Approximate Date:

We can fix the approximate date with fair certainty within reasonable limits. We gather from Ro 15:19 that Paul, when he wrote, was in the act of closing his work in the East and was looking definitely westward. But he was first about (15:25,26) to revisit Jerusalem with his collection, mainly made in Macedonia and Achaia, for the "poor saints." Placing these allusions side by side with the references in 1 and 2 Corinthians to the collection and its conveyance, and again with the narrative of Acts, we may date Romans very nearly at the same time as 2 Corinthians, just before the visit to Jerusalem narrated in Ac 20, etc. The year may be fixed with great probability as 58 AD. This estimate follows the lines of Lightfoot’s chronology, which Robertson (ut supra) supports. More recent schemes would move the date back to 56 AD.

"The reader’s attention is invited to this date. Broadly speaking, it was about 30 years at the most after the Crucifixion. Let anyone in middle life reflect on the freshness in memory of events, whether public or private, which 30 years ago made any marked impression on his mind. Let him consider how concrete and vivid still are the prominent personages of 30 years ago, many of whom of course are still with us. And let him transfer this thought to the 1st century, and to the time of our Epistle. Let him remember that we have at least this one great Christian writing composed, for certain, within such easy reach of the very lifetime of Jesus Christ when His contemporary friends were still, in numbers, alive and active. Then let him open the Epistle afresh, and read, as if for the first time, its estimate of Jesus Christ—a Figure then of no legendary past, with its halo, but of the all but present day. Let him note that this transcendent estimate comes to us conveyed in the vehicle not of poetry and rhetoric, but of a treatise pregnant with masterly argument and admirable practical wisdom, tolerant and comprehensive. And we think that the reader will feel that the result of his meditations on date and circumstances is reassuring as to the solidity of the historic basis of the Christian faith" (from the present writer’s introduction to the Epistle in the Temple Bible; see also his Light from the First Days: Short Studies in 1 Thessalonians).

4. The Place of Writing:

With confidence we may name Corinth as the place of writing. Paul was at the time in some "city" (Ro 16:23). He was staying with one Gaius, or Caius (same place) , and we find in 1Co 1:14 a Gaius, closely connected with Paul, and a Corinthian. He commends to the Romans the deaconess Phoebe, attached to "the church at Cenchrea" (16:1), presumably a place near that from which he was writing; and Cenchrea was the southern part of Corinth.

5. The Destination:

The first advent of Christianity to Rome is unrecorded, and we know very little of its early progress. Visiting Romans (epidemountes), both Jews and proselytes, appear at Pentecost (Ac 2:10), and no doubt some of these returned home believers. In Ac 18:2 we have Aquila and Priscilla, Jews, evidently Christians, "lately come from Italy," and probably from Rome. But we know practically nothing else of the story previous to this Epistle, which is addressed to a mission church obviously important and already spiritually advanced. On the other hand (a curious paradox in view of the historical development of Roman Christianity), there is no allusion in the Epistle to church organization. The Christian ministry (apart from Paul’s own apostleship) is not even mentioned. It may fairly be said to be incredible that if the legend of Peter’s long episcopate were historical, no allusion whatever to his work, influence and authority should be made. It is at least extremely difficult to prove that he was even present in Rome till shortly before his martyrdom, and the very ancient belief that Peter and Paul founded the Roman church is more likely to have had its origin in their martyrdoms there than in Peter’s having in any sense shared in the early evangelization of the city.

As to Rome itself, we may picture it at the date of the Epistle as containing, with its suburbs, a closely massed population of perhaps 800,000 people; a motley host of many races, with a strong oriental element, among which the Jews were present as a marked influence, despised and sometimes dreaded, but always attracting curiosity.

6. The Language:

The Epistle was written in Greek, the "common dialect," the Greek of universal intercourse of that age. One naturally asks, why not in Latin, when the message was addressed to the supreme Latin city? The large majority of Christian converts beyond doubt came from the lower middle and lowest classes, not least from the slave class. These strata of society were supplied greatly from immigrants, much as in parts of East London now aliens make the main population. Not Latin but Greek, then lingua franca of the Mediterranean, would be the daily speech of these people. It is remarkable that all the early Roman bishops bear Greek names. And some 40 years after the date of this Epistle we find Clement of Rome writing in Greek to the Corinthians, and later again, early in the 2nd century, Ignatius writing in Greek to the Romans.

7. The Occasion:

We cannot specify the occasion of writing for certain. No hint appears of any acute crisis in the mission (as when 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, or Colossians were written). Nor would personal reminiscences influence the writer, for he had not yet seen Rome. We can only suggest some possibilities as follows:

(1) A good opportunity for safe communication was offered by the deaconess Phoebe’s proposed visit to the metropolis. She doubtless asked Paul for a commendatory letter, and this may have suggested an extended message to the church.

(2) Paul’s thoughts had long gone toward Rome. See Ac 19:21: "I must see Rome," words which seem perhaps to imply some divine intimation (compare 23:11). And his own life-course would fall in with such a supernatural call. He had always aimed at large centers; and now his great work in the central places of the Levant was closing; he had worked at Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth; he was at last to think of the supreme center of all. Rome must always have had a dominant interest for the "Apostle of the Nations," and any suggestion that his Lord’s will tended that way would intensify it to the highest degree.

(3) The form of the Epistle may throw further light on the occasion. The document falls, on the whole, into three parts. First we have Romans 1-8 inclusive, a prolonged exposition of the contrasted and related phenomena of sin and salvation, with special initial references to the cases of Jew and non-Jew respectively. Then come Romans 9-11, which deal with the Jewish rejection of the Jewish Messiah, developing into a prophetic revelation of the future of Israel in the grace of God. Lastly we have Romans 12-16. Some account of the writer’s plans, and his salutations to friends, requests for prayer, etc., form the close of this section. But it is mainly a statement of Christian duty in common life, personal, civil, religious. Under the latter head we have a noble treatment of problems raised by varying opinions, particularly on religious observances, among the converts, Jew and Gentile.

Such phenomena cast a possible light on the occasion of writing. The Roman mission was on one side, by its locality and surroundings, eminently gentile. On the other, there was, as we have seen, a strong Judaic element in Roman life, particularly in its lower strata, and no doubt around the Jewish community proper there had grown up a large community of "worshippers" (sebomenoi) or, as we commonly call them, "proselytes" ("adherents," in the language of modern missionary enterprise), people who, without receiving circumcision, attended Jewish worship and shared largely in Jewish beliefs and ideals. Among these proselytes, we may believe, the earliest evangelists at Rome found a favorable field, and the mission church as Paul knew of it contained accordingly not only two definite classes, converts from paganism, converts from native Judaism, but very many in whose minds both traditions were working at once. To such converts the problems raised by Judaism, both without and within the church, would come home with a constant intimacy and force, and their case may well have been present in a special degree in the apostle’s mind alike in the early passages (Romans 1-3) of the Epistle and in such later parts as Romans 2-11; 14; 15. On the one hand they would greatly need guidance on the significance of the past of Israel and on the destiny of the chosen race in the future. Moreover, discussions in such circles over the way of salvation would suggest to the great missionary his exposition of man’s reconciliation with a holy God and of His secrets for purity and obedience in an unholy world. And meanwhile the ever-recurring problems raised by ceremonial rules in common daily life—problems of days and seasons, and of forbidden food—would, for such disciples, need wise and equitable treatment.

(4) Was it not with this position before him, known to him through the many means of communication between Rome and Corinth, that Paul cast his letter into this form? And did not the realization of the central greatness of Rome suggest its ample scale? The result was a writing which shows everywhere his sense of the presence of the Judaic problem. Here he meets it by a statement, massive and tender, of "heaven’s easy, artless, unencumbered plan" of redemption, grace, and glory, a plan which on its other side is the very mystery of the love of God, which statement is now and forever a primary treasure of the Christian faith. And then again he lays down for the too eager champions of the new "liberty" a law of loving tolerance toward slower and narrower views which is equally our permanent spiritual possession, bearing a significance far-reaching and benign.

(5) It has been held by some great students, notably Lightfoot and Hort, that the main purpose of Romans was to reconcile the opposing "schools" in the church, and that its exposition of the salvation of the individual is secondary only. The present writer cannot take this view. Read the Epistle from its spiritual center, so to speak, and is not the perspective very different? The apostle is always conscious of the collective aspect of the Christian life, an aspect vital to its full health. But is he not giving his deepest thought, animated by his own experience of conviction and conversion, to the sinful man’s relation to eternal law, to redeeming grace, and to a coming glory? It is the question of personal salvation which with Paul seems to us to live and move always in the depth of his argument, even when Christian polity and policy is the immediate theme.

8. Some Characteristics:

Excepting only Ephesians (the problem of the authorship of which is insoluble, and we put that great document here aside), Romans is, of all Paul has written, least a letter and most a treatise. He is seen, as we read, to approach religious problems of the highest order in a free but reasoned succession; problems of the darkness and of the light, of sin and grace, fall and restoration, doom and remission, faith and obedience, suffering and glory, transcendent hope and humblest duty, now in their relation to the soul, now so as to develop the holy collectivity of the common life. The Roman converts are always first in view, but such is the writer, such his handling, that the results are for the universal church and for every believer of all time. Yet all the while (and it is in this a splendid example of that epistolary method of revelation which is one of the glories of the New Testament) it is never for a moment the mere treatise, however great. The writer is always vividly personal, and conscious of persons. The Epistle is indeed a masterpiece of doctrine, but also always "the unforced, unartificial utterance of a friend to friends."

9. Main Teachings of the Epistle:

Approaching the Epistle as a treatise rather than a letter (with the considerable reserves just stated), we indicate briefly some of its main doctrinal deliverances. Obviously, in limine, it is not set before us as a complete system either of theology or of morals; to obtain a full view of a Pauline dogma and ethics we must certainly place Ephesians and Colossians, not to speak of passages from Thessalonians, beside Romans. But it makes by far the nearest approach to doctrinal completeness among the Epistles.

(1) Doctrine of Man.

In great measure this resolves itself into the doctrine of man as a sinner, as being guilty in face of an absolutely holy and absolutely imperative law, whether announced by abnormal revelation, as to the Jew, or through nature and conscience only, as to the Gentile. At the back of this presentation lies the full recognition that man is cognizant, as a spiritual being, of the eternal difference of right and wrong, and of the witness of creation to personal "eternal power and Godhead" as its cause, and that he is responsible in an awe-inspiring way for his unfaithfulness to such cognitions. He is a being great enough to be in personal moral relation with God, and able to realize his ideal only in true relation with Him; therefore a being whose sin and guilt have an unfathomable evil in them. So is he bound by his own failure that he cannot restore himself; God alone, in sovereign mercy, provides for his pardon by the propitiation of Christ, and for his restoration by union with Christ in the life given by the Holy Spirit. Such is man, once restored, once become "a saint" (a being hallowed), a "son of God" by adoption and grace, that his final glorification will be the signal (in some sense the cause?) of a transfiguration of the whole finite universe. Meanwhile, man is a being actually in the midst of a life of duty and trial, a member of civil society, with obligations to its order. He lives not in a God-forsaken world, belonging only to another and evil power. His new life, the "mind of the Spirit" in him, is to show itself in a conduct and character good for the state and for society at large, as well as for the "brotherhood."

(2) Doctrine of God.

True to the revelation of the Old Testament, Paul presents God as absolute in will and power, so that He is not only the sole author of nature but the eternal and ultimately sole cause of goodness in man. To Him in the last resort all is due, not only the provision of atonement but the power and will to embrace it. The great passages which set before us a "fore-defining" (proorisis, "predestination") and election of the saints are all evidently inspired by this motive, the jealous resolve to trace to the one true Cause all motions and actions of good. The apostle seems e.g. almost to risk affirming a sovereign causation of the opposite, of unbelief and its sequel. But patient study will find that it is not so. God is not said to "fit for ruin" the "vessels of wrath." Their woeful end is overruled to His glory, but nowhere is it taken to be caused by Him. All along the writer’s intense purpose is to constrain the actual believer to see the whole causation of his salvation in the will and power of Him whose inmost character is revealed in the supreme fact that, "for us all," "he spared not his Son."

(3) Doctrine of Son of God—Redemption; Justification.

The Epistle affords materials for a magnificently large Christology. The relation of the Son to creation is indeed not expounded in terms (as in Col), but it is implied in the language of Romans 8, where the interrelation of our redemption and the transfiguration of Nature is dealt with. We have the Lord’s manhood fully recognized, while His Godhead (as we read in 9:5; so too Robertson, ut supra) is stated in terms, and it is most certainly implied in the language and tone of e.g. the close of Romans 8. Who but a bearer of the Supreme Nature could satisfy the conception indicated in such words as those of 8:32,35-39, coming as they do from a Hebrew monotheist of intense convictions? Meantime this transcendent Person has so put Himself in relation with us, as the willing worker of the Father’s purpose of love, that He is the sacrifice of peace for us (Romans 3), our "propitiatory" One (hilasterion, is now known to be an adjective), such that (whatever the mystery, which leaves the fact no less certain) the man who believes on Him, i.e. (as Romans 4 fully demonstrates) relies on Him, gives himself over to His mercy, is not only forgiven but "justified," "justified by faith." And "justification" is more than forgiveness; it is not merely the remission of a penalty but a welcome to the offender, pronounced to be lawfully at peace with the eternal holiness and love.


In closest connection with this message of justification is the teaching regarding union with the Christ who has procured the justification. This is rather assumed than expounded in Romans (we have the exposition more explicitly in Eph, Col, and Gal), but the assumption is present wherever the pregnant phrase "in Christ" is used. Union is, for Paul, the central doctrine of all, giving life and relation to the whole range. As Lightfoot has well said (Sermons in Paul’s, number 16), he is the apostle not primarily of justification, or of liberty, great as these truths are with him, but of union with Christ. It is through union that justification is ours; the merits of the Head are for the member. It is through union that spiritual liberty and power are ours; the Spirit of life is from the Head to the member. Held by grace in this profound and multiplex connection, where life, love and law are interlaced, the Christian is entitled to an assurance full of joy that nothing shall separate him, soul and (ultimately) body, from his once sacrificed and now risen and triumphant Lord.

(4) Doctrine of the Spirit of God.

No writing of the New Testament but John’s Gospel is so full upon this great theme as Romans 8 may be said to be the locus classicus in the Epistles for the work of the Holy Ghost in the believer. By implication it reveals personality as well as power (see especially 8:26). Note particularly the place of this great passage, in which revelation and profoundest conditions run continually into each other. It follows Romans 7, in which the apostle depicts, in terms of his own profound and typical experience, the struggles of conscience and will over the awful problem of the "bondage" of indwelling sin. If we interpret the passage aright, the case supposed is that of a regenerate man, who, however, attempts the struggle against inward evil armed, as to consciousness, with his own faculties merely, and finds the struggle insupportable. Then comes in the divine solution, the promised Spirit of life and liberty, welcomed and put into use by the man who has found his own resources yam. "In Christ Jesus," in union with Him, he "by the Spirit does to death the practices of the body," and rises through conscious liberty into an exulting hope of "the liberty of the glory of the sons of God"—not so, however as to know nothing of "groaning within himself," while yet in the body; but it is a groan which leaves intact the sense of sonship and divine love, and the expectation of a final completeness of redemption.

(5) Doctrine of Duty.

While the Epistle is eminently a message of salvation, it is also, in vital connection with this, a treasury of principle and precept for the life of duty. It does indeed lay down the sovereign freedom of our acceptance for Christ’s sake alone, and so absolutely that (Ro 6:1,2,15) the writer anticipates the inference (by foes, or by mistaken friends), "Let us continue in sin." But the answer comes instantly, and mainly through the doctrine of union. Our pardon is not an isolated fact. Secured only by Christ’s sacrifice, received only by the faith which receives Him as our all, it is ipso facto never received alone but with all His other gifts, for it becomes ours as we receive, not merely one truth about Him, but Him. Therefore, we receive His Life as our true life; and it is morally unthinkable that we can receive this and express it in sin. This assumed, the Epistle (Romans 12 and onward) lays down with much detail and in admirable application large ranges of the law of duty, civil, social, personal, embracing duties to the state, loyalty to its laws, payment of its taxes, recognition of the sacredness of political order, even ministered by pagans; and also duties to society and the church, including a large and loving tolerance even in religious matters, and a response to every call of the law of unselfish love. However we can or cannot adjust mentally the two sides, that of a supremely free salvation and that of an inexorable responsibility, there the two sides are, in the Pauline message. And reason and faith combine to assure us that both sides are eternally true, "antinomies" whose harmony will be explained hereafter in a higher life, but which are to be lived out here concurrently by the true disciple, assured of their ultimate oneness of source in the eternal love.

(6) Doctrine of Israel.

Very briefly we touch on this department of the message of Romans, mainly to point out that the problem of Israel’s unbelief nowhere else in Paul appears as so heavy a load on his heart, and that on the other hand we nowhere else have anything like the light he claims to throw (Romans 11) on Israel’s future. Here, if anywhere, he appears as the predictive prophet, charged with the statement of a "mystery," and with the announcement of its issues. The promises to Israel have never failed, nor are they canceled. At the worst, they have always been inherited by a chosen remnant, Israel within Israel. And a time is coming when, in a profound connection with Messianic blessing on the Gentiles, "all Israel shall be saved," with a salvation which shall in turn be new life to the world outside Israel. Throughout the passage Paul speaks, not as one who "will not give up a hope," but as having had revealed to him a vast and definite prospect, in the divine purpose.

It is not possible in our present space to work out other lines of the message of Romans. Perhaps enough has been done to stimulate the reader’s own inquiries.


Of the Fathers, Chrysostom and Augustine are pre-eminent as interpreters of Romans: Chrysostom in his expository Homilies, models of eloquent and illuminating discourse, full of "sanctified common sense," while not perfectly appreciative of the inmost doctrinal characteristics; Augustine, not in any continuous comm., but in his anti-Pelagian writings, which show the sympathetic intensity of his study of the doctrine of the Epistle, not so much on justification as on grace and the will. Of the Reformers, Calvin is eminently the great commentator, almost modern in his constant aim to ascertain the sacred writer’s meaning by open-eyed inference direct from the words. On Romans he is at his best; and it is remarkable that on certain leading passages where grace is theme he is much less rigidly "Calvinistic" than some of his followers. In modern times, the not learned but masterly exposition of Robert Haldane (circa 1830) claims mention, and the eloquent and highly suggestive expository lectures (about the same date) of Thomas Chalmers. H. A. W. Meyer (5th edition, 1872, English translation 1873-1874) among the Germans is excellent for carefulness and insight; Godet (1879, English translation 1881) equally so among French-writing divines; of late English interpreters I. A. Beet (1877, many revisions), Sanday and Headlam (1895, in the" International" series) and E. H. Gifford (admirable for scholarship and exposition; his work was printed first in the Speaker’s (Bible) Comm., 1881, now separately) claim particular mention. J. Denney writes on Romans in The Expositor’s Greek Test. (1900).

Luther’s lectures on Romans, delivered in 1516-1517 and long supposed lost, have been recovered and were published by J. Ficker in 1908. Among modern German commentators, the most important is B. Weiss in the later revisions of the Meyer series (9th edition, 1899), while a very elaborate commentary has been produced by Zahn in his own series (1910). Briefer are the works of Lipsius (Hand-Kommentar, 2nd edition, 1892, very scholarly and suggestive); Lietzmann (Handbuch zum N T, interest chiefly linguistic), and Julicher (in J. Weiss, Schriften des NTs, 2nd edition, 1908, an intensely able piece of popular exposition).

A. E. Garvie has written a brilliant little commentary in the "(New) Century" series (no date); that of R. John Parry in the Cambridge Greek Testament, 1913, is more popular, despite its use of the Greek text. F. B. Westcott’s Paul and Justification, 1913, contains a close grammatical study with an excellent paraphrase.

The writer may be allowed to name his short commentary (1879) in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and a fuller one, in a more homiletic style, in the Expositor’s Bible, 1894.

Handley Dunelm

ROME rom:


1. Original Roman State

2. The Struggle between Patricians and Plebeians

3. The Senate and Magistrates

4. Underlying Principles



1. Imperial Authority

2. Three Classes of Citizens


1. Deities

2. Religious Decay


1. Judea under Roman Procurators and Governors

2. Jewish Proselytism


1. Introduction of Christianity

2. Tolerance and Proscription

3. Persecution


Rome (Latin and Italian, Roma; Rhome): The capital of the Roman republic and empire, later the center of Lot Christendom, and since 1871 capital of the kingdom of Italy, is situated mainly on the left bank of the Tiber about 15 miles from the Mediterranean Sea in 41 degrees 53’ 54 inches North latitude and 12 degrees 0’ 12 inches longitude East of Greenwich.

It would be impossible in the limited space assigned to this article to give even a comprehensive outline of the ancient history of the Eternal City. It will suit the general purpose of the work to consider the relations of the Roman government and society with the Jews and Christians, and, in addition, to present a rapid survey of the earlier development of Roman institutions and power, so as to provide the necessary historical setting for the appreciation of the more essential subjects.

I. Development of the Republican Constitution.

1. Original Roman State:

The traditional chronology for the earliest period of Roman history is altogether unreliable, partly because the Gauls, in ravaging the city in 390 BC, destroyed the monuments which might have offered faithful testimony of the earlier period (Livy vi.1). It is known that there was a settlement on the site of Rome before the traditional date of the founding (753 BC). The original Roman state was the product of the coalition of a number of adjacent clan-communities, whose names were perpetuated in the Roman genres, or groups of imaginary kindred, a historical survival which had lost all significance in the period of authentic history. The chieftains of the associated clans composed the primitive senate or council of elders, which exercised sovereign authority. But as is customary in the development of human society a military or monarchical regime succeeded the looser patriarchal or sacerdotal organs of authority. This second stage may be identified with the legendary rule of the Tarquins, which was probably a period of Etruscan domination. The confederacy of clans was welded into a homogeneous political entity, and society was organized for civic ends, upon a timocratic basis. The forum was drained and became a social, industrial and political center, and the Capitoline temple of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva (Etruscan pseudo-Hellenic deities) was erected as a common shrine for all the people. But above all the Romans are indebted to these foreign kings for a training in discipline and obedience which was exemplified in the later conception of magisterial authority signified by the term imperium.

The prerogatives of the kings passed over to the consuls. The reduction of the tenure of power to a single year and the institution of the principle of colleagueship were the earliest checks to the abuse of unlimited authority. But the true cornerstone of Roman liberty was thought to be the lexicon Valeria, which provided that no citizen should be put to death by a magistrate without being allowed the right of appeal to the decision of the assembly of the people.

2. The Struggle between Patricians and Plebeians:

A period of more than 150 years after the establishment of the republic was consumed chiefly by the struggle between the two classes or orders, the patricians and plebeians. The former were the descendants of the original clans and constituted the populus, or body-politic, in a more particular sense. The plebeians were descendants of former slaves and dependents, or of strangers who had been attracted to Rome by the obvious advantages for industry and trade. They enjoyed the franchise as members of the military assembly (comitia centuriata), but had no share in the magistracies or other civic honors and emoluments, and were excluded from the knowledge of the civil law which was handed down in the patrician families as an oral tradition.

The first step in the progress of the plebeians toward political equality was taken when they wrested from the patricians the privilege of choosing representatives from among themselves, the tribunes, whose function of bearing aid to oppressed plebeians was rendered effective by the right of veto (intercessio), by virtue of which any act of a magistrate could be arrested. The codification of the law in the Twelve Tables was a distinct advantage to the lower classes, because the evils which they had suffered were largely due to a harsh and abusive interpretation of legal institutions, the nature of which had been obscure (see ROMAN LAW). The abrogation, directly thereafter, of the prohibition of intermarriage between the classes resulted in their gradual intermingling.

3. The Senate and Magistrates: The kings had reduced the senate to the position of a mere advising body. But under the republican regime it recovered in fact the authority of which it was deprived in theory. The controlling power of the senate is the most significant feature of the republican government, although it was recognized by no statute or other constitutional document. It was due in part to the diminution of the power of the magistrates, and in part to the manner in which the senators were chosen. The lessening of the authority of the magistrates was the result of the increase in their number, which led not only to the curtailment of the actual prerogative of each, but also to the contraction of their aggregate independent influence. The augmentation of the number of magistrates was made necessary by the territorial expansion of the state and the elaboration of administration. But it was partly the result of plebeian agitation. The events of 367 BC may serve as a suitable example to illustrate the action of these influences. For when the plebeians carried by storm the citadel of patrician exclusiveness in gaining admission to the consulship, the highest regular magistracy, the necessity for another magistrate with general competency afforded an opportunity for making a compensating concession to the patricians, and the praetorship was created, to which at first members of the old aristocracy were alone eligible. Under the fully developed constitution the regular magistracies were five in number, consulship, praetorship, aedileship, tribunate, and quaestorship, all of which were filled by annual elections.

Mention has been made of the manner of choosing the members of the senate as a factor in the development of the authority of the supreme council. At first the highest executive officers of the state exercised the right of selecting new members to maintain the senators at the normal number of three hundred. Later this function was transferred to the censors who were elected at intervals of five years. But custom and later statute ordained that the most distinguished citizens should be chosen, and in the Roman community the highest standard of distinction was service to the state, in other words, the holding of public magistracies. It followed, therefore, that the senate was in reality an assembly of all living ex-magistrates. The senate included, moreover, all the political wisdom and experience of the community, and so great was its prestige for these reasons, that, although the expression of its opinion (senatus consultum) was endowed by law with no compelling force, it inevitably guided the conduct of the consulting magistrate, who was practically its minister, rather than its president.

When the plebeians gained admission to the magistracies, the patriciate lost its political significance. But only the wealthier plebeian families were able to profit by this extension of privilege, inasmuch as a political career required freedom from gainful pursuits and also personal influence. These plebeian families readily coalesced with the patricians and formed a new aristocracy, which is called the nobilitas for the sake of distinction. It rested ultimately upon the foundation of wealth. The dignity conferred by the holding of public magistracies was its title to distinction. The senate was its organ. Rome was never a true democracy except in theory. During the whole period embraced between the final levelling of the old distinctions based upon blood (287 BC) and the beginning of the period of revolution (133 BC), the magistracies were occupied almost exclusively by the representatives of the comparatively limited number of families which constituted the aristocracy. These alone entered the senate through the doorway of the magistracies, and the data would almost justify us in asserting that the republican and senatorial government were substantially and chronologically identical.

The seeds of the political and social revolution were sown during the Second Punic War and the period which followed it. The prorogation of military authority established a dangerous precedent in violation of the spirit of the republic, so that Pub. Cornelius Scipio was really the forerunner of Marius, Julius Caesar, and Augustus. The stream of gold which found its way from the provinces to Rome was a bait to attract the cupidity of the less scrupulous senators, and led to the growth of the worst kind of professionalism in politics. The middle class of small farmers decayed for various reasons; the allurement of service in the rich but effete countries of the Orient attracted many. The cheapness of slaves made independent farming unprofitable and led to the increase in large estates; the cultivation of grain was partly displaced by that of the vine and olive, which were less suited to the habits and ability of the older class of farmers.

The more immediate cause of the revolution was the inability of the senate as a whole to control the conduct of its more radical or violent members. For as political ambition became more ardent with the increase in the material prizes to be gained, aspiring leaders turned their attention to the people, and sought to attain the fulfillment o.f their purposes by popular legislation setting at nought the concurrence of the senate, which custom had consecrated as a requisite preliminary for popular action. The loss of initiative by the senate meant the subversion of senatorial government. The senate possessed in the veto power of the tribunes a weapon for coercing unruly magistrates, for one of the ten tribunes could always be induced to interpose his veto to prohibit the passage of popular legislation. But this weapon was broken when Tib. Gracchus declared in 133 BC that a tribune who opposed the wishes of the people was no longer their representative, and sustained this assertion.

4. Underlying Principles:

It would be foreign to the purpose of the present article to trace the vicissitudes of the civil strife of the last century of the republic. A few words will suffice to suggest the general principles which lay beneath the surface of political and social phenomena. Attention has been called to the ominous development of the influence of military commanders and the increasing emphasis of popular favor. These were the most important tendencies throughout this period, and the coalition of the two was fatal to the supremacy of the senatorial government. Marius after winning unparalleled military glory formed a political alliance with Glaucia and Saturninus, the leaders of the popular faction in the city in 100 BC. This was a turning-point in the course of the revolution. But the importance of the sword soon outweighed that of the populace in the combination which was thus constituted. In the civil wars of Marius and Sulla constitutional questions were decided for the first time by superiority of military strength exclusively. Repeated appeals to brute force dulled the perception for constitutional restraints and the rights of minorities. The senate had already displayed signs of partial paralysis at the time of the Gracchi. How rapidly its debility must have increased as the sword cut off its most stalwart members! Its power expired in the proscriptions, or organized murder of political opponents. The popular party was nominally triumphant, but in theory the Roman state was still an urban commonwealth with a single po1itical center. The franchise could be exercised only at Rome. It followed from this that the actual political assemblies were made up largely of the worthless element which was so numerous in the city, whose irrational instincts were guided and controlled by shrewd political leaders, particularly those who united in themselves military ability and the wiles of the demagogue. Sulla, Crassus, Julius Caesar, Antony, and lastly Octavian were in effect the ancient counterpart of the modern political "boss." When such men realized their ultimate power and inevitable rivalry, the ensuing struggle for supremacy and for the survival of the fittest formed the necessary process of elimination leading naturally to the establishment of the monarchy, which was in this case the rule of the last survivor. When Octavian received the title Augustus and the proconsular power (27 BC), the transformation was accomplished.


The standard work on Roman political institutions is Mommsen and Marquardt, Handbuch der klassischen Altertumer. Abbott, Roman Political Institutions, Boston and London, 1901, offers a useful summary treatment of the subject.

II. Extension of Roman Sovereignty.



Only the most important general works on Roman history can be mentioned: Ihne, Romische Geschichte (2nd edition), Leipzig, 1893-96, English translation, Longmans, London, 1871-82; Mommsen, History of Rome, English translation by Dickson, New York, 1874; Niebuhr, History of Rome, English translation by Hare and Thirlwall, Cambridge, 1831-32; Pais, Storia di Roma, Turin, 1898-99; Ferrero, Greatness and Decline of Rome, English translation by Zimmern, New York, 1909.

III. The Imperial Government.

1. Imperial Authority:

Augustus displayed considerable tact in blending his own mastery in the state with the old institutions of the republican constitution. His authority, legally, rested mainly upon the tribunician power, which he had probably received as early as 36 BC, but which was established on a better basis in 23 BC, and the proconsular prerogative (imperiurn proconsulare), conferred in 27 BC. By virtue of the first he was empowered to summon the senate or assemblies and could veto the action of almost any magistrate. The second title of authority conferred upon him the command of the military forces of the state and consequently the administration of the provinces where troops were stationed, besides a general supervision over the government of the other provinces. It follows that a distinction was made (27 BC) between the imperial provinces which were administered by the emperor’s representatives (legati Augusti pro praetore) and the senatorial provinces where the republican machinery of administration was retained. The governors of the latter were called generally proconsuls (see PROVINCE). Mention is made of two proconsuls in the New Testament, Gallio in Achaia (Ac 18:12) and Sergius Paulus in Cyprus (Ac 13:7). It is instructive to compare the lenient and common-sense attitude of these trained Roman aristocrats with that of the turbulent local mobs who dealt with Paul in Asia Minor, Judea, or Greece (Tucker, Life in the Roman World of Nero and Paul, New York, 1910, 95).

2. Three Classes of Citizens:

Roman citizens were still divided into three classes socially, senatorial, equestrian, and plebeian, and the whole system of government harmonized with this triple division. The senatorial class was composed of descendants of senators and those upon whom the emperors conferred the latus clavus, or privilege of wearing the tunic with broad purple border, the sign of membership in this order. The quaestorship was still the door of admission to the senate. The qualifications for membership in the senate were the possession of senatorial rank and property of the value of not less than 1,000,000 sesterces ($45,000; £9,000). Tiberius transferred the election of magistrates from the people to the senate, which was already practically a closed body. Under the empire senatus consulta received the force of law. Likewise the senate acquired judicial functions, sitting as a court of justice for trying important criminal cases and hearing appeals in civil cases from the senatorial provinces. The equestrian class was made up of those who possessed property of the value of 400,000 sesterces or more, and the privilege of wearing the narrow purple band on the tunic. With the knights the emperors filled many important financial and administrative positions in Italy and the provinces which were under their control.

IV. Roman Religion.

1. Deities:

(1) The Roman religion was originally more consistent than the Greek, because the deities as conceived by the unimaginative Latin genius were entirely without human character. They were the influences or forces which directed the visible phenomena of the physical world, whose favor was necessary to the material prosperity of mankind. It would be incongruous to assume the existence of a system of theological doctrines in the primitive period. Ethical considerations entered to only a limited extent into the attitude of the Romans toward their gods. Religion partook of the nature of a contract by which men pledged themselves to the scrupulous observance of certain sacrifices and other ceremonies, and in return deemed themselves entitled to expect the active support of the gods in bringing their projects to a fortunate conclusion. The Romans were naturally polytheists as a result of their conception of divinity. Since before the dawn of science there was no semblance of unity in the natural world, there could be no unity in heaven. There must be a controlling spirit over every important object or class of objects, every person, and every process of nature. The gods, therefore, were more numerous than mankind itself.

(2) At an early period the government became distinctly secular. The priests were the servants of the community for preserving the venerable aggregation of formulas and ceremonies, many of which lost at an early period such spirit as they once possessed. The magistrates were the true representatives of the community in its relationship with the deities both in seeking the divine will in the auspices and in performing the more important sacrifices.

(3) The Romans at first did not make statues of their gods. This was partly due to lack of skill, but mainly to the vagueness of their conceptions of the higher beings. Symbols sufficed to signify their existence, a spear, for instance, standing for Mars. The process of reducing the gods to human form was inaugurated when they came into contact with the Etruscans and Greeks. The Tarquins summoned Etruscan artisans and artists to Rome, who made from terra cotta cult statues and a pediment group for the Capitoline temple.

The types of the Greek deities had already been definitely established when the Hellenic influence in molding Roman culture became predominant. When the form of the Greek gods became familiar to the Romans in works of sculpture, they gradually supplanted those Roman deities with which they were nominally identified as a result of a real or fancied resemblance.


(4) The importation of new gods was a comparatively easy matter. Polytheism is by its nature tolerant because of its indefiniteness. The Romans could no more presume to have exhaustive knowledge of the gods than they could pretend to possess a comprehensive acquaintance with the universe. The number of their gods increased of necessity as human consciousness of natural phenomena expanded. Besides, it was customary to invite the gods of conquered cities to transfer their abode to Rome and favor the Romans in their undertakings. But the most productive source for religious expansion was the Sibylline Books. See APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, sec. V. This oracular work was brought to Rome from Cumae, a center of the cult of Apollo. It was consulted at times of crisis with a view to discover what special ceremonies would secure adequate divine aid. The forms of worship recommended by the Sibylline Books were exclusively Greek As early as the 5th century BC the cult of Apollo was introduced at Rome. Heracles and the Dioscuri found their way thither about the same time. Later Italian Diana was merged with Artemis, and the group of Ceres, Liber, and Libera were identified with foreign Demeter, Dionysus, and Persephone. Thus Roman religion became progressively Hellenized. By the close of the Second Punic War the greater gods of Greece had all found a home by the Tiber, and the myriad of petty local deities who found no counterpart in the celestial beings of Mt. Olympus fell into oblivion. Their memory was retained by the antiquarian lore of the priests alone.


2. Religious Decay:

Roman religion received with the engrafted branches of Greek religion the germs of rapid decay, for its Hellenization made Roman religion peculiarly susceptible to the attack of philosophy. The cultivated class in Greek society was already permeated with skepticism. The philosophers made the gods appear ridiculous. Greek philosophy gained a firm foothold in Rome in the 2nd century BC, and it became customary a little later to look upon Athens as a sort of university town where the sons of the aristocracy should be sent for the completion of their education in the schools of the philosophers. Thus at the termination of the republican era religious faith had departed from the upper classes largely, and during the turmoil of the civil wars even the external ceremonies were often abandoned and many temples fell into ruins. There had never been any intimate connection between formal religion and conduct, except when the faith of the gods was invoked to insure the fulfillment of sworn promises.

Augustus tried in every way to restore the old religion, rebuilding no fewer than 82 temples which lay in ruins at Rome. A revival of religious faith did occur under the empire, although its spirit was largely alien to that which had been displayed in the performance of the official cult. The people remained superstitious, even when the cultivated classes adopted a skeptical philosophy. The formal religion of the state no longer appealed to them, since it offered nothing to the emotions or hopes. On the other hand the sacramental, mysterious character of oriental religions inevitably attracted them. This is the reason why the religions of Egypt and Syria spread over the empire and exercised an immeasurable influence in the moral life of the people. The partial success of Judaism and the ultimate triumph of Christianity may be ascribed in part to the same causes.

In concluding we should bear in mind that the state dictated no system of theology, that the empire in the beginning presented the spectacle of a sort of religious chaos where all national cults were guaranteed protection, that Roman polytheism was naturally tolerant, and that the only form of religion which the state could not endure was one which was equivalent to an attack upon the system of polytheism as a whole, since this would imperil the welfare of the community by depriving the deities of the offerings and other services in return for which their favor could be expected.


Marquardt, Romische Staatsverwaltung, III, 3, "Das Sacralwesen"; Wissowa, Religion u. Kultus der Romer, Munich, 1902; Boissier, La religion romaine, Paris, 1884.

V. Rome and the Jews.

1. Judea under Roman Procurators and Governors:

Judaea became a part of the province of Syria in 63 BC (Josephus, BJ, vii, 7), and Hyrcanus, brother of the last king, remained as high priest (archiereus kai ethnarches; Josephus, Ant, XIV, iv, 4) invested with judicial as well as sacerdotal functions. But Antony and Octavius gave Palestine (40 BC) as a kingdom to Herod, surnamed the Great, although his rule did not become effective until 3 years later. His sovereignty was upheld by a Roman legion stationed at Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant, XV, iii, 7), and he was obliged to pay tribute to the Roman government and provide auxiliaries for the Roman army (Appian, Bell. Civ., v.75). Herod built Caesarea in honor of Augustus (Josephus, Ant, XV, ix, 6), and the Roman procurators later made it the seat of government. At his death in 4 BC the kingdom was divided between his three surviving sons, the largest portion falling to Archelaus, who ruled Judea, Samaria and Idumaea with the title ethnarches (Josephus, Ant, XVII, xi, 4) until 6 AD, when he was deposed and his realm reduced to the position of a province. The administration by Roman procurators (see PROCURATOR), which was now established, was interrupted during the period 41-44 AD, when royal authority was exercised by Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, over the lands which had been embraced in the kingdom of his grandfather (Josephus, Ant, XIX, viii, 2), and, after 53 AD, Agrippa II ruled a considerable part of Palestine (Josephus, Ant, XX, vii, 1; viii, 4).

After the fall of Jerusalem and the termination of the great revolt in 70 AD, Palestine remained a separate province. Henceforth a legion (legio X Fretensis) was added to the military forces stationed in the land, which was encamped at the ruins of Jerusalem. Consequently, imperial governors of praetorian rank (legati Augusti pro praetore) took the place of the former procurators (Josephus, BJ, VII, i, 2, 3; Dio Cassius lv.23).

Several treaties are recorded between the Romans and Jews as early as the time of the Maccabees (Josephus, Ant, XII, x, 6; XIII, ix, 2; viii, 5), and Jews are known to have been at Rome as early as 138 BC. They became very numerous in the capital after the return of Pompey who brought back many captives (see LIBERTINES). Cicero speaks of multitudes of Jews at Rome in 58 BC (Pro Flacco 28), and Caesar was very friendly toward them (Suetonius Caesar 84). Held in favor by Augustus, they recovered the privilege of collecting sums to send to the temple (Philo Legatio ad Caium 40). Agrippa offered 100 oxen in the temple when visiting Herod (Josephus, Ant, XVI, ii, 1), and Augustus established a daily offering of a bull and two lambs. Upon the whole the Roman government displayed noticeable consideration for the religious scruples of the Jews. They were exempted from military service and the duty of appearing in court on the Sabbath. Yet Tiberius repressed Jewish rites in Rome in 19 AD (Suetonius Tiberius 36) and Claudius expelled the Jews from the city in 49 AD (Suetonius Claudius 25); but in both instances repression was not of long duration.

2. Jewish Proselytism:

The Jews made themselves notorious in Rome in propagating their religion by means of proselytizing (Horace Satires i.4, 142; i.9, 69; Juvenal xiv.96; Tacitus Hist. v. 5), and the literature of the Augustan age contains several references to the observation of the Sabbath (Tibullus i.3; Ovid Ars amatoria i.67, 415; Remedium amoris 219). Proselytes from among the Gentiles were not always required to observe all the prescriptions of the Law. The proselytes of the Gate (sebomenoi), as they were called, renounced idolatry and serious moral abuses and abstained from the blood and meat of suffocated animals. Among such proselytes may be included the centurion of Capernaum (Lu 7:5), the centurion Cornelius (Ac 10:1), and the empress Poppea (Josephus, Ant, XX, viii, 11; Tacitus Ann. xvi.6).

On "proselytes of the Gate," GJV4, III, 177, very properly corrects the error in HJP. These "Gate" people were not proselytes at all; they refused to take the final step that carried them into Judaism—namely, circumcision (Ramsay, The Expositor, 1896, p. 200; Harnack, Expansion of Christianity, I, 11).


Notwithstanding the diffusion of Judaism by means of proselytism, the Jews themselves lived for the most part in isolation in the poorest parts of the city or suburbs, across the Tiber, near the Circus Maximus, or outside the Porta Capena. Inscriptions show that there were seven communities, each with its synagogue and council of elders presided over by a gerusiarch. Five cemeteries have been discovered with many Greek, a few Latin, but no Hebrew inscriptions.


Ewald, The Hist of Israel, English translation by Smith, London, 1885; Renan, Hist of the People of Israel, English translation, Boston, 1896; Schurer, The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, English translation by MacPherson, New York.

VI. Rome and the Christians.

1. Introduction of Christianity:

The date of the introduction of Christianity into Rome cannot be determined. A Christian community existed at the time of the arrival of Paul (Ac 28:15), to which he had addressed his Epistle a few years before (58 AD). It is commonly thought that the statement regarding the expulsion of the Jews from Rome under Claudius on account of the commotion excited among them by the agitation of Chrestus (Suetonius Claudius 25: Iudaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantis Roma expulit), probably in 49 AD, is proof of the diffusion of Christian teaching in Rome, on the ground that Chrestus is a colloquial, or mistaken, form of Christus. It has been suggested that the Christian faith was brought to the capital of the empire by some of the Romans who were converted at the time of Pentecost (Ac 2:10,41). It would be out of place to discuss here the grounds for the traditional belief that Peter was twice in Rome, once before 50 AD and again subsequent to the arrival of Paul, and that together the two apostles established the church there. Our present concern is with the attitude of the government and society toward Christianity, when once established. It may suffice, therefore, to remind the reader that Paul was permitted to preach freely while nominally in custody (Php 1:13), and that as early as 64 AD the Christians were very numerous (Tacitus Ann. xv.44: multitudo ingens).

2. Tolerance and Proscription:

At first the Christians were not distinguished from the Jews, but shared in the toleration, or even protection, which was usually conceded to Judaism as the national religion of one of the peoples embraced within the empire. Christianity was not legally proscribed until after its distinction from Judaism was clearly perceived. Two questions demand our attention: (1) When was Christianity recognized as distinct from Judaism? (2) When was the profession of Christianity declared a crime? These problems are of fundamental importance in the history of the church under the Roman empire.

(1) If we may accept the passage in Suetonius cited above (Claudius 25) as testimony on the vicissitudes of Christianity, we infer that at that time the Christians were confused with the Jews. The account of Pomponia Graecina, who was committed to the jurisdiction of her husband (Tacitus Ann. xiii.32) for adherence to a foreign belief (superstitionis externae rea), is frequently cited as proof that as early as 57 AD Christianity had secured a convert in the aristocracy. The characterization of the evidence in this case by the contemporary authority from whom Tacitus has gleaned this incident would apply appropriately to the adherence to Judaism or several oriental religions from the point of view of Romans of that time; for Pomponia had lived in a very austere manner since 44 AD. Since there is some other evidence that Pomponia was a Christian, the indefinite account of the accusation against her as mentioned by Tacitus is partial proof that Christianity had not as yet been commonly recognized as a distinct religion (Marucchi, Elements d’archeologie chretienne I, 13). At the time of the great conflagration in 64 AD the populace knew of the Christians, and Nero charged them collectively with a plot to destroy the city (Tacitus Ann. xv.44). The recognition of the distinctive character of Christianity had already taken place at this time. This was probably due in large measure to the circumstances of Paul’s sojourn and trial in Rome and to the unprecedented number of converts made at that time. The empress Poppea, who was probably an adherent of Judaism (Josephus, Ant, XX, viii), may have enlightened the imperial court regarding the heresy of the Christians and their separation from the parent stock.

(2) In attempting to determine approximately the time at which Christianity was placed under the official ban of the imperial government, it will be convenient to adopt as starting-points certain incontestable dates between which the act of prosecution must have been issued. It is clear that at the time of the great conflagration (64 AD), the profession of Christianity was not a ground for criminal action. Paul had just been set at liberty by decree of the imperial court (compare 2Ti 4:17). Moreover, the charge against the Christians was a plot to burn the city, not adherence to a proscribed religion, and they were condemned, as it appears, for an attitude of hostility toward the human race (Tacitus Ann. xv. 44). While governor of Bithynia (circa 112 AD), Pliny the younger addressed Trajan in a celebrated letter (x.96) asking advice to guide his conduct in the trial of many persons who were accused as Christians, and inquiring particularly whether Christianity in itself was culpable, or only the faults which usually accompanied adherence to the new faith. The reply of the emperor makes quite plain the fundamental guilt at that time of adherence to Christianity, and it supposes a law already existing against it (x.97). It follows, therefore, that the law against Christianity which was the legal basis for persecution must have been issued between the conflagration in 64 AD and Pliny’s administration of Bithynia.

We cannot define the time of this important act of legislation more closely with absolute certainty, although evidence is not wanting for the support of theories of more or less apparent probability. Tradition ascribes a general persecution to the reign of Domitian, which would imply that Christianity was already a forbidden religion at that time. Allusions in Revelation (as 6:9), the references to recent calamities in Rome by Clement in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Ad Cor.), the condemnation of Acilius Glabrio (Dio Cassius lxvii.13), a man of consular rank, together with the emperor’s cousin Flavius Clemens (Dio Cassius, xiii) and Flavia Domitilla and many others on the charge of atheism and Jewish customs (95 AD), are cited as evidence for this persecution. The fact that a number of persons in Bithynia abandoned Christianity 20 years before the judicial investigation of Pliny (Pliny x. 96) is of some importance as corroborative evidence.

But there are grounds worthy of consideration for carrying the point of departure back of Domitian. The letter of Peter from Babylon (Rome ?) to the Christians in Asia Minor implies an impending persecution (1Pe 4:12-16). This was probably in the closing years of the reign of Nero. Allard cleverly observes (Histoire des persecutions, 61) that the mention of the Neronian persecution of the Christians apart from the description of the great fire in the work of Suetonius (Ner. 16), amid a number of acts of legislation, is evidence of a general enactment, which must have been adopted at the time of, or soon after, the proceedings which were instituted on the basis of the charge of arson. Upon the whole theory that the policy of the imperial government was definitely established under Nero carries with it considerable probability (compare Sulpitius Severus, Chron., ii.41).

3. Persecution:

Although the original enactment has been lost the correspondence of Pliny and Trajan enables us to formulate the imperial policy in dealing with the Christians during the 2nd century. Adherence to Christianity was in itself culpable. But proceedings were not to be undertaken by magistrates on their own initiative; they were to proceed only from charges brought by voluntary accusers legally responsible for establishing the proof of their assertions. Informal and anonymous information must be rejected. Penitence shown in abjuring Christianity absolved the accused from the legal penalty of former guilt. The act of adoring the gods and the living emperor before their statues was sufficient proof of non-adherence to Christianity or of repentance.

The attitude of the imperial authorities in the 3rd century was less coherent. The problem became more complicated as Christianity grew. Persecution was directed more especially against the church as an organization, since it was believed to exert a dangerous power. About 202 AD, Septimius Severus issued a decree forbidding specifically conversion to Judaism or Christianity (Spartianus, Severus, 17), in which he departed from the method of procedure prescribed by Trajan (conquirendi non sunt), and commissioned the magistrates to proceed directly against suspected converts. At this time the Christians organized funerary associations for the possession of their cemeteries, substituting corporative for individual ownership, and it would appear that under Alexander Severus they openly held places of worship in Rome (Lampridius, Alexander Severus, 22, 49). The emperor Philip (244-49) is thought to have been a Christian at heart (Eusebius, HE, VI, 34). A period of comparative calm was interrupted by the persecution under Decius (250-51 AD), when the act of sacrifice was required as proof of non-adherence to Christianity. Several certificates testifying to the due performance of this rite have been preserved.

Under Valerian (257 AD) the Christian organizations were declared illegal and the cemeteries were sequestrated. But an edict in 260 AD restored this property (Eusebius, VII, 13). A short persecution under Aurelian (274 AD) broke the long period of calm which extended to the first edict of persecution of Diocletian (February 24, 303). The Christians seem to have gained a sort of prescriptive claim to exist, for Diocletian did not at first consider them guilty of a capital crime. He sought to crush their organization by ordering the cessation of assemblies, the destruction of churches and sacred books, and abjuration under pain of political and social degradation. (Lactantius, De Morte Persecutorum, x.11, 12, 13; Eusebius, VIII, 2; IX, 10). Later he ordered the arrest of all the clergy, who were to be put to death unless they renounced the faith (Eusebius, VIII, 6). Finally the requirement of an act of conformity in sacrificing to the gods was made general. This final persecution, continuing in an irregular way with varying degrees of severity, terminated with the defeat of Maxentius by Constantine (October 29, 312). The Edict of Milan issued by Constantine and Licinius the following year established toleration, the restoration of ecclesiastical property and the peace of the church.



Allard, Histoire des persecutions, Paris, 1903; Le christianisme et l’empire romain, Paris, 1903; Duchesne, Histoire ancienne de l‘eglise, Paris, 1907 (English translation); Marucchi, Elements d’archeologie chretienne, Paris, 1899-1902; Hardy, Christianity and the Roman Government, London, 1894; Renan, L’eglise chretienne, Paris, 1879; Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, London, 1893.

George H. Allen










root (shoresh; rhiza): Frequently mentioned in the Old Testament and New Testament, but almost always in a figurative sense, e.g. "root of the righteous" (Pr 12:3,12); "root that beareth gall" (De 29:18); "Their root shall be as rottenness" (Isa 5:24); "root of bitterness" (Heb 12:15). Also of peoples: "they whose root is in Amalek" (Jud 5:14); of Assyria (Eze 31:7); "Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up" (Ho 9:16); "Judah shall again take root downward" (2Ki 19:30; compare Isa 27:6; 37:31); the root of Jesse (Isa 11:10; Ro 15:12); root of David (Re 5:5; 22:16).




(shoresh yishay (Isa 11:10); rhiza tou Iessai (Ro 15:12)): The Hebrew and Greek words are practically the same in meaning. "Root" means descendant, branch of the family or stock. The Messianic king was to be of the family of Jesse the father of David. In Ro 15:12 Paul quotes the Septuagint of Isa 11:10. Jesus is a branch or descendant of the family of Jesse, as well as of David.

See also DAVID, ROOT OF.


rop: Used in the Old Testament for chebhel, "that which binds" (2Sa 17:13, etc.), and for ‘abhoth, "that which is woven" (Jud 15:13, etc.). In neither word is any specified thickness or strength connoted, and chebhel is translated equally well by "line" (2Sa 8:2, etc.) or "cord" (Jos 2:15, etc.), and ‘abhoth by "cord" (Ps 118:27, etc.), as best suits the context. Similarly in the New Testament the word schoinion, literally, "made of rushes" can mean the rope by which a boat is fastened (Ac 27:32) or small cords suitable for a whip (Joh 2:15). The usual material for ropes was certainly flax (hemp), but the Egyptians, and so possibly the Hebrews, at times made ropes of leathern thongs.


Burton Scott Easton


roz: (1) (chabhatstseleth; anthos, "a flower" (So 2:1) krinon, "a lily" (Isa 35:1)): By general consent English Versions of the Bible is wrong: in So 2:1 margin reads "Hebrew habazzeleth, the autumn crocus" and in Isa 35:1, margin reads "or autumn crocus." This is the Colchicum autumnale (Natural Order, Liliaceae). A Targum on So 2:1 explains the Hebrew word as "narcissus" , a very common plant in the plains and mountains of Palestine and a great favorite with the natives. Two species, N. tazetta and N. serolinus (Natural Order, Amaryllideae), occur, the latter being the finer; they are autumn plants. All authorities agree that the so-called "rose" was some kind of bulbed plant. (2) (rhodon, "the rose," mentioned in Ecclesiasticus 24:14; 39:13; 50:8; The Wisdom of Solomon 2:8; 2 Esdras 2:19): There is no reason why the rose, of which several varieties are common in Palestine, should not be meant. Tristram favors the rhododendron. The expression, "rose plants in Jericho," in Ecclesiasticus 24:14 has nothing whatever to do with what is now sold there as a "rose of Jericho," a dwarf annual plant, Anastatica hierochuntina (Natural Order, Cruciferae), which dries up and can be made to reexpand by placing the root in water.

E. W. G. Masterman

ROSH (1)

rosh, rosh (ro’sh): A son or grandson of Benjamin (Ge 46:21).

ROSH (2)

(ro’sh; Rhos, variant (Q margin) kephales; Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) capiris):

1. Rosh and Its Renderings:

This name occurs in the prophecies against Gog in Eze 38:2,3 and 39:1, where the King James Version has "Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal." This translation is due to ro’sh being the common Hebrew word for "head" or "chief" (compare the Greek variant and the Vulgate), and is regarded as incorrect, that of the Revised Version (British and American), "Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal," being preferred.

2. Identification with Russia:

The identification of Rosh is not without its difficulties. Gesenius regarded it as indicating the Russians, who are mentioned in Byzantine writers of the 10th century under the name of Rhos. He adds that they are also noticed by Ibn Fosslan (same period), under the name of Rus, as a people dwelling on the river Rha (Volga). Apart from the improbability that the dominion of Gog extended to this district, it would be needful to know at what date the Rus of the Volga arrived there.

3. Probably the Assyrian Rasu:

Notwithstanding objections on account of its eastern position, in all probability Fried. Delitzsch’s identification of Rosh with the mat Rasi, "land of Rash" of the Assyrian inscriptions, is the best. Sargon of Assyria (circa 710 BC) conquered the countries "from the land of Rasu on the border of Elam as far as the river of Egypt," and this country is further described in his Khorsabad Inscription, 18, as "the land of Rasu, of the boundary of Elam, which is beside the Tigris." Assyria having disappeared from among the nations when Ezekiel wrote his prophecies, Babylonia was probably the only power with which "Gog of the land of Magog" would have had to reckon, but it may well be doubted whether the Babylonian king would have allowed him to exercise power in the district of Rasu, except as a very faithful vassal. It may here be noted that the Hebrew spelling of Rosh presupposes an earlier pronunciation as Rash, a form agreeing closely with that used by the Assyrians. See Fried. Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? 325.

T. G. Pinches


rot, rot’-’-n-nes (verb raqebh, noun raqabh (riqqabhon, Job 41:27), with maq, "decay" (Isa 5:24), and ‘abhash, "shrivel" (so Joe 1:17 the Revised Version margin)): "Rottenness of the bones" (Pr 12:4; 14:30; Hab 3:16) is ulceration (caries) of the bones, used as an example of an intensely painful disease. the King James Version, in addition, has "rot" in Nu 5:21,22,27, where the Revised Version (British and American) has "fall away" (naphal), but a euphemistic paraphrase is in point (see the comms.). In Jer 38:11,12 the King James Version has "old rotten rags" for melach, "rag" (the Revised Version (British and American) "wornout garments," a translation that specializes too far).


rot: the Revised Version margin gives "learned by rote" in Isa 29:13 for the King James Version "taught," which indicates that the service of Yahweh was merely formal.


ro’-er, ro’-ing.



roi’-al: Either belonging to a king (kingdom) or having kingly power, dignity, authority, etc. In Hebrew, the word is expressed by using different nouns in the gen. case (the "construct state"). They are:

(1) melekh, "king": "Asher .... shall yield royal dainties," literally, choice morsels of the king, meaning fit for a king (Ge 49:20); "besides that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty," literally, which he gave her according to the hand (the wealth) of King Solomon (1Ki 10:13; compare the Revised Version margin); "a royal statute," literally, statute of a malka’, which is the emphatic Aramaic term for melekh, "king" (Da 6:7);

(2) mamlakhah, "the power and dignity of a king," "Gibeon .... one of the royal cities," i.e. a capital city with a king of her own (Jos 10:2; compare 1Sa 27:5); "all the seed royal," literally, the seed of the kingdom (2Ki 11:1; compare 2Ch 22:10);

(3) malkhuth, "kinghood," "kingdom": "royal majesty," literally, majesty of kinghood (1Ch 29:25); quite frequently in the Book of Esther; royal wine (1:7); crown (1:11; compare 2:17; 6:8); commandment (1:19); "her royal estate," literally, her kinghood (1:19); house royal (2:16; compare 5:1); royal apparel (5:1; compare 6:8,15); throne (5:1);

(4) melukhah, "kingdom," "kingly power and dignity": "royal city," literally, the city of the kingdom, meaning here that part of the city (Rabbah) in which the royal palace was situated (2Sa 12:26); "royal diadem," literally, turban of kinghood (Isa 62:3);

(5) in Jer 43:10 we find the word shaphrir; its meaning is uncertain: "royal pavilion" (the Revised Version (British and American) and the King James Version), "glittering" (Revised Version, margin), "scepter," "a carpet covering a throne."

The New Testament uses the word for basilikos, "belonging to king": "royal apparel" (Ac 12:21); "the royal law," something like "the golden rule," being foremost because including all others (Jas 2:8), and for basileios (being vested with kingly power and honor), "royal priesthood," the Hebrew rendering would be mamlekheth kohanim, "a kingdom of priests," i.e. a kingdom whose citizens are priests, emphasizing the two facts that the true Christians have free access to the grace of God and that they enjoy the liberties and privileges of His kingdom (1Pe 2:9).

William Baur


See ROYAL, (2), (4).








rud’-i (’adhmoni (1Sa 16:12; 17:42; Ge 25:25 the Revised Version margin), ‘adhom (So 5:10); verbs ‘adham (La 4:7), and eruthriao, "to blush" (Ad Es 15:5)): "Ruddy" is the form taken by the adjective "red" when used as a term of praise of the human skin, and this is its use in the Bible (the Hebrew and Greek words are all usual words for "red" or "to be red"). The dark-skinned Hebrews found great beauty in a clear complexion.


rood: Not "impolite" in English Versions of the Bible (except perhaps 2 Macc 12:14), but "untrained," "ignorant"; compare the modern phrase, "a rude drawing." So Sirach 8:4 (apaideutos) and 2Co 11:6 (idiotes, ‘though I lack technical training in rhetoric’); compare the King James Version and the Revised Version margin Sirach 21:24.


roo’-di-ments (stoicheia, plural of stoicheion (Ga 4:3,9; Col 2:8,20; Heb 5:12; 2Pe 3:10,12)): This word occurs 7 t in the New Testament, and the King James Version translates it in three different ways. In the two passages in Galatians, and in the two in 2 Peter, it is rendered "elements." In the two passages in Colossians, it is translated "rudiments." In He it is rendered "first principles."

1. Etymological Meaning:

The etymological meaning of the word is, that which belongs to a row or rank, hence any first thing, an element, first principle. It denotes, specially

(1) the letters of the alphabet, the spoken sounds, as the elements of speech;

(2) the material elements of the universe, the physical atoms of which the world is composed;

(3) the heavenly bodies;

(4) the elements, rudiments, fundamental principles of any art, science or discipline; compare the phrase, "the a, b, c."

2. Use of Term in the New Testament:

(1) The New Testament use of the word, where it always occurs in the plural, is as follows: In 2Pe 3:10,12, "The elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat," that is, the physical elements of the world and of the heavens are to be consumed, or subjected to change, by means of fire. In Heb 5:12, the King James Version "Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God." This means that the Hebrew Christians had not made the advance expected, in grace and in the knowledge of God, but were in need of instruction in the elementary truths of the Christian faith.

(2) The Pauline use of the term is in Galatians and Colossians; see references as above. In Ga 4:3,9 the King James Version Paul writes, "When we were children, (we) were in bondage under the elements of the world"; "How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" The apostle here means the ceremonial precepts of the worship of the Jews. These requirements involved much and protracted difficulty in their observance; they were "a yoke .... which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Ac 15:10). Yet the Galatian converts were tuning back again to these legal ordinances, and desired to be in bondage to them. These elements were "of the world," they had reference to material and not to spiritual things, they were formal and sensuous. They were "weak," for they had no power to rescue man from condemnation, and they could not save him from sin. They were "beggarly," for they brought no endowment of the heavenly riches. By these epithets Paul signifies that rites, ordinances, sacrifices, observance of days and seasons belonged to the elementary stages of the Jewish religion, which had now attained its end and purpose in the coming of Christ and His work. These things were necessary at the time they were divinely instituted, but the time had come when they were no longer required. They contained and conveyed an elementary knowledge, and were intended, from the first, to lead to an advance in the moral and spiritual life, which is now revealed in Christ.

It has been thought by some that what is meant by "elements" or "rudiments" in Galatians and Colossians is the physical elements, presided over by angels, and that this is in some way connected with the worship of angels, to which Paul refers in Col 2:18. The Jews believed that there were, angels of fire and of the wind, and of the other physical elements. The apostle therefore wished to show the foolishness of the worship of angels and of the heavenly bodies which they were supposed to control.

This latter meaning of the term is a possible, but not a probable one. The interpretation, already first given, which understands "elements" to mean the ordinances of Jewish legalism, is most in harmony with the gospel and with the teaching of Paul. "This is probably the correct interpretation, both as simpler in itself and as suiting the context better. Paul seems to be dwelling still on the rudimentary character of the law, as fitted for an earlier stage in the world’s history" (Lightfoot, Commentary on Galatians, 167).

In Col 2:8 the King James Version Paul writes, "Beware lest any man spoil you .... after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ"; and in Col 2:20, the King James Version "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why .... are ye subject to ordinances?" The meaning of the term here is the elements of religious training, the ceremonial precepts of the Jewish Law. In Colossians and Galatians the meaning is that the systems of the false teachers, both in Colosse and in Galatia, laid stress on Jewish ritual, ceremonial law and ascetic observances—things of this world, belonging to the visible sphere, things elementary, and intended, so far as the Jewish Law is concerned, simply as a preparation for the coming of Christ. Such were the rudiments of the world, so far as their source was Jewish. On their heathen side they were still more decidedly anti-Christian. Both of these tendencies, Jewish and heathen, were "not according to Christ." For Christ Himself who atoned for sin, and who now lives and reigns, delivers believers from all such methods, as well as from the need of them.

John Rutherfurd


roo (peganon): One of the plants mentioned in Lu 11:42 as subject to tithe: in the parallel passage, Mt 23:23, anise and cummin are mentioned. Ruta graveolens (Natural Order, Rutaceae) is the official rue, and a very similar species, R. chalepensis, is indigenous. Rue is a small shrub growing 2 to 4 ft. high with a heavy odor, disagreeable to Westerners, but a favorite with Orientals. A sprig of rue is often fixed on a child’s cap or clothes as a kind of charm.


roo’-fus (Rhouphos): The name is mentioned twice:

(1) Simon of Cyrene, who was compelled to bear the cross of Jesus, is "the father of Alexander and Rufus" (Mr 15:21);

(2) Paul sends greetings to Roman Christians, "Rufus the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine" (Ro 16:13).

Rufus was well known among those for whom Mark primarily wrote his Gospel, and according to tradition this was the Christian community at Rome. There seems no reason to doubt, therefore, that the Rufus of Mark and the Rufus of Paul are the same person. The name, meaning "red," "reddish," was, however, one of the commonest of slave names; the identification of these two is therefore merely a conjecture. The Rufus whom Paul greets is "the chosen in the Lord," i.e. "that choice Christian" (Denhey). Since all Christians are "chosen," this title must express some distinction. The mother of Rufus had played the mother’s part to Paul on some occasion of which we are ignorant, hence the phrase "his mother and mine" (compare Mr 10:30).

S. F. Hunter


rug: Alternative rendering of a word (semikhah) in Jud 4:18 the Revised Version (British and American), "mantle" the King James Version. The translation is doubtful; Oxford Hebrew Lexicon; see Brown, Driver, and Briggs gives "rug or thick coverlet (?)."


roo-ha’-ma, roo-ha’-ma: See LO-RUHAMAH, the symbolical name of Hosea’s daughter (Ho 1:6,8).


roo’-in (haricah, etc.; rhegma): "Ruin," the translation of haricah (Am 9:11; compare Ac 15:16, where the Revised Version (British and American) Greek text, ta katestrammena), and of a number of other Hebrew words: in Lu 6:49 rhegma, "breakage," is used both in a literal sense (Isa 23:13; 25:2, of fallen buildings; Eze 27:27; 31:13, of a state or people; Lu 6:49, of a house, etc.) and with a moral significance (Pr 26:28). the Revised Version margin correctly renders mikhshol in Eze 18:30 "stumblingblock" (the King James Version "ruin"), and the Revised Version (British and American) in Eze 21:15 "stumblings" (the King James Version "ruins"). The Revised Version (British and American) has "ruins" for the King James Version "desolations" in Ezr 9:9, margin "waste places"; Ps 74:3; "in their ruins" for "with their mattocks" (2Ch 34:6, margin "‘ with their axes.’ The Hebrew is obscure"); "midst of the ruin" for "desolation" (Job 30:14); "their ruin" for "their wickedness" (Pr 21:12). "Ruinous" is the translation of mappalah (Isa 17:1) and of natsah (2Ki 19:25; Isa 37:26).

W. L. Walker



1. In the Old Testament:

(1) moshel, "ruler," "prince," "master" (tyrant), applied to Joseph in Egypt (Ge 45:8; compare Ps 105:21); to the Philistines (Jud 15:11); to David’s descendants, the future kings of Israel (2Ch 7:18; compare Jer 33:26); to Pharaoh (Ps 105:20); to a wicked prince, a tyrant (Pr 28:15; compare Isa 14:5; 49:7); to theocratic king, the Messiah (Mic 5:2); it is often used in general (Pr 6:7; 23:1; 29:12; Ec 10:4; Isa 16:1, etc.).

(2) naghidh, "leader," "noble" (nobles), "prince." In a number of instances the Revised Version (British and American) renders it "prince," where the King James Version has ruler (1Sa 25:30; 2Sa 6:21; 1Ki 1:35, etc.). It is used of Azrikam having charge of the palace of King Ahaz (2Ch 28:7, "governor" of the house, the King James Version); of Azariah (Seraiah, Ne 11:11), who is called the "ruler of the house of God" (1Ch 9:11; compare 2Ch 31:13); he was the leader of a division or group of priests. In 2Ch 35:8 the names of three others are given (Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel).

(3) nasi, "prince" (so Nu 13:2, the King James Version "ruler"); generally speaking, the nasi’ is one of the public authorities (Ex 22:28); the rulers of the congregation (Ex 16:22; compare 34:31); "The rulers brought the onyx stones" (Ex 35:27), as it was to be expected from men of their social standing and financial ability: "when a ruler (the head of a tribe or tribal division) sinneth" (Le 4:22).

(4) caghan, the representative of a king or a prince; a vice-regent; a governor; then, in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, a leader or principal of the people of Jerusalem under the general supervision of these two men. The English Versions of the Bible renders it "ruler" (Eze 23:12,23), "deputy" (Jer 51:23,28,57), and, in most cases, "ruler" with "deputy" in margin (Ezr 9:2; Ne 2:16; 4:14,19; 5:7,17; 7:5; 12:40; 13:11; Isa 41:25; Eze 23:6) always used in plural

(5) qatsin, "a judge" or "magistrate" (Isa 1:10; 3:6,7; 22:3; Mic 3:1,9); "a military chief" (Jos 10:24).

(6) rodheh, one having dominion: "There is little Benjamin their ruler" (Ps 68:27); the meaning is obscure; still we may point to the facts that Saul, the first one to conquer the heathen (1Sa 14:47 f), came of this the smallest of all the tribes, and that within its boundaries the temple of Yahweh was erected.

(7) rozen, a "dignitary," a "prince." "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh" (Ps 2:2); in the New Testament the word is rendered archontes (Ac 4:26).

(8) sar, "chief," "head"; prince, king; a nobleman having judicial or other power; a royal officer. The Revised Version (British and American) renders it frequently "prince": "rulers over my cattle" ("head-shepherds," Ge 47:6); "rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds," etc. (Ex 18:21); they had to be men of good character because they were endowed with judicial power (Ex 18:22); in De 1:15 the rendering of English Versions of the Bible is captains," etc.; they were military leaders. "Zebul the ruler of the city" (of Shechem, Jud 9:30), meaning "governor" (compare 1Ki 22:26; 2Ki 23:8); "rulers (or captains; compare 1Ki 16:9) of his (Solomon’s) chariots" (1Ki 9:22); the rulers of Jezreel (2Ki 10:1) were, presumably, the ruler of the palace of the king and the ruler of the city of Samaria (compare 2Ki 10:5). It is difficult to explain why they should be called the rulers of Jezreel; both Septuagint and Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) omit the word; "the rulers of the substance which was king David’s" (1Ch 27:31) overseers of the royal domain; "The rulers were behind all the house of Judah" (Ne 4:16), the officers were ready to assume active command in case of an attack.

(9), (10) shilTon, "a commander," "an officer": "the rulers of the provinces" (Da 3:2 f); shalliT, "a person in power," "a potentate" (Da 2:10); there seems to be little doubt that the Aramaic term is used as an adjective (compare the Revised Version margin); in Da 5:7 occurs the verb shelaT, "to have dominion," "he shall rule as the third in rank" (compare 5:16,29).

(11) maghen, "shield": "Her rulers (shields) dearly love shame" (Ho 4:18). Perhaps we ought to read (with Septuagint) migge’onam, "their glory," and to translate it "they love shame more than their glory"; they would rather have a good (!) time than a good name.

2. In the Apocrypha:

(1) archon, used of the "rulers" of the Spartans (1 Macc 14:20) and, in a general sense, of the priest Mattathias (1 Macc 2:17). the King James Version has the word also in a general sense in Sirach 41:18 (the Revised Version (British and American) "mighty man").

(2) hegoumenos, "one leading the way." A quite general term, Sirach 10:2 (ruler of a city); 17:17 (of Gentile nations); 46:18 (of the Tyrians). Also 2:17 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "he that ruleth"), and Sirach 32:1 the Revised Version (British and American) ("ruler of a feast," the King James Version "master").

(3) hoi megistanes, a rare word found only in the plural, for "rulers of the congregation" (Sirach 33:18). The same word in Mr 6:21 is translated "lords."

(4) 2 Macc 4:27 the King James Version for eparchos (the Revised Version (British and American) "governor").

(5) The King James Version inserts the word without Greek equivalent in 1 Macc 6:14; 11:57; 2 Macc 13:2.

3. In the New Testament:

(1) archon, "a person in authority," "a magistrate" "a judge," "a prince"; a councilor, a member of the supreme council of the Jews; a man of influence. "There came a ruler" (Mt 9:18), meaning a ruler of the synagogue (compare Mr 5:22; Lu 8:41); see (2) below; "one of the rulers of the Pharisees" (Lu 14:1), perhaps a member of the Jewish council belonging, at the same time, to the Pharisees, or, more probably, one of the leading Pharisees; "the chief priests and the rulers" (Lu 23:13,15; 24:20; compare Joh 3:1; 7:26,48; 12:42; Ac 3:17; 4:5,8; 13:27; 14:5); the rulers were, with the chief priests and the scribes, members of the Sanhedrin, either of two councils of the Jews (the Great and the Lesser); they were lay-members (elders); "before the rulers" (Ac 16:19), the police magistrates (praetores, "praetors") of the city of Philippi; "Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people" (Ac 23:5; compare Ex 22:28, nasi’; see 1, (3) above), a magistrate, a person in authority (compare Ac 7:27,35; Ro 13:3, the public authorities); "the rulers of this world" (1Co 2:6,8), persons being mentally superior to their fellow-men, and so having great influence in shaping their opinions and directing their actions.

(2) archisundgogos, "ruler of the synagogue." He was the presiding officer of a board of elders, who had charge of the synagogue. Sometimes they, also, were given the same name (compare "one of the rulers of the synagogue," Mr 5:22,35; Lu 8:41,49; in Mt 9:18 Jairus is simply called archon); the ruler mentioned in Lu 13:14 was, of course, the president of the board (compare Ac 18:17, Sosthenes), while in Ac 13:15 the phrase "rulers of the synagogue" simply signifies the board. It was a deliberative body, but at the same time responsible for the maintenance of good order in the synagogue and the orthodoxy of its members; having, therefore, disciplinary power, they were authorized to reprimand, and even to excommunicate, the guilty ones (compare Joh 9:22; 12:42; 16:2).

(3) architriklinos, the ruler ("steward," the Revised Version margin) of the feast (Joh 2:8,9). See separate article.

(4) kosmokrator, a "world-ruler" (Eph 6:12). The angels of the devil (Mt 25:41; 12:45) or Satan, the prince of this world (Joh 12:31), participate in his power; they are his tools, their sphere of action being "this darkness," i.e. the morally corrupt state of our present existence.

(5) politarches; the prefect of a city (Ac 17:6,8). Luke being the only one of the Biblical authors to hand down to us this word, it is a noteworthy fact that, in relatively modern times, a Greek inscription Was discovered containing this very word and, moreover, having reference to the city of Thessalonica (AJT, 1898, II, 598-643). Here it was where Paul and Silas preached the gospel so successfully that the Jews, "being moved with jealousy," caused Jason and certain brethren to be dragged before the rulers of the city (epi tous politarchas). These magistrates suffered themselves to be made the tools of the unscrupulous Jews by demanding and getting security from Jason and the rest.

William Baur


(architriklinos; the King James Version governor): The word occurs in the New Testament in the account of the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (Joh 2:8,9). According to Ecclesiasticus (32:1) it was customary to appoint a "master of the ceremonies" from among the invited guests. It was his duty to determine the places of the guests, to see that the ordinary rules of etiquette were observed, etc., and generally to supervise the arrangements. The Revised Version margin "steward" is possible if the "governor of the feast" meant the "head waiter" (Merx renders "head servant of the feast"), and not one of the guests appointed for the purpose. But the context is in favor of the view that the person in question was one of the prominent guests—an intimate friend or relative of the host.

See RULER, 2, (2).

T. Lewis


See RULER, 3, (1), (2).


See RULER, 1, (8), 2, (2), 3, (5).


roo’-ma (rumah; Codex Vaticanus Rhouma; Codex Alexandrinus Rhuma): To this place belonged Pedaiah whose daughter Zebudah (the Revised Version (British and American) "Zebidah") entered the harem of Josiah, king of Judah, and became the mother of Jehoiakim (2Ki 23:36). Josephus (Ant., X, v, 2) calls the place Abouma, but this is an obvious clerical error for Arouma. This suggests a possible identification with Arumah (Jud 9:41), which lay not far from Shechem. Another possible identification is with the Rumah mentioned by Josephus (BJ, III, vii, 21) in Galilee (compare Neubauer, Geog. du Talmud, 203), which may be identical with the modern Khirbet Rumeh, about 3 miles North of Seffuriyeh. Some, however, would identify Rumah with Dumah of Jos 15:52, where the substitution of "r" for "d" is supported by the Septuagint (Rheuma), possibly represented by the modern Domeh, about 13 miles Southeast of Beit Jibrin. This of course was in the territory of Judah, and no question of jus connubium is involved, such as might arise in the case of a Galilean site.

W. Ewing


rump: the King James Version uses this word as translation of ‘alyah (Ex 29:22; Le 3:9; 7:3; 8:25; 9:19), where the Revised Version (British and American) correctly renders "fat tail." Reference is here had to the broad tail of the Syrian sheep, which occasionally weighs as much as 20 lbs., and is considered one of the daintiest portions of mutton. It was one of those portions of the peace and trespass offering which were not eaten by the priest or the sacrificer, but which with other choice portions were waved before the Lord and wholly burnt on the altar as a sweet savor unto Yahweh.


run’-a-gat: A runaway: "The runagates continue in scarceness" (Ps 68:6, Prayer Book Version, the Revised Version (British and American) "The rebellious dwell in a parched land").





(1) (gome’; papuros, "bulrushes," margin "papyrus" (Ex 2:3); "rush," margin "papyrus" (Job 8:11); "papyrus," the King James Version "rush" (Isa 18:2); "rushes" (Isa 35:7)): This is almost certainly the famous papyrus, Cyperus papyrus (Natural Order, Cyperaceae), known in Arabic as babir (whence comes our word "paper"). This plant, the finest of the sedges, flourishes plentifully in Upper Egypt; in Palestine there is a great mass of it growing in the marsh to the North of Lake Huleh, and it also occurs on the Lake of Galilee and the Jordan. Light boats of plaited papyrus have been used on the Nile from ancient times and are mentioned by many writers (compare Ex 2:3; Isa 18:2).

(2) (’aghmon, "rope," margin "Hebrew ‘a rope of rushes,’ " the King James Version "hook" (Job 41:2): "(burning) rushes," the King James Version "caldron" (Job 41:20); "rush," the King James Version "bulrush" (Isa 58:5); "rush" in Isa 9:14; 19:15, used of the humble and lowly folk as contrasted with the "palm branch," the highest class): The word ‘aghmon comes from ‘agham, meaning a marsh (see POOL), being transferred from the place of the things growing there. The word doubtless includes not only the rushes—of which there are several kinds in Palestine—but also members of the sedge family, the Cyperaceae.

See also REED.

E. W. G. Masterman


rust (chel’ah; brosis): Strictly speaking rust is the red oxide of iron formed by the corrosion of that metal, but by extension it has come to mean corrosion produced on any metal. Chel’ah is translated "rust" in Eze 24:11,12. This rendering is probably based on 24:11. Copper caldrons are still used in Bible lands. Such vessels must be constantly watched when on the fire to guard against the possibility of their becoming dry. If this should happen the contents, whatever they may be, and the vessel itself will be injured. The copper of the caldron oxidizes and scales off in black or brownish scales, or rust. ios, was used in Greek to denote the corroding of metals. In Jas 5:3 occurs, "Your gold and your silver are rusted; and their rust .... shall eat your flesh as fire." The writers must have had in mind the actions of chemicals upon these metals which formed some such compound as the caustic silver nitrate.

Brosis, literally, "eating," which occurs in Mt 6:19,20, may refer to the diseases which attack such vegetation as wheat, grapes, cucumbers, etc. In no country is the saying "where moth and rust consume" (Mt 6:19) more true than in Syria. Any metal subject to corrosion seems to rust faster in that country than anywhere else. There are also many rusting fungi which the people have not learned to destroy and which do much damage to the crops.

See also SCUM.

James A. Patch


rooth (ruth; Rhouth): The name Ru is found in the Old Testament only in the book which is so entitled. It is a contraction for re’uth perhaps signifying "comrade," "companion" (feminine; compare Ex 11:2, "every woman of her neighbor"). OHL, 946, explains the word as an abstract noun =" friendship." The Book of Ru details the history of the one decisive episode owing to which Ru became an ancestress of David and of the royal house of Judah. From this point of view its peculiar interest lies in the close friendship or alliance between Israel and Moab, which rendered such a connection possible. Not improbably also there is an allusion to this in the name itself.

1. History:

The history lies in the period of the Judges (Ru 1:1), at the close of a great famine in the land of Israel. Elimelech, a native of Bethlehem, had, with his wife Naomi and two sons, taken refuge in Moab from the famine. There, after an interval of time which is not more precisely defined, he died (Ru 1:3), and his two sons, having married women of Moab, in the course of a further ten years also died, and left Orpah and Ru widows (Ru 1:5). Naomi then decided to return to Palestine, and her two daughters-in-law accompanied her on her way (Ru 1:7). Orpah, however, turned back and only Ru remained with Naomi, journeying with her to Bethlehem, where they arrived "in the beginning of barley harvest" (Ru 1:22). The piety and fidelity of Ru are thus early exhibited in the course of the narrative, in that she refused to abandon her mother-in-law, although thrice exhorted to do so by Naomi herself, on account of her own great age and the better prospects for Ru in her own country. Orpah yielded to persuasion, and returned to Moab; but Ru remained with Naomi.

At Bethlehem Ru employed herself in gleaning in the field during the harvest and was noticed by Boaz, the owner of the field, a near kinsman of her father-in-law Elimelech. Boaz gave her permission to glean as long as the harvest continued; and told her that he had heard of her filial conduct toward her mother-in-law. Moreover, he directed the reapers to make intentional provision for her by dropping in her way grain from their bundles (Ru 2:15 f). She was thus able to return to Naomi in the evening with a whole ephah of barley (Ru 2:17). In answer to questioning she explained that her success in gleaning was due to the good-will of Boaz, and the orders that he had given. She remained accordingly and gleaned with his maidens throughout the barley and wheat harvest, making her home with her mother-in-law (Ru 2:23). Naomi was anxious for the remarriage of Ruth, both for her sake and to secure compliance with the usage and law of Israel; and sent her to Boaz to recall to him his duty as near kinsman of her late husband Elimelech (Ru 3:1 f). Boaz acknowledged the claim and promised to take Ru in marriage, failing fulfillment of the legal duty of another whose relationship was nearer than that of Boaz himself (Ru 3:8-13). Naomi was confident that Boaz would fulfill his promise, and advised Ru to wait in patience.

Boaz then adopted the customary and legal measures to obtain a decision. He summoned the near kinsman before ten elders at the gate of the city, related to him the circumstances of Naomi’s return, with her desire that Ru should be married and settled with her father-in-law’s land as her marriage-portion, and called upon him to declare his intentions. The near kinsman, whose name and degree of relationship are not stated, declared his inability to undertake the charge, which he renounced in legal form in favor of Boaz according to ancient custom in Israel (Ru 4:6 ). Boaz accepted the charge thus transferred to him, the elders and bystanders bearing witness and pronouncing a formal blessing upon the union of Boaz and Ru (4:9-12). Upon the birth of a son in due course the women of the city congratulated Naomi, in that the continuance of her family and house was now assured, and the latter became the child’s nurse. The name of Obed was given to the boy; and Obed through his son Jesse became the grandfather of David (compare Mt 1:5,6; Lu 3:31,32).

2. Interest and Importance of the Narrative:

Thus, the life and history of Ru are important in the eyes of the narrator because she forms a link in the ancestry of the greatest king of Israel. From a more modern point of view the narrative is a simple idyllic history, showing how the faithful loving service of Ru to her mother-in-law met with its due reward in the restored happiness of a peaceful and prosperous home-life for herself. Incidentally are illustrated also ancient marriage customs of Israel, which in the time of the writer had long since become obsolete. The narrative is brief and told without affectation of style, and on that account will never lose its interest. It has preserved moreover the memory of an incident, the national significance of which may have passed away, but to which value will always be attached for its simplicity and natural grace.

For the literature, see RUTH, THE BOOK OF.

A. S. Geden


1. Order in the Canon:

The place which the Book of Ru occupies in the order of the books of the English Bible is not that of the Hebrew Canon. There it is one of the five meghilloth or Rolls, which were ordered to be read in the synagogue on 5 special occasions or festivals during the year.

In printed editions of the Old Testament the megilloth are usually arranged in the order: Cant, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiates, Esther. Ru occupied the second position because the book was appointed to be read at the Feast of Weeks which was the second of the 5 special days. In Hebrew manuscripts, however, the order varies considerably. In Spanish manuscripts generally, and in one at least of the German school cited by Dr. Ginsburg (Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, London, 1897, 4), Ru precedes Cant; and in the former Ecclesiastes is placed before Lamentations. The meghilloth constitute the second portion of the kethubhim or Haigographa, the third great division of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Talmud, however, dissociates Ru altogether from the remaining meghilloth, and places it first among the Hagiographa, before the Book of Psalms. By the Greek translators the book was removed from the position which it held in the Hebrew Canon, and because it described events contemporaneous with the Judges, was attached as a kind of appendix to the latter work. This sequence was adopted in the Vulgate, and so has passed into all modern Bibles.

2. Authorship and Purpose:

The book is written without name of author, and there is no direct indication of its date. Its aim is to record an event of interest and importance in the family history of David, and incidentally to illustrate ancient custom and marriage law. There is no ground for supposing, as has been suggested, that the writer had a polemical purpose in view, and desired to show that the strict and stern action taken by Ezra and Nehemiah after the return in forbidding mixed marriages was not justifled by precedent. The narrative is simple and direct, and the preservation of the tradition which it records of the descent of Israel’s royal house from a Moabite ancestress was probably due in the first instance to oral communication for some considerable time before it was committed to writing. The Book of 1Sa also indicates a close relation between David and Moab, when during the period of his outlawry the future king confided his father and mother to the care of the king of Moab (1Sa 22:3 f), and so far supports the truth of the tradition which is embodied in the Book of Ruth.

3. Date of Composition:

With regard to the date at which the narrative was committed to writing, it is evident from the position of the Book of Ru in the Hebrew Canon that the date of its composition is subsequent to the close of the great period of the "earlier prophets." Otherwise it would have found a natural place, as was assigned to it in the Greek Bible, together with the Book of Judges and other historical writings, in the second division of the Hebrew Scriptures. In the opening words of the book also, "It came to pass in the days when the judges judged" (Ru 1:1), the writer appears to look back to the period of the Judges as to a comparatively distant epoch. The character of the diction is pure and chaste; but has been supposed in certain details, as in the presence of so-called Aramaisms, to betray a late origin. The reference to the observance of marriage customs and their sanctions "in former time in Israel" (Ru 4:7) does not necessarily imply that the composition of Ru was later than that of Deuteronomy, in which the laws arid rights of the succession are enjoined, or that the writer of the former work was acquainted with the latter in its existing form. Slight differences of detail in the procedure would seem to suggest the contrary. On the other hand, the motive of the book in the exhibition of the ancestry of David’s house would have lost its significance and raison d’etre with the death or disappearance of the last ruler of David’s line in the early period of the return from Babylon (compare Zec 4:9). The most probable date therefore for the composition of the book would be in the later days of the exile, or immediately after the return. There is no clue to the authorship. The last four verses, giving the genealogy from Perez to David (compare 1Ch 2:4-15; Mt 1:3-6; Lu 3:31-33), are generally recognized as a later addition.

4. Ethical Teaching:

The ethical value of the Book of Ru is considerable, as setting forth an example of stedfast filial piety. The action of Ru in refusing to desert her mother-in-law and persevering in accompanying her to her own land meets with its due reward in the prosperity and happiness which become hers, and in the honor which she receives as ancestress of the royal house of David. The writer desires to show in the person and example of Ru that a sincere and generous regard for the claims of duty and affection leads to prosperity and honor; and at the same time that the principles and recompense of righteous dealing are not dependent upon race, but are as valid for a Moabitess as for a Jew. There is no distinctive doctrine taught in the book. It is primarily historical, recording a decisive incident in the origin of David’s house; and in the second place ethical, indicating and enforcing in a well-known example the advantage and importance of right dealing and the observance of the dictates of filial duty. For detailed contents see preceding article.

LITERATURE. English commentaries upon the Book of Ru are naturally not numerous. Compare G. W. Thatcher, "Judges and Ruth," in (New) Century Bible; R.A. Watson, in Expositor’s Bible; the most recent critical commentary. is by L. B. Wolfenson in AJSL, XXVII (July, 1911), 285 ff, who defends the early date of the book. See also the relevant articles in Jew Encyclopedia, HDB, EB, and Driver, LOT, 6, 454 ff.

A. S. Geden