wa’-jez, wa’-jiz (chinnam, maskoreth, pe‘ullah, sakhar, sakhar; misthos, opsonion):

(1) Chinnam means "gratis," without cost or any advantage, for nought, or in vain; wages in the sense of reasonable return. Jeremiah pronounces woe upon him who "useth his neighbor’s service without wages, and giveth him not his hire" (Jer 22:13; the only place where the word is used).

(2) Maskoreth means "reward" or "wages." Laban said to Jacob: "Shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? Tell me, what shall thy wages be?" (Ge 29:15). Jacob said, concerning Laban, speaking to Rachel and Leah: "Your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times" (Ge 31:7; compare 31:41).

(3) Pe‘ullah generally means "work," "labor," "reward," "wages." The old Levitical Law was insistent on honesty in wages and on promptness in payments: "The wages of a hired servant shall not abide with thee all night until the morning" (Le 19:13).

(4) Mistakker means "earning," "hire," "reward," "wages," from root sakhar, meaning "to hire," and has in it the idea of temporary purchase: "He that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes" (Hag 1:6).

(5) Sakhar means "payment of contract," in the material way of salary, maintenance, fare, and so compensation, reward, price, benefit, wages—seemingly wages received after an understanding as to time, manner and amount of payment. Laban (employer) said to Jacob (employee): "Appoint me thy wages, and I will give it" (Ge 30:28); "If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages" (Ge 31:8); Pharaoh’s daughter said to Moses’ mother: "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages" (Ex 2:9); Nebuchadrezzar and his army served against Tyre, "yet had he no wages, nor his army" (Eze 29:18), and the prey of Egypt "shall be the wages for his army" (Eze 29:19); swift and sure judgment is predicted against "those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless" (Mal 3:5).

(6) Misthos means either in a literal or figurative sense "pay for service," either primitive or beneficial, and so reward, hire, wages. In Joh 4:36 Jesus said, "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." 2Pe 2:15 has changed "wages" (the King James Version) to "hire," reading "who loved the hire of wrongdoing."

(7) Opsonion, meaning primarily "rations for soldiers" (opson being the word for cooked meat) and so "pay" or stipend, provision wages. In Lu 3:14 John said to the soldiers, "Be content with your wages"; "The wages of sin is death" (Ro 6:23); Paul said: "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them" (2Co 11:8); the same word in 1Co 9:7 is translated "charges."

The Bible refers to wages actual and wages figurative. Of actual wages there are three kinds:

(1) money wages,

(2) provision (usually food) wages, and

(3) what may be called "exchange" wages, wages in kind, sometimes "human-kind," e.g. Jacob’s wages from Laban.

Often laborers and soldiers received both money and "keep" wages. The laborer in New Testament times received about 15 cents per day (the "shilling" of Mt 20:2), besides in some cases his provisions. The old Law required daily payment, honesty in dealing, also sufficient food for the laborer.

It is practically impossible to test "Bible" wages by any of theories of modern economists. In this connection, however, mere mention of the six principal theories may be of interest. Concisely put, they are:

(1) the wage-fund theory,

(2) the standard-of-living theory,

(3) the German-socialistic theory,

(4) the production theory,

(5) Henry George’s theory, and

(6) the laborer’s value theory.

The incidents in the Old Testament of Jacob and in the New Testament of Mt 20 both show that the laborer was at the caprice of the employer. Therefore, we may designate the Bible law of wages as the "employer’s theory."

William Edward Raffety





wal, wal’-ing.

See BURIAL, III, 2; IV, 4, 5, 6.



1. The Substantive:

The word is used in the Old Testament both as a substantive add as a verb. In the New Testament it appears as a verb only. ‘erebh, ma’arabh, mean a concealed hiding-place for purposes of sudden attack, an ambuscade.

(1) "Lie in wait": "Abimelech rose up .... from lying in wait" (Jud 9:35 the King James Version); "When they .... abide in the covert to lie in wait" (Job 38:40).

(2) "Lay wait": "They compassed him in, and laid wait for him" (Jud 16:2).

2. The Verb:

(1) sharath, "to serve," "to minister," to act in the capacity of servant or attendant: "These waited on the king" (2Ch 17:19). Used especially in this sense with regard to the ceremonial service of the host: "They shall go in to wait upon the service in the work of the tent of meeting" (Nu 8:24; compare 8:25); "The Levites wait upon their business" (2Ch 13:10 the King James Version). "Wait at" occurs in the same sense in the New Testament: "They which wait at (the Revised Version (British and American) "wait upon") the altar," etc. (1Co 9:13 the King James Version).

(2) The simple verb is used to describe the longsuffering and patience of God toward His willful people: "And therefore will Yahweh wait, that he may be gracious unto you" (Isa 30:18); "When the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah" (apekdechomai, 1Pe 3:20).

(3) The most important and frequent use of the word "wait," however, is to define the attitude of a soul God-ward. It implies the listening ear, a heart responsive to the wooing of God, a concentration of the spiritual faculties upon heavenly things, the patience of faith, "the earnest expectation of the creation" (Ro 8:19). It describes an eager anticipation and yearning for the revelation of truth and love as it is in the Father. Thus: "My soul, wait thou .... for God only" (Ps 69:5); "Our soul hath waited for Yahweh" (Ps 33:20); "Mine eyes fail while I wait for my God" (Ps 69:3); "Wait for Yahweh, and he will save thee" (Pr 20:22).

Also the New Testament thus: "Waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Ro 8:23); "For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness" (Ga 5:5). From various references in the New Testament there seems to have been in the days of Jesus a sect in whose name the word "wait" played an important part. Of the aged Simeon, who met Mary and Joseph when they brought the infant Jesus to the temple, it is said that he was "waiting for (the Revised Version (British and American) "looking for") the consolation of Israel" (Lu 2:25), that is, he was looking for the fulfillment of the Messianic promise. Again, after our Lord’s crucifixion, when Joseph of Arimathea begged for the body of Jesus, we are told that he was one of those that "waited for the kingdom of God" (prosdechomai, Mr 15:43 the King James Version; Lu 23:51 the King James Version). It is thought by some authorities that this implies their having belonged to the sect of the Essenes. Epiphanius associates the sect with one which he names "Gortheni," whose title is derived from a word which means "to expect."

Arthur Walwyn Evans


wok (peripatein): Aside from its frequent occurrence in the usual sense, the word "walk" is used figuratively of conduct and of spiritual states. (1) Observance of laws or customs: "Thou teachest all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs" (Ac 21:21). (2) Of the spiritual life: "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light" (1Joh 1:7); "That like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life" (Ro 6:4); "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Ga 5:16); "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co 5:7).

Russell Benjamin Miller





wol’-et, -it.








1. The Wilderness

2. Four Separate Regions Included

3. "The Sandy Tract"

4. Description of the Arabah

5. Physical Condition of the Wilderness

6. Difficulties Regarding the Numbers of Israel and Account of Tabernacle

7. Difficulty as to Number of Wagons

8. Fauna of the Desert

9. Characteristic Names of the Districts


1. Mode of Traveling

2. The Route: the First Camp

3. Waters of Marah

4. Camp by the Red Sea

5. The Route to Sinai


1. The Stay at Sinai

2. Site of Kadesh-barnea

3. The Route: Hazeroth to Moseroth

4. The Camps between Hazeroth and Moseroth


1. The History

2. The Camps Visited


1. The Route

2. The Five Stations to the Border of Moab

3. From Iyim to Arnon

4. The Message to Sihon

5. From the Arnon to Shittim

6. Review

I. Conditions.

1. The Wilderness:

A consideration of the geography and natural features of the desert between Egypt and Edom, in which the Hebrews are said to have wandered for 40 years, has a very important bearing on the question of the genuineness of the Pentateuch narrative. This wilderness forms a wedge between the Gulfs of Suez and ‘Aqabah, tapering South to the granite mountains near Sinai. It has a base 175 miles long East and West on the North, and the distance North and South is 250 miles. The area is thus over 20,000 square miles, or double the size of the Promised Land East and West of Jordan. On the North of this desert lie the plains of Gaza and Gerar, and the Neghebh or "dry region" (the south; see Nu 13:17 the Revised Version (British and American)), including the plateau and low hills round Beersheba.

2. Four Separate Regions Included:

There are four separate regions included in the area, the largest part (13,000 square miles) being a plateau which on the South rises 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the sea, and shelves gently toward the Philistine plains. It is drained into the broad Wady el-‘Arish, named from el-‘Arish ("the booth"), a station on the Mediterranean coast South of Gaza, where this valley enters the sea. In this direction several prominent mountains occur (Jebel Yeleq, Jebel Hilal, and Jebel Ikhrimm), while further East—near the site of the Western Kadesh—there is a step on the plateau culminating on the South in Jebel el-Mukhrah; but none of these ranges appears to be more than about 4,000 feet above the sea. The plateau is known as Badiet et-Tih ("the pathless waste"), and though some Arab geographers of the Middle Ages speak of it as the desert "of the wandering of the Beni Israil," they refer to the whole region as far as ‘Aqabah, and not to the plateau alone. The elevation on the South forms a very steep ascent or "wall" (see SHUR), bending round on the West and East, and rising above the shore plains near Suez and the ‘Arabah near Edom. Near the center of the plateau is the small fort of Nakhl ("the palms"), where water is found; but, as a whole, the Tih is waterless, having very few springs, the most important being those near the western Kadesh (‘Ain Kadis); for Rehoboth belongs to the region of the Neghebh rather than to the Tih. In winter, when very heavy rains occur, the valleys are often flooded suddenly by a seil, or "torrent," which is sometimes 10 feet deep for a few hours. Such a seil has been known to sweep away trees, flocks, and human beings; yet, in consequence of the hard rocky surface, the flood rushes away to the sea and soon becomes a mere rivulet. Where soft soil is found, in the valleys, grass will grow and afford pasture, but even early in spring the Arabs begin to suffer from want of water, which only remains in pits and in water holes among rocks. They have then much difficulty in watering their goats and sheep.

3. "The Sandy Tract":

Below the Tih escarpment on the South is another region called Debbet er-ramleh ("the sandy tract"), which is only 20 miles across at its widest; and to the West are the sandy plains, with limestone foothills, stretching East of the Bitter Lakes and of the Gulf of Suez. The third region consists of the granite chain (see SINAI) which rises to 8,550 feet above the sea, and some 6,000 feet above its valleys, near Jebel Musa. Parts of this region are better watered than is any part of the Tih, and the main route from Egypt to Edom has consequently always run through it.

4. Description of the Arabah:

The fourth region is that of the ‘Arabah, or broad valley (10 miles wide) between the Gulf of ‘Aqabah and the Dead Sea. It has a watershed some 700 feet high above the Gulf (South of the neighborhood of Petra); and North of this shed the water flows to the Dead Sea 1,292 feet below the Mediterranean. The total length of this valley is 120 miles, the watershed being (near the Edomite chain) about 45 miles North of ‘Aqabah. The head of the Gulf was once farther North; and, near ‘Ain Ghudian (probably Eziongeber) and ‘Ain et-Tabah (probably Jotbath), there is a mud flat which becomes a lake in winter—about 20 miles from the sea. Lower down—at ‘Ain edition Deffiyeh—there is another such flat, the head being 10 miles from ‘Aqabah. The whole region is much better watered than either of the three preceding districts, having springs at the foot of the mountains on either side; and the ‘Arabah is thus the best pastoral country within the limits described. It now supports a nomad population of about 2,000 or 3,000 souls (Chaiwatat and ‘Alawin Arabs), while the region round Sinai has some 2,000 souls (Towarah Arabs): the whole of the Tih has probably not more than 5,000 inhabitants; for the stronger tribes (‘Azazimeh and Terabin) live chiefly between Gaza and Beersheba. These Arabs have goats, sheep and camels, but cattle are only found near Beersheba. The flocks are watered daily—as in Palestine generally—and are sometimes driven 20 miles in winter to find pasture and water. The water is also brought on donkeys and camels to the camps, and carried in goatskin bags on a journey through waterless districts.

See also ARABAH.

5. Physical Condition of the Wilderness:

There is no reason to think that the conditions at the time of the Exodus differed materially from those of the present time. The Arabs have cut down a good many acacia trees for firewood in recent times, but the population is too small materially to affect the vegetation. The annual rainfall—except in years of drought—is from 10 to 20 inches, and snow falls in winter on the Tih, and whitens Sinai and the Edomite mountains for many days. The acacia, tamarisk and palm grow in the valleys. At Wady Feiran there are said to be 5,000 date palms, and they occur also in the ‘Arabah and the Edomite gorges, while the white broom (1Ki 19:5, the King James Version "juniper") grows on the Tih plateau. This Tih plateau is the bed of an ancient ocean which once surrounded the granite mountains of Sinai. It was upheaved probably in the Miocene age, long before man appeared on earth. The surface formation (Hull, Memoir on the Geology and Geography of Arabia-Petraea, etc., 1886) consists of Cretaceous limestones of the Eocene and Chalk ages, beneath which lies the Nubian sandstone of the Greensand period, which is also visible all along the route from Sinai to ‘Aqabah, and on the east side of the Dead Sea, and even at the foot of the Gilead plateau. These beds are all visible in the Tih escarpment; and North of Sinai there are yet older formations of limestone, and the "desert sandstone" of the Carboniferous period. Since the conditions of natural water-supply depend entirely on geological formation and on rainfall, neither of which can be regarded as having changed since the time of Moses, the scientific conclusion is that the desert thus described represents that of his age, This, as we shall see, affects our conclusion as to the route followed by Israel from Egypt to the ‘Arabah; for, on the direct route from Suez to Nakhl (about 70 miles), there is no water for the main part of the way, so it has to be carried on camels; while, East of Nakhl, in a distance of 80 miles, there is only one known supply in a well (Bir eth-Themed) a few miles South of the road. This route was thus practically impassable for the Hebrews and their beasts, whereas the Sinai route was passable. Thus when Wellhausen (History of Israel and Judah, 343) speaks of Israel as going straight to Kadesh, and not making a "digression to Sinai," he seems not to have considered the topography as described by many modern travelers. For not only was the whole object of their journey first to visit the "Mount of God," but it also lay on the most practicable route to Kadesh.

6. Difficulties Regarding the Numbers of Israel and Account of Tabernacle

It is true that there are certain difficulties as regards both the numbers of Israel and the account of the tabernacle. The first of these objections has been considered elsewhere (see EXODUS). The detailed account of the tabernacle (Ex 25-28; 36-39) belongs to a part of the Pentateuch which many critical writers assign to a later date than that of the old narrative and laws (Ex 1-24). The description may seem more applicable to the semi-permanent structure that existed at Shiloh and Nob, than to the original "tent of meeting" in the desert. On the other hand, living so long in civilized Egypt, the Hebrews no doubt had among them skilled artificers like Bezalel. The Egyptians used acacia wood for furniture; and though the desert acacia does not grow to the size which would furnish planks 1 1/4 cubits broad, it may be that these were made up by joiner’s work such as the ancients were able to execute. There was plenty of gold in Egypt and Asia, but none near Sinai. It is suggested, however, that the ornaments of which the Hebrews spoiled the Egyptians were presented, like the stuffs (Ex 36:6) prepared for the curtains—just as the Arabs weave stuffs for their tents—and they might have served to spread a thin layer of gold over acacia boards, and on the acacia altar. It is more difficult to understand (on our present information) where silver enough for the bases (Ex 26:25) would be found. Copper (Ex 27:4) presents less difficulty, since there were copper mines in Wady Nucb near Serabit el Khadim. The women gave gold earrings to Aaron (Ex 32:3) for the Golden Calf, but this may have been a small object. Eusebius (in Onomasticon), referring to Dizahab, "the place of gold" (De 1:1), now Dhahab ("gold") on the west shore of the Gulf of ‘Aqabah, East of Sinai, mentions the copper mines of Punon; and thought that veins of gold might also have existed in the mountains of Edom in old times. A little gold is also found in Midian. We know that the Egyptians and Assyrians carried arks and portable altars with their armies, and a great leather tent of Queen Habasu actually exists. Thothmes III, before the Exodus, speaks of "seven tent poles covered with plates of gold from the tent of the hostile king" which he took as spoil at Megiddo. The art of engraving gems was also already ancient in the time of Moses.


7. Difficulty as to Number of Wagons:

Another difficulty is to understand how six ox wagons (Nu 7:3) sufficed to carry all the heavy planks and curtains, and vessels of the tabernacle; and though the use of ox carts, and of four-wheeled wagons also, is known to have been ancient in Asia, there are points on even the easiest route which it would seem impossible for wagons to pass, especially on the rough road through Edom and Moab. On the other hand, we know that an Egyptian Mohar did drive his chariot over the mountains in Palestine in the reign of Rameses II, though it was finally broken near Joppa.

8. Fauna of the Desert:

Whatever be thought as to these questions, there are indications in other passages of actual acquaintance with the desert fauna. Although the manna, as described (Ex 16:31), is said not to resemble the sweet gum which exudes from the twigs of the tamarisk (to which it has been compared by some), which melts in the sun, and is regarded as a delicacy by the Arabs, yet the quail (Ex 16:13; Nu 11:31) still migrate from the sea northward across the desert in spring, flying low by night. The birds noticed (Le 11; De 14) include—as Canon Tristram remarked—species found on the seashores and in the wilderness, such as the cormorant, pelican and gull; the ostrich (in the desert East of Moab); the stork, the crane and the heron which migrate from Africa to the Jordan valley. It is notable that, except the heron (Assyrian anpatu), the Hebrew names are not those used by later Assyrians. The mammals include the boar which loves the marshes, and the hyrax (the King James Version "coney") which still exists near Sinai and in the desert of Judah, with the desert hare. It is remarkable that in De (14:5), besides the ibex and the bubak, two species are added (the fallow deer, Hebrew ‘ayyal, the King James Version "hart," and the roebuck, Hebrew yachmur, Arabic yachmur, the King James Version "fallow deer") which are not desert animals. The former occurs at Tabor; the latter was found by the present writer in 1873 on Carmel, and is since known in Gilead and Lebanon. But Deuteronomy refers to conditions subsequent to the capture of Gilead and Bashan.

9. Characteristic Names of the Districts:

The various districts in the desert receive characteristic names in the account of the Exodus. Thus, Shur is the coast region under the "wall" of the Tih, and Sin (Ex 17:1; Nu 33:11) was the "glaring" desert (see SINAI) of white chalk, West of Sinai. Paran is noticed 10 times, as a desert and mountain region (De 33:2; Hab 3:3) between Sinai and Kadesh. The name seems to survive in Wady Feiran West of Sinai. It means some kind of "burrows," whether referring to mines, caves or water pits, according to the usual explanation; but in Arabic the root also means "hot," which is perhaps more likely. The term seems to be of very wide extension, and to refer to the Tih generally (Ge 21:21); for David (1Sa 25:1) in Paran was not far from Maon and Carmel South of Hebron, and the same general application (1Ki 11:18) is suggested in another passage. Finally the desert of Zin (tsin) is noticed 9 times, and very clearly lay close to Kadesh-barnea and East of Paran (Nu 13:21; 20:1; 34:3; De 32:51; Jos 15:3). The rabbis rendered it "palm" (tsin), which is appropriate to the ‘Arabah valley which still retains the old name mentioned in De 1:1. These various considerations as to the conditions to be fulfilled may serve to show that the difficulties often raised, as to the historic character of the Exodus narrative, have been much overstated; and a further study of the various journeys serves to confirm this view.

II. First Journey.

1. Mode of Traveling:

Israel left Egypt in the early part of April (after the 14th of Abib) and reached Sinai about the 14th or 19th of the 3rd month (Ex 19:1), or at the end of May. They thus took two months to accomplish a journey of about 117 miles; but from the first camp after crossing the Red Sea to that in the plain before the Mount ten marches are mentioned, giving intervals of less than 12 miles between each camp. Thus they evidently remained in camp for at least 50 days of the time, probably at the better supplied springs, including that of the starting-point, and those at Elim and Rephidim, in order to rest their flocks. The camps were probably not all crowded round one spring, but spread over a distance of some miles. The Arabs indeed do not camp or keep their flocks close to the waters, probably in order not to defile them, but send the women with donkeys to fetch water, and drive the sheep and goats to the spring or well in the cool of the afternoon. Thus we read that Amalek "smote the hindmost" (De 25:18), which may either mean the stragglers unable to keep up when "weary," or perhaps those in the camp most in the rear.

2. The Route: the First Camp:

The route of Israel has been very carefully described by Robinson (BR, 1838, I, 60-172; II, 95-195), and his account is mainly followed in this and the next sections. We may place the first camp (see EXODUS), between the springs which supply Suez (‘Ain Nab’a and ‘Ayyun Musa), which are about 4 miles apart. The first of these is scooped out among the sand hillocks, and bubbles up in a basin some 6 ft. deep. The water is brackish, but supplies as many as 200 camel loads at once for Suez. At ‘Ayyun Musa ("the springs of Moses") there are seven springs, some being small and scooped in the sand. A few palms occur near the water (which is also brackish), and a little barley is grown, while in recent times gardens of pomegranates have been cultivated (A. E. Haynes, Man-Hunting in the Desert, 1894, 106), which, with the palms, give a grateful shade.

3. Waters of Marah:

From this base Israel marched "three days in the wilderness" of Shur, "and found no water" (Ex 15:22). They no doubt carried it with them, and may have sent back camels to fetch it. Even when they reached the waters of Marah ("the bitter") they found them undrinkable till sweetened. The site of Marah seems clearly to have been at ‘Ain Chawarah ("the white chalk spring"), named from the chalky mound beside it. This is 36 miles from ‘Ayyun Musa, giving an average daily march of 12 miles. There is no water on the route, though some might have been fetched from ‘Ain Abu Jerad in Wady Sudr, and from the small spring of Abu Suweirah near the sea. Burckhardt thought that the water was sweetened from the berries of the Gharqad shrub (which have an acid juice) on the thorny bushes near the spring. This red berry ripens, however, in June. There is no doubt, on the other hand, that the best treatment for brack water is the addition of an acid taste. The Arabs consider the waters of this spring to be the most bitter in the country near.

4. Camp by the Red Sea:

From Marah, the next march led to Elim ("the palms"), where were "twelve springs (not "wells") of water and seventy palms." The site seems clearly to have been in Wady Gharandil, where a brook is found fed by springs of better water than that of Marah. The distance is only about 6 miles, or an easy march, and palm trees exist near the waters. Israel then entered the desert of Sin, stretching from Elim to Sinai, reaching a camp "by the Red Sea" (Nu 33:10) just a month after leaving Egypt (Ex 16:1). The probable site is near the mouth of Wady et-Taiyibeh ("the goodly valley"), which is some 10 or 12 miles from the springs of Gharandil. The foothills here project close to the coast, and North of the valley is Jebel Chammam Far’aun ("the mountain of Pharaoh’s hot bath"), named from hot sulphur springs. The water in Wady et-Taiyibeh is said to be better than that of Marah, and this is the main Arab watering-place after passing Gharandil. A small pond is here described by Burckhardt at el-Murkhat, in the sandstone rock near the foot of the mountains, but the water is bitter and full of weeds, moss and mud. The site is close to a broad shore plain stretching South Here two roads diverge toward Sinai, which lies about 65 miles to the Southeast, and in this interval (Nu 33:11-15) five stations are named, giving a daily march of 13 miles. The Hebrews probably took the lower and easier road, especially as it avoided the Egyptian mines of Wady el-Maghdrah ("valley of the cave") and their station at Serabit el-Khadim ("pillars of the servant"), where—though this is not certain—there may have been a detachment of bowmen guarding the mines.

5. The Route to Sinai:

None of the five camps on this section of the route is certainly known. Dophkah apparently means "overdriving" of flocks, and Alush (according to the rabbis) "crowding," thus indicating the difficulties of the march. Rephidim ("refreshments") contrasts with these names and indicates a better camp. The site, ever since the 4th century AD, has always been shown in Wady Feiran (Eusebius, Onomasticon, under the word "Rephidim")—an oasis of date palms with a running stream. The distance from Sinai is about 18 miles, or 14 from the western end of the broad plain er-Rachah in which Israel camped in sight of Horeb; and the latter name (Ex 17:6) included the Desert of Sinai even as far West as Rephidim. Here the rod of Moses, smiting the rock, revealed to the Hebrews an abundant supply, just as they despaired of water. Here apparently they could rest in comfort for some three weeks before the final march to the plain "before the mount" (Ex 19:1,2), which they reached two months after leaving Egypt. Here Amalek—coming down probably from the mines—attacked them in the rear. Meanwhile there was ample time for the news of their journey to reach Midian, and for the family of Moses (Ex 18:1-5) to reach Sinai. On one of the low hills near Wady Feiran, Moses watched the doubtful fight and built his stone altar. A steep pass separates the oasis from the Rachah plain, and baggage camels usually round it on the North by Wady esh-Sheikh, which may have been the actual route. The Rephidim oasis has a fertile alluvial soil, and the spot was chosen by Christian hermits perhaps as early as the 3rd century AD.

III. Second Journey.

1. The Stay at Sinai:

Israel remained at Mt. Sinai for 10 months, leaving it after the Passover of the "second year" (Nu 9:1-3), and apparently soon after the feast, since, when they again witnessed the spring migration of the quail (Nu 11:31) "from the sea"—as they had done in the preceding year (Ex 16:13) farther West—they were already about 20 miles on their road, at Kibroth-hattaavah, or "the graves of lust."

2. Site of Kadesh-barnea:

(1) In order to follow their journey it is necessary to fix the site of Kadesh-barnea to which they were going, and there has been a good deal of confusion as to this city since, in 1844, John Rowlands discovered the site of the western Kadesh, at ‘Ain Qadis in the northern part of the Tih. Robinson pointed out (BR, II, 194, note 3) that this site could not possibly be right for Kadesh-barnea; and, though it was accepted by Professor Palmer, who visited the vicinity in January, 1870, and has been advocated by Henry Clay Trumbull (Kadesh-barnea, 1884), the identification makes hopeless chaos of the Old Testament topography. The site of ‘Ain Qadis is no doubt that of the Kadesh of Hagar (see SHUR), and a tradition of her presence survives among the Arabs, probably derived from one of the early hermits, since a small hermitage was found by Palmer in the vicinity (Survey of Western Palestine, Special Papers, 1881, 19). But this spring is not said to have been at the "city" of Kadesh-barnea, which is clearly placed at the southeast corner of the land of Israel (Jos 15:3), while, in the same chapter (Jos 15:23), another site called Kedesh is mentioned, with Adadah (‘Ada’deh 7 miles Southeast of Arad) and Hazor (at Jebel Chadireh); this Kedesh may very well have been at the western Kadesh.

(2) Kadesh-barnea is noticed in 10 passages of the Old Testament, and in 16 other verses is called Kadesh only. The name probably means "the holy place of the desert of wandering," and—as we shall see—the wanderings of Israel were confined to the ‘Arabah. The place is described as "a city in the uttermost .... border" of Edom (Nu 20:16), Edom being the "red land" of Mt. Seir, so called from its red sandstones, as contrasted with the white Tih limestone. It is also very clearly placed (Nu 34:3,4) South of the Dead Sea (compare Jos 15:3), while Ezekiel also (47:19) gives it as the southeastern limit of the land, opposed to Tamar (Tamrah near Gaza) as the southeastern border town. A constant tradition, among Jews and Christians alike, identifies Kadesh-barnea with Petra, and this as early as the time of Josephus, who says that Aaron died on a mountain near Petra (Ant., IV, iv, 7), and that the old name of Petra was Arekem (vii, 1). The Targum of Onkelos (on Nu 34:4) renders Kadesh-barnea by "Rekem of the G’aia" and this name—meaning "many-colored"—was due to the many-colored rocks near Petra, while the g’aia or "outcry" is probably that of Israel at Meribah-kadesh (Nu 27:14), and may have some connection with the name of the village el-Jii, at Petra, which is now called Wady Musa ("the valley of Moses") by the Arabs, who have a tradition that the gorge leading to Petra was cloven by the rod of Moses when he struck the rock at the "waters of strife" (Nu 27:14), forming the present stream which represents that of "Meribah of Kadesh." Eusebius also (in Onomasticon under the word "Barne") connects Kadesh with Petra, and this traditional site so fully answers the requirements of the journey in question that it may be accepted as one of the best-fixed points on the route, especially as the position of Hazeroth agrees with this conclusion. Hazeroth (Nu 11:35; 12:16; 33:17; De 1:1) means "enclosures," and the name survives at ‘Ain Chadrah ("spring of the enclosure") about 30 miles Northeast of Mt. Sinai on the way to the ‘Arabah. It was the 3rd camp from Sinai, the 1st being Taberah (Nu 11:3) and the 2nd Kibroth-hattaavah (Nu 11:35), giving a daily march of 10 miles.


3. The Route: Hazeroth to Moseroth:

After passing Hazeroth (Nu 12:16; 13:3) the journey appears to have been leisurely, and Israel probably camped for some time in the best pastures of the ‘Arabah. For the spies were sent from Paran near Hazeroth to explore the route to Kadesh, and to examine the "south country" through which Israel hoped to enter Palestine (Nu 13:17,21). They explored this district (Nu 13:21; 32:8) from "the wilderness of Zin," or otherwise "from Kadesh-barnea," on the East, to Rehob—probably Rehoboth (now er-Ruheibeh)—on the West; and—having been absent 40 days (Nu 13:25)—after visiting Hebron (Nu 13:22) they returned by the direct route leading South of Arad (Tell ‘Arad) to Petra, which road is called (Nu 21:1) the "way of the spies." On their return, in the season of "first-ripe grapes" (Nu 13:20), they found Israel at Kadesh (Nu 13:26). No place North of Hebron is mentioned in the account of their explorations, and it is difficult to suppose that, in 40 days, they could have reached the Syrian city of Hamath, which is some 350 miles North of Petra, and have returned thence. The definition of Rehob (mentioned before Hebron) as being ‘on the coming to Hamath’ (Nu 13:21) is best explained as a scribe’s error, due to an indistinct manuscript, the original reading being chalatseth, and referring to the classical Elussa (now Khalasah) which lies 10 miles North of Rehoboth on the main road to Beersheba and Hebron. Israel left Sinai in the spring, after the Passover, and was near Hazeroth in the time of the quail migration. Hazeroth possesses the only perennial supply of water in the region, from its vicinity the spies set forth in August.

4. The Camps between Hazeroth and Moseroth:

Most of the sites along this route are unknown, and their position can only be gathered from the meaning of the names; but the 6th station from Hazeroth was at Mt. Shepher (Nu 33:23), and may have left its name corrupted into Tell el-‘Acfar (or ‘Asfar), the Hebrew meaning "the shining hill," and the Arabic either the same or else "the yellow." This site is 60 miles from Hazeroth, giving a daily march of 10 miles. As regards the other stations, Rithmah means "broomy," referring to the white desert broom; Rimmon-perez was a "cloven height," and Libnab a "white" chalky place; Rissah means "dewy," and Kehelathah, "gathering." From Mt. Shepher the distance to the vicinity of Mt. Hor is about 55 miles, and seven stations are named, giving an average march of 8 miles. The names are Haradah (Nu 33:24), "fearful," referring to a mountain; Makheloth, "gatherings"; Tahath—probably "below"—marking the descent into the ‘Arabah; Terah, "delay," referring to rest in the better pastures; Mithkah, "sweetness" of pasture or of water; Hashmonah, "fatness"; and Moseroth; probably meaning "the boundaries," near Mt. Hor. These names, though now lost, agree well with a journey through a rugged region of white limestone and yellow sandstone, followed by a descent into the pastoral valley of the ‘Arabah. The distances also are all probable for flocks.

IV. The Thirty-eight Years.

1. The History:

From the time of their first arrival at Kadesh-barnea, in the autumn of the 2nd year, to the day that the Hebrews crossed the brook Zered in Moab on their final march, is said to have been a period of 38 years (De 2:14), during which the first generation died out, and a strong race of desert warriors succeeded it. During this period Israel lived in the nomadic state, like modern Arabs who change camp according to the season within well-defined limits, visiting the higher pastures in summer, and wintering in the lower lands. On their first arrival near Kadesh-barnea, they were discouraged by the report of the spies, and rebelled; but when they were ordered to turn South "by the way of the Red Sea" or Gulf of ‘Aqabah, they made an unsuccessful attempt to enter Palestine by the way of the spies (Nu 14:25-45). They were discomfited by Amalekites at Hormah ("cutting off"), which place is otherwise called Zephath (Jud 1:17). Here also they were again defeated by the king of Arad (Nu 21:1,3) in the early autumn of the 40th year of wandering. This site may well be placed at the ascent now called Nuqb es-Cufah ("the pass of Zephath"), which preserves the Hebrew name, 45 miles Northwest of Mt. Hor, on the main road from Hebron to Petra. The route is well watered, and ‘Ain Yemen is a spring at the foot of this ascent leading to the higher terrace of the Tih. Arad lies North of the road, and its Canaanite king no doubt marched South some 40 miles, to defend the top of the ascent down which the Amalekites had driven the first generation of Hebrews, who returned to the Kadesh-barnea camp.

2. The Camps Visited:

We are not left without any notice of the stations which Israel visited, and no doubt revisited annually, during the 38 years of nomadic life. We have in fact three passages which appear to define the limits of their wanderings.

(1) In the first of these (Nu 33:31-36) we find that they left Moseroth, near Mt. Hor, the site of which latter has always been shown—since the time of Josephus at least—at the remarkable mountain West of Petra, now called Jebel Haran ("Aaron’s Mountain"); thence they proceeded to the wells of the Bene-jaakan, to Hor-haggidgad, and to Jotbathah. Hor-haggidgad (or Gudgodah, De 10:7) signifies apparently the "hill of thunder," and the word is not in any way connected with the name of Wady Ghadaghid ("the valley of failing waters"), applying to a ravine West of the ‘Arabah; for the Hebrew and Arabic words have not a letter in common. The site of Jotbathah, which was in "a land of brooks of waters" (De 10:7), is, on the other hand, pretty clearly to be fixed at ‘Ain et-Tabah ("the good spring"), 28 miles North of ‘Aqabah, and about 40 along the road from Mt. Hor. This spring, near a palm grove, feeds the winter lake of et-Tabah to its West in the ‘Arabah. The next station was Abronah ("the crossing"), and if this refers to crossing the ‘Arabah to the western slopes, we are naturally brought—on the return journey—to Ezion-geber, at ‘Ain-ghudian (the usual identification), which springs from the western slopes of the Tih on the side of the lake opposite to Jotbathah. Thence the migrants gradually returned to Kadesh.

(2) The second passage (De 10:6,7). is one of many geographical notes added to the narrative of the wanderings, and gives the names in a different order—Wells of the Bene-jaakan, Moserah, Gudgodah, and Jotbathah—but this has little importance, as the camps, during 38 years, would often be at these springs.

(3) The third passage is in the preface to Deuteronomy (1:1,2), which enumerates the various places where Moses spoke to Israel at various times after leaving Sinai. These include the region East of Jordan, the wilderness, the ‘Arabah, "over against Suph," with all the district between Paran and Tophel (now Tufileh, on the southern border of Moab), as well as Laban (probably the Libnah of Nu 33:20), Hazeroth, and Dizahab which may be Dhahab on the seashore East of Sinai. This list, with the valuable notes added showing that Kadesh-barnea was 11 days from Horeb in the direction of Mt. Seir, refers to speeches down to the last days of Moses’ life. The wanderings of the 38 years do not include the march through Edom and Moab; and, though it is of course possible that they may have extended to Hazeroth and Sinai, it seems more probable that they were confined to the ‘Arabah between Petra and Jotbathah. Elath (now ‘Aqabah), on the eastern shore at the head of the gulfs, is not mentioned; for the raised beach South of the Lake of Jotbathah would not give pasture. In summer the camps would be on the western slopes of the valley, where grass might be found in April; and the annual migrations were thus within the limits of some 500 square miles, which is about the area now occupied by a strong tribe among Arabs.

V. The Final Journey.

1. The Route:

In the 1st month of the 40th year (Nu 20:1) Israel was at Kadesh in the desert of Zin, where Miriam was buried. They were troubled once more by want of water, till Moses smote the rock of Meribah ("strife"). They were commanded to keep peace with their relatives of Edom and Moab, whose lands were not attacked by the Hebrews till the time of Saul, and of David and his successors. They camped on the border of Kadesh, desiring to reach the main road to Moab through the city; and, when this was refused by the king of Edom, they withdrew a few miles West to Mt. Hor. Here Aaron was buried, and was mourned for 30 days (Nu 20:29), after which the 2nd attempt to reach Hebron by the main road (Nu 21:1) was also repulsed. Since, on this occasion, Israel remained "many days" in Kadesh (De 1:46) and left it less than 38 years after they first reached it in autumn, it would seem that they may have started in August, and have taken about a month to reach the brook Zered; but only five stations are noticed (Nu 21:10-12; 33:41-44) on the way. They are not said—in any passage—to have gone to Elath, but they turned "from mount Hor by the way to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom" (Nu 21:4), or, as otherwise stated (De 2:8), they went "from the way of the Arabah" on the road which led "from Elath and from Ezion-geber"; and thus, starting on the "way to the Red Sea," they "compassed mount Seir many days," turning "northward" by the "way of the wilderness of Moab" (De 2:1,8) after passing through the coast of Edom (De 2:4).

2. The Five Stations to the Border of Moab:

If the list of five stations is complete, we may suppose that they left the ‘Arabah road not many miles South of Petra, striking East by an existing road leading to Ma’an, and thus gaining the high plateau above Petra to the East, and reaching the present Chaj route. This view is confirmed by the notice of Punon as the 2nd camp, if we accept the statement of Eusebius (Onomasticon, under the word "Phinon"); for he appears to have known it as an Edomite village North of Petra, in the desert, where convicts were employed digging copper. The name, however, has not been recovered. The preceding camp at Zalmonah suggests some "gloomy" valley leading up to the Edomite plateau. North of Punon, the 3rd camp was at Oboth ("water bags"), and the 4th was at Iyim or Iye-abarim ("the ruins" or "the ruins of the crossings"), the site of which is pretty certainly at ‘Aimeh, a few miles North of Tophel. The total distance thus seems to have been about 60 miles for four marches, or 15 miles a day. Iyim was "in the border of Moab" (Nu 33:44) and in the desert facing Moab, in the East (Nu 21:11).

3. From Iyim to Arnon:

Here therefore Israel left Edom; and between Iyim and the river Arnon, in a distance of about 32 miles, only one station is mentioned, being at the valley of Zered (Nu 21:12; De 2:13,14). This has usually been placed at Wady el-Chesy ("the pebbly valley"), which flows into the Dead Sea, having its head near Iyim; but this is evidently too far South, and it is no doubt the great gorge at Kerak that is intended, having its head close to the Chaj road, halfway from Iyim to Arnon, giving a daily march of 16 miles. The traditional identification of the Arnon with Wady Mojib is rendered certain by the positions of Diban (Dhiban) and Aroer (‘Ar‘air) close by. It was the border of the Amorites, who had driven the Moabites South of this river (Nu 21:13; De 2:36), depriving them of their best lands which stretched to Heshbon. These Amorites were apparently recent intruders who, with the Hittites (see HITTITES), had invaded Damascus and Bashan from North Syria, and who no doubt had thus brought the fame of Balaam from Pethor (Nu 22:5), on the Euphrates near Carchemish.

4. The Message to Sihon:

The Hebrews were now a strong people fit for war, and Moses sent messengers from the "wilderness of Kedemoth" (De 2:26) to Sihon in Heshbon, demanding a peaceful passage through his lands, such as had been accomplished through Edom and Moab. Kedemoth ("the Eastern Lands") was evidently the desert of Moab.

It was objected, by Colenso, to the narrative of the Pentateuch that, since Israel only reached the brook Zered in autumn of the 40th year, only six months are left for the conquest of North Moab, Gilead and Bashan. But it must be remembered that the Hebrews left all their impedimenta in the "plains of Moab" (Nu 22:1) opposite Jericho at Shittim, so that the advance of their army in Gilead and Bashan was unimpeded. The Assyrians, in later times, covered in a season much longer distances than are attributed to Hebrew conquerors, and the six months leave quite enough time for the two missions sent from Moab (Nu 22:5-36) to fetch Balaam.


5. From the Arnon to Shittim:

(1) It is notable that, for the march from the Arnon to Shittim, we have two lists of stations. That which is said to have been written down by Moses himself (Nu 33:45-49) mentions only four stations in a distance of about 25 miles—namely Dibon-gad, Almon-diblathaim, Nebo and the plains of Moab, where the camps were placed at various waters from Beth-jeshimoth (Sueimeh) on the northeastern shore of the Dead Sea to Abelshittim ("the Meadow of Acacias"), now called the Ghor es-Seiseban, or "Valley of Acacias." In this area of 50 square miles there were four running streams, besides springs, and excellent pasture for flocks. This therefore was the headquarters of the nation during the Amorite war.

(2) In the 2nd list (Nu 21:13-20) we read of a still more gradual and cautious advance in the Amorite lands, and this may represent the march of the main body following the men of war. Leaving the Arnon, they reached "a well" (Beer), probably near Dibon, this being one of those shallow water pits which the Arabs still scoop out in the valleys when the water runs below the surface. Between Arnon and Pisgah (or Nebo) no less than five stations are noticed in about 20 miles, namely Beer, Mattanah ("the gift"), Nahaliel ("the valley of God"), Bamoth (or Bamoth-Baal (Nu 22:41), "the monuments of Baal"), and Pisgah (Jebel Neba). Of these only the last is certainly known, but the central station at Nahaliel may be placed at the great gorge of the Zerqa Ma‘ain, the road from Dibon to Nebo crossing its head near Beth-meon. There was plenty of water in this vicinity. The last stage of Israel’s march thus seems to represent a program of only about 4 miles a day, covered by the more rapid advance of the fighting men; and no doubt the women, children and flocks were not allowed to proceed at all until, at least, Sihon had been driven from Heshbon (Nu 21:21-25).

6. Review:

We have thus considered every march made by the Hebrews, from Egypt to Shittim, by the light of actual knowledge of their route. We have found no case in which the stations are too far apart for the passage of their beasts, and no discrepancies between any of the accounts when carefully considered. If, as some critical writers think, the story of the spies and the list of camps said to have been written down by Moses are to be attributed to a Hebrew priest writing in Babylonia, we cannot but wonder how he came to be so accurately informed as to the topography of the wilderness, its various regions, its water-supply and its natural products. It does not seem necessary to suppose a "double source," because, in the spring of two successive years, the manna is noticed, and Israel is recorded as having eaten the quail flying (as now) by night to the Jordan valley from Africa. The march was not continuous, and plenty of time is left, by the recorded dates, for the resting of the flocks at such waters as those of Elim, Rephidim and Hazeroth. The wanderings of the 38 years represent a nomadic life in the best pastures of the region, in and near the ‘Arabah. Here the new race grew up—hardy as the Arabs of today. When they left Egypt the Pharaoh still had a firm hold on the "way of the Philistines," and the Canaanites owned his sway. But 40 years later Egypt was defeated by the Amorites, and the forces of the Pharaoh were withdrawn from Jerusalem after suffering defeat in Bashan (see Tell el-Amarna Letters, number 64, British Museum, where no less than nine known places near Ashteroth and Edrei are noticed); general chaos then resulted in Southern Palestine, when the ‘Abiri (or Hebrews) appeared from Seir, and "destroyed all the rulers" (see EXODUS). This then, was the historic opportunity for the defeat of the Amorites, and for Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land.

C. R. Conder


(’ish milchamah):

"Yahweh is a man of war:

Yahweh is his name" (Ex 15:3).

In early Israel the character of Yahweh as the war-God forms a prominent feature in the conception of God (Nu 10:35; 21:14; Jos 5:13; 10:11; Jud 5:4,13,20,23,31, etc.).

See GOD, NAMES OF, III, 8; LORD OF HOSTS; and HDB, V, 635 ff.


wor, wor’-far (milchamah, ‘anshe m., "men of war," "soldiers"; polemos, polemein, strateuesthai, stratia):

1. Religious Significance

2. Preliminaries

3. Operations of War

4. Strategy

5. Important Requisites

6. Characteristics

7. Defeat and Victory

8. Spoils and Trophies

9. Treaties of Peace

10. War in the New Testament


1. Religious Significance:

From an early period of Hebrew history war had a religious significance. The Hebrews were the people of Yahweh, and they were reminded in their wars by the priest or priests who accompanied their armies that Yahweh was with them to fight their battles (De 20:1-4). It was customary to open a campaign, or to enter an engagement, with sacrificial rites (1Sa 7:8-10; 13:9). Hence, in the Prophets, to "prepare" war is to carry out the initiatory religious rites and therefore to "sanctify" war (Jer 6:4; 22:7; 51:27,28; Mic 3:5; Joe 3:9; the Revised Version margin in each case); and Isaiah even speaks of Yahweh mustering His host and summoning to battle His "consecrated ones" (Isa 13:3), the warriors consecrated by the sacrifices offered before the war actually opened. The religious character attaching to war explains also the taboo which we find associated with it (De 20:7; 23:10; 2Sa 11:11).

2. Preliminaries:

(1) Religious Preliminaries.

It was in keeping with this that the oracle should be consulted before a campaign, or an engagement (Jud 20:18 ff; 1Sa 14:37; 23:2; 28:6; 30:8). The ark of God was believed to be possessed of special virtue in assuring victory, and, because it was identified in the eyes of the Israelites with the presence of Yahweh, it was taken into battle (1Sa 4:3). The people learned, however, by experience to put their trust in Yahweh Himself and not in any outward token of His presence. At the battle of Ebenezer the ark was taken into the fight with disastrous results to Israel (1Sa 4:4 ). On the other hand at the battle of Michmash, the sacred ephod at Saul’s request accompanied the Israelites into the field, and there was a great discomfiture of the Philistines (1Sa 14:18). In the later history prophets were appealed to for guidance before a campaign (1Ki 22:5; 2Ki 3:11), although fanatical members of the order sometimes gave fatal advice, as to Ahab at Ramoth-gilead, and probably to Josiah at Megiddo. Upon occasion the king addressed the host before engaging the enemy (2Ch 20:20-22, where Jehoshaphat also had singers to go before the army into battle); and Judas Maccabeus did so, with prayer to God, on various occasions (1 Macc 3:58; 4:30; 5:32).

(2) Military Preliminaries.

The call to arms was given by sound of trumpet throughout the land (Jud 3:27; 6:34; 1Sa 13:3; 2Sa 15:10; 20:1; compare Nu 10:2). It was the part of the priests to sound an alarm with the trumpets (2Ch 13:12-16; compare 1 Macc 4:40; 16:8), and the trumpets were to be blown in time of battle to keep God in remembrance of Israel that they might gain the victory. In the Prophets, we find the commencement of war described as the drawing of the sword from its sheath (Eze 21:3 ), and the uncovering of the shield (Isa 22:6). Graphic pictures of the mobilizing of forces, both for invasion and for defense, are found in Isa 22:6-8 and Na 3:2 and other Prophets. It was in the springtime that campaigns were usually opened, or resumed after a cessation of hostilities in winter (2Sa 11:1; 1Ki 20:22,26).

3. Operations of War:

Of the actual disposition of troops in battle there are no full accounts till the Maccabean time, but an examination of the Biblical battlefields by modern travelers with knowledge of military history has yielded valuable results in showing the position of the combatants and the progress of the fight (an excellent example in Dr. William Miller’s Least of All Lands, 85 ff, 116 ff, 150 ff, where the battles of Michmash, Elah and Gilboa are described with plans). With the Israelites the order of battle was simple. The force was drawn up, either in line, or in three divisions, a center and two wings. There was a rearguard (called in the King James Version "rereward," in the Revised Version (British and American) "rearward") to give protection on the march or to bring in stragglers (Jud 7:16; 1Sa 11:11; 2Sa 18:2; 1 Macc 5:33; compare also Nu 10:25; Jos 6:9; 1Sa 29:2; Isa 58:8). The signal for the charge and the retreat was given by sound of trumpet. There was a battle-cry to inspire courage and to impart confidence (Jud 7:20; Am 1:14, etc.). The issue of the battle depended upon the personal courage and endurance of the combatants, fighting man against man, but there were occasions when the decision was left to single combat, as at the battle of Elah between the giant Goliath and the stripling David (1Sa 17). The combat at Gibeon between the men of Benjamin, twelve in number, followers of Ish-bosheth, and twelve of the servants of David, in which each slew his man and all fell together by mutual slaughter, was the prelude to "a very sore battle" in which Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David (2Sa 2:16).

To the minor operations of war belong the raid, such as the Philistines made into the Valley of Rephaim (1Ch 14:9), the foray, the object of which was plunder (2Sa 3:22), the foraging to secure supplies (2Sa 23:11 margin), and the movements of bands who captured defenseless inhabitants and sold them as slaves (2Ki 5:2).

4. Strategy:

Of strategical movements in war there was the ambush with liers-in-wait resorted to by Joshua at Ai (Jos 8:3 ); the feint, resorted to by the Israelites against the tribe of Benjamin (Jud 20:20 ); the flank movement, adopted by David in the Valley of Rephaim to rout the Philistines (2Sa 5:22 f); and the surprise, inflicted successfully at the Waters of Merom upon the Canaanites under Jabin by Joshua (Jos 11:1 f). Of all these the story of Judas Maccabeus, the great military leader of the Jewish nation, furnishes illustrations (1 Macc 4:5 and elsewhere).

5. Important Requisites:

Among the requisites for the proper conduct of war the most important was the camp (machaneh). Of the exact configuration of the camp of the Israelites, it is not possible to speak with certainty. The camp of Israel in the wilderness seems to have been quadrilateral, although some have supposed it to be round or triangular (Nu 2:1 ). The camp in the wilderness was furnished with ensigns and standards—the family ensign (’oth), and a standard (deghel) for the group of tribes occupying each of the four sides. The standard or banner (nec) is used of the signal for the mustering of troops, but standard-bearer, which occurs only once in the Bible, is a doubtful reading (Isa 10:18, where the Revised Version margin, "sick man," is rather to be followed). In time of war the camp was surrounded by a barricade, or wagon-rampart (ma‘gal), as at Elah (1Sa 17:20); and Saul lay within such a barricade in the wilderness of Ziph with his people round about him when David surprised him and carried off his spear (1Sa 26:5 ). Tents were used for the shelter of troops, at any rate when occupied with a siege (2Ki 7:7), although at the siege of Rabbah we read of booths for the purpose (2Sa 11:11). Pickets were set to watch the camp, and the watch was changed three times in the course of the night (Jud 7:19; 1 Macc 12:27). It was usual to leave a guard in charge of the camp when the force went into action or went off upon a raid (1Sa 25:13; 30:10). Careful prescriptions were laid down for the preservation of the purity of the camp, "for Yahweh thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, .... therefore shall thy camp be holy" (De 23:9-14; compare Nu 5:1-4). Garrisons (matstsabh) were placed in occupation of fortresses and strategical centers (2Ch 17:2). No doubt the caves in the hillsides and rocky fastnesses of the land, as at Michmash, would serve for their reception (1Sa 13). The garrisons, however, which are expressly mentioned, were for the most part military posts for the occupation of a subject country—Philistines in Israelite territory (1Sa 13:23; 14:1,11), and Israelites in Syrian and Edomite territory (2Sa 8:6,14).

6. Characteristics:

Among the characteristic notes of war, the tumult and the shouting were often noticed by the sacred historians (1Sa 4:6; 14:19; 2Ki 7:6). In the figurative language of the prophets the terrors and horrors and devastation of war are set forth in lurid colors. "The snorting of his horses is heard from Dan," is Jeremiah’s description of an invading army, "at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones the whole land trembleth" (Jer 8:16). ‘The crack of the whip and the noise of the rumbling wheel and the galloping horse, and the jolting chariot and the rearing horsemen; and the flash of the sword and the glitter of the spear, and the multitude of slain; and a mass of dead bodies and no end to the carcasses’ (Na 3:2-4: J. M. P. Smith’s translation in ICC). Because of the devastation of territory and the slaughter of men which it entails, the sword is named with famine and "noisome beasts" (the American Standard Revised Version has "evil beasts") and "pestilence" as one of God’s "four sore judgments" (Eze 14:21, the King James Version). By a familiar figure "the sword" is often taken for all the operations of war, because it is characteristic of it to devour and to destroy (2Sa 2:26; Jer 2:30).

7. Defeat and Victory:

While the treatment of the vanquished in the wars of Israel never reached the pitch of savagery common in Assyrian warfare, there are not wanting examples of excessive severity, such as David’s treatment of his Moabite prisoners (2Sa 8:2) and of the Ammonites captured at Rabbah (2Sa 12:31), and Menahem’s barbarous treatment of Tiphsah (2Ki 15:16; compare Nu 31:17; Jos 6:21). That it was common for the Philistines to mutilate and abuse their prisoners is shown by Saul’s determination not to fall into their hands (1Sa 31:4). On that occasion the Philistines not only stripped the slain, but cut off Saul’s head and fixed his body to the wall of Bethshan (1Sa 31:9,10). It was usual to carry off prisoners and sell them as slaves (2Ki 5:2; 1 Macc 3:41). The conquerors were wont to deport the population of the subjugated country (2Ki 17:6), to carry off treasure and impose tribute (2Ki 16:8), and even to take the gods into captivity (Isa 46:1). On the other hand, the victors were hailed with acclamations and songs of rejoicing (1Sa 18:6), and victory was celebrated with public thanksgivings (Ex 15:1; Jud 5:1; 1 Macc 4:24).

The spoils of war, spoken of as booty also—armor, clothing, jewelry, money, captives and animals—falling to the victors, were divided equally between those who had taken part in the battle and those who had been left behind in camp (Nu 31:27; Jos 22:8; 1Sa 30:24 f).

8. Spoils and Trophies:

A proportion of the spoils was reserved for the Levites, and "a tribute unto the Lord" was also levied before distribution was made of the collected booty (Nu 31:28,30). To the Lord, in the Israelite interpretation of war, the spoils truly belong, and we see this exemplified at the capture of Jericho when the silver and the gold and the vessels of brass were put into the treasury of the house of the Lord (Jos 6:24). Under the monarchy, part of the spoils fell to the king who might in turn dedicate it to the Lord or use it for the purposes of war (2Ki 14:14; 1Ch 18:7,11). The armor of the conquered was sometimes dedicated as a trophy of victory and placed in the temple of the heathen or preserved near the ark of God (1Sa 21:9; 31:9).

9. Treaties of Peace:

As the blast of the war-horn summoned to war, so it intimated the cessation of hostilities (2Sa 2:28); and as to draw the sword was the token of the entrance upon a campaign, so to return it to its sheath, or to put it up into the scabbard, was emblematic of the establishment of peace (Jer 47:6). As ambassadors were sent to summon to war (Jer 49:14), or to dissuade from war (2Ch 35:21), so ambassadors were employed to negotiate peace (Isa 33:7). Treaties of peace were made on occasion between combatants, as between Ahab and Ben-hadad II after the defeat of the latter and his fortunate escape from the hands of Ahab with his life (1Ki 20:30,31). By the appeal of Ben-hadad’s representative to Ahab’s clemency his life was spared, and in return therefor he granted to Ahab the right to have bazaars for trade in Damascus as his father had had in Samaria (1Ki 20:34). Alliances, offensive and defensive, were common, as Ahab and Jehoshaphat against Syria (1Ki 22:2 ), Jehoram and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom against Moab (2Ki 3:7 ), and the kings of the West, including Ahab and Hadadezer of Damascus, to resist Shalmaneser II of Assyria, who routed the allies at the battle of Qarqar in 854 BC. It is among the wonderful works of Yahweh that He makes war to cease to the end of the earth, that He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder, and "burneth the chariots in the fire" (Ps 46:9). And prophetic pictures of the peace of the latter days include the breaking of "the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land" (Ho 2:18), the beating of "swords into plowshares, and .... spears into pruning-hooks" (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3).

10. War in the New Testament:

Among the signs of the last days given by our Lord are "wars and rumors of wars" (Mt 24:6; Mr 13:7; Lu 21:9; 21:24). Jesus accepts war as part of the present world-order, and draws from it an impressive illustration of the exacting conditions of Christian discipleship (Lu 14:31 ). He foresees how Jerusalem is to be encompassed with armies and devoted to the bitterest extremities of war (Lu 19:41 ). He conceives Himself come, not to send peace on earth, but a sword (Mt 10:34); and declares that they who take the sword shall perish by the sword (Mt 26:52). The apostles trace war to the selfishness and greed of men (Jas 4:1 ); they see, speaking figuratively, in fleshly lusts enemies which war against the soul (1Pe 2:11); they find in war apt figures of the spiritual struggle and divine protection and ultimate victory of the Christian (Ro 7:23; 8:37; 2Co 10:3,5; 1Ti 1:18; Heb 13:13; 1Pe 1:5), and of the triumphs of Christ Himself (2Co 2:14; Col 2:15; Eph 2:16,17). Paul made the acquaintance of the barracks, both at Jerusalem and at Caesarea (Ac 21:34,37; 23:35); and at Rome his bonds became familiar to the members of the Praetorian guard who were from time to time detailed to have him in keeping (Php 1:13). It is under the figures of battle and war that John in the Apocalypse conceives the age-long conflict between righteousness and sin, Christ and Satan, and the final triumph of the Lamb, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords (Re 16:14-16; 17:14; 19:14). For other references see ARMY, 9; PRAETORIAN GUARD; TREATY.


Benzinger, article "Kriegswesen" in Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche(3), XI; Nowack, Hebraische Archaeologie, 72; Browne, Hebrew Antiquities, 44-47.

T. Nicol


word: "Ward" and "guard" are two different spellings of the same word, and in consequence no clear line can be drawn between them. English Versions of the Bible, however, has used "guard" only in the sense of "a special body of soldiers" (Ge 37:36, etc.), while "ward" is used, not only in this sense (Jer 37:13; contrast 39:9), but also in a variety of others. So a "ward" may mean "any body of men on special duty," as 1Ch 9:23; the King James Version 1Ch 26:16; Ne 12:24,25 (the Revised Version (British and American) "watch"), or the duty itself, as Isa 21:8; 1Ch 12:29 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "allegiance"); 1Ch 25:8; 26:12 (the Revised Version (British and American) "office," margin "ward"); Ne 12:45; 13:30 (the Revised Version (British and American) "charge"). Or "ward" may mean "guarded place," always in the phrase "put in ward." the Revised Version (British and American) has kept this phrase throughout (Ge 40:3, etc.), changing it only in Eze 19:9, where "cage" better carries out the figure of the context.

The distinction of the older English between "watch" and "ward," as applying respectively to the night and to the day seems unknown in English Versions of the Bible. Compare Isa 21:8.

The affix "-ward," denoting direction and still used in such forms as "toward," "northward," etc., had a much wider range in Biblical English. So, "to God-ward" (Ex 18:19; 2Co 3:4; 1Th 1:8); "to thee-ward" (1Sa 19:4); "to us-ward" (Ps 40:5; Eph 1:19; 2Pe 3:9 the King James Version); "to you-ward" (2Co 1:12; 13:3; Eph 3:2; 2Pe 3:9 the Revised Version (British and American)); and in Ex 37:9, the King James Version "even to the mercy seatward" (the Revised Version (British and American) "toward the mercy-seat").

Burton Scott Easton


warz (maqqachah, mekher, mimkar, kin‘ah, ma‘aseh, ‘izzabhon, keli):

(1) maqqachah, something received or purchased (Ne 10:31);

(2) mekher, "price" or "pay," value, merchandise (Ne 13:16);

(3) mimkar, a "selling," the thing sold (Ne 13:20);

(4) kin‘ah, a "package," hence, wares (Jer 10:17);

(5) ma‘aseh, "transaction," activity, property, possession, work, occupation, thing made, deed, business (Eze 27:16,18);

(6) ‘izzabhon, "selling," trade, revenue, mart, letting go for a price (Eze 27:33);

(7) keli, a "prepared" something, as an implement, tool, weapon, utensil, armor, furniture, sack, vessel, hence, wares (Jon 1:5).

In most cases the real sense is merchandise (see MERCHANDISE). "That which did not a little amuse the Merchandizers (in Vanity-Fair) was, that these Pilgrims set very light by all their Wares; they cared not so much as to look upon them" (Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress).

William Edward Raffety




worp (shethi (Le 13:48-59)): The long threads fixed into the loom to form the basis of the web, and into which the woof is wrought from the shuttle. The warp and the woof lying at right angles to one another have in their Hebrew form (shethi we‘erebh) given to modern Jewish speech a secret expression to designate the cross.




See BIBLE, IV, 1, (1), (b).


wosh, wosh’-ing: The two usual Hebrew words for "wash" are rachats, and kabhac, the former being normally used of persons or of sacrificial animals (Ge 18:4, etc., often translated "bathe"; Le 15:5, etc.), and the latter of things (Ge 49:11, etc.), the exceptions to this distinction being few (for rachats, 1Ki 22:38 margin; for kabhac, Ps 51:2,7; Jer 2:22; 4:14). Much less common are duach (2Ch 4:6; Isa 4:4; Eze 40:38) and shataph (1Ki 22:38; Job 14:19; Eze 16:9), translated "rinse" in Le 6:28; 15:11,12. In Ne 4:23 the King James Version has "washing" and the Revised Version (British and American) "water" for mayim, but the text is hopelessly obscure (compare the Revised Version margin). In the Apocrypha and New Testament the range of terms is wider. Most common is nipto (Mt 6:17, etc.), with aponipto in Mt 27:24. Of the other terms, louo (Susanna verses 15,17; Joh 13:10, etc.), with apolouo (Ac 22:16; 1Co 6:11) and the noun loutron (Sirach 34:25b; Eph 5:26; Tit 3:5), usually has a sacral significance. On baptizo (Sirach 34:25a; Mr 7:4; Lu 11:38), with the noun baptismos (Mr 7:4 (text?); Heb 9:10), see BAPTISM. In Lu 5:2; Re 7:14; 22:14 the Revised Version (British and American) occurs pluno, while Judith 10:3 has perikluzo. Virtually, as far as meaning is concerned, all these words are interchangeable. Of the figurative uses of washing, the most common and obvious is that of cleansing from sin (Ps 51:2; Isa 1:16, etc.), but, with an entirely different figure, "to wash in" may signify "to enjoy in plenty" (Ge 49:11; Job 29:6; the meaning in So 5:12 is uncertain). Washing of the hands, in token of innocence, is found in De 21:6; Mt 27:24.

The "washing balls" of Susanna verse 17 (smegma, a very rare word) were of soap.


Burton Scott Easton


The Old Testament references (Ge 18:4; 19:2: 24:32; 43:24; Jud 19:21; 1Sa 25:41; 2Sa 11:8; So 5:3; Ps 58:10) show that the washing of the feet was the first act on entering the tent or house after a journey. The Orientals wore only sandals, and this washing was refreshing as well as cleanly. In the case of ordinary people, the host furnished the water, and the guests washed their own feet, but in the richer houses, the washing was done by a slave. It was looked upon as the lowliest of all services (1Sa 25:41). Jesus pointedly contrasts Simon’s neglect of even giving Him water for His feet with the woman’s washing His feet with tears and wiping them with her hair (Lu 7:44). On the last evening of His life, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (Joh 13:1-16). Their pride, heightened by the anticipations of place in the Messianic kingdom whose crisis they immediately expected, prevented their doing this service for each other. Possibly the same pride had expressed itself on this same evening in a controversy about places at table. Jesus, conscious of His divine dignity and against Peter’s protest, performed for them this lowliest service. His act of humility actually cleansed their hearts of selfish ambition, killed their pride, and taught them the lesson of love. See also The Expository Times, XI, 536 f.

Was it meant to be a perpetual ordinance? Joh 13:15, with its "as" and the present tense of the verb "do," gives it a priori probability. It has been so understood by the Mennonites and the Dunkards. Bernard of Clairvaux advocated making it a sacrament. The Pope, the Czar, and the Patriarch of Constantinople wash the feet of 12 poor men on Maundy Thursday; so did the English kings till James II, and it is still practiced in the royal palaces of Madrid, Munich and Vienna. But the objections to such an interpretation are overwhelming: (1) It is never referred to in the Synoptic Gospels, the Ac or the Epistle; 1Ti 5:10 refers only to lowly service to the saints. (2) It was first in the 4th century (compare Ambrose and Augustine) that it became the custom to wash the feet of the baptized on Maundy Thursday. (3) Ritualizing such an act of love absolutely destroys its meaning. (4) No large body of Christians has ever received it as a sacrament or an ordinance.

F. L. Anderson

According to the Belief and Practice of the Church of the Brethren

1. Practice:

Feet-washing is always practiced in connection with the Agape and the Lord’s Supper. This entire service is usually called "Love Feast." These Love Feasts are always held in the evening (in conformity to the time of Jesus’ Last Supper). Preparatory services on self-examination are held either at a previous service or at the opening of the Love Feast. Each church or congregation is supposed to hold one or two Love Feasts annually. No specified time of the year is set for these services. Before the supper is eaten all the communicants wash one another’s feet; the brethren by themselves, and likewise the sisters by themselves.

(1) The Mode.

In earlier years the "Double Mode" was practiced, where one person would wash the feet of several persons and another would follow after and wipe them. At present the "Single Mode" is almost universal, wherein each communicant washes and wipes the feet of another. Hence, each one washes and wipes the feet of other, and in turn has this same service performed to himself.

(2) The Salutation.

Feet-washing is also accompanied with the "Holy Kiss." As soon as one has finished washing and wiping the feet of another, he takes him by the hand and greets him with the "holy kiss," usually with an appropriate benediction as: "God bless you," or "May the Lord bless us."

2. Scriptural Basis for Feet-Washing:

There are three texts in the New Testament referring to feet-washing (Lu 7:36-50; Joh 13:1-17; 1Ti 5:10).

(1) Jesus Washing the Disciples’ Feet (Joh 13:1-17).

"At supper time" (deipnou genomenou) Jesus arose, laid aside His garments (himatia =" outer garments"), girded Himself with a towel, poured water into a basin, and began to wash and wipe the feet of the disciples.

(2) Peter’s Objection.

"Simon Peter .... saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet (su mou nipteis tous podas)? Jesus answered .... What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet." Whereupon Jesus said: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

(3) Jesus Explains.

Peter now goes to the other extreme and desires complete washing. Jesus answers "He that is bathed (leloumenos, from louo, "to bathe entire body") needeth not save to wash (niptein—"to wash a part of the body") his feet." Jesus was not instituting a new symbol to take the place of baptism, to cleanse the entire person, but clearly distinguishes between the bathing (louo) of the entire body and the partial cleansing needed after the bath (baptism or immersion).

(4) The Command.

"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet" (Joh 13:14, kai humeis opheilete allelon niptein tous podas), "I have given you an example (sign, symbol, hupodeigma), that ye also should do as I have done to you" (Joh 13:15). "If ye know these things, happy (or "blessed" the Revised Version (British and American), makarioi) are ye if ye do them" (ean poiete auta). No language is clearer, and no command of Jesus is stronger than this. Furthermore, no symbol is accompanied with a greater promise. Note also, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

3. The Meaning of the Symbol:

(1) Negatively.

(a) It cannot be explained as necessity or custom, i.e. that the dust must be washed from the feet of the disciples before proceeding with the supper. It was so cold that Peter had to warm himself, and this is sufficient evidence that they wore shoes instead of sandals at this time. Furthermore, Peter did not understand the action of Jesus, hence, it could not have been customary. Most of all, Jesus was not scrupulous about keeping the customs or practices of the Jews; compare Jesus’ breaking of the Jewish Sabbath (Mr 2:23-26); the Jewish fasts (Mr 2:18-22); the Jewish cleansings (Mr 7:1-20). (b) It was not customary for the host to wash the feet of the guests. Peter objected, and Jesus told him distinctly that he could not understand at the time (arti), but would afterward (meta tauta). The symbol had a deeper meaning.

(2) Positively.

(a) Feet-washing symbolizes humility and service. The apostles had been quarreling as to who would be greatest in the kingdom which they thought Jesus was about to set up (Lu 22:24-30). Most authorities agree that this quarrel took place before the supper. Peter’s question. "Dost thou wash my feet?" shows clearly that his objection lay principally in this, that Jesus, the Lord and Master, should perform such humble service. But Jesus was trying all the time to teach His disciples that true greatness in His kingdom is humility and service. "I am in the midst of you as he that serveth" (Lu 22:27; compare Mt 5:5; 23:11,12). Humility and service are fundamental virtues in the Christian life. To wash the feet of another symbolizes these virtues in the same way that the Eucharist symbolizes other Christian virtues. (b) Cleansing: Jesus clearly distinguished between the first cleansing which cleanses the whole person, and the washing of a part of the body. Baptism is the new birth, which means complete cleansing. But after baptism we still commit sins, and need the partial cleansing as symbolized by feetwashing. Compare Bernard of Clairvaux: "Feet-washing is cleansing of those daily offenses which seem inevitable for those who walk in the dust of the world" (sed pedes (abluti sunt) qui aunt animae affectiones, dum in hac pulvere gradimur, ex toto mundi ease non possunt).

4. Practised by the Church of the Brethren:

Feet-washing is practiced by the Church of the Brethren for the following reasons:

(1) Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and said, "I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you" (Joh 13:15).

(2) Jesus said, "Ye also ought ("are bound," opheilete) to wash one another’s feet" (Joh 13:14).

(3) "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (Joh 13:8),

(4) "If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them" (Joh 13:17).

(5) Feet-washing symbolizes humility and service, which are fundamental virtues.

(6) Feet-washing symbolizes cleansing from the sins committed after baptism.


For the Church of the Brethren: C. F. Yoder, God’s Means of Grace; R. H. Miller, The Doctrine of the Brethren Defended; tracts issued by the Brethren Publishing House, Elgin, III. For history of feet-washing, see ERE, V; New Sch-Herz Eric of Religious Knowledge, IV, 4; Smith and Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, articles "Baptism," "Maundy Thursday."

Daniel Webster Kurtz


wosh’-pot (sir rachats, "vessel for washing"): Only Ps 60:8 = 108:9, "Moab is my washpot"; i.e. "Moab is my chattel, to betreated contemptuously," as the vessel in which the conqueror’s feet are washed.





woch (’ashmurah, ‘ashmoreth; phulake): A division of the night. The night was originally divided into three watches (Jud 7:19), but later into four, as we find in the New Testament (Mt 14:25; Mr 6:48). We do not know the limits of the watches in the first division, but the middle watch probably began two hours before midnight and ended two hours after. The fourfold division was according to the Roman system, each of which was a fourth part of the night.


"Watch" is also the guard placed on watch (mishmar, Ne 4:9; koustodia, from Latin custodia, Mt 27:65,66; 28:11). It sometimes refers to the act of watching, as in 2Ki 11:6,7 (mishmereth); Lu 2:8 (phulake).

"Watch" is also used figuratively, as in Ps 141:3 for restraint: "Set a watch, O Yahweh, before my mouth" (shomrah).


H. Porter


woch’-tou-er (mitspeh (Isa 21:8; 2Ch 20:24); bachan (Isa 32:14 the Revised Version (British and American))): In Isa 2:16 the words sekhiyoth ha-chemdah have puzzled the translators. the King James Version gives "pleasant pictures," the Revised Version (British and American) "pleasant imagery," while the Revised Version margin has "pleasant watchtowers." Guthe in Kautzsch’s Bible translates Schaustucke, which practically agrees with the Revised Version (British and American).



woch’-er (Aramaic ‘ir, "wakeful one"): In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Da 4:13,17,23 (MT 10,14,20)) a messenger who with "a holy one" descended from heaven, they having joint authority to issue decrees. In the apocryphal literature the doctrine of the "watchers" is much elaborated. In Jubilees they are regarded as angels sent to instruct mankind in righteousness. In Enoch they sometimes appear as archangels and at other times as fallen angels. In the latter condition only we find them in the Book of Adam and Eve. The place of descent was according to Enoch 6:6 the summit of Mt. Hermon.

W. M. Christie


woch’-man (tsopheh, shomer, metsappeh, notser): Used to designate a sentinel on the city walls (2Sa 18:25; 2Ki 9:18; Ps 127:1; Isa 62:6) or on the hilltops (Jer 31:6). So 3:3; 5:7 introduces another class, "the watchmen that go about the city," and thus, it would seem, points to some system of municipal police. The distinction in meaning between the various words is clear, tsopheh having the idea of "outlooker" and notser that of "careful watcher" (being applied even to besiegers from outside: Jer 4:16, "watchers"), while shomer also embraces the idea of "defending" or "guarding." In Isa 21:6 metsappeh is to be taken generally in the sense of "watch." In Sirach 37:14 skopos, means simply "looker."

W. M. Christie


wo’-ter (mayim; hudor):

(1) The Greek philosophers believed water to be the original substance and that all things were made from it. The Koran states, "From water we have made all things." In the story of the creation (Ge 1:2) water plays an elemental part.

(2) Because of the scarcity of water in Palestine it is especially appreciated by the people there. They love to go and sit by a stream of running water. Men long for a taste of the water of their native village (1Ch 11:17). A town or village is known throughout the country for the quality of its water, which is described by many adjectives, such as "light," "heavy," etc.

(3) The rainfall is the only source of supply of water for Palestine. The moisture is carried up from the sea in clouds and falls on the hills as rain or snow. This supplies the springs and fountains. The rivers are mostly small and have little or no water in summer. For the most part springs supply the villages, but in case this is not sufficient, cisterns are used. Most of the rain falls on the western slopes of the mountains, and most of the springs are found there. The limestone in many places does not hold the water, so wells are not very common, though there are many references to them in the Bible.

(4) Cisterns are usually on the surface of the ground and vary greatly in size. Jerusalem has always had to depend for the most part on water stored in this way, and carried to the city in aqueducts. A large number of cisterns have been found and partially explored under the temple-area itself. The water stored in the cisterns is surface water, and is a great menace to the health of the people. During the long, dry summer the water gets less and less, and becomes so stagnant and filthy that it is not fit to drink. In a few instances the cisterns or pools are sufficiently large to supply water for limited irrigation.


(5) During the summer when there is no rain, vegetation is greatly helped by the heavy dews. A considerable amount of irrigation is carried on in the country where there is sufficient water in the fountains and springs for the purpose. There was doubtless much more of it in the Roman period. Most of the fruit trees require water during the summer.

(6) Many particular wells or pools are mentioned in the Bible, as: Beersheba (Ge 21:19), Isaac’s well (Ge 24:11), Jacob’s well (Joh 4:6), Pool of Siloam (Joh 9:7), "waters of Nephtoah" (Jos 15:9).

(7) Washing with water held a considerable place in the Jewish temple-ceremony (Le 11:32; 16:4; 17:15; 22:6; Nu 19:7; Ex 30:18; 40:7). Sacrifices were washed (Ex 29:4; Le 1:9; 6:28; 14:5).

(8) The lack of water caused great suffering (Ex 15:22; De 8:15; 2Ki 3:9; Ps 63:1; Pr 9:17; Eze 4:11; La 5:4).


Alfred H. Joy


See ADULTERY, (2).





(1) ‘aphiq (Eze 6:3; 31:12; 32:6; 34:13; 35:8; 36:4,6), the King James Version "river," elsewhere "stream," "channel," or "brook."

(2) pelegh (Pr 21:1). "The king’s heart is in the hand of Yahweh as the watercourses," the King James Version "rivers," elsewhere "streams" or "rivers."

(3) yabhal, yibheley mayim, "watercourses" (English Versions of the Bible) (Isa 44:4); in Isa 30:25, English Versions of the Bible has "streams of water"; compare yubhal, "rivers" (Jer 17:8); yubhal, "Jubal" (Ge 4:21); ‘ubhal, "the river Ulai" (Da 8:2,3,6).

(4) te‘alah, "channel," the King James Version "watercourse" (Job 38:25); elsewhere "conduit," "the conduit of the upper pool" (2Ki 18:17; Isa 7:3; 36:2).

(5) tsinnor, "watercourse," the King James Version "gutter" (2Sa 5:8).


Alfred Ely Day


wo’-ter-fol (tsinnor; only in the American Standard Revised Version (Ps 42:7)):

"Deep calleth unto deep at the

noise of thy waterfalls;

All thy waves and thy billows

are gone over me."

The King James Version and the English Revised Version have "waterspouts," the English Revised Version margin "cataracts." The etymology of the word is uncertain. It occurs also in 2Sa 5:8, translated "watercourse," the King James Version "gutter." Compare (tsanteroth), "spouts" (Zec 4:12).


wo’-ter-pot (hudria; compare hudor, "water"): An earthen vessel, or jar, for carrying or holding water (in the Septuagint for kadh, "jar," or "pitcher"). It was usually carried by women upon the head, or upon the shoulder (Joh 4:28). Pots of larger size, holding eighteen or twenty gallons apiece, were used by the Jews for purposes of ceremonial purification (Joh 2:6).


wo’-terz (mayim, plural of may, "water"; in the New Testament hudor, "water"; kindunois potamon (2Co 11:26), the King James Version "perils of waters," is in the Revised Version (British and American) "perils of rivers"): In the New Testament there is frequent reference to the water of baptism. Pilate washes his hands with water to signify his guiltlessness. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman of the living water. The Lamb shall guide the redeemed unto fountains of waters of life.

The uses of mayim are well classified in BDB, especially the figurative references, as follows: a symbol of distress, "when thou passest through the waters" (Isa 43:2); of force, "like the breach of waters" (2Sa 5:20); of that which is overwhelming, "a tempest of mighty waters overflowing" (Isa 28:2); of fear, "The hearts of the people .... became as water" (Jos 7:5); of transitoriness, "Thou shalt remember it as waters that are passed away" (Job 11:16); of refreshment, "as streams of water in a dry place" (Isa 32:2); of peace, "He leadeth me beside still waters" (Ps 23:2); of legitimate pleasures, "waters out of thine own cistern" (Pr 5:15); of illegitimate pleasures, "Stolen waters are sweet" (Pr 9:17); of that which is poured out abundantly, blood (Ps 79:3), wrath (Ho 5:10), justice (Am 5:24), groanings (Job 3:24).

Alfred Ely Day








(1) (tsinnor) (Ps 42:7), the American Standard Revised Version "waterfalls," the King James Version and the English Revised Version "waterspouts," the English Revised Version margin "cataracts."

(2) (tannin) (Ps 148:7), the American Standard Revised Version "sea-monsters," the King James Version and the English Revised Version "dragons," the English Revised Version margin, "sea-monsters" or "water-spouts."

"Praise Yahweh from the earth, Ye sea-monsters, and all deeps."


Alfred Ely Day


wav of’-er-ing.



waw "w": The sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet; transliterated in this Encyclopedia "w" (or "v"). It came also to be used for the number 6. For name, etc., see ALPHABET.



(1) Noun (donagh): Used only in a simile of melting (Ps 22:14; 68:2; 97:5; Mic 1:4).


(2) A now archaic verb, meaning "to grow," used freely in English Versions of the Bible as a translation of various terms in Greek and Hebrew. The past participle in the King James Version and the English Revised Version is "waxen," except in Ge 18:12. There (and throughout in the American Standard Revised Version) the form is "waxed."


wa (’orach, orcha’,’ erets, bo’, derekh, halikhah, ma‘galah, nathibh; hodos, parodos, poreia, tropos; "highway," mecillah, meclul; diexodoi ton hodon): The list just cited contains only a portion of the words translated "way" or "highway" in the King James Version. Most of them have the primary meaning of "road," "customary path," "course of travel" (Ge 3:24; Ex 23:20; Nu 20:17, etc.). By a very easy and natural figure "way" is applied to the course of human conduct, the manner of life which one lives (Ex 18:20; 32:8; Nu 22:32; 1Sa 8:3; 1Ki 13:33, etc.; Ac 14:16; 1Co 4:17; Jas 5:20). "The way of an eagle .... of a serpent .... of a ship .... and of a man" (Pr 30:19) agree in that they leave no trace behind them (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 5:10,11). In some cases the language may be such as to leave it indeterminate whether the way or course of conduct is good or bad (De 28:29; 1Sa 18:14; 2Ch 27:7; Job 13:15; Pr 3:6; 6:6; Jas 1:8), though in most cases the Bible writers attach to every act an ethical evaluation. Sometimes this way of conduct is of purely human choice, without reference to either God or good (Jud 2:19; Job 22:15; 34:21; Ps 119:9; Pr 12:15; 16:2). Such a course is evil (2Ch 7:14; Ps 1:6; 119:101,104,128; Pr 1:19, etc.) and will obtain such punishment as its lack of merit warrants (1Ki 8:32,39; 2Ch 6:23; Job 30:12; 34:11; Jer 17:10; Ezk 7:3,9; Ho 12:2). At the opposite extreme from this is the good way (Ps 1:6; Pr 8:20; 12:28; 15:10; Isa 26:7), which is that course of conduct enjoined by God and exemplified in His perfect conduct (Ge 6:12; 18:19; De 8:6; 26:17; 1Ki 2:3; Job 23:11; Ps 51:13, etc.). These two ways briefly but graphically described by the Lord (Mt 7:13,14; compare Lu 13:24) became the subject of extended catechetical instruction in the early church. See the Epistle of Barnabas, xviii, and the Didache i.1. Frequently the way in this metaphorical sense is characterized by that quality which is its outstanding feature, e.g. mention is made of the way of life (Pr 15:24; Jer 21:8; Ac 2:28); of truth (Ps 119:30; 2Pe 2:2); of peace (Isa 59:8; Lu 1:79; Ro 3:17); of justice (Pr 17:23; Da 4:37); of righteousness (Mt 21:32; 2Pe 2:21); of salvation (Ac 16:17); of lying (Ps 119:29), and of death (Jer 21:8). Frequently God’s purpose or His customary action is described as His way (Ps 103:7; Isa 26:8; Mt 22:16; Ac 13:10). Since all of God’s plans and purposes tend toward man’s salvation, His provisions to this end are frequently spoken of as His Way, and inasmuch as all of the divine plans center in Christ He is preeminently the Way (Joh 14:6). Out of this fact grew the title, "The Way," one of the earliest names applied to Christianity (Ac 9:2; 18:25,26; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:22).

The word highway is used to denote a prominent road, such a one for example as was in ancient times maintained for royal travel and by royal authority. It is always used in the literal sense except in Pr 15:19; 16:17, where it is a course of conduct.


W. C. Morro




(kibhrah, "length," "a measure"): A technical measure of distance in the Hebrew; but it must be considered undefined (Ge 35:16; 48:7 the King James Version, the English Revised Version "some way," the American Standard Revised Version "some distance"; 2Ki 5:19, the English Revised Version "some way," the American Revised Version margin "some distance"). The Hebrew term kibhrah is also found in Phoenician inscriptions as a measure of distance.


wa’-far-ing, The translation in Jud 19:17; 2Sa 12:4; Jer 9:2; 14:8 of (’oreach), the participle of ‘arach, "to journey." In Isa 33:8 of ‘obher ‘orach, "one passing on a path," and in Isa 35:8 of holekh derekh, "one walking on a road." "Traveler" is the meaning in all cases.


wa’-mark (tsyun): In Jer 31:21, "Set thee up waymarks," explained by the parallel, "Make thee guide-posts" (the King James Version "Make thee high heaps"). A sign or guiding mark on the highway.


welth, wel’-thi (hon, chayil, nekhacim; euporia, "to possess riches," "to be in a position of ease" (Jer 49:31)): The possession of wealth is not regarded as sinful, but, on the contrary, was looked upon as a sign of the blessing of God (Ec 5:19; 6:2). The doctrine of "blessed are the poor, and cursed are the rich" finds no countenance in the Scriptures, for Lu 6:20,24 refers to concrete conditions (disciples and persecutors; note the "ye"). God is the maker of rich and poor alike (Pr 22:2). But while it is not sinful to be rich it is very dangerous, and certainly perilous to one’s salvation (Mt 19:23). Of this fact the rich young ruler is a striking example (Lu 18:22,23). It is because of the danger of losing the soul through the possession of wealth that so many exhortations are found in the Scriptures aimed especially at those who have an abundance of this world’s goods (1Ti 6:17; Jas 1:10,11; 5:1, etc.). Certain parables are especially worthy of note in this same connection, e.g. the Rich Fool (Lu 12:16-21), the Rich Man and Lazarus—if such can be called a parable—(Lu 16:19-31). That it is not impossible for men of wealth to be saved, however, is apparent from the narratives, in the Gospels, of such rich men as Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea (Joh 19:38,39; Mt 27:57-60), and Zaccheus (Lu 19:1-10). It may fairly be inferred from the Gospel records that James and John, who were disciples of our Lord, were men of considerable means (Mr 1:19,20; Joh 19:27).

Wealth may be the result of industry (Pr 10:4), or the result of the special blessing of God (2Ch 1:11,12). We are warned to be careful lest at any time we should say "My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember Yahweh thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth" (De 8:17,18).

Those possessing wealth are liable to certain kinds of sins against which they are frequently warned, e.g., highmindedness (1Ti 6:17); oppression of the poor (Jas 2:6); selfishness (Lu 12 and 16); dishonesty (Lu 19:1-10); self-conceit (Pr 28:11); self-trust (Pr 18:11).

It is of interest to note that in the five places in the New Testament in which the word "lucre"—as applying to wealth—is used, it is prefaced by the word "filthy" (1Ti 3:3 (the King James Version), 8; Tit 1:7,11; 1Pe 5:2), and that in four of these five places it refers to the income of ministers of the gospel, as though they were particularly susceptible of being led away by the influences and power of money, and so needed special warning.

The Scriptures are not without instruction as to how we may use our wealth wisely and as well-pleasing to God. The parable of the Unjust Steward (Lu 16) exhorts us to "make .... friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness," by which is meant that we should use the wealth which God has committed to us as stewards in order that we may win friends (souls) with it for Him and His kingdom, just as the unfaithful steward used the goods with which his master had entrusted him to make friends for himself. The parable of Dives and Lazarus gives us the sad picture of a selfish rich man who had abused his trust, who had failed to make friends with his money, and who, in the other world, would have given anything just for such a friend (Lu 16:19-31).

See also RICHES.

William Evans


wen: "To wean" in English Versions of the Bible is always the translation of (gamal), but gamal has a much wider force than merely "to wean," signifying "to deal fully with," as in Ps 13:6, etc. Hence, as applied to a child, gamal covers the whole period of nursing and care until the weaning is complete (1Ki 11:20). This period in ancient Israel extended to about 3 years, and when it was finished the child was mature enough to be entrusted to strangers (1Sa 1:24). And, as the completion of the period marked the end of the most critical stage of the child’s life, it was celebrated with a feast (Ge 21:8), a custom still observed in the Orient. The weaned child, no longer fretting for the breast and satisfied with its mother’s affection, is used in Ps 131:2 as a figure for Israel’s contentment with God’s care, despite the smallness of earthly possessions. In Isa 28:9 there is an ironical question, ‘Is God to teach you knowledge as if you were children? You should have learned His will long ago!’

Burton Scott Easton




WEASEL we’-z’-l (choledh; compare Arabic khuld, "mole-rat"):

(1) Choledh is found only in Le 11:29, where it stands first in the list of eight unclean "creeping things that creep upon the earth." the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) agree in rendering choledh by "weasel," and the Septuagint has gale, "weasel" or "marten." According to Gesenius, the Vulgate, Targum, and Talmud support the same rendering. In spite of this array of authorities, it is worth while to consider the claims of the mole-rat, Spalax typhlus, Arabic khuld. This is a very common rodent, similar in appearance and habits to the mole, which does not exist in Palestine. The fact that it burrows may be considered against it, in view of the words, "that creepeth upon the earth." The term "creeping thing" is, however, very applicable to it, and the objection seems like a quibble, especially in view of the fact that there is no category of subterranean animals. See MOLE.

(2) The weasel, Mustela vulgaris, has a wide range in Asia, Europe, and North America. It is from 8 to 10 inches long, including the short tail. It is brown above and white below. In the northern part of its range, its whole fur, except the tail, is white in winter. It is active and fearless, and preys upon all sorts of small mammals, birds and insects.


Alfred Ely Day


weth’-er (zahabh (Job 37:22), yom (Pr 25:20), translated "day"; eudia, "clear sky," cheimon, "tempest"): In the East it is not customary to talk of the weather as in the West. There seems to be no word in the Hebrew corresponding to "weather." In Job 37:22 the King James Version translates "Fair weather comes out of the north," but the Revised Version (British and American) translates more literally, "Out of the north cometh golden splendor." "As one that taketh off a garment in cold weather (or literally, "on a cold day"), .... so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart" (Pr 25:20).

Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for their lack of spiritual foresight when they took such interest in natural foresight. He said, "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the heaven is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day: for the heaven is red and lowering" (Mt 16:2,3). The general conditions of the weather in the different seasons are less variable in Palestine than in colder countries, but the precise weather for a given day is very hard to predict on account of the proximity of the mountains, the desert and the sea.

Alfred H. Joy


we’-ving: Although weaving was one of the most important and best developed of the crafts of Bible times, yet we have but few Biblical references to enlighten us as to the processes used in those early days. A knowledge of the technique of weaving is necessary, however, if we are to understand some of the Biblical incidents. The principle of weaving in all ages is illustrated by the process of darning. The hole to be darned is laid over with parallel threads which correspond to the "warp" (shethi) of a woven fabric. Then, by means of a darning needle which takes the place of the shuttle in the loom, other threads are interlaced back and forth at right angles to the first set of strands. This second set corresponds to the woof (‘erebh) or weft of woven cloth. The result is a web of threads across the hole. If the warp threads, instead of being attached to the edges of a fabric, are fastened to two beams which can be stretched either on a frame or on the ground, and the woof is interlaced exactly as in darning, the result will be a web of cloth. The process is then called weaving (’aragh), and the apparatus a loom. The most up-to-date loom of our modern mills differs from the above only in the devices for accelerating the process. The first of these improvements dates back some 5,000 years to the early Egyptians, who discovered what is technically known as shedding, i.e. dividing the warp into two sets of threads, every other thread being lifted so that the woof can run between, as is shown in the diagram of the Arabic loom.of considerable means (Mr 1:19,20; Joh 19:27).

The looms are still commonly used among the Bedouins. Supppose only eight threads are used for an illustration. In reality the eight strands are made by passing one continuous thread back and forth between the two poles which are held apart by stakes driven into the ground. The even strands run through loops of string attached to a rod, and from there under a beam to the pole. By placing the ends upon stones, or by suspending it on loops, the even threads are raised above the odd threads, thus forming a shed through which the weft can be passed. The separating of odds and evens is assisted by a flat board of wedge-shaped cross-section, which is turned at right angles to the odd threads. After the shuttle has been passed across, this same stick is used to beat up the weft.

The threads are removed from the stones or loops, and allowed to lie loosely on the warp; it is pulled forward toward the weaver and raised on the stones in the position previously occupied by it. The flat spreader is passed through the new shed in which the odd threads are now above and the even threads below. The weft is run through and is beaten into place with the thin edge of it. The shuttle commonly used is a straight tree branch on which the thread is loosely wound "kite-string" fashion.

The loom used by Delilah was no doubt like the one described above (Jud 16:13,14). It would have been an easy matter for her to run in Samson’s locks as strands of the weft while he lay sleeping on the ground near the loom adjacent to rod under the beam. The passage might be transposed thus: "And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head into the web. And she passed in his locks and beat them up with the batten (yathedh), and said unto him, The Philistines are upon thee, Samson. And he awakened out of his sleep and as he jumped up he pulled away the pins of the loom."

The counterpart of the Bedouin loom is shown on the ancient tombs at Beni Chasan (see EB, 5279, or Wilkinson, I, 317). As Dr. Kennedy points out, the artist of that ancient picture has unwittingly reversed the order of the beams. The shedding beam, of the two, should be nearer the weaver. At what period the crude shedding device described above was replaced by a double set of loops worked by pedals is unknown. Some writers believe that the Jews were acquainted with it. The "flying shuttle" of the modern loom is probably a comparatively recent invention.

The products of the Bedouin looms are coarse in texture. Such passages as Ex 35:35; Isa 19:9, and examples of ancient weaving, lead us to believe that in Bible times contemporaneous with the primitive loom were more highly developed machines, just as in the cities of Egypt and Palestine today, alongside of the crude Bedouin loom, are found the more intricate hand looms on which are produced the most delicate fabrics possible to the weaver’s article. Examples of cloth comparing favorably with our best grades of muslin have been found among the Egyptian mummy wrappings.

Two other forms of looms have been used for weaving, in both of which the warp is upright. In one type the strands of the warp, singly or in bundles, are suspended from a beam and held taut by numerous small weights made of stones or pottery. Dr. Bliss found at Tel el-Chesy collections of weights, sometimes 60 or more together, individual examples of which showed marks where cords had been attached to them. These he assumed were weavers’ weights (see A Mound of Many Cities). In this form the weaving was necessarily from top to bottom.

The second type of upright loom is still used in some parts of Syria, especially for weaving coarse goat’s hair cloth. In this form the warp is attached to the lower beam and passes vertically upward over another beam and thence to a wall where it is gathered in a rope and tied to a peg, or it is held taut by heavy stone weights. The manipulation is much the same as in the primitive loom, except that the weft is beaten up with an iron comb. The web is wound up on the lower beam as it is woven (compare Isa 38:12).

Patterns are woven into the web

(1) by making the warp threads of different colors,

(2) by alternating colors in the weft,

(3) by a combination of (1) and (2); this produces checked work (shibbets, Ex 28:39 the Revised Version (British and American));

(4) by running special weft threads through only a portion of the warp. This requires much skill and is probably the kind of weaving referred to in Ex 26:1 ff; Eze 16:13; 27:16;

(5) when metals are to be woven, they are rolled thin, cut into narrow strips, wound in spirals about threads of cotton or linen (compare Ex 28:5 ff; 39:3 ff). In all these kinds of weaving the Syrian weavers of today are very skillful. If a cylindrical web is referred to in Joh 19:23, then Jesus’ tunic must have been woven with two sets of warp threads on an upright loom so arranged that the weft could be passed first through one shed and then around to the other side and back through the shed of the second set.

Goliath’s spear was compared in thickness to that of the weaver’s beam, i.e. 2 inches to 2 1/2 inches in diameter (1Sa 17:7; 2Sa 21:19; 1Ch 11:23; 20:5).

In Job 7:6, if "shuttle" is the right rendering for ‘eregh, the reference is to the rapidity with which the thread of the shuttle is used up, as the second part of the verse indicates.

For a very full discussion of the terms employed see A. R. S. Kennedy in EB, IV, 5276-90.

James A. Patch






wej, (lashon zahabh, literally, "tongue of gold"): A piece of gold in the form of a wedge found by Achan in the sack of Jericho. It was in one of the forms in which gold was used for money and was probably stamped or marked to indicate its weight, which was 50 shekels, i.e. one maneh, according to the Hebrew standard, or nearly two pounds troy. Its value would be 102 British pounds 10 shillings or $510.00 (in 1915). See MONEY; POUND. A wedge, or rather, oblong rectangular strip of gold, of similar weight has been found in the excavations of Gezer (Macalister, Bible Side-Lights, 121). Along with metal rings they were doubtless used as an early form of currency. In Isa 13:12 the King James Version, kethem, "pure gold" (so the Revised Version (British and American)), is translated as "golden wedge" on insufficient grounds.

H. Porter


wedz (cuph, "a weed" (Jon 2:5)).



wek (shebhua‘, from shebha‘, "seven"; sabbaton-ta, "from sabbath to sabbath"): The seven-day division of time common to the Hebrews and Babylonians (Ge 29:27,28; Lu 18:12). See ASTRONOMY; TIME. "Week" is used in the apocalyptic writings of Daniel for an unknown, prophetic period (Da 9:24-27). For the names of the days see ASTROLOGY, 12.







See BURIAL, IV, 4, 5, 6.


wat (Measure of quantity) mishqal, (mishqol (Eze 4:10), from shaqkal, "to weigh" ‘ebhen, "a stone" used for weighing in the balance): Weights were commonly of stone or bronze (or of lead, Zec 5:7,8). They were of various forms, such as the lion-shaped weights of Babylonia and Assyria, or in the form of birds and other animals. The Hebrew and Phoenician weights, when made of stone, were barrel-shaped or spindle-shaped, but in bronze they were often cubical or octagonal or with numerous faces (see illustration under WEIGHTS AND MEASURES). Hemispherical or dome-shaped stone weights have been found in Palestine (PEFS, 1902, p. 344; 1903, p. 117; 1904, p. 209).

Figurative: The phrase "without weight" (2Ki 25:16) signifies a quantity too great to be estimated. "Weight of glory" (2Co 4:17, baros) has a similar meaning, but with a spiritual reference. "Weighty," "weightier" (Mt 23:23; 2Co 10:10, barus, baruteros), signify what is important. The Greek (ogkos) (Heb 12:1), is used in the sense of burden, hindrance, as is also the Hebrew neTel (Pr 27:3).

H. Porter


wats me’-zhur:The system of weights and measures in use among the Hebrews was derived from Babylonia and Egypt, especially from the former. The influence of these countries upon Palestine has long been recognized, but archaeological investigations in recent years have shown that the civilization of Babylonia impressed itself upon Syria and Palestine more profoundly in early times than did that of Egypt. The evidence of this has been most clearly shown by the discovery of the Tell el-Amarna Letters, which reveal the fact that the official correspondence between the Egyptian kings and their vassals in these lands was carried on in the language of Babylonia long after its political influence had been supplanted by that of Egypt. It is natural, then, that we should look to Babylonia for the origin of such important elements of civilization as a system of weights and measures.

1. Linear Measures:

It was quite natural that men should have found a standard for linear measures in the parts of the human body, and we find the cubit, originally the length of the forearm, taken as the standard, and the span, the palm and the digit, or finger-breadth, associated with it in linear measurement. They do not seem to have employed the foot, though it is represented in the two-thirds of the cubit, which was used by the Babylonians in the manufacture of building-brick.

This system, though adequate enough for man in the earliest times, was not so for an advanced stage of civilization, such as the Babylonians reached before the days of Abraham, and we find that they had introduced a far more accurate and scientific system (see CUBIT). They seem to have employed, however, two cubits, of different lengths, one for commercial purposes and one for building. We have no undoubted examples of either, but judging by the dimensions of their square building-bricks, which are regarded as being two-thirds of a cubit on a side, we judge the latter to have been of about 19 or 20 inches. Now we learn from investigations in Egypt that a similar cubit was employed there, being of from 20.6 to 20.77 inches, and it can hardly be doubted that the Hebrews were familiar with this cubit, but that in more common use was certainly shorter. We have no certain means of determining the length of the ordinary cubit among the Hebrews, but there are two ways by which we may approximate its value. The Siloam Inscription states that the tunnel in which it was found was 1,200 cubits long. The actual length has been found to be about 1,707 feet, which would give a cubit of about 17.1 in. (see PEFS, 1902, 179). Of course the given length may be a round number, but it gives a close approximation.

Again, the Mishna states that the height of a man is 4 cubits, which we may thus regard as the average stature of a Jew in former times. By reference to Jewish tombs we find that they were of a length to give a cubit of something over 17 inches, supposing the stature to be as above, which approximates very closely to the cubit of the Siloam tunnel. The consensus of opinion at the present day inclines toward a cubit of 17.6 inches for commercial purposes and one of about 20 inches for building. This custom of having two standards is illustrated by the practice in Syria today, where the builder’s measure, or dra’, is about 2 inches longer than the commercial.

Of multiples of the cubit we have the measuring-reed of 6 long cubits, which consisted of a cubit and a hand-breadth each (Eze 40:5), or about 10 feet. Another measure was the Sabbath day’s journey, which was reckoned at 2,000 cubits, or about 1,000 yards. The measuring-line was used also, but whether it had a fixed length we do not know.


In the New Testament we have the fathom (orguia), about 6 feet, and the furlong (stadion), 600 Greek feet or 606 3/4 English feet, which is somewhat less than one-eighth of a mile. The mile (milion) was 5,000 Roman feet, or 4,854 English feet, somewhat less than the English mile.

2. Measures of Capacity:

Regarding the absolute value of the measures of capacity among the Hebrews there is rather more uncertainty than there is concerning those of length and weight, since no examples of the former have come down to us; but their relative value is known. Sir Charles Warren considers them to have been derived from the measures of length by cubing the cubit and its divisions, as also in the case of weight. We learn from Eze 45:11 that the bath and ephah were equivalent, and he (Warren) estimates the capacity of these as that of 1/30 of the cubit cubed, or about 2,333.3 cubic inches, which would correspond to about 9 gallons English measure. Assuming this as the standard, we get the following tables for liquid and dry measure: Ce’ah and lethekh, in the above, occur in the Hebrew text, but only in the margin of the English. It will be noticed that the prevailing element in these tables is the duodecimal which corresponds to the sexagesimal of the Babylonian system, but it will be seen that in the case of weights there was a tendency on the part of the Hebrews to employ the decimal system, making the maneh 50 shekels instead of 60, and the talent 3,000 instead of 3,600, of the Babylonian, so here we see the same tendency in making the ‘omer the tenth of the ‘ephah and the ‘ephah the tenth of the chomer or kor.

3. Weights:

Weights were probably based by the ancients upon grains of wheat or barley, but the Egyptians and Babylonians early adopted a more scientific method. Sir Charles Warren thinks that they took the cubes of the measures of length and ascertained how many grains of barley corresponded to the quantity of water these cubes would contain. Thus, he infers that the Egyptians fixed the weight of a cubic inch of rain water at 220 grains, and the Babylonians at 222 2/9. Taking the cubic palm at 25,928 cubic inches, the weight of that quantity of water would be 5,760 ancient grains. The talent he regards as the weight of 2/3 of a cubit cubed, which would be equal to 101,6 cubic palms, but assumes that for convenience it was taken at 100, the weight being 576,000 grains, deriving from this the maneh (1/60 of the talent) of 9,600 grains, and a shekel (1/50 of the maneh) 192 grains. But we have evidence that the Hebrew shekel differed from this and that they used different shekels at different periods. The shekel derived from Babylonia had a double standard: the light of 160 grains, or 1/3600 of the talent; and the heavy of just double this, of 320 grains. The former seems to have been used before the captivity and the latter after. The Babylonian system was sexagesimal, i.e. 60 shekels went to the maneh and 60 manehs to the talent, but the Hebrews reckoned only 50 shekels to the maneh, as appears from Ex 38:25,26, where it is stated that the amount of silver collected from 603,550 males was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, and, as each contributed a half-shekel, the whole amount must have been 301,775. Deducting the 1,775 shekels mentioned besides the 100 talents, we have 300,000 or 3,000 to the talent, and, as there were 60 manehs in the talent, there were 50 shekels to each maneh. When the Hebrews adopted this system we do not know, but it was in vogue at a very early date.

The shekel was divided into gerahs, 20 to a shekel (Ex 30:13). The gerah (gerah) is supposed to be some kind of seed, perhaps a bean or some such plant. The shekel of which it formed a part was probably the royal or commercial shekel of 160 grains, derived from Babylon. But the Hebrews certainly had another shekel, called the Phoenician from its being the standard of the Phoenician traders. This would be natural on account of the close connection of the two peoples ever since the days of David and Solomon, but we have certain evidence of it from the extant examples of the monetary shekels of the Jews, which are of this standard, or very nearly so, allowing some loss from abrasion. The Phoenician shekel was about 224 grains, varying somewhat in different localities, and the Jewish shekels now in existence vary from 212 to 220 grains. They were coined after the captivity (see COINS), but whether this standard was in use before we have no means of knowing.

Examples of ancient weights have been discovered in Palestine by archaeological research during recent years, among them one from Samaria, obtained by Dr. Chaplin, bearing the inscription, in Hebrew rebha‘ netseph. This is interpreted, by the help of the cognate Arabic, as meaning "quarter-half," i.e. of a shekel. The actual weight is 39.2 grains, which, allowing a slight loss, would correspond quite closely to a quarter-shekel of the light Babylonian standard of 160 grains, or the quarter of the half of the double standard. Another specimen discovered at Tell Zakariyeh weighs 154 grains, which would seem to belong to the same standard. The weights, of which illustrations are given in the table, are all in the collection of the Syrian Protestant College, at Beirut, and were obtained from Palestine and Phoenicia and are of the Phoenician standard, which was the common commercial standard of Palestine. The largest, of the spindle or barrel type, weighs 1,350 grains, or 87.46 grams, evidently intended for a 6-shekel weight, and the smaller ones of the same type are fractions of the Phoenician shekel. They were of the same standard, one a shekel and the other a two-shekel weight. They each have 12 faces, and the smaller has a lion stamped on each face save one, reminding us of the lion-weights discovered in Assyria and Babylonia. The spindle weights are of black stone, the others of bronze.

The above is the Phoenician standard. In the Babylonian the shekel would be 160 or 320 grains; the maneh 8,000 or 16,000, and the talent 480,000 or 960,000 grains, according as it was of the light or heavy standard.

H. Porter


(1) (be’er; compare Arabic bi’r, "well" or "cistern"; usually artificial: "And Isaac’s servants digged (dug) in the valley, and found there a well of springing (margin "living") water" (Ge 26:19); some times covered: "Jacob .... rolled the stone from the well’s mouth" (Ge 29:10). Be’er may also be a pit: "The vale of Siddim was full of slime pits" (Ge 14:10); "the pit of destruction" (Ps 55:23).

(2) (bor), usually "pit": "Let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits" (Ge 37:20); may be "well": "drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem" (2Sa 23:16).

(3) (pege), usually "running water," "fount," or "source": "Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter?" (Jas 3:11); may be "well"; compare "Jacob’s well" (Joh 4:6).

(4) (phrear), usually "pit": "the pit of the abyss" (Re 9:1); but "well"; compare "Jacob’s well" (Joh 4:11,12): "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a well" (the King James Version "pit") (Lu 14:5).

(5) (krene), "wells" (Sirach 48:17), Latin, fons, "spring" (2 Esdras 2:32).

(6) ayin), compare Arabic ‘ain "fountain," "spring": "the fountain (English Versions of the Bible) which is in Jezreel" (1Sa 29:1); "In Elim were twelve springs (the King James Version "fountains"] of water" (Nu 33:9); "She (Rebekah) went down to the fountain" (the King James Version "well") (Ge 24:16); "the jackal’s well" (the English Revised Version "the dragon’s well," the King James Version "the dragon well") (Ne 2:13).

(7) (ma‘yan), same root as (6); "the fountain (the King James Version "well") of the waters of Nephtoah" (Jos 18:15); "Passing through the valley of Weeping (the King James Version "Baca") they make it a place of springs" (the King James Version "well") (Ps 84:6); "Ye shall draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isa 12:3).

(8) (maqor), usually figurative: "With thee is the fountain of life" (Ps 36:9); "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain (the King James Version "well") of life" (Pr 10:11); "make her (Babylon’s) fountain (the King James Version "spring") dry" (Jer 51:36); "a corrupted spring" (Pr 25:26).

(9) (mabbu‘), (nabha‘, "to flow," "spring," "bubble up"; compare Arabic (nab‘, manba‘, yanbu‘) "fountain": "or the pitcher is broken at the fountain" (Ec 12:6); "the thirsty ground springs of water" (Isa 35:7).

(10) (motsa’)," spring," (yatsa’)," to go out," "the dry land springs of water" (Isa 41:18); "a dry land into watersprings" (Ps 107:35); "the upper spring of the waters of Gihon" (2Ch 32:30).

(11) (nebhekh), root uncertain, reading doubtful; only in Job 38:16, "Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?"

(12) (tehom), "deep," "abyss"; compare Ge 1:2; translated "springs," the King James Version "depths" (De 8:7).

(13) (gal), (galal), "to roll"; compare Gilgal (Jos 5:9); "a spring shut up" (So 4:12).

(14) (gullah), "bowl," "basin," "pool," same root: "Give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper sprigs and the nether springs" (Jos 15:19); compare Arabic (kullat), pronounced gullat, "a marble," "a cannon-ball."

As is clear from references cited above, wells and springs were not sharply distinguished in name, though be’er, and phrear are used mainly of wells, and ‘ayin, ma‘yan, motsa’, mabbua‘ and (poetically) maqor are chiefly used of fountains. The Arabic bi’r, the equivalent of the Hebrew be’er, usually denotes a cistern for rain-water, though it may be qualified as bi’r jam‘, "well of gathering," i.e. for rain-water, or as bi’r nab‘, "well of springing water." A spring or natural fountain is called in Arabic ‘ain or nab‘ (compare Hebrew ‘ayin and mabbua‘). These Arabic and Hebrew words for "well" and "spring" figure largely in place-names, modern and ancient: Beer (Nu 21:16); Beer-elim (Isa 15:8), etc.; ‘Ain

(a) on the northeast boundary of Palestine (Nu 34:11),

(b) in the South of Judah, perhaps = En-rimmon (Jos 15:32); Enaim (Ge 38:14); Enam (Jos 15:34), etc.

Modern Arabic names with ‘ain are very numerous, e.g. ‘Ainul-fashkhah, ‘Ain-ul-chajleh, ‘Ain-karim, etc.


Alfred Ely Day




wel’-spring (maqor): Usually "spring" or "fountain" (figuratively), translated "wellspring" only in two passages: "Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it" (Pr 16:22); "The wellspring of wisdom is as a flowing brook" (Pr 18:4). See Burroughs, Pepacton, p. 35; WELL.


Only in Le 22:22, "maimed" or "having a wen (margin "sores"), or scurvy," for (yabbal), "running," hence, "a suppurating sore" (compare the Revised Version margin). A "wen" is a non-inflamed indolent tumor, and so "wen" is about as far as possible from the meaning of the Hebrew.


wench, wensh (shiphchah): The word "wench" is found only in 2Sa 17:17 the King James Version, where the Revised Version (British and American) has "maid-servant." The Hebrew word shiphchah here used is a common term for maid-servant, female slave. the King James Version used the word "wench" to convey the meaning maid-servant, which was a common use of the word at that time, but it is now practically obsolete.


(1) Usually (yam), "sea" because the Mediterranean lies to the West of Palestine; not usually in figurative expressions; but compare Ho 11:10.

(2) Often (ma‘arabh); compare Arabic (gharb), and (maghrib), "west" (maghrib-ush-shems), or simply (maghrib), "sunset."

(3) (mebho’ ha-chemesh), "entrance of the sun," (mabho’, bo’)," to come in." (Just as mizrach, is the rising of the sun, or east, so mabho’ (or ma’arabh], is the setting of the sun, or west: "From the rising of the sun (mizrach-shemesh) unto the going down (mabho) thereof" (Ps 50:1; compare 113:3; Mal 1:11).)

(4) (dusme, from duo), "to enter," "sink," "set." The Greek usage is parallel to the Hebrew just cited: "Many shall come from the east anatole, "rising") and the west" (dusme, "setting") (Mt 8:11).

The chief figurative use of the word "west" is in combination with "east" to denote great or infinite distance, as:

"As far as the east is from the west,

So far hath he removed our transgressions

from us" (Ps 103:12).

Alfred Ely Day



(1) ketos (Sirach 43:25 (the Revised Version (British and American) "sea-monster"); The So of Three Children verse 57 (the Revised Version (British and American) "whale"); Mt 12:40 (the Revised Version (British and American) "whale," margin "sea-monster"; the King James Version "whale" throughout)).

(2) tannin (Ge 1:21; Job 7:12), "sea-monster," the King James Version "whale."

(3) tannim (Eze 32:2), "monster," the English Revised Version "dragon" the King James Version "whale" the King James Version margin "dragon."

It will be seen from the above references that the word "whale" does not occur in the Revised Version (British and American) except in The So of Three Children verse 57 and Mt 12:40. Ketos, the original word in these passages, is, according to Liddell and Scott, used by Aristotle for "whale," Aristotle using also the adjective ketodes, "cetacean"; Homer and Herodotus used ketos for any large fish or sea-monster or for a seal. It is used in Euripides of the monster to which Andromeda was exposed. In the Hebrew, in the Book of Jonah, we find dagh or daghah, the ordinary word for "fish": "And Yahweh prepared great fish to swallow up Jonah" (Jon 1:17). Whales are found in the Mediterranean and are sometimes cast up on the shore of Palestine, but it is not likely that the ancient Greeks or Hebrews were very familiar with them, and it is by no means certain that whale is referred to, either in the original Jonah story or in the New Testament reference to it. If any particular animal is meant, it is more likely a shark. Sharks are much more familiar objects in the Mediterranean than whales, and some of them are of large size.


In Ge 1:21, "And God created the great seamonsters" (the King James Version, "whales"), and Job 7:12,

"Am I a sea, or a sea-monster (the King James Version "whale"),

That thou settest a watch over me?"

The Hebrew has tannin, which word occurs 14 times in the Old Testament and in the American Standard Revised Version is translated "monster," "sea-monster," or "serpent," and, exceptionally, in La 4:3, "jackals." the King James Version renders in several passages "dragon" (compare Eze 29:3 the English Revised Version).

Tannim in Eze 29:3 and 32:2 is believed to stand for tannin. the American Standard Revised Version has "monster," the English Revised Version "dragon," the King James Version "whale," the King James Version margin "dragon," in Eze 32:2, and "dragon" in 29:3. Tannim occurs in 11 other passages, where it is considered to be the plural of tan, and in the Revised Version (British and American) is translated "jackals," in the King James Version "dragons" (Job 30:29; Ps 44:19; Isa 13:22; 34:13; 35:7; 43:20; Jer 9:11; 10:22; 14:6; 49:33; 51:37). In Mal 1:3 we find the feminine plural tannoth.


Alfred Ely Day



((1) chiTTah, the specific word for wheat (Ge 30:14; Ex 34:22, etc.), with puros (Judith 3:3; Sirach 39:26);

(2) bar, or bar (Jer 23:28; Joe 2:24; Am 5:11; 8:6); in other passages translated "grain" or "corn";

(3) sitos (Mt 3:12; 13:25,29,30; Lu 3:17; 16:7; 22:31, etc.) (for other words translated occasionally "wheat" in the King James Version see CORN; FOOD)): Wheat, usually the bearded variety, is cultivated all over Palestine, though less so than barley. The great plain of the Hauran is a vast expanse of wheat fields in the spring; considerable quantities are exported via Beirut, Haifa, and Gaza. The "wheat harvest" was in olden times one of the regular divisions of the year (Ex 34:22; Jud 15:1; 1Sa 12:17); it follows the barley harvest (Ex 9:31,32), occurring in April, May or June, according to the altitude.

E. W. G. Masterman



(1) ‘ophan, is the usual word (Ex 14:25, etc.). In Pr 20:26; Isa 28:27 the rollers of a threshing wagon are meant (see AGRICULTURE).

(2) galgal, "rolling thing," generally in the sense of "wheel" (Isa 5:28, etc.), but the Revised Version (British and American) in Eze 10:2,6,13 has "whirling wheels," an advantageous change. The "wheel .... broken at the cistern" in Ec 12:6 is the windlass for drawing the water, and by the figure the breakdown of the old man’s breathing apparatus is probably meant. In Ps 83:13, the King James Version has "wheel," but this translation (that of the Septuagint) is quite impossible; the Revised Version (British and American) "whirling dust" (sucked up by a miniature whirlwind) is perhaps right, but the translations proposed are end-less.

(3) gilgal, Isa 28:28, the roller of a threshing wagon.

(4) ‘obhnayim, Jer 18:3. See POTTER.

(5) pa‘am, Jud 5:28, literally, "step" (so the Revised Version margin), and the sound of horses’ hoofs is intended.

(6) trochos, Sirach 33:5; Jas 3:6 (the King James Version "course"). In the former passage, "The heart of a fool is as a cart-wheel," the changeableness of a light disposition is satirized. In James the figure is of a wheel in rotation, so that a flame starting at any point is quickly communicated to the whole. Just so an apparently insignificant sin of the tongue produces an incalculably destructive effect.

The phrase "wheel of nature" (trochos tes geneseos) is used here for "the world in progress." It is not a very natural figure and has given rise to much discussion. the King James Version accents trochos ("course") instead of trochos (" wheel"). but the language throughout is metaphorical and "course" is not a sufficiently metaphorical word. The translation "birth" for geneseos (so the Revised Version margin). i.e. "a wheel set in motion by birth." is out of the question. as the argument turns on results wider than any individual’s existence. "Wheel of nature" is certainly right. But a comparison of life to a wheel in some sense or other (chiefly that of "Fortune’s wheel") is common enough in Greek and Latin writers, and, indeed the exact combination trochos geneseos is found in at least one (Orphic) writer (full references in the commentaries of Mayor and W. Bauer). It would seem, then, that James had heard the phrase, and he used it as a striking figure, with entire indifference to any technical significance it might have. This supposition is preferable to that of an awkward translation from the Aramaic.


Burton Scott Easton


hwelp (gur, or gor; either absol. (Eze 19:2,3,5; Nab 2:12); or constr. with ‘aryeh, "lion" (Ge 49:9; De 33:22; Jer 51:38; Na 2:11); also benelabhi’, literally, "sons of a lioness," translated "the whelps of the lioness" (Job 4:11). In Job 28:8, the King James Version has "lion’s whelps" for bene shachats, which the Revised Version (British and American) renders "proud beasts," margin "sons of pride." In La 4:3 gur is used of the young of tannin the Revised Version (British and American) "jackal," the King James Version "sea-monsters," the King James Version margin "sea-calves"; it may possibly mean "wolves"; skumnos, the technical word for "lion’s whelp" (1 Macc 3:4)): These references are all figurative: "Judah is a lion’s whelp" (Ge 49:9); "Da is a lion’s whelp" (De 33:22); it is said of the Babylonians, "They shall roar together like young lions; they shall growl as lions’ whelps" (Jer 51:38); of the Assyrians, "Where is the den of the lions, and the feeding-place of the young lions, where the lion and the lioness walked, the lion’s whelp, and none made them afraid? The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his caves with prey, and his dens with ravin" (Na 2:11,12). In Eze 19:2-9, the princes of Israel are compared to lions’ whelps.


Alfred Ely Day


hwurl’-wind (cuphah (Pr 1:27; 10:25; Isa 5:28; 17:13; 66:15; Ho 8:7; Am 1:14; Nab 1:3), ca‘ar (Hab 3:14; Zec 7:14; Ho 13:3; Ps 58:9; Da 11:40), ce‘arah (2Ki 2:1; Job 38:1; 40:6; Isa 40:24; 41:16; Zec 9:14)): When two currents from opposite directions meet, a circular motion results called a whirlwind. On the sea this takes up small particles of water from the sea and condenses some of the moisture in the clouds above, forming a great funnel-shaped column. They are quite common off the coast of Syria. Considerable damage might be done to a small ship overtaken by them. In the desert sand is taken up in the same way, causing terrible sandstorms which are greatly dreaded by caravans. Most of the references in the Bible do not necessarily imply a circular motion, and the word "tempest" might be used in translation.

Storms usually come from the Southwest. "Out of the .... south cometh the storm" (Job 37:9); yet in Ezekiel’s vision he saw a whirlwind coming out of the north (Eze 1:4). Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2Ki 2:11). The whirlwind indicates the power and might of Yahweh: "Yahweh hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm" (Na 1:3); He "answered Job out of the whirlwind" (Job 38:1).

Most of the Scriptural uses are figurative; of destruction: "He will take them away with a whirlwind" (Ps 58:9; Pr 1:27; 10:25; Ho 13:3; Da 11:40; Am 1:14; Hab 3:14; Zec 7:14); of quickness: "wheels as a whirlwind" (Isa 5:28; 66:15; Jer 4:13); of the anger of God: "A whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury" (Jer 23:19 the King James Version); of punishment to the wicked: "A continuing whirlwind .... shall fall .... on the wicked" (Jer 30:23 the King James Version).

Alfred H. Joy







hwit’wosh: the American Revised Version margin gives "whitewash" for "untempered mortar" in Eze 13:10 and 22:28. ‘Her prophets have daubed for them,’ i.e. seconded them, "with whitewash," thus giving "a slight wall" (13:10 margin) a specious appearance of strength.



hol, hol’-sum: "Whole," originally "hale" (a word still in poetic use), had at first the meaning now expressed by its derivative "healthy." In this sense "whole" is fairly common (Job 5:18, etc.) in English Versions of the Bible, although much more common in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. From this meaning "healthy," the transition to the modern force. "complete," "perfect," "entire" (Ex 12:6, ere) was not unnatural, and it is in this later sense alone that the adverb "wholly" (Le 6:22, etc.) is used. "Wholesome," however, is derived from the earlier meaning of "whole." It occurs in Pr 15:4, the King James Version, the English Revised Version, "a wholesome tongue" (rapha’," heal," the Revised Version margin "the healing of the tongue," the American Standard Revised Version "a gentle tongue"), and in 1Ti 6:3, the King James Version "wholesome words" (hugiaino, "be healthy," the Revised Version margin "healthful," the Revised Version (British and American) "sound").

Burton Scott Easton


hor, hor’-dum.




1. In the Old Testament:

The state of being wicked; a mental disregard for justice, righteousness, truth, honor, virtue; evil in thought and life; depravity; sinfulness; criminality. See SIN. Many words are rendered "wickedness." There are many synonyms for wickedness in English and also in the Hebrew. Pride and vanity lead to it: "All the proud, and all that work wickedness (rish‘ah) shall be stubble" (Mal 4:1). Akin to this is the word ‘awen, "iniquity," "vanity": "She eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness" (Pr 30:20). Then we have the word hawwah, meaning "mischief," "calamity," coming from inward intent upon evil: "Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness" (Ps 52:7); zimmah, "wickedness" in thought, carnality or lust harbored: "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness" (Le 20:14); ‘awlah, "perverseness," "Neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as at the first" (2Sa 7:10). The word for evil ra‘) is many times employed to represent wickedness: "Remember all their wickedness" (Ho 7:2). Wickedness like all forms and thoughts of wrong, kept warm in mind, seems to be a thing of growth; it begins with a thought, then a deed, then a character, and finally a destiny. Even in this life men increase in wickedness till they have lost all desire for that which is good in the sight of God and good men; the men in the vision of Isaiah seem to be in a condition beyond which the human heart cannot go: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness" (Isa 5:20). Shades of thought are added by such words as roa‘, "evil," "badness": "Give them according to their work, and according to the wickedness of their doings" (Ps 28:4). And resha‘ or rish‘ah, also gives the common thought of wrong, wickedness. The prophets were strong in denunciations of all iniquity, perverseness, and in announcing the curse of God which would certainly follow.

2. In the New Testament:

Wickedness, malignity, evil in thought and purpose is presented by the word poneria: "But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why make ye trial of me, ye hypocrites?" (Mt 22:18). Jesus points out the origin of all wrong: "For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed .... wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness .... all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man" (Mr 7:21-23). See Imitation of Christ, xiii, 5.

David Roberts Dungan


wid’-o (’almanah; chera): In the Old Testament widows are considered to be under the special care of Yahweh (Ps 68:5; 146:9; Pr 15:25). Sympathetic regard for them comes to be viewed as a mark of true religion (Job 31:16; Jas 1:27). Deuteronomy is rich in counsel in their behalf (24:17, etc.).

The word is first mentioned in the New Testament in Ac 6:1: "There arose a murmuring of the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." Paul charges that they be particularly cared for, especially those that are "widows indeed," i.e. poor, without support and old (1Ti 5:2-16). Some try to find proof in this passage of that ecclesiastical order of widows mentioned in post-apostolic writings.


George B. Eager







wild best:

(1) ziz, only with sadhay, "field," in the expression, ziz sadhay, translated "wild beasts of the field" (Ps 50:11; 80:13); compare Targum to Ps 80:13, ziza’," worm" (BDB); Arabic ziz, "worm."

(2) tsiyim (Isa 13:21; 34:14; Jer 50:39).

(3) ‘iyim (Isa 13:21; 34:14; Jer 50:39).

(4) chay, "living thing," often translated "wild beast" in English Versions of the Bible (1Sa 17:46, etc.).

(5) In Apocrypha (Additions to Esther 16:24, etc.) and the New Testament (Mr 1:13), therion.

(6) Ac 10:12 the King James Version; Ac 11:6, tetrapodon, the Revised Version (British and American) "four-rooted beast."

(1), (2) and (3) are of doubtful etymology, but the context makes it clear in each case that wild beasts of some sort are meant. The Targum ziza’," worm," is possible in Ps 80:13, though not probable in view of the parallel "boar": "The boar out of the wood doth ravage it, and the wild beasts of the field feed on it," i.e. on the vine (figurative) brought out of Egypt. In Ps 50:11, however, such an interpretation is out of the question. All the references from 50:8 to 50:13 are to large animals, bullocks, goats, cattle and birds. Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) and the Septuagint have in 80:13 "wild beast" and in 50:11 "beauty of the field" (translated)!

Tsiyim, doubtfully referred to tsiydh, "drought," occurs in prophecies of the desolation of Babylon in Isa 13:21 ("wild beasts of the desert") and Jer 50:39, of Edom in Isa 34:14, of Assyria in Isa 23:13 ("them that dwell in the wilderness"). It is associated in these passages with names of wild beasts and birds, some of them of very doubtful meaning, such as tannim, ‘ochim, ‘iyim, se‘irim, benoth ya‘anah. Wild beasts of some sort are clearly meant, though the kind can only be conjectured. The word occurs in Ps 74:14 ("the people inhabiting the wilderness") where it is possible to understand "beasts" instead of people. It occurs also in Ps 72:9 ("they that dwell in the wilderness"), where it seems necessary to understand "men." If the reading stands, it is not easy to reconcile this passage with the others.

‘Iyim occurs in Isa 13:21 and 34:14 and in Jer 50:39, three of the passages cited for tsiyim. the King James Version referring to ‘i, "island," renders "wild beasts of the islands" (Isa 13:22). the Revised Version (British and American) has "wolves," margin "howling creatures"; compare Arabic ‘anwa’," to howl," and ibn-’awa’ or wawi, "jackal."


Alfred Ely


(re’em): The word "unicorn" occurs in the King James Version in Nu 23:22; 24:8; De 33:17; Job 39:9,10; Ps 22:21; 29:6; 92:10; Isa 34:7 (the King James Version margin "rhinoceros"). the Revised Version (British and American) has everywhere "wild-ox" (margin "ox-antelope," Nu 23:22). The Septuagint has monokeros, "one-horned," except in Isa 34:7, where we find hoi hadroi, "the large ones," "the bulky ones." In this passage also the Septuagint has hoi krioi, "the rams," instead of English Versions of the Bible "bullocks." Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) has rhinoceros in Nu 23:22; 24:8; De 33:17; Job 39:9,10; and unicornis in Ps 22:21 (21:22); 29:6 (28:6); 92:10 (91:11); Isa 34:7.

As stated in the articles on ANTELOPE and CATTLE, re’em and te’o (De 14:5; Isa 51:20) may both be the Arabian oryx (Oryx beatrix), of which the common vernacular name means "wild-ox." It may be presumed that "ox-antelope" of Nu 23:22 the Revised Version margin is meant to indicate this animal, which is swift and fierce, and has a pair of very long, sharp and nearly straight horns. The writer feels, however, that more consideration should be given to the view of Tristram (Natural History of the Bible) that re’em is the urus or aurochs, the primitive Bos taurus, which seems to be depicted in Assyrian monuments and referred to as remu (BDB). The etymology of re’em is uncertain, but the word may be from a root signifying "to rise" or "to be high." At any rate, there is no etymological warrant for the assumption that it was a one-horned creature. The Arabic raim, is used of a light-colored gazelle. The great strength and fierceness implied in most of the references suit the wild-ox better than the oryx. On the other hand, Edom (Isa 34:7) was adjacent to the present home of the oryx, while there is no reason to suppose that the wild-ox came nearer than Northern Assyria. There is possibly a reference to the long horns of the oryx in "But my horn hast thou exalted like the horn of the wild-ox" (Ps 92:10). For te’o, The Septuagint has orux, in De 14:5 (but seutlion hemiephthon, "half-boiled beet" (!) in Isa 51:20). Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) has oryx in both passages. While we admit that both re’em and te’o may be the oryx, it is perhaps best to follow the Revised Version margin, rendering re’em "wild-ox." The rendering of "antelope" (Revised Version) for te’o is defensible, but "oryx" would be better, because the oryx is the only antelope that could possibly be meant, it and the gazelle (tsebhi), already mentioned in De 14:5, being the only antelopes known to occur in Palestine and Arabia. In Isa 34:7 it seems to be implied that the re’em might be used in sacrifice.

Figurative: The wild-ox is used as a symbol of the strength of Israel: "He hath as it were the strength of the wild-ox". (Nu 23:22; 24:8). In the blessing of the children of Israel by Moses it is said of Joseph:

"And his horns are the horns of the wild-ox:

With them he shall push the peoples all of them,

even the ends of the earth" (De 33:17).

The Psalmist (Ps 29:5,6) in describing the power of Yahweh says:

"Yea, Yahweh breaketh in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf;

Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild-ox."

Again, in praise for Yahweh’s goodness (Ps 92:10): "But my horn hast thou exalted like the horn of the wildox."

In Job 39:9-12 the subduing and training of the wild-ox are cited among the things beyond man’s power and understanding.


Alfred Ely Day







vo-lish’-un (’abhah, ratson; thelo) boulomai, thelema: "Will" as noun and verb, transitive and intrans, carries in it the idea of "wish," "purpose," "volition." "Will" is also used as an auxiliary of the future tense of other words, but the independent verb is frequent, and it is often important to distinguish between it and the mere auxiliary, especially in the New Testament.

In the Old Testament the word chiefly rendered "to will" is ‘abhah, "to breathe after," "to long for." With the exception of Job 39:9; Isa 1:19, it is accompanied by a negation, and is used of both man and God. Several other words are employed, but only sparsely. "Will" as noun is the translation chiefly of ratson, "good-will," "willfulness" (Ge 49:6), with emphasis on the voluntariness of action (Le 1:3; 19:5; 22:19,29, etc.); also of nephesh, and a few other words. In the New Testament "will" is chiefly the translation of thelo and boulomai, the difference between the two being that thelo expresses an active choice or purpose, boulomai, "passive inclination or willingness, or the inward predisposition from which the active choice proceeds" (compare Mr 15:9,12 with 15:15). "Will," noun, is thelema. With the exception of a few passages, it is used of the will of God (over all, Mt 18:14; in all things to be done, Mt 6:10; 26:42 parallel, etc.; ordering all things, Eph 1:11, etc.); human will, however, may oppose itself to the will of God (Lu 23:25; Joh 1:13; Ro 7:18; here the capacity to will is distinguished from the power to do, etc.). Boulema is properly counsel or purpose. While it is possible to oppose the will of God, His counsel or purpose cannot be frustrated (Ac 2:23; 4:28; Ro 9:19; Eph 1:11; Heb 6:17); it may, however, be resisted for a time (Lu 7:30).

In Apocrypha, for "will" we have thelema (1 Esdras 9:9 (of God); Ecclesiasticus 43:16; 1 Macc 3:60; Ecclesiasticus 8:15, "his own will"); boule (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:13, the Revised Version (British and American) "counsel); boulema (2 Macc 15:5, "wicked will," the Revised Version (British and American) "cruel purpose"); "willful" (Ecclesiasticus 30:8) is proales, the Revised Version (British and American) "headstrong"; "willing" (The Wisdom of Solomon 14:19), boulomai, the Revised Version (British and American) "wishing"; thelo (Ecclesiasticus 6:35); "wilt" (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:18), thelo, the Revised Version (British and American) "hast the will" (compare 2 Macc 7:16).

The Revised Version (British and American) has many changes, several of them of note as bringing out the distinction between the auxiliary and the independent verb. Thus, Mt 11:27, "willeth to"; Joh 7:17, "if any man willeth to do his will"; 1Ti 6:9, the American Standard Revised Version "they that are minded to be rich," the English Revised Version "desire," etc.

The words employed and passages cited show clearly that man is always regarded as a responsible being, free to will in harmony with the divine will or contrary to it. This is further shown by the various words denoting refusal. "Ye will not come to me, that ye may have life" (Joh 5:40). So with respect to temptation. We may even choose and act deliberately in opposition to the will of God. Yet God’s counsel, His will in its completeness, ever prevails, and man, in resisting it, deprives himself of the good it seeks to confer upon him.

In modern psychology the tendency is to make will primary and distinctive of personality.

W. L. Walker


In Col 2:23, "a show of wisdom in will-worship," for ethelothreskia), a word found nowhere else but formed exactly like "will-worship": worship originating in the human will as opposed to the divine, arbitrary religious acts, worthless despite their difficulty of performance.


wil’-o-tre (tsaphtsaphah): Comparison with the Arabic cafcaf, "the willow," makes it very probable that thc translation of Eze 17:5 is correct.


wil’-oz (‘arabhim); itea (Le 23:40; Job 40:22; Ps 137:2; Isa 15:7; 44:4)): In all references this tree is mentioned as beside running water. They may all refer to the willow, two varieties of which, Salix fragilis and S. alba, occur commonly in Palestine, or to the closely allied Populus euphratus (also Natural Order Salicaceae), which is even more plentiful, especially on the Jordan and its tributaries. The Brook of the Willows (Isa 15:7) must have been some stream running from Moab to the Jordan or Dead Sea. Popular fancy has associated the willows of Ps 137:2 with the so-called "weeping willow" (Salix babylonica), but though this tree is found today in Palestine, it is an introduction from Japan and cannot have existed "by the waters of Babylon" at the time of the captivity.

E. W. G. Masterman


Evidently mentioned as the boundary of Moab (Isa 15:7) and generally identified with the brook Zered.



wim’-p’l: the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "shawls" for the King James Version "wimples" in Isa 3:22. The precise article of dress intended is unknown.



wind (anemos:

1. Causes:

Unequal distribution of heat in the atmosphere causes currents of air or wind. The heated air rises and the air from around rushes in. The direction from which a current comes determines its name, as west wind coming from the West but blowing toward the East. When two currents of air of different directions meet, a spiral motion sometimes results.


2. West Wind:

In Palestine the west wind is the most common. It comes from the sea and carries the moisture which condenses to form clouds, as it is turned upward by the mountains, to the cooler layers of the atmosphere. If the temperature reached is cool enough the cloud condenses and rain falls. Elijah looked toward the West for the "small cloud," and soon "the heavens grew black with clouds and wind" (1Ki 18:44 f). "When ye see a cloud rising in the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it cometh to pass" (Lu 12:54).

3. South Wind:

The south wind is frequent in Palestine. If it is slightly Southwest, it may bring rain, but if it is due South or Southeast, there is no rain. It is a warm wind bringing good weather. "When ye see a south wind blowing, ye say, There will be a scorching heat; and it cometh to pass" (Lu 12:55). In the cooler months it is a gentle, balmy wind, so that the "earth is still by reason of the south wind" (Job 37:17; compare So 4:16).

4. North Wind:

The north wind is usually a strong, continuous wind blowing down from the northern hills, and while it is cool it always "drives away rain," as correctly stated in Pr 25:23, the King James Version; yet it is a disagreeable wind, and often causes headache and fever. 5. East Wind:

The east wind or sirocco (from Arabic shark=" east") is the "scorching wind" (Jas 1:11) from the desert. It is a hot, gusty wind laden with sand and dust and occurs most frequently in May and October. The temperature in a given place often rises 15 or 20 degrees within a few hours, bringing thermometer to the highest readings of the year. It is customary for the people to close up the houses tightly to keep out the dust and heat. The heat and dryness wither all vegetation (Ge 41:6). Happily the wind seldom lasts for more than three days at a time. It is the destructive "wind of the wilderness" (Job 1:19; Jer 4:11; 13:24): "Yahweh caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all the night" (Ex 14:21) for the children of Israel to pass; the "rough blast in the day of the east wind" (Isa 27:8). The strength of the wind makes it dangerous for ships at sea: "With the east wind thou breakest the ships of Tarshish" (Ps 48:7). Euraquilo or Euroclydon (Ac 27:14 the King James Version), which caused Paul’s shipwreck, was an East-Northeast wind, which was especially dangerous in that region.

6. Practical Use:

The wind is directly of great use to the farmer in Palestine in winnowing the grain after it is threshed by treading out (Ps 1:4; 35:5; Isa 17:13). It was used as a sign of the weather (Ec 11:4). It was a necessity for traveling on the sea in ancient times (Ac 28:13; Jas 3:4), but too strong a wind caused shipwreck (Jon 1:4; Mt 8:24; Lu 8:23).

7. Scripture References:

The Scriptural references to wind show many illustrative and figurative uses:

(1) Power of God (1Ki 19:11; Job 27:21; 38:24; Ps 107:25; 135:7; 147:18; 148:8; Pr 30:4; Jer 10:13; Ho 4:19; Lu 8:25): "He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens; and by his power he guided the south wind" (Ps 78:26).

(2) Scattering and destruction: "A stormy wind shall rend it" (Eze 13:11; compare 5:2; 12:14; 17:21; Ho 4:19; 8:7; Jer 49:36; Mt 7:25).

(3) Uncertainty: "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph 4:14; compare Pr 27:16; Ec 1:6; Joh 3:8; Jas 1:6).

(4) Various directions: "toward the four winds of heaven" (Da 11:4; compare 8:8; Zec 2:6; Mt 24:31; Mr 13:27).

(5) Brevity: "a wind that passeth away" (Ps 78:39; compare 1:4; 35:5; 103:16).

(6) Nothingness: "Molten images are wind" (Isa 41:29; compare Jer 5:13).

Alfred H. Joy



See HOUSE, II, 1, (9).


See ASTRONOMY, sec. III, 4.


(chemeth (Ge 21:14 margin), n’odh (Jud 4:19 "‘bottle") nebhel, nebhel (1Sa 10:3 margin), (’obh) (Job 32:19); askos (Mt 9:17; Mr 2:22; Lu 5:37; compare askoputine, Judith 10:5, the Revised Version (British and American) "leathern bottle")): These words are all used to designate skins for the containing of liquids, nebhel, however, being the most common in the case of wine. The Israelite, like the modern Arabic and Syrian, used mainly the skin of the goat and the sheep, but the skins of the ox and the camel have also been put to this purpose. The skin is removed from the animal by drawing it over the body from the neck downward, half the skin on each of the limbs being also retained. It is then tanned, the hair cut close, turned inside out, and has all the openings save one closed with cords, when it is ready for use. The reference to "a wineskin in the smoke" in Ps 119:83 is generally explained on the supposition of its being hung there for mellowing purposes, but this can scarcely be accepted, for wine is never left for any length of time in the skin on account of its imparting a disagreeable flavor to the contents. The explanation of the New Testament passages is that the new wine, still liable to continue fermenting to a small extent at least, was put into new, still expansible skins, a condition that had ceased in the older ones.


W. M. Christie


win, win’-pres:

I. Terms.

1. Wine:

(1) (~yayin), apparently from a non-Tsere root allied to Greek oinos, Latin vinum, etc. This is the usual word for "wine" and is found 141 times in Massoretic Text.

(2) chemer, perhaps "foaming" (De 32:14 and Massoretic Text Isa 27:2 (but see the English Revised Version margin)); Aramaic chamar (Ezr 6:9; 7:22; Da 5:1,2,4,23).

(3) tirosh. Properly this is the fresh grape juice (called also mishreh, Nu 6:3), even when still in the grape (Isa 65:8). But unfermented grape juice is a very difficult thing to keep without the aid of modern antiseptic precautions, and its preservation in the warm and not over-cleanly conditions of ancient Palestine was impossible. Consequently, tirosh came to mean wine that was not fully aged (although with full intoxicating properties (Jud 9:13; Ho 4:11; compare Ac 11:13)) or wine when considered specifically as the product of grapes (De 12:17; 18:4, etc.). The Septuagint always (except Isa 65:8; Ho 4:11) translates by oinos and the Targums by chamar. the King James Version has "wine" 26 times, "new wine" 11 times, "sweet wine" in Mic 6:15; the Revised Version (British and American) "vintage" in Nu 18:12; Mic 6:15 (with the same change in Ne 10:37,39 the Revised Version margin; Isa 62:8 the English Revised Version margin). Otherwise the English Revised Version has left the King James Version unchanged, while the American Standard Revised Version uses "new wine" throughout.

(4) Two apparently poetic words are ‘acic (the Revised Version (British and American) "sweet wine," Isa 49:26; Am 9:13; Joe 1:5; 3:18, "juice"; So 8:2), and cobhe’ ("wine," Isa 1:22; "drink," Ho 4:18 (margin "carouse"); Na 1:10).

(5) For spiced wine three words occur: mecekh, Ps 75:8 (English Versions of the Bible "mixture"); mimcakh, Pr 23:30 ("mixed wine"); Isa 65:11 (the Revised Version (British and American) "mingled wine"); mezegh, So 7:2 (the Revised Version (British and American) "mingled wine"); compare also yayin hareqach, So 8:2 ("spiced wine").

(6) mamethaqqim, literally, "sweet," Ne 8:10.

(7) shekhar (22 times), translated "strong drink" in English Versions of the Bible. Shekhar appears to mean "intoxicating drink" of any sort and in Nu 28:7 is certainly simply "wine" (compare also its use in parallelism to "wine" in Isa 5:11,22, etc.). In certain passages (Le 10:9; Nu 6:3; 1Sa 1:15, etc.), however, it is distinguished from "wine," and the meaning is not quite certain. But it would seem to mean "drink not made from grapes." Of such only pomegranate wine is named in the Bible (So 8:2), but a variety of such preparations (made from apples, quinces, dates, barley, etc.) were known to the ancients and must have been used in Palestine also. The translation "strong drink" is unfortunate, for it suggests "distilled liquor," "brandy," which is hardly in point.


(8) In the Apocrypha and New Testament "wine" represents oinos, with certain compounds, except in Ac 2:13, where the Greek is gleukos, "sweet," English Versions of the Bible "new wine."


2. Wine Press:

(1) Properly speaking, the actual wine press was called gath (Jud 6:11, etc.), and the receiving vat ("fat") yeqebh (Nu 18:27, etc.), but the names were interchangeable to some degree (Isa 16:10; Job 24:11; compare Isa 5:2, the Revised Version (British and American) text and margin) and either could be used for the whole apparatus (see GATH and compare Jud 7:25; Zec 14:10). In Isa 63:3 the Hebrew has purah, "wine trough" a word found also in Hag 2:16 where it seems to be a gloss (so, apparently, the American Standard Revised Version).

(2) In the Apocrypha (Sirach 33:16) and in the New Testament 21:33; Re 14:19,20 (twice); 19:15) "winepress" is lenos; in Mr 12:1 hupolenion, by which only the receiving vat seems to be meant (the Revised Version (British and American) a pit for a winepress").

II. Wine-Making.

1. The Vintage:

For the care of the vine, its distribution, different varieties, etc., see VINE. The ripening of the grapes took place as early as June in the Jordan valley, but on the coast not until August, while in the hills it was delayed until September. In whatever month, however, the coming of the vintage was the signal for the villagers to leave their homes in a body and to encamp in booths erected in the vineyards, so that the work might be carried on without interruption. See TABERNACLES, FEAST OF. It was the great holiday season of the year and the joy of the vintage was proverbial (Isa 16:10; Jer 25:30; 48:33; compare Jud 9:27), and fragments of vintage songs seem to be preserved in Isa 27:2; 65:8. The grapes were gathered usually by cutting off the clusters (see SICKLE), and were carried to the press in baskets.

2. Wine Presses:

Many of the ancient wine presses remain to the present day. Ordinarily they consisted of two rectangular or circular excavations, hewn (Isa 5:2) in the solid rock to a depth of 2 or 3 feet. Where possible one was always higher than the other and they were connected by a pipe or channel. Their size, of course, varied greatly, but the upper vat was always wider and shallower than the lower and was the press proper, into which the grapes were thrown, to be crushed by the feet of the treaders (Isa 63:1-3, etc.). The juice flowed down through the pipe into the lower vat, from which it was removed into jars (Hag 2:16) or where it was allowed to remain during the first fermentation.

Many modifications of this form of the press are found. Where there was no rock close to the surface, the vats were dug in the earth and lined with stonework or cement, covered with pitch. Or the pressvat might be built up out of any material (wood was much used in Egypt), and from it the juice could be conducted into a sunken receptacle or into jars. Not infrequently a third (rarely a fourth) vat might be added between the other two, in which a partial settling and straining could take place. Wooden beams are often used either to finish the pressing or to perform the whole operation, and holes into which the ends of these beams fitted can still be seen. A square of wood attached to the beam bore down on the pile of grapes, while the free end of the beam was heavily weighted. In the simpler presses the final result was obtained by piling stones on the mass that remained after the treaders had finished their work.

3. Grading:

It is a general principle of wine-making (compare that "the less the pressure the better the product"; therefore the liquid that flowed at the beginning of the process, especially that produced by the mere weight of the grapes themselves when piled in heaps, was carefully kept separate from that which was obtained only under heavy pressure. A still lower grade was made by adding water to the final refuse the mixture to ferment. Possibly this last concoction is sometimes meant by the word "vinegar" (chomets).

4. Fermentation:

In the climate of Palestine fermentation begins almost immediately, frequently on the same day for juice pressed out in the morning, but never later than the next day. At first a slight foam appears on the surface of the liquid, and from that moment, according to Jewish tradition, it is liable to the wine-tithe (Ma‘aseroth 1 7). The action rapidly becomes more violent, and while it is in progress the liquid must be kept in jars or in a vat, for it would burst even the newest and strongest of wine-skins (Job 32:19). Within about a week this violent fermentation subsides, and the wine is transferred to other jars or strong wine-skins (Mr 2:22 and parallel’s), in which it undergoes the secondary fermentation. At the bottom of the receptacles collects the heavier matter or "lees" (shemarim, Ps 75:8 ("dregs"); Jer 48:11; Ze 1:12 in Isa 25:6 the word is used for the wine as well), from which the "wines on the lees" gather strength and flavor.

At the end of 40 days it was regarded as properly "wine" and could be offered as a drink offering (‘Edhuyyoth 6 1). The practice after this point seems to have varied, no doubt depending on the sort of wine that was being made. Certain kinds were left undisturbed to age "on their lees" and were thought to be all the better for so doing, but before they were used it was necessary to strain them very carefully. So Isa 25:6, ‘A feast of wine aged on the lees, thoroughly strained.’ But usually leaving the wine in the fermentation vessels interfered with its improvement or caused it to degenerate. So at the end of 40 days it was drawn off into other jars (for storage, 1Ch 27:27, etc.) or wine-skins (for transportation, Jos 9:4, etc.). So Jer 48:11: ‘Moab has been undisturbed from his youth, and he has rested on his lees and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel. .... Therefore his flavor remains unchanged (or "becomes insipid") and his scent is unimproved (or "lacks freshness")’; compare Ze 1:12.

5. Storage:

Jars were tightly sealed with caps covered with pitch. The very close sealing needed to preserve sparkling wines, however, was unknown to the Hebrews, and in consequence (and for other reasons) such wines were not used. Hence, in Ps 75:8, "The wine foameth," the allusion must be to very new wine whose fermentation had not yet subsided, if indeed, the translation is not wrong (the Revised Version margin "The wine is red"). The superiority of old wine to new was acknowledged by the Hebrews, in common with the rest of the world (Sirach 9:10; Lu 5:39), but in the wines of Palestine acetous fermentation, changing the wine into vinegar, was likely to occur at any time. Three years was about the longest time for which such wines could be kept, and "old wine" meant only wines that had been, stored for a year or more (Bab. Bath. 6 3).

See also CRAFTS, II, 19.

III. Use of Wine.

1. Mixed Wine:

In Old Testament times wine was drunk undiluted, and wine mixed with water was thought to be ruined (Isa 1:22). The "mixed" or "mingled wines" (see I, 1, (5), above) were prepared with aromatic herbs of various sorts and some of these compounds, used throughout the ancient world, were highly intoxicating (Isa 5:22). Wine mixed with myrrh was stupefying and an anesthetic (Mr 15:23). At a later period, however, the Greek use of diluted wines had attained such sway that the writer of 2 Maccabees speaks (15:39) of undiluted wine as "distasteful" (polemion). This dilution is so normal in the following centuries that the Mishna can take it for granted and, indeed, R. Eliezer even forbade saying the table-blessing over undiluted wine (Berakhoth 7 5). The proportion of water was large, only one-third or one-fourth of the total mixture being wine (Niddah 2 7; Pesachim 108b).


The wine of the Last Supper, accordingly, may be described in modern terms as a sweet, red, fermented wine, rather highly diluted. As it was no doubt the ordinary wine of commerce, there is no reason to suppose that it was particularly "pure."

2. Wine-Drinkinig:

Throughout the Old Testament, wine is regarded as a necessity of life and in no way as a mere luxury. It was a necessary part of even the simplest meal (Ge 14:18; Jud 19:19; 1Sa 16:20; Isa 55:1, etc.), was an indispensable provision for a fortress (2Ch 11:11), and was drunk by all classes and all ages, even by the very young (La 2:12; Zec 9:17). "Wine" is bracketed with "grain" as a basic staple (Ge 27:28, etc.), and the failure of the winecrop or its destruction by foreigners was a terrible calamity (De 28:30,39; Isa 62:8; 65:21; Mic 6:15; Ze 1:13, etc.). On the other hand, abundance of wine was a special token of God’s blessing (Ge 27:28; De 7:13; Am 9:14, etc.), and extraordinary abundance would be a token of the Messianic age (Am 9:13; Joe 3:18; Zec 9:17). A moderate "gladdening of the heart" through wine was not looked upon as at all reprehensible (2Sa 13:28; Es 1:10; Ps 104:15; Ec 9:7; 10:19; Zec 9:15; 10:7), and while Jud 9:13 represented a mere verbal remnant of a long-obsolete concept, yet the idea contained in the verse was not thought shocking. "Drink offerings," indeed, were of course a part of the prescribed ritual (Le 23:13, etc.; see SACRIFICE), and a store of wine was kept in the temple (tabernacle) to insure their performance (1Ch 9:29). Even in later and much more moderate times, Sirach writes the laudation of wine in 31:27, and the writer of 2 Maccabees (see above) objects as strongly to pure water as he does to pure wine. Christ adapted Himself to Jewish customs (Mt 11:19 parallel Lu 7:34; Lu 22:18), and exegetes usually suppose that the celebrated verse 1Ti 5:23 is meant as a safeguard against ascetic (Gnostic?) dualism, as well as to give medical advice.

On the temporal conditioning of the Biblical customs, the uncompromising opposition of the Bible to excess, and the non-applicability of the ancient attitude to the totally different modern conditions, see DRUNKENNESS.

The figurative uses of wine are very numerous, but are for the most part fairly obvious. Those offering difficulty have been discussed in the course of the article. For wine in its commercial aspect see TRADE.

Burton Scott Easton


win’-bib-er: In Pr 23:20, cobhe yauin; in Mt 11:19 = Lu 7:34, oinopotes, of habitual wine-drinkers. The accusation was falsely brought against Jesus of being "a gluttonous man and a winebibber," because, unlike John, He ate and drank with others.


win’-fat, win’-pres, win’-vat.





wingz (kanaph; pterux): Biblical references to the wings of birds are common, especially in Psalms, many of them exquisitely poetical. Often the wings of an eagle are mentioned because they are from 7 to 9 feet in sweep, of untiring flight, and have strength to carry heavy burdens: so they became the symbol of strength and endurance. Ancient monuments and obelisks are covered with the heads of bulls, lions, different animals, and men even, to which the wings of an eagle were added to symbolize strength. Sometimes the wings of a stork are used to portray strong flight, as in the vision of Zechariah: "Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and, behold, there came forth two women, and the wind was in their wings; now they had wings like the wings of a stork; and they lifted up the ephah between earth and heaven" (5:9). The wings of a dove symbolized love. Wings in the abstract typified shelter, strength or speed, as a rule, while in some instances their use was ingenious and extremely poetical, as when Job records that the Almighty used wings to indicate migration: "And stretcheth her wings toward the south" (39:26). In Ps 17:8 there is a wonderful poetical imagery in the plea, "Hide me under the shadow of thy wings." In Ps 18:10 there is a reference to "the wings of the wind." And in 55:6 the Psalmist cries, "Oh that I had wings like a dove!" The brightness and peace of prosperous times are beautifully described in Ps 68:13, the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her pinions with pale green gold.’ The first rays of dawn are compared to "the wings of the morning" (139:9). Solomon was thinking of the swiftness of wings when he said, "For riches’ certainly make themselves wings, like an eagle that flieth toward heaven" (Pr 23:5). So also was Isaiah in 40:31, "They that wait for Yahweh shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." In Mal 4:2 the King James Version, there is a beautiful reference, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings." the Revised Version (British and American) changes "his" to "its." Wings as an emblem of love were used by Jesus in the cry, "O Jerusalem .... how often would I have gathered thy children .... as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings" (Mt 23:37).

Gene Stratton-Porter


wink (razam, literally, "to roll the eyes"): The act or habit of winking was evidently considered to be evil both in its motives and in its results. The idea of its facetiousness, prevalent in our day, is nowhere apparent in the Scriptures. It is mentioned frequently, but is always associated with sin, in the Old Testament especially in the sense of conceit, pride, and rebellion against God: "Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thy eyes wink at, that thou turnest thy spirit against God" (Job 15:12,13 the King James Version). So also Ps 35:19: "Neither let them wink with the eye that hate roe without a cause." "A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with froward mouth. He winketh with his eyes," etc. (Pr 6:12,13 the King James Version). "He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow" (Pr 10:10). See Watkinson, Education of the Heart, "Ethics of Gesture," 194 ff.

In the New Testament the word is used to express the longsuffering patience and forgiveness of God toward erring Israel: "And the times of this ignorance God winked at" (Ac 17:30 the King James Version, hupereidon, "overlooked," and so translated in the Revised Version (British and American); compare The Wisdom of Solomon 11:23; Ecclesiasticus 30:11). The use of "winked" in this connection would in our day, of course, be considered in bad taste, if not actually irreverent, but it is an excellent example of the colloquialism of the King James Version.

Arthur Walwyn Evans





win’-ter (choreph, from charaph, "to inundate," "overflow"): The rainy season, also the autumn harvest season (Ge 8:22; Ps 74:17; Zec 14:8). It is also the time of cold (Jer 36:22; Am 3:15). The verb "to winter" occurs in Isa 18:6. Cethaw has the same meaning as Choreph (So 2:11). cheimon, corresponds to choreph as the rainy season, and the verb paracheimazo, signifies "to pass the winter" (Ac 27:12), the noun from which is paracheimasia (same place).



(beth ha-choreph (Jer 36:22; Am 3:15)): See under SUMMER-HOUSE. The "winter-house" in Jeremiah is that of King Jehoiakim; mention is made of the fire burning in the brazier.



1. Linguistic

2. History

3. Religious Basis

4. Ideals

5. Teaching of Christ

6. Remainder of the New Testament

(1) James

(2) Paul

7. Hypostasis


1. Linguistic:

In the Revised Version (British and American) the noun "wisdom" and its corresponding adjective and verb ("be wise," "act wisely," etc.) represent a variety of Hebrew words: bin (binah, and in the English Revised Version tebunah), sakhal (sekhel, sekhel), lebh (and in the English Revised Version labhabh), tushiyah (and in the English Revised Version Te‘em, ‘ormah, piqqach. None of these, however, is of very frequent occurrence and by far the most common group is the verb chakham, with the adjective chakham, and the nouns chokhmah, chokhmoth, with something over 300 occurrences in the Old Testament (of which rather more than half are in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes). Cokhmah, accordingly, may be treated as the Hebrew equivalent for the English "wisdom," but none the less the two words do not quite correspond. For chokhmah may be used of simple technical skill (Ex 28:3; 35:25, etc.; compare The Wisdom of Solomon 14:2; Sirach 38:31; note that the English Versions of the Bible gives a false impression in such passages), of military ability (Isa 10:13), of the intelligence of the lower animals (Pr 30:24), of shrewdness applied to vicious (2Sa 13:3) or cruel (1Ki 2:9 Hebrew) ends, etc. Obviously no one English word will cover all these different uses, but the general meaning is clear enough—"the art of reaching one’s end by the use of the right means" (Smend). Predominantly the "wisdom" thought of is that which comes through experience, and the "wise man" is at his best in old age (Job 12:12; 15:10; Pr 16:31; Sirach 6:34; 8:9; 25:3-6, etc.; contrast Job 32:9; Ec 4:13; The Wisdom of Solomon 4:9; Sirach 25:2). And in religion the "wise man" is he who gives to the things of God the same acuteness that other men give to worldly affairs (Lu 16:8). He is distinguished from the prophets as not having personal inspiration, from the priestly school as not laying primary stress on the cult, and from the scribes as not devoted simply to the study of the sacred writings. But, in the word by itself, a "wise man" need not in any way be a religious man.

In the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha and New Testament the words "wisdom," "wise," "act wisely," etc., are always translations of phronimos, or of their cognates. For "wisdom," however, sophia is in almost every case the original word, the sole exception in the New Testament being Lu 1:17 (phronesis).

See also PRUDENCE.

2. History:

(1) In the prophetic period, indeed, "wise" generally has an irreligious connotation. Israel was fully sensible that her culture was beneath that of the surrounding nations, but thought of this as the reverse of defect. Intellectual power without moral control was the very fruit of the forbidden tree (Ge 3:5), and "wisdom" was essentially a heathen quality (Isa 10:13; 19:12; 47:10; Eze 28:3-5; Zec 9:2; specifically Edomite in Jer 49:7; Ob 1:8; contrast Baruch 3:22,23) that deserved only denunciation (Isa 5:21; 29:14; Jer 4:22; 9:23; 18:18, etc.). Certainly at this time Israel was endeavoring to acquire a culture of her own, and there is no reason to question that Solomon had given it a powerful stimulus (1Ki 4:29-34). But the times were too distracted and the moral problems too imperative to allow the more spiritually-minded any opportunity to cultivate secular learning, so that "wisdom" in Israel took on the unpleasant connotation of the quality of the shrewd court counselors, with their half-heathen advice (Isa 28:14-22, etc.). And the associations of the word with true religion are very few (De 4:6; Jer 8:8), while De 32:6; Jer 4:22; 8:9 have a satirical sound—‘what men call "wisdom" is really folly!’ So, no matter how much material may have gathered during this period (see PROVERBS), it is to the post-exilic community that we are to look for the formation of body of Wisdom literature really associated with Israel’s religion.

(2) The factors that produced it were partly the same as those that produced scribism (see SCRIBES). Life in Palestine was lived only on the sufferance of foreigners and must have been dreary in the extreme. Under the firm hand of Persia there were no political questions, and in later times the nation was too weak to play any part in the conflicts between Antioch and Alexandria. Prophecy had about disappeared, fulfillment of the Messianic hope seemed too far off to affect thought deeply, and the conditions were not yet ripe that produced the later flame of apocalyptic enthusiasm. Nor were there vital religious problems within the nation, now that the fight against idolatry had been won and the ritual reforms established. Artistic pursuits were forbidden (compare especially The Wisdom of Solomon 15:4-6), and the Jewish temperament was not of a kind that could produce a speculative philosophy (note the sharp polemic against metaphysics, etc., in Sirach 3:21-24). It was in this period, to be sure, that Jewish commercial genius began to assert itself, but there was no satisfaction in this for the more spiritually-minded (Sirach 26:29). So, on the one hand, men were thrown back on the records of the past (scribism), while on the other the problems of religion and life were studied through sharp observation of Nature and of mankind. And the recorded results of the latter method form the Wisdom literature.

(3) In this are included Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, with certain psalms (notably Ps 19; 37; 104; 107; 147; 148); in the Apocrypha must be added Sirach and Wisdom, with part of Baruch; while of the other writings of the period parts of Philo, 4 Maccabees, and the Abikar legend belong here also. How far foreign influence was at work it is hard to say. Egypt had a Wisdom literature of her own (see EGYPT) that must have been known to some degree in Palestine, while Babylonia and Persia could" not have been entirely without effect—but no specific dependence can be shown in any of these cases. For Greece the case is clearer, and Greek influence is obvious in Wisdom, despite the particularistic smugness of the author. But there was vitality enough in Judaism to explain the whole movement without recourse to outside influences, and, in any case, it is most arbitrary and untrue to attribute all the Wisdom speculation to Greek forces (as, e.g., does Siegfried, HDB).

3. Religious Basis:

The following characteristics are typical of the group:

(1) The premises are universal. The writers draw from life wherever found, admitting that in some things Israel may learn from other nations. The Proverbs of Lemuel are referred explicitly to a non-Jewish author (Pr 31:1 the Revised Version margin), and Sirach recommends foreign travel to his students (34:10,11; 39:4). Indeed, all the princes of the earth rule through wisdom (Pr 8:16; compare Ec 9:15). And even some real knowledge of God can be obtained by all men through the study of natural phenomena (Ps 19:1; Sirach 16:29-17:14; 42:15-43:33; The Wisdom of Solomon 13:2,9; compare Ro 1:20).

(2) But some of the writers dissent here (Job 28:28; 11:7; Ec 2:11; 8:16,17; 11:5; The Wisdom of Solomon 9:13(?)). And in any case this wisdom needs God’s explicit grace for its cultivation (Sirach 51:13-22; The Wisdom of Solomon 7:7; 8:21), and when man trusts simply to his own attainments he is bound to go wrong (Pr 3:5-7; 19:21; 21:30; 28:11; Sirach 3:24; 5:2,3; 6:2; 10:12; Baruch 3:15-28). True wisdom must center about God (Pr 15:33; 19:20 f), starting from Him (Pr 1:7; 9:10; Ps 111:10; Sirach 21:11; Job 28:28) and ending in Him (Pr 2:5); compare especially the beautiful passage Sirach 1:14-20. But the religious attitude is far from being the whole of Wisdom. The course is very difficult (Pr 2:4 f; 4:7; Sirach 4:17; 14:22,23; The Wisdom of Solomon 1:5; 17:1); continual attention must be given every department of life, and man is never done learning (Pr 9:9; Sirach 6:18; Ec 4:13).

(3) The attitude toward the written Law varies. In Ecclesiastes, Job and Proverbs it is hardly mentioned (Pr 28:7-9; 29:18 (?)). Wisdom, as a special pamphlet against idolatry, has little occasion for specific reference, but its high estimate of the Law is clear enough (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-15; 18:9). Sirach, especially, can find no terms high enough for the praise of the Law (especially Sirach 24; 36; compare 9:15; 21:11, etc.), and he identifies the Law with Wisdom (24:23-25) and claims the prophets as Wisdom teachers (44:3,4). Yet this perverse identification betrays the fact that Sirach’s interest is not derived from a real study of the Law; the Wisdom that was so precious to him must be in the sacred books! Compare Baruch 4:1 (rather more sincere).

(4) The attitude toward the temple-worship is much the same. The rites are approved (Pr 3:9; Sirach 35:4-8; 38:11; Sirach seems to have an especial interest in the priesthood, 7:29-33; 50:5-21), but the writers clearly have no theory of sacrifice that they can utilize for practical purposes. And for sacrifice (and even prayer, Pr 28:9) as a substitute for righteousness no condemnation is too strong (Pr 7:14; 15:8; 20:25; 21:3,17; Sirach 34:18-26; 35:1-3,12; Ec (5:1).

(5) An outlook on life beyond the grave is notably absent in the Wisdom literature. Wisdom is the only exception (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1, etc.), but Greek influence in Wisdom is perfectly certain. In Job there are expressions of confidence (14:13-15; 19:25-29), but these do not determine the main argument of the book. Proverbs does not raise the question, while Ecclesiastes and Sirach categorically deny immortality (Ec 9:2-10; Sirach 14:16; 17:27,28; 30:4; note that the Revised Version (British and American) in Sirach 7:17; 48:11 is based on a glossed text; compare the Hebrew). Even the Messianic hope of the nation is in the background in Pr (2:21,22 (?)), and it is altogether absent in Job and Ecclesiastes. To Sirach (35:19; 36:11-14; 47:22) and Wisdom (3:8; 5:16-23) it is important, however, but not even these works have anything to say of a personal Messiah (Sirach 47:22 (?)).

(6) That in all the literature the individual is the center of interest need not be said. But this individualism, when combined with the weak eschatology, brought dire confusion into the doctrine of retribution (see SIN). Sirach stands squarely by the old doctrine of retribution in this life: if at no other time, a man’s sins will be punished on his deathbed (1:13; 11:26). Neither Job nor Ecclesiastes, however, are content with this solution. The latter leaves the problem entirely unsolved (8:14, etc.), while the former commends it to God’s unsearchable ways.

4. Ideals:

The basis of the Wisdom method may be described then as that of a "natural" religion respecting revelation, but not making much use of it. So the ideal is a man who believes in God and who endeavors to live according to a prudence taught by observation of this world’s laws, with due respect, however, to Israel’s traditional observances.

(1) From many standpoints the resulting character is worthy of admiration. The man was intelligent, earnest, and hard-working (Proverbs has a particular contempt for the "sluggard"; and compare Ec 9:10). Lying and injustice are denounced on almost every page of the literature, and unceasing emphasis is laid on the necessity for benevolence (Ps 37:21; 112:5,9; Job 22:7; 31:16-20; Pr 3:27,28; 14:31; 21:13; 22:9; Ec 11:1; Sirach 4:16; 7:34,35; 29:11-13; 40:24, etc.). All of the writers feel that life is worth the living—at their most pessimistic moments the writers of Job and Ecclesiastes find attraction in the contemplation of the world. In Proverbs and Sirach the outlook is even buoyant, Sirach in especial being far from indifferent to the good things of life (30:23-25; 31:27; compare Ec 2:24 and contrast The Wisdom of Solomon 2:6-9).

(2) The faults of the Wisdom ideal are the faults of the postulates. The man is always self-conscious and self-centered. All intense enthusiasms are repressed, as likely to prove entangling (Ec 7:16,17 is the most extreme case), and the individual is always calculating (Sirach 38:17), even among his friends (Sirach 6:13; Pr 25:17) and in his family (Sirach 33:19-23). Benevolence itself is to be exercised circumspectly (Pr 6:1-5; 20:16; Sirach 12:5-7; 29:18), and Sirach, in particular, is very far from feeling an obligation to love all men (25:7; 27:24; 30:6; 50:25,26). So "right" and "wrong" become confused with "advantage" and "disadvantage." Not only is adultery wrong (Pr 2:17; Sirach 23:23), but the injured husband is a dangerous enemy (Pr 5:9-11,14; 6:34,35; Sirach 23:21). As a resuit the "moral perspective" is affected. With some of the finest moral observations in Proverbs and Sirach are combined instructions as to table manners (Pr 23:1-3; Sirach 31:12-18) and merely humorous observations (Pr 20:14), while such passages as Pr 22:22-28 and Sirach 41:17-24 contain extraordinary conglomerations of disparate motives.

(3) So hope of earthly recompense becomes a very explicit motive (Pr 3:10; 11:25, etc.; The Wisdom of Solomon 7:8-12 is the best statement on the other side). Even though riches are nothing in themselves (Pr 10:2; 11:28; 23:4,5; 28:11; Ec 5:13; Sirach 11:19; 31:5-7; all the literature denounces the unrighteous rich), yet Wisdom is to be desired as bringing not only righteousness but riches also (Pr 8:21; 11:25; 13:18; Sirach 4:15; 20:27,28; The Wisdom of Solomon 6:21). This same desire for advantage gives an unpleasant turn to many of the precepts which otherwise would touch the highest point; perhaps Pr 24:17,18 is the most extreme case: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, .... lest Yahweh .... turn away his wrath from him" (!)

(4) But probably the most serious fault was that the Wisdom method tended to produce a religious aristocracy (Sirach 6:22, etc.). It was not enough that the heart and will should be right, for a long course of almost technical training was needed (the "house of instruction" in Sirach 51:23 is probably the school; compare Pr 9:4). The uninstructed or "simple" (Pr 1:22, etc.) were grouped quite simply with the "sinners"; knowledge was virtue and ignorance was vice. Doubtless Wisdom cried in the streets (Pr 1:20,21; 8:1-13; 9:1-6, almost certainly a reference to the canvassing efforts of the teachers for pupils), but only men of ability and leisure could obey the call to learn. And despite all that is said in praise of manual labor (Pr 12:11; 24:27; 28:19; Sirach 7:15; 38:31,32,34), Sirach is merely frank when he says explicitly (38:25-34) that Wisdom cannot be for artisans (a carpenter as Messiah evidently would have been unthinkable to Sirach; Mr 6:3). Scribism was at work along the same lines of development, and the final union of the Wisdom method with the scribal produced a class who called the common people accursed (Joh 7:49).

5. Teaching of Christ:

The statement of the methods and ideals of the Wisdom school is also virtually a statement of our Lord’s attitude toward it and an explanation of why much of His teaching took the form it did. As to the universality of the premises He was at one with the Wisdom writers, one great reason for the universality of the appeal of His teaching. Almost everything in the life of the time, from the lily of the field to the king on his throne, contributed its quota to His illustrations. And from the Wisdom method also the form of His teaching—the concise, antithetical saying that sticks in the memory—was derived to some degree. (Of all the sayings of Christ, perhaps Lu 14:8-10—a quotation of Pr 25:6,7—comes nearest to the pure Wisdom type.) In common with the Wisdom writers, also, is the cheerful outlook, despite the continual prospect of the Passion, and we must never forget that all morbid asceticism was entirely foreign to Him (Lu 7:34 parallel Mt 11:19). With the self-conscious, calculating product of the Wisdom method, however, He had no patience. Give freely, give as the Father giveth, without regard to self, in no way seeking a reward, is the burden of His teaching, and such a passage as Lu 6:27-38 seems to have been aimed at the head of such writers as Sirach. The attack on the religious aristocracy is too familiar to need recapitulation. Men by continual exercise of worldly prudence could make themselves as impervious to His teaching as by obstinate adherence to a scribal tradition, while His message was for all men on the sole basis of a desire for righteousness on their part. This was the true Wisdom, fully justified of her children (Lu 7:35; compare Mt 11:19), while, as touching the other "Wisdom," Christ could give thanks that God had seen fit to hide His mysteries from the wise and prudent and reveal them unto "babes" (Lu 10:21 parallel Mt 11:25).

6. Remainder of the New Testament:

(1) James

The remainder of the New Testament, despite many occurrences of the words "wise," "wisdom," etc., contains very little that is really relevant to the technical sense of the words. The one notable exception is James, which has even been classed as "Wisdom literature," and with some justice. For James has the same appeal to observation of Nature (1:11; 3:3-6,11,12; 5:7, etc.), the same observation of human life (2:2,3,15,16; 4:13, etc.), the same antithetical form, and even the same technical use of the word "wisdom" (1:5; 3:15-17). The fiery moral zeal, however, is far above that of the other Wisdom books, even above that of Job.

(2) Paul

Paul, on the other hand, belongs to an entirely different class, that of intense religious experience, seeking its premises in revelation. So the Wisdom method is foreign to him and the absence of Nature illustrations from his pages is notorious (even Ro 11:17 is an artificially constructed figure). Only one passage calls for special comment. The "wisdom" against which he inveighs in 1Co 1-3 is not Jewish but Greek-speculation in philosophy, with studied elegance in rhetoric. Still, Jewish or Greek, the moral difficulty was the same. God’s message was obscured through an overvaluation of human attainments, and so Paul’s use of such Old Testament passages as Isa 29:14; Job 5:13; Ps 94:11 (in 1Co 1:19; 3:19,20) is entirely lust. Against this "wisdom" Paul sets the doctrine of the Cross, something that outraged every human system but which, all the more, taught man his entire dependence on God.

Yet Paul had a "wisdom" of his own (1Co 2:6), that he taught to Christians of mature moral (not intellectual: 1Co 3:1-3) progress. Some commentators would treat this wisdom as doctrinal and find it in (say) Romans; more probably it is to be connected with the mystical experiences of the Christian whose life has become fully controlled by the Spirit (1Co 2:10-13). For religious progress is always accompanied by a higher insight that can never be described satisfactorily to persons without the same experience (1Co 2:14).

7. Hypostasis:

(1) One characteristic of the Wisdom writers that proved of immense significance for later (especially Christian) theology was a love of rhetorical personification of Wisdom (Pr 1:20-33; 8:1-9:6; Sirach 4:11-19; 6:23-31; 14:20-15:10; 24; 51:13-21; The Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-9:18; Baruch 3:29-32). Such personifications in themselves are not, of course, remarkable (compare e.g. the treatment of "love" in 1Co 13), but the studied, somewhat artificial style of the Wisdom writers carries out the personification with a curious elaboration of details: Wisdom builds her house, marries her disciple, mingles wine, etc. The most famous passage is Pr 8:22-31, however. The Wisdom that is so useful to man was created before man, before, indeed, the creation of the world. When the world was formed she was in her childhood, and while God formed the world she engaged in childish play, under His shelter and to His delight. So Pr 8:30 should be rendered, as the context makes clear that ‘mwn should be pointed ‘amun, "sheltered," and not ‘amon, "as a master-workman." And "Wisdom" is a quality of man (Pr 8:31-36), not a quality of God.

(2) Indeed, "Wisdom" is an attribute rarely predicated of God in the Old Testament (1Ki 3:28 Isa 10:13; 31:2; Jer 10:12; 51:15; compare Da 5:11), even in the Wisdom writers (Job 5:12 ff; 9:4; Ps 104:24; Pr 3:19). Partly this reticence seems to be due to a feeling that God’s knowledge is hardly to be compared in kind to man’s, partly to the fact that to the earlier writers "Wisdom" had a profane sound. Later works, however, have less hesitation in this regard (e.g., Sirach 42:21; Baruch 3:32, the Massoretic Text pointing and the Septuagint of Pr 8:30), so that the personifications became personifications of a quality of God. The result was one of the factors that operated to produce the doctrine of the "Word" as it appeared in the Palestinian form.


(3) In the Apocrypha, however, the most advanced step is taken in Wisdom. Wisdom is the only-begotten of God (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:22), the effulgence of eternal light (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:26; compare Heb 1:3), living with God (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:3) and sharing (?) His throne (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:4). She is the origin (or "mother") of all creatures (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:12; compare 8:6), continualiar active in penetrating (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:24), ordering (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:1), and renewing (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:27) all things, while carrying inspiration to all holy souls (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:23), especially to Israel (The Wisdom of Solomon 10:17,18). Here there is no doubt that the personification has ceased to be rhetorical and has become real. Wisdom is thought of as a heavenly being, not so distinctively personal, perhaps, as an angel, but none the less far more than a mere rhetorical term; i.e. she is a "hypostasis."

(4) Most of Wisdom’s description is simply an expansion of earlier Palestinian concepts, but it is evident that other influence has been at work also and that that influence was Greek. The writer of Wisdom was touched genuinely by the Greek philosophy, and in The Wisdom of Solomon 7:24, at any rate, his "Wisdom" is the logos spermatikos of the Stoics, with more than suspicions of Greek influence elsewhere in the descriptions. This combination of Jewish and Greek thought was still further elaborated by Philo—and still further confused. For Philo endeavored to operate with the Wisdom doctrine in its Palestinian form, the Wisdom doctrine into which Wisdom had already infused some Loges doctrine, and the Logos doctrine by itself, without thoroughly understanding the discordant character of his terms. The result is one of the most obscure passages in Philo’s system. Sometimes, as in DeFug. section 109, chapter xx, Wisdom is the mother of the Logos, as God is its Father (compare Cherubim, sections 49, 50, chapter xiv), while, again, the relation can be inverted almost in the same context and the Logos appears as the source of Wisdom (De Fug. section 97, chapter xviii).


(5) Philo’s influence was incalculable, and Wisdom, as a heavenly power, plays an almost incredible role in the Gnostic speculations of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the Gnostic work, Pistis Sophia, probably attaining the climax of unreality. The orthodox Fathers, however, naturally sought Wisdom within the Trinity, and Irenaeus made an identification with the Holy Spirit (iv. 20, 3). Tertullian, on the other hand, identified Wisdom with the Son (probably following earlier precedent) in Adv. Prax., 7, and this identification attained general acceptation. So Pr 8:22-30 became a locus classicus in the Christological controversies (an elaborate exposition in Athanaslus, Orat. ii. 16-22), and persisted as a dogmatic proof-text until a very modern period.


The Old Testament Theologies, particularly those of Smend, edition 2 (1899), and Bertholet (1911). For the intermediate period, GJV, III, edition 4 (1909), and Boasset, Die Religion des Judentums, edition 2 (1906). Special works: Toy, "Wisdom Literature," EB, IV (1903); Meinhold, Die Weisheit Israels (1908); Friedlander, Griechische Philosophie im Altes Testament (1904, to be used cautiously). On Philo, compare especially Drummond, Philo Judaeus, II, 201-13 (1888).

See also the articles on the various books and compare LOGOS; PHILO, JUDAEUS.

Burton Scott Easton


lit’-er-a-tur. See preceding article.


(sophia): Lu 11:49 reads: "Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send unto them prophets and apostles; and some of them they shall kill and persecute." The patristic and many later commentators, on the basis of the parallel in Mt 23:34, took "wisdom of God" here to be a self-designation of Christ—an interpretation, however, that is obviously impossible. Somewhat similar is the view (Meyer) that treats the words as a Lukan designation of Christ, with the assumption that Luke here reintroduces Christ as the speaker in order to give solemnity to the judgment pronounced. But this is incredibly awkward and has no parallel in the Lukan use for even more solemn passages. Much simpler is the interpretation (Hofmann, B. Weiss, Plummer) that regards Christ as announcing here a decree formed by God in the past. But it is the behavior of the present generation that is in point (compare Lu 13:8,9; 20:13; altogether different is Lu 10:21). And the circumstantial wording of what follows is inappropriate for such a decree, is without parallel in Christ’s teaching, and implies rather a written source. In the Old Testament, however, no passage exists that resembles this (Pr 1:20-31 (so Godet) is quite out of the question). So many exegetes (Holtzmann, J. Weiss, Loisy, Harnack) find here a quotation from some lost source that our Lord approved and that was familiar to His hearers. This is certainly the most natural explanation. Nor can it be said to be impossible that Christ recognized genuine prophetic inspiration in some writing that was meant to have transitory value only and not to be preserved for future generations. Perhaps this bore the title "Wisdom of God" or represented "Wisdom" as speaking, as in Pr 1:22-33.

Burton Scott Easton







1. The Wisdom Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:14

2. The Historical Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22




1. Theology

2. Anthropology

3. Deontology

4. Hamartiology

5. Soteriology

6. Eschatology




1. Literary

2. Historical

3. Philosophical




1. Latin

2. Syriac


I. Name.

In the Greek manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Sinaiticus, etc.) the book is called "The Wisdom of Solomon" Sophia Salomonos, the form of the latter word varying in the best manuscripts). In the Syriac (Peshitta) its title is "The Book of the Great Wisdom of Solomon." Solomon was among the Jews and the early Christians the patron of didactic, as David was of lyrical, and Moses of religious-legal, literature, and their names came to be associated with literary compositions with which they had nothing to do. We read in the Old Testament of the wisdom of Solomon (1Ki 3:7-14; compare Sirach 47:12-18 (14-19)), and the whole of the Book of Proverbs is called by his name, though he is at most the author of but a part. Solomon speaks in the first person in this book (The Wisdom of Solomon 6-9), as he does in Ec 1:12 ff, for that he is made the speaker until the close of The Wisdom of Solomon 9 is made certain by 7:1 ff; 9:2 ff. As long as he was thought to be the composer of this book it continued to be called "The Wisdom of Solomon" among the Jews and the early Christians.

Influenced by the Greek thought and style of the book, Jerome came to the conclusion that Solomon was not its author and he accordingly altered its title to "The Book of Wisdom" (Liber sapientiae), and it is this designation that the book bears in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) and the versions made from it, though in the Protestant translations (German, English, Welsh, etc.) the title "The Wisdom of Solomon" is continued, as these, follow the Greek version and not the Latin Luther’s title is The Wisdom of Solomon to Tyrants". (Die Weisheit Salamos an die Tyrannen). Epiphanius and Athanasius quote the book under the name "All-Virtuous Wisdom" (Panaretos Sophia), a title by which Proverbs and Sirach are also known in the writings of some of the Fathers.

II. Canonicity.

In the manuscripts and odd of the Greek Bible and in the Vulgate, English Versions of the Bible, etc., Wisdom follows Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles, and is followed by Sirach. Some of the Fathers, believing the book to be by Solomon, thought it divinely-inspired and therefore canonical; so Hippolytus, Cyprian, Ambrose, etc. Other Fathers, though denying the Solomonian authorship of the book, yet accorded it canonical rank; so Origen, Eusebius, Augustine, etc. On the other hand there were some in the early church who refused to acknowledge the book as in any way authoritative in matters of doctrine. The Council of Trent included it with the rest of the Protestant Apocrypha (except 1 and 2 Esdras and Pr Man) in the Canon, so that the Romanist Bible includes it, but the Protestant Bible excludes it.

III. Contents.

The book is made up of two main parts so different as to suggest difference of authorship.

(1) The wisdom section (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:4): In this part the writer describes and commends Wisdom, warning his readers against neglecting it.

(2) The historical section (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22).

1. The Wisdom Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:14:

(1) Righteousness:

Righteousness (i.e. Wisdom in operation) leads to immortality, unrighteousness to death (The Wisdom of Solomon 1).

(2) Contrasted Fortunes of the Wise (Righteous) and Unwise (Ungodly) (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:1-6:21).

(a) Sensual pleasures issue in death while God intended all men to live spiritually (The Wisdom of Solomon 2);

(b) the lot of the wise (righteous) is a happy one. Their sufferings are disciplinary and remedial; they shall live forever and reign hereafter over the nations (Gentiles) (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9);

(c) but the lot of the wicked and of their children is a miserable one; the wise (righteous) shall be happy though childless (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:10-19);

(d) virtuous childlessness secures immortality before guilty parenthood (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:1-6);

(e) though the wise (righteous) die early, yet they have rest in their death, and accomplish their life mission in the allotted time (of Enoch) (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:7-14);

(f) the ungodly (unwise) shall come to a wretched end: then they shall see and envy the prosperity of the righteous. Though they shall pass tracelessly away, the righteous shall rejoice in a life that is endless (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:15-5:23);

(g) kings ought therefore to rule according to Wisdom and thus attain to immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-21).

(3) Wisdom.

Speaking in the name of Solomon, the writer praises Wisdom and commends it to kings ("judges"=" rulers" in The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1, is but a synonym) (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-11:4).

(a) All men come into the world with the same universal need of Wisdom which leads to true kingship and immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-25);

(b) I (Solomon) sought Wisdom as the main thing and in obtaining it had along with it every good thing, including knowledge of every kind (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:1-8:21);

(c) the prayer which Solomon offered for Wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-18);

(d) how Wisdom defended the heroes of Hebrew history, from the first man, Adam, to the Israelites at the Red Sea and in the wilderness (The Wisdom of Solomon 10:1-11:4).

2. The Historical Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22:

In this second part of the book Solomon no longer speaks in the first person (as in The Wisdom of Solomon 6-9), nor is Wisdom once mentioned or for certain referred to, though most writers see in this part the attempt of the author of The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:4 to exemplify in concrete instances the working of that Wisdom of which in the first part he describes the nature and issues.

(1) Contrasted treatment by God (not Wisdom) of the Israelites and their foes (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-12). By what things their foes were punished they were benefited (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5).

(a) The Egyptians (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-12:2): Water a boon to Israel, a bane to Egypt (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:6-14). The Egyptians punished by the animals they worshipped (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:15-20), though there was a relenting on God’s part that sinners might repent (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:21-12:2).

(b) The Canaanites (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:3-27): The abominations of the worship and the divine punishment with the lessons this last teaches.

(2) Idolatry described and condemned (The Wisdom of Solomon 13-15). These chapters form a unity in themselves, a digression from the historical survey closed with The Wisdom of Solomon 12:27 and continued in 16:1-19. The digression may of course be due to the allusion in 11:5-12 to the sins of the Egyptians and Canaanites. Kinds of idolatry:

(a) Nature-worship (fire, wind, air, water, heavenly bodies), due often to sincere desire to find out God (13:1-9);

(b) worship of idols in animal form, a much grosset sin (13:10-19);

(c) God’s indignation against all forms of idolatry (14:1-11);

(d) origin of image-worship (14:15-21); the father mourning for his deceased son makes an image of him and then worships it (14:15); rulers are often flattered and then deified (14:16 f); artists often make images so attractive as to tempt men to regard them as gods (14:18-21);

(e) immoral results of idolatry: "The worship of idols .... a beginning and cause and end of every evil" (14:27) (14:22-31);

(f) Israel was free from idolatry and in consequence enjoyed the divine favor (15:1-5);

(g) the folly of idolatry: the image man made less capable than man its maker and worshipper; the Egyptians the worst offenders (15:6-19).

(3) In five different respects the fortunes of Egypt and Israel in the past are contrasted, Nature using similar means to punish the Egyptians and to reward the Israelites (The Wisdom of Solomon 16-19:22), namely, in respect of the following:

(a) animals, quail (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:1-4) and fiery serpents (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:5-14) (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:1-14);

(b) fire and water, heat and cold (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:15-29);

(c) light and darkness (The Wisdom of Solomon 17:1-18:4);

(d) death (The Wisdom of Solomon 18:5-25);

(e) passage of the Red Sea (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:1-22).

IV. Literary Form.

There is not so much manifest poetry in this book as in Sirach, though there is large amount of genuine poetry characterized by parallelism, but not by meter in the ordinary sense of the term. In parts of the book, which must be pronounced prose, parallelism is nevertheless often found (see The Wisdom of Solomon 10:1 ff). There are far fewer epigrammatic sentences in Wisdom than in Sirach, but on the other hand there is a far greater number of other rhetorical devices, assonances (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:10; 4:2; 5:15; 7:13), alliterations (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23; 5:12,18; 6:11; 12:15), antitheses (The Wisdom of Solomon 13:18 f), etc. See for details Speaker’s Apocrypha (Farrar), I, 404 ff.

V. Unity and Integrity.

Nearly all writers on the book believe it to be one homogeneous whole, the work of one mind. They point for proof to the fact that the whole book is a consistent whole directed against the two evils, apostasy and idolatry; that the language is from beginning to end uniform, such as one writer would be likely to employ.

For a statement of contrary views and a reply to them see the Commentary of Grimm, pp. 9-15. Until about the middle of the 18th century no doubt had been expressed as regards the unity of the book.

(1) Houbigant (Notae criticae in universos New Testament libros, 1777, 169) divided the book into two parts: The Wisdom of Solomon 1-9 written by Solomon in Hebrew, The Wisdom of Solomon 10-19 composed in Greek at a later time, perhaps by the translation into Greek of chapters 1-9. Against the Solomonian authorship see VIII, below, and against a Hebrew original see X, below. Doederlein adopted Houbigant’s division of the book, denying, however, the authorship by Solomon.

(2) Eichhorn (Einleitung in das New Testament, 142 ff) divided the book also into two parts: The Wisdom of Solomon 1-11 and 11:2-19. He held that the whole was composed in Greek by two different writers or by the same writer at different times.

(3) Nachtigal (Das Buch der Welshelf, 1799) went much farther, holding that the book is nothing more than anthology, but he has had no followers in this.

(4) Bretschneider (De lib. Sap., 1804) ascribes the book to three principal authors and to a final editor.

The Wisdom of Solomon 1-6:8 was composed in Hebrew in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (died 164 BC) by a Palestinian Jew, though it is an excerpt from a larger work; 6:9-10 is the work of an Alexandrian Jew, a contemporary of our Lord; The Wisdom of Solomon 11 was inserted by the final editor as seemingly necessary to connect parts 2 and 3; The Wisdom of Solomon 12-19 were written about the same time by a Jewish partisan of slender education and narrow sympathies.


Perhaps, on the whole, the arguments in favor of the unity of the book outweigh those against it. But the evidence is by no means decisive. The Wisdom section (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:4) is a much finer bit of writing than the rest of the book, and it bears the general characteristics of the Wisdom literature. Yet even within this larger unity The Wisdom of Solomon 6-9 stand out from the rest, since only in them is Solomon made to speak in the first person (compare Ec 1:12 ff); but these four chapters agree with the rest of the Wisdom section in other respects. Within the historical section (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22) The Wisdom of Solomon 13-15 stand together as if a separate treatise on idolatry (see III, above), though if originally independent an editor has logically joined chapter 15 to chapter 12 ; compare "for" (gar), "etc." (13:1). Indeed the book in its present form is made at least externally one, though it is not absolutely certain whether or not this external unity is due to editorial revision. Some scholars have maintained that the book as it stands is a torso (so Eichhorn, etc.). Calmer infers this from the fact that the historical sketch closes with the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan. Others say that the writer’s sketch was cut short by some unforeseen event (Grotius, Eichhorn), or that the remainder of the once complete work has been lost in transmission (Heydenreich). But on the other hand it must be remembered that the writer’s record is limited by his purpose, and that the history of the Egyptians supplies an admirable and adequate illustration of the wickedness and calamitous results of unfaithfulness to God and His law.

VI. Teaching.

In the treatment of this section it is assumed with some hesitation that the book is throughout the work of one man. The following is a brief statement of the teaching of this book concerning theology, anthropology, deontology, martiology, soteriology, and eschatology.

1. Theology:

Theology in the strict sense, i.e. the doctrine about God: God is incomparably powerful (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:21 f), omni-present (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:7; 12:1) and all-loving (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:24). He made the world out of formless matter (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17, the doctrine of the Alexandrian Judaism). He did not create the world out of nothing as the Old Testament (Ge 1:1 ) and even Sirach teach (see SIRACH, BOOK OF, IV, 1). The author’s highest conception of creation is the conversion of chaos into cosmos. It is the order and beauty of the universe that amaze the writer, not the stupendous power required to make such a universe out of nothing (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:20; 13:3). Though God is said to be just (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:15), kind (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:13; 11:17-26; 12:13-16; 15:1; 16:7), and is even addressed as Father (The Wisdom of Solomon 14:3), yet He is in a unique sense the Favorer and Protector of Israel (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:2; 18:8; 19:22); yet according to The Wisdom of Solomon 12:2-20 even the calamities He heaps up upon the foes of Israel were designed to lead them to repentance (12:2-20), though in The Wisdom of Solomon 11 f we are clearly taught that while the sufferings of the Israelites were remedial, those of their enemies were purely penal. The conception of God in Wisdom agrees on the whole with that of Alexandrian Judaism (circa 100 BC); i.e. it lays principal stress on His transcendence, His infinite aloofness from man and the material world. We have therefore in this book the beginning of the doctrine of intermediaries which issued in Philo’s Powers, the media through which the Absolute One comes into definite relation with men.

(1) Spirit of the Lord.

In Wisdom as in the later books of the Old Testament (exilic and post-exilic), the expression "the Spirit of the Lord" denotes the person of God. What God does is done by the Spirit. Thus, it is His Spirit that fills and sustains the world, that observes all human actions (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:7 f), that is present everywhere (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:1). Wisdom does not hypostatize "the Spirit of the Lord," making it an intermediary between God and His creatures, but the way is prepared for this step.

(2) Wisdom.

Much that is said of the Spirit of the Lord in this book is said of Wisdom, but much more, and there is a much closer approach to hypostatization in the case of Wisdom. At the creation of the world Wisdom was with God (compare Pr 8:22-31), sat by His throne, knew His thoughts and was His associate (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:3; 9:4,9), made all things, taught Solomon the Wisdom for which he prayed (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:22); all powerful, seeing all things (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:23), pervading all things (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:24), an effluence of the glory of the Almighty (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:25); she teaches sobriety, understanding, righteousness and courage (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:7, the four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy). For detailed account of the conception of Wisdom in this book see WISDOM.

(3) The Logos.

In Philo the Logos is the intermediary power next to Deity, but in Wisdom the term keeps to the Old Testament sense, "word," that by which God addresses men. It never means more, though some hold (Gfrorer, Philo, etc., I 225 ff) that in The Wisdom of Solomon 9:1 f; 12:9; 16:12; 18:22, Logos has the technical sense which it bears in Philo; but a careful examination of the passages shows that nothing more than "word" is meant (see LOGOS). The only other superhuman beings mentioned in the book are the gods of the Gentiles which are distinctly declared to be nonentities, the product of man’s folly (14:13 f), and the Devil who is, however, but once referred to as identical with the serpent of Ge 3. The book does not once speak of a Canon of Scripture or of any divine revelation to man in written form, though it often quotes from the Pentateuch and occasionally from Isaiah and Psalms, never, however, naming them. Wisdom is thus much more universalistic and in harmony with Wisdom literature than Sirach, which identifies Wisdom with the Law and the Prophets and has other distinctly Jewish features.

2. Anthropology:

In its psychology Wisdom follows the dichotomy of Platonism. Man has but two parts, soul and body (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:4; 8:19 f; 9:15), the word soul (psuche) including the reason (nous) and the spirit (pneuma). The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11 is the only passage which seems to teach the doctrine of the trichotomy of man, but in reality it does nothing of the kind, for the parallelism shows that by "soul" and "spirit" the same thing is meant. Philo teaches the same doctrine (see Drummond, Philo, etc., I, 316 ff). Man’s soul is breathed into the body (15:11; compare Ge 2:7) and taken back again by God (15:8). The writer adopts the Platonic theory of the pre-existence of souls (8:20; compare 15:8,11,16), which involves the belief in a kind of predestination, for the previous doings of the soul determine the kind of body into which it enters. Solomon’s soul, being good, entered an undefiled body (8:20). R. H. Charles (Eschatology, etc., 254 f) is hardly correct when he says that according to Wisdom (1:4; 9:15, etc.) matter is inherently sinful. This doctrine was definitely taught by Philo, who accepted Heraclitus’ epigram, soma sema, "The body is a tomb." So it is said (12:10; 13:1) that man is by nature evil, his wickedness being inborn. But if he sins it is his own affair, for he is free (1:16; 5:6,13). The writer borrows two words from Greek poetry and philosophy which appear to involve a negation of human freedom, namely, anake, "necessity" and dike "justice" "avenging justice". The first blinds the eyes of the ungodly (17:17), but the blindness is judicial, the result of a course of evil (see 19:1-5). The second term is used in Greek philosophy in the sense of nemesis, and it has that sense in The Wisdom of Solomon 1:8, etc. But throughout this book it is assumed that punishment for sin is deserved, since man is free. The author of Wisdom believes in a twofold division into good (wise) and bad (ungodly), and, unlike the writers of the later parts of the Old Testament, he holds it possible for a person to pass from one class into another. But does not God, according to parts of Wisdom, as of the Old Testament, appear to show undue favoritism to Israel and neglect of other people? Thus Israel is "God’s Son" (18:13), His children (sons, 12:19,21; 16:10,26), His sons and daughters (9:7). They are His holy and elect ones (3:9; 4:15; and especially 10:17; 18:1,5). But the Israelites were treated as they were, not because they were Israelites, but because they were morally better than the nations around (see Drummond, op. cit., II, 207 ff).

3. Deontology:

Under the term "deontology" here, religious and ethical practice is included.

(1) As might be expected in a Wisdom book, little importance is attached to the Law of Moses and its requirements. Though historical allusions are made to the offering of sacrifices, the singing of psalms and the taking upon themselves of the obligation of the covenant of the Law (The Wisdom of Solomon 18:9); though, moreover, reference is made to the offering of incense by Aaron (The Wisdom of Solomon 18:21), and Solomon is made to utter the words "temple," "altar," "tabernacle" (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:8), yet in other respects nothing is said of the temple and its feasts, of the priesthood, of sacrifice, or of the laws of clean and unclean. Yet the duty of worshipping the one true God and Him only and the evil results of worshipping idols are strongly and constantly insisted upon, especially in the second or historical part of the book (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5 to end).

(2) The cardinal virtues inculcated are those of the Stoic philosophy, namely, prudence (sophrosune), common-sense (phronesis), justice dikaiosune) and courage (andreia), showing that the writer was influenced by the philosophy of the Greeks.

4. Hamartiology:

As a historical fact, the writer adopts the account in Ge 3 of the entrance of sin into the world. "By the envy of the Devil, death (i.e. as the connection proves, spiritual death) entered into the world" (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:24). In The Wisdom of Solomon 14:27, however, sin is made to have its root in idolatry, meaning perhaps that all sin consists in not giving-proper heed to the one true God, and that the moral monstrosities of his time were outgrowths of idolatrous worship. The freedom of the will is taught explicitly or implicitly throughout the book (see above VI, 2).

5. Soteriology:

The book is silent as to a Messiah who shall deliver his people. It is Wisdom that saves man: "Because of her I shall have immortality" (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:13); immortality lies in kinship to Wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:17); all who give heed to the commands of Wisdom have the assurance of incorruption, and incorruption brings men near to God (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:18 f). The knowledge of God’s power is the root of immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 15:2).

6. Eschatology:

The doctrine of individual immortality is explicitly taught in this book. Man (= all men) was created for incorruption (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23; 6:19; 12:1). The righteous have the full hope of immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:4) and shall live forever (The Wisdom of Solomon 5:15). When the wicked die they have no hope (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:18), since they suffer for their sins in this present world as well as in that which is to come (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:16,18). The doctrine of a resurrection of the body is not taught. If the author accepted Philo’s doctrine of the inherent sinfulness of matter (see above VI, 2), as R. H. Charles holds, he could not believe in a bodily resurrection. After death there is to be a day of decision (diagnosis, the word used in Ac 25:21; see The Wisdom of Solomon 3:18); there will be an examination (exetasis) into the counsels of the ungodly. The sins of the wicked shall be reckoned up (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:20), but the righteous man shall stand in great boldness before the face of them that afflicted him (The Wisdom of Solomon 5:1). The teaching of the book as to the future of the righteous does not seem to be consistent. According to The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1 ff, the righteous pass at death immediately into the bliss of God; but the teaching of 4:20 f is that the wicked and the righteous shall be assembled in one place to receive their sentence.

VII. Aim.

The writer’s purpose appears to have been to recommend to his fellow-countrymen in Alexandria the claims of religion under the names of Wisdom, Righteousness, etc., and to warn them against falling into the idolatry of the Egyptians. In addition to glorifying Wisdom, he gives an ironical account of the rise of idolatry, and he uses strong language in pointing out the disastrous consequences in this world and the next of a life away from the true God (see above, III). The book is ostensibly addressed to rulers, but they are mentioned only in The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-11,20-25, and the appeal of the book is to men as such. In addressing rulers the author uses a rhetorical device. It might be argued that if rulers with their superior advantages need such exhortations and warnings, how much more ordinary men!

Plumptre (Ecclesiastes, 70) and Siegfried (HDB, iV, 928) contend that the Solomon of this book is made to answer the Solomon of Ecclesiastes. But the author does not show any acquaintance with Ecclesiastes, and it is hardly likely that this last book was known at the time in Alexandria, for though composed about 200 BC, it was not put into Greek for a long time afterward. Besides, there is nothing about idolatry in Ecclesiastes. The conclusion reached in the genuine parts of this last book is a counsel of despair: "All is vanity." A reply to that book would seek to show that life is worth living for the sake of the present and the future. The Book of Wisdom denounces idolatry in the most scathing language: how can this and the like be a polemic against Ecclesiastes?

VIII. Author.

The author was an Alexandrian Jew, well read in the Septuagint whose phrases he often uses, fairly acquainted with Greek philosophy as taught at Alexandria and also with physical science as known at the time (see The Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-20; 8:8). He was beyond all doubt a Jew, for the views he advocates are those of an enlightened but strong Judaism; his interests are even narrowly Jewish (note the fiercely anti-Gentile sentiments of The Wisdom of Solomon 11:10-13,17-23), and his style is largely tinged by the vocabulary and the phraseology of the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. That he was an Alexandrian or at least an Egyptian Jew is equally probable. No Palestinian could have written the language of this work with its rhetorical devices (see above, IV), or have displayed the acquaintance which the book reveals with Greek philosophy as modified by Jewish-Alexandrian thought.

Other Views.

These include: (1) that Solomon is the author: see above, II. No modern scholar takes this view seriously, though singularly enough it has been revived by D. S. Margoliouth;

(2) that Zerubbabel is the author (J. M. Faber);

(3) that the author was one of the translators of the Septuagint;

(4) that the author belonged to the Therapeutae: so Gfrorer (Philo, II, 265), Dahne (Philo, II, 270); compare Jost (Geschichte des Judaismus, I, 378). This has been inferred from The Wisdom of Solomon 16:28, the Therapeutae being, it is said, a Jewish sect which, like the Zarathustrians, worshipped toward the rising sun. But we know very little about this sect, and there is no decisive evidence that it ever existed. If, however, Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, II, 17) is right in saying that Philo’s Therapeutae were Christians (the earliest Christian sect of Alexandria), it is clear that no member of this sect wrote Wisdom, for the book is wholly free from Christian influence;

(5) that Ben Sira is the author (Augustine);

(6) that Apollos is the author: so Noack (Der Ursprung des Christenthums, I, 222); Plumptre (Expositor, I, 329 ff, 409 ff); see summary of grounds in Speaker’s Apocrypha (Farrar), I, 413 ff; but the author must have been a Jew and he wrote too early to allow of this hypothesis;

(7) that Philo is the author: thus Jerome writes (Praef. in lib. Sol.): Nonnulli scriptorum hunt ease Judaei Philonis affirmant. This view was supported by Luther and other scholars; compare the Muratorian Fragment (in Zahn’s text) in XI, below. But the teaching of this book represents an earlier stage of Alexandrian Jewish speculation than that found in Philo’s works, and the allegorical method of interpretation so rampant in the latter is almost wholly absent from Wisdom.

(8) It has been held by some (Kirschbaum, Weisse, etc.) that whoever the author was he must have been a Christian, but the whole trend and spirit of the book prove the contrary.

IX. Date.

1. Literary:

The book was probably composed about 120-100 BC. The evidence is literary, historical and philosophical. The book must have been written after the Septuagint version of the Pentateuch and Isaiah had been made, since the author has evidently used this version of both books and perhaps of the Psalms as well (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1 and Ps 31:5(6); and also The Wisdom of Solomon 15:15 f and Ps 115:4-7 (= Ps 135:15-18)). Now we know from Sirach (Prolegomena) that the Septuagint of the Pentateuch, the Prophets and of at least a portion of the Writings (Hagiographa) was completed by 132 BC, when the younger Siracide finished his translation of Sirach (see SIRACH, BOOK OF, VIII). It may therefore be inferred that Wisdom was written after 132 BC. Moreover, in The Wisdom of Solomon 4:1 the author shows an acquaintance with Sirach 16:1-4 in Greek, for the pseudo-Solomon does not seem to have known Hebrew, or he would sometimes at least have quoted from the Hebrew text. This confirms the conclusion drawn from the use of the Septuagint that this book is at least as late as, say, 130 BC, and almost certainly later. The book was composed earlier than any of the New Testament writings, or some of the latter would have been quoted or referred to. Moreover, it may be assumed that the Greek Canon was complete in the time of our Lord, and thus included Wisdom as well as the rest of the Old Testament Apocrypha. But see International Journal of Apocrypha, October, 1913, p. 77, article by the present writer. It must have taken a long time after writing for the book to gain the respect which secured its canonization. A date 100 BC agrees with all the facts.

2. Historical:

The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1; 5:1; 6:5-9 imply that at the time of writing the Jews addressed were suffering under the lash of persecution, and we have the resulting feeling of, animosity against the Egyptians, the persecuting power, expressed in 11:16-19. Now we know that the early Ptolemies treated the Jews with consideration, and Ptolemy VII (Physcon, 145-117 BC) was the first to adopt a contrary policy toward the Jews of Egypt, owing to the support they had given to Cleopatra. Josephus (Apion, II, 5) gives an account of the vengeance which this king wreaked upon the Jews of Alexandria at this time. Nevertheless, the literary manner and the restrained spirit with which these matters are referred to show that the writer is describing a state of things which belongs to the past, though to a recent past. A date about 100 BC would admirably suit the situation of the author at the time of composition.

3. Philosophical:

The teaching of the book (see above, VI) belongs to that stage in the development of Alexandrian Judaism which existed about 100 BC. We have not in this book the allegorization characteristic of Philo (born 20 BC, died 40 AD), nor had his Logos doctrine as yet become a part of the creed of Alexandrian Jews.

X. Original Languages.

Scholars are practically agreed that the book was composed in Greek D. S. Margoliouth attempted to prove a Hebrew original (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1890, 263-97; see reply by Freudenthal, JQR, III, 722-53), but the evidence he offers has convinced nobody.

(1) The Greek of Wisdom is free, spontaneous and idiomatic. There are a few Hebraisms, but only such as characterize Hellenistic Greek in general; Wisdom is very different in this from Sirach which abounds with Hebraisms, due no doubt to translation from a Hebrew original.

(2) The rhetorical devices so common in the Greek of the book can be due only to the original text; they could hardly occur in such profusion in a translation. In addition to those mentioned above in IV, note the Greek rhetorical figures chiasmus (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-4:8; 3:15) and sorites (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:7-20).

(3) The translation of Sirach into Hebrew before the discovery of the Hebrew fragments had been often attempted and found comparatively easy; but it is very difficult to put Wisdom into Hebrew because the style is so thoroughly Greek.

(4) No trace of a Hebrew original has thus far been found. What Nachmanides saw was not the original Hebrew, but a translation in Hebrew from the original text. Jerome (Praef. in lib. Sol.) says that though he had himself seen Sirach in Hebrew, a Hebrew text of Wisdom was not to be found.

XI. Use of Wisdom by Christian Writers.

It has been thought that the following parts of the New Testament have been influenced by Wisdom: Lu 2:7 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 7:4); Lu 12:20 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 15:8); Lu 9:31 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 3:2); Lu 19:44 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 3:7). The Logos doctrine of John (see Joh 1:1, etc.) has certainly a connection with the doctrine of Wisdom in Wisdom (see Gregg, Commentary, liv ff). Grafe (Theologische Abhandlungen, Freiburg in B., 1892) endeavors to prove that Paul made large use of Wisdom (see also Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 51 f, 267-69); but this has been denied; see further Dearie (Commentary, 15 ff). The book was certainly known to Clement of Rome, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Hippolytus. The Muratorian Fragment states the work to have been "composed by the friends of Solomon in his honor" (ll. 69-71). Zahn (Gesch. Kan., II, 101, following a suggestion of Tregelles) prefers to read "composed by Philo in Solomon’s honor"—an easy change in the Greek (philonos for philon). Origen (Contra Celsus, v.29) calls it "the work entitled Wisdom of Solomon," so intimating doubt as to the authorship.

XII. Text and Versions.

The text in Codex Vaticanus pointed with collations in Swete’s Old Testament in Greek, is on the whole the best, though both Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Ephraemi (which is incomplete) have good texts, Codex Alexandrinus being fairly trustworthy. The text is found also in fair preservation in many cursives.

1. Latin:

The Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is identical with, but has slight variations from, the Old Latin Lagarde (Mittheilungen, 243-86) gives the Latin version of Sirach and Wisdom found in Codex Amiaut. This last is a literal rendering from the Greek.

2. Syriac:

The Syriac (Peshitta) version found in the London Polyglot and in Lagarde (Lib. Apocrypha Syr) was made immediately from the Greek, but apparently from the text in Codex Alexandrinus or in one like it.


Besides the works cited in the course of the foregoing article and the general works (commentaries, etc.) on the Apocrypha mentioned under APOCRYPHA (which see), the following are to be noted:

(1) Commentaries: Bauermeister, Commentary in Sap. Sol. libr., 1828; Grimm, Komm. uber das Buch der Weisheit, 1857, also his excellent commentary in the Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch, series 1860; J.H. Schmid, Das Buch der Welsheit: Uebersetzt und erklart, 1857; Gutberlet, Das Buch der Weisheit, 1874; W. J. Deane, The Book of Wisdom, Greek Vulgate and the King James Version with "Commentary." (1881, full and fairly scholarly); Speaker’s Apocrypha (Farrar) is interesting and often helpful; Siegfried’s "Introduction" and "Commentary" in Kautzsch’s Die Apocrypha is slight, but also often helpful; The Wisdom of Solomon by J. A. E. Gregg (the Revised Version (British and American) with "Introduction" and "Commentary," Cambridge Bible) is brief and popular, but trustworthy; A. T. S. Goodrick, The Book of Wisdom, 1913 (admirable); S. Holmes (in the Oxford Apocrypha, with Introduction and Comm.).

(2) Of the dict. arts., that in Encyclopedia Biblica (by C. H. Toy) is perhaps the best; that in HDB (Siegfried) is fair but defective.

(3) In addition to the works by Gfrorer and Dahne discussing the philosophy of the book, the following works may be mentioned: Bruch, Weisheits-Lehre der Hebraer, 1851 (322-78); Zeller, Die Philosophic der Griechen (1881), III, part 2, 271-74, 4th edition, 272-96; Kubel, "Die ethischen Grundanschauungen der Weisheit Salomos," in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1865, 690-722; Menzel, Der griechische Einfluss auf Prediger und Weisheit Salomos, 1889, 39-70; Bois, Essai sur les origines de la philosophic judeo-alexandrine, 1890, 211-309, 337-412. The work by Drummond, often quoted, has been carefully done and is interestingly written (Philo Judaeus, 1888, 2 volumes; see I, 177-229).

For detailed bibliography see Schurer, GJV4, 1909, III, 508 ff; HJP, 1886, II, 3, pp. 236 f, is necessarily very defective.

T. Witton Davies


wiz’-men: In addition to the uses of "wise" specified in the article WISDOM, the adjective is employed occasionally as the technical description of men who are adepts in magic, divination, etc. (e.g. in Ge 41:8; Ex 7:11; Es 1:13; Da 2:27; 5:15). Naturally, however, in the ancient world the boundary between genuine knowledge and astrology, etc., was exceedingly vague, and it was never denied that real knowledge could be gained along lines that we know to be futile. So the initiation of Moses into all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Ac 7:22) or of Daniel into all the learning of the Chaldeans (Da 1:4) met with no disapproval. These great men could be trusted to avoid the moral and religious pitfalls of such pursuits. For the ordinary Israelites, however the uncompromising prohibition of idolatry closed the door definitely to all studies of this kind. See ASTROLOGY; DIVINATION, etc. And for the Wise-men of Mt 2 see MAGI.

Burton Scott Easton





wish: The word appears both as a substantive and as a verb in the Old Testament, having a variety of meanings: (1) The substantive, peh, means "mouth" and also "speech." In this form it occurs in Job 33:6 margin: "Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead." Elihu here refers to Job’s expressed desire for an umpire (9:33), and one who would maintain his right with God (16:21). (2) The verb: (a) haphets, "willing," or "desirous" (Ps 40:14 the King James Version); (b) sha’-al, "to ask," "petition," "supplicate" (Job 31:30 the King James Version); (c) another variation of meaning is found in Ps 73:7 where maskith, "to imagine," is translated "wish": "They have more than heart could wish"; (d) euchomai, "to solicit," "to implore" (Ro 9:3).

Arthur Walwyn Evans


wist, wit’-i, wot: The verb "to wit" in the King James Version is interchangeable with "to know," and is conjugated with a present "wot," and a past "wist." This inflection is derived from more complicated forms in the older English, and in post-Elizabethan times has become quite obsolete. (But compare the roots in "wisdom," "witness.") "Wit," then, is simply "knowledge," and "witty" is "having knowledge," although the noun and the adjective have become narrowly specialized in modern English (compare the similar evolution of "knowing," in its use as an adjective). Even in Elizabethan English, however, the indicative of "to wit" was becoming displaced by "know," and "wot" and "wist" together occur only 24 times in the King James Version (not at all in Apocrypha). the English Revised Version has retained all the New Testament examples, but in the Old Testament has altered about half the occurrences to "know," but has followed no discoverable rule in so doing ("wot" retained only in Jos 2:5). the American Standard Revised Version has changed to "know" throughout (Old Testament and New Testament). The infinitive "to wit" is still in use (chiefly in legal formulas) before an apposition, and the King James Version has introduced it rather frequently to clarify a construction (Jos 17:1; 1Ki 2:32, etc.), and the Revised Version (British and American) has usually retained it (omitted in Jos 17:1; 2Ch 4:12). In the other uses of this inf. (Ge 24:21; Ex 2:4) it is replaced by "to know," while the very obsolete expression in 2Co 8:1, the King James Version "We do you to wit" (i.e. "We cause you to know"; see Do), has become in the Revised Version (British and American) "We make known unto you."

The noun "wit" is found in Ps 107:27, "at their wits’ (the King James Version "wit’s") end," for chokhmah, "wisdom," "technical skill"; compare the Revised Version margin "All their wisdom is swallowed up." The meaning is "their skilled seamanship cannot cope with the danger" (the phrase is very commonly misapplied). "Wit" occurs also 1 Esdras 4:26 (dianoia, "mind"); 2 Esdras 5:9 (sensus, here "intelligence"); Sirach 31:20 (psuche, "soul," with the force of "reason").

Witty is found in the King James Version, the Revised Version margin Pr 8:12, "witty inventions" (mezimmah, "discretion" (so the Revised Version (British and American)); if "and" is not read in this verse, translate "discrete knowledge"). In Judith 11:23 occurs "witty in thy words" (agathos, "good," here probably =" thou hast spoken sound sense"). The Wisdom of Solomon 8:19 the King James Version has "a witty child," the Revised Version (British and American) "a child of parts," margin "goodly" (euphues, "well grown," "of a good disposition," "clever"). "Wittingly" occurs in Ge 48:14 (sakhal, "act intelligently").

Burton Scott Easton


wich, wich’-kraft:

1. Meaning and Use of the Words

2. Biblical Usage

3. Common Elements in Witchcraft and Ancient Oriental Magic

4. Rise, Spread and Persecution of Witchcraft


1. Meaning and Use of the Words:

The word "witch" seems to denote etymologically "one that knows." it is historically both masculine and feminine; indeed the Anglo-Saxon form wicca, to which the English word is to be traced, is masculine alone. "Wizard" is given as masculine for witch, but it has in reality no connection with it. Wright (English Dialect Dictionary, VII, 521) says he never heard an uneducated person speak of wizard. When this word is used by the people it denotes, he says, a person who undoes the work of a witch. Shakespeare often uses "witch" of a male (compare Cymbeline, I, 6, l. 166: "He is .... a witch"). In Wycliff’s translation of Ac 8:9 Simon Magus is called "a witch" ("wicche"). Since the 13th century the word "witch" has come more and more to denote a woman who has formed a compact with the Devil or with evil spirits, by whose aid she is able to cause all sorts of injury to living beings and to things. The term "witchcraft" means in modern English the arts and practices of such women.

2. Biblical Usage:

Since the ideas we attach to "witch" and "witchcraft" were unknown in Bible times, the words have no right place in our English Bible, and this has been recognized to some extent but not completely by the Revisers of 1884. The word "witch" occurs twice in the King James Version, namely, (1) in Ex 22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch (the Revised Version (British and American) "a sorceress") to live"; (2) in De 18:10, "or a witch" (the Revised Version (British and American) "or a sorcerer"). The Hebrew word is in both cases the participle of the verb (kishsheph), denoting "to practice the magical article." See MAGIC, V, 2. In the first passage, however, the feminine ending (-ah) is attached, but this ending denotes also one of a class and (on the contrary) a collection of units; see Kautzsch, Hebrew Grammar 28, section 122, s, t.

The phrase "the witch of Endor" occurs frequently in literature, and especially in common parlance, but it is not found in the English Bible. The expression has come from the heading and summary of the King James Version, both often so misleading. In 1Sa 28, where alone the character is spoken of, English Versions of the Bible translates the Hebrew ‘esheth ba‘alath ‘obh by "a woman that hath a familiar spirit." A literal rendering would be "a woman who is mistress of an ‘obh or ghost," i.e. one able to compel the departed spirit to return and to answer certain questions. This woman was therefore a necromancer, a species of diviner (see DIVINATION, IV; ENDOR, WITCH OF; FAMILIAR), and not what the term "witch" imports.

The word "witchcraft" occurs thrice in the King James Version in 1Sa 15:23, "the sin of witchcraft" should be as in the Revised Version margin, "the sin of divination," the latter representing the Hebrew word qecem, generally translated "divination".

See DIVINATION, sec. VII, 1.

The phrase "used witchcraft" (of Manasseh, 2Ch 33:16) is properly rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) "practised sorcery," the Hebrew verb (kishsheph) being that whence the participles in Ex 22:18 and De 18:10, translated in the King James Version "witch," are derived (see above). The word translated in the King James Version "witchcraft" in Ga 5:20 (pharmakeia) is the ordinary Greek one for "sorcery," and is so rendered in the Revised Version (British and American), though it means literally the act of administering drugs and then of giving magical potions. It naturally comes then to stand for the magician’s art, as in the present passage and also in The Wisdom of Solomon 12:4; 18:13; and in the Septuagint of Isa 47:9, where it represents the Hebrew noun keshaphim, translated "sorceries"; compare the Hebrew verb kishsheph; see above.

The plural "witchcrafts" (in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)) stands for the Hebrew noun just noticed (keshaphim) in 2Ki 9:22; Mic 5:12; Na 3:4, but in all three passages a proper rendering would be "sorceries" or "magical arts." "Witchcrafts" is inaccurate and misleading.

The verb "bewitch" occurs in Ac 8:9,11 the King James Version (of Simon Magus bewitching the people) and in Ga 3:1 ("O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?"). In the first context the Greek verb is existemi, which is properly rendered by the Revisers "amazed"; in 3:13 the passive of the same verb is translated "he was amazed" (the King James Version "He wondered"). In Ga 3:1, the verb is baskaubaino, which is used of a blinding effect of the evil eye and has perhaps an occult reference, but it has nothing whatever to do with "witch" or "witchcraft."

3. Common Elements in Witchcraft and Ancient Oriental Magic:

Though the conceptions conveyed by the English word "witch" and its cognates were unknown to the Hebrews of Bible times, yet the fundamental thought involved in such terms was familiar enough to the ancient Hebrews and to other nations of antiquity (Babylonians, Egyptians, etc.), namely, that there exists a class of persons called by us magicians, sorcerers, etc., who have superhuman power over living creatures including man, and also over Nature and natural objects. This power is of two kinds: (1) cosmic, (2) personal. For an explanation see MAGIC, II. it is in Assyrio-Babylonian literature that we have the completest account of magical doctrine and practice. The words used in that literature for the male and female magician are ashipu and ashiptu, which correspond to the Hebrew mekhashsheph and mekhashshephah in De 18:10 and Ex 22:18 (see 2, above) and are cognate to ‘ashshaph (see Da 1:20; 2:2,10, etc.), which means a magician (the Revised Version (British and American) "enchanter"). Other Babylonian words are kashshapu and kashshaptu, which in etymology and in sense agree with the Hebrew terms mekhashsheph and mekhashshephah mentioned above. But neither in the Babylonian or Hebrew words is there the peculiar idea of a witch, namely, one who traffics with malicious spirits for malicious ends. indeed the magician was a source of good (male and female) as conceived by the Babylonians, especially the ashipu and ashiptu, to the state and to individuals, as well as of evil, and he was often therefore in the service of the state as the guide of its policy. And the same applies to the magician as the Hebrews regarded him, though the true teachers and leaders in Israel condemned magic and divination of every sort as being radically opposed to the religion of Yahweh (De 18:10 f). Of course, if a Babylonian magician used his art to the injury of others he was punished as other criminals, and in case of the death of the victim he was executed as a murderer. It is, however, noteworthy in its bearing on "witchcraft" that the female magician or sorceress played a larger part in ancient Babylonia than her male counterpart, and the same is true of the Greeks and other ancient people. This arose perhaps from the fact that in primitive times men spent their time in fighting and hunting; the cooking of the food and the healing of the sick, wounded, etc., by magical potions and otherwise, falling to the lot of the woman who stayed at home. In the early history of the Hebrews inspired women played a greater role than in later time; compare Miriam (Ex 15:20 f; Nu 12); Deborah (Jud 5:12); Huldah (2Ki 22:14 ). Note also the ‘ishshah chakhamah, or "wise woman" of 2Sa 14:2 ff; 20:16.

The first two sections of the Code of Hammurabi are as follows: "1. If a man has laid a curse (kispu = keshaphim) upon (another) man and it is not justified, he that laid the curse shall be put to death. 2. If a man has put a spell upon (another) man and it is not justified, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to the holy river; into the holy river shall he plunge. If the holy river overcome him (and he is drowned), the man who put the spell upon him shall take possession of his house. If the holy river declares him innocent and he remains unharmed the man who laid the spell shall be put to death. He that plunged into the river shall take possession of the house of him who laid the spell upon him." Not a word is said here of a female that weaves a spell, but probably the word "man" in the Babylonian is to be taken as including male and female (so Canon C. H. W. Johns in a private letter, dated December 22, 1912).

4. Rise, Spread, and Persecution of Witchcraft:

In the early and especially in the medieval church, the conception of the Devil occupied a very important place, and human beings were thought to be under his dominion until he was exorcised in baptism. It is to this belief that we owe the rise and spread of infant baptism. The unbaptized were thought to be Devil-possessed. The belief in the existence of women magicians had come down from hoary antiquity. It was but a short step to ascribe the evil those women performed to the Devil and his hosts. Then it was natural to think that the Devil would not grant such extraordinary powers without some quid pro quo; hence, the witch (or wizard) was supposed to have sold her (or his) soul to the Devil, a proceeding that would delight the heart of the great enemy of good always on the alert to hinder the salvation of men; compare the Faust legend. For the conditions believed to be imposed by the Devil upon all who would be in league with him see A. Lehmann, Aberglaube und Zauberei2 (1908), 110 ff.

This idea of a covenant with the Devil is wholly absent from the early heathen conception of magic; nor do we in the latter read of meetings at night between the magicians and the demons with whom they dealt, such as took place on the Witches’ Sabbath. The witches were believed to have sexual commerce with devils and to be capable only of inflicting evil, both thoughts alien to oriental and therefore to Biblical magic.

The history and persecution and execution of women, generally ignorant and innocent, supposed to have been guilty of witchcraft, do not fall within the scope of this article, but may be perused in innumerable works: see "Literature" below. In Europe alone, not to mention America (Salem, etc.), Sprenger says that over nine million suspected witches were put to death on the flimsiest evidence; even if this estimate be too high the actual number must have been enormous. The present writer in his booklet, The Survival of the Evangelical Faith ("Essays for the Times," 1909), gives a brief account of the defense of the reality of witch power by nearly all the Christian theologians of the 17th century and by most of those living in the early 18th century (see pp. 23 ff). See also MAGIC, and The Expositor T, IX, 157 ff.


In addition to the literature cited under articles DIVINATION and MAGIC (which see), the following worlds may be mentioned (the books on witchcraft proper are simply innumerable): Reginald Scot, The Discovery of Witchcraft (aimed at preventing the persecution of witches, 1584; republished London, 1886); reply to the last work by James I of England: Daemonologie, 1597; Casaubon, On Credulity and Incredulity .... A Treatise Proving Spirits, Witches and Supernatural Operations, 1668; Joseph Glanrill, Saducismus Triumphatus: Full and Plain Evidences concerning Witches and Apparitions (the last two books are by theologians who class with "atheists"—a vague word in those times for unbelief—all such as doubt the power of witches and deny the power of devils upon human life). For the history of witchcraft and its persecutions see howard Williams, The Superstitions of Witchcraft, 1865, and (brief but interesting and compact) Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions (2 volumes, 1851, 101-91). See also Sir W. Scott, Demonology and Witchcraft, 1830; W. R. Halliday, Greek Divination: A Study of its Methods and Principles, London, Macmillan (important); and article by the present writer in The Expositor, January, 1914, on "The Words Witch and Witchcraft in history and in Literature." For a full account of the witch craze and persecution at Salem, near Boston, U.S.A., see The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather, D. D., with a further account by increase Mather, D. D., and compare Demon Possession by J. L. Nevins, 303-10.

T. Witton Davies


with’-erd (nabhel, "to fade away," "to be dried up"):

(1) Used figuratively to express leanness of soul, spiritual impotence, a low condition of spiritual life, a lack of moral nourishment: "My heart is smitten like grass, and withereth" (Ps 102:4). The contrasting figure emphasizes this idea: "All my fountains are in thee" (Ps 87:7). Also Ps 1:3, where the freshness and beauty of the righteous man’s life are thus described: "And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, .... whose leaf also doth not wither." In the New Testament xeraino, "to wither," is used to carry out the same idea of moral decay, or malnutrition of soul (Mt 13:6; 21:19).

(2) "Wither" also had a physiological meaning, expressing both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament the idea of bodily impotence, especially, though not exclusively, of the limbs. Jeroboam was struck suddenly with paralysis of the arm, which is said to have "dried up" (1Ki 13:4-6); "probably due to sudden hemorrhage affecting some part of the brain, which may under certain circumstances be only temporary" (HDB, 1-vol, 599). "Their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered" (La 4:8).

In the New Testament (Mt 12:10; Mr 3:1; Lu 6:6) "withered hand" was probably our modern "infantile paralysis," which may leave one or more limbs shrunken and powerless without detriment to the general health.

Arthur Walwyn Evans


withs, (yetharim lachim, margin "new bowstrings," the King James Version margin "new (moist) cords" (Jud 16:7); Septuagint neura hugra): The material with which Samson was bound by Delilah (Jud 16:8) was probably some moist "gut" such as was used for bowstrings. Compare metharim, "bowstrings" (Ps 21:12; yether, Job 30:11; Ps 11:2); lahim, translated "green," means "fresh," "sappy" or "moist."


wit’-nes (nouns ‘edh, and ‘edhah, and verb ‘anah; martus, with all derivative words and their compounds): The word "witness" is used of inanimate things, e.g. the heap of stones testifying to the covenant between Jacob and Laban (Ge 31:44-54), and the So of Moses. (De 31:19,21). The main use of the word is forensic, and from this use all other applications are naturally derived. Important legal agreements required the attestation of witnesses, as in the case of the purchase of property, or a betrothal (Ru 4:1-11, where we are told that the ancient form of attestation was by a man drawing off his shoe and giving it to his neighbor).

The Mosaic Law insisted on the absolute necessity of witnesses in all cases which came before a judge, especially in criminal cases. Not only in criminal cases, but in all cases, it was necessary to have at least two witnesses to make good an accusation against a person (De 17:6; 19:15; compare Nu 35:30; Mt 18:16; Joh 8:17; 2Co 13:1; 1Ti 5:19). According to the Talmud (Pesachim 113b), if in a case of immorality only one witness came forward to accuse anyone, it was regarded as sinful on the part of that witness. On the other hand, anyone who, being present at the adjuration (Le 5:1 the Revised Version (British and American)), refused to come forward as a witness when he had testimony to bear, was considered to have sinned (Pr 29:24). Among those not qualified to be witnesses were the near relations of the accuser or the accused, friends and enemies, gamesters, usurers, tax-gatherers, heathen, slaves, women and those not of age (Sanhedhrin 3 3, 4; Ro’sh Ha-shanah 1 7; Babha’ Kamma’ 88a; compare Ant, IV, viii, 15). No one could be a witness who had been paid to render this service (Bekhoroth 4 6). In cases of capital punishment there was an elaborate system of warning and cautioning witnesses. Each witness had to be heard separately (Sanhedhrin 5; compare 3 5). If they contradicted one another on important points their witness was invalidated (Sanhedhrin 5).

No oath was required from witnesses. The meaning of Le 5:1 was not that witnesses had to take an oath, as some think; it describes the solemn adjuration of the judge to all those with knowledge of the case to come forward as witnesses (see OATH). When a criminal was to be put to death, the witnesses against him were to take the foremost share in bringing about his death (De 17:7; compare Ac 7:58), in order to prove their own belief in their testimony. In the case of a person condemned to be stoned, all the witnesses had to lay their hands on the head of the condemned (Le 24:14). "False witnessing" was prohibited in the Decalogue (Ex 20:16); against it the lexicon talionis was enforced, i.e. it was done to the witness as he meant to do to the accused (De 19:16-21). The Sadducees held that only when the falsely accused had been executed, the false witnesses should be put to death; the Pharisees, that false witnesses were liable to be executed the moment the death sentence had been passed on the falsely accused (Makkoth 17). In spite of prohibitions, false witnessing was a very common crime among the people (Ps 27:12; 35:11; Pr 6:19; 12:17; 14:5; 19:5; 24:28; Mt 26:60; Ac 6:13).

In Ac 22:20; Re 2:13; 17:6 the word martus, "witness", seems to be beginning to acquire the meaning of "martyr," as in the King James Version, although the Revised Version (British and American) translates "witness" in the first two passages, retaining "martyr" only in the third with "witness" in the m. For "Tabernacle of Witness" see TABERNACLE.

Paul Levertoff


This phrase arises from the words of Ro 8:16: "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God." With this may be grouped, as illustrative, 1 Joh 5:10: "he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in him." in interpreting, we may approach the former passage through the latter. To the man who "believeth on the Son of God," so as to prove him by reliance, He becomes self-evidential in experience, verifying himself to the believer as the divine response to his whole spiritual need. Thus, believed on as the Son, he awakens in the soul which he embraces the filial attitude toward God, the cry, "Abba, Father." On the other side the Spirit, both in the written Word (e.g. Joh 1:12) and in his secret converse with the believer in the life of faith, assures him of the paternal love toward him, as toward a "dear child," (Eph 5:1) of the Father of his Lord. There is thus a concurrent "witnessing." The believer’s spirit says, "Thou art my Father"; the Spirit, says to the believer’s spirit, "Thou art His child." We may compare Ro 5:5: "The love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit."

Handley Dunelm








(1) ze’ebh (Ge 49:27; 11:6; 65:25; Jer 5:6; Eze 22:27; Hab 1:8; Ze 3:3; also as proper name, Zeeb, prince of Midian, Jud 7:25; 8:3; Ps 83:11); compare Arabic dhi’b, colloquial dhib, or dib;

(2) lukos (Mt 7:15; 10:16; Lu 10:3; Joh 10:12; Ac 20:29; Ecclesiasticus 13:17; compare 2 Esdras 5:18, lupus);

(3) ‘iyim, the Revised Version (British and American) "wolves" (Isa 13:22; 34:14; Jer 50:39):

While the wolf is surpassed in size by some dogs, it is the fiercest member of the dog family (Canidae), which includes among others the jackal and the fox. Dogs, wolves and jackals are closely allied and will breed together. There is no doubt that the first dogs were domesticated wolves. While there are local varieties which some consider to be distinct species, it is allowable to regard all the wolves of both North America, Europe, and Northern Asia (except the American coyote) as members of one species, Canis lupus. The wolf of Syria and Palestine is large, light colored, and does not seem to hunt in packs. Like other wolves it is nocturnal. In Palestine it is the special enemy of the sheep and goats. This fact comes out in two of the seven passages cited from the Old Testament, in all from the New Testament, and in the two from Apocrypha. In Ge 49:27 Benjamin is likened to a ravening wolf. In Eze 22:27, and in the similar Ze 3:3, the eiders of Jerusalem are compared to wolves. In Jer 5:6 it is a wolf that shall destroy the people of Jerusalem, and in Hab 1:8 the horses of the Chaldeans "are swifter than leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves." Babylon and Edom (Isa 13:22; 34:14; Jer 50:39) are to be the haunts of ‘iyim (the Revised Version (British and American) "wolves") and other wild creatures.

The name of Zeeb, prince of Midian (Jud 7:25; 8:3), has its parallel in the Arabic, Dib or Dhib, which is a common name today. Such animal names are frequently given to ward off the evil eye.

See also TOTEMISM.

Alfred Ely Day


woom’-an (’ishshah, "a woman" (feminine of ‘ish, "a man"]; gune, "a woman" "wife"):



1. Prominence of Women

2. Social Equality

3. Marriage Laws

4. Inheritance

5. Domestic Duties

6. Dress and Ornaments

7. Religious Devotion and Service

(1) in Idolatry and False Religion

(2) in Spiritual Religion



1. Mary and Elisabeth

2. Jesus and Women

3. In the Early Church

4. Official Service

5. Widows

6. Deaconesses


1. Changes in Character and Condition

2. Notable Examples of Christian Womanhood

3. Woman in the 20th Century

The generic term "man" includes woman. In the narrative of the creation (Ge 1:26,27) Adam is a collective term for mankind. It may signify human being, male or female, or humanity entire. "God said, Let us make man .... and let them" (Ge 1:26), the latter word "them" defining "man" in the former clause. So in Ge 1:27, "in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them," "them" being synonymous with "him."


I. In the Creative Plan.

Whatever interpretation the latest scholarship may give to the story of woman’s formation from the rib of man (Ge 2:21-24), the passage indicates, most profoundly, the inseparable unity and fellowship of her life with his. Far more than being a mere assistant, "helper" (‘ezer "help" "helper" Ge 2:18), she is man’s complement, essential to the perfection of his being. Without her he is not man in the generic fullness of that term. Priority of creation may indicate headship, but not, as theologians have so uniformly affirmed, superiority. Dependence indicates difference of function, not inferiority. Human values are estimated in terms of the mental and spiritual. Man and woman are endowed for equality, and are mutually interdependent. Physical strength and prowess cannot be rated in the same category with moral courage and the capacity to endure ill-treatment, sorrow and pain; and in these latter qualities woman has always proved herself the superior. Man’s historic treatment of woman, due to his conceit, ignorance or moral perversion, has taken her inferiority for granted, and has thus necessitated it by her enslavement and degradation. The narrative of the Fall (Ge 3) ascribes to woman supremacy of influence, for through her stronger personality man was led to disobedience of God’s command. Her penalty for such ill-fated leadership was that her husband should "rule over" her (Ge 3:16), not because of any inherent superiority on his part, but because of her loss of prestige and power through sin. In that act she forfeited the respect and confidence which entitled her to equality of influence in family affairs. Her recovery from the curse of subjection was to come through the afflictive suffering of maternity, for, as Paul puts it, "she shall be saved (from the penalty of her transgression) through her child-bearing" (1Ti 2:15).

Sin, both in man and woman, has been universally the cause of woman’s degradation. All history must be interpreted in the light of man’s consequent mistaken estimate of her endowments, worth and rightful place. The ancient Hebrews never entirely lost the light of their original revelation, and, more than any other oriental race, held woman in high esteem, honor and affection. Christianity completed the work of her restoration to equality of opportunity and place. Wherever its teachings and spirit prevail, she is made the loved companion, confidante and adviser of her husband.

II. In Old Testament Times.

1. Prominence of Women:

Under the Hebrew system the position of woman was in marked contrast with her status in surrounding heathen nations. Her liberties were greater, her employments more varied and important, her social standing more respectful and commanding. The divine law given on Sinai (Ex 20:12) required children to honor the mother equally with the father. A similar esteem was accorded her in patriarchal times. Sarah held a position of favor and authority in Abraham’s household. Rebekah was not less influential than Isaac, and was evidently the stronger personality. The "beautiful" Rachel (Ge 29:17) won from Jacob a love that accepted her as an equal in the companionship and counsels of family life. Many Hebrew women rose to eminence and national leadership. Miriam and Deborah were each a prophetess and a poetess. The former led bands of women in triumphant song and procession, celebrating the overthrow of enemies (Ex 15:20); the latter, through her dominating personality and prophetic power, became the virtual judge of the nation and led armies to victory. Her military general, Barak, refused to advance against Sisera without her presence and commanding influence (Jud 4:8). Her ode of victory indicates the intellectual endowment and culture of her sex in that unsettled and formative era (Jud 5). No person in Israel surpassed Hannah, the mother of Samuel, in intelligence, beauty and fervor of religious devotion. Her spiritual exaltation and poetic gift found expression in one of the choicest specimens of early Hebrew lyric poetry (1Sa 2:1-10). Other women eminent as prophetesses were: Huldah, whose counsel was sought by high priest and king (2Ch 34:22; compare 2Ki 22:14); Noadiah (Ne 6:14); Anna (Lu 2:36). The power to which woman could attain in Israel is illustrated in the career of the wicked, merciless, murderous, idolatrous Jezebel, self-styled prophetess (Re 2:20). Evidence of woman’s eminence in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel is seen in the influence she exercised as queen mother (1Ki 15:13) and queen (2Ki 8:18); in the beautiful honor shown by King Solomon to his mother, Bath-sheba (1Ki 2:19); in the filial devotion of the prophet Elisha (1Ki 19:20); in the constant mention of the mother’s name in the biographies of successive kings, making it evident that she was considered the important and determining factor in the life of her royal sons. Her teaching and authority were sufficiently eminent to find recognition in the proverbs of the nation: "the law of thy mother" (Pr 1:8; 6:20) was not to be forsaken, while contempt for the same merited the curse of God (Pr 19:26; 20:20; 30:11,17).

2. Social Equality:

Additional evidence of woman’s social equality comes from the fact that men and women feasted together without restriction. Women shared in the sacred meals and great annual feasts (De 16:11,14); in wedding festivities (Joh 2:1-3); in the fellowship of the family meal (Joh 12:3). They could appear, as Sarah did in the court of Egypt, unveiled (Ge 12:11,14). Rebekah (Ge 24:16; compare 24:65), Rachel (Ge 29:11), Hannah (1Sa 1:13) appeared in public and before suitors with uncovered faces. The secluding veil was introduced into Mohammedan and other oriental lands through the influence of the Koran. The custom was non-Jewish in origin, and the monuments make. It evident that it did not prevail, in early times, in Assyria and Egypt. Even Greece and Rome, at the time of their supreme culture, fell-far below the Hebrew conception of woman’s preeminent worth. The greatest hellenic philosophers declared that it would radically disorganize the state for wives to claim equality with their husbands. Aristotle considered women inferior beings, intermediate between freemen and slaves. Socrates and Demosthenes held them in like depreciation. Plato advocated community of wives. Substantially the same views prevailed in Rome. Distinguished men, like Metullus and Care, advocated marriage only as a public duty. More honor was shown the courtesan than the wife. Chastity and modesty, the choice inheritance of Hebrew womanhood, were foreign to the Greek conception of morality, and disappeared from Rome when Greek culture and frivolity entered. The Greeks made the shameless Phryne the model of the goddess Aphrodite, and lifted their hands to public prostitutes when they prayed in their temples. Under pagan culture and heathen darkness woman was universally subject to inferior and degrading conditions. Every decline in her status in the Hebrew commonwealth was due to the incursion of foreign influence. The lapses of Hebrew morality, especially in the court of Solomon and of subsequent kings, occurred through the borrowing of idolatrous and heathen customs from surrounding nations (1Ki 11:1-8).

3. Marriage Laws:

The Bible gives no sanction to dual or plural marriages. The narrative in Ge 2:18-24 indicates that monogamy was the divine ideal for man. The moral decline of the generations antedating the Flood seems to have been due, chiefly; to the growing disregard of the sanctity of marriage. Lamech’s taking of two wives (Ge 4:19) is the first recorded infraction of the divine ideal. By Noah’s time polygamy had degenerated into promiscuous inter-racial marriages of the most incestuous and illicit kind (Ge 6:1-4; see SONS OF GOD). The subsequent record ascribes marital infidelity and corruption to sin, and affirms that the destruction of the race by the Flood and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah were God’s specific judgment on man’s immorality. The dual marriages of the Patriarchs were due, chiefly, to the desire for children, and are not to be traced to divine consent or approval. The laws of Moses regarding chastity protected the sanctity of marriage (see MARRIAGE), and indicated a higher regard for woman than prevailed in Gentile or other Semitic races (Le 18:6-20). They sought to safeguard her from the sensual abominations prevalent among the Egyptians and Canaanites (Le 18). Kings were forbidden to "multiply wives" (De 17:17). Concubinage in Israel was an importation from heathenism.

Divorce was originally intended to protect the sanctity of wedlock by outlawing the offender and his moral offense. Its free extension to include any marital infelicity met the stern rebuke of Jesus, who declared that at the best it was a concession to human infirmity and hardness of heart, and should be granted only in case of adultery (Mt 5:32).


Hebrew women were granted a freedom in choosing a husband not known elsewhere in the East (Ge 24:58). Jewish tradition declares that a girl over 12 1/2 years of age had the right to give herself in marriage. Vows made by a daughter, while under age, could be annulled by the father (Nu 30:3-5) or by the husband (Nu 30:6-16). Whenever civil law made a concession to the customs of surrounding nations, as in granting the father power to sell a daughter into bondage, it sought to surround her with all possible protection (De 22:16 ).

4. Inheritance:

The Mosaic Law prescribed that the father’s estate, in case there were no sons, should pass to the daughters (Nu 27:1-8). They were not permitted, however, to alienate the family inheritance by marrying outside their own tribe (Nu 36:6-9). Such alien marriages were permissible only when the husband took the wife’s family name (Ne 7:63). Unmarried daughters, not provided for in the father’s will, were to be cared for by the eldest son (Ge 31:14,15). The bride’s dowry, at marriage, was intended as a substitute for her share in the family estate. In rabbinical law, a century or more before Christ, it took the form of a settlement upon the wife and was considered obligatory. Provision for woman under the ancient Mosaic Law was not inferior to her status under English law regarding landed estates.

5. Domestic Duties:

Among the Hebrews, woman administered the affairs of the home with a liberty and leadership unknown to other oriental peoples. Her domestic duties were more independent, varied and honorable. She was not the slave or menial of her husband. Her outdoor occupations were congenial, healthful, extensive. She often tended the flocks (Ge 29:6; Ex 2:16); spun the wool, and made the clothing of the family (Ex 35:26; Pr 31:19; 1Sa 2:19); contributed by her weaving and needlework to its income and support (Pr 31:14,24), and to charity (Ac 9:39). Women ground the grain (Mt 24:41); prepared the meals (Ge 18:6; 2Sa 13:8; Joh 12:2); invited and received guests (Jud 4:18; 1Sa 25:18 ff; 2Ki 4:8-10); drew water for household use (1Sa 9:11; Joh 4:7), for guests and even for their camels (Ge 24:15-20). Hebrew women enjoyed a freedom that corresponds favorably with the larger liberties granted them in the Christian era.

6. Dress and Ornaments:

That women were fond of decorations and display in ancient as in modern times is clear from the reproof administered by the prophet for their haughtiness and excessive ornamentation (Isa 3:16). He bids them "remove (the) veil, strip off the train," that they may be better able to "grind meal" and attend to the other womanly duties of the home (Isa 47:2). These prophetic reproofs do not necessarily indicate general conditions, but exceptional tendencies to extravagance and excess. The ordinary dress of women was modest and simple, consisting of loose flowing robes, similar to those worn by men, and still in vogue among Orientals, chiefly the mantle, shawl and veil (Ru 3:15; Isa 3:22,23). The veil, however, was not worn for seclusion, as among the Moslems. The extensive wardrobe and jewelry of Hebrew women is suggested by the catalogue given in Isa 3:18-24: anklets, cauls, crescents, pendants, bracelets, mufflers, headtires, ankle chains, sashes, perfume-boxes, amulets, rings, nose-jewels, festival robes, mantles, shawls, satchels, hand-mirrors, fine linen, turbans, veils. The elaborateness of this ornamentation throws light on the apostle Peter’s counsel to Christian women not to make their adornment external, e.g. the braiding of the hair, the wearing of jewels of gold, the putting on of showy apparel, but rather the apparel of a meek and quiet spirit (1Pe 3:3,4).

7. Religious Devotion and Service:

The reflections cast upon woman for her leadership in the first transgression (Ge 3:6,13,16; 2Co 11:3; 1Ti 2:14) do not indicate her rightful and subsequent place in the religious life of mankind. As wife, mother, sister, she has been preeminently devout and spiritual. history records, however, sad and striking exceptions to this rule.

(1) In Idolatry and False Religion

Often woman’s religious intensity found expression in idolatry and the gross cults of heathenism. That she everywhere participated freely in the religious rites and customs of her people is evident from the fact that women were often priestesses, and were often deified. The other Semitic religions had female deities corresponding to the goddesses of Greece and Rome. In the cult of Ishtar of Babylon, women were connected with the immoral rites of temple-worship. The women of heathen nations in the harem of Solomon (1Ki 11:1) turned the heart of the wise king to unaccountable folly in the worship of the Sidonian goddess Ashtoreth, and of Chemosh and Molech, in turn the "abomination" of Moab and Ammon (1Ki 11:5-8). The fatal speller Maacah morally blighted the reigns of her husband, son and grandson, until Asa the latter deposed her as queen and destroyed the obscene image of Asherah which she had set up (1Ki 15:13). As "queen mother" (gebhirah, "leader") she was equivalent to the Turkish Sultana Valide.

Baal-worship was introduced into Israel by Jezebel (1Ki 16:31,32; 18:19; 2Ki 9:22), and into Judah by her daughter Athaliah (2Ch 22:3; 24:7). The prominence of women in idolatry and in the abominations of foreign religions is indicated in the writings of the prophets (Jer 7:18; Eze 8:14). Their malign influence appeared in the sorceress and witch, condemned to death by the Mosaic Law (Ex 22:18); yet continuing through the nation’s entire history. Even kings consulted them (1Sa 28:7-14). The decline and overthrow of Judah and Israel must be attributed, in large measure, to the deleterious effect of wicked, worldly, idolatrous women upon their religious life.

(2) In Spiritual Religion

The bright side of Hebrew history is an inspiring contrast to this dark picture. Prior to the Christian era no more luminous names adorn the pages of history than those of the devout and eminent Hebrew women. Jochebed, the mother of Moses, left upon him a religious impress so vital and enduring as to safeguard him through youth and early manhood from the fascinating corruptions of Pharaoh’s Egyptian court (Ex 2:1-10; Heb 11:23-26). In Ruth, the converted Moabitess, the royal ancestress of David and of Jesus, we have an unrivaled example of filial piety, moral beauty and self-sacrificing religious devotion (Ru 1:15-18). The prayers and piety of Hannah, taking effect in the spiritual power of her son Samuel, penetrated, purified and vitalized the religious life of the entire nation. Literature contains no finer tribute to the domestic virtues and spiritual qualities of woman than in the beautiful poem dedicated to his gifted mother by King Lemuel (Pr 31).

Women, as well as men, took upon themselves the self-renouncing vow of the Nazirite (Nu 6:2), and shared in offering sacrifices, as in the vow and sacrifice of Manoah’s wife (Jud 13:13,14); were granted theophanies, e.g. Hagar (Ge 16:7; 21:17), Sarah (Ge 18:9,10), Manoah’s wife (Jud 13:3-5,9); were even permitted to "minister" at the door of the sanctuary (Ex 38:8; 1Sa 2:22); rendered conspicuous service in national religious songs and dances (Ex 15:20; Jud 11:34; 1Sa 18:6,7); in the great choirs and choruses and processionals of the Temple (Ps 68:25; Ezr 2:65; Ne 7:67); in religious mourning (Jer 9:17-20; Mr 5:38). They shared equally with men in the great religious feasts, as is indicated by the law requiring their attendance (De 12:18).

III. Inter-Testamental Era.

The women portrayed in the apocryphal literature of the Jews reveal all the varied characteristics of their sex so conspicuous in Old Testament history: devout piety, ardent patriotism, poetic fervor, political intrigue, worldly ambition, and sometimes a strange combination of these contradictory moral qualities. Whether fictitious, or rounded on fact, or historical, these portrayals are true to the feminine life of that era.

Anna is a beautiful example of wifely devotion. By her faith and hard toil she supported her husband, Tobit, after the loss of his property and in his blindness, until sight and prosperity were both restored (Tobit 1:9; 2:1-14).

Edna, wife of Raguel of Ecbatana and mother of Sarah, made her maternal love and piety conspicuous in the blessing bestowed on Tobias on the occasion of his marriage to her daughter, who had hitherto been cursed on the night of wedlock by the death of seven successive husbands (Tobit 7; 10:12).

Sarah, innocent of their death, which had been compassed by the evil spirit Asmodeus, at last had the reward of her faith in the joys of a happy marriage (Tobit 10:10; 14:13).

Judith, a rich young widow, celebrated in Hebrew lore as the savior of her nation, was devoutly and ardently patriotic. When Nebuchadnezzar sent his general Holofernes with an army of 132,000 men to subjugate the Jews, she felt called of God to be their deliverer. Visiting holofernes, she so captivated him with her beauty and gifts that he made a banquet in her honor. While he was excessively drunk with the wine of his own bounty, she beheaded him in his tent. The Assyrians, paralyzed by the loss of their leader, easily fell a prey to the armies of Israel. Judith celebrates her triumph in a song, akin in its triumphant joy, patriotic fervor and religious zeal, to the ancient songs of Miriam and Deborah (Judith 16:1-17).

Susanna typifies the ideal of womanly virtue. The daughter of righteous parents, well instructed in the sacred Law, the wife of a rich and honorable man, Joachim by name, she was richly blessed in position and person. Exceptionally modest, devout and withal very beautiful, she attracted the notice of two elders, who were also judges, and who took occasion frequently to visit Joachim’s house. She spurned their advances and when falsely charged by them with the sin which she so successfully resisted, she escapes the judgment brought against her, by the subtle skill of Daniel. As a result, his fame and her innocence became widely known.


Cleopatra, full of inherited intrigue, is influential in the counsels of kings. She married successively for political power; murdered her eldest son Seleucus, by Demetrius, and at last dies by the poison which she intended for her younger son, Antiochus VIII. Her fatal influence is a striking example of the perverted use of woman’s power (1 Macc 10:58; Josephus, Ant, XIII, iv, 1; ix, 3).

IV. In New Testament Times.

1. Mary and Elisabeth:

A new era dawned for woman with the advent of Christianity. The honor conferred upon Mary, as mother of Jesus, lifted her from her "low estate," made after generations call her blessed (Lu 1:48), and carried its benediction to the women of all subsequent times. Luke’s narrative of the tivity (Lu 1; 2) has thrown about motherhood the halo of a new sanctity, given mankind a more exalted conception of woman’s character and mission, and made the world’s literature the vehicle of the same lofty reverence and regard. The two dispensations were brought together in the persons of Elisabeth and Mary: the former the mother of John the Baptist, the last of the old order of prophets; the latter the mother of the long-expected Messiah. Both are illustrious examples of Spirit-guided and Spirit-filled womanhood. The story of Mary’s intellectual gifts, spiritual exaltation, purity and beauty of character, and her training of her divine child, has been an inestimable contribution to woman’s world-wide emancipation, and to the uplift and ennoblement of family life. To her poetic inspiration, spiritual fervor and exalted thankfulness as expectant mother of the Messiah, the church universal is indebted for its earliest and most majestic hymn, the Magnificat. In her the religious teachings, prophetic hopes, and noblest ideals of her race were epitomized. Jesus’ reverence for woman and the new respect for her begotten by his teaching were well grounded, on their human side, in the qualities of his own mother. The fact that he himself was born of woman has been cited to her praise in the ecumenical creeds of Christendom.

2. Jesus and Women:

From the first, women were responsive to his teachings and devoted to his person. The sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, made their home at Bethany, his dearest earthly refuge and resting-place. Women of all ranks in society found in him a benefactor and friend, before unknown in all the history of their sex. They accompanied him, with the Twelve, in his preaching tours from city to city, some, like Mary Magdalene, grateful because healed of their moral infirmities (Lu 8:2); others, like Joanna the wife of Chuzas, and Susanna, to minister to his needs (Lu 8:3). Even those who were ostracized by society were recognized by him, on the basis of immortal values, and restored to a womanhood of virtue and Christian devotion (Lu 7:37-50). Mothers had occasion to rejoice in his blessing their children (Mr 10:13-16); and in his raising their dead (Lu 7:12-15). Women followed him on his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem; ministered to Him on the way to Calvary (Mt 27:55,56); witnessed his crucifixion (Lu 23:49); accompanied his body to the sepulcher (Mt 27:61; Lu 23:55); prepared spices and ointments for his burial (Lu 23:56); were first at the tomb on the morning of his resurrection (Mt 28:1; Mr 16:1; Lu 24:1; Joh 20:1); and were the first to whom the risen Lord appeared (Mt 28:9; Mr 16:9; Joh 20:14). Among those thus faithful and favored were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome (Mt 27:56), Joanna and other unnamed women (Lu 24:10). Women had the honor of being the first to announce the fact of the resurrection to the chosen disciples (Lu 24:9,10,22). They, including the mother of Jesus, were among the 120 who continued in prayer in the upper room and received the Pentecostal enduement (Ac 1:14); they were among the first Christian converts (Ac 8:12); suffered equally with men in the early persecutions of the church (Ac 9:2). The Jewish enemies of the new faith sought their aid and influence in the persecutions raised against Paul and Barnabas (Ac 13:50); while women of equal rank among the Greeks became ardent and intelligent believers (Ac 17:12). The fidelity of women to Jesus during his three years’ ministry, and at the cross and sepulcher, typifies their spiritual devotion in the activities and enterprises of the church of the 20th century.

3. In the Early Church:

Women were prominent, from the first, in the activities of the early church. Their faith and prayers helped to make Pentecost possible (Ac 1:14). They were eminent, as in the case of Dorcas, in charity and good deeds (Ac 9:36); foremost in prayer, like Mary the mother of John, who assembled the disciples at her home to pray for Peter’s deliverance (Ac 12:12). Priscilla is equally gifted with her husband as an expounder of "the way of God," and instructor of Apollos (Ac 18:26), and as Paul’s "fellow-worker in Christ" (Ro 16:3). The daughters of Philip were prophetesses (Ac 21:8,9). The first convert in Europe was a woman, Lydia of Thyatira, whose hospitality made a home for Paul and a meeting-place for the infant church (Ac 16:14). Women, as truly as men, were recipients of the charismatic gifts of Christianity. The apostolic greetings in the Epistles give them a place of honor. The church at Rome seems to have been blessed with a goodly number of gifted and consecrated women, inasmuch as Paul in the closing salutations of his Epistles sends greetings to at least eight prominent in Christian activity: Phoebe, Prisca, Mary "who bestowed much labor on you," Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Julia, and the sister of Nereus (Ro 16:1,3,6,12,15). To no women did the great apostle feel himself more deeply indebted than to Lois and Eunice, grandmother and mother of Timothy, whose "faith unfeigned" and ceaseless instructions from the holy Scriptures (2Ti 1:5; 3:14,15) gave him the most "beloved child" and assistant in his ministry. Their names have been conspicuous in Christian history for maternal love, spiritual devotion and fidelity in teaching the Word of God.

See also CLAUDIA.

4. Official Service:

From the first, women held official positions of influence in the church. Phoebe (Ro 16:1) was evidently a deaconess, whom Paul terms "a servant of the church," "a helper of many" and of himself also. Those women who "labored with me in the gospel" (Php 4:3) undoubtedly participated with him in preaching. Later on, the apostle used his authority to revoke this privilege, possibly because some women had been offensively forward in "usurping authority over the man" (1Ti 2:12 the King James Version). Even though he bases his argument for woman’s keeping silence in public worship on Adam’s priority of creation and her priority in transgression (1Ti 2:13,14), modern scholarship unhesitatingly affirms that his prohibition was applicable only to the peculiar conditions of his own time. Her culture, grace, scholarship, ability, religious devotion and spiritual enduement make it evident that she is often as truly called of God to public address and instruction as man. It is evident in the New Testament and in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers that women, through the agency of two ecclesiastical orders, were assigned official duties in the conduct and ministrations of the early church.

5. Widows:

Their existence as a distinct order is indicated in 1Ti 5:9,10, where Paul directs Timothy as to the conditions of their enrollment. No widow should be "enrolled" (katalego, "catalogued," "registered") under 60 years of age, or if more than once married. She must be "well reported of for good works"; a mother, having "brought up children"; hospitable, having "used hospitality to strangers"; Christlike in loving service, having "washed the saints’ feet." Chrysostom and Tertullian make mention of this order. It bound its members to the service of God for life, and assigned them ecclesiastical duties, e.g. the superintendence of the rest of the women, and the charge of the widows and orphans supported at public expense. Dean Alford (see the Commentary in the place cited) says they "were vowed to perpetual widowhood, clad in a vestis vidualis ("widow’s garments"), and ordained by the laying on of hands. This institution was abolished by the eleventh Canon of the council of Laodicea."

Other special duties, mentioned by the Church Fathers, included prayer and fasting, visiting the sick, instruction of women, preparing them for baptism, assisting in the administration of this sacrament, and taking them the communion. The spiritual nature of the office is indicated by its occupant being variously termed "the intercessor of the church"; "the keeper of the door," at public service; "the altar of God."


6. Deaconesses:

Many of these duties were transferred, by the 3rd century, to the deaconesses, an order which in recent history has been restored to its original importance and effectiveness. The women already referred to in Ro 16:1,6,12 were evidently of this order, the term diakonos, being specifically applied to Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea. The women of 1Ti 3:11, who were to serve "in like manner" as the "deacons" of 3:10, presumably held this office, as also the "aged women" of Tit 2:3 (=" presbyters" (feminine), presbuterai, 1Ti 5:2). Virgins as well as widows were elected to this office, and the age of eligibility was changed from 60 to 40 by the Council of Chalcedon. The order was suppressed in the Latin church in the 6th century, and in the Greek church in the 12th. because of certain abuses that gradually became prevalent. Owing, however, to its exceptional importance and value it has been reinstated by nearly all branches of the modern church, the Methodists especially emphasizing its spiritual efficiency. Special training schools and courses in education now prepare candidates for this office. Even as early as the Puritan Reformation in England the Congregationalists recognized this order of female workers in their discipline. The spiritual value of woman’s ministry in the lay and official work of the church is evidenced by her leadership in all branches of ecclesiastical and missionary enterprise. This modern estimate of her capability and place revises the entire historic conception and attitude of mankind.


V. Later Times.

1. Changes in Character and Condition:

Tertullian mentions the modest garb worn by Christian women (De Cult. Fem. ii.11) as indicating their consciousness of their new spiritual wealth and worthiness. They no longer needed the former splendor of outward adornment, because clothed with the beauty and simplicity of Christlike character. They exchanged the temples, theaters, and festivals of paganism for the home, labored with their hands, cared for their husbands and children, graciously dispensed Christian hospitality, nourished their spiritual life in the worship, service and sacraments of the church, and in loving ministries to the sick. Their modesty and simplicity were a rebuke to and reaction from the shameless extravagances and immoralities of heathenism. That they were among the most conspicuous examples of the transforming power of Christianity is manifest from the admiration and astonishment of the pagan Libanius who exclaimed, "What women these Christians have!"

The social and legal status of woman instantly improved when Christianity gained recognition in the Empire. Her property rights as wife were established by law, and her husband made subject to accusation for marital infidelity. Her inferiority, subjection and servitude among all non-Jewish and non-Christian races, ancient and modern, are the severest possible arraignment of man’s intelligence and virtue. Natural prudence should have discovered the necessity of a cultured and noble motherhood in order to a fine grade of manhood. Races that put blighting restrictions upon woman consign themselves to perpetual inferiority, impotence and final overthrow. The decline of Islam and the collapse of Turkey as a world-power are late striking illustrations of this fundamental truth.

2. Notable Examples of Christian Womanhood:

Woman’s activity in the early church came to its zenith in the 4th century. The type of feminine character produced by Christianity in that era is indicated by such notable examples as Eramelia and Macrina, the mother and sister of Basil; Anthusa, Nonna, Monica, respectively the mothers of Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzen and Augustine. Like the mothers of Jerome and Ambrose they gave luster to the womanhood of the early Christian centuries by their accomplishments and eminent piety. As defenders of the faith women stand side by side with Ignatius and Polycarp in their capacity to face death and endure the agonies of persecution. The roll of martyrs is made luminous by the unrivaled purity, undaunted heroism, unconquerable faith of such Christian maidens as Blandina, Potamiaena, Perpetua and Felicitas, who, in their loyalty to Christ, shrank not from the most fiendish tortures invented by the diabolical cruelties and hatred of pagan Rome.

In the growing darkness of subsequent centuries women, as mothers, teachers, abbesses, kept the light of Christian faith and intelligence burning in medieval Europe. The mothers of Bernard and Peter the Venerable witness to the conserving and creative power of their devotion and faith. The apotheosis of the Virgin Mother, though a grave mistake and a perversion of Christianity by substituting her for the true object of worship, nevertheless served, in opposition to pagan culture, to make the highest type of womanhood the ideal of medieval greatness. The full glory of humanity was represented in her. She became universally dominant in religion. The best royalty of Europe was converted through her influence. Poland and Russia were added to European Christendom when their rulers accepted the faith of their Christian wives. Clotilda’s conversion of Clovis made France Christian. The marriage of Bertha, another Christian princess of France, to Ethelbert introduced Roman Christianity into England, which became the established religion when Edwin, in turn, was converted through the influence of his Christian wife. The process culminated, in the 19th century, in the long, prosperous, peaceful, Christian reign of Victoria, England’s noblest sovereign.

3. Woman in the 20th Century:

The opening decades of the 20th century are witnessing a movement among women that is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of mankind. It is world-wide and spontaneous, and aims at nothing less than woman’s universal education and enfranchisement. This new ideal, taking its rise in the teaching of Jesus regarding the value of the human soul, is permeating every layer of society and all races and religions. Woman’s desire for development and serf-expression, and better still for service, has given birth to educational, social, eleemosynary, missionary organizations and institutions, international in scope and influence. In 75 years after Mary Lyon inaugurated the higher education of woman at Mt. Holyoke College, in 1837, 60,000 women were students in the universities and colleges of the United States; nearly 40,000 in the universities of Russia; and increasingly proportionate numbers in every higher institution of learning for women in the world; 30,000 were giving instruction in the primary and secondary schools of Japan. Even Moslem leaders confessed that the historic subjection of woman to ignorance, inferiority, and servitude was the fatal mistake of their religion and social system. The striking miracle occurred when Turkey and China opened to her the heretofore permanently closed doors of education and social opportunity.

This universal movement for woman’s enlightenment and emancipation is significantly synchronous with the world-wide extension and success of Christian missions. The freedom wherewith Christ did set us free includes her complete liberation to equality of opportunity with man. In mental endowment, in practical ability, in all the higher ministries of life and even in statecraft, she has proved herself the equal of man. Christianity always tends to place woman side by side with man in all the great achievements of education, art, literature, the humanities, social service and missions. The entire movement of modern society toward her perfect enfranchisement is the distinct and inevitable product of the teaching of Jesus. The growing desire of woman for the right of suffrage, whether mistaken or not, is the incidental outcome of this new emancipation. The initial stages of this evolutionary. process are attended by many abnormal desires, crudities of experiment and conduct, but ultimately, under the guidance of the Spirit of God and the Christian ideal, woman will intelligently adjust herself to her new opportunity and environment, recognizing every God-ordained difference of function, and every complementary and cooperative relation between the sexes. The result of this latest evolution of Christianity will not only be a new womanhood for the race but, through her enlightenment, culture and spiritual leadership, a new humanity.

Dwight M. Pratt


wun’-der, wun’-derful: The verb "wonder" occurs only a few times in the Old Testament; "wonder" as noun is much more frequent, and is chiefly the translation of the word mopheth, a splendid or conspicuous work, a "miracle" (Ex 4:21; 11:9, etc.), often conjoined with ‘othoth, "signs" (Ex 7:3; De 6:22; 13:1,2; 34:11; Ne 9:10, etc.). Other frequent words are pala’, pele’, a "marvel," "miracle" (Ex 3:20; 15:11; Jos 3:5; Isa 9:6, margin "wonderful counselor," etc.). In the New Testament the ordinary verb is thaumazo, and the most frequent noun is teras, a "marvel," "portent," answering in its meaning to Hebrew pala’. As in the Old Testament the "wonder" is chiefly a miraculous work, so in the Gospels the feeling of wonder is chiefly drawn out by the marvelous displays of Christ’s power and wisdom (Mt 15:31; Mr 6:51; Lu 4:22, etc.).

Wonderful, that which excites or calls forth wonder, is in the Old Testament chiefly the translation of pala’ or pele’ (2Sa 1:26; Ps 40:3; Isa 28:29, etc.); in the New Testament of thaumasios (once, Mt 21:15).

For "wondered" in Lu 8:25; 11:14, the Revised Version (British and American) has "marvelled" (compare 9:43); in the Old Testament also "marvellous" frequently for "wondrous" etc. (1Ch 16:9; , Job 9:10; Ps 96:3; 105:2).

W. L. Walker





(2Sa 18:6).



woof (‘erebh, "mixture," "woof" (Le 13:48 )).



wool (tsemer; erion): Wool and flax were the fibers most used by the ancient weavers. Wool was used principally for the outside garments (Le 13:48 ff; Pr 31:13; Eze 34:3; Ho 2:5,9). Syrian wool is found on the world’s markets today, but it is not rated as first quality, partly because it is so contaminated with thorns, straw and other foreign matter which become entangled with the wool while the sheep are wandering over the barren, rocky mountain sides in search of food. Extensive pastures are almost unknown.

Two kinds of wool are sold:

(1) That obtained by shearing. This is removed from the animal as far as possible in one piece or fleece usually without previous washing. The fleeces are gathered in bales and carried to a washing-place, which is usually one of the stony river beds, with but a small stream flowing through it during the summer. The river bed is chosen because the rocks are clean and free from little sticks or straw which would cling to the washed wool. The purchaser of this washed wool submits it to a further washing with soap, ishnan (alkali plant), "soapwort", or other cleansing agent (see FULLER), and then cards it before spinning and weaving. The wool thus obtained is nearly snow white.

(2) The second supply of wool is from the tanneries where the wool is removed from the skins with slaked lime (see TANNER). This is washed in many changes of water and used for stuffing mattresses, quilts, etc., but not for weaving.

Gideon used a fleece of wool to seek an omen from God (Jud 6:37). Mesha, king of Moab, sent a large quantity of wool as a tribute to the king of Israel (2Ki 3:4). Wool was forbidden to be woven with linen (De 2:11; compare Le 19:19). Priests could not wear woolen garments (Eze 44:17). Wool dyed scarlet with the qermes was used in the blood-covenant ceremony (Heb 9:19; compare Le 14; Nu 19:6).

The whiteness of wool was used for comparison

(1) with snow (Ps 147:16);

(2) with sins forgiven (Isa 1:18);

(3) with hair (Da 7:9; Re 1:14).

James A. Patch


wurd: The commonest term in the Old Testament for "word" is dabhar (also "matter" "thing"); in the New Testament logos ("reason," "discourse," "speech"); but also frequently rhema. Rhema is a "word" in itself considered; logos is a spoken word, with reference generally to that which is in the speaker’s mind. Some of the chief applications of the terms may thus be exhibited:

(1) We have the word of Yahweh (or God; see below)

(a) as the revelation to the patriarch, prophet, or inspired person (Ge 15:1; Ex 20:1; Nu 22:38, etc.);

(b) as spoken forth by the prophet (Ex 4:30; 34:1; 2Ki 7:1; Isa 1:10, etc.).

(2) The word is often a commandment, sometimes equivalent to "the Law" (Ex 32:28; Nu 20:24; De 6:6; Ps 105:8; 119:11,17; Isa 66:2, etc.).

(3) As a promise and ground of hope (Ps 119:25,28,38, etc.; 130:5, etc.).

(4) As creative, upholding, and preserving (Ps 33:6; compare Ge 1:3; Ps 147:15,18; Heb 1:3; 11:3; 2Pe 3:5,7).

(5) As personified (in Apocrypha, The Wisdom of Solomon 18:15; Ecclesiasticus 1:5, the Revised Version margin "omitted by the best authorities").

(6) As personal (Joh 1:1). Logos in Philo and Greek-Jewish philosophy meant both reason or thought and its utterance, "the whole contents of the divine world of thought resting in the Nous of God, synonymous with the inner life of God Himself and corresponding to the logos endiathetos of the human soul; on the other hand, it is the externalizing of this as revelation corresponding to the logos prophorikos in which man’s thought finds expression (Schultz). Compare also the references to Creation by "the word of God" and its personifications; see LOGOS; incarnated in Jesus Christ (Joh 1:14; 1 Joh 1:1,2; Re 19:13, "His name is called, The Word of God," Ho Logos tou Theou). See PERSON OF CHRIST.

(7) Cannot be broken, endureth forever (2Ki 10:10; Ps 119:89; Isa 40:8, etc.).

(8) A designation of the gospel of Christ: sometimes simply "the word"; with Jesus "the word of the Kingdom" (Mt 13:19; Mr 2:2; Ac 4:4,29,31, etc.). In John’s Gospel Jesus frequently speaks of His "word" and "works" as containing the divine revelation and requirements made through Him, which men are asked to believe in, cherish and obey (Joh 5:24; 6:63,68, etc.); "the words of God" (Joh 3:34; 8:47; 14:10; 17:8,14, etc.); His "word" (logos and rhema) is to be distinguished from lalia, speech (compare Mt 26:73; Mr 14:70), translated "saying," Joh 4:42 (4:41, "Many more believed because of his own word" (logos); 4:42, "not because of thy saying" (lalia), the Revised Version (British and American) "speaking"); in the only other occurrence of lalia in this Gospel (Joh 8:43) Jesus uses it to distinguish the outward expression from the inner meaning, "Why do ye not understand my speech?" (lalia), "Even because ye cannot hear my word" (logos).

(9) "Words" are distinguished from "power" (1Co 4:20; 1Th 1:5); are contrasted with "deed" (Mal 2:17; 1Co 4:20; 1 Joh 3:18). (10) Paul refers to "unspeakable words" (arrheta rhemata) which he heard in Paradise (2Co 12:4), and to "words (logoi) .... which the Spirit teacheth" (1Co 2:13).

For "word" the Revised Version (British and American) has "commandment" (Nu 4:45, etc.); for "words," "things" (Joh 7:9; 8:30; 9:22,40; 17:1), "sayings" (Joh 10:21; 12:47,48); for "enticing words," "persuasiveness of speech" (Col 2:4); conversely, "word" for "commandment" (Nu 24:13; 27:14; Jos 8:8, etc.), with numerous other changes.

W. L. Walker


wurk, wurks: "To work" in the Old Testament is usually the translation of ‘asah, or of pa‘al (of the works both of God and of man), and "work" (noun) is most frequently the translation of ma‘aseh, or mela’khah; in the New Testament of energeo, ergazomai (and compound), with ergon (noun). The word "works" (erga) is a favorite designation in John for the wonderful works of Jesus (5:36; 10:38; 15:24, etc.; "miracles" to us, "works" to Him). "Works" is used by Paul and James, in a special sense, as denoting (with Paul) those legal performances by means of which men sought to be accepted of God, in contradistinction to that faith in Christ through which the sinner is justified apart from all legal works (Ro 3:27; 4:2,6, etc.; Ga 2:16; 3:2,5,10), "working through love" (Ga 5:6; 1Th 1:3), and is fruitful in all truly "good works," in which Christian believers are expected to abound (2Co 9:8; Eph 2:10; Col 1:10; 2Th 2:17, etc.). When James speaks of being justified by "works" as well as by "faith" (2:14-26), he has in view those works which show faith to be real and vital. "Dead works" avail nothing (compare Heb 9:14; 10:24). Judgment is according to "works" (Mt 16:27, the Revised Version (British and American) "deeds," margin "Greek: ‘doing’ " praxis; Ro 2:6; 1Pe 1:17, etc.), the new life being therein evidenced. A contrast between "faith" and "good works" is never drawn in the New Testament.

See, further, JUSTIFICATION.

W. L. Walker


wur’-der, wurk’-fel-o, wurk’-man (charash, pa‘al; ergates, sunergos): "Worker" (artificer) is the translation of charash, "to cut in" (1Ki 7:14, "a worker in brass"), and of charash, "artificer," etc. (1Ch 22:15); "workers of stone," rendered "workman," "workmen" (Isa 40:20; 44:11; Jer 10:3,9, "artificer"; Ho 8:6); ‘asah, "to work," is translated "workers" of iniquity (Ps 37:1, "them that work unrighteousness"); ‘asah mela’khah, "to do work" (2Ki 12:14,15, "workmen," "them that did the work"; 1Ch 22:15; 2Ch 24:13, etc.; Ezr 3:9);’aneshe mela’khah, "men of work" (1Ch 25:1, "workmen," "them that did the work"); ‘amel, "working," "toiling" (Jud 5:26, "put .... her right hand to the workmen’s hammer"); pa‘al, "to act," "do," when translated "workers," is joined with "iniquity," "workers of iniquity" (Job 31:3; 34:8,22; Ps 5:5; 6:8; 14:4, etc.; Pr 10:29; 21:15); ergates, "worker," is translated "workman" (Mt 10:10, "laborer"; 2Ti 2:15; Ac 19:25), "workers" (of iniquity) (Lu 13:27), "deceitful workers" (2Co 11:13), "evil workers" (Php 3:2); dunamis, "power," is translated "(workers of) miracles" (1Co 12:29 margin, the Revised Version (British and American) "powers"); sunergeo, "to work with" (2Co 6:1, "working together with him").

Workfellow is the translation of sunergos, "joint or fellow-worker" (Ro 16:21; Col 4:11).

Workmaster occurs in Ecclesiasticus 38:27, as the translation of architekton.

For "of ("with") cunning work" (Ex 26:1,31; 28:6,15; 36:8,35; 39:3,8), the American Standard Revised Version has "the work of the skillful workman," the English Revised Version "of the cunning workman"; instead of "I was by him as one brought up (with him)" (Pr 8:30), the Revised Version (British and American) has "I was by him as a master workman.

W. L. Walker


1. Original Words:

In the King James Version this word represents several originals, as follows: ‘erets "earth"; chedhel, "the underworld"; cheledh, "lifetime," "age"; ‘olam, "indefinite time," "age"; tebhel, "fertile earth"; ge, "earth"; aion, "age," "indefinite time," with frequent connotation of the contents of time, its influences and powers; oikoumene, "inhabited earth," the world of man considered in its area and distribution; last, and most frequently, kosmos, properly "order," with the suggestion of beauty; thence the material universe, as the great example of such order; then the moral universe, the total system of intelligent creatures, perhaps sometimes including angels (1Co 4:9), but as a rule human beings only; then, in view of the fact of universal human failure, humanity in its sinful aspect, the spirit and forces of fallen humanity regarded as antagonistic to God and to good, "all around us which does not love God."

2. Remarks:

Of the above terms, some need not detain us; ‘erets, as the original to "world," occurs only thrice, chedhel, once, cheledh, twice, ‘olam, twice (including Ec 3:11), ge, once. The most important of the series, looking at frequency of occurrence, are tebhel, aion, oikoumene, kosmos. On these we briefly comment in order.

(1) Tebhel.

Tebhel, as the original to "world," occurs in 35 places, of which 15 are found in Psalms and 9 in the first half of Isaiah. By derivation it has to do with produce, fertility, but this cannot be said to come out in usage. The word actually plays nearly the same part as "globe" with us, denoting man’s material dwelling-place, as simply as possible, without moral suggestions.

(2) Aion.

We have indicated above the speciality of aion. It is a time, with the suggestion always of extension rather than limit (so that it lends itself to phrases denoting vast if not endless extension, such as "to the aions of aions," rendered "forever and ever," or "world without end"). In Heb 1:2; 11:13, it denotes the "aeons" of the creative process. In numerous places, notably in Matthew, it refers to the "dispensations" of redemption, the present "age"of grace and, in distinction, the "age" which is to succeed it—"that world, and the resurrection" (Lu 20:35). Then, in view of the moral contents of the present state of things, it freely passes into the thought of forces and influences tending against faith and holiness, e.g., "Be not fashioned according to this world" (Ro 12:2). In this connection the Evil Power is said to be "the god of this world" (2Co 4:4).

(3) Oikoumene.

The word oikoumene occasionally means the Roman empire, regarded as pre-eminently the region of settled human life. So Lu 2:1; Ac 11:28, and perhaps Re 3:10, and other apocalyptic passages. In Hebrews it is used mystically of the Empire of the Messiah (1:6; 2:5).

(4) Kosmos.

We have remarked above on kosmos, with its curious and suggestive history of meanings. It may be enough here to add that that history prepares us to find its reference varying by subtle transitions, even in the same passage. See e.g. Joh 1:10, where "the world" appears first to denote earth and man simply as the creation of "the Word," and then mankind as sinfully alienated from their Creator. We are not surprised accordingly to read on the one hand that "God .... loved the world" (Joh 3:16), and on the other that the Christian must "not love the world" (1 Joh 2:15). The reader will find the context a sure clue in all cases, and the study will be pregnant of instruction.

Handley Dunelm


wurld, koz-mo-loj’-i-kal:

1. Terms and General Meaning

2. Hebrew Idea of the World

3. Its Extent

4. Origin of the World—Biblical and Contrasted Views

5. The Cosmogony of Genesis 1—Comparison with Babylonian and Other Cosmogonies

6. Genesis 1 and Science


1. Terms and General Meaning:

The Hebrews had no proper word for "world" in its wide sense of "universe." The nearest approach to such a meaning is in the phrase "the heavens and the earth" (Ge 1:1, etc.). Even this, in a physical reference, does not convey the modern idea, for the earth is still the center with which heaven and the heavenly bodies are connected as adjuncts. It is here, however, to be remembered that to the Hebrew mind the physical world was not the whole. Beyond were the heavens where God’s throne was, peopled by innumerable spiritual intelligences, whose hosts worshipped and obeyed Him (Ge 28:12; Ps 103:19-21, etc.). Their conception of the universe was thus enlarged, but the heavens, in this sense, would not be included in the "world." For "world," in its terrestrial meaning, several Hebrew words are used. The King James Version thus occasionally renders the word ‘erets, "earth" (the rendering is retained in the Revised Version (British and American) in Isa 23:17; Jer 25:26; in Ps 22:27; Isa 62:11, it is changed to its proper meaning "earth"); ‘olam, "age," twice rendered "world" in the King James Version (Ps 73:12; Ec 3:11), is changed in the Revised Version (British and American)—in the latter case into "eternity." The chief word for "world" in the sense of the habitable earth, the abode of man, with its fullness of created life, is tebhel—a poetical term (1Sa 2:8; 2Sa 22:16; Job 18:18; 34:13; 37:12; Ps 9:8; 18:15, etc.)—answering to the Greek oikoumene.

In the New Testament a frequent word for "world" is aion, "age" (Mt 12:32; 13:22,39,40,49; 24:3; Mr 4:19; Lu 16:8; Ro 12:2; Heb 1:2, etc.). the Revised Version (British and American) notes in these cases "age" in margin, and sometimes changes in text into "of old" (thus the American Standard Revised Version in Lu 1:70; Ac 3:21), "ages," "times," etc., according to the sense (compare 1Co 10:11; Heb 6:5; 9:26; 2Ti 1:9; . Tit 1:2, etc.). Most generally the Greek word used is kosmos, the "ordered world" (e.g. Mt 4:8; 5:14; 26:13; Mr 8:36; Joh 1:9; 8:12; Ac 17:24; Ro 1:8,20, etc.). The wider sense of "all creation," or "universe" (see above on the Old Testament), is expressed by such phrases as panta, "all things" (Joh 1:3), pasa he ktisis, "the whole creation" (Ro 8:22).

2. Hebrew Idea of the World:

Two errors are to be avoided in framing a representation of the Hebrew conception of the world.

(1) The attempt should not be made to find in the Biblical statements precise anticipations of modern scientific discoveries. The relations of the Biblical teaching to scientific discovery are considered below. Here it is enough to say that the view taken of the world by Biblical writers is not that of modern science, but deals with the world simply as we know it—as it lies spread out to ordinary view—and things are described in popular language as they appear to sense, not as telescope, microscope, and other appliances of modern knowledge reveal their nature, laws and relations to us. The end of the narration or description is throughout religious, not theoretic.

(2) On the other hand, the error is to be avoided of forcing the language of popular, often metaphorical and poetic, description into the hard-and-fast forms of a cosmogony which it is by no means intended by the writers to yield. It is true that the Hebrews had no idea of our modern Copernican astronomy, and thought of the earth as a flat surface, surmounted by a vast expanse of heaven, in which sun, moon and stars were placed, and from whose reservoirs the rain descended. But it is an exaggeration of all this to speak, as is sometimes done, as if the Hebrews were children who thought of the sky as a solid vault (Ge 1:6-8; Job 37:18), supported on pillars (Job 26:11), and pierced with windows (Ge 7:11; Isa 24:18), through which the rains came. "The world is a solid expanse of earth, surrounded by and resting on a world-ocean, and surmounted by a rigid vault called the ‘firmament,’ above which the waters of a heavenly ocean are spread" (Skinner). The matter is carried farther when elaborate resemblances are sought between the Hebrew and Babylonian cosmogonies (see below). Such representations, though common, are misleading. Language is not to be pressed in this prosaic, unelastic way. It is forgotten that if the "firmament" or "heaven" is sometimes spoken of as a solid vault, it is at other times compared to a "curtain" stretched out (Ps 104:2; Isa 40:22), or a "scroll" that can be rolled up (Isa 34:4); if "windows" of heaven are once or twice mentioned, in many other places there is a quite clear recognition that the rain comes from the clouds in the air (Jud 5:4; Job 36:28; Ps 77:17, etc.); if the earth is sometimes spoken of as a "circle" (Isa 40:22), at other times it has "corners" and "ends" (Isa 11:12; De 33:17; Job 37:3; Ps 19:6, etc.); if sun, moon and stars are figured as if attached to the firmament—"fixed as nails," as one has put it—"from which they might be said to drop off" (Isa 14:12, etc.), far more frequently the sun is represented as pursuing his free, rejoicing course around the heavens (Ps 19:5,6, etc.), the moon as "walking" in brightness (Job 31:26), etc. The proper meaning of the word raqia‘ is simply "expanse" and the pellucid vault of the heavens, in which the clouds hung and through which the sun traveled, had probably for the Hebrews associations not very different from what it has to the average mind of today. The earth, itself composed of "dry land" and "seas" (Ge 1:9,10), the former with its mountains, valleys and rivers, may have been conceived of as encircled by an ocean—the circular form being naturally suggested by the outline of the horizon. A few passages convey the idea of depths within or beneath, as well as around the solid earth (Ge 7:11; De 33:13)—a thought again suggested by springs, wells, floods, and similar natural phenomena—but there is no fixity in these representations. One place in Job (26:7) has the bold idea of the earth as hung in free space—a near approach to the modern conception.

3. Its Extent:

The ideas formed of the extent of the world were naturally limited by the geographical knowledge of the Hebrews, and expanded as that knowledge increased. At no time, however, was it so limited as might be supposed. The TABLE OF NATIONS (which see) in Ge 10 shows a wide knowledge of the different peoples of the world, "after their tongues, in their lands, in their nations" (10:20,31). The outlook to the West was bounded by the Mediterranean ("great sea," Nu 31:6; Eze 47:10, etc.), with its "islands" (Ge 10:5; Isa 11:11, etc.), to Tarshish (Spain?) in the extreme West. To the North was the great empire of the Hittites (Jos 1:4; 1Ki 10:29, etc.). North and East across the desert, beyond Syria, lay the familiar region of Mesopotamia (Aram-Naharaim, Ps 60, title), with Ararat (Ge 8:4) still farther North; and, southward, in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, the ancient and powerful empires of Assyria and Babylonia (Ge 2:14; 10:10,11), with Media and Elam (Ge 10:2,22), at a later time Persia (Es 1:1), farther East To the Southeast, between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, lay the great peninsula of Arabia, and to the West of the Red Sea, Southwest of Canaan, the mighty Egypt, Israel’s never-forgotten "land of bondage" (Ex 20:2, etc.). South of Egypt was Ethiopia. Of more distant peoples, India is first mentioned in Es 1:1; 8:9, but trade with it must have been as early as the days of Solomon. On the dim horizon are such peoples as Gomer (the Cimmerians, North of the Euxine Ge 10:2; Eze 38:6) and Magog (Ge 10:2; Eze 38:2 the Scythians (?)); probably even China is intended by "the land of Sinim" in Isa 49:12. In the apocryphal books and the New Testament the geographical area is perceptibly widened. Particularly do Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and Italy, with their islands, cities, etc., come clearly into view. A list like that in Ac 2:9-11 of the representatives of peoples present at the day of Pentecost gives a vivid glimpse of the extent of the Jewish religious connection at this period (compare Ac 8:27 ff).

4. Origin of the World—Biblical and Contrasted Views:

From the first there has been abundant speculation in religion and philosophy as to how the world came to be—whether it was eternal, or had a commencement, and, if it began to be, how it originated. Theories were, as they are still, numberless and various. Some cosmogonies were purely mythological (Babylonian, Hesiod); some were materialistic (Democritus, Epicurus—"concourse of atoms"); some were demiurgic (Plato in Timaeus—an eternal matter formed by a demiurge); some were emanational (Gnostics—result of overflowing of fullness of divine life in "aeons"); some were dualistic (Parsism, Manicheism—good and evil principles in conflict); some imagined endless "cycles"—alternate production and destruction (Stoics, Buddhist kalpas); many were pantheistic (Spinoza—an eternal "substance," its "attributes" necessarily determined in their "modes"; Hegel, "absolute spirit," evolving by logical necessity); some are pessimistic (Schopenhauer—the world the result of an irrational act of "will"; hence, necessarily evil), etc.

In contrast with these conflicting, and often foolish and irrational, theories, the Biblical doctrine of the origin of the world stands alone and unique. It is unique because the view of God on which it rests is unique. According to the teaching of the Bible, from its first page to its last, God is a free, personal Spirit, one, omnipotent, holy, and the world originates in a free act of His almighty will (Ge 1:1; Ps 33:9; Heb 11:3; Re 4:11, etc.), is continually upheld by His power, ruled by His providence, and is the sphere of the realization of His purpose. As against theories of the eternity of the world, accordingly, it declares that the world had a beginning (Ge 1:1); as against dualism, it declares that it is the product of one almighty will (De 4:35; Isa 45:7; 1Co 8:6, etc.); as against the supposition of an eternal matter, it declares that matter as well as form takes its origin from God (Ge 1:1; Heb 11:3); as against pantheism and all theories of necessary development, it affirms the distinction of God from His world, His transcendence over it as well as His immanence in it, and His free action in creation (Eph 4:6; Re 4:11); as against pessimism, it declares the constitution, aim and end of the world to be good (Ge 1:31; Ps 33:5; Mt 5:45, etc.). To the Old Testament doctrine of the origin of the world the New Testament adds the fuller determination that the world was created through the agency of the "Word" (Logos), or Son (Joh 1:3; Col 1:16,17; Heb 1:2,3, etc.).

5. The Cosmogony of Genesis 1—Comparison with Babylonian and Other Cosmogonies:

No stronger proof could be afforded of the truth and sublimity of the Biblical account of the origin of things than is given by the comparison of the narrative of creation in Ge 1-2:4, with the mythological cosmogonies and theogonies found in other religions. Of these the best known, up to the time of recent discoveries, were the Babylonian account of the creation preserved by Berosus, a priest of Babylon in the 3rd century BC, and the Theogony of the Greek Hesiod (9th century BC). Hesiod’s poem is a confused story of how from Chaos came forth Earth, Tartarus (Hell), Eros (Love) and Erebus (Night). Erebus gives birth to Aether (Day). Earth produces the Heaven and the Sea. Earth and Heaven, in turn, become the parents of the elder gods and the Titans. Cronus, one of these gods, begets Zeus. Zeus makes war on his father Cronus, overthrows him, and thus becomes king of the Olympian gods. The descent of these is then traced. How far this fantastic theory, commencing with Chaos, and from it generating Nature and the gods, has itself an original affinity with Babylonian conceptions, need not here be discussed. It hardly surpasses in crudeness the late shape of the Babylonian cosmogony furnished by Berosus. Here, too, Chaos—"darkness and water"—is the beginning, and therefrom are generated strange and peculiar forms, men with wings and with two faces, or with heads and horns of goats, bulls with human heads, dogs with four bodies, etc. Over this welter a woman presides, called Omorka. Belus appears, cuts the woman in twain, of one half of her makes the heavens, and of the other the earth, sets the world in order, finally makes one of the gods cut off his head, and from the blood which flowed forth, mixed with earth, forms intelligent man. That Berosus has not essentially misrepresented the older Babylonian conceptions is now made apparent through the recovery of the Babylonian story itself.

In 1875 George Smith discovered, among the tablets in the British Museum brought from the great library of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal (7th century BC), several on which was inscribed the Chaldean story of creation, and next year published his work, The Chaldean Account of Gen. The tablets, supplemented by other fragments, have since been repeatedly translated by other hands, the most complete translation being that by L. W. King in his Seven Tablets of Creation in the Babylonian and Assyrian Legends concerning the Creation of the World. The story of these tablets, still in many parts fragmentary, is now familiar (see BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA, RELIGION OF). Here, too, the origin of all things is from Chaos, the presiding deities of which are Apsu and Tiamat. The gods are next called into being. Then follows a long mythological description, occupying the first four tablets, of the war of Marduk with Tiamat, the conflict issuing in the woman being cut in two, and heaven being formed of one half and earth of the other. The 5th tablet narrates the appointing of the constellations. The 6th seems to have recorded the creation of man from the blood of Marduk. This mythological epic is supposed by many scholars to be the original of the sublime, orderly, monotheistic account of the creation which stands at the commencement of our Bible. The Babylonian story is (without proof) supposed to have become naturalized in Israel, and there purified and elevated in accordance with the higher ideas of Israel’s religion. We cannot subscribe to this view, which seems to us loaded with internal and historical improbabilities. Points of resemblance are indeed alleged, as in the use of the Hebrew word tehom for "deep" (Ge 1:2), cognate with Tiamat; the separation of heaven and earth (Ge 1:6-8); the appointing of the constellations (Ge 1:14-18), etc. But in the midst of the scanty resemblances, how enormous are the contrasts, which all writers acknowledge! Gunkel, e.g., says, "Anyone who compares this ancient Babylonian myth with Ge 1, will perceive at once hardly anything else than the infinite distance between them. There the heathen gods, inflamed against each other in wild warfare, here the One, who speaks and it is done" (Israel und Babylonien, 24). One can understand how these wild polytheistic legends could arise from corruption of a purer, simpler form, but not vice versa. The idea of a "deep," or chaos, must have preceded the fanciful and elaborate creation of the woman-monster, Tiamat; the distinction of sky and earth would go before the coarse idea of the cutting of the woman in two; and so with the other features of supposed resemblance. Professor Clay has recently shown reason for challenging the whole idea of the borrowing of these myths from Babylonia, and declares that "it is unreasonable to assume that the Hebrew tehom is a modification of a Babylonian pattern ..... To say, therefore, that the origin of the Marduk-Tiamat myth is to be found in a Nippurian version, originally known as Ellil-Tiamat, is utterly without foundation" (Amurru, 50). Much more reasonably may we adopt the hypothesis of Dillmann, Kittel, Hommel, Oettli, etc., that the relation between these Babylonian legends and the Biblical narratives is one of cognateness, and not of derivation. These traditions came down from a much older source and are preserved by the Hebrews in their purer form (see the writer’s POT, 402-9).

The superiority of the Ge cosmogony to those of other peoples is generally admitted, but objection to it is taken in the name of modern science. The narrative conflicts, it is said, with both modern astronomy and modern geology; with the former, in regarding the earth as the center of the universe, and with the latter in its picture of the order and stages of creation, and the time occupied in the work (for a full statement of these alleged discrepancies, see Dr. Driver’s Genesis, Introduction).

6. Genesis 1 and Science:

On the general question of the harmony of the Bible with science it is important that a right standpoint be adopted. It has already been stated that it is no part of the aim of the Biblical revelation to anticipate the discoveries of 19th-century and 20th-century science. The world is taken as it is, and set in its relations to God its Creator, without consideration of what after-light science may throw on its inner constitution, laws and methods of working. As Calvin, with his usual good sense, in his commentary on Ge 1 says, "Moses wrote in the popular style, which, without instruction, all ordinary persons endowed with common sense are able to understand. .... He does not call us up to heaven; but only proposes things that lie open before our eyes." This of itself disposes of the objection drawn from astronomy, for everywhere heaven and earth are spoken of according to their natural appearances, and not in the language of modern Copernican science. To this hour we use the same language in speaking of the sun rising and setting.

The further objection that modern knowledge discredits the Biblical view by showing how small a speck the world is in the infinitude of the universe is really without force. Whatever the extent of the universe, it remains the fact that on this little planet life has effloresced into reason, and we have as yet no ground in science for believing that anywhere else it has ever done so (compare Dr. A. R. Wallace’s striking book, Man’s Place in the Universe). Even supposing that there are any number of inhabited worlds, this does not detract from the soul’s value in this world, or from God’s love in the salvation of its sinful race. The objection drawn from geology, though so much is sometimes made of it, is hardly more formidable. It does not follow that, because the Bible does not teach modern science, we are justified in saying that it contradicts it. On the contrary, it may be affirmed, so true is the standpoint of the author in this first chapter of Gen, so divine the illumination with which he is endowed, so unerring his insight into the order of Nature, that there is little in his description that even yet, with our advanced knowledge, we need to change. To quote words used elsewhere, "The dark watery waste over which the spirit broods with vivifying power, the advent of light, the formation of an atmosphere or sky capable of sustaining the clouds above it, the settling of the great outlines of the continents and seas, the clothing of the dry land with abundant vegetation, the adjustment of the earth’s relation to sun and moon as the visible rulers of its day and night, the production of the great seamonsters and reptile-like creatures and birds, the peopling of the earth with four-footed beasts and cattle, last of all, the advent of man—is there so much of all this which science requires us to cancel?" (Orr, Christian View of God and the World, 421).

Even in regard to the "days"—the duration of time involved—there is no insuperable difficulty. The writer may well have intended symbolically to represent the creation as a great week of work, ending with the Creator’s Sabbath rest. In view, however, of the fact that days of 24 hours do not begin to run till the appointment of the sun on the 4th day (Ge 1:14), it seems more probable that he did not intend to fix a precise length to his creation "days." This is no new speculation. Already Augustine asks, "Of what fashion these days were it is exceeding hard or altogether impossible to think, much more to speak" (De Civ. Dei, xi.6, 7); and Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages leaves the matter an open question. Neither does this narrative, in tracing the origin of all things to the creative word of God, conflict with anything that may be discovered by science as to the actual method of creation, e.g. in evolution. Science itself is gradually coming to see the limits within which the doctrine of evolution must be received, and, kept within these limits, there is nothing in that doctrine which brings it into conflict with the Biblical representations (see ANTHROPOLOGY; CREATION; EVOLUTION; also the writer’s works, God’s Image in Man and Sin as a Problem of Today). Whatever may be said of the outward form of the narrative, one has only to look at the great ideas which the first chapter of Genesis is intended to teach to see that it conveys those great truths on the origin and ordering of things which are necessary as the basis of a true religious view of the world, no matter to what stage knowledge or science may attain. This chapter, standing at the head of the Bible, lays the foundation for all that follows in the Biblical view of the relation of God to the world, and yields the ground for our confidence that, as all things are created by God and dependent on Him, so everything in Nature and providence is at His disposal for the execution of His purposes and the care and protection of His people. The story of creation, therefore, remains to all time of the highest religious value.


See articles "Earth" in Smith’s DB and in EB. The other works mentioned above may be consulted. A valuable extended discussion of the word "Firmament" may be seen in Essay V of the older work, Aids to Faith (London, Murray), 220-30.

James Orr




wurm, skar’-let-wurm:

(1) tola‘, tole‘ah, tola‘ath, tola‘ath, from tala‘; compare Arabic tala, "to stretch the neck"; usually with shani, "bright" (of Arabic sana, "a flash of lightning"), the term tola‘ath shani being translated "scarlet" in English Versions of the Bible; also in the same sense the following: sheni tola‘ath (Le 14:4), tola‘ (Isa 1:18, English Versions of the Bible "crimson"), shanim (Pr 31:21; Isa 1:18, English Versions of the Bible "scarlet"), shani (Ge 38:28; Jos 2:18; So 4:3); also kokkos, and kokkinos (Mt 27:23; Heb 9:19; Re 17:3,4; 18:12,16).

(2) rimmah, from ramam, "to putrefy" (Ex 16:20); compare Arab ramm, "to become carious" (of bone).

(3) cac (only in Isa 51:8); compare Arabic sus, "worm"; ses, "moth" (Mt 6:19).

(4) zochalim (Mic 7:17, the King James Version "worms," the Revised Version (British and American) "crawling things"), from zachal, "to crawl."

(5) skolex (Mr 9:48), skolekobrotos, "eaten of worms" (Ac 12:23).

Besides the numerous passages, mostly in Ex, referring to the tabernacle, where tola‘ath, with shani, is translated "scarlet," there are eight pasages in which it is translated "worm." These denote worms which occur in decaying organic matter or in sores (Ex 16:20; Isa 14:11; 66:24); or which are destructive to plants (De 28:39; Jon 4:7); or the word is used as a term of contempt or depreciation (Job 25:6; Ps 22:6; Isa 41:14). Rimmah is used in the same senses. It occurs with tola‘ath as a synonym in Ex 16:24; Job 25:6; Isa 14:11. In Job 25:6, English Versions of the Bible, rendering both tola‘ath and rimmah by "worm," ‘enosh and ‘adham by "man," and introducing twice "that is a," makes a painfully monotonous distich out of the concise and elegant original, in which not one word of the first part is repeated in the second. Cac (Isa 51:8), English Versions of the Bible "worm," is the larva of the clothes-moth. See MOTH. In none of the cases here considered are worms, properly so called, denoted, but various insect larvae which are commonly called "worms," e.g. "silkworm," "apple-worm," "meal-worm," etc. These larvae are principally those of Diptera or flies, Coleoptera or beetles, and Lepidoptera or butterflies and moths.

Tola‘ath shani, "scarlet," is the scarlet-worm, Cermes vermilio, a scale-insect which feeds upon the oak, and which is used for producing a red dye. It is called by the Arabs dudeh, "a worm," a word also used for various insect larvae. It is also called qirmiz, whence" crimson" and the generic name Cermes. This scarlet-worm or scale-insect is one of the family Coccidae of the order Rhynchota or Hemiptera. The female is wingless and adheres to its favorite plant by its long, sucking beak, by which it extracts the sap on which it lives. After once attaching itself it remains motionless, and when dead its body shelters the eggs which have been deposited beneath it. The males, which are smaller than the females, pass through a complete metamorphosis and develop wings. The dye is made from the dried bodies of the females. Other species yielding red dyes are Porphyrophora polonica and Coccus cacti. The last named is the Mexican cochineal insect which feeds on the cactus and which largely supplanted the others after the discovery of America. Aniline dyes have in turn to a great extent superseded these natural organic colors, which, however, continue to be unsurpassed for some purposes.


Alfred Ely Day


wurm’-wood (la’anah (De 29:18; Pr 5:4; Jer 9:15; 23:15; La 3:15,19; Am 5:7; 6:12, the King James Version hemlock); apsinthos (Re 8:11)): What the Hebrew la‘anah may have been is obscure; it is clear it was a bitter substance and it is usually associated with "gall"; in the Septuagint it is variously translated, but never by apsinthos, "wormwood." Nevertheless all ancient tradition supports the English Versions of the Bible translation. The genus Artemisia (Natural Order Compositae), "wormwood," has five species of shrubs or herbs found in Palestine (Post), any one of which may furnish a bitter taste. The name is derived from the property of many species acting as anthelmintics, while other varieties are used in the manufacture of absinthe.

E. W. G. Masterman


In Re 8:11, the name is figurative, given to a great star which, at the sounding of the third angel’s trumpet, fell from heaven upon the third part of the rivers and on the fountains of the waters, turning them to a bitterness of which many died. Wormwood is used of bitter calamities (of La 3:15), and may here indicate some judgment, inflicted under a noted leader, affecting chiefly the internal sources of a country’s prosperity. Older expositors, applying the earlier trumpets to the downfall of the Roman empire, saw in the star a symbol of the barbarian invasions of Attila or Genseric.

See also ASTRONOMY, sec. I, 8.

James Orr


wur’-ship (Anglo-Saxon: weorthscipe, wyrthscype, "honor," from weorth, wurth, "worthy," "honorable," and scipe, "ship"):

1. Terms

2. Old Testament Worship

3. New Testament Worship

4. Public Christian Worship


Honor, reverence, homage, in thought, feeling, or act, paid to men, angels, or other "spiritual" beings, and figuratively to other entities, ideas, powers or qualities, but specifically and supremely to Deity.

1. Terms:

The principal Old Testament word is shachah, "depress," "bow down," "prostrate" (Hithpael), as in Ex 4:31, "bowed their heads and worshipped"; so in 94 other places. The context determines more or less clearly whether the physical act or the volitional and emotional idea is intended. The word is applied to acts of reverence to human superiors as well as supernatural. the Revised Version (British and American) renders it according to its physical aspect, as indicated by the context, "bowed himself down" (the King James Version "worshipped," Ge 24:52; compare 23:7; 27:29, etc.).

Other words are: caghadh, "prostrate," occurring in Isa 44:15,17,19; 46:6, but rendered (English Versions of the Bible) "fall down." In Da 2:46; 3:5,6,7,10,15,18,28, it (Aramaic ceghidh) is "worship" (English Versions of the Bible), 7 times associated with "falling down" and 5 times with "serve." ‘abhadh, "work," "labor," "serve," is rendered "worship" by English Versions of the Bible in 2Ki 10:19,21 ff: "the worshippers (servants) of Baal." In Isa 19:21 the Revised Version (British and American) has "worship with sacrifice and oblation" (the King James Version "do sacrifice"). Isa 19:23 the King James Version has "served," the Revised Version (British and American) "worship." ‘atsabh, "carve," "fabricate," "fashion," is once given "worship," i.e. "make (an object of) worship" (Jer 44:19, the American Revised Version margin "portray").

The Old Testament idea is therefore the reverential attitude of mind or body or both, combined with the more generic notions of religions adoration, obedience, service.

The principal New Testament word (59 times) is proskuneo, "kiss (the hand or the ground) toward," hence, often in the oriental fashion bowing prostrate upon the ground; accordingly, Septuagint uses it for the Hithpael of shachah (hishtachawah), "prostrate oneself." It is to render homage to men, angels, demons, the Devil, the "beast," idols, or to God. It is rendered 16 times to Jesus as a beneficent superior; at least 24 times to God or to Jesus as God. The root idea of bodily prostration is much less prominent than in the Old Testament. It is always translated "worship."

Next in frequency is sebomai, "venerate," and its various cognates, sebazomai, eusebeo, theosebes, sebasma. Its root is sebas, "fear," but this primitive meaning is completely merged into "reverence," "hold in awe": "In vain do they worship me" (Mt 15:9, etc.). latreuo, is "serve" (religiously), or "worship publicly," "perform sacred services," "offer gifts," "worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for His worship." It is translated "worship" in Ac 7:42; 24:14 the King James Version, but "serve," American Standard Revised Version: "serve the host of heaven," "serve I the God of our fathers"; but both the King James Version and the American Standard Revised Version render Php 3:3, "worship by the Spirit of God," and Heb 10:2, "the worshippers," the context in the first two being general, in the second two specific. In 2Ti 1:3 and many other cases both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) give "serve," the meaning not being confined to worship; but compare Lu 2:37 Revised Version: "worshipping (the King James Version "served") with fastings and supplications." Ro 1:25 gives both sebazomai and latreuo in their specific meanings: "worshipped (venerated) and served (religiously,) the creature." doxa, "glory" (Lu 14:10, King James Version: "Thou shalt have worship," is a survival of an old English use, rightly discarded in the Revised Version (British and American)). threskeia (Col 2:18), "a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels" (the American Revised Version margin "an act of reverence"), has the root idea of trembling or fear. therapeuo, "serve," "heal," "tend" (Ac 17:25, King James Version: "neither is worshipped by men’s hands"), is "served" in the Revised Version (British and American), perhaps properly, but its close connection with "temples made with hands" makes this questionable. neokoros, "temple-sweepers," "temple-keeper" (Ac 19:35), has its true meaning in the Revised Version (British and American), but "worshipper" is needed to complete the idea, in our modern idiom.

In the Apocrypha the usage is the same as in the New Testament, the verbs used being, in the order of their frequency, proskuneo, sebomai, threskeuo, and latreuo.

The New Testament idea of worship is a combination of the reverential attitude of mind and body, the general ceremonial and religious service of God, the feeling of awe, veneration, adoration; with the outward and ceremonial aspects approaching, but not reaching, the vanishing point. The total idea of worship, however, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, must be built up, not from the words specifically so translated, but also, and chiefly, from the whole body of description of worshipful feeling and action, whether of individuals singly and privately, or of larger bodies engaged in the public services of sanctuary, tabernacle, temple, synagogue, upper room or meeting-place.

Space permits no discussion of the universality of worship in some form, ranging from superstitious fear or fetishism to the highest spiritual exercise of which man is capable; nor of the primary motive of worship, whether from a desire to placate, ingratiate, or propitiate some higher power, or to commune and share with him or it, or express instinctive or purposed devotion to him. On the face of the Bible narratives, the instinct of communion, praise, adoring gratitude would seem to be the earliest moving force (compare Ge 4:3,4, Cain, Abel; Ro 1:18-25, the primitive knowledge of God as perverted to creature-worship; Ge 8:20, Noah’s altar; and Ge 12:7, Abram’s altar). That propitiation was an early element is indicated probably by Abel’s offering from the flock, certainly by the whole system of sacrifice. Whatever its origin, worship as developed in the Old Testament is the expression of the religious instinct in penitence, prostration, adoration, and the uplift of holy joy before the Creator.

2. Old Testament Worship:

In detail, Old Testament worship was individual and private, though not necessarily secret, as with Eliezer (Ge 24:26 f), the expression of personal gratitude for the success of a mission, or with Moses (Ex 34:8), seeking God’s favor in intercessory prayer; it was sometimes, again, though private, in closest association with others, perhaps with a family significance (Ge 8:20, Noah; Ge 12:7; 22:5, Abraham: "I and the lad will go yonder; and .... worship"); it was in company with the "great congregation," perhaps partly an individual matter, but gaining blessing and force from the presence of others (Ps 42:4: "I went with the throng .... keeping holyday"); and it was, as the national spirit developed, the expression of the national devotion (1Ch 29:20: "And all the assembly .... worshipped Yahweh, and the king"). In this public national worship the truly devout Jew took his greatest delight, for in it were inextricably interwoven together, his patriotism, his sense of brotherhood, his feeling of solidarity, his personal pride and his personal piety.

The general public worship, especially as developed in the Temple services, consisted of:

(1) Sacrificial acts, either on extraordinary occasions, as at the dedication of the Temple, etc., when the blood of the offerings flowed in lavish profusion (2Ch 7:5), or in the regular morning and evening sacrifices, or on the great annual days, like the Day of Atonement.

(2) Ceremonial acts and posture of reverence or of adoration, or symbolizing the seeking and receiving of the divine favor, as when the high priest returned from presenting incense offering in the holy place, and the people received his benediction with bowed heads, reverently standing (2Ch 7:6), or the worshippers prostrated themselves as the priests sounded the silver trumpets at the conclusion of each section of the Levites’ chant.

(3) Praise by the official ministrants of the people or both together, the second probably to a very limited extent. This service of praise was either instrumental, silver "trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music," or it might be in vocal song, the chant of the Levites (very likely the congregation took part in some of the antiphonal psalms); or it might be both vocal and instrumental, as in the magnificent dedicatory service of Solomon (2Ch 5:13), when "the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking Yahweh." Or it might be simply spoken: "And all the people said, Amen, and praised Yahweh" (1Ch 16:36). How fully and splendidly this musical element of worship was developed among the Hebrews the Book of Ps gives witness, as well as the many notices in Chronicles (1Ch 15; 16; 25; 2Ch 5; 29; 30, etc.). It is a pity that our actual knowledge of Hebrew music should be so limited.

(4) Public prayer, such as is described in De 26, at the dedication of the Temple (2Ch 6, etc.), or like Psalms 60; 79; 80. Shorter forms, half praise, half prayer, formed a part of the service in Christ’s time.

(5) The annual feasts, with their characteristic ceremonies.

See PASSOVER; TABERNACLE; etc. Places of worship are discussed under ALTAR; HIGH PLACE; SANCTUARY; TABERNACLE; TEMPLE, etc.

3. New Testament Worship:

In the New Testament we find three sorts of public worship, the temple-worship upon Old Testament lines, the synagogue-worship, and the worship which grew up in the Christian church out of the characteristic life of the new faith. The synagogue-worship, developed by and after the exile, largely substituted the book for the symbol, and thought for the sensuous or object appeal; it was also essentially popular, homelike, familiar, escaping from the exclusiveness of the priestly service. It had four principal parts:

(1) the recitation of the shema‘, composed of De 6:4-9; 11:13-21, and Nu 15:37-41, and beginning, "Hear (shema‘), O Israel: Yahweh our God is one Yahweh";

(2) prayers, possibly following some set form, perhaps repeating some psalm;

(3) the reading by male individuals of extracts from the Law and the Prophets selected by the "ruler of the synagogue," in later years following the fixed order of a lectionary, as may have been the case when Jesus "found the place";

(4) the targum or condensed explanation in the vernacular of the Scriptures read.

It is questioned whether singing formed a part of the service, but, considering the place of music in Jewish religious life, and its subsequent large place in Christian worship, it is hard to think of it as absent from the synagogue.

4. Public Christian Worship:

Public Christian worship necessarily developed along the lines of the synagogue and not the temple, since the whole sacrificial and ceremonial system terminated for Christianity with the life and death of Jesus. The perception of this, however, was gradual, as was the break of Jewish Christians with both synagogue and temple. Jesus Himself held the temple in high honor, loved to frequent it as His Father’s house, reverently observed the feasts, and exhibited the characteristic attitude of the devout but un-Pharisaic Israelite toward the temple and its worship. Yet by speaking of Himself as "greater than the temple" (Mt 12:6) and by quoting, Ho 6:6, "I desire goodness and not sacrifice," He indicated the relative subordinateness of the temple and its whole system of worship, and in His utterance to the woman of Samaria He intimated the abolition both of the whole idea of the central sanctuary and of the entire ceremonial worship: "Neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father"; "They that worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (Joh 4:21,24). His chief interest in the temple seems to have been as a "house of prayer" and an opportunity to reach and touch the people. We cannot help feeling that with all His love for the holy precincts, He must have turned with relief from the stately, formal, distant ceremonial of the temple, partly relieved though it was by the genuine religious passion of many worshippers, to the freer, more vital, closer heart-worship of the synagogue, loaded though that also was with form, tradition, ritual and error. Here He was a regular and reverent attendant and participant (Mr 1:21,39; 3:1; 6:2; Lu 6:6). Jesus did not Himself prescribe public worship for His disciples, no doubt assuming that instinct and practice, and His own spirit and example, would bring it about spontaneously, but He did seek to guard their worship from the merely outward and spectacular, and laid great emphasis on privacy and real "innerness" in it (Mt 6:1-18, etc.). Synagogue-worship was probably not abandoned with Pentecost, but private brotherhood meetings, like that in the upper chamber, and from house to house, were added. The young church could hardly have "grown in favor with the people," if it had completely withdrawn from the popular worship, either in temple or synagogue, although no attendance on the latter is ever mentioned. Possibly the Christians drew themselves together in a synagogue of their own, as did the different nationalities. The reference in James: "if there come unto your synagogue" (2:2), while not conclusive, since "synagogue" may have gained a Christian significance by this time, nevertheless, joined with the traditions concerning James’s ascetic zeal and popular repute, argues against such a complete separation early. Necessarily with the development into clearness of the Christian ideas, and with the heightening persecution, together with the hard industrial struggle of life, the observance of the Jewish Sabbath in temple or synagogue, and of the Christian’s Lord’s Day, grew incompatible. Yet the full development of this must have been rather late in Paul’s life. Compare his missionary tactics of beginning his work at the synagogue, and his custom of observing as far as possible the Jewish feasts (Ac 20:16; 1Co 16:8). Our notions of the worship of the early church must be constructed out of the scattered notices descriptive of different stages in the history, and different churches present different phases of development. The time was clearly the Lord’s Day, both by the Jewish churches (Joh 20:19,26) and by the Greek (Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:2) The daily meeting of Ac 2:46 was probably not continued, no mention occurring later.

There are no references to yearly Christian festivals, though the wide observance in the sub-apostolic period of the Jewish Passover, with references to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and of Pentecost to commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit, argues for their early use. The place was of course at first in private houses, and the earliest form of Christian church architecture developed from this model rather than the later one of the basilica. 1 Corinthians gives rather full data for the worship in this free and enthusiastic church. It appears that there were two meetings, a public and a private. The public worship was open, informal and missionary, as well as edificatory. The unconverted, inquirers and others, were expected to be present, and were frequently converted in the meeting (1Co 14:24). It resembled much more closely, an evangelical "prayer and conference meeting" of today than our own formal church services. There is no mention of official ministrants, though the meeting seems to have been under some loose guidance. Any male member was free to take part as the Spirit might prompt, especially in the line of his particular "spiritual gift" from God, although one individual might have several, as Paul himself. Largely developed on synagogue lines, but with a freedom and spirit the latter must have greatly lacked, it was composed of:

(1) Prayer by several, each followed by the congregational "Amen."

(2) Praise, consisting of hymns composed by one or another of the brethren, or coming down from the earlier days of Christian, perhaps Jewish, history, like the Benedictus, the Magnificat, the Nunc dimittis, etc. Portions of these newer hymns seem to be imbedded here and there in the New Testament, as at Re 5:9-13: "Worthy art thou," etc. (compare Re 15:3; 11:17, etc.); also: "He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory" (1Ti 3:16). Praise also might take the form of individual testimony, not in metrical form (1Co 14:16).

(3) Reading of the Scripture must have followed, according to the synagogue model. Paul presupposes an acquaintance with the Old Testament Scriptures and the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection. Instructions to read certain epistles in the churches indicate the same.

(4) Instruction, as in 1Co 2:7; 6:5, teaching for edification. (These passages, however, may not have this specific reference.)

(5) Prophesying, when men, believed by themselves and by the church to be specially taught by the Holy Spirit, gave utterance to His message. At Corinth these crowded on one another, so that Paul had to command them to speak one at a time.

(6) Following this, as some believe, came the "speaking with tongues," perhaps fervent and ejaculatory prayers "so rugged and disjointed that the audience for the most part could not understand" until someone interpreted. The speaking with tongues, however, comprised praise as well as prayer (1Co 14:16), and the whole subject is enshrouded in mystery. See TONGUES, GIFT OF.

(7) The meeting closed with the benediction and with the "kiss of peace."

The "private service" may have followed the other, but seems more likely to have been in the evening, the other in the morning. The disciples met in one place and ate together a meal of their own providing, the agape, or love feast, symbolizing their union and fellowship, preceded or followed by prayers (Didache x), and perhaps interspersed by hymns. Then the "Lord’s Supper" itself followed, according to the directions of the apostle (1Co 11:23-28).

How far "Christian worship" was "Christian" in the sense of being directly addressed to Christ, is not easily answered. We must not read into their mental content the fully developed Christology of later centuries, but it is hard to believe that those who had before them Thomas’ adoring exclamation, "My Lord and my God!" the saying of the first martyr, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," the dictum of the great apostle, "Who, existing in the form of God," the utterances of He, "And let all the angels of God worship him," "Thy throne, O God, is forever and forever," and, later, the prologue of Jn, and the ascriptions of praise in the Apocalypse, could have failed to bow down in spirit before Jesus Christ, to make known their requests through Him, and to lift up their adoration in song to Him, as according to Pliny’s witness, 112 AD, "they sing a hymn to Christ as God." The absolutely interchangeable way in which Paul, for instance, applies "Lord" in one breath to the Father, to the Old Testament Yahweh, and to Jesus Christ (Ro 10:11,13; 14:4,6,8,11,12, etc.) clearly indicates that while God the Father was, as He must be, the ultimate and principal object of worship, the heart and thought of God’s New Testament people also rested with adoring love on Him who is "worthy .... to receive the power and riches and wisdom, and might, and glory, and honor and blessing." The angel of the Apocalypse would not permit the adoration of the seer (Re 22:9), but Jesus accepts the homage of Thomas, and in the Fourth Gospel declares it the duty of all to "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" (Joh 5:23).

The classical passages for Christian worship are Joh 4:23,24, culminating in (margin): "God is spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth," and Php 3:3, "who worship by the Spirit of God." These define its inner essence, and bar out all ceremonial or deputed worship whatever, except as the former is, what the latter can never be, the genuine and vital expression of inner love and devotion. Anything that really stimulates and expresses the worshipful spirit is so far forth a legitimate aid to worship, but never a substitute for it, and is harmful if it displaces it. Much, perhaps most, stately public worship is as significant to God and man as the clack of a Thibetan prayer-mill. The texts cited also make of worship something far deeper than the human emotion or surrender of will; it is the response of God’s Spirit in us to that Spirit in Him, whereby we answer "Abba, Father," deep calling unto deep. Its object is not ingratiation, which is unnecessary, nor propitiation, which has been made "once for all," nor in any way "serving" the God who ‘needeth not to be worshipped with men’s hands’ (Ac 17:25), but it is the loving attempt to pay our unpayable debt of love, the expression of devoted hearts, "render(ing) as bullocks the offering of our lips" (Ho 14:2). For detail it is not a physical act or material offering, but an attitude of mind: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit"; "sacrifices of praise, with which God is well pleased"; not the service of form in an outward sanctuary, the presentation of slain animals, but the service of love in a life: "Present your bodies a living sacrifice"; not material sacrifices, but spiritual: your rational "service"; not the service about an altar of stone or wood, but about the sanctuary of human life and need; for this is true religion ("service," "worship," threskeia), "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction"; not the splendor of shining robes or the sounding music of trumpets or organs, but the worshipping glory of holy lives; in real fact, "hallowing Thy name," "and keeping oneself unspotted from the world." The public worship of God in the presence of His people is a necessity of the Christian life, but in spiritual Christianity the ceremonial and outward approaches, if it does not quite reach, the vanishing point.


BDB; Thayer’s New Testament Lexicon under the word; arts; on "Praise," "Worship," "Temple," "Church," "Prayer," in HDB, DB, New Sch-Herz, DCG; Commentaries on Psalms, Chronicles, Corinthians; Weizsacker, The Apostolic Age of the Church, II; Pfleiderer, Das Urchristenthum (English translation); Leoning, Gemeindeverfassung des Urchristenthums; Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry and Service, as They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ, and Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah; Hort, The Christian Ecclesia; Lindsay, Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries; McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age.

Philip Wendell Crannell







wur’-thiz (’addir, "majestic," "noble" (compare Jud 5:13, Etc.)):in Na 2:5, the King James Version "He shall recount his worthies" (margin "gallants"), the English Revised Version "He remembereth his worthies," the American Standard Revised Version "He remembereth his nobles." As Massoretic Text stands, the Assyrian king hurriedly summons his commanders to repel the assault, but the passage is obscure and the text quite possibly in need of emendation.




rath, roth, rath (’aph, from ‘anaph, "to snort," "to be angry"; orge, thumos, orgizomai): Designates various degrees of feeling, such as sadness (Ps 85:4), a frown or turning away of the face in grief or anger (2Ch 26:19; Jer 3:12), indignation (Ps 38:3), bitterness (Jud 18:25), fury (Es 1:12), full of anger (Ge 4:5; Joh 7:23), snorting mad (Ge 27:45; Mt 2:16).

1. Divine Wrath:

Wrath is used with reference to both God and man. When used of God it is to be understood that there is the complete absence of that caprice and unethical quality so prominent in the anger attributed to the gods of the heathen and to man. The divine wrath is to be regarded as the natural expression of the divine nature, which is absolute holiness, manifesting itself against the willful, high-handed, deliberate, inexcusable sin and iniquity of mankind. God’s wrath is always regarded in the Scripture as the just, proper, and natural expression of His holiness and righteousness which must always, under all circumstances, and at all costs be maintained. It is therefore a righteous indignation and compatible with the holy and righteous nature of God (Nu 11:1-10; De 29:27; 2Sa 6:7; Isa 5:25; 42:25; Jer 44:6; Ps 79:6). The element of love and compassion is always closely connected with God’s anger; if we rightly estimate the divine anger we must unhesitatingly pronounce it to be but the expression and measure of that love (compare Jer 10:24; Eze 23; Am 3:2).

2. Human Wrath:

Wrath, when used of man, is the exhibition of an enraged sinful nature and is therefore always inexcusable (Ge 4:5,6; 49:7; Pr 19:19; Job 5:2; Lu 4:28; 2Co 12:10; Ga 5:20; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8). It is for this reason that man is forbidden to allow anger to display itself in his life. He is not to "give place unto wrath" (Ro 12:19 margin), nor must he allow "the sun to go down upon his wrath" (Eph 4:26). He must not be angry with his brother (Mt 5:22), but seek agreement with him lest the judgment that will necessarily fall upon the wrathful be meted out to him (Mt 5:25,26). Particularly is the manifestation of an angry spirit prohibited in the training and bringing up of a family (Eph 6:4; Col 3:19). Anger, at all times, is prohibited (Nu 18:5; Ps 37:8; Ro 12:19; Ga 5:19; Eph 4:26; Jas 1:19,20).

3. Divine Wrath Consistent with Love:

Wrath or anger, as pertaining to God, is very much more prominent in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. This is to be accounted for probably because the New Testament magnifies the grace and love of God as contrasted with His wrath; at least love is more prominent than wrath in the revelation and teaching of Christ and His apostles. Nevertheless, it must not be thought that the element of wrath, as a quality of the divine nature, is by any means overlooked in the New Testament because of the prominent place there given to love. On the contrary, the wrath of God is intensified because of the more wonderful manifestation of His grace, mercy and love in the gift of His Son Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world. God is not love only: He is also righteous; yea, "Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29); "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31). No effeminate, sentimental view of the Fatherhood of God or of His mercy and loving-kindness can exclude the manifestation of His just, righteous and holy anger against sin and the sinner because of his transgression (1Pe 1:17; Heb 10:29). One thing only can save the sinner from the outpouring of God’s righteous anger against sin in the day of visitation, namely, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the divinely-appointed Redeemer of the world (Joh 3:36; Ro 1:16-18; 5:9). Nor should the sinner think that the postponement or the omission (or seeming omission) of the visitation of God’s wrath against sin in the present means the total abolition of it in the future. Postponement is not abolition; indeed, the sinner, who continually rejects Jesus Christ and the salvation which God has provided in Him, is simply ‘treasuring up’ wrath for himself "in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who (one day) will render to every man according to his works: .... to them that .... obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, .... wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil" (Ro 2:5-9; 2Pe 3:10; Re 6:16,17; 16:19; 19:15).


God’s anger while slow, and not easily aroused (Ps 103:8; Isa 48:9; Jon 4:2; Na 1:3), is to be dreaded (Ps 2:12; 76:7; 90:11; Mt 10:28); is not to be provoked (Jer 7:19; 1Co 10:22); when visited, in the present life, should be borne with submission (2Sa 24:17; La 3:39,43; Mic 7:9); prayer should be earnestly made for deliverance from it (Ps 39:10; 80:4; Da 9:16; Hab 3:2); it should be the means of leading man to repentance (Isa 42:24,25; Jer 4:8).

Certain specific things are said especially to arouse God’s anger: continual provocation (Nu 32:14), unbelief (Ps 78:21,22; Heb 3:18,19), impenitence (Isa 9:13,14; Ro 2:5), apostasy (Heb 10:26,27), idolatry (De 32:19,20,22; 2Ki 22:17; Jer 44:3), sin in God’s people (Ps 89:30-32; Isa 47:6), and it is manifested especially against opponents of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Ps 2:2,3,5; 1Th 2:16).

4. Righteous and Unrighteous Anger:

There is a sense, however, in which anger is the duty of man; he is to "hate evil" (Ps 97:10). It is not enough that God’s people should love righteousness, they must also be angry with sin (not the sinner). A man who is incapable of being angry at sin is at the same time thereby adjudged to be incapable of having a real love for righteousness. So there is a sense in which a man may be said to "be .... angry, and sin not" (Eph 4:26). Anger at the sin and unrighteousness of men, and because their sin is grievous to God, may be called a "righteous indignation." Such an indignation is attributed to Jesus when it is said that He "looked round about on them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart" (Mr 3:5). When anger arises because of this condition, it is sinless, but when anger arises because of wounded or aggrieved personality or feelings, it is sinful and punishable. Anger, while very likely to become sinful, is not really sinful in itself.

We have illustrations in the Scriptures of wrath or anger that is justifiable: Jesus (Mr 3:5), Jacob (Ge 31:36), Moses (Ex 11:8; 32:19; Le 10:16; Nu 16:15), Nehemiah (Ne 5:6; 13:17,25); of sinful anger: Cain (Ge 4:5,6), Esau (Ge 27:45), Moses (Nu 20:10,11), Balaam (Nu 22:27), Saul (1Sa 20:30), Ahab (1Ki 21:4), Naaman (2Ki 5:11), Herod (Mt 2:16), the Jews (Lu 4:28), the high priest (Ac 5:17; 7:54).

William Evans


rest: Found in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) 3 times in the writings of Moses, namely, Ex 23:2,6; De 16:19. In all three places it refers to twisting, or turning aside, or perverting judgment or justice. In De 24:17 the Revised Version (British and American) has "wrest" where the King James Version has "pervert."

In Ps 56:5 (’atsabh); 2Pe 3:16 (strebloo), it refers to the word or words of God in the Scriptures. In the Psalms the servant of God, who speaks in God’s name, complains that the enemies "wrest," misinterpret, misapply and pervert his words. In Peter it is the ignorant and unstedfast who so pervert and misuse some of the difficult words of Paul, and they do it to their own destruction—a most earnest warning against carelessness and conscienceless indifference in interpreting Scripture.

G. H. Gerberding


res’-ling (’abhaq; pale).

See GAMES, sec. II, 3, (i); JACOB; NAPHTALI.


rin’-k’-l (qamaT, "to lay hold on"; rhutis, "a wrinkle"): In Job 16:8, the Revised Version (British and American) substitutes, "Thou hast laid fast hold on me" (margin "shrivelled me up") for the King James Version "Thou hast filled me with wrinkles." In Eph 5:27, Paul’s figurative reference to the church as a bride, "not having spot or wrinkle," is indicative of the perennial youth and attractiveness of the church.




1. Definition

2. Inward Writing

3. Outward Writing


1. Object Writing

2. Image Writing

3. Picture Writing

4. Mnemonic Writing

5. Phonetic Writing




1. Clay

2. Stone

3. Lead

4. Bronze

5. Gold and Silver

6. Wood

7. Bones and Skins

8. Vellum

9. Papyrus

10. Paper

11. Ink


1. The Roll

2. The Codex


1. Writers

2. The Writing Art


1. Mythological Origins

2. Earliest Use

3. Biblical History


I. General.

1. Definition:

Writing is the art of recording thought, and recording is the making of permanent symbols. Concept, expression and record are three states of the same work or word. Earliest mankind expressed itself by gesture or voice and recorded in memory, but at a very early stage man began to feel the need of objective aids to memory and the need of transmitting a message to a distance or of leaving such a message for the use of others when he should be away or dead. For these purposes, in the course of time, he has invented many symbols, made in various ways, out of every imaginable material. These symbols, fixed in some substance, inward or outward, are writing as distinguished from oral speech, gesture language, or other unrecording forms of expression. In the widest sense writing thus includes, not only penmanship or chirography, but epigraphy, typography, phonography, photography, cinematography, and many other kinds of writing as well as mnemonic object writing and inward writing.

Writing has to do primarily with the symbols, but as these symbols cannot exist without being in some substance, and as they are often modified as to their form by the materials of which they are made or the instrument used in making, the history of writing has to do, not only with the signs, symbols or characters themselves, but with the material out of which they are made and the instruments and methods by which they are made.

2. Inward Writing:

The fact that memory is a real record is well known in modern psychology, which talks much of inward speech and inward writing. By inward writing is commonly meant the inward image or counterpart of visual or tangible handwriting as distinguished from the inward records of the sound of words, but the term fairly belongs to all inward word records. Of these permanent records two chief classes may be distinguished: sense records, whether the sense impression was by eye, ear, finger-tip or muscle, and motor records or images formed in the mind with reference to the motion of the hand or other organs of expression. Both sense records and meter records include the counterparts of every imaginable kind of outward handwriting.

We meet this inward writing in the Bible in the writing upon the tablets of the heart (Pr 3:3; 7:3; Jer 17:1; 2Co 3:3), which is thus not a mere figure of speech but a proper description of that effort to fix in memory which some effect by means of sound symbols and some by the sight symbols of ordinary handwriting.

It has also its interesting and important bearing on questions of inspiration and revelation where the prophet "hears" a voice (Ex 19:19; Nu 7:89; Re 19:1,2) or "sees" a vision (2Ki 6:17; Isa 6; Am 7:1-9) or even sees handwriting (Re 17:5). This handwriting not only seems "real" but is real, whether caused by external sound or vision or internal human or superhuman action.

3. Outward Writing:

Outward writing includes many kinds of symbols produced in various ways in many kinds of material. The commonest kind is alphabetical handwriting with pen and ink on paper, but alphabetic symbols are not the only symbols, the hand is not the only means of producing symbols, the pen is not the only instrument, and ink and paper are far from being the only materials.

The ordinary ways of human expression are voice and gesture. Corresponding to these there is an oral writing and a gesture writing. For the recording of vocal sounds various methods have been invented: direct carving or molding in wax or other material, or translating into light vibrations and recording these by photograph or kymograph. Both phonographic and photographic records of sounds are strictly oral writing.

The record of gestures by making pictures of them forms a large fraction of primitive picture writing (e.g. the picture of a man with weapon poised to throw) and the modern cinematography of pantomime is simply a perfected form of this primitive picture writing.

Handwriting is simply hand gesture with a mechanical device for leaving a permanent record of its motion by a trail of ink or incision. In the evolution of expression the imitation of human action tends to reduce itself to sign language, where both arms and the whole body are used, and then to more and more conventionalized hand gesture. This hand gesture, refined, condensed and adapted to mechanical conditions, and provided with pencil, chisel, or pen and ink, is handwriting. Its nature is precisely analogous to that of the self-registering thermometer or kymograph.

Nearly all the great body of existing written documents, save for the relatively few modern phonographic, kymographic and other visible speech records, is handwritten, the symbols being produced, selected, arranged, or at least pointed out, by the hand. Even the so-called phonetic writing, as usually understood, is not sound record but consists of hand-gesture symbols for sounds.

II. The Symbols.

Among the many kinds of outward signs used in writing the best known are the so-called Phoenician alphabet and its many derivatives, including the usual modern alphabets. Other well-known varieties are the wedge system of Assyria and Babylonia, the hieroglyphic systems of Egypt and Mexico, the Chinese characters, stenographic systems, the Morse code, the Braille system, the abacus, the notched stick, the knotted cord, wampum and twig bundles. These, however, by no means exhaust the list of signs which have been used for record or message purposes; e.g. colored flags for signaling, pebbles, cairns, pillars, flowers, trees, fishes, insects, animals and parts of animals, human beings, and images of all these things, have all served as record symbols in writing.

The various symbols may be grouped as objects and images, each of these classes divided again into pictorial or representative signs and mnemonic or conventional signs, mnemonic signs again divided into ideographic and phonetic, and phonetic again into verbal, syllabic (consonantal), and alphabetic. This may be represented graphically as follows:


(1) Pictorial

(2) Conventional (Mnemonic)

(a) Ideographic (Eye Images)

(b) Phonetic (Ear Images)

(i) Verbal

(ii) Syllabic

(iii) Consonantal

(iv) Alphabetic


(1) Pictorial

(2) Conventional (Mnemonic)

(a) Ideographic

(b) Phonetic

(i) Verbal

(ii) Syllabic

(iii) Consonantal

(iv) Alphabetic

Objects may be whole objects (a man) or characteristic parts (human head, arm, leg) or samples (feather or piece of fur). The objects may be natural objects or artificial objects designed for another purpose (arrow), or objects designed especially to be used as writing symbols (colored flags). Images include images of all these objects and any imaginary images which may have been invented for writing purposes.

Pictorial or representative signs are distinguished from mnemonic or conventional signs by the fact that in themselves they suggest the thing meant, while the others require agreement beforehand as to what they shall mean. The fact, however, that the symbol is a picture of something does not make it pictorial or the writing picture writing. It is pictorial, not because it is a picture, but because it pictures something. The fact, e.g., that a certain symbol may be recognized as an ox does not make of this a pictograph. If it stands for or means an ox, it is a pictograph; if it stands for "divinity," it may be called an ideograph, or if it stands for the letter a it is phonetic, a phonogram.

The key to the evolution of writing symbols is to be found in a law of economy. Object writing undoubtedly came first, but man early learned that the image of an object would serve as well for record purposes and was much more convenient to handle. True picture writing followed. The same law of economy led to each of the other steps from pictorial to alphabetic, and may be traced in the history of each kind and part. Every alphabet exhibits it. The history of writing is in brief a history of shorthand. It begins with the whole object or image, passes to the characteristic part, reduces this to the fewest possible strokes which retain likeness, conventionalizes these strokes, and then, giving up all pretense of likeness to the original symbol, and frankly mnemonic, it continues the process of abbreviation until the whole ox has become the letter "a" or perhaps a single dot in some system of stenography.

Object writing is not common in the phonetic stage, but even this is found, for example, in alphabetical flags for ship signaling. The actual historical evolution of writing seems to have been object, image-picture, ideogram. phonogram, syllable, consonant, letter. All of these stages have some echoes at least in the Bible, although even the syllabic stage seems to have been already passed at the time of Moses. The Hebrew Old Testament as a whole stands for the consonantal stage and the Greek New Testament for the complete alphabetic—still the climax of handwriting, unless the evolution of mathematical symbols, which is a very elaborate evolution of ideographic handwriting, is so regarded.

Although probably not even a single sentence of the Hebrew Bible was written in ideographic, picture, or object handwriting, many documents which are used or quoted by Biblical writers were written by these methods, and all of them are repeatedly implied. In a number of cases full exegesis requires a knowledge of their nature and history. A certain number of scholars now believe that the Pentateuch was originally written in cuneiform, after the analogy of the circumstances shown by the Tell el-Amarna Letters. In this case of course there would still be traces both of the syllabic and ideographic, but theory is improbable.

1. Object Writing:

The most primitive writing was naturally pictorial object writing. When the hunter first brought home his quarry, this had in it most of the essential elements of modern handwriting. Those who remained at home read in the actual bodies the most essential record of the trip. When, further, the hunter brought back useless quarry to evidence his tale of prowess, the whole essence of handwriting was involved. This was whole-object record, but object abbreviations soon followed. Man early learned that skins represented whole animals (the determinative for "quadruped" in Egyptian is a hide), and that a reindeer’s head or antlers, or any characteristic part, served the simple purpose of record just as well as the whole object, and this method of record survives in a modern hunting-lodge. The bounty on wolves’ scalps and the expression "so many head of cattle" are similar survivals. In war, men returning hung the dead bodies of their enemies from the prows of their triumphal ships or from the walls of the city, and, in peace, from the gibbet, as object lessons. They soon learned, however, that a head would serve all practical purposes as well as a whole body, and the inhabitants of Borneo today practice their discovery. Then they discovered that a scalp was just as characteristic and more portable, and the scalp belt of the American Indian is the result. The ancient Egyptians counted the dead by "hands" carried away as trophies. Both objects and images tend thus to pass from the whole object to a characteristic part, then to the smallest characteristic part: from the tiger’s carcass or stuffed tiger to the tiger’s claw or its picture. The next or mnemonic step was taken when the simplest characteristic part was exchanged for a pebble, a twig, a notched stick, a knot, or any other object or image of an object which does not in itself suggest a tiger.

The pictorial object writing had an evolution of its own and reached a certain degree of complexity in elaborate personal adornment, in sympathetic magic, the medicine bag, the prayer stick, pillars, meteoric stones, etc., for worship, collections of liturgical objects, fetishes, votive offerings, trophies, etc.

It reached a still higher order of complexity when it passed into the mnemonic stage represented by the abacus, the knotted cord, the notched stick, the wampum, etc. The knotted cord may be recognized in the earliest hieroglyphic signs, is found still among primitive people, and its most famous example is the, Peruvian quipu. It still survives in the cardinal’s hat and the custom of knotting a handkerchief for mnemonic purposes. It is found in the Bible in a peculiarly clear statement in the mnemonic "fringes" of Nu 15:37-41 (compare De 22:12). The notched stick is equally old, as seen in the Australian message stick, and its best-known modern example is the tally of the British Exchequer. The abacus and the rosary are practically the lineal descendants of the pebble heap which has a concrete modern counterpart in the counting with pebbles by Italian shepherd boys. It is possible that the notched message stick has its echo in Jud 5:14 (military scribe’s staff); Nu 17:1-10 (Aaron’s inscribed rod), and all scepters (rods of authority) and herald’s wands.

2. Image Writing:

It was a very long step in the history of handwriting from object to image, from the trophy record to the trophy image record. The nature of this step may perhaps be seen in the account of the leopard-tooth necklace of an African chief described by Frobenius. In itself this was merely a complex trophy record—the tribal record of leopards slain. When, however, the chief took for his own necklace the actual trophy which some members of the tribe had won, while the hunter made a wooden model of the tooth which served him as trophy, this facsimile tooth became an image record. This same step from object to image is most familiar in the history of votive offerings, where the model is substituted for the object, the miniature model for the model, and finally a simple written inscription takes the place of the model. It is seen again in sympathetic magic when little wax or clay images are vicariously buried or drowned, standing for the person to be injured, and taking the place of sample parts, such as the lock of hair or nail-parings, etc., which are used in like manner by still more primitive peoples.

3. Picture Writing:

It was another long step in the evolution of symbols when it occurred to man that objects worn for record could be represented by paint upon the body. The origin of written characters is often sought in the practice of tattooing, but whatever truth there may be in this must be carried back one step, for it is generally agreed and must naturally have been the fact that body painting preceded tattooing, which is a device for making the record permanent. The transition from the object trophy to the image on the skin might easily have come from the object causing a pressure mark on the skin. There is good reason to believe that the wearing of trophies was the first use of record keeping.

It is of course not proved that body ornaments or body marks are the original of image writing or that trophies are the earliest writing, nor yet that models of trophies or votive offerings were the first step in image writing. It may be that the first images were natural objects recognized as resembling other objects. The Zuni Indians used for their chief fetishes natural rock forms. The first step may have been some slight modification of natural stone forms into greater resemblance, such as is suggested by the slightly modified sculptures of the French-Spanish caves. Or again the tracks of animals in clay may have suggested the artificial production of these tracks or other marks, and the development of pottery and pottery marks may have been the main line of evolution. The Chinese trace the origin of their symbols to bird tracks. Or again smear marks of earth or firebrand or blood may have suggested marks on stone, and the marked pebbles of the Pyrenean caves may have reference to this. Or yet again the marks on the animals in the Pyrenean caves may have been ownership marks and point back to a branding of marks or a primitive tattooing by scarification.

Whatever the exact point or motive for the image record may have been, and however the transition was made, the idea once established had an extensive development which is best illustrated by the picture writing of the American Indians, though perhaps to be found in the Bushmen drawings, petroglyphs, and picture writing the world over. It is almost historic in the Sumerian and the Egyptian, whose phonetic symbols are pictographic in origin at least and whose determinatives are true pictographs.

4. Mnemonic Writing:

The transition from pictorial to conventional or mnemonic takes place when the sign ceases to suggest the meaning directly, even after explanation. This happens in two ways: (1) when an object or image stands for something not directly related to that naturally suggested, e.g., when a stuffed fox stands for a certain man because it is his totem, or an ox’s head stands for divinity or for the sound "a," or when the picture of a goose stands for "son" in the Egyptian because the sounds of the two words are the same; (2) when by the natural process of shorthanding the object or image has been reduced beyond the point of recognition. Historically, the letter a is ox (or goat?); actually it means a certain sound.

When this unrecognizable or conventional sign is intended to suggest a visual image it is called an ideogram, when an ear picture, a phonogram. Anybody looking casually over a lot of Egyptian hieroglyphics can pick out kings’ names because of the oval line or cartouche in which they are enclosed. This cartouche is ideagraphic. On the other hand the pictures of a sun, two chicks, and a cerastes within the cartouche have nothing to do with any of these objects, but stand for the sounds kufu—who is the person commonly known as Cheops. This is phonetic. Both old Babylonian and Egyptian show signs of picture origin, but the earliest Babylonian is mainly ideographic, and both developed soon into the mixed stage of phonetic writing with determinatives.

5. Phonetic Writing:

Phonetic writing seems to have developed out of the fact that in all languages the same sound often has many different meanings. In English "goose" may mean the fowl or the tailor’s goose. In Egyptian the sound "sa" or "s", with a smooth breathing, means "goose" or "son," and the picture of a goose means either.

Whether the word-sign is an ideogram or a phonogram is a matter of psychology. Many modern readers even glimpse a word as a whole and jump to the visual image without thinking of sounds at all. To them it is an ideagram. Others, however, have to spell out the sounds, even moving their lips to correspond. To them as to the writer it is a phonogram. The same was true of the ancient picture or ideagraphic sign. The word-sign was ideagram or phonogram according to intention or to perception.

With the transition to syllabic writing, record became chiefly phonetic. The transition was made apparently by an entirely natural evolution from the practice of using the same word-sign for several different objects having the same sound, and it proceeded by the way of rebus, as shown in Mexican and Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Syllabic writing implies a symbol for every monosyllable. It was a great step therefore when it was discovered that the number of sounds was small and could be represented by individual symbols, as compound words could by syllable signs. At first only consonants were written. In the Semitic languages vowels were at first not written at all—possibly they were not even recognized, and one might use any vowel with a particular combination of consonants. However that may be, what many prefer to call consonantal writing seems to have existed for 2,000 years before the vowels were recognized and regularly introduced into the Phoenician alphabet. It is at this stage that alphabetic writing, as usually reckoned, began.


Phonetic consonantal writing has now been in use some 5,000 years and strict alphabetic writing some 3,000 years, almost to the exclusion of other forms. The characters in use today in several hundred alphabets are probably the historical descendants, with accumulation of slight changes through environment, of characters existing from near the beginning.

Alongside the development of the historic system of symbols, there has been, still within the field of alphabetic writing for the most part, a parallel line with multitudes of shorthand and cryptographic systems. An equally great multitude of code systems are in effect phonetic words or sentences and cryptographically or otherwise used for cable or telegraph, diplomatic letters, criminal correspondence and other secret purposes.

III. Methods.

Roughly speaking, the ways of making symbols, apart from the selection of the ready-made, may be reduced to two which correspond to art in the round or in three dimensions and art in the flat or in two dimensions. The former appeals to eye or touch, affording a contrast by elevation or depression, while the latter produces the same effect by contrasting colors on a flat surface.

Written symbols in three dimensions are produced either by cutting or by pressure. In the case of hard material superfluous matter is removed by sculpture, engraving or die cutting. In the case of plastic or malleable material, it is modeled, molded, hammered or stamped into the required form. To the first form belongs the bulk of stone inscriptions, ancient metal inscriptions, scratched graffiti, wax tablets, etc., to the later clay tablets, votive figurines, seal impressions, hammered inscriptions, minted coins, also molded inscriptions, coins and medals, etc. Several of the Hebrew and Greek words for writing imply cutting (chaqaq, charaT, charash, etc.; grapho).

Symbols in two dimensions are produced either by drawing or printing, both of which methods consist in the applying of some soft or liquid material to a material of a contrasting color or cutting from thin material and laying on. Drawing applies the material in a continuous or interrupted line of paint, charcoal, colored chalk, graphite, ink or other material. Its characteristic product is the manuscript. This laying on is implied, as some think (Blau, 151), in the commonest Hebrew word for writing (kathabh). Tattooing (De 14:1; Le 19:28, etc.), embroidery (embroidered symbolic figures, Ex 28:33,34) and weaving belong in this class (embroidered words in Palestine Talmud 20a, quoted by Blau, 165).

Printing consists in laying the contrasting color on by means of stencil or pressure, forming symbols in two dimensions at one stroke. Perhaps the most primitive form of printing is that of the pintadoes, by which the savage impresses war paint or other ceremonial forms on his face and body. Branding also belongs in this class (Ga 6:17, figuratively; 3 Macc 2:19; branding on the forehead, Code of Hammurabi, section 127; branding a slave, Code of Hammurabi, sections 226, 227).

These processes of cutting, molding, drawing and printing roughly correspond with inscriptions, coins, medals, seals, manuscripts, and printed documents—epigraphy, numismatics, sigillography, chirography, typography.

IV. Instruments.

The commonest instruments of ancient writing were the pen, brush and style. Other instruments are: the various tools for modeling, molds, stencils, dies, stamps, needles, engraving tools, compass, instruments for erasure, for the ruling of lines, vessels for ink or water, etc. Several of these are mentioned and others are implied in the Bible. The chisel which cuts and the stylus which scratches are both called stylus or simply the "iron" (the iron pen). The graving tool of Ex 32:4, the iron pen of Job 19:24, the pen of Isa 8:1, the pen of iron of Jer 17:1, and, with less reason, the pencil of Isa 44:13, are all commonly interpreted as stilus or style, but they are sometimes at least cutting rather than scratching tools. References to wooden tablets also imply the style, and references to clay tablets either the style proper or a similar instrument for pressure marks. The point of a diamond in Jer 17:1, whether it is joined with the pen of iron or not, seems to refer to the use of corundum in the engraving of precious stones. The passages which refer to blotting out (see below) or writing on papyrus (see below) or refer to an ink-horn or ink (see respective articles) imply a pen or brush rather than style, and presumably the writing of the New Testament implied in general a reed pen. The wide house "painted with vermilion" (Jer 22:14) implies the brush, but there is no direct evidence of its use in writing in the Bible itself. The existing ostraca from Ahab’s palace are, however, done with the brush. The pencil (seredh) mentioned in Isa 44:13 certainly means some instrument for shaping, but is variously translated as "line" (the King James Version), "red ochre" (Revised Version margin), and even "stilus," or "line-marking stilus" (paragraphis Aquila). The compass, often referred to in classical times, is found in Isa 44:13. The line ruler (paragraphis), referred to by Aquila (Isa 44:13), and the simple plummet as well were probably used, as in later times, for marking lines. The needle is referred to in late Hebrew and needlework in the Bible (see III, above). The ink-horn or water vessel for moistening the dry inks is implied in all papyrus or leather writing.


The Hebrew term translated "weight of lead" in Zec 5:8, and "talent of lead" is precisely equivalent to the Greek term for the circular plate of lead (kuklomolibdos) used for ruling lines, but something heavier than the ruling lead seems meant.

Erasure or blotting out is called for in Nu 5:23, and often figuratively (Ex 32:32,33; Re 3:5, etc.). If writing was on papyrus, this would call for the sponge rather than the penknife as an eraser, but the latter, which is used for erasure or for making reed pens, is referred to in Jer 36:23. For erasing waxed surfaces the blunt end of the style was used certainly as early as the New Testament times. Systematic erasure when vellum was scarce produced the palimpsest.


V. Materials.

The materials used in writing include almost every imaginable substance, mineral, vegetable, and animal: gold, silver, copper, bronze, clay, marble, granite, precious gems, leaves, bark, wooden planks, many vegetable complexes, antlers, shoulder-blades, and all sorts of bones of animals, and especially skins. The commonest are stone, clay, metal, papyrus, paper and leather, including vellum, and all of these except paper are mentioned in the Bible. Paper too must be reckoned with in textual criticism, and it was its invention which, perhaps more even than the discovery of printing with movable type, made possible the enormous multiplication of copies of the Bible in recent times.

1. Clay:

Whatever may be the fact as to the first material used for record purposes, the earliest actual records now existing in large quantities are chiefly on clay or stone, and, on the whole, clay records seem to antedate and surpass in quantity stone inscriptions for the earliest historical period. After making all allowances for differences in dating and accepting latest dates, there is an immense quantity of clay records written before 2500 BC and still existing. About 1400 or 1500 BC the clay tablet was in common use from Crete to the extreme East and all over Palestine, everywhere, in short, but Egypt and it seems perhaps to have been the material for foreign diplomatic communications, even in Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of these tablets have been dug up, and undoubtedly millions are in existence, dug or undug. These are chiefly of Mesopotamia. The most famous of these tablets were for a long time of the later period from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. See LIBRARY OF NINEVEH. Recently, however those from Tell el-Amarna in Egypt, Boghaz-keui in the Hittite country, and a few from Palestine itself vie with these in interest. Most of these tablets are written on both sides and in columns ruled in lines. They measure from an inch to a foot and a half in length and are about two-thirds as wide as they are long. Many of these tablets, the so-called "case tablets," are surrounded with another layer of clay with a docketing inscription. See TABLETS. Other clay forms are the potsherd ostraca; now being dug up in considerable quantities in Palestine Ezekiel (4:1) and perhaps Jeremiah (17:13) refer to this material.


2. Stone:

Stones were used for record before image writing was invented—as cairns, pillars, pebbles, etc. Many of the early and primitive image records are on the walls of caves or on cliffs (Bushmen, American Indians, etc.). Sometimes these are sculptured, sometimes made by charcoal, paint, etc. The durability rather than the more extensive use of stone makes of these documents the richest source for our knowledge of ancient times. Besides natural stone objects, stone pillars, obelisks, statues, etc., stone-wall tablets, the sides of houses and other large or fixed surfaces, there are portable stone-chip ostraca and prepared tablets (tablets of stone, Ex 24:12; 31:18). These latter might be written on both sides (Ex 32:15). Job seems to refer to stone inscriptions (19:24). The famous trilingual inscription of Behistun which gave Rawlinson the key to the Assyrian was on a cliff and refers to King Darius (Rawlinson, Life, 58 ff, 142 ff). Two of the most famous of stone inscriptions are the Rosetta Stone, which gave the key to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the Moabite Stone (W. H. Bennett, Moabite Stone, London 1911), and both have some bearing on Jewish history. An especially interesting and suggestive stone inscription is the Annals of Thutmose III of Egypt, about 1500 BC, inscribed on the walls of the temple at Karnak. This gives a long account of campaigns in Syria and Palestine (Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, 163-217). The Siloam Inscription, and in general all the recently discovered inscriptions of Palestine, have their more or less important bearings on Biblical history (Lidzbarski, Handb. and Ephem.). Moses provided (De 27:2-8) for writing the Law on stone (or plaster), and Joshua executed the work (Jos 8:21,32).

Another form of record on stone is the engraving of gems, which is referred to in Ex 28:9,11,21; 39:6,14, etc., and possibly Zec 3:9.

3. Lead:

One of the commonest materials, on account of the ease of engraving, probably, is lead. Used more or less for inscriptions proper, it is also used for diplomatic records and even literary works. It was very commonly used for charms in all nations, and is referred to in Job (19:24), where it perhaps more likely means a rock inscription filled with lead, rather than actual leaden tablets. For the text of Ps 80 on lead see Gardthausen, p. 26. Submergence curses were usually of lead, but that of Jer 51:62 seems to have been of papyrus or paper (compare W. S. Fox in American Journal of Phil., XXXIII, 1912, 303-4).

4. Bronze:

Bronze was used for several centuries BC, at least for inscribed votive offerings, for public records set up in the treasuries of the temples and for portable tablets such as the military diplomas. In the time of the Maccabees public records were engraved on such tablets and set up in the temple at Jerusalem (1 Macc 14:27). There were doubtless many such at the time when Jesus Christ taught there.

5. Gold and Silver:

Gold and silver as writing material are most commonly and characteristically used in coins and medals. References to money, mostly silver money, are numerous in the Old Testament, but these are not certainly coins with alphabetic inscriptions. In New Testament times coins were so inscribed, and in one case at least the writing upon it is referred to—"Whose is this image and superscription?" (Mt 22:20). The actual inscription and the actual form of its letters are known from extant specimens of the denarius of the period.


The use of the precious metals for ordinary inscriptional purposes was, however, frequent in antiquity, and the fact that rather few such inscriptions have survived is probably due to the value of the metal for other purposes. The Hittite treaty of Khetasar or Chattusil engraved on silver and sent to the king of Egypt, has long been known from the Egyptian monuments (translation in Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, III, 165-74), and recently fragments of the Hittite version of this treaty have been discovered at Boghaz-keui (Winckler, MDOG, XXXV, 12 ff). This has very close relations to Biblical history, whether it was made before or after the Exodus. The famous Orphic gold tablets (Harrison, "Orphic Tablets," in Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion, 573-600, 660-74) have a bearing on a comparative study of Biblical doctrine. Direct reference to engraving on gold is found in the account of the inscription on the high priest’s miter (Ex 28:36). Writing on the horns of the altar is referred to in Jer 17:1, and these horns too were of gold (Ex 30:3). Queen Helena of Adiabene is said to have presented an inscribed gold tablet to the temple at Jerusalem (Blau, 67). The golden shrines of Ptolemy V—with their inscribed golden phylacteries—are mentioned on the Rosetta Stone.

Silver, and more especially gold, have also been very extensively used for the laying on of contrasting colors, either furnishing the background or more often the material laid on. The history of chrysography is a long and full one (Gardthausen, I, 214-17; Blau, 13, 159-63). The standard copy of the Old Testament at Jerusalem, which was loaned to Alexandria, was apparently in gold letters (Josephus, Ant, XII, ii, 10) (see SEPTUAGINT), and many of the famous Biblical manuscripts of the Middle Ages were written wholly or in part with gold, either laid on as gold leaf or dissolved and used as an ink or paint (Gardthausen, 216).

6. Wood:

Leaves of trees were early used for charms and writing. Some of the representations of writing on the Egyptian monuments show the goddess of writing inscribing the leaves of growing trees. Jewish tradition (Tosephta’ Gittin 2 3-5; Mishna, Gittin 2 3, etc., quoted by Blau, 16) names many kinds of leaves on which a bill of divorcement (De 24:1,3) might or might not be written. Reference to the use of leaves is found in early Greek, Latin, and Arabic sources—and they are still used in the East.

Bark also has often been used: both liber in Latin and "book" in English, according to some, are thought to refer to the bark of the lime or beech tree, and birch bark was a common writing material among the American Indians. It is in the form of wrought wood, staves, planks or tablets however, that wood was chiefly known in historical times. These wood tablets were used in all early periods and among all nations, especially for memorandum accounts and children’s exercises. Sometimes the writing was directly on the wood, and sometimes on wood coated with wax or with chalk. See TABLETS. Writing on staves is referred to in Nu 17:2. Mr 15:26 seems perhaps to imply that the "superscription" of the cross was on wood, unless Joh 19:19 contradicts this.

Woven linen as a writing substance had some fame in antiquity (libri lintei), and many other fibers which have been used for woven or embroidered writing are, broadly speaking, of wood. So too, in fact, when linen or wood is pulped and made into paper, the material is still wood. Most modern writing and printing is thus on wood. See 10, below.

7. Bones and Skins:

Diogenes Laertius (vii.174) tells that Cleanthes wrote on the shoulder-blades of oxen, but he was preceded by the cave-dwellers of the Neolithic age, who wrote on reindeer horns and bones of many kinds (Dechelette, Archeological Prehistory, 1908, 125, 220-37, et passim). Ivory has often been used and was a favorite material for tablets in classical times. The Septuagint translates "ivory work" of So 5:14 as "ivory tablets." Horns are given in late Hebrew (Tosephta’, quoted by Blau, 16) as a possible material for writing. They have been used at all times and are well illustrated in modern times by the inscribed powder horns.

The hides of living animals have served for branding, and living human skin for painting, branding and tattooing extensively in all lands and all times. The literature of ceremonial painting and tattooing is very extensive, and the branding of slaves was common in many lands.


The use of skins prepared for writing on one side (leather) was early and general, dating back as far at least as the IVth Dynasty of Egypt. The Annals of Thutmose III in Palestine were written on rolls of leather. Its use was common also in Persia (Diodorus ii.32; Herodotus v.58; Strabo xv.1), and it was a natural universal material. It has been much used by modern American Indians. It was the usual material of early Hebrew books, and the official copies at least of the Old Testament books seem always to have been written on this material (Blau, 14-16), and are so, indeed, even to the present day.

8. Vellum:

Vellum is simply a fine quality of leather prepared for writing on both sides. The autographs of the New Testament were most likely written on papyrus, rather than leather or vellum, but most of the earliest codices and all, until recent discoveries, were on this material, while very few of the long list of manuscripts on which the New Testament text is founded are on any other material. This material is referred to as parchment by Paul (2Ti 4:13). Almost every kind of skin (leather or vellum) has been used for writing, including snake skin and human skin. The palimpsest is secondhand or erased vellum, written upon again.


9. Papyrus:

Papyrus was not only the chief of the vegetable materials of antiquity, but it has perhaps the longest record of characteristic general use of anything except stone. The papyrus was made from a reed cultivated chiefly in Egypt, but having a variety found also in Syria, according to Theophrastus. The papyrus reed grows in the marshes and in stagnant pools; is at best about the thickness of one’s arm, and grows to the height of at most from 12 to 15 feet. It was probably a pool of these papyrus reeds ("flags") in which Moses was hidden (Ex 3:3), and the ark of bulrushes was evidently a small boat or chest made from papyrus reeds, as many of the Egyptian boats were. These boats are referred to in Isa 18:2.

Papyrus was made by slicing the reed and laying the pieces crosswise, moistening with sticky water, and pressing or pounding together. The breadth of the manufactured article varied from 5 inches, and under, to 9 1/4 in., or even to a foot or a foot and a half. The earliest Egyptian papyrus ran from 6 to 14 in. Egyptian papyri run to 80, 90 and even 135 ft. in length, but the later papyri are generally from 1 to 10 ft. long. The use of papyrus dates from before 2700 BC at latest.

Many Bible fragments important for textual criticism have been discovered in Egypt in late years. These, together with the light which other papyri throw on Hellenistic Greek and various paleographical and historical problems, make the study of papyri, which has been erected into an independent science, one of very great importance as to Biblical history and Biblical criticism (compare Mitteis u. Wilcken, Grundzuge .... d. Papyruskunde, Leipzig, 1912, 2 volumes in 4). It has been argued from Jer 36:23 that the book which the king cut up section by section and threw on the fire was papyrus. This argument is vigorously opposed by Blau (14, 15), but the fact of the use of papyrus seems to be confirmed by the tale that the Romans wrapped the Jewish school children in their study rolls and burned them (Ta‘anith 69a, quoted by Blau, 41). Leather would have been poor burning material in either case. Certainly "papyrus" is freely used by the Septuagint translators and the word biblion is (correctly) translated by Jerome (Tobit 7:14) by charta. It is referred to in 2 Joh 1:12, "paper and ink," as the natural material for letter-writing.


10. Paper:

The introduction of paper was from Western Asia, possibly in the 8th century, and it began to be used in Europe commonly from the 13th century. While few Western manuscripts of any importance are on paper, many of the Eastern are. It was the invention of paper, in large measure, which made possible the immense development in the multiplication of books, since the invention of printing, and the enormous number of Bibles now in existence.

11. Ink:

Of the many materials used in order to lay one contrasting color on another, the flowing substances, paint and ink, are the most common. In general throughout antiquity the ink was dry ink and moistened when needed for writing. Quite early, however, the liquid inks were formed with the use of gall nut or acid, and many recipes and formulas used during the Middle Ages are preserved. See INK, INK-HORN. The reading of a palimpsest often depends on the kind of ink originally used and the possibility of reviving by reagents.

VI. Forms.

The best known ancient forms of written documents are the tablet or sheet, the roll, the diploma and the codex. These may be analyzed into one-face documents and many-faced documents—page documents and leaf documents. The roll, the diploma and the usual folding tablet or pleated document are forms of the one-page document, while the codex or bound book (English "volume") is the typical leaf document. The roll is the typical form of the Old Testament, the codex of the New Testament, extant manuscripts.

A book as regards its material form consists of a single limited surface suited for writing, or a succession of such surfaces. This single surface may be the face of a cliff or house wall, a broken piece of pottery, a leaf, a sheet of lead, papyrus, vellum or paper, a tablet of clay, stone or wood, a cylinder, prism, cone, pyramid, obelisk, statue or any one of the thousands of inscribed objects found among votive offerings. The typical form is the flat surface to which the term "tablet" or "sheet" is applied, and which is called "page" or "leaf" according as one or both surfaces are in mind.

These single flat leaves are characteristically quadrilateral, but may be of any shape (circular, oval, heart-shaped, etc.) or of any thickness, from the paper of an Oxford Bible or equally thin gold foil up to slabs of stone many inches thick.

When the document to be written is long and the sheet becomes too large for convenient handling, space may be gained by writing on both sides or by making still larger and either folding or rolling, on the one hand, or breaking or cutting up into a series of smaller sheets, on the other. This folding or rolling of the large sheet survives still in folded or rolled maps and the folded or rolled documents (diplomas) of medieval and modern archives. The use of the tablet series for long works instead of one overgrown tablet was early—quite likely as early as the time of actual writing on real "leaves."

These smaller tablets or sheets were at first, it would seem, kept together. by numbering (compare Dziatzko, Ant. Buchw., 127), catchwords, tying in a bundle, or gathering in a small box (capsa). This has indeed its analogy with the mnemonic twig bundle of object writing. The Pentateuch gets its name from the five rolls in a box, jar, or basket (Blau, 65; Birt, Buchrolle, 22).

The next step in the evolution of book forms was taken when the various leaves or sheets were fastened to each other in succession, being strung, pasted or hinged together.

The stringing together is as early and primitive as the leopard-tooth trophy necklace of the African chief or the shell and tooth necklaces of quaternary Europe (Dechelette, Arch., 208-9). It was perhaps used with annual tablets in the first dynasties of Egypt and is found in oriental palm-leaf books today.

1. The Roll:

The roll consists normally of a series of one-surface sheets pasted or sewed together. Even when made into a roll before writing upon, the fiction of individual tablets was maintained in the columns (deleths, Jer 36:23 =" doors"). It was the typical book form of antiquity. It was commonly of leather, vellum, papyrus, and sometimes of linen, It might rarely be as much as 135 ft. long X 1 1/2 ft. wide for papyrus, and leather rolls might be wider still. It was the form traditionally used by the Hebrews, and was undoubtedly the form used by our Lord in the synagogue. It is still used in the synagogue. It was possibly the form in which the New Testament books also were written, but this is much more doubtful.

The roll form is rounded on the one-surface tablet, and, as a matter of fact, neither leather nor papyrus was well suited to take ink on the back; it developed from the sewing together of skins and the pasting together of sheets of papyrus. Although papyrus is found written on both sides, it is in general not the same document on the back, but the old has been destroyed and utilized as waste paper. This writing on both sides of the roll (opisthography) is referred to in Eze 2:10 (Re 5:1), where the roll is written within and without.

2. The Codex:

Wood and metal tablets, not being flexible, could not be rolled, but were hinged and became diptychs, triptychs, polyptychs. The typical method of hinging these tablets in Roman times was not the codex or modern book form proper, where all are hinged by the same edge, but a folding form based on a series of one-surface tablets hinged successively so as to form a chain (Gardthausen, Greek Palestine, I, 129, figure 12). They were strictly folding tablets, folding like an accordion, as in some Far Eastern manuscripts of recent times. The modern hinging was used but rarely.

It is commonly said that it was this folding or hinged wooden tablet which produced the codex of the Latins and the "book" of modern Germanic races. Some, however, prefer to trace the origin to the folded document. The wood or waxed tablet was commonly used in antiquity for letters, but even more commonly the sheet of papyrus or vellum. It is quite natural to fold such a sheet once to protect the writing. Whether this was suggested by the diptych, or vice versa, the form of a modern sheet of note paper was early introduced. Either the diptych or the folded single sheet may have suggested the codex.

Whether the first codices were wood and metal or papyrus and vellum, the hinging at one edge, which is the characteristic, is closely connected with the double-face (or multiple-face) tablet. With suitable material the simplest way of providing space, if the tablet is too small, is to turn over and finish on the back. The clay tablets lend themselves readily to writing on both sides, but not to hinging. It developed, however, to a certain degree the multiple-face idea by use of prisms, pyramids, hexagonal and other cylinders, but it was early forced into the numbered series of moderate-sized tablets.

Wood and metal tablets would be hinged, but the wood tablets were too bulky and metal tablets too heavy for long works, and the ring method of joining actually led away from the book to the pleated form. Papyrus and leather, however, while they might be used (as they were used) as single tablets were thin enough to allow of a long work in a single codex. They soon developed, therefore, perhaps through the folded sheet, into the codex proper and the modern bound book. The codex, as Thompson remarks, was destined to be the recipient of Christian literature, as the papyrus roll had been the basis of the pagan literature, and there is some evidence to show that the form was, historically, actually developed for the purposes of the Christian writings, and in papyrus, while the pagan papyri continued to be in roll form. Since the invention of the codex is placed at the end of the 1st century, and the earliest codices were especially the New Testament writings, there is a certain possibility that at least the historical introduction of the codex was in the New Testament books, and that its invention comes perhaps from combining the New Testament epistles on papyrus into a volume. In the West at least the roll is, however, the prevailing form of the New Testament until the 3rd or 4th centuries (Birt, Buchrolle, passim).

VII. Writing.

1. Writers:

The chief Hebrew words for the professional "writer" are copher and shoTer, both akin to Assyrian words for "writing" and used also for kindred officers. The word copher seems closely connected with the cepher, "book," and with the idea of numbering. This official is a military, mustering or enrolling officer (Jud 5:14; 2Ch 26:11; 2Ki 25:19), a numbering or census officer for military purposes or for taxation (Isa 33:18)—and a royal secretary (2Sa 8:17).

The shoTer appears as a herald (De 20:5,8; Jos 1:10; 3:2), as overseer of the brick-making in Egypt, and as overseer of the outward business of Israel (1Ch 26:29). He is associated with the elders (Nu 11:16; De 29:10 (Hebrew 9); 31:28; Jos 8:33; 23:2; 24:1) or with the judges (Jos 8:33; 23:2; 24:1; De 16:18).

The two terms are often, however, used together as of parallel and distinct offices (2Ch 26:11; 34:13). If any such distinction can be made, it would seem that the copher was originally the military scribe and the shoTer the civil scribe, but it is better to say that they are "evidently .... synonymous terms and could be used of any subordinate office which required ability to write" (Cheyne in EB). There seem to have been at least 70 of these officers at the time of the Exodus, and by inference many more (Nu 11:16), and 6,000 Levites alone in the time of David (1Ch 23:4) were "writers."

Another kind of professional scribe was the Tiphcar (Jer 51:27, "marshal"; Na 3:17 margin), or tablet writer, a word apparently directly borrowed from the Assyrian. This too seems to be a real synonym for both of the other words. In brief, therefore, all three terms mean scribe in the Egyptian or Assyrian sense, where the writer was an official and the official necessarily a writer.

Still another word, rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) as "magicians," is rendered in its margin as "sacred scribe" (charTom). This word being derived from the stilus recalls the close connection between the written charm and magic. None of these words in the Old Testament refers directly to the professional copyist of later times whose business was the multiplication of copies.

Sayce argues from the name Kiriath-sepher that there was a university for scribes at this place, and according to 1 Chronicles (2:55) there were Kenite families of professional scribes at Jabez.

The professional scribe, writing as an amanuensis, is represented by Baruch (Jer 36:4) and Tertius (Ro 16:22), and the calligraphist by Ezra (Ezr 7:6). In later times the scribe stood for the man of learning in general and especially for the lawyer.

It would seem that Moses expected that kings should write with their own hands (De 17:18; 31:24), and the various letters of David (2Sa 11:15), Jezebel (1Ki 21:9), the king of Aram (2Ki 5:5), Jehu (2Ki 10:2,6), Jeremiah (chapter 29), Elijah (2Ch 21:12-15), the letters of the Canaanite and Hittite princes to one another in the Tell el-Amarna Letters and Boghazeui tablets, etc., while they may sometimes have been the work of secretaries, were undoubtedly often by the author. For the prevalence of handwriting in Biblical times and places see LIBRARIES. Its prevalence in Old Testament times may be compared perhaps to the ratio of college graduates in modern life. In New Testament times the ratio was probably much greater, and it appears not only that Zacharias, the priest, and the educated Paul and Luke could write, but even the poorer apostles and the carpenter’s Son. It is assumed that all of a certain rich man’s debtors could write (Lu 16:7). This general literacy was due to the remarkable public-school system of the Jews in their synagogues, which some good Jewish scholars (Klostermann, quoted by Krauss, Talmudic Archaeology, III, 336, note 1) trace as far back as Isaiah. In Vespasian’s time it is said there were in Jerusalem alone 480 synagogues each with its school, and the law that there must be primary schools in every city dates at latest (63-65 AD) from this time and more likely from 130 BC. The compulsory public-school law of Simeon ben Setach (circa 70 BC), although it has been labeled mythical, is nevertheless entirely credible, in view of the facts as they appear in New Testament times and in Josephus. The tale that there were in Bether, after the fall of Jerusalem had crowded full this seat of learning, "400 synagogues each with 400 teachers and 400 pupils," carries fiction on its face, but there is little doubt that there were public schools long before this in nearly every town of Palestine and compulsory education from the age of 6 or 7 (compare Krauss, III, chapter xii, "Schule," 119-239, 336-58).

2. The Writing Art:

Writing in the Hebrew as in Semitic languages in general except Ethiopic is from right to left and in Greek from left to right as in modern western usage. On the one hand, however, some Sabean inscriptions and, on the other hand, a number of early Greek inscriptions are written alternately, or boustrophedon, and suggest the transition from Semitic to western style. The earlier Greek manuscripts did not separate the words, and it is inferred from text corruptions that the earliest Hebrew writing did not. As early as the Mesha and Siloam inscriptions, the dot was used to separate words, and the vertical stroke for the end of a sentence. Vowel points were introduced somewhere from the 5th to the 8th centuries AD by the Massoretes, but are not allowed even now in the synagogue rolls. Some of the inscriptions employ the Palestinian or Tiberian system of vowel points, and others the Babylonian (above the line). Accents indicate not only stress but intonation and other relations. Very soon after Ezra’s day, and before the Septuagint translation, the matter of writing the Biblical books had become one of very great care, the stipulations and the rules for careful correction by the authorized text being very strict (Blau, 185-87). The manuscripts were written in columns (doors), and a space between columns, books, etc., was prescribed, as also the width of the column. All books were ruled. Omitted words must be interlined above. The margins were frequently used for commentaries. For size, writing on the back, etc., see above, and for the use of abbreviations, reading, punctuation, etc., see Blau, Gardthausen, Thompson, the Introductions to textual criticism and the articles on textual criticism in this Encyclopedia.

VIII. History of Biblical Handwriting.

1. Mythological Origins:

Mythologically speaking the history of handwriting dates from the beginning when the Word created the heavens. The firmament is a series of heavenly tablets, the hand writing of God, as conceived by the tablet-using Babylonians, or a scroll in the thought of prophets, the New Testament writers, and the rabbis. Whether the idea that "the heavens declare the glory of God," etc. (Ps 19:1-4), refers to this notion or not, it was one extensively developed and practiced in the science of astrology. In any event the doctrine of the Creator-Word reaches deep into the psychology of writing as a tangible record of invisible words or ideas, and this philosophizing stretches some 3,000 years or so back of the Christian era.

For writing among the gods in the mythologies of non-Biblical religions, see BOOK; LIBRARIES.

2. Earliest Use:

When and why the very simplest kind of writing began to be used has been the subject of much conjecture. The Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition) (XVI, 445) suggests that "the earliest use .... of inscribed or written signs was for important religious and political transactions kept by priests in temples," but the memorial pillar is older than the temple, and the economic or social record is perhaps older than the sacred, although this is less clear. Three things seem rather probable:

(1) that the first records were number records, (2) that they concerned economic matters—although it is not excluded that the occasion for first recording economic matters was religious, (3) that they were not used memorially for important transactions, but rather as utilitarian or business records.

The original mnemonic record was probably a number record. The Hebrew words for "book" and "word" both seem to mean a setting down of one thing after another, and various words in various other languages point in the same direction, as do also in a general way the nature of the primitive situation and the evidences of history. Many of the oldest records are concerned with numbers of animals. Immense quantities of very old Sumerian records are simply such lists, and the still earlier cave drawings (whether they have numbers or not) are at least drawings of animals. One use of the primitive quipu was for recording sales of different kinds of animals at market, and the twig bundle and notched records are in general either pure number records or mnemonic records with a number base. What these animal records were for is another matter. If they were records of ownership for mere tally purposes (a natural enough purpose, carrying back even to hunting trophies) the use was purely economic, but as a matter of fact the early Babylonian lists seem generally to have been temple records, and even the cave records are commonly thought to be associated with religion. The early Egyptian lists too have religious associations, and the somewhat later records are largely concerned with endowment of temples or at least temple lists of offerings—votive offerings or sacrifices. This points perhaps to a religious origin and possibly leads back to the very first felt need of records for a tithing for religious purposes. But it may equally lead to the sharing of spoils socially rather than religiously, although the history of the common meal and sacrifice shared by worshippers points to a very early religious sanction for the problem of equitable sharing of spoils, and it may have been precisely at this point and for this purpose that number record was invented. However that may be, the evidence seems to point to a number-record origin even back of the cave drawings (which are said to be chiefly of domestic rather than wild animals) at a period variously figured as from 6,000 or 8,000 years ago, more or less, to millions of years ago.

3. Biblical History:

The pseudepigraphic books of the Old Testament variously represent writing as invented and first practiced by Yahweh, Adam, Cain, or Seth. Taking the Biblical narrative as it stands, the earliest allusion to true writing is the sign of Cain (Ge 4:15), if indeed this refers to a body mark, and particularly if it has analogy with the "mark upon the forehead" of the Book of Revelation (17:5; compare 13:16; 14:1) and the tattoo marks of ownership or tribal marks of primitive tribes, as is thought by many.

The setting of the rainbow as a permanent sign (Ge 9:12-17) for a permanent covenant is quite in line with the recognized mnemonic writing. Noah’s building of an altar had the same character if it was built for a permanent memorial. More obviously akin to this primitive form of writing was, however, the dedication of a memorial altar or pillar as a memorial of a particular event in a particular place, as in Jacob’s pillar (Ge 28:18,22).

For perhaps 2,000 years before Abraham, image writing had been practiced in both Babylonia and Egypt, and for more than 1,000 years a very highly developed ideographic and phonetic writing had been in use. There were millions of cuneiform documents existing in collections large and small in Babylonia when he was there, and equal quantities of hieroglyphic and hieratic papyri, leather and skin documents in Egypt when he visited it.


Abraham himself presumably used cuneiform writing closely parallel to the writing on Hammurabi’s statue. A similar script was presumably also used by his Hittite allies. In Egypt he met with the hieroglyphics on the monuments, but for business and common use the so-called hieratic cursive forms were already developed toward, if not well into, the decided changes of the middle hieratic period (circa 2030-1788 BC; compare Moller, Hierat. Palaeog., VI, 1909, 3, etc.). It is a question whether the boundary heap, which Laban "called" the heap of witness in Aramaic and Jacob by the same name in Hebrew, was inscribed or not, but, if inscribed, both faces or lines of the bilingual inscription were presumably in cuneiform characters. The cuneiform remained, probably continuously, the prevailing script of Syria and Palestine until about 1300 BC, and until, some time well before 1000, the old Semitic alphabet began to be employed.

The question of the relation of the writing in Mosaic times and in the time of the Judges to the cuneiform or the hieratic on the one side and the alphabet on the other is too much mixed up with the question of the Pentateuch to allow of much dogmatizing. Some scholars are convinced that the Pentateuch was written in cuneiform characters if not in the Babylonian language. The old Semitic-Greek, "Phoenician," alphabet was, however, probably worked out in the Palestinian region between 1400 and 1100 BC (wherever the Hebrews may have been at this time), and it remained the Hebrew writing until the introduction of the square characters.


At the beginning of the Christian era there had been a long period of the use of Greek among the educated, and long before the New Testament was written there was a large body of Palestinian-Greek and Egyptian-Greek literature. Latin for a time also had been used, more or less, officially, but the Aramaic, development of whose forms may be well traced from about 500 BC in the inscriptions and in the Elephantine papyri, was the prevailing popular writing. Greek remained long the language of the educated world. It was after 135 AD that R. Simeon ben Gamaliel was said to have had 500 students in Hebrew (New Hebrew) and 500 in Greek (Krauss, III, 203).

Latin, Greek, and Aramaic (New Hebrew) characters were all needed for the inscription on the cross. Hebrew had at this time certainly passed into the square form long enough ago to have had yodh pass into proverb as the smallest letter (jot) of the alphabet (Mt 5:18). Through the abundance of recent papyrus and inscriptional discoveries, it is now possible to trace the history of the varying forms of the bookhand and cursive Greek letters, and even of the Latin letters, for several centuries on either side of the year of our Lord and up to the time of the longer known manuscripts (see works of Gardthausen and Thompson). One may get in this way a good idea of how the most famous of all trilingual inscriptions may have looked as to its handwriting—how in fact it probably did look, jotted down as memorandum by Pilate, and how transcribed on the cross, assuming that Pilate wrote the Roman cursive (Thompson, facsimile 106 (AD 41), 321), and the clerks a fair epigraphic or rather for this purpose perhaps bookhand Greek (Thompson, facsimile 8 (AD 1), 123; Latin, facsimile 83 (AD 79), 276). See TITLE.



Edward Clodd, Story of the Alphabet, New York, 1912 (popular); Fritz Specht, Die Schrift u. ihre Entwicklung, 3. Ausg., Berlin, 1909 (popular); I. Taylor, History of the Alphabet, London, 1899, 2 volumes, 8vo; H. Wuttke, Geschichte der Schrift, Leipzig, 1874-75 (rich and comprehensive on primitive writing); Philippe Berger, Histoire de l’ecriture dans l’antiquite, 2nd edition, Paris, 1892; Karl Paulmann, Illustrirte Geschichte der Schrift, Wien, 1880 (uncritical but comprehensive and very useful for illus.); W. M. Flinders Petrie, The Formation of the Alphabet, 1912.


Leo Frobenius, The Childhood of Man, Philadelphia, 1908 (casual but useful aggregation of primitive examples); Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Washington, 1907-10, 2 volumes (dictionary form); G. Mallery, Smithsonian Inst. Reports, IV (1882-83), 3-256, X (1888-89), 1-822; M. Beuchat, Manuel d’archeologie americaine, Paris, 1912; M. H. Kingsley, Travels in West Africa, London, 1897; R. E. Dennet, At the Back of the Black Man’s Mind, 1906; A. W. Howitt, Native Tribes of South-East Australia, London, 1904 (especially chapter xi); E. C. Richardson, The Beginnings of Libraries, London and Princeton, 1914.


Dechelette; Archeologie prehistorique. 1908; Arthur J. Evans, Scripta Minoa, Oxford, 1909; Angelo Mosso, The Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization, London, 1910.

Hebrew, Greek and Latin:

Frederic G. Kenyon, Our Bible and the Ancient manuscripts, 3rd edition, London, 1898; George Milligan, The New Testament Documents, 1913, Ludwig Blau, Studien zum althebraischen Buchwesen, Strassburg, 1902 (scholarly; first rank); Leopold Loew, Graphische Requisiten und Erzeugnisse bei den Juden, Leipzig, 1870-71, 2 parts; Samuel Krauss, Talmudische Archaologie, Leipzig, 1910-12, 3 volumes, III, 131-239, 300 ff (full critical notes and references); Mark Lidzbarski, Handbuch d. nordsemitischen Epigraphik, 1902-8 (also Ephemeris); Alvin Sylvester Zerbe, Antiquity of Hebrew Writing and Literature, Cleveland, 1911 (controversial); V. Gardthausen, Griechische Palaeographie, 2nd edition, Leipzig, 1911-13, 2 volumes (remarkable for comprehensiveness, exhaustive bibliographic reference and critical scholarship); Sir Edward Maunde Thompson, An Introduction to Greek and Latin Paleography, Oxford, 1912 (expansion of his Handbook with greatly improved facsimiles, better treatment of papyri and a good working bibliography of palaeography); F. G. Kenyon, The Paleography of Greek Papyri, Oxford, 1899, 8vo; Ludwig Mitteis and Ulrich Wilcken, Grundzuge und Chrestomathie der Papyruskunde, Leipzig, 1912, 2 volumes in 4 (Encyclopaedia of the subject); Theodor Birt, Das antike Buchwesen, Berlin, 1882; idem, Die Buchrolle in der Kunst, Leipzig, 1907 (of first usefulness, especially in matter of illus. and refs.); E. S. Roberts, Greek Epigraphy, part I, "The Archaic Inscriptions and the Greek Alphabet," Cambridge, 1887, 8vo; Karl Dziatzko, Untersuchungen uber ausgewahlte Kapitel des antiken Buchwesens, Leipzig; 1900; Ernest Christian Wilhelm Wattenbach, Das Schriftwesen im Mittelalter, Leipzig, 1896 (has an immense mass of original quotations of authorities).

Sources for Latest Literature:

W. Weinberger, "Beitrage zur Handschriftenkunde," Sitzungsber. Akad. Wien, 159, 161 (1908-9), pp. 79-195; Zentralblatt f. Bibliothekswesen, Leipzig (monthly); Hortzschansky, Bibliographie des .... Buchwesens (annual cumulation of the Zentralblatt material).

For inward writing see modern general psychologies and the books and articles in Rand’s bibliographical supplement to Baldwin’s Dictionary of Psychology. For continuation literature see the Psychological Index. For various aspects of writing consult also books on general Biblical archaeology (e.g., Nowack and Benzinger), general introductions and articles on "Alphabet," ...." Book," "Library," "Manuscripts," "Textual Criticism," and other special topics in this or other Biblical and general encyclopedias.

E. C. Richardson