BAAL (1)

ba’-al: (ba‘al; or Baal): The Babylonian Belu or Bel, "Lord," was the title of the supreme god among the Canaanites.







1. Baal-berith

2. Baal-gad

3. Baal-hamon

4. Baal-hermon

5. Baal-peor

6. Baal-zebub

I. Name and Character of Baal:

In Babylonia it was the title specially applied to Merodach of Babylon, which in time came to be used in place of his actual name. As the word in Hebrew also means "possessor," it has been supposed to have originally signified, when used in a religious sense, the god of a particular piece of land or soil. Of this, however, there is no proof, and the sense of "possessor" is derived from that of "lord." The Babylonian Bel-Merodach was a Sun-god, and so too was the Can Baal whose full title was Baal-Shemaim, "lord of heaven." The Phoenician writer Sanchuniathon (Philo Byblius, Fragmenta II) accordingly says that the children of the first generation of mankind "in time of drought stretched forth their hands to heaven toward the sun; for they regarded him as the sole Lord of heaven, and called him Beel-samen, which means ‘Lord of Heaven’ in the Phoenician language and is equivalent to Zeus in Greek" Baal-Shemaim had a temple at Umm el-Awamid between Acre and Tyre, and his name is found in inscriptions from the Phoenician colonies of Sardinia and Carthage.

II. Attributes of Baal:

As the Sun-god, Baal was worshipped under two aspects, beneficent and destructive. On the one hand he gave light and warmth to his worshippers; on the other hand the fierce heats of summer destroyed the vegetation he had himself brought into being. Hence, human victims were sacrificed to him in order to appease his anger in time of plague or other trouble, the victim being usually the first-born of the sacrificer and being burnt alive. In the Old Testament this is euphemistically termed "passing" the victim "through the fire" (2Ki 16:3; 21:6). The forms under which Baal was worshipped were necessarily as numerous as the communities which worshipped him. Each locality had its own Baal or divine "Lord" who frequently took his name from the city or place to which he belonged. Hence, there was a Baal-Zur, "Baal of Tyre"; Baal-hermon, "Baal of Hermon" (Jud 3:3); Baal-Lebanon, "Baal of Lebanon"; Baal-Tarz, "Baal of Tarsus." At other times the title was attached to the name of an individual god; thus we have Bel-Merodach, "the Lord Merodach" (or "Bel is Merodach") at Babylon, Baal-Melkarth at Tyre, Baal-gad (Jos 11:17) in the north of Palestine. Occasionally the second element was noun as in Baal-Shemaim, "lord of heaven," Baalzebub (2Ki 1:2), "Lord of flies," Baal-Hamman, usually interpreted "Lord of heat," but more probably "Lord of the sunpillar," the tutelary deity of Carthage. All these various forms of the Sun-god were collectively known as the Baalim or "Baals" who took their place by the side of the female Ashtaroth and Ashtrim. At Carthage the female consort of Baal was termed Pene-Baal, "the face" or "reflection of Baal."

III. Baal-Worship:

In the earlier days of Hebrew history the title Baal, or "Lord," was applied to the national God of Israel, a usage which was revived in later times, and is familiar to us in the King James Version. Hence both Jonathan and David had sons called Merib-baal (1Ch 8:31; 9:40) and Beeliada (1Ch 14:7). After the time of Ahab, however, the name became associated with the worship and rites of the Phoenician deity introduced into Samaria by Jezebel, and its idolatrous associations accordingly caused it to fall into disrepute. Hosea 2:16 declares that henceforth the God of Israel should no longer be called Baali, "my Baal," and personal names like Esh-baal (1Ch 8:33; 9:39), and Beelinda into which it entered were changed in form, Baal being turned into bosheth which in Heb at any rate conveyed the sense of "shame."

IV. Temples, etc.:

Temples of Baal at Samaria and Jerusalem are mentioned in 1Ki 1:18; where they had been erected at the time when the Ahab dynasty endeavored to fuse Israelites and Jews and Phoenicians into a single people under the same national Phoenician god. Altars on which incense was burned to Baal were set up in all the streets of Jerusalem according to Jeremiah (11:13), apparently on the flat roofs of the houses (Jer 32:29); and the temple of Baal contained an image of the god in the shape of a pillar or Bethel (2Ki 10:26,27). In the reign of Ahab, Baal was served in Israel by 450 priests (1Ki 18:19), as well as by prophets (2Ki 10:19), and his worshippers wore special vestments when his ritual was performed (2Ki 10:22). The ordinary offering made to the god consisted of incense (Jer 7:9) and burnt sacrifices; on extraordinary occasions the victim was human (Jer 19:5). At times the priests worked themselves into a state of ecstasy, and dancing round the altar slashed themselves with knives (1Ki 18:26,28), like certain dervish orders in modern Islam.

V. Use of the Name.

In accordance with its signification the name of Baal is generally used with the definite art.; in the Septuagint this often takes the feminine form, aischane "shame" being intended to be read. We find the same usage in Ro 11:4. The feminine counterpart of Baal was Baalah or Baalath which is found in a good many of the local names (see Baethgen, Beltrage zur semitischen Religionsgeschichte, 1888).

VI. Forms of Baal.

1. Baal-berith:

Baal-berith ba‘al berith; Baalberith, "Covenant Baal," was worshipped at Shechem after the death of Gideon (Jud 8:33; 9:4). In Jud 9:46 the name is replaced by El-berith, "Covenant-god." The covenant was that made by the god with his worshippers, less probably between the Israelites and the native Canaanites.

2. Baal-gad:

Baal-gad ba‘al gadh; Balagada, "Baal [lord] of good luck" (or "Baal is Gad") was the god of a town called after his name in the north of Palestine, which has often been identified with Baalbek. The god is termed simply Gad in Isa 65:11 the Revised Version, margin; where he is associated with Meni, the Assyrian Manu (King James Version "troop" and "number").

3. Baal-hamon:

Baal-hamon ba‘al hamon; Beelamon is known only from the fact that Solomon had a garden at a place of that name (So 8:11). The name is usually explained to mean "Baal of the multitude," but the cuneiform tablets of the Tell el-Amarna age found in Palestine show that the Egyptian god Amon was worshipped in Canaan and identified there with the native Baal. We are therefore justified in reading the name Baal-Amon, a parallel to the Babylonian Bel-Merodach. The name has no connection with that of the Carthaginian deity Baal-hamman.

4. Baal-hermon:

Baal-hermon ba‘al chermon; Balaermon is found in the name of "the mountain of Baal-hermon" (Jud 3:3; compare 1Ch 5:23), which also bore the names of Hermort, Sirion and Shenir (Saniru in the Assyrian inscriptions), the second name being applied to it by the Phoenicians and the third by the Amorites (De 3:9). Baal-hermon will consequently be a formation similar to Baal-Lebanon in an inscription from Cyprus; according to the Phoenician writer Sanchuniathon (Philo Byblius, Fragmenta II) the third generation of men "begat sons of surprising size and stature, whose names were given to the mountains of which they had obtained possession."

5. Baal-peor:

Baal-peor ba‘al pe‘or; Beelphegor was god of the Moabite mountains, who took his name from Mount Peor (Nu 23:28), the modern Fa‘ur, and was probably a form of Chemosh (Jerome, Comm., Isa 15). The sensual rites with which he was worshipped (Nu 25:1-3) indicate his connection with the Phoenician Baal.

6. Baal-zebub:

Baal-zebub ba‘al zebhubh; Baalmuia Theos ("Baal the fly god") was worshipped at Ekron where he had famous oracle (2Ki 1:2,3,16). The name is generally translated "the Lord of flies," the Sun-god being associated with the flies which swarm in Palestine during the earlier summer months. It is met with in Assyrian inscriptions. In the New Testament the name assumes the form of Beelzebul Beelzeboul, in King James Version: BEELZEBUB (which see).

A. H. Sayce

BAAL (2)

ba’-al ba‘al, ("lord," "master," "possessor"):

(1) A descendant of Reuben, Jacob’s first-born son, and the father of Beerah, prince of the Reubenitcs, "whom Tiglath-pileser (1Ch 5:5,6) king of Assyria carried away captive."

(2) The fourth of ten sons of Jeiel (King James Version "Jehiel"), father and founder of Gibeon. His mother was Maacah; his brother Kish father o£ Saul (1Ch 8:29 f; 9:35,36,39; compare 1Sa 14:50f). These passages identify Jeiel and Abiel as the father of Kish and thus of Baal. For study of confusions in the genealogical record, in 1Ch 9:36,39, see KISH; ABIEL; JEIEL.

(3) In composition often the name of a man and not of the heathen god, e.g. Baal-hanan, a king of Edom (Ge 36:38; 1Ch 1:49); also a royal prefect of the same name (1Ch 27:28). Gesenius thinks that Baal in compound words rarely refers to the god by that name. See BAAL (deity).

(4) A city of the tribe of Simeon (1Ch 4:33). See BAALATH-BEER.

Dwight M. Pratt

BAAL (3)

ba‘al; Baal 1Ch 4:33. See BAALATH-BEER.


ba-al-be’-rith ba‘al berith =(" Baal of the Covenant"): An idol worshipped by the Shechemites after Gideon’s death (Jud 8:33), as protector and guardian of engagements. His temple is also referred to in Jud 9:4. See BAAL (1).


ba’-al-gad ba‘al gadh; Balagada, Balgad: Joshua in his conquest reached as far north as ‘Baal-gad in the valley’ of Lebanon, under Mount Hermon (Jos 11:17). This definitely locates it in the valley between the Lebanons, to the West or Northwest of Hermon. It must not be confused with Baal-hermon. Conder thinks it may be represented by ‘Ain Jedeideh.


ba-al-ha’-mon. See BAAL (1).


ba-al-ha’-nan ba‘al chanan, ("the Lord is gracious"):

(1) A king of Edom (Ge 36:38 f; 1Ch 1:49f).

(2) A gardener in the service of David (1Ch 27:28).


ba-al-ha’-zor ba‘al chatsor; Bailasor, Bel-la-sor: A place on the property of Absalom where his sheep-shearers were gathered, beside Ephraim (2Sa 13:23). The sheep-shearing was evidently the occasion of a festival which was attended by Absalom’s brethren. Here he compassed the death of Amnon in revenge for the outrage upon his sister. The place may be identified with Tell ‘Asur, a mountain which rises 3,318 ft. above the sea, 4 miles Northeast of Bethel. rine Kubbet el Baul may retain the old name.


ba’-al-hur’-mon ba‘al chermon; Baal Ermon: Baalgad under Mount Hermon is described as "toward the sunrising" in Jos 13:5. If Mount Lebanon proper is here intended the reading may be taken as correct. But in Jud 3:3 Baal-gad is replaced by Baal-hermon. One or the other must be due to a scribal error. The Baal-hermon of 1Ch 5:23 lay somewhere East of the Jordan, near to Mount Hermon. It may possibly be identical with Banias.


ba’-al-me’-on ba‘al me‘on; Beelmeon: A town built by the children of Reuben along with Nebo, "their names being changed" (Nu 32:38), identical with Beon of Nu 32:3. As Beth-baal-meon it was given by Moses to the tribe of Reuben (Jos 13:17). Mesha names it as fortified by him (MS, L. 9). It appears in Jer 48:23 as Beth-meon, one of the cities of Moab. Eusebius, Onomasticon speaks of it as a large village near the hot springs, i.e. Callirrhoe, in Wady Zerka Ma‘in, 9 miles from Heshbon. This points to the ruined site of Ma‘in, about 4 miles Southwest of Madeba. The ruins now visible however are not older than Roman times.

W. Ewing


ba-al-pe’-or. See BAAL. (1).


ba-al-pe-ra’-zim, ba-al-per’-azim ba‘al peratsim; Baal’pharasein, ("the lord of breakings through"): The spot in or near the Valley of Rephaim where David obtained a signal victory over the Philistines; it was higher than Jerusalem for David asked, "Shall I go up against the Philis?" (2Sa 5:20; 1Ch 14:11). The exact site is unknown, but if the Vale of Rephaim is el Beka‘a, the open valley between Jerusalem and Mar Elias, then Baal-perazim would probably be the mountains to the East near what is called the "Mount of Evil Counsel" (see JERUSALEM). The Mount Perazim of Isa 28:21 would appear to be the same spot.

E. W. G. Masterman


ba-al-shal’-i-sha, ba-al-shale-’sha ba‘al shalishah; Baithsarisa: Whence a man came to Gilgal with first-fruits (2Ki 4:42) was probably not far from the latter place. According to the Talmud (Sanh. 12a) the fruits of the earth nowhere ripened so quickly. It is called by Eusebius Baithsarith (Jerome "Bethsalisa"), and located 15 miles North of Diospolis (Lydda). Khirbet Sirisia almost exactly fits this description. Gilgal (Jiljulieh) lies in the plain about 4 1/2 miles to the Northwest Khirbet Kefr Thilth, 3 1/2 miles farther north, has also been suggested. The Arabic Thilth exactly corresponds to the Hebrew Shalishah.

W. Ewing


ba-al-ta’-mar ba‘al tamar; Baal Thamar, ("Baal of the palm tree"): Evidently a seat of heathen worship (Jud 20:33) between Bethel and Gibeah (compare Jud 20:18,31). The place was known to Eusebius (Onomasticon, which see), but trace of the name is now lost. Conder suggests that it may be connected with the palm tree of Deborah (Jud 4:5) which was between Bethel and Ramah (HDB, under the word).


ba-al-ze’-fon ba‘al tsephon; Beelsepphon; (Ex 14:2,9; Nu 33:7): The name means "Lord of the North," and the place was opposite the Hebrew camp, which was between Migdol and the sea. It may have been the shrine of a Semitic deity, but the position is unknown (see EXODUS). Goodwin (see Brugsch, Hist. Egt., II, 363) found the name Baali-Zapuna as that of a god mentioned in an Egyptian papyrus in the British Museum.


ba’-a-la ba‘alah; ("possessor," "mistress "): Three occurrences of this name:

(1) = KIRIATH-JEARIM (which see) (Jos 15:9,10; 1Ch 13:6).

(2) A city in the Negeb of Judah (Jos 15:29). In Jos 19:3 Balah and in 1Ch 4:29 Bilhah; perhaps also Boaloth of Jos 15:24. The site is unknown; but see PEF, III, 26.

(3) Mount Baalah (Jos 15:11), a mountain ridge between Shikkeron (Ekron) and Jabnoel unless, as seems probable, the suggestion of M. Clermont-Ganneau (Rev. Crit, 1897, 902) is correct that for har ( =" mount"), we should read nahar ("river"). In this case the border in question would be the Nahr rubin. Here there is an annual feast held—attended by all classes and famous all over Syria—which appears to be a real survival of "Baal worship."

E. W. G. Masterman


ba’-a-lath ba‘alath; (A, Baalon): between Shikkeron (Ekron) and Jabnoel unless, as seems probable, the suggestion of M. Clermont-Ganneau (Rev. Crit, 1897, 902) is correct that for har ( =" mount"), we should read nahar ("river"). In this case the border in question would be the Nahr rubin. Here there is an annual feast held—attended by all classes and famous all over Syria—which appears to be a real survival of "Baal worship."

(1) A town on the border of Da (Jos 19:44) associated with Eltekeh and Gibbethon—possibly Bela‘in.

(2) ("Mistress-ship"): A store city of Solomon, mentioned with Beth-horon (1Ki 9:18; 2Ch 8:6) and possibly the same as (1).


ba’-a-lath-be’-er ba‘alath be’er "lady (mistress) of the well"; (Jos 19:8 (in 1Ch 4:33, Baal)): In Jos this place is designated "Ramah of the South," i.e. of the Negeb, while in 1Sa 30:27 it is described as Ramoth of the Negeb. It must have been a prominent hill (ramah =" height") in the far south of the Negeb and near a well be’er. The site is unknown though Conder suggests that the shrine Kubbet el Baul may retain the old name.


bal’-bek, bal-bek’. See AVEN; ON.


ba’-al-e-joo’-da. See KIRIATH-JEARIM.


ba’-a-li ba‘ali, ("my master"): Baal, a common name for all heathen gods, had in common practice been used also of Yahweh. Hosea (Ho 2:16,17) demands that Yahweh be no longer called Ba‘ali ("my Baal" =" my lord") but ‘Ishi ("my husband"), and we find that later the Israelites abandoned the use of Ba‘al for Yahweh.


ba’-a-lim ha-be‘alim: Plur. of BAAL (which see).


ba’-a-lis ba‘lic, perhaps for Baalim, "gods"; Septuagint Beleisa, Belisa, [Baalis]; Ant, X, ix, 3, Baalimos: King of the children of Ammon, the instigator of the murder of Gedaliah (Jer 40:14). Compare Ant, X, ix, 3.


ba-al’-sa-mus Baalsamos; (the King James Version Balasamus): B. stood at the right side of Ezra, when the law was read to the people (1 Esdras 9:43). Compare Maaseiah (Ne 8:7). the Valley of Rephaim where David obtained a signal victory over the Philistines; it was higher than Jerusalem for David asked, "Shall I go up against the Philis?" (2Sa 5:20; 1Ch 14:11). The exact site is unknown, but if the Vale of Rephaim is el Beka‘a, the open valley between Jerusalem and Mar Elias, then Baal-perazim would probably be the mountains to the East near what is called the "Mount of Evil Counsel" (see JERUSALEM). The Mount Perazim of Isa 28:21 would appear to be the same spot.


ba-al-ze’-bub ba‘al zebhubh =" Lord of flies"; Baal-muian: A deity worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron (2Ki 1:2,3,6,16). All that can be gathered from this one reference to him in ancient literature is that he had some fame as a god that gave oracles. Ahaziah, son of Ahab, and king of Israel, went to consult him whether he should recover of his sickness, and was therefore rebuked by Elijah, who declared that his death would be the result of this insult to Yahweh. Why he was called "lord of flies," or whether his real name has not be en corrupted and lost are matters of conjecture. See BAAL (1).


ba’-a-na (Old Testament and Apocrypha; Baana; ba‘ana’ "son of oppression"):

(1, 2) Two commissariat-officers in the service of Solomon (1Ki 4:12; 4:16; the King James Version "Baanah").

(3) Father of Zadok, the builder (Ne 3:4).

(4) A leader who returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (1 Esdras 5:8). Compare Bannah (Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7; 10:27).


ba’-a-na ba‘anah, ("son of oppression"):

(1) Captain in the army of Ish-bosheth (2Sa 4:2 ff).

(2) Father of Iteleb, one of David’s mighty men (2Sa 23:29; 1Ch 11:30).

(3) Returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem; a leader and one who sealed the covenant (Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7; 10:27). See BAANA (4).


ba’-a-ni (A, Baani; B, Baanei; the King James Version Maani = Bani [Ezr 10:34]): The descendants of Baani put away their "strange wives" (1 Esdras 9:34).


ba-a-ni’as. See BANNEAS (Apocrypha).


ba’-a-ra ba‘ara’,(" the burning one"): A wife of the Benjamite Shaharaim (1Ch 8:8).


ba-a-si’a, ba-a-se’-ya ba‘aseyah, ("the Lord is bold"): Perhaps for ma‘aseyah, after the Greek Maasai, B, Maasai, "the work of the Lord." Compare Gray, Studies in Hebrew Proper Names, 293. An ancestor of Asaph, the musician (1Ch 6:40).


ba’-a-sha ba‘sha’,(" boldness"): King of Israel. Baasha, son of Ahijah, and of common birth (1Ki 16:2), usurped the throne of Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, killed Nadab and exterminated the house of Jeroboam. He carried on a long warfare with Asa, the king of Judah (compare Jer 41:9), began to build Ramah, but was prevented from completing this work by Ben- hadad, the king of Syria. He is told by the prophet Jehu that because of his sinful reign the fate of his house would be like that of Jeroboam. Baasha reigned 24 years. His son Elah who succeeded him and all the members of his family were murdered by the usurper Zimri (1Ki 15:16 ff; 16:1 ff; 2Ch 16:1 ff). The fate of his house is referred to in 1Ki 21:22; 2Ki 9:9. Compare ASA; ELAH; ZIMRI.

A. L. Breslich


bab’-ler ba‘al ha-lashon; the King James Version of Ec 10:11 literally, "master of the tongue"; the Revised Version (British and American) CHARMER; lapistes, the King James Version of Ecclesiasticus 20:7; the Revised Version (British and American) BRAG; spermologos; the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) of Ac 17:18: The latter Greek word is used of birds, such as the crow, that live by picking up small seeds (sperma, "20 seed," legein, "to gather"), and of men, for "hangers on" and "parasites" who obtained their living by picking up odds and ends off merchants’ carts in harbors and markets. It carries the "suggestion of picking up refuse and scraps, and in the literature of plagiarism without the capacity to use correctly" (Ramsay). The Athenian philosophers in calling Paul a spermologos, or "ignorant plagiarist," meant that he retailed odds and ends of knowledge which he had picked up from others, without possessing himself any system of thought or skill of language—without culture. In fact it was a fairly correct description of the Athenian philosophers themselves in Paul’s day.

Ramsay, Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen, 141 ff.

T. Rees


bab’-ling siach; the Revised Version (British and American) COMPLAINING): The consequence of tarrying long at the wine (Pr 23:29 the King James Version); lalia, the Revised Version (British and American) "talk" (Ecclesiasticus 19:6; 20:5 the King James Version); kenophonia, literally, "making an empty sound" (1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 2:16 the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American).



(1) na‘ar; pais of a male infant 3 months old (Ex 2:6) translated elsewhere "boy" or "lad."

(2) ‘olel, ta‘alulim, in the general sense of "child" (Ps 8:2; 17:14; Isa 3:4).

(3) brephos an unborn or newborn child (King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) of Lu 1:41,44; 2:12,16; 1Pe 2:2 and the Revised Version (British and American) of Lu 18:15 [AV "infants"]; Ac 7:19 [King James Version, "young children"] and 2Ti 3:15 [King James Version, "child"]).

(4) nepios =( Latin infans) "a child that cannot speak." (King James and the Revised Version (British and American) of Mt 11:25; 21:16; Lu 10:21; Ro 2:20; 1Co 3:1; Heb 5:13) the same word is translated "child," plural "children" (in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) of 1Co 13:11; Ga 4:1,3; Eph 4:14) the verb nepiazete is translated in the King James Version "be ye children" and in the Revised Version (British and American) "be ye babes" (1Co 14:20). Nepios is used metaphorically of those who are like children, of simple and single minds, as opposed to the "wise and understanding" (Mt 11:25 = Lu 10:21; compare 1Co 14:20). "Babes in Christ" are men of little spiritual growth, carnal as opposed to spiritual (1Co 3:1; compare Heb 5:13; Eph 4:14). Nepios is also used of a child as a minor or infant in the eye of the law (Ga 4:1,3).

T. Rees


ba’-bel, bab’-i-lon (Topographical): Babylon was the Greek name of the city written in the cuneiform script of the Babylonians, bab-ili, which means in Semitic, "the gate of god." The Hebrews called the country, as well as the city, Babhel. This name they considered came from the’ root, balal, "to confound" (Ge 11:9). The name in Sumerian ideographs was written Din-tir, which means "life of the forest," and yet ancient etymologists explained it as meaning "place of the seat of life" (shubat balaTe). Ka-ding’irra, which also means "gate of god," was another form of the name in Sumerian. It was also called Su-anna (which is of uncertain meaning) and Uru-azagga, "the holy city."

Herodotus, the Greek historian, has given us a picture of Babylon in his day. He says that the city was a great square, 42 miles in circuit. Ctesias makes it 56 miles. This, he writes, was surrounded by a moat or rampart 300 ft. high, and 75 ft. broad. The earliest mention of Babylon is in the time of Sargon I, about 2700 BC. That monarch laid the foundations of the temple of Annnit, and also those of the temple of Amal. In the time of Dungi we learn that the place was sacked. The city evidently played a very unimportant part in the political history of Babylonia of the early period, for besides these references it is almost unknown until the time of Hammurabi, when its rise brought about a new epoch in the history of Babylonia. The seat of power was then transferred permanently from the southern states. This resulted in the closing of the political history of the Sumerians. The organization of the empire by Hammurabi, with Babylon as its capital, placed it in a position from which it was never dislodged dur ing the remaining history of Babylonia.

The mounds covering the ancient city have frequently been explored, but systematic excavations of the city were not undertaken until 1899, when Koldewey, the German excavator, began to uncover its ancient ruins in a methodical manner. In spite of what ancient writers say, certain scholars maintain that they grossly exaggerated the size of the city, which was comparatively small, especially when considered in connection with large cities of the present era.

In the northern part of the city there was situated what is called the North Palace on the east side of the Euphrates, which passed through the city. A little distance below this point the Arakhtu canal left the Euphrates, and passing through the southern wall rejoined the river. There was also a Middle and Southern Palace. Near the latter was located the Ishtar gate. The temple E-makh was close to the east side of the gate. Other canals in the city were called Merodach and Libilkhegala. In the southern portion of the city was located the famous temple E-sag-ila. This temple was called by the Greek historian, "the temple of Belus." Marduk or Merodach (as written in the Old Testament), the patron deity of the city, received from Enlil, as Hammurabi informs us, after he had driven the Elamites out of Babylonia, the title "bel matate," "lord of lands," not the name which Enlil of Nippur had possessed. In the past there has been a confusion. The idcogram Enlil or Ellil had been incorrectly read Bel. This necessitated speaking of the old Bel and the young Bel. Beyond being called bel, "lord," as all other gods were called; Enlil’s name was not Bel. Marduk is the Bel of the Old Testament, as well as the god called Bel in the Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions.

The temple area included an outer, central and inner court. The shrine of Ishtar and Zamama occupied the central court, and the ziggurrat the inner court. In the temple proper, the shrine Ekua was located, in which stood the golden image of Marduk. This, the ancient writers say, was 40 ft. high. On the topmost stage there was a shrine dedicated to Marduk. It is assumed that it was 50 ft. long by 70 ft. broad and 50 ft. in height. Nabopolassar rebuilt the temple and its tower. Nebuchadrezzar enlarged and embellished the sanctuary. He raised the tower so that "its head was in the heavens," an expression found in the story of the Tower of Babel in Gen, as well as in many of the building inscriptions. See Clay, LOTB, Babel, 121 ff, and the article on BABEL, TOWER OF. One of the chief works of Nebuchadrezzar was the building of Aiburshabu, the famous procession street of the city, which extended from the Ishtar gate to E-sag-ila. It was a great and magnificent causeway, built higher than the houses. Walls lined it on either side, which were decorated with glazed tiles, portraying lions, life size in relief. The pavement was laid with blocks of stone brought from the mountains. This procession street figured prominently on the New Year’s festal day, when the procession of the gods took place.

A knowledge of the work Nebuchadrezzar did serves as a fitting commentary to the passage in Da 4:30: "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built?" He had made the city one of the wonders of the world.

The two sieges by Darius Hystaspes and the one by Xerxes destroyed much of the beauty of the city. Alexander desired to make it again a great center and to build an immense fortress in the city; but in the midst of this undertaking he was murdered, while living in the palace of Nebuchadrezzar. The temple, though frequently destroyed, was in existence in the time of the Seleucids, but the city had long since ceased to be of any importance.


A. T. Clay


@babhel; Assyro-Bab Bab-ili, (Bab-ilani, "gate of god," or "of the gods," rendered in Sumerian as Ka-dingira, "gate of god," regarded as a folk-etymology):

See BABEL, TOWER OF, section 14.

1. Names by Which the City Was Known

2. Probable Date of Its Foundation

3. Its Walls and Gates from Herodotus

4. Its Position, Divisions, Streets and Temple

5. The Works of Semiramis and Nitocris

6. Ctesias’ Description—the Palaces and Their Decorated Walls

7. The Temple of Belus and the Hanging Gardens

8. Other Descriptions

9. Nebuchadrezzar’s Account

10. Nebuchadrezzar’s Architectural Work at Babylon

11. The Royal Palaces

12. Quick Building

13. The Temples Restored by Nebuchadrezzar

14. The Extent of Nebuchadrezzar’s Architectural Work

15. Details Concerning the City from Contract-Tablets

16. Details Concerning Babylon from Other Sources

17. Modern Exploration

18. Description of the Ruins—the Eastern Walls

19. The Western Walls

20. The Palaces

21. The Site of Babylon’s Great Tower

22. The Central and Southern Ruins

23. A Walk through Babylon

24. The Ishtar-Gate and the Middle Palace

25. The Festival-Street

26. The Chamber of the Fates

27. The Northern Palace and the Gardens

28. Historical References to Babylonian Buildings


1. Names by Which the City Was Known:

The name of the great capital of ancient Babylonia, the Shinar of Ge 10:10; 14:1, other names of the city being Tin- dir, "seat of life," E (ki), probably an abbreviation of Eridu (ki) "the good city" (= Paradise), Babylonia having seemingly been regarded as the Garden of Eden (PSBA, June 1911, p. 161); and Su-anna, "the high-handed" (meaning, apparently, "high- walled," "hand" and "defense" being interchangeable terms). It is possible that these various names are due to the incorporation of outlying districts as Babylon grew in size.

2. Probable Date of Its Foundation:

According to Ge 10:9, the founder of Babylon was Nimrod, but among the Babylonians, it was Merodach who built the city, together with Erech and Niffer (Calneh) and their renowned temples. The date of its foundation is unknown, but it certainly went back to primitive times, and Babylon may even have equaled Niffer in antiquity (the American explorers of that site have estimated that its lowest strata of habitations go back to 8,000 years BC). Babylon’s late assumption of the position of capital of the country would therefore be due to its rulers not having attained power and influence at an earlier period. Having once acquired that position, however, it retained it to the end, and its great god, Merodach, became the head of the Babylonian pantheon—partly through the influence of Babylon as capital, partly because the city was the center of his worship, and the place of the great Tower of Babel, concerning which many wonderful things were said.


3. Its Walls and Gates from Herodotus:

According to Herodotus, the city, which lay in a great plain, was square in its plan and measured 120 furlongs (stadia) each way—480 in all. Each side was therefore about 14 miles long, making a circuit of nearly 56 miles, and an area of nearly 196 square miles. As the space enclosed is so great, and traces of the walls would seem to be wanting, these figures may be regarded as open to question. Around the city, Herodotus says, there was a deep and broad moat full of water, and then came a wall 50 royal cubits thick and 200 cubits high, pierced by 100 gateways with brazen gates and lintels. Reckoning the cubit at 18 2/3 inches, this would mean that Babylon’s walls were no less than 311 ft. high; and regarding the royal cubit as being equal to 21 inches, their thickness would be something like 87 ft. Notwithstanding that Babylon has been the quarry of the neighboring builders for two millenniums, it is surprising that such extensive masses of brickwork should have disappeared without leaving at least a few recognizable traces.

4. It Position, Divisions, Streets, and Temple:

The city was built on both sides of the Euphrates, and at the point where the wall met the river there was a return-wall running along its banks, forming a rampart. The houses of Babylon were of 3 and 4 stories. The roads which ran through the city were straight, and apparently intersected each other at right angles, like the great cities of America. The river-end of each of the streets leading to the river was guarded by a brazen gate. Within the great outer wall was another, not much weaker, but enclosing a smaller space. Each division of the city contained a great building, the one being the king’s palace, strongly fortified around, and the other the temple of Zeus Boles—an erection with brazen gates measuring two furlongs each way. Within this sacred precinct was a solid tower measuring a furlong each way, and surmounted by other towers to the number of eight. An ascent ran around these towers, with a stopping-place about the middle where the visitor might rest. Upou the topmost tower a large cell was built, wherein was a couch and a golden table. No image was placed in the cell, and no one passed the night there, except a woman of the people, chosen by the god. In another cell below was a golden image of Zeus sitting, his seat and footstool being likewise of gold, with, near by, a large golden table. The total weight of the precious metal here was 800 talents. Upon a small golden altar outside the cell young sucklings only were sacrificed, and upon another (not of gold) full-grown animals were offered.

5. The Works of Semiramis and Nitocris:

The hydraulic works of Babylon are attributed by Herodotus to two queens, Semiramis and Nitoeris. The former made banks of earth on the plain which were worth seeing, preventing the river from flooding the plain like a sea. The second, Nitocris, altered the channel of the river in such a way that it flowed three times in its course to the village Andericca, and the traveler by water therefore took three days to pass this spot. She also raised the banks of the river, and dug a great lake above Babylon. The place which was dug out she made into a swamp, the object being to retard the course of the river. The many bends and the swamp were on the shortest route to Media, to prevent the Medes from having dealings with her kingdom and learning of her affairs. Other works were a bridge across the Euphrates, and a tomb for herself over the most frequented gate of the city.

Both Herodotus and Ctesias were eyewitnesses of the glory of Babylon, though only at the period when it had begun to wane. It is exceedingly probable, however, that their accounts will be superseded in the end, by those of the people who best knew the city, namely, the inhabitants of Babylon itself.

6. Ctesias’ Description—the Palaces and Their Decorated Walls:

According to Ctesias, the circuit of the city was not 480, but. 360 furlongs—the number of the days in the Babylonian year- -and somewhat under 42 miles. The East and West districts were joined by a bridge 5 furlongs or 1,080 yards long, and 30 ft. broad. At each end of the bridge was a royal palace, that on the eastern bank being the more magnificent of the two. This palace was defended by three walls, the outermost being 60 furlongs or 7 miles in circuit; the second, a circular wall, 40 furlongs (4 1/2 miles), and the third 20 furlongs (2 1/2 miles). The height of the middle wall was 300 ft., and that of its towers 420 ft., but this was exceeded by the height of the inmost wall. Ctesias states that the walls of the second and third enclosures were of colored brick, showing hunting scenes—the chase of the leopard and the lion, with male and female figures, which he regarded as Ninus and Semiramis. The other palace (that on the West bank) was smaller and less ornate, and was enclosed only by a single wall 30 furlongs (3 1/2 miles) in circuit. This also had representations of hunting scenes and bronze statues of Ninus, Semiramis and Jupiter-Belus (Bel-Merodach). Besides the bridge, he states that there was also a tunnel under the river. He seems to speak of the temple of Belus (see BABEL, TOWER OF) as being surmounted by three statues—Bel (Bel-Merodach), 40 ft. high, his mother Rhea (Dawkina, the Dauke of Damascius), and Bel-Merodach’s spouse Juno or Beltis (Zer-panitum).

7. The Temple of Belus and the Hanging Gardens:

The celebrated Hanging Gardens he seems to describe as a square of which each side measured 400 ft., rising in terraces, the topmost of which was planted with trees of various kinds. If this was the case, it must have resembled a temple-tower covered with verdure. The Assyrian sculptures, however, indicate something different (see section 27).

8. Other Descriptions:

With regard to the size of the city as given by other authorities, Pliny copies Herodotus, and makes its circuit 480 furlongs (Nat. Hist. vi.26); Strabo (xvi. i. section 5), 385; Q. Curtius (v. i. section 26), 368; Clitarchus (apud Diod. Sic. ii.7), 365. Though the difference between the highest and the lowest is considerable, it is only what might be expected from independent estimates, for it is doubtful whether any of them are based on actual measurements. Diodorus (ii.9, end) states that but a small part of the enclosure was inhabited in his time (he was a contemporary of Caesar and Augustus), but the abandonment of the city must then have been practically completed, and the greater part given over, as he states, to cultivation—even, perhaps, within the space enclosed by the remains of walls today. It is noteworthy that Q. Curtius says (v. i. section 27) that as much as nine-tenths consisted, even during Babylon’s most prosperous period, of gardens, parks, paradises, fields and orchards; and this the later contract-tablets confirm. Though there is no confirmation of the height of the walls as given by these different authorities, the name given to the city, Su-anna, "the high walled" (see above), indicated that it was renowned for the height of its defensive structures.

9. Nebuchadrezzar’s Account:

Among the native accounts of the city, that of Nebuchadrezzar is the best and most instructive. From this record it would seem that there were two principal defensive structures, Imgur-Enlil and Nemitti-Enlil—"Enlil has been gracious" and "Enlil’s foundation" respectively. The construction of these, which protected the inner city only, on the eastern and western sides of the Euphrates, he attributes to his father Nabonidus, as well as the digging of the moat, with the two "strong walls" on its banks, and the embankment of the Arabtu canal. He had also lined the Euphrates with quays or embankments—probably the structures to which the Greek writers refer—but he had not finished the work. Within Babylon itself he made a roadway from Du-azaga, the place where the fates were declared, to Aa-ibur-sabu, Babylon’s festival-street, which lay by the gate of Beltis or Mah, for the great New-Year’s festival of Merodach and the gods.

10. Nebuchadrezzar’s Architectural Work at Babylon:

Nebuchadrezzar, after his accession, completed the two great walls, lined the ditches with brick, and increased the thickness of the two walls which his father had built. He also built a wall, traces of which are apparently extant, on the West side of Babylon (he apparently refers to what may be called the "city," in contradistinction to "greater Babylon"), and raised the level of Aa-ibur-sabu from the "holy gate" to the gate of Nana; together with the gateways (in consequence of the higher level of the pathway) through which it passed. The gates themselves were constructed of cedar overlaid with copper (bronze), most likely in the same manner as the gates of Imgur-Bel (Balawat) in Assyria (reign of Shalmaneser II, circa 850 BC). Probably none of Babylon’s gates were of solid bronze, notwithstanding the statements of Herodotus; but the thresholds were wholly of that metal, stone being very rare, and perhaps less durable. These gates were guarded by images of bulls and giant serpents or composite dragons of the same metal. Nebuchadrezzar also built a wall on the East bank of the river, 4,000 cubits distant, "high like a mountain," to prevent the approach of an enemy. This wall also had cedar gates covered with copper. An additional defense made by him was an enormous lake, "like unto the broad sea to cross," which was kept in by embankments.

11. The Royal Palaces:

The royal palaces next claimed the great king’s attention. The palace in which Nabopolassar had lived, and wherein, in all probability, Nebuchadrezzar had passed his younger days, had suffered from the floods when the river was high. The foundations of this extensive edifice, which extended from the wall called Imgur-Enlil to Libil-hegala, the eastern canal, and from the banks of the Euphrates to Aa-ibur-sabu, the festival-street, were thoroughly repaired with burnt brick and bitumen, and the doorways, which had become too low in consequence of the raising of that street, were raised to a suitable height. He caused the whole to tower aloft, as he has it, "mountainlike" (suggesting a building more than one story high). The roof of this palace was built of cedar, and the doors were of the same wood covered with bronze. Their thresholds, as in other cases, were bronze, and the interior of the palace was decorated with gold, silver, precious stones and other costly material.

12. Quick Building:

Four hundred and ninety cubits from Nemitti-Enlil lay, as the king says, the principal wall, Imgur-Enlil, and in order to guarantee the former against attack, he built two strong embankments, and an outer wall "like a mountain," with a great building between which served both as a fortress and a palace, and attached to the old palace built by his father. According to Nebuchadrezzar’s account, which is confirmed by Berosus (as quoted by Josephus and Eusebius), all this work was completed in 15 days. The decorations were like those of the other palace, and blocks of alabaster, brought, apparently, from Assyria, strengthened the battlements. Other defenses surrounded this stronghold.

13. The Temples Restored by Nebuchadrezzar:

Among the temples which Nebuchadrezzar restored or rebuilt may be mentioned E-kua, the shrine of Merodach within E-sagila (the temple of Belus); the sanctuary called Du-azaga, the place of fate, where, on every New-Year’s festival, on the 8th and 9th of Nisan, "the king of the gods of heaven and earth" was placed, and the future of the Babylonian monarch and his people declared. Every whit as important as E-sagila, however, was the restoration of E-temen-an-ki, called "the Tower of Babylon" (see BABEL, TOWER OF), within the city; and connected, as will be seen from the plan, with that structure. Among the numerous temples of Babylon which he rebuilt or restored were E-mah, for the goddess Nin-mah, near the Ishtar-gate; the white limestone temple for Sin, the Moon-god; E-ditur-kalama, "the house of the judge of the land," for Samas, the Sun-god; E-sa-tila for Gula, the goddess of healing; E-hursag-ella, "the house of the holy mountain," etc.

14. The Extent of Nebuchadrezzar’s Architectural Work:

The amount of work accomplished by this king, who, when walking on the roof of his palace, lifted up with pride, exclaimed "Is not this great Babylon, which I have built?" (Da 4:30), was, according to his own records and the Greek writers, enormous, and the claim he made fully justified. But if he boasts of the work he did, he is just in attributing much to his father Nabopolassar; though in connection with this it is to be noted that his ascribing the building of the walls of Babylon to his father is not to be taken literally in all probability he only restored them, though he may have added supplementary defenses, as Nebuchadrezzar himself did.

15. Details Concerning the City from Contract-Tablets:

Besides Nebuchadrezzar’s inscriptions, various other texts give details concerning the topography of Babylon, among them being the contract-tablets, which mention various districts or quarters of the city, such as Te which is within Babylon; the city of Sula which is within Babylon; the new city which is within Babylon, upon the new canal. Within the city were also several Hussetu—perhaps "farms," such as Hussetu sa Iddina-Marduk, "Iddina-Marduk’s farm," etc. The various gates are also referred to, such as the gate of Samas, the city-gate of Uras, and the gate of Zagaga, which seems to have lain in "the province of Babylon," and had a field in front of it, as had also the gate of Enlil.

16. Details Concerning Babylon from Other Sources:

According to an Assyrian and a Babylonian list of gates, the streets bore names connected with those of the gates to which they led. Thus, the street of the gate of Zagaga, one of the gods of war, was called "the street of Zagaga, who expels his enemies"; that of the gate of Merodach was "the street of Merodach, shepherd of his land"; while the street of Ishtar’s gate was "the street of Ishtar, patron of her people." The city-gates named after Enlil, Addu (Hadad or Rimmon), Samas the Sun- god, Sin the Moon-god, etc., had streets similarly indicated. Certain of the streets of Babylon are also referred to on the contract-tablets, and such descriptive indications as "the broad street which is at the southern gate of the temple E-tur- kalama" seem to show that they were not in all cases systematically named. If the streets of Babylon were really, as Herodotus states, straight, and arranged at right angles, this was probably outside the walls of the ancient (inner) city, and most likely due to some wise Babylonian king or ruler. Details of the streets have been obtained at the point called Merkes (sec. 22) and elsewhere, and seem to show that the BabyIonians liked the rooms of their houses to be square. Such streets as slanted were therefore full of rectangles, and must have presented a quite peculiar appearance.

17. Modern Exploration:

It is this inner city which has most attracted the attention of explorers, both English and German, and it is on its site that the latter have carried on their systematic excavations. Indeed, it is probable that the houses of the most numerous class of the people—artisans, merchants, workmen, etc—lay outside the walls to which the Babylonian royal inscriptions refer. It may be supposed that the houses in this district were mainly low buildings of unbaked city (of which, indeed, portions of the temples and palaces were built), and these would naturally disappear more easily than if they had been built of baked brick. Even when baked, however, the brick-built ruins of Babylonia Assyria have a tendency to disappear, owing to the value which bricks, both baked and unbaked, have for the erection of new houses in the neighborhood. Concerning the extent of the exterior city much doubt naturally exists, but it may well have covered the tract attributed to it (see section 3, above). Nineveh, at the time of its prosperity, also had enormous suburbs (see NINEVEH).

18. Description of the Ruins—The Eastern Walls:

The ruins of Babylon lie between 80 and 90 kilometers (50 miles or less) from Bagdad. The first thing seen on approaching them is the broad high ridge of Babil, which marks the site of the ruins of the Northern Palace. After some time, the ruins of the ancient walls are reached. They are still several yards high, and slope down gently to the plain. Starting to the North of Babil, the wall stretches for about 875 yds. due East, and then runs southwards for another 930 yds., taking at that point a course to the Southeast for about 2 miles 160 yds. (3,300 meters). A wide gap occurs here, after which it runs to the Southwest, and is lost in the open fields at the end of about miles (2 kilometers). "That this is the old citywall," says Weissbach, "there can be no doubt, and the name Sur, ‘city-wall,’ given it by the Arabs, proves that they have fully recognized its nature." At the northern end it exists in its original extent, the plain out of which it rises being the old bed of the Euphrates, which, in the course of the centuries, has become filled up by the desertsand. At the period of Babylon’s glory, the river had a much straighter course than at present, but it reoccupies its old bed about 600 meters (656 yds.) South of Babil, leaving it afterward to make a sharp bend to the West. From the point where the city wall first becomes recognizable on the North to its apparent southernmost extremity is about 3 miles.

19. The Western Walls:

On the West side of the river the traces of the wall are much less, the two angles, with the parts adjoining them, being all that is recognizable. Beginning on the North where the Euphrates has reached its midpoint in its course through the city, it runs westward about 547 yds. (500 meters) West-Southwest, and then, bending almost at a right angle South-Southeast, turns East again toward the Euphrates, but is lost in the plain before reaching the river. The distance of the two angles from each other is about 1 mile, 208 yds. (1,800 meters), and its distance from the Euphrates is at most 5/8 of a mile (1 kilometer). The western portion of the city therefore formed a rectangle with an area of about 1.8 miles, and the eastern quarter, with the projection on the North, 6 1/4 square miles. According to Fried. Delitzsch, the size of Babylon was about the same as Munich or Dresden. This, of course, is an estimate from the extant remains—as has been indicated above, there was probably a large suburban extension beyond the walls, which would account for the enormous size attributed to the city by the ancients.

20. The Palaces:

Among the Arabs, the northern ruin is called Babil, though it is only the remains of a palace. Its present height is 30 meters (98 feet, 5 inches), and its rectangular outline is still easily recognizable. Its sides face the cardinal points, the longest being those of the North and South. This building, which measures 100 meters (109 yds.), was well protected by the city wall on the North and East, the Euphrates protecting it on the West. Continuing to the South, the path at present leads through orchards and palm-groves, beyond which is a rugged tract evidently containing the remains of ancient structures, probably of inconsiderable height. After further palm groves, an enormous ruin is encountered, steep on the East and South, sloping on the North and West. This is the Gasr (Qasr), also called Emjellibeh (Mujellibah), "the overturned," identical with the great palace of Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadrezzar, referred to so prominently by the latter king in his records. Its longest side skirts the old Euphrates bed, and measures 300 meters (328 yds.). Its surface is very uneven, projections of 15 meters (over 49 ft.) alternating with deep depressions. On the Northwest side enormous walls of exceedingly hard yellow brick still tower to a considerable height. South of this the plain, broken only by a few inconsiderable mounds, extends for a distance of half a kilometer (5/16 mile), and terminates on the South with another enormous ruin-mound, called Ishan Amran ibn ‘Ali. It measures 600 meters (656 yds.) from North to South, and 400 (437 yds.) from East to West, its average height being 25 meters (82 ft.). About the middle, and close to each other, are two Moslem domed tombs, the first called Ibrahim al-Khalil ("Abraham the Friend" (of God)—probably a late addition to the name of another Abraham than the Patriarch), and the other Areran ibn ‘Ali, from which the ruin receives its modern name.

21. The Site of Babylon’s Great Tower:

Near the South termination of the plain on which the village of Jim-jimeh lies, there is a square depression several yards deep, measuring nearly 100 meters (over 100 yds.) each way. In the middle of this depression, the sides of which do not quite face the cardinal points, there rises, to a height of about 13 ft., a platform of sun-dried brick about 60 meters (197 ft.) each way, its sides being parallel with the outer boundary of the depression. This depression, at present called Sahan, "the dish," is partly filled with foundation-water. Centered in its southern side is a rectangular hollowing-out similarly formed, about 50 meters (164 ft.) long, extending toward the ruin called Areran.

22. The Central and Southern Ruins:

East of the Qasr and Emjellibeh are several mounds bearing the name of Ehmereh, so called from the principal mound on the Southeast, named Ishan al-Oheimar, "the red ruin," from the color of its bricks. Close to the Southeast corner of the Qasr lies the ruin called Merkes, "the central-point," and to the South of that again is a long and irregularly shaped mound bearing the name of Ishan al-Aswad, "the black ruin." From this enumeration of the principal remains on the site of Babylon, it will be easily seen that public buildings in this, the most ancient quarter of the city, were exceedingly numerous. Indeed, the district was regarded as being of such importance that the surrounding walls were not thought altogether sufficient to protect it, so another seemingly isolated rampart, on the East, was built, running North and South, as an additional protection. The remains on the western side of the river are insignificant, the changed course of the river being in all probability responsible for the destruction of at least some of the buildings.

23. A Walk through Babylon:

There is much work to be done before a really complete reconstruction of the oldest quarter of Babylon can be attempted; but somc thing may be said about the sights to be seen when taking a walk through the more interesting portion, which, as we know from Herodotus’ narrative, could be visited by strangers, though it is possible that permission had to be obtained beforehand. Entering by the Urash-gate, some distance to the East of the Euphrates, one found oneself in Aa-ibursabu, the Festival-street, which was a continuation of the royal roadway without the inner wall, coming from the South. This street ran alongside the Arahtu canal, on its western bank. After a time, one had the small temple of Ninip on the right (on the other side of the canal), and E-sagila, the great temple of Belus, on the left. This celebrated shrine was dedicated to Merodach and other deities associated with him, notably his spouse Zer-panitum ( = Juno), and Nebo, "the teacher," probably as the one who inculcated Merodach’s faith. The shrine of Merodach therein, which was called E-kua, is said by Nebuchadrezzar to have been magnificently decorated, and into the temple itself that king had caused to be brought many costly gifts, acquired by him in the lands over which he had dominion. Connected with E-sagila on the Northwest by a causeway and probably a staircase, was the great temple-tower E-temen-an-ki, which, as is indicated above, is not now represented by a tower, but by a depression, the bricks having been employed, it is said, to repair the Hindiyeh canal. This great building was a striking monument of the city, and must have been visible for a considerable distance, its height being something over 300 ft. The stages of which it was composed are thought to have been colored like those of the similar tower laid bare by the French excavations at Khorsabad (DurSarru-ukin) in Assyria. Causeways or streets united this building with Aa-ibur-sabu, the festival-street along which the traveler is supposed to be proceeding. Continuing to the North, the visitor crossed a canal at right angles, named Libilhegalli, "may he (the god) bring fertility," and found himself immediately opposite the royal palace—the extensive building now known as the Qasr. According to Weissbach, its area occupied no less than 4 1/2 hectares (rather more than 11 acres) and it was divided, as we know from the inscriptions of Nebuchadrezzar, into two parts, connected by a corridor. The building was richly decorated, as the Babylonians understood such things, the interior walls being lined with enameled brick and other material.

Passing along the eastern side of the palace, the visitor came to the Ishtar-gate—a massive doorway faced with enameled brick in Nebuchadrezzar’s time, and decorated with colored enameled reliefs of the lion, the bull and the dragon of Babylon. On the right of this gateway was to be seen the temple of the goddess Nin-mah, Merodach’s spouse—a temple of sun-dried brick with traces of white coloring. It was a celebrated shrine of the Babylonians, in the usual architectural style with recessed buttresses, but modest from our modern point of view. Nin-mah was the goddess of reproduction, who, under the name of Aruru, had aided Merodach to create mankind, hence the honor in which she was held by the Babylonians.

24. The Ishtar-Gate and the Middle Palace:

The Ishtar-gate was apparently a part of the more ancient fortifications of Babylon, but which portion of the primitive city it enclosed is doubtful. In the time of Nebuchadrezzar it pierced the continuation, as it were, of the wall on the western bank of the river. Passing through this gateway, the visitor saw, on the West, the "middle-palace," an enormous structure, built by Nebuchadrezzar, as he boasts, in 15 days—a statement which seems somewhat of an exaggeration, when we come to consider the massiveness of the walls, some of which have a thickness of several yards. He describes this as having been "a fortress" (duru), "mountainlike" (sadanis), and on its summit he built an abode for himself—a "great palace," which was joined with his father’s palace on the South of the intervening wall. It is possibly this latter which was built in 15 days- -not the whole structure, including the fortress. It was raised "high as the forests," and decorated with cedar and all kinds of costly woods, its doors being of palm, cedar, cypress, ebony(?) and ivory, framed in silver and gold, and plated with copper. The thresholds and hinges of its gates were bronze, and the cornice round its top was in (an imitation of) lapis-lazuli. It was a house for men to admire; and it is not improbable that this was the palace upon which he was regarded as having been walking when he referred to "great Babylon," which he had built.

25. The Festival-Street:

But the street Aa-ibur-sabu, along which the visitor is conceived to be walking, was also a highly decorated causeway, fitted for the pathway of the great gods. Its width varied from 11 to 22 yds., and it was paved with regularly hewn and fitted natural stones—limestone and a brownish-red stone with white veins—while its walls were provided with a covering of brick enameled in various colors with representations of lions, some of them in relief. The inscriptions which it bore were white on a rich dark-blue ground, also enameled. There were various other streets in Babylon, but these have still to be identified.

26. The Chamber of the Fates:

At the end of the Procession-street, and at right angle to it, was the Merodach canal, which communicated directly with the Euphrares. At this point also, and forming its end-portion, was the Chamber of Fates (Patak simate), where, yearly, the oracles were asked and declared. In close connection with this was the Temple of Offerings (Bit nike) or festival-house (Bit akiti). Concerning these places more information is needed, but it would seem that, before Nebuchadrezzar’s time, the Chamber of Fates was simply decorated with silver—he, however, made it glorious with pure gold. It is at this point that the Procession-street is at its widest. The position of the Temple of Offerings is at present uncertain.

27. The Northern Palace and the Gardens:

What may have lain on the other side of the Arabtu-canal, which here made a bend to the Northwest, and flowed out of the Euphrates somewhat higher up, is uncertain; but in the extreme North of the city was the palace now represented by the ruin called Babil. This was likewise built by Nebuchadrezzar, but it may be doubted whether it was really founded by him. The presence of traces of wells here made Hormuzd Rassam think that this was probably the site of the Hanging Gardens, but further exploration is needed to decide the point, though it may be regarded as not unlikely that this identification is correct. In that case it would represent the palace shown in the Assyrian saloon at the British Museum—a building apparently protected by three walls, and adorned with columns resting on the backs of lions in an attitude of walking. On the adjoining slab is a representation of a small building—also with columns—on a hill. A figure of a king sculptured on a stele is seen on the left, with an altar in front of it, showing that divine honors were paid to him. The hill is thickly wooded with trees which may be olives, poplars, etc., and on the right is a series of arches on which other trees are planted. Irrigation channels stretch in a long stream to the left and in shorter streams to the right. As this belongs to the time of Ashur-bani-apli, about 650 BC, and refers to that king’s operations against his brother Samas-sum-ukin, the king of Babylon, it is clear that something similar to the Hanging Gardens existed before the time of Nebuchadrezzar, and therefore, if it was his queen who had them made, before the time of their reputed founder. This would be the point first reached by the Assyrian army when advancing to the attack. Such a park as is represented here with its hills and streams, and thickly planted trees, must have made the palace in the vicinity the pleasantest, in all probability, in all Babylonia, and excited the admiration of every one who visited the sights of the city.

28. Historical References to Babylonian Buildings:

The architectural history of the city of Babylon has still to be written, but something is already known about it, especially its central point of interest, the great temple E-sagila, wherein Merodach was wor shipped. The 5th year of Sumu- la-ila was known as that in which the great fortress of Babylon was built; and his 22nd was that in which a throne of gold and silver was completed and made for Merodach’s supreme abode (paramaha). Later on Abil-Sin, in his 17th year, made a throne(?) for Samash of Babylon; and Hammu-rabi, in his 3rd, 12th and 14th years, also made thrones for the gods—Nannar of Babylon (the Moon-god), Zer-panitum, Merodach’s consort, and Ishtar of Babylon. Samsuiluna, his son, in his 6th year, placed a "praying statue" in E-sagila before Merodach, followed, in his 8th, by the dedication of some bright-shining object (mace?) of gold and silver, to the god; and on that occasion it is stated that he made E-sagila to shine like the stars of heaven. Passing over many other references to kings who adorned the temples of the city, the work done there by Agukakrime (circa 1480 BC) may be mentioned. This ruler, who belonged to the Kassite dynasty, not only brought back the images of Merodach and Zer-panitum to their temple, but also restored the building and its shrine, and made rich offerings thereto. Later on, after the destruction of the city by Sennacherib, his son Esarhaddon, and his grandsons Samas-sum-ukin, king of Babylon, and Ashurbani-apli, king of Assyria, all took part in the restoration of Babylon’s temples and palaces. The work of Nabopolassar and Nebuchadrezzar has already been referred to. In 330 BC (reign of Alexander the Great), an attempt was made, by the tithes of the pious, to clear away the rubbish around E-sangil (E-sagila), but to all appearance no real restorations were made—or, at least, the stage at which they could have been put in hand was not reached. In the year 269 BC Antiochus Soter claims, like Nebuchedrezzar and other Babylonian kings, to have restored the temples E-sagila and E-zida (the latter at Borsippa). Though in late times the temples were more or less dilapidated, the services to all appearance continued to be performed, and may even have gone on until well in the Christian era, Babylonian religion and philosophy being still held in honor as late as the 4th century. The downfall of Babylon as a city began with the founding of Seleucia on the Tigris, in the reign of Seleucus Nicator (after 312 BC). The inhabitants of Babylon soon began to migrate to this new site, and the ruined houses and walls of the old capital ultimately became the haunts of robbers and outlaws. It is said that the walls were demolished by later (Seleucid) kings on that account, and it is not improbable that, with the walls, any houses which may have remained habitable were cleared away. Fortunately, the palaces restored by Nebuchadrezzar were too firmly built to be easily demolished, hence their preservation to the present day.


Fried. Delitzsch, Babel and Bible. 1903; French H. Weissbach, Das Stadtbild von Babylon, 1904; R. Koldeway, Die Tempel von Babylon und Borsippa. 1911. T. G. Pinches


This expression does not occur in the Old Testament, but is used popularly for the tower mighdol built by the inhabitants of the world who, traveling in the East, built a city on the Plain of Shinar, with a tower "whose top may reach unto heaven"—an expression which is regarded as meaning "a very high tower."

1. General Form of Babylonian Temple-Towers:

There was a great difference, however, between a Canaanite mighdol or watchtower, and the great Tower at Babylon. The watchtower was simply a high structure, probably without any special shape or form, which depended upon the will of the architect and the nature of the ground upon which it was erected. The Tower of Babel or Babylon, however, was a structure peculiar to Babylonia and Assyria. According to all accounts, and judging from the ruins of the various erections extant in those countries, Babylonian towers were always rectangular, built in stages, and provided with an inclined ascent continued along each side to the top. As religious ceremonies were performed thereon, they were generally surmounted by a chapel in which sacred objects or images were kept.

2. Their Babylonian Name:

These erections had, with the Babylonians, a special name: ziqquratu, meaning, apparently, "peak," or the highest point of a mountain, this word being applied to the mountain-height upon which Ut-napishtim, the Babylonian Noah, offered sacrifices on coming forth from the ark (or ship) when the waters of the great Flood had sufficiently subsided. It has also been thought that they were used as observatories when the Babylonians studied the starry heavens. This is probable, but as these structures were of no great height, it is possible that, in the clear atmosphere of the Babylonian plains, there was no real necessity to go above the surface of the earth when making their observations.

3. Whereabouts of the Tower of Babel:

There has been much difference of opinion as to the geographical position of the Tower of Babel. Most writers upon the subject, following the tradition handed down by the Jews and Arabs, have identified it with the great Temple of Nebo in the city of Borsippa, now called the Birs-Nimroud (explained as a corruption of Birj Nimroud, "Tower of Nimrod"). This building, however, notwithstanding its importance, was to all appearance never regarded by the Babylonians as the Tower of Babel, for the very good reason that it was not situated in Babylon, but in Borsippa, which, though called, in later times, "the second Babylon," was naturally not the original city of that name. The erection regarded by the Babylonians as the great Tower of their ancient city was E-temen-ana-ki, "the Temple of the foundation of heaven and earth," called by Nabopolassar and Nebuchadrezzar ziqqurat Babili, "the Tower of Babylon"—the world-renowned temple dedicated to Merodach and his consort Zer- panitum, Babylon’s chief deities.

4. Its Position at Babylon:

This structure was situated in the southern portion of the city, not far from the right bank of the Euphrates, and according to Weissbach, is now represented by a depression within which is the original rectangular core of unbaked brick. From its shape, the Arabs have made this site Sahan, "the dish." These remains of the great temple-tower of Babylon, within the memory of men not so very old, towered, even in its ruined state, high above the surrounding plain. The burnt bricks of the ancient Babylonians, however, who "had brick for stone, and slime (bitumen) for mortar" (Ge 11:3), are still good and have a commercial value, so they were all cleared out, with whatever precious material in the way of antiquities they may have contained, to repair, it is said, the banks of the Hindiyeh Canal. Certain records in the shape of conical "cylinders," however, came into the market, and were acquired by the museums of Europe and America. As these refer to the restoration of the building by Nabopolassar, and the part taken by his sons Nebuchadrezzar and Nabu-sum-lisir in the ceremonies attending the rebuilding, it is very probable that they formed part of the spoils acquired.

5. A Babylonian Description of the Tower:

E-temen-ana-ki, to give the Babylonian (Sumerian) name, consisted of six stages built upon a platform, and provided with a sanctuary at the top. A tablet seemingly giving a detailed description of this building was for a time in the hands of the late George Smith in the year 1876. Unfortunately he had not time to give a translation of the document, or to publish the text, but his detailed account of it (Athenaeum, February 12, 1876) is exceedingly interesting. First there was the outer court called the "grand court," measuring, according to G. Smith’s estimate, 1,156 ft. by 900 ft., and a smaller one, called "the court of Ishtar and Zagaga," 1,056 ft. by 450 ft. Round the court were six gates admitting to the temples:

(1) the grand gate;

(2) the gate of the rising sun (east);

(3) the great gate;

(4) the gate of the colossi;

(5) the gate of the canal; and

(6) the gate of the tower-view.

6. The Platform:

After this came a space or platform apparently walled—a ki-gallu square in form, and measuring 3 ku each way. Its size is doubtful, as the value of the ku is unknown. The sides of this enclosure faced the cardinal points. In its walls were four gates, one on each side, and named from the points toward which they looked. Within this enclosure stood a large building measuring 10 gar (Smith: 200 ft.) each way. Unfortunately, the name of this erection was damaged, so that its nature and use are uncertain.

7. The Chapels and Shrines:

Round the base of the Tower were small temples or chapels dedicated to the various gods of the Babylonians. On the East were 16 shrines, the principal of them being dedicated to Nebo and Tasmetu, his spouse; on thee North were two temples dedicated to Ea. (Ae) and Nusku respectively; on the South was a single temple to the two great gods, Anu and Bel (Enlil?). It was on the West, however, that the principal buildings lay—a double house with a court between the wings 35 cubits (Smith: 58 ft.) wide. These two wings were not alike in dimensions, the erection on one side being 100 cubits by 20 (166 ft. by 34 ft.) and on the other 100 cubits by 65 (166 ft. by 108 ft.). In these western chambers stood the couch of the god, and the golden throne mentioned by Herodotus, with other objects of great value. The couch was stated to have measured 9 cubits by 4 (15 ft. by 6 feet 8 inches).

8. The Tower in Its First Stage:

In the center of these groups of buildings stood the great Tower in stages, called by the Babylonians "the Tower of Babel" (ziqqurat Babili). The stages decreased from the lowest upward, but each was square in plan. The first or foundation-stage was 15 gar each way by 5 1/2 gar high (300 ft. by 110 ft. high), and seems to have been decorated with the usual double recesses which are a characteristic of Assyr-Bab architecture.

9. The Remaining Stages:

The second stage was 13 gar square and 3 gar high (260 ft. by 60 ft.). A term was applied to it which G. Smith did not understand, but he notes that it probably had sloping sides. The stages from the 3rd to the 5th were all of equal height, namely, 1 gar (20 ft.), and were respectively 10 gar (200 ft.), 8 1/3 gar (170 ft.) and 7 gar (140 ft.) square. The dimensions of the 6th stage were omitted, but may be restored in accordance with the others, namely, 5 1/2 gar square (110 ft.) by 1 gar (20 ft.) high.

10. The Chapel at the Top:

On this was raised what Smith calls the 7th stage, namely, the upper temple or sanctuary of the god Bel-Merodach, 4 gar long, 3 1/2 gar broad and 2 1/2 gar high (80 ft., 60 ft., and 50 ft., respectively). He does not mention the statue of the god, but it may be supposed that it was set up in this topmost erection. The total height of the tower above its foundation was therefore 15 gar (300 ft.), the same as the breadth of its base. It cannot be said that it was by any means a beautiful erection, but there was probably some symbolism in its measurements, and in appearance it probably resembled (except the decoration) the temple tower of Calah as restored in the frontispiece to Layard’s Monuments of Nineveh, 1st series, in which a step-pyramid with a similarly highbasement stage is shown.

11. Herodotus’ Description:

With this detailed description, which is quite what would be expected in a Babylonian account of such a celebrated temple, the description in Herodotus (i.181 ff) agrees. He states that it was a temple square in form, two furlongs (1,213 ft.) each way, in the midst of which was built a solid tower a furlong square (nearly 607 ft.). This, however, must have been the platform, which, with the six stages and the chapel on the top, would make up the total of eight stages of which Herodotus speaks. The ascent by which the top was reached he describes as running "outside round about all the towers"—wording which suggests, though not necessarily, that it was spiral—i.e. one had to walk round the structure 7 times to reach the top. Representations on Babylonian boundary-stones suggest that this view would be correct, though a symmetrical arrangement of inclined paths might have been constructed which would have greatly improved the design. At the middle of the ascent, Herodotus says, there was a stopping-place with seats to rest upon, which rather favors this idea. At the top of the last tower there was a large cell, and in the cell a large couch was laid, well covered; and by it a golden table. There was no image there, nor did any human being spend the night there, except only a woman of the natives of the place chosen by the god, "as say the Chaldeans who are the priests of this god." These men told Herodotus that the god often came to the cell, and rested upon the couch, "but," he adds, "I do not believe them." After mentioning parallels to this at Egyptian Thebes and Patam in Lycia, he goes on to speak of another cell below (that referred to in G. Smith’s tablet) wherein was a great image of Zeus (Bel-Merodach) sitting, with a footstool and a large table, all of gold, and weighing no less than 800 talents. Outside of this cell was an altar to the god, made of gold; and also another altar, whereon full-grown animals were sacrificed, the golden altar being for sucklings only. The Chaldeans also told him that there was, in the precincts of the building, a statue 12 cubits high, and of solid gold. Darius Hystaspis desired to take possession of this valuable object, but did not venture. His son Xerxes, however, was not so considerate of the feelings of the people and the priesthood, for he also killed the priest when he forbade him to meddle with it.

12. The Builders of the Tower:

The Bible record does not state who the people were who journeyed in the East and built the city and the Tower. The indefinite "they" might be taken to mean whatever people were there at the time the record was written, and probably presupposes that the reader would certainly know. As the Tower of Babel bears, in the native inscriptions, a Sumero-Akkadian name, it may be supposed that the builders referred to belonged to that race.

13. Traditions Concerning Its Destruction:

It is noteworthy that nothing is said in Ge concerning the stoppage of the erection, though they ceased to build the city. Bochart records a Jewish tradition which makes the tower to have been split through to its foundation by fire which fell from heaven—suggested probably by the condition of the tower at "the second Babylon," i.e. the Birs Nimroud. Another tradition, recorded by Eusebius (Prep. Evang., ix; Chronicon, 13; Syncel. Chron., 44) makes it to have been blown down by the winds; "but when it approached the heavens, the winds assisted the gods, and overturned the work upon its contrivers: and the gods introduced a diversity of tongues among men, who, until that time, had all spoken the same language."

14. The Meaning of "Babel":

The place where they built the Tower was called Babylon, on account of the confusion of languages. Here we have again the statement as in Ge that the meaning of Babel is "confusion." This, as is well known, is based upon the purely Hebrew etymological law, which makes balal, "to confuse," or "mingle," assume a reduplicate form; but as far as the cuneiform inscriptions, which are now very numerous, give us information, Babel, from baldlu, "to mingle" (the root in question), was an impossibility. But on the Babylonian side, that the rendering of the name as Bab-ili (-ilani), "gate of god" ("of the gods") was a folk-etymology, is undoubted, notwithstanding that the Sumero-Akkadian form Ka-dingira, with the same meaning, is far from rare. It is noteworthy, however, that one of the forms used by Nebuchadrezzar is Babilam, with the mimmation or "emming," which is a characteristic of the Babylonian language; moreover, a place-name Babalam also occurs, which may be a still earlier, and perhaps the original, form. Notwithstanding that one would like to see in Babalam, "the place of bringing together," and in Babilam, "the bringer together," the termination -am would seem to be an insurmountable difficulty.

15. The Ultimate Destruction of the Tower:

That the building of the city would have been stopped when the confusion of tongues took place is natural—the departure of the greater part of the inhabitants made this inevitable. When the population increased again, the building of the city was continued, with the result that Babylon ultimately became the greatest city of then known world. The Tower, notwithstanding what had been said as to its destruction, remained, and when, as happened from time to time, its condition became ruinous, some energetic Babylonian king would restore it. Alexander and Philip of Macedon began clearing away the rubbish to rebuild the great temple of Bclus (Bel-Merodach) connected with it and there is hardly any doubt that the Tower would have been restored likewise, but the untimely death of the former, and the deficient mental caliber of the latter for the ruling of a great empire, put an end to the work. The Tower therefore remained unrepaired—"The tower was exceedingly tall. The third part of it sank down into the ground, a second third was burned down, and the remaining third was standing until the time of the destruction of Babylon" (Rabbi Yehanan, Sanhedhrin, 109, 1).

16. No Idea of Reaching Heaven:

Concerning the reputed intention of the builders of the Tower, to carry it as high as the heavens, that, notwithstanding the Talmud and other writings, may be dismissed at once. The intention was to build a very high tower, and that is all that is implied by the words employed. That the Babylonians would have liked their tower to reach heaven may be conceded, and the idea may be taken as symbolical of Babylon’s pride, the more especially as they regarded it as "the house of the foundation of heaven and earth." Though at present brought lower than the other temple-towers of Babylonia, its renown remains as one of the great glories of that renowned capital. Dedicated as it was to the gods whom they worshipped, and chiefly to the glory of Merodach, the representative of Babylonian monotheism, the Babylonians’ descendants, the native Christians, have no reason to remember this erection of their forefathers with shame, but rather with pride. The rallyingpoint of nations, Babylon, while it existed, was always a great commercial center, and many are the languages which have resounded in the Tower’s vicinity. The confusion of tongues led to the Jewish fiction that the air of Babylon and Borsippa caused forgetfulness, and was therefore injurious to students of the Law, causing them to forget it as the builders of the Tower had of old forgotten their speech (Rashi, Sanhedhrin, 109, 1). This, however, did not prevent the rabbis of Babylon from being more celebrated than those of the Holy Land, and even of Jerusalem itself.


T. G. Pinches


ba’-bi (Codex Alexandrinus, Babi; Codex Vaticanus, Baier = Bebai (Ezr 8:11)). The descendants of Babi returned with Ezra to Jerusalem (1 Esdras 8:37).


Babylon Babulon, is used in New Testament in at least two different senses:

1. Mesopotamian Babylon:

In Mt 1:11,12,17; Ac 7:43 the old Mesop city is plainly meant. These all refer to the captivity in Babylon and do not demand any further discussion.

2. Symbolic Sense:

All the references to Babylon in Re are evidently symbolic. Some of the most important passages are Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2,10,21. In Rev 17:5 Babylon is designated as musterion. This undoubtedly in dicates that the name is to be under stood figuratively. A few interpreters have believed that Jerusalem was the city that was designated as Babylon, but most scholars hold that Rome was the city that was meant. That interpretation goes back at least to the time of Tertullian (Adv. Marc., iii. 13). This interpretation was adopted by Jerome and Augustine and has been commonly accepted by the church. There are some striking facts which point to Rome as the city that is designated as Babylon.

(1) The characteristics ascribed to this Babylon apply to Rome rather than to any other city of that age:

(a) as ruling over the kings of the earth (Re 17:18);

(b) as sitting on seven mountains (Re 17:9);

(c) as the center of the world’s merchandise (Re 18:3,11-13);

(d) as the corrupter of the nations (Re 17:2; 18:3; 19:2);

(e) as the persecutor of the saints (Re 17:6).

(2) Rome is designated as Babylon in the Sibylline Oracles (5 143), and this is perhaps an early Jewish portion of the book. The comparison of Rome to Babylon is common in Jewish apocalyptic literature (see 2 Esdras and the Apocrypha Baruch).

(3) Rome was regarded by both Jews and Christians as being antagonistic to the kingdom of God, and its downfall was confidently expected, This conception is in accord with the predicted downfall of Babylon (Re 14:8; 18:2,10-21). As Babylon had been the oppressor of Israel, it was natural that this new power, which was oppressing the people of God, should be designated as Babylon.

3. In 1 Peter:

In 1Pe 5:13 Babylon is designated as the place from which 1Pe was written. Down to the time of the Reformation this was generally under stood to mean Rome, and two cursives added "en Roma." Since the Reformation, many scholars have followed Erasmus and Calvin and have urged that the Mesopotamian Babylon is meant. Three theories should be noted:

(1) That the Egyptian Babylon, or Old Cairo; is meant. Strabo (XVII, 807) who wrote as late as 18 AD, says the Egyptian Babylon was a strong fortress founded by certain refugees from the Mesop Babylon. But during the 1st century this was not much more than a military station, and it is quite improbable that Peter would have gone there. There is no tradition that connects Peter’ in any way with Egypt.

(2) That the statement is to be taken literally and that the Mesop Babylon is meant. Many good scholars hold to this view, and among these are Weiss and Thayer, but there is no evidence that Peter was ever in Babylon, or that there was even a church there during the 1st century. Mark and Silvanus are associated with Peter in the letter and there is no tradition that connects either of them with Babylon. According to Josephus (Antiquities, XVIII, ix, 5-9), the Jews at this time had largely been driven out of Babylon and were confined to neighboring towns, and it seems improbable that Peter would have made that his missionary field.

(3) That Rome was the city that was designated as Babylon. The Apocalypse would indicate that the churches would understand the symbolic reference, and it seems to have been so understood until the time of the Reformation. The denial of this position was in line with the effort to refute Peter’s supposed connection with the Roman church. Ancient tradition, however, makes it seem quite probable that Peter did make a visit to Rome (see Lightfoot, Clement, II, 493 ff).

Internal evidence helps to substantiate theory that Rome was the place from which the letter was written. Mark sends greetings (1Pe 5:13), and we know he had been summoned to Rome by the apostle Paul (2Ti 4:11). The whole passage, "She that is in Babylon, elect together with you, saluteth you," seems to be figurative, and that being true, it is natural that Babylon should have been used instead of Rome. The character of the letter as a whole would point to Rome as the place of writing. Ramsay thinks this book is impregnated with Roman thought beyond any other book in the Bible (see The Church in the Roman Empire, 286).

A. W. Fortune





1. Mounds

2. Explorations

3. Names

4. Semites

5. Sumerians

6. Home of the Semites

7. Immigration

8. Language

9. Script

10. Architecture

11. Art

12. Literature

13. Libraries

14. Personal Names

15. History of Kingdoms

16. Kish

17. Lagash

18. Adab

19. Nippur

20. Erech

21. Larsa

22. Shuruppak

23. Kisurra

24. Umma

25. Accad

26. Opis

27. Basime

28. Drehem

29. Urumma

30. First Dynasty of Babylon

31. Sealand Dynasty

32. Cassite Dynasty

33. Cassite Rule

34. Isin Dynasty

35. Nebuchadrezzar I

36. Sealand Dynasty

37. Bit-Bazi Dynasty

38. Other Rulers

39. Babylonian Dynasty

40. Neo-Babylonian Rulers

41. Persian Rulers of Babylon


Babylonia is a plain which is made up of the alluvial deposits of the mountainous regions in the North, where the Tigris and Euphrates have their source. The land is bounded on the North by Assyria and Mesopotamia; on the East by Elam, separated by the mountains of Elam; on the South by the sea marshes, and the country Kaldu (Chaldaea); and on the West by the Syrian desert. Some of the cities of the lower country were seaport towns in the early period, but now are far inland. This land- making process continues even at the present time at the rate of about 70 ft. a year.

This plain, in the days when Babylonia flourished, sustained a dense population. It was covered with a network of canals, skillfully planned and regulated, which brought prosperity to the land, because of the wonderful fertility of the soil. The neglect of these canals and doubtless, also, the change of climate, have resulted in altered conditions in the country. It has become a cheerless waste. During some months of the year, when the inundations take place, large portions of the land are partially covered with swamps and marshes. At other times it looks like a desolate plain.

1. Mounds:

Throughout the land there are seen, at the present time, ruin-hills or mounds of accumulation of debris, which mark the site of ancient cities. Some of these cities were destroyed in a very early era, and were never rebuilt. Others were occupied for millenniums, and their history extends far into the Christian era. The antiquities generally found in the upper stratum of the mounds which were occupied up to so late a period, show that they were generally inhabited by the Jews, who lived there after the Babylonians had disappeared.

2. Explorations:

The excavations conducted at various sites have resulted in the discovery, besides antiquities of almost every character, of hundreds of thousands of inscriptions on clay and stone, but principally on the former material. At Tello more than 60,000 tablets were found, belonging largely to the administrative archives of the temple of the third millennium BC. At Nippur about 50,000 inscriptions were found, many of these also belonging to temple archives. But about 20,000 tablets and fragments found in that city came from the library of the school of the priests, which had been written in the third millennium BC. At Sippar, fully 30,000 tablets were found, many being of the same general character, also representing a library. At Delehem and Djokha, temple archives of the same period as those found at Tello have come to light in great numbers, through the illicit diggings of Arabs. Babylon, Borsippa, Kish, Erech and many other cities have yielded to the explorer and the Arab diggers inscribed documents of every period of Babylonian history, and embracing almost every kind of literature, so that the museums and libraries of America and Europe have stored up unread inscriptions numbering hundreds of thousands. Many also are in the possession of private individuals. After the work of excavating Babylonia has been completed and the inscriptions deciphered, many of the pro-Christian centuries in Babylonian history will be better known than some of those of our Christian era. The ancient history of the Babylonians will be reconstructed by the help of these original sources. Lengthy family genealogies will be known, as indeed in some instances is now the case, as well as the Babylonian contemporaries of Ezekiel, Abraham and all the other Biblical characters.

3. Names:

The Greek name of Babylonia which is in use at the present time is derived from the name of the city of Babylon, the capital and chief city of the land from the time of the First Dynasty of Babylon, about 2000 BC (see BABYLON). The name of the land in the very earliest period which is represented by antiquities, and even inscribed objects, is not known. But in a comparatively early age the northern part is called Uri, and the southern part, Engi or En-gira. The second part of the latter name is perhaps the same as in Su-gir, which is thought to be the origin of the Old Testament Shinar. Su-gir and Su- mer are names of the same country. And inasmuch as Mer and Gir were names of the same west Semitic deity, who played an important role in the early history of Babylonia, it is not improbable that the element Su is also to be identified with the ancient name of Mesopotamia. Su is also in Su-bartu, the name of the country to the North. This name is also written Su-Gir.

Subsequent to 2000 BC the ideograms read in Sumerian, Uri and Engi, were pronounced in SemBab, Accad and Sumer. The former received its name from the capital of the kingdom Accad, one of the cities mentioned in Ge 10:10. The title, "king of Accad and Sumer" was used by rulers as late as the 1st millennium BC. The name by which the land is known in the second millennium BC is Kar-Duniash, the exact derivation of which is in doubt. Kar means "garden, land" in Semitic and Sumerian; and Duniash being preceded by the determinative for deity, has been regarded as a name of a Cassite god. A more recently advanced explanation is that Duniash is equivalent to Bel-malati, which means "lord of lands." The meaning of the name, as stated, must be regarded as undetermined.

In the time of the late Assyrian empire a nation in the extreme southern part of the land, called by the Greeks Chaldea, which is derived from the name Kaldu, came into existence. In the Assyrian historical inscriptions the land is usually called Bit-Yakin. This people seems to have issued from Aramaic Under Biblical. Merodach-baladan they ruled Babylonia for a time. The Neo-Bab Dynasty, founded by Nabopolassar, is supposed to be Chaldean in origin, in consequence of which the whole land in the Greek period was called Chaldea.

4. Semites:

Two distinct races are found occupying the land when we obtain the first glimpses of its history. The northern part is occupied by the Semites, who are closely allied to the Amorites, Arameans and Arabs; and the southern part by a non-Sem people called Sumerians. Their cultures had been originally distinct, but when they first become known to us there has taken place such an amalgamation that it is only by the knowledge of other Semitic cultures that it is possible to make even a partial differentiation of what was Sem-Bab and what was Sumerian. The Semites, it would almost seem, entered the land after the Sumerians had established themselves, but this can only be re garded as a conjecture.

5. Sumerians:

Although the earliest Sumerian settlement belongs to a remote period, few traces of the pre-historic Sumerian have been found. The archaeological remains indicate that this non-Sem race is not indigenous to the land, and that when they came into the country they had already attained to a fair degree of culture. But there is no evidence, as yet, in what part of the ancient world the elements of their culture were evolved, although various attempts have been made by scholars to locate their original home.

6. Home of the Semites:

The home of the Semites has been placed in different parts of the ancient world. A number of scholars look to Arabia and others to Africa for their original habitation, although their theories generally are not based upon much archaeological evidence. Unquestionably, the previous, if not the original home of the Semitic Babylonians, is to be found in the land of the Amorites, that is in Syria. In the earliest known period of Babylonian history, which apparently belongs to the age not very far removed from the time when the Semites entered Babylonia, Amurru was an important factor in the affairs of the nations, and it was a land which the world conquerors of Babylonia, both Sumerian and Semitic, endeavored to subjugate. This points to the fact that the culture of Amurru was then already old. Egyptian inscriptions fully substantiate this. We look to the land of the Arnorites as the home of the Semitic Babylonians, because of the important part played by the chief god of that land Amurru or Uru, in the Babylonian religion and nomenclature. In fact nearly all of the original names of the Semitic Babylonian sun-deities are derived from the names and epithets of the great Sun-god of the Amorites and Arameans (see Amurru, 108 ff). These and many other considerations point to Amurru, or the land of the Amorites, as the previous home of the Semites who migrated into Babylonia and who eventually became masters of the land.

7. Immigration:

The original settlements in Babylonia, as stated above, belong to a prehistoric time, but throughout the history of the land fresh Semitic migrations have been recognized. In the Isin and First Dynasty of Babylonia, Amorites or Canaanites seem to flood the country. In the second millennium a foreign people known as Cassites ruled Babylonia for nearly six centuries. The nomenclature of the period shows that many Hittites and Mittanaeans as well as Cassites lived in Babylonia. In the first millennium the thousands of names that appear in the contract literature indicate a veritable Babel of races: Egyptians, Elamites, Persians, Medes, Tabalites, Hittites, Cassites, Ammorites, Edomites, notably Hebrews, are among the peoples that occupied the land. The deportation of the Israelites by the Assyrian kings and of the Jews by the Babylonian kings, find confirmation besides the historical inscriptions in the names of Hebrews living in Babylonia in the corresponding periods.

8. Language:

The languages of Babylonia are Semitic and Sumerian. The latter is an agglutinative tongue like the Turkish, and belongs to that great unclassifiable group of languages, called for the sake of convenience, Turanian. It has not been shown, as yet, to be allied to any other known language. The Semitic language known as the Babylonian, with which the Assyrian is practically identical, is of the common Semitic stock. After the Semites entered the land, their language was greatly influenced by the Sumerian tongue. The Semites being originally dependent upon the Sumerian scribes, with whom the script had originated, considered in connection with the fact that the highly developed culture of the Sumerians greatly influenced that of the Semites, brought about the peculiar amalgamation known as Babylonian. The language is, however, distinctively Semitic, but it has a very large percentage of Sumerian loan-words. Not knowing the cognate tongues of the Sumerian, and having a poor understanding of the pronunciation of that language, it is impossible to ascertain, on the other hand, how much the Sumerian language was influenced by the Semites.

In the late period another Semitic tongue was used extensively in the land. It was not because of the position occupied by the Arameans in the political history of western Asia, that their language became the lingua franca of the first millennium BC. It must have been on account of the widespread migrations of the people. In the time of Sennacherib it seems to have been used as the diplomatic language in Assyria as well as among the Hebrews, as the episode in 2Ki 18:26 would show. Then we recall the story of Belshazzar, and the edicts of the late period referred to in the Old Testament, which were in Aramaic (Ezr 4:7, etc.). In Assyria and Babylonia, many contract tablets have been found with Aramaic reference notes written upon them, showing that this was the language of those who held the documents. The Hebrews after the exile used Aramaic. This would seem to point to Babylonia as the place where they learned the language. The Babylonian language and the cuneiform script continued to be used until the 3rd or 2nd century BC, and perhaps even later, but it seems that the Aramaic had generally supplanted it, except as the literary and legal language. In short the tongue of the common people or the spoken language in all probability in the late period was Aramaic.

9. Script:

The cuneiform writing upon clay was used both by the Sumerians and the Semites. Whether this script had its origin in the land, or in the earlier home of the Sumerians, remains a question. It is now known that the Elamites had their own system of writing as early as that of the earliest found in Babylonia; and perhaps it will be found that other ancient peoples, who are at the present unknown to us, also used the cuneiform script. A writing similar to the Babylonian was in use at an early time in Cappadocia. The Hittites and other peoples of that region also employed it. The origin of the use of clay as a writing material, therefore, is shrouded in mystery, but as stated above, the system used by the Semites in Babylonian ylonia was developed from the Sumerian.

The script is not alphabetic, but ideographic and phonetic, in that respect similar to the Chinese. There are over 500 characters, each one of which has from one to many values. The combination of two or more characters also has many values. The compilation of the values of the different signs used in various periods by both the Sumerians and Assyrians numbers at the present about 25,000, and the number will probably reach 30,000.

10. Architecture:

The architecture of Babylonia is influenced by the fact that the building material, in this alluvial plain, had to be of brick, which was largely sun-dried, although in certain prosperous eras there is much evidence of kiln-dried bricks having been used. The baked brick used in the earliest period was the smallest ever employed, being about the size of the ordinary brick used at the present time. The size of the bricks in the era prior to the third millennium varied from this to about 6 x 10 x 3 inches at Nippur, Sargon and his son Naram-Sin used a brick, the largest found, about 20 inches square, and about 4 inches in thickness. Following the operations of these kings at Nippur is the work of Ur-Engur, who used a brick about 14 inches square and nearly 4 inches in thickness. This size had been used at Tello prior to Sargon’s time, and was thereafter generally employed. It re mained the standard size of brick throughout the succeeding centuries of Babylonian history. Adobes, of which the greater portion of the buildings were constructed, were usually double the thickness of kiln-dried bricks. The pillar made of bricks, as well as the pilaster constructed of the same material, seems to have come into use at a very early age, as is shown by the excavations at Tello.

A large number of Babylonian builders had the brick makers employ brick stamps which gave their names and frequently their titles, besides the name of the temple for which the bricks were intended. These enable the excavator to determine who the builders or restorers were of the buildings uncovered. Naturally, in a building like the temple of Enlil at Nippur, inscribed bricks of many builders covering a period of over 2,000 years were found. These by the help of building inscriptions, which have been found, enable scholars to rewrite considerable of the history of certain Babylonian temples. The walls of the city were also built of clay bricks, principally adobes. The walls usually were of very great thickness.

Clay was also employed extensively in the manufacture of images, weights, drains, playthings, such as animals, baby rattles, etc., and of inscriptions of every kind. Pottery, with the exception of the blue glaze employed in the late period, was usually plain, although some traces of painted pottery have been found. Although every particle of stone found in Babylonia was carried into the country, either by man or by inundations, still in certain periods it was used freely for statues, steles, votive objects, and in all periods for door sockets, weights and seal cylinders. Building operations in stone are scarcely known in Babylonia until perhaps the time of the greatest of all ancient builders, Nebuchadrezzar II, who laid a pavement in the causeway of Babylon, Aa-ibur-sabu, with blocks of stone from a mountain quarry.


11. Art:

The sculpture of the Sumerians, although in most instances the hardest of materials was used, is one of the great achievements of their civilization. Enough examples have been found to trace the development of their art from comparatively rude reliefs of the archaic period to the finished sculpture of Gudea’s time, third millennium BC, when it reached a high degree of excellence. The work of the sculpture of this age shows spirit and originality in many respects unique. In the earliest period the Babylonians attempted the round, giving frequently the main figures in full face. The perfection of detail, in their efforts to render true to life, makes their modeling very superior in the history of article The Sumerian seems to have been able to overcome difficulties of technique which later sculptors systematically avoided.

Practically every Babylonian had his own personal seal. He used it as the signature is used at the present time or rather as the little stamp upon which is engraved the name of the individual at the present time, in the Orient, to make an impression upon the letter which was written for him by a public scribe. Thousands of these ancient seals have been found. They were cut out of all kinds of stone and metal. The style in the early period was usually cylindrical, with a hole passing lengthwise through them. In the late period the signet was commonly used. Many of these gems were exquisitely cut by lapidists of rare ability. Some of the very best work of this art belongs to the third millennium BC. The boldness in outline, and the action displayed are often remarkable. The most delicate saws, drills and other tools must have been employed by the early lapidist. Some of his early work is scarcely surpassed in the present age.

The gold and silver smiths of the early age have left us some beautiful examples of their art and skill. A notable one is the silver vase of Entemena of Lagash, mounted on a bronze pedestal, which stands on four feet. There is a votive inscription engraved about its neck. The bowl is divided into two compartments. On the upper are engraved seven heifers, and on the lower four eagles with extended wings, in some respects related to the totem or the coat of arms of Lagash. While attention to detail is too pronounced, yet the whole is well rendered and indicates remarkable skill, no less striking than the well-known work of their Egyptian contemporaries. Bronze was also used extensively for works of art and utensils. Some remarkable specimens of this craft have been found at Tello.

In studying the magnificent remains of their art, one is thoroughly impressed with the skill displayed, and with the fact that there must have been a long period of development prior to the age to which these works belong, before such creations could have been possible. Although much of the craftsman’s work is crude, there is considerable in the sculpture and engraving that is well worthy of study. And in studying these remains one is also impressed with the fact that they were produced in an alluvial plain.

12. Literature:

The literature in a narrow sense is almost entirely confined to the epics, which are of a religious character, and the psalms, hymns, incantations, omens, etc. These are the chief remains of their culture.


In a general sense almost every kind of literature is found among the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets unearthed in Babylonia. The inscribed votive objects are of all kinds and descriptions. The stone vase taken in booty was dedicated to the deity of the conqueror. The beautiful piece of lapis lazuli, agate, cornelian, etc., obtained, was inscribed and devoted in the same way. Slabs, tablets and cones of all shapes and sizes, were inscribed with the king’s name and titles, giving the different cities over which he ruled and referring especially to the work that he had accomplished for his deity. From the decipherment of these votive objects much valuable data are gathered for the reconstruction of the ancient history of the land.

The same is true of what are known as building inscriptions, in which accounts of the operations of the kings in restoring and enlarging temples, shrines, walls and other city works are given. Canal digging and dredging, and such works by which the people benefited, are frequently mentioned in these inscriptions.

Epistolary literature, for example, the royal letters of Hammurabi, the diplomatic correspondence found in Egypt (see TELL EL-AMARNA) or the royal letters from the Library of Ashurbanipal (see ASHURBANIPAL), as well as the private correspondence of the people, furnishes valuable historical and philological data.

The thousands of tablets found in the school libraries of Sippar and Nippur, as well as of the library of Ashurbanipal, among which are all kinds of inscriptions used in the schools of the priests and scribes, have furnished a great deal of material for the Assyrian dictionary, and have thrown much light upon the grammar of the language. The legal literature is of the greatest importance for an understanding of the social conditions of the people. It is also valuable for comparative purposes in studying the codes of other peoples.


The commercial or legal transactions, dated in all periods, from the earliest times until the latest, also throw important light upon the social conditions of the people. Many thousands of these documents have been found, by the help of which the very life that pulsated in the streets of Babylonian cities is restored.

The administrative documents from the temple archives also have their value, in that they furnish important data as regards the maintenance of the temples and other institutions; and incidentally much light on the nationality and religion of the people, whose names appear in great numbers upon them. The records are receipts of taxes or rents from districts close by the temples, and of commercial transactions conducted with this revenue. A large portion of these archives consists of the salary payments of storehouse officials and priests. There seems to have been a host of tradesmen and functionaries in connection with the temple. Besides the priest, elder, seer, seeress, sorcerer, sorceress, singer, etc., there were the farmer, weaver, miller, carpenter, smith, butcher, baker, porter, overseer, scribe, measurer, watchman, etc. These documents give us an insight into Babylonian system of bookkeeping, and show how carefully the administrative affairs of the temple were conducted. In fact the temple was provided for and maintained along lines quite similar to many of our modern institutions.

13. Libraries:

The discovery of the Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh speaks volumes for the culture of Assyria, but that culture was largely borrowed from the Babylonians. Much that this library contained had been secured from Babylonian libraries by the scribes employed by Ashurbanipal. In every important center there doubtless existed schools and libraries in connection with the temples. At Nippur, in 1890, Dr. J. P. Peters found such a library, but unfortunately, although he termed it such, his Assyriologists did not recognize that one of the greatest discoveries of antiquity had been made. It remained for Dr. J. H. Haynes, a decade later, to discover another portion of this library, which he regarded as such, because of the large number of tablets which he uncovered. Pere Scheil, prior to Dr. Haynes’ discovery, had the good fortune while at Sippar to discover a part of the school and library of that important center. Since Professor Scheil’s excavations, Arabs have unearthed many inscriptions of this library, which have found their way to museums and into the hands of private individuals.

The plan of the Nippur Library, unearthed by Dr. Haynes, has been published by Mr. C. Fisher, the architect of the Nippur expedition (see Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, 183). Professor Scheil, in publishing his results, has also given a plan of the school he discovered, and a full description of its arrangements, as well as the pedagogical methods that had been employed in that institution of learning. This has also been attempted by others, but in a less scientific manner. One of the striking features of these libraries is the use of the large reference cylinders, quadrangular, pentagonal and hexagonal in shape. There was a hole cut lengthwise through them for the purpose of mounting them like revolving stands. These libraries, doubtless, contained all the works the Babylonians possessed on law, science, literature and religion. There are lexical lists, paradigm tablets, lists of names, of places, countries, temples, rivers, officers, stones, gods, etc. Sufficient tablets have been deciphered to determine their general character. Also hundreds of exercise tablets have been found, showing the progress made by pupils in writing, in mathematics, in grammar, and in other branches of learning. Some tablets appear to have been written after dictation. Doubtless, the excavators found the waste heaps of the school, where these tablets had been thrown for the purpose of working them over again as raw material, for new exercises. The school libraries must have been large. Considering for instance that the ideographic and phonetic values of the cuneiform signs in use numbered perhaps 30,000, even the syllabaries which were required to contain these different values must have been many in number, and especially as tablets, unlike books made of paper, have only two sides to them. And when we take into consideration all the different kinds of literature which have been found, we must realize that these libraries were immense, and numbered many thousands of tablets.

14. Personal Names:

In modern times the meaning of names given children is rarely considered; in fact, in many instances the name has suffered so much through changes that it is difficult to ascertain its original meaning. Then also, at present, in order to avoid confusion the child is given two or more names. It was not so with the ancient Babylonian. Originally the giving of a name was connected with some special circumstance, and though this was not always the case throughout the history of Babylonia, the correct form of the name was always preserved.

The name may have been an expression of their religious faith. It may have told of the joy experienced at the birth of an heir. It may even betray the suffering that was involved at the birth of the child, or the life that the parents had lived. In short, the names afford us an intimate glimpse into the everyday life of the people.

The average Babylonian name is theophorous, and indicates one of the deities worshipped by the family, and often the city. For example, it is suggestive that persons with names compounded with Enlil and Ninib hailed from Nippur. Knowing the deities of the surrounding people we have also important evidence in determining the origin of peoples in Babylonia having foreign names. For example, if a name is composed of the Hittite deity Teshup, or the Amorite deity Amurru, or the Aramean god Dagan, or the Egyptian god Esi (Isis), foreign influence is naturally looked for from the countries represented. Quite frequently the names of foreign deities are compounded with Babylonian elements, often resulting from mixed marriages.

Theophorous names are composed of two, three, four and even five elements. Those having two or three elements predominate. Two-element names have a diety plus a verbal form or a subst.; or vice versa: for example, Nabu-na’id (Nabonidus), "Nebo is exalted," or Shulman-asharedu (Shaimaneser), "Shalman is foremost." Many different combinations are found in three-element names which are composed of the name of the deity, a subst., a verbal form, a pronominal suffix, or some other form of speech, in any of the three positions. Explanations of a few of the familiar Biblical. names follow: Sin-akhe-erba (Sennacherib), "Sin has increased the brothers"; Marduk-apal-iddin (Mero-dach-baladan), "Marduk has given a son"; Ashurakh- iddin (Esarhaddon), "Ashur has given a brother"; Ashur-bani-apal, "Ashur is creating a son"; Nabu-kudurri-usur (Nebuchadrezzar), "O Nebo, protect the boundary"; Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach), "Man of Marrink"; Bel-shar-usur (Belshazzar), "O Bel, protect the king." Some Babylonian names mentioned in the Bible are really of foreign origin, for example, Amraphel and Sargon. Amraphel originally is west Semitic and is written Hammurabi (pronounced Chammu-rabi, the first letter being the Semitic cheth). Sargon was perhaps originally Aramean, and is composed of the elements shar and the god Gan. When written in cuneiform it was written Shargani, and later Sharrukin, being translated "the true king." Many names in use were not theophorous; for example, such personal names as Ululd, "the month Ulul"; names of animals, as Kalba, "dog," gentilic names, as Akkadai, "the Akkadian," names of crafts, as Pacharu, "potter," etc.

The literature abounds in hypochoristica. One element of a name was used for the sake of shortness, to which usually a hypochoristica suffix was added, like Marduka (Mordecai). That is, the ending a or ai was added to one of the elements of a longer name.

15. History of Kingdoms:

The written history of Babylonia at the present begins from about 4200 BC. But instead of finding things crude and aboriginal in this, the earliest period, the remains discovered show that the people had attained to a high level of culture. Back of that which is known there must lie a long period of development. This is attested in many ways; for instance, the earliest writing found is so far removed from the original hieroglyphs that it is only possible to ascertain what the original pictures were by knowing the values which the signs possessed. The same conclusion is ascertained by a study of the art and literature. Naturally, as mentioned above, it is not impossible that this development took place in a previous home of the inhabitants.

The history of early Babylonia is at present a conflict of the kings and patesis (priest-kings) of the different city- kingdoms, for supremacy over each other, as well as over the surrounding peoples. The principal states that figure in the early history are: Kish, Lagash, Nippur, Akkad, Umma, Erech, Ur and Opis. At the present time more is known of Lagash, because the excavations conducted at that site were more extensive than at others. This makes much of our knowledge of the history of the land center about that city. And yet it should be stated that the hegemony of Lagash lasted for a long period, and the kingdom will ultimately occupy a prominent position when the final history of the land is written. Nippur, where considerable work was also done, was not the seat of rulers, but the sacred city of the god Enlil, to whom the kings of other cities generally did obeisance. Following is a list of known rulers of the different city-kingdoms.

16. Kish:

El-Ohemir, identified as the ancient city of Kish, not far from Babylon, is one of the oldest Semitic centers of the land. No systematic excavations have been conducted at this site, but besides the inscriptions which the Arabs have unearthed, several of the rulers are known to us through votive inscriptions discovered at Nippur and elsewhere. The rulers of Kish are: Utug p. (patesi), circa 4200 BC; Mesilim k. (king), circa 4000 BC; Lugal-tarsi k.; Enbi-Ishtar k.; Manishtusu k., circa 2650 BC; Urnmush k., circa 2600; Manana k.; Sumu-ditana k. and Tanium k.

17. Lagash:

The excavations by the French under De Sarsez and Cross at Tello, the ancient city Lagash, have yielded more inscriptions of ancient Babylonian rulers than those at any other site. Lagash was destroyed about 2000 BC, and only partially rebuilt in the post-Bab period. The known rulers are: Lugal-shag-Engur patesi, circa 4000 BC, contemporary with Mesilim k. of Kish; @@Badu k.; @@En-khegal k.; Ur-Nina k.; Akurgal p.; Eannatum p. and k.; Enannatum I p.; Entemena I; Enannatum IIp.; Enetarzi p.; Enlitarzi p.; Lugal-anda p.; Uru-kagina k., contemporary with Lugal-zaggisi, k. of Uruk; Engilsa p., contemporary with Manishtusu k. of Kish; Lugul-ushumgal p., contemporary with Sargon of Accad; Ur-Babbar p., contemporary with Naram-Sin of Accad; Ur-E p.; Lugal-bur p.; Basha-Kama p.; Ur-Mama p.; Ug-me p.; Ur-Bau p.; Gudea p.; Nammakhini p.; Ur- gar p.; Ka-azag p.; Galu-Bau p.; Galu-Gula p.; Ur-Ninsun p.: Ur-Ningirsu p.; contemporary with Ur-Engur k. of Ur-abba p.; @@Galu-ka zal p.; @@Galuandul p.; @@Ut-Lama I p.; @@Alla, @@Ur-Lama II p.; contemporary with Dungi k. of Ur; Arad-Nannar p. Unfortunately, with the exception of about onethird of these rulers, the exact order is yet to be ascertained. (Note: Asterisk denotes unidentified forms.)

18. Adab:

The mounds of Bismaya which have been identified as Adab were partially excavated by Dr. Edgar J. Banks, for the University of Chicago. Its remains indicate that it is one of the oldest cities discovered. A ruler named Esar, circa 4200 BC, is known from a number of inscriptions, as well as a magnificent statue of the king, discovered by Dr. Banks.

19. Nippur:

The large group of mounds covering an area, the circumference of which is three miles, called in ancient times Nippur, but now Noufar, was excavated as mentioned above by Dr. Peters and Dr. Haynes for the University of Pennsylvania. While a great number of Babylonian kings and patesis are represented by inscriptions discovered at Nippur, practically all had their seats of government at other places, it being the sacred city.

20. Erech:

The mounds at the present called Warka, but representing ancient Erech (Ge 10:10), covering an area whose circumference is 6 miles, have been tentatively examined by Loftus and other explorers. Many inscriptions have also been unearthed by the Arabs at this site. The rulers of this city known to us are: Ilu-(m)a-ilu, Lugal-zaggisi k., contemporary with Uru-kagina of Lagash; Lugal-kigubnidudu k.; Lugal-kisalsi k.; Sin-gashid k., about 2200 BC, and Sin-gamil k.

21. Larsa:

Senkereh known in the Old Testament as Ellasar (Ge 14:1), and in the inscriptions as Larsa, has been explored by Loftus and others. The known rulers of the city are: Gungunu k., contemporary of Ur-Ninib k. of Isin; Sumu-ilu; Nur-Adad; Sin- iddinam; Eri-Aku (the Biblical "Arioch") circa 2000 BC, son of Kudur-Mabug k. of Elam, and Rim-Sin (or Rim-Aku), his brother.

22. Shuruppak:

The present Fara, which in ancient times was called Shuruppak, was partially excavated by the Germans under Koldewey, Andraea, and Noeldeke. It is also a very ancient city. It yielded little to the spade of the excavator. It is close by Abu- Hatab, and known as the place where the scenes of the Babylonian Deluge story occurred. Two rulers known from the inscriptions found there are Dada and ladda, belonging to a comparatively early period.

23. Kisurra:

The site now known as Abu-Hatab is the ancient Kisurra. It was partially excavated by the Germans. It flourished as a city in the third millennium BC. The two rulers of this city that are known are Idinilu p., and Itur-Shamash p. (?).

24. Umma:

The site now called Jokha lying to the Northwest of Lagash is an ancient Sumerian city known as Umma. The site has been explored by Dr. Peters and others, but more recently surveyed by Andraea and Noeldeke. It proved to be a city destroyed in the early period. Arabs have lately found thousands of documents belonging to the ancient archives of the city. Some of the rulers known are: Ush p., Enakalli and Urlumma p., contemporaries of Enannatum I of Lagash; Ill p., appointed by Entemena p., of Lagash; Kur-Shesh p., time of Manishtusu; @@Galu-Babbar p.; Ur-nesu p., contemporary of Dungi k., of Ur.

25. Accad:

The city mentioned in Ge 10:10 as Accad, one of Nimrod’s cities, has not been explored, but is well known by the inscriptions of Sargon and his son Naram-Sin as well as omen-texts of later eras. Sargon was a usurper. He was born in concealment, and sent adrift in an ark of bulrushes like Moses. He was rescued and brought up by Akki, a farmer. He assumed the title "king of the city" (Shar-ali), or "king of Uri" (Shat Uri). Later he conquered the entire country, and became the "king of Accad and Sumer." In his latter years he extended his conquests to Elam, Amurru and Subartu, and earned for himself the title "king of the Four Quarters," which his son Naram-Sin inherited. The latter followed up the successes of his father and marched into Magan, in the Sinaitic peninsula. Naram-Sin, as well as his father, was a great builder. Evidences of their operations are seen in many cities. Naram-Sin was succeeded by Bingani, who apparently lost the title "king of the Four Quarters," being only called "king of the City, or Uri."

26. Opis:

The exact site of the city of Opis is still in doubt, but the city is represented by the ruler Zuzu k., who was defeated by Eannatum p., of Lagash.

27. Basime:

The city Basime also remains unidentified, but is represented by Ibalum p., a contemporary of Manishtusu k., of Kish, and son of Ilsurabi, apparently another patesi of that city.

28. Drehem:

A site not far from Nippur, called Dolehem or Drehem, which was explored by Dr. Peters, has recently yielded thousands of tablets from the Temple archives dated in the reigns of kings in the Ur Dynasty.

29. Urumma:

The extensive group of mounds lying on the west side of the Euphrates, called Mugayyar, and generally known as Ur of the Chaldees, is the ancient Urumma. It was explored by Taylor and others, and proved to have been an important capital from the middle of the third millennium BC. The dynasty which had made the city its capital is known through inscriptions discovered there and at Tello, Nippur, Drehem and Djokha. Thousands of inscriptions dated in what is commonly called the Ur Dynasty have been published. The dynasty was founded by Ur-Engur, who is conspicuous for his building operations at Nippur and other cities. A dynastic tablet of a much later period, the provenience of which is in doubt, gives the rulers of this dynasty founded about 2400 BC, and the number of years that they reigned.


Ur-Engur, 18 years

Dungi (son), 58 years

Bur-Sin (son), 9 years

Gimil-Sin (son), 7 years

Ibi-Sin (son), 25 years

Five kings, 117 years

The same tablet gives also the following list of the rulers of Isin. Ishbi-Urra, the founder, lived about 2283 BC.


Ishbi-Urra, 32 years

Gimil-ilishu (son), 10 years

Idin-Dagan (son), 21 years

Ishme-Dagan (son), 20 years

Libit-Ishtar (son), 11 years

Ur-Ninib, 28 years

Bur-Sin II (son), 28 years

Iter-iqisha (son), 5 years

Urra-imitti (brother), 7 years

Sin-iqisha, 6 months

Enlil-bani, 24 years

Zambia, 3 years

—————, 5 years

Ea——————-, 4 years

Sin-magir, 11 years

Damiq-ilishu (son), 23 years

Sixteen kings, 225 years and 6 months

30. First Dynasty of Babylon:

About the time the Nisin Dynasty came to a close, and while the Larsa Dynasty was ruling, the First Dynasty of Babylon was established. Following is a list of 11 rulers of this dynasty who ruled 300 years:


Sumu-abum, 14 years

Sumu-la-el, 36 years

Sabium (son), 14 years

Abil-Sin (son), 18 years

Sin-muballit (son), 20 years

Hammu-rabi (son), 43 years

Samsu-iluna (son), 38 years

Abi-eshuh (son), 28 years

Ammi-Ditana (son), 37 years

Ammi-Zaduga (son), 21 years

Samsu-Ditana (son), 32 years

The First Dynasty of Babylon came into prominence in the reign of Sin-muballit who captured Nisin. Eri-Aku of the Larsa Dynasty shortly afterward took the city. When Hammurabi came to the throne he was subject to Eri-Aku (Bib. Arioch) of Larsa, the son of the Elamitc king, Kudur-Mabug. The latter informs us that he was suzerain of Amurru (Palestine and Syria), which makes intelligible the statement in Ge 14, that the kings of Canaan were subject to the king of Elam, whose name was Chedorlaomer (Kudur-Lagam ar). In his 31st year, Hammurabi, who is the Amraphel of Ge 14:1, succeeded in throwing off the Elamite yoke, and not only established his independence but also became the complete master of Babylonia by driving out the Elamites.

31. Sealand Dynasty:

In the region of the Persian Gulf, south of Babylonia, ruled a dynasty partly contemporaneously with the First Dynasty, extending over the reigns of about five of the last kings, and over several of the Cassite Dynasty, known as the Sealand Dynasty. The historian records for the latter the following list of 11 kings who ruled 368 years:


Ilima-ilu, 60 years

Itti-ili-nibi, 55 years

Damqi-ilishu, 36 years

Ishkibal, 15 years

Shushshi (brother), 27 years

Gulkishar, 55 years

Pesh-gal-daramash (son), 50 years

Adara-kalama (son), 28 years

Ekur-ul-anna, 26 years

Melamma-kurkura, 7 years

Ea-gamil, 9 years

32. Cassite Dynasty:

The First Dynasty of Babylon came to an end through an invasion of the Hittites. They plundered Babylon and perhaps ruled that city for a number of years. A new dynasty was then established about 1750 BC by a foreign people known as Cassites. There were 36 kings in this dynasty ruling 576 years and 9 months. Unfortunately the tablet containing the list is fragmentary.


Gandash, 16 years

Agum I (s), 22 years

Kashtiliash I, usurper, 22 years; born of Ulamburiash and son of Burna-buriash

Du(?) shi (s), 8 years

Abirattash (b ?)

Tazzigurmash (s)

Agum II (s)

————;—————Long gap

@@Kara-indash I, contemporary with Ashur-rimnisheshu, k. of Assyria

@@Kadashman-Enlil I (s ?)

@@Kuri-Galzu I

Burna-buriash II, contemporary of Buzur-Ashur, k. of Assyria

@@Kara-Indash II, son-in-law of Ashur-uballit, k. of Assyria

@@Nazi-Bugash (usurper)

Kuri-Galzu II (s. of Burna-buriash), 23 years; contemporary of Ashur-uballit, and Enlilnirari, kings of Assyria

Nazi-Maruttash (s), 26 years; contemporary of Adad-nirari I, p. of Assyria.

Kadashman-Turgu (s), 17 years

Kadashman-Enlil II, 7 years

Kudur-Enlil (s), 9 years

Shagarakti-Shuriash (s), 13 years

Kashtiliash II (s), 8 years

Enlil-nadin-shum, 1 1/2 years

Kadashman-Kharbe II, 1 1/2 years

Adad-shum-iddin, 6 years

Adad-shum-usur, 30 years

Meli-Shipak (s?), 15 years

Marduk-apil-iddin (s), 13 years

Zamama-shum-iddin, 1 year

Bel-mu—, 3 years

33. Cassite Rule:

The region from which these Cassites came has not yet been determined, although it seems to be the district Northeast of Assyria. Gandash, the first king, seems to have enjoyed the all-embracing title, "King of the Four Quarters of the World." Little is known of the other rulers until Agum II, who claims the rule of the Cassites, Accad, Babel, Padan, Alman and Guti. In his inscriptions he records the conquest of Khani in Asia Minor, and the fact that he brought back to Babylon the statues of Marduk and Zarpanit, which had been carried off by the Hittites. The Cassite rule, while extending over many centuries, was not very prosperous. At Nippur the excavations showed active operations on the part of a few kings in restoring the temple and doing ob eisance to Enlil. The rulers seemed to have conformed to the religion of the land, for few foreign elements have been recognized as having been introduced into it during this era. The many Cassite names found in the inscriptions would indicate an influx from a Cassite quarter of no small proportion. And yet it should be noted that, in the same era, Hittite and Mittanean influence, as is shown by the nomenclature, is as great as the Cassite. It was during this period that Assyria rose to power and influence, and was soon to become the master of the Mesopotamian region.

34. Isin Dynasty:


11 Kings; began to rule about 1172 BC

Marduk, 17 years

Wanting, 6 years

Nebuchadrezzar I, contemporary of Ashur-resh-ishi, k. of Assyria


Marduk-nadin-akhi, contemporary of Tiglath-pileser I, k. of Assyria

Marduk-shapik-zer-mati, contemporary of Ashur-bel-kala, k. of Assyria

Adad-apal-iddin, 22 years

Marduk-akh-erba, 1 1/2

Marduk-zer, 12 years

Nabu-shum-libur, 8(?) years

35. Nebuchadrezzar I:

The most famous king of this dynasty, in fact of this era, was Nebuchadrezzar I, who re-established firmly the rule of Babylon. He carried on a successful expedition into Elam as well as into Amurru where he fought against the Hittite. He also conquered the Lulubites. But in contest for supremacy with Assyria Ashur-reshishi triumphed, and he was forced to retreat ingloriously to Babylon. His successors failed to withstand the Assyrians, especially under Tiglath-pileser I, and were allowed to rule only by sufferance. The Babylonians had lost their prestige; the Assyrians had become the dominant people of the land. Few rulers of the dynasty which followed are known except by name. The dynasties with one exception were of short duration.

36. Sealand Dynasty:


3 Kings

Simrnash-Shipak, 18 years; about 1042 BC

Ea-mukin-shum, 6 months

Kashshu-nadin-akhi, 3 years

37. Bit-Bazi Dynasty:


3 Kings

Eulmash-shakin-shum, 17 years; about 1020 BC

Ninib-kudur-usur, 3 years

Shilaniln-Shuqamuna, 3 months

38. Other Rulers:

VII. An Elamitic King, whose name is not known

VIII. 13(?) kings who ruled 36 years

IX. A dynasty of 5(?) kings

39. Babylonian Dynasty:


Following is a partial list of the 22 kings who ruled until the destruction of Babylon by Sennacherib, when the Assyrian kings assumed direct control. Ashurbanipal, however, introduced a new policy and viceroys were appointed.


Nabu-shar-ishkun I





Nabu-shum-ishkun II


Nabu-nadin-zer; 747-734 BC

Nabu-shum-ishkun III; 733-732 BC

Nabu-mukin-zer; 731-729 BC

Pul (Tiglath-pilcser III); 729-727 BC

Ulula (Shalmancsar v); 727-722 BC

Merodach-baladan I; 722-710 BC.

Sargon; 710-705 BC

Sennacherib; 704-702 BC

Marduk-zakir-shum (1 month)

Merodach-baladan II (9 months)

Bel-ibni; 702-700 BC

Ashur-nadin-shum; 700-694 BC

Nergal-ushezib; 694-693 BC

Mushczib-Marduk; 692-689 BC

Sennacherib; 689-681 BC

Esarhaddon; 681-668 BC

Ashurbanipal; 668-626 BC

Shamash-shum-ukin; 668-648 BC

Kandalanu; 648-626 BC

Ashur-etil-ilani-ukin; 626-

Nabopolassar; 626-

During the time of Sennacherib, Merodach-baladan the Chaldean became a great obstacle to Assyria’s maintaining its supremacy over Babylonia. Three times he gained possession of Babylon, and twice had himself proclaimed king. For thirty years he plotted against Assyria. What is learned from the inscriptions concerning him furnishes an interesting commentary on the sending of the embassy, in 704 BC, to Hezekiah (2Ki 20:12; Isa 39:1) in order to induce him to revolt against Assyria, which he knew would help his own cause. Finally Sennacherib, in 690, after he had experienced much trouble by the repeated uprisings of the Babylonians, and the aspirations of Merodach-baladan, endeavored to obliterate Babylon from the map. His son and successor Esarhaddon, however, tried to make Babylon again happy and prosperous. One of his first acts was to send back to Babylon the statue of Bel-Merodach. He rebuilt the city, and also restored other Babylonian temples, for instance, that of Enlil at Nippur. The Babylonians solemnly declared him king. Ashurbanipal, his son and successor, followed his policy. The evidence of his operations at Nippur is everywhere seen in the shape of stamped, kiln-dried bricks.

Before Esarhaddon died, he had planned that Babylonia should become independent and be ruled by his son, Shamash-shum-ukin, while Assyria he handed down to Ashurbanipal. But when the latter came to the throne, Assyria permitted the former only to be appointed viceroy of Babylon. It seems also that even some portions of Babylonia were ruled directly by Ashurbanipal.

After fifteen years Shamash-shum-ukin rebelled and attempted to establish his independence, but Sennacherib besieged Babylon and took it, when Shamash-shum-ukin destroyed himself. Kadalanu was then appointed viceroy, and ruled over part of the country. Nabopolassar was the last viceroy appointed by Assyria. At last the time had arrived for the Babylonians to come again unto their own. Nabopolassar who perhaps was a Chaldean by origin, made an alliance with the Urnman Manda. This he strengthened by the marriage of his son Nebuchadrezzar to the daughter of Astyages, the king. Nineveh finally fell before the Umman Manda hordes, and was razed to the ground. This people took possession of Northern Assyria. The Armenian vassal states, and Southern Assyria, as well as the title to Palestine, Syria and Egypt, fell to Babylonia.

40. Neo-Babylonian Rulers:


Nabopolassar; 625-604 BC

Nebuchadrezzar II (s); 604-568 BC

Evil-Merodach (s); 561-560 BC

Neriglissar (brother-in-law); 559-556 BC

Labosoarchad (s); 556 BC

Nabonidus; 555-539 BC

Cyrus conquered Babylonia in 539 BC

Nabopolassar having established himself king of Babylon became the founder of the neo-Babylonian empire. He was succeeded by his son, Nebuchadrezzar II, who like Hammurabi and Sargon is among the greatest known characters in Babylonian history. He is the Biblical Nebuchadrezzar who carried the Jews into captivity. There are a number of lengthy records of Nebuchadrezzar concerning the buildings he erected, as well as of other public acts, but unfortunately only a fragment of a historical inscription referring to him has been found. The building inscriptions portray him as the great builder he is represented to be in the Old Testament (see BABYLON). He transformed Babylon into the mistress of the civilized world.

Evil-Merodach, his son and successor, is also mentioned in the Old Testament. Two short reigns followed when the ruling dynasty was overthrown and Nabonidus was placed upon the throne. The king, who delighted in exploring and restoring ancient temples, placed his son at the head of the army. Nabonidus desiring to centralize the religion of Babylonia, brought to Babylon many of the images of deities from other cities. This greatly displeased the people, and excited a strong feeling against him. The priesthood was alienated, and the military party was displeased with him, for in his antiquarian pursuits he left the defense of the empire to others. So when Cyrus, king of Anshan and ruler of Persia, entered the country, he had little difficulty in defeating the Babylonians in a battle at Opis. Sippar immediately surrendered to the invader, and the gates of Babylon were thrown open to his army under Gobryas, his general. Nabonidus was imprisoned. Three months later Cyrus entered Babylon; Belshazzar, who doubtless had set up his throne after his father had been deposed, was slain a week later on the night of the eleventh of Marchesvan. This scene may have occurred in the palace built by Nebuchadrezzar. This event, told by the chronicler, is a remarkable verification of the interesting story related of Belshazzar in Dnl. The title used by the kings who follow the Babylonian Dynasty is "King of Babylon and King of Countries."

41. Persian Rulers of Babylonia:


Cyrus; 538-529 BC

Cambyses; 529-522 BC


Nebuchadrezzar III

Darius I; 521-485 BC

Xerxes; 485-464 BC

Artaxerxes I; 464-424 BC

Xerxes II; 424-423 BC

Darius II; 423-404 BC

Artaxerxes II; 405-358 BC

Artaxerxes III (Ochos); 358-338 BC

Arses; 338-335 BC

Darius III; 335-331 BC

Alexander the Great conquered Babylonia 331 BC.

Several of the Persian rulers figured prominently in the Old Testament narratives. Cyrus in a cylinder inscription, which is preserved in a fragmentary form, endeavors to justify himself in the eyes of the people. He claims that the god Marduk raised him up to take the place of Nabonidus, and to defend the religion of the people. He tries to show how considerate he was by returning to their respective cities the gods that had been removed from their shrines; and especially by liberating foreign peoples held in bondage. While he does not mention what exiles were allowed to return to their native homes, the Old Testament informs us that the Jews were among those delivered. And the returning of the images to their respective places is also an interesting commentary on Ezr 1:7, in which we are told that the Jews were allowed to take with them their sacred vessels. The spirit manifested in the proclamation for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezr 1:1,4) seems also to have been in accordance with his policy on ascending the Babylonian throne. A year before his death he associated with himself Cambyses his son, another character mentioned in the Old Testament. He gave him the title "King of Babylon," but retained for himself "King of Countries." A usurper Smerdis, the Magian, called Barzia in the inscriptions, assumed the throne of Babylonia, but Darius Hystaspes, who was an Aryan and Zoroastrian in religion, finally killed Smerdis and made himself king of Babylon. But before he was acknowledged king he had to reconquer the Babylonians. By so doing the ancient tradition that Bel of Babylon conferred the legitimate right to rule that part of the world ceased to be acknowledged. Under Nidinta-Bel, who assumed the name Nebuchadrezzar III, the Babylonians regained their independence, but it was of short duration, lasting less than a year.


History: Rogers, History of Babylonian and Assyrian, 1002; Winckler, History of Babylonian and Assyrian, 1907; King, Sumer and Accad, 1910. Religion: Jastrow, Religion of Babylonian and Assyrian, 1898; Rogers, Religion of Babylonian and Assyrian, Especially in Its Relation to Israel, 1908; Sayce, The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonian, 1903. Literature: Assyrian and Babylonian Literature, in "The World’s Great Books"; edited by R. F. Harper. Relation to the Old Testament: Price, The Monuments and the Old Testament, 1007; Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Records of Assyrian and Babylonian, 1902; Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, 1908; Clay, Amurru, the Home of the Northern Semites, 1909.

See also "Literature" in ASSYRIA.

A. T. Clay



1. First Period

2. Second Period

3. Third Period




1. Enlil, Ellil

2. Anu

3. Ea

4. Sin

5. Shamash

6. Ishtar

7. Marduk (Old Testament Merodach)

8. Nabu (Old Testament Nebo)

9. Nergal, the city god of Kutu (Old Testament Guthah)

10. Ninib

11. Ramman

12. Tammuz

13. Asshur



1. Maqlu

2. Shurpu






I. Definition.

The religion of Babylonia and Assyria is that system of belief in higher things with which the peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates valley strove to put themselves into relations, in order to live their lives. The discoveries of the past century have supplied us with a mass of information concerning this faith from which we have been able to secure a greater knowledge of it than of any other ancient oriental religion, except that of Israel. Yet the information which is thus come into our hands is embarrassing because of its very richness, and it will doubtless be a long time before it is possible to speak with certainty concerning many of the problems which now confront us. Progress in the interpretation of the literature is however so rapid that we may now give a much more intelligible account of this religion than could have been secured even so recently as five years ago.

For purposes of convenience, the religion of Babylonia and Assyria may be grouped into three great periods.

1. First Period:

The first of these periods extends from the earliest times, about 3500 BC, down to the union of the Babylonian states under Hammurabi, about 2000 BC.

2. Second Period:

The second period extends to the rise of the Chaldean empire under Nabopolassar, 625 BC, and

3. Third Period:

The third period embraces the brief history of this Chaldean or neo-Babylonian empire under Cyrus, 538 BC.

The Assyrian religion belongs to the second period, though it extends even into the third period, for Nineveh did not fall until 607 BC.

II. The Sources.

The primary sources of our knowledge of this religion are to be found in the distinctively religious texts, such as hymns, prayers, priestly rituals and liturgies, and in the vast mass of magical and incantation literature. The major part of this religious literature which has come down to us dates from the reign of Ashurbanipal (668-625 BC) though much of it is quite clearly either copied from or based upon much older material. If, however, we relied for our picture of the Babylonian and Assyrian religion exclusively upon these religious texts, we should secure a distorted and in some places an indefinite view. We must add to these in order to perfect the picture practically the whole of the literature of these two peoples.

The inscriptions upon which the kings handed down to posterity an account of their great deeds contain lists of gods whom they invoked, and these must be taken into consideration. The laws also have in large measure a religious basis, and the business inscriptions frequently invoke deities at the end. The records of the astronomers, the state dispatches of kings, the reports of general officers from the field, the handbooks of medicine, all these and many other divisions of a vast literature contribute each its share of religious material. Furthermore, as the religion was not only the faith of the king, but also the faith of the state itself, the progress of the commonwealth to greater power oftentimes carried some local god into a new relationship to other gods, or the decadence of the commonwealth deprived a god of some of his powers or attributes, so that even the distinctively political inscriptions have importance in helping us to reconstruct the ancient literature.

III. The History.

The origin of the Babylonian religion is hid from our eyes in those ancient days of which we know little and can never hope to know much. In the earliest documents which have come down to us written in the Sumerian language, there are found Semitic words or constructions or both. It seems now to be definitely determined that a Sumerian people whose origin is unknown inhabited Babylonia before the coming of the Semites, whose original home was in Arabia. Of the Sumerian faith before a union was formed with the Semites, we know very little indeed. But we may perhaps safely say that among that ancient people, beneath the belief in gods there lay deep in their consciousness the belief in animism. They thought that every object, animate or inanimate, had a zi or spirit. The word seems originally to have meant life. Life manifests itself to us as motion; everything which moves has life. The power of motion separates the animate from the inanimate. All that moves possesses life, the motionless is lifeless or dead.

Besides this belief in animism, the early Sumerians seem to have believed in ghosts that were related to the world of the dead as the zi was related to the world of the living. The lil or ghost was a night demon of baleful influence upon men, and only to be cast out by many incantations. The lil was attended by a serving-maid (ardat lili, "maid of night") which in the later Semitic development was transformed into the feminine lilitu. It is most curious and interesting that this ghost demon of the Sumerians lived on through all the history of the Babylonian religion, and is mentioned even in one of the Old Testament prophets (Isa 34:14; Hebrew Lillith, translated "night monster"). The origin of the Semitic religion brought by the ancient Semitic people and united with this Sumerian faith is also lost in the past.

It seems to be quite clear that the gods and the religious ideas which these Semites brought with them from the desert had very little if any importance for the religion which they afterward professed in Babylonia. Some of the names of their gods and images of these they very probably brought with them, but the important thing, it must always be remembered, about the gods is not the names but the attributes which were ascribed to them, and these must have been completely changed during the long history which follows their first contact with the Sumerians. From the Sumerians there flowed a great stream of religious ideas, subject indeed to modifications from time to time down the succeeding centuries. In our study of the pantheon we shall see from time to time how the gods changed their places and how the ideas concerning them were modified by political and other movements. In the very earliest times, besides these ideas of spirits and ghosts, we find also numbers of local gods. Every center of human habitati on had its special patron deity and this deity is always associated with some great natural phenomenon. It was natural that the sun and moon should be made prominent among these gods, but other natural objects and forces were personified and deified, streams, stones and many others.

Our chief source of information concerning the gods of the first period of religious development before the days of Hammurabi is found in the historical inscriptions of the early kings and rulers. Many of these describe offerings of temples and treasures made to the gods, and all of them are religious in tone and filled with ascriptions of praise to the gods. From these early texts Professor Jastrow has extricated the names of the following deities, gods and goddesses. I reproduce his list as the best yet made, but keep in mind that some of the readings are doubtful and some were certainly otherwise read by the Babylonians or Sumerians, though we do not now know how they ought to be read. The progress of Assyrian research is continually providing corrected readings for words hitherto known to us only in ideograms. It is quite to be expected that many of these strange, not to say grotesque, names will some day prove to be quite simple, and easy to utter: En-lil (Ellil, Bel) Belit, Nin-khar-sag, Nin-gir-su, wh o also appears as Dun-gur, Bau, Ga-tum-dug, Nin-dindug, Ea, Nin-a-gal, Gal- dim-zu-ab, Nin-ki, Damgal-nun-na, Nergal, Shamash, A or Malkatu, the wife of Shamash, Nannar, or Sin, Nin-Urum, Innanna, Nana, Anunit, Nina, Ishtar, Anu, Nindar-a, Gal-alim, Nin-shakh, Dun-shagga, Lugalbanda, with a consort Nin-sun, Dumu-zi-zu- ab, Dumu-zi, Lugal-Erim, Nin-e-gal and Ningal, Nin-gish-zi-da, Dun-pa-uddu, Nin-mar, Pa-sag, Nidaba, Ku(?)-anna, Shid, Nin- agid-kha-du, Ninshul-li, En-gubarra, Im-mi-khu(?), Ur-du-zi, Kadi, Nu-ku-sir-da, Ma-ma, Za-ma-ma, Za-za-ru, Impa-ud-du, Ur- e-nun-ta-ud-du-a, Khi-gir-nunna, Khi-shagga, Gur-mu, Zar-mu, Dagan, Damu, Lama, Nesu, Nun-gal, An-makh, Nin-si-na, Nin-asu. In this list great gods and goddesses and all kinds of minor deities are gathered together, and the list looks and sounds hopeless. But these are local deities, and some of them are mere duplications. Nearly every place in early times would have a sun-god or a moon-god or both, and in the political development of the country the moon-god of the conquering city displaced or absorbed the moon-god of the conquered. When we have eliminated these gods, who have practically disappeared, there remains a comparatively small number of gods who outrank all the others.

In the room of some of these gods that disappeared, others, especially in Assyria, found places. There was, however, a strong tendency to diminish the number of the gods. They are in early days mentioned by the score, but as time goes on many of these vanish away and only the few remain. As Jastrow has pointed out, Shalmaneser II (859-825 BC) had only eleven gods in his pantheon: Ashur, Anu, Bel, Ea, Sin, Shamash, Ninib, Nergal, Nusku, Belit and Ishtar. Sennacherib (704-681 BC) usually mentions only eight; namely, Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Bel (that is, Marduk), Nabu, Nergal, Ishtar of Nineveh and Ishtar of Arbela. But we must not lay much emphasis upon the smallness of this number, for in his building inscriptions at the end he invokes twenty-five deities, and even though some of these are duplicates of other gods, as Jastrow correctly explains, nevertheless the entire list is considerably increased over the eight above mentioned. In the late Babylonian period the worship seems chiefly devoted to Marduk, Nabu, Sin, Shamash and Ishtar. Often there seem little faint indications of a further step forward. Some of the hymns addressed to Shamash seem almost upon the verge of exalting him in such a way as to exclude the other deities, but the step is never taken. The Babylonians, with all their wonderful gifts, were never able to conceive of one god, of one god alone, of one god whose very existence makes logically impossible the existence of any other deity. Monotheism transcends the spiritual grasp of the Babylonian mind.

Amid all this company of gods, amid all these speculations and combinations, we must keep our minds clear, and fasten our eyes upon the one significant fact that stands out above all others. It is that the Babylonians were not able to rise above polytheism; that beyond them, far beyond them, lay that great series of thoughts about God that ascribe to him aloneness, to which we may add the great spiritual ideas which today may roughly be grouped under ethical monotheism. Here and there great thinkers in Babylonia grasped after higher ideas, and were able only to attain to a sort of pantheism of a speculative kind. A personal god, righteous and holy, who loved righteousness. and hated sin, this was not given to them to conceive.

The character of the gods changed indeed as the people who revered them changed. The Babylonians who built vast temples and composed many inscriptions emphasizing the works of peace rather than of war, naturally conceived their deities in a manner different from the Assyrians whose powers were chiefly devoted to conquests in war, but neither the Babylonians nor the Assyrians arose to any such heights as distinguish the Hebrew book of Psalms. As the influence of the Babylonians and Assyrians waned, their go ds declined in power, and none of them survived the onrush of Greek civilization in the period of Alexander.

IV. The Pantheon.

The chief gods of the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon may now be characterized in turn.

1. Enlil, Ellil:

In the earliest times known to us the greatest of the gods is the god of Nippur whose name in the Sumerian texts is Enlil or Ellil. In the Semitic pantheon of later times he was identified with the god Bel, and it is as Belhe has been chiefly known. During the whole of the first epoch of Babylonian history up to the period of Hammurabi, he is the Lord of the World and the King of the Land. He was originally the hero of the Flood story, but in the form in which it has come down to us Marduk of Babylon has deprived him of these honors. In Nippur was his chief temple, called E-kur or "mountain house." It was built and rebuilt by the kings of Babylonia again and again from the days of Sargon I (3800 BC) onward, and no less than twenty kings are known to us who pride themselves on their work of rebuilding this one temple. He is saluted as "the Great Lord, the command of whose mouth cannot be altered and whose grace is steadfast." He would seem, judging from the name of his temple and from some of his attributes, to have been originally a god of the mountains where he must have had his original dwelling-place.

2. Anu:

The name of the god Anu was interpreted as meaning heaven, corresponding to the Sumerian word ana, "heaven," and he came thus to be regarded as the god of heaven as over against Enlil who was the god of earth, and Ea who was the god of the waters. Anu appears first among the great gods in an inscription of Lugalsaggi, and in somewhat later times he made his way to the top of the earliest triad which consists of Ann, Enlil and Ea. His chief seat of worship was Uruk, but in the Assyrian period he was associated with the god Adad in a temple in the city of Asshur. In the myths and epics he fills an important role as the disposer of all events, but he cannot be thought of as quite equal in rank with Enlil in spite of his position in the heavens. Antu or Anatu is mentioned as the wife of Ann, but hers is a colorless figure, and she may probably be regarded as little else than a grammatical invention owing to the desire of the Semites to associate the feminine with the masculine in their languages.

3. Ea:

The reading of the name of the god Ea still remains uncertain. It may perhaps have been Ae, as the Greek Aos would seem to indicate. His chief city of worship was Eridu, which in the earliest period was situated on the Persian Gulf, near the mouths of the Euphrates and the Tigris. His temple was there called E-absu, which means "house of the deeps," interpreted also as "house of wisdom." He must have been a god of great importance in early times, but was left behind by the growing influence of Ellil and in a later period retained honor chiefly because he was assumed to be the. father of the god Marduk, and so was reverenced by the people of the city of Babylon. As the lord of wisdom he filled a great role in exorcisms down to the very last, and was believed to be the god who was most ready to respond to human need in direful circumstances. Ea’s wife is called Damkina.

4. Sin:

Sin was the city god of Urn (Ur of the Chaldeans in the Old Testament). He was originally a local god who came early to a lofty position in the canon because he seems always to have been identified with the moon, and in Babylon the moon was always of more importance than the sun because of its use in the calendar. His temple was called E-kishshirgal, i.e. "house of light." His worship was widespread, for at a very early date he had a shrine at Harran in Mesopotamia. His wife is called Ningal, the Great Lady, the Queen, and his name probably appears in Mt. Sinai. He is addressed in hymns of great beauty and was regarded as a most kindly god.

5. Shamash:

The Sun-god, Shamash, ranks next after Sin in the second or later triad, and there can be no doubt that he was from the beginning associated with the sun in the heavens. His seats of worship were Larsa in southern Babylonia and Sippar in northern Babylonia in both of which his temple was called E-bab-bar, "shining house." He also is honored in magnificent hymns in which he is saluted as the enemy and the avenger of evil, but as the benignant furtherer of all good, especially of that which concerns the races of men. All legislation is ascribed to him as the supreme judge in heaven. To him the Babylonians also ascribe similar powers in war to those which the Egyptians accorded to Re. From some of the texts one might have supposed that he would have come to the top of the triad, but this appears not to have been the case, and his influence extended rather in the direction of influencing minor local deities who were judged to be characterized by attributes similar to those ascribed to him in the greater hymns.

6. Ishtar:

The origin and the meaning of the name of the goddess Ishtar are still disputed, but of her rank there can be no doubt. In the very earliest inscriptions known to us she does not seem to have been associated with the planet Venus as she is in later times. She seems rather to have been a goddess of fruitfulness and of love, and in her temple at Uruk temple- prostitution was a feature. In the mythological literature she occupies a high place as the goddess of war and of the chase. Because of this later identification she became the chief goddess of the warlike Assyrians. Little by little she absorbed all the other goddesses and her name became the general word for goddess. Her chief seats of worhip were Uruk in southern Babylonia, where she was worshipped in earliest times under the name of Nana, and Akkad in northern Babylonia, where she was called Anunitu, and Nineveh and Arbela in Assyria. Some of the hymns addressed to her are among the noblest products of Babylonian and Assyrian religion and reach a considerable ethical position. This development of a sexual goddess into a goddess who severely judged the sins of men is one of the strangest phenomena in the history of this religion.

7. Marduk:

Marduk (in the Old Testament Merodach) is the city-god of Babylon where his temple was called E-sagila ("lofty house") and its tower E-teme nanki ("house of the foundation of heaven and earth"). His wife is Sarpanitu, and, as we have already seen, his father was Ea, and in later days Nabu was considered his son. The city of Babylon in the earliest period was insignificant in importance compared with Nippur and Eridu, and this city-god could not therefore lay claim to a position comparable with the gods of these cities, but after Hammurabi had made Babylon the chief city of all Babylonia its god rapidly increased in importance until he absorbed the attributes of the earlier gods and displaced them in the great myths. The speculative philosophers of the neo-Babylonian period went so far as to identify all the earlier gods with him, elevating his worship into a sort of henotheism. His proper name in the later periods was gradually displaced by the appellativc Belu "lord," so that finally he was commonly spoken of as Bel, and his consort was called Belit. He shares with Ishtar and Shamash the honor of having some of the finest hymns, which have come down to us, sung to his name.

8. Nabu:

Nabu (in the Old Testament Nebo) was the city-god of Bor-sippa. His name is clearly Semitic, and means "speaker" or "announcer." In earlier times he seems to have been a more important god than Marduk and was worshipped as the god of vegetation. His temple in Borsippa bore the name E-zida ("perpetual house") with the tower E-uriminanki ("house of the seven rulers of heaven and earth"). In later times he was identified with the planet Mercury.

9. Nergal:

Nergal, the city-god of Kutu (in the Old Testament Cuthah), was the god of the underworld and his wife Eresh-kigal was the sovereign lady of the under-world. He was also the god of plague and of fever, and in later days was associated with the planet Mars, though scholars who are attached to the astral theory (see below) think that he was identified at an earlier date with Saturn. For this view no certain proof has yet been produced.

10. Ninib:

Unfortunately the correct pronunciation of the name of the god Ninib has not yet been secured. He seems originally to have been a god of vegetation, but in the later philosophical period was associated with the planet Saturn, called Kaitaann (Kewan, Chiun, Am 5:26 the King James Version, the English Revised Version). As a god of vegetation he becomes also a god of healing and his wife Gula was the chief patroness of physicians. He comes also to be regarded as a mighty hero in war, and, in this capacity generally, he fills a great role in the Assyrian religion.

11. Ramman:

Ramman is the god of storms and thunder among the Babylonians and in the Assyrian pantheon he is usually called Adad. This form of the name is doubtless connected with the Aramaic god Hadad. In the Sumerian period his name seems to have been Ishkur. His wife is called Shala.

12. Tammuz:

The name Tammuz is derived from the Sumerian Dumuzi-zuab ("real child of the water depths"). He is a god of vegetation which is revived by the rains of the spring. Tammuz never became one of the great gods of the pantheon, but his popularity far exceeded that of the many gods who were regarded as greater than he. His worship is associated with that of Ishtar whose paramour he was, and the beautiful story of the descent of Ishtar to Hades was written to describe Ishtar’s pursuit of him to the depths of the under-world seeking to bring him up again. His disappearance in the under-world is associated with the disappearance of vegetation under the midsummer heat which revives again when the rain comes and the god appears once more on the earth. The cult of Tammuz survived the decay of Babylonian and Assyrian civilization and made its way into the western world. It was similar in some respects to that of Osiris in Egypt, but was not so beautiful or so humane.

13. Asshur:

The supreme god of Assyria, Asshur, was originally the local god of the city which bears the same name. During the whole of Assyrian history his chief role is as the god of war, but the speculative philosophers of Assyria absorbed into him many of the characteristics of Ellil and Marduk, going even so far as to ascribe to him the chief place in the conflict with the sea monster Tiamat in the creation epoch.

V. Hymns and Prayers.

The religious literature of the Babylonians and Assyrians culminated in a great series of hymns to the gods. These have come down to us from almost all periods of the religious history of the people. Some of them go back to the days of the old city- kingdoms and others were composed during the reign of Nabonidus when the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus was imminent. The greatest number of those that have come down to us are dedicated to Shamash, the Sun-god, but many of the finest, as we have already seen, were composed in honor of Sin, the Moon-god. None of these reached monotheism. All are polytheistic, with perhaps tendencies in the direction of pantheism or henotheism. This incapacity to reach monotheism may have been partially due to the influence of the local city whose tendency was always to hold tightly to the honor of the local god. Babylonia might struggle never so hard to lift Marduk to high and still higher position, but in spite of all its efforts he remains to the very end of the days only one god among many. And even the greatest of the Babylonian kings, Nebuchadrezzar and Nabonidus, continued to pay honor to Shamash in Sippar, whose temple they continually rebuilt and adorned with ever greater magnificence. Better than any description of the hymns is a specimen adequately to show their quality. Here are some lines taken from an ancient Sumerian hymn to the Moon-god which had been copied and preserved with an Assyrian translation in the library of Ashurbanipal: + O Lord, chief of the gods, who alone art exalted on earth and in heaven, Father Nannar, Lord, Anshar, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord, great Ann, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord, Sin, chief of the gods, Father Nanbar, Lord of Ur, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord of E-gish-shir-gal, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord of the veil, brilliant one, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, whose rule is perfect, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, who does march in great majesty, chief of the gods, O strong, young bull, with strong horns, perfect in muscles, with beard of lapis lazuli color, full of glory and perfection, Self-created, full of developed fruit, beautiful to look upon, in whose being one cannot sufficiently sate himself; Mother womb, begetter of all things, who has taken up his exalted habitation among living creatures; O merciful, gracious father, in whose hand rests the life of the whole world, O Lord, thy divinity is full of awe, like the far-off heaven and the broad ocean. O creator of the land, founder of sanctuaries, proclaimer of their names, O father, begetter of gods and men, who dost build dwellings and establish offerings, Who dost call to lordship, dost bestow the scepter, determinest destinies for far-off days. -Much of this is full of fine religious feeling, and the exaltation of Sin sounds as though the poet could scarcely acknowledge any other god, but the proof that other gods were invoked in the same terms and by the same kings is plentiful.

Some of these hymns are connected with magical and incantation literature, for they serve to introduce passages which are intended to drive away evil demons. A very few of them on the other hand rise to very lofty conceptions in which the god is praised as a judge of righteousness. A few lines from the greatest of all the hymns addressed to Shamash, the Sun-god, will make this plain:

COLUMN II + Who plans evil—his horn thou dost destroy, 40 Whoever in fixing boundaries annuls rights. The unjust judge thou restrainest with force. Whoever accepts a bribe, who does not judge justly—on him thou imposest sin. But he who does not accept a bribe, who has a care for the oppressed, To him Shamash is gracious, his life he prolongs. 45 The judge who renders a just decision Shall end in a palace, the place of princes shall be his dwelling. -COLUMN III + The seed of those who act unjustly shall not flourish. What their mouth declares in thy presence Thou shalt burn it up, what they purpose wilt thou annul. 15 Thou knowest their transgressions: the declaration of the wicked thou dost cast aside. Everyone, wherever he may be, is in thy care. Thou directest their judgments, the imprisoned dost thou liberate. Thou hearest, O Shamash, petition, prayer, and appeal. Humility, prostration, petitioning, and reverence. 20 With loud voice the unfortunate one cries to thee. The weak, the exhausted, the oppressed, the lowly, Mother, wife, maid appeal to thee. He who is removed from his family, he that dwelleth far from his city. -There is in this hymn no suggestion of magic or sorcery. We cannot but feel how close this poet came to an appreciation of the Sun-god as a judge of men on an ethical basis. How near he was to passing through the vale into a larger religious life!

The prayers are on the whole upon a lower plane, though some of them, notably those of Nebuchadrezzar, reach lofty conceptions. The following may serve as a sufficient example:

O eternal ruler, lord of all being, grant that the name of the king that thou lovest, whose. name thou hast proclaimed. may flourish as seems pleasing to thee. Lead him in the right way. I am the prince that obeys thee, the creature of thy hand. Thou hast created me, and hast entrusted to me dominion over mankind. According to thy mercy, O Lord, which thou bestowest upon all, may thy supreme rule be merciful! The worship of thy divinity implant in my heart! Grant me what seems good to thee, for thou art he that hast fashioned my life.

VI. Magic:

Next in importance to the gods in the Babylonian religion are the demons who had the power to afflict men with manifold diseases of body or mind. A large part of the religion seems to have been given up to an agonized struggle against these demons, and the gods were everywhere approached by prayer to assist men against these demons. An immense mass of incantations, supposed to have the power of driving the demons out, has come down to us. The use of these incantations lay chiefly in the hands of the priests who attached great importance to specific words or sets of words. The test of time was supposed to have shown that certain words were efficacious in certain instances. If in any case the result was not secured, it could only be ascribed to the use of the wrong formula; hence there grew up a great desire to preserve exactly the words which in some cases had brought healing. Later these incantations were gathered into groups or rituals classified according to purpose or use. Of the rituals which have come down to us, the following are the most important:

1. Maqlu:

Maqlu, i.e. "burning," so called because there are in it many symbolic burnings of images or witches. This series is used in the delivering of sufferers from witches or sorcerers.

2. Shurpu:

Shurpu is another word for burning, and this series also deals much in symbolic burnings and for the same purposes as the former. In these incantations we make the acquaintance of a large number of strange demons such as the rabisu, a demon that springs unawares on its victims; the labartu, which attacks women and children; and the lilu and the lilitu, to which reference has been made before, and the utuku, a strong demon.

These incantations are for the most part a wretched jargon without meaning, and a sad commentary on the low position occupied by the religion which has attained such noble heights as that represented in the hymns and prayers. It is strange that the higher forms of religion were not able to drive out the lower, but these incantations continued to be carefully copied and used down to the very end of the Babylonian commonwealth.

VII. The Last Things.

In Babylonia, the great question of all the ages—"If a man die shall he live again?"—was asked and an attempt made to answer it. The answer was usually sad and depressing. After death the souls of men were supposed to continue in existence. It can hardly be called life. The place to which they have gone is called the "land of no return." There they lived in dark rooms amid the dust and the bats covered with a garment of feathers, and under the dominion of Nergal and Ereshkigal. When the soul arrived among the dead he had to pass judgment before the judges of the dead, the Annunaki, but little has been preserved for us concerning the manner of this judgment. There seems to have been at times an idea that it might be possible for the dead to return again to life, for in this underworld there was the water of life, which was used when the god Tammuz returned again to earth. The Babylonians seem not to have attached so much importance to this after-existence as did the Egyptians, but they did practice burial and not cremation, and placed often with the dead articles which might be used in his future existence. In earlier times the dead were buried in their own houses, and among the rich this custom seems to have prevailed until the very latest times. For others the custom of burying in an acropolis was adopted, and near the city of Kutha was an acropolis which was especially famous. In the future world there seem to have been distinctions made among the dead. Those who fell in battle seem to have had special favor. They received fresh water to drink, while those who had no posterity to put offerings at their graves suffered sore and many deprivations. It is to be hoped that later discoveries of religious texts may shed more light upon this phase of the religion which is still obscure.

VIII. Myths and Epics:

In ancient religions the myth fills a very important place, serving many of the functions of dogma in modern religions. These myths have come down to us associated usually with epics, or made a part of ancient stories which belong to the library of Ashurbanipal. Most of them have been copied from earlier Babylonian originals, which go back in origin to the wonderful period of intellectual and political development which began with Hammurabi. The most interesting of those which have been preserved for us are the story of Adapa and the sto ry of Gilgames. This same divine being Adapa, son of Ea, was employed in Ea’s temple at Eridu supplying the ritual bread and water. One day, while fishing in the sea, the south wind swept sharply upon him, overturned his boat, and he fell into the sea, the "house of the fishes." Angered by his misfortune, he broke the wings of the south wind, and for seven days it was unable to bring the comfort of the sea coolness over the hot land. And Anu said: +" Why has the south wind for seven days not blown over the land?" His messenger Ilabrat answered him: "My Lord, Adapa, the son of Ea, hath broken the wing of The south wind." -Then Anu ordered the culprit brought before him, and before he departed to this ordeal Ea gave him instructions. He is to go up to the gatekeepers of heaven, Tammuz and Gish-zida, clad in mourning garb to excite their sympathy. When they ask why he is thus attired he is to tell them that his mourning is for two gods of earth who have disappeared (that is, themselves), and then they will intercede for him. Furthermore, he is cautioned not to eat the food or drink the water that will be set before him, for Ea fears that food and water of death will be set before him to destroy him. But exactly the opposite happened. Tammuz and Gish-zida prevailed in pleading, and Anu said: "Bring for him food of life that he may eat it." They brought him food of life, but he did not eat. They brought him water of life, but he did not drink. They brought him a garment; he put it on. They brought him oil; he anointed himself with it.

Adapa had obeyed Ea literally, and by so doing had missed the priceless boon of immortality. Some of the motives in this beautiful myth are similar to those found in Gen. Food of life seems to belong to the same category as the tree of life in Gen. The Babylonian doctrine was that man, though of Divine origin, did not share in the Divine attribute of immortality. In the Ge story Adam lost immortality because he desired to become like God. Adapa, on the other hand, was already endowed with knowledge and wisdom and failed of immortality, not because he was disobedient like Adam, but because he was obedient to Ea his creator. The legend would seem to be the Babylonian attempt to explain death.

The greatest of all the Babylonian epics is the story of Gilgames, for in it the greatest of the myths seem to pour into one great stream of epic. It was written upon twelve big tablets in the library of Ashurbanipal, some of which have been badly broken. It was, however, copied from earlier tablets which go back to the First Dynasty of Babylon. The whole story is interesting and important, but its greatest significance lies in the eleventh tablet which contains a description of the great flood and is curiously parallel to the Flood story in the Book of Gen.

IX. The Astral Theory of the Universe:

We have now passed in review the main features of the Babylonian and Assyrian religion. We have come all the way from a primitive animism to a higher organized polytheism with much theological speculation ending in a hope for existence after death, and we must now ask whether there is any great organizing idea which will bring all this religion and speculation into one great comprehensive system. A theory has been propounded which owes its exposition generally to Profes sor Hugo Winckler of the University of Berlin, who in a series of volumes and pamphlets has attempted to prove that the whole of the serious thinking and writing in the realm of religion among both the Babylonians and Assyrians rests down upon a Weltanschauung, a theory of the universe. This theory of Winckler’s has found acceptance and propagation at the hands of Dr. Alfred Jeremias, and portions of it have been accepted by other scholars. The doctrine is extremely complicated and even those who accept it in part decline it in other parts and the exposition of it is difficult. In the form which it takes in the writings of Winckler and Jeremias, it has been still further complicated quite recently by sundry alterations which make it still more difficult. Most of these can only be regarded as efforts to shield theory from criticisms which have been successful in pointing out its weakness.

According to Winckler and Jeremias, the Babylonians conceived of the cosmos as divided primarily into a heavenly and an earthly world, each of which is further subdivided into three parts. The heavenly world consists of

(1) the northern ocean;

(2) the zodiac;

(3) the heavenly ocean;

while the earthly world consists of

(1) the heaven, i.e. the air above the earth;

(2) the earth itself;

(3) the waters beneath the earth.

These great subdivisions were ruled by the gods Anu in the heaven above, Bel in the earth and air, and Ea in the waters beneath. More important than these is the zodiac, the twelve heavenly figures which span the heavens and through which the moon passes every month, the sun once a year, and the five great planets which are visible to the naked eye have their courses. These moving stars serve as the interpreters of the Divine will while the fixed stars, so says Jeremias, are related thereto as the commentary written on the margin of the Book of Rev. The rulers of the zodiac are Sin, Shamash and Ishtar, and according to the law of correspondence, the Divine power manifested in them is identical with the power of Anu, Bel and Ea. The zodiac represents the world-cycle in the year, and also in the world-year, one of these gods may represent the total Divine power which reveals itself in the cycle. By the side of these three, Sin, Shamash and Ishtar, which represent respectively the moon, sun and Venus, there are arranged Marduk which is Jupiter, Nabu which is Mercury, Ninib which is Mars, and Nergal which is Saturn, these being the planets known to the ancients. Now upon these foundations, according to Winckler, and his school, the ancient priests of Babylonia built a closely knit and carefully thought-out world-system of an astral character, and this world-system forms the kernel of the ancient and oriental conception of the universe. This conception of the universe as a double-sided principle is of tremendous importance. First, the heavenly world with its three divisions corresponds exactly to the earthly world with its three divisions. Everything on earth corresponds to its counterpart in heaven. The heavens are a mirror of earth, and in them the gods reveal their will and purpose. Everything which has happened is only an earthly copy of the heavenly original. It is still written in the heavens above and still to be read there. All the myths and all the legends, not only of Babylonia, but of all the rest of the ancient world, are to be interpreted in accordance with this theory; nothing even in history is to be understood otherwise. "An oriental history without consideration of the world era is unthinkable. The stars rule the changes of the times" (Jeremias). The consequences of this theory are so overpowering that it is difficult to deal with it in fairness to its authors and in justice to the enormous labor and knowledge which they have put upon it.

It is impossible within the reasonable limits which are here imposed to discuss theory in detail, and for our purpose it will be sufficient to say that to the great majority of modern scholars who have carefully considered it in its details it seems to lack evidence sufficient to support so enormous a structure. That an astrological structure similar at least to this actually did arise in the Hellenistic period is not here disputed. The sole dispute is as to the antiquity of it. Now it does not appear that Winckler and Jeremias have been able to produce proof, first, that the Babylonians had enough knowledge of astronomy before the 7th century BC to have constructed such a system; and in the second place, there is no evidence that all the Babylonian gods had an astral character in the earlier period. On the contrary, there seems, as we have already attempted to show in the discussion of the pantheon, to be good reason to believe that many of the deities had no relation whatever to the stars in early times, but were rather gods of vegetation or of water or of other natural forces visible in earthly manifestations. The theory indeed may be said to have broken down by its own weight, for Winckler and Jeremias attempted to show that this theory of the universe spread to Israel, to the Greeks and to the Romans, and that it affords the only satisfactory explanation of the religion and of the history of the entire ancient world. An attempt has been made similar to previous abortive efforts to unlock all the doors of the ancient past with one key (see an interesting example cited in Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, 224-25). Instead of gaining adherence in recent times, theory would appear to have lost, and even those who have given a tentative adherence to its claims, cautiously qualify the extent of their submission.

X. The Relations with the Religion of Israel:

No question concerning the religion of Babylonia and Assyria is of so great interest and importance to students of the Bible as the question of the relation between this religion and the faith of Yahweh, as professed by Israel. It seems now to be clearly demonstrated that the religion of Israel has borrowed various literary materials from its more ancient neighbor. The stories of creation and of the flood, both of them, as far as the literary contents are concerned, certainly rest upon Babylonian originals. This dependence has, however, been exaggerated by some scholars into an attempt to demonstrate that Israel took these materials bodily, whereas the close shifting and comparison to which they have been subjected in the past few years would seem to demonstrate beyond peradventure that Israel stamped whatever she borrowed with her own genius and wove an entirely new fabric. Israel used these ancient narratives as a vehicle for a higher and purer religious faith. The material was borrowed, the spirit belonged to Israel, and the spirit was Divine. Words and literary materials were secured from Babylonia, but the religious and spiritual came from Israel and from Israel’s God. The word Sabbath is Babylonian indeed, but the great social and religious institution which it represents in Israel is not Babylonian but distinctively Hebrew. The Divine name Yahweh appears among other peoples, passes over into Babylonia and afterward is used by Israel, but the spiritual God who bears the name in Israel is no Babylonian or Kenite deity. The Babylonians, during all their history and in all their speculations, never conceived a god like unto Him. He belongs to the Hebrews alone.

The gods of Babylonia are connected, as we have seen, with primitive animism or they are merely local deities. The God of Israel, on the other hand, is a God revealed in history. He brought Israel out of Egypt. He is continually made known to His people through the prophets as a God revealed in history. His religion is not developed out of Babylonian polytheism which existed as polytheism in the earliest periods and endured as polytheism unto the end. The religion of Israel, on the other hand, though some of its material origins are humble, moved steadily onward and upward until the great monotheistic idea found universal acceptance in Israel. The religions of Philistia and Phoenicia, Moab, and of Edom, were subject to the same play of influences from Babylonia and Egypt, but no larger faith developed out of them. In Israel alone ethical monotheism arose, and ethical monotheism has no roots in Babylonia. The study of the religion of Babylonia is indeed of the highest importance for the understanding of Israel’s faith, but it is of less importance than some modern scholars have attempted to demonstrate.


L. W. King. Babylonian Religion and Mythology, London. 1899; M. Jastrow. Jr., The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1898 (completely revised by the author and translated into German under the title Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, Giessen, appearing in parts, and soon to be completed. This is the standard book on the subject); Rogers, The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Especially in Its Relation to Israel, New York, 1908; Hermann Schneider. Kultur und Denken der Babylonier und Juden, Leipzig, 1910; R. P. Dhorme, La religion assyrio-babylonienne, Paris. 1910. Detailed literature on the separate phases of the religion will be found in these books.

Robert W. Rogers




bab-i-lo’-ni-anz: The inhabitants of BABYLONIA (which see). They were among the colonists planted in Samaria by the Assyrians (Ezr 4:9). "The likeness of the Babylonians in Chaldea" (Eze 23:15) refers to the pictures which were common on the walls of Babylonian palaces, and the reports of them being heard in Jerusalem, or copies of them seen there, awakened the nation’s desire for these unknown lovers, which Judah had ample occasion to repent of (Eze 23:17,23; compare 2Ki 24).


bab-i-lo’-nish gar’ment: In the King James Version, Jos 7:21, for BABYLONISH MANTLE, which see.


man’-tl (the King James Version Babylonish Garment): One of the articles taken by Achan from the spoil of Jericho (Jos 7:21). In the Hebrew "a mantle of Shinar." Entirely gratuitous is the suggested correction of Shinar to se‘ar, making "a hairy mantle." The Greek has psilen poikilen, which Josephus apparently understood to mean "a royal garment all woven out of gold" (Ant., V, i, 10). The Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) calls it a "scarlet pallium," and some of the rabbinical traditions make it a purple robe. Such classical writers as Pliny and Martial speak of the weaving of embroidered stuffs as a famous industry of Babylonia. Many tablets that have been deciphered indicate that the industry was indeed widely extended, that its costly products were of great variety and that some of them were exported to distant markets; in fine, that the account in Joshua is characterized by great verisimilitude.

Willis J. Beecher


ba’-ka bakha’:In the King James Version in Ps 84:6, where the Revised Version (British and American) has "the valley of Weeping," with a marginal variant which is best put in the form, "the valley of the balsam-trees." The word is elsewhere used only in the duplicated account of one of David’s battles (2Sa 5:23,24; 1Ch 14:14,15). There the translation is "the mulberry trees," with "the balsam-trees" in the margin in the Revised Version (British and American). Conjecturally the word is, by variant spelling, of the stem which denotes weeping; the tree is called "weeper" from some habit of the trickling of its gum or of the moisture on it; the valley of weeping is not a geographical locality, but a picturesque expression for the experiences of those whose strength is in Yahweh, and who through His grace find their sorrows changed into blessings.

Willis J. Beecher


bak-i-dez: Bakchides: Bacchides, ruler over Mesopotamia and a faithful friend of both Antiochus Epiphanes and Demetrius Soter, established at the request of the latter the rulership over Judea for Aleimus, who, desiring to become high priest, had made false accusations against Judas Maccabee (1 Macc 7:8 ff; Ant, XII, x, 2). Bacchides is sent the second time to Judea after the Syrian general Nicanor was killed near Adasa and Judas Maccabee had gained control of the government (1 Macc 9:1 ff; Ant, XII, x). Bacchides after an unsuccessful battle near Bethbasi was forced to make peace with Jonathan, the brother of Judas Maccabee (1 Macc 9:58 ff; Ant, XIII, i). In 1 Macc 10:12 and 2 Macc 8:30 reference is made to the strongholds Bacchides built during his second campaign against Jerusalem (1 Macc 9:50). Compare ALCIMUS; BETHBASI; JONATHAN; JUDAS MACCABAEUS; ADASA; NICANOR. less importance than some modern scholars have attempted to demonstrate.

A. L. Breslich


ba-ka’-rus: Bakchouros: One of the "holy singers" who put away his "strange wife" (1 Esdras 9:24). Omitted in Ezr 10.


bak’-us Dionusos; later Bakchos, the Feast of Bacchus; Dionusia: The god of wine. His worship had extended over the whole Greek and Roman world centuries before the Christian era, and had degenerated into an orgy of drunkenness and unnamable immoralities, possibly under the influence of oriental Baal worship, such as the Hebrew prophets condemned. It has been surmised that Dionysus was originally not a Greek, but an oriental deity. His worship had been introduced into Egypt, perhaps by the Ptolemies, and Ptolemy Philopator (222-204 BC) had branded the Jews there with his emblem, the sign of the ivy. When Antiochus Epiphanes made his assault upon Jerusalem in the year 168 BC, he determined to extirpate the worship of Yahweh, which he recognized as the strength of the Jewish resistance, and to replace it by Greek religion. All worship of Yahweh and the observance of Jewish rites, such as the Sabbath and circumcision, were prohibited. Heathen worship was set up all over Judea, and in the temple at Jerusalem on the altar of burnt offering an altar to Jupiter was erected, "the abomination that maketh desolate" (Da 11:31), and a swine was sacrificed upon it (see ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION). The immoral practices associated with heathen worship in those days established themselves in the temple. When this feast of Bacchus (Dionysus) with all its revelry came round, the Jews were compelled to go in procession in honor of Bacchus (Dionysus), wearing wreaths of ivy, the emblem of the god (2 Macc 6:7). Some years later, when the worship of Yahweh had been restored, Nicanor the general of Demetrius I, in conducting the war against Judas Maceabacus, threatened the priests that, unless they delivered Judas up as a prisoner, "he would raze the temple of God even with the ground, break down the altar, and erect there a temple unto Bacchus (Dionysus) for all to see" (2 Macc 14:33).



Cheyne, article "Bacchus," EB; Kent, History of the Jewish People, I, 328-29; Josephus, Ant, XII, v, 4.

T. Rees


ba-se’-nor Bakenor: An officer in the army of Judas Maccabee engaged in war against Gorgias, governor of Idumaea (2 Macc 12:35). Compare Ant, XlI, viii, 6.


bak’-rit. See BECHER.


(1) ‘achar, ("back side" as in the King James Version): "He led the flock to the back of the wilderness" (Ex 3:1), i.e. "to the pasture-lands on the other side of the desert from the Midianite encampments."

(2) ‘achor, ("hinder part," "the West"): Used of God in an anthropomorphic sense ("Thou shalt see my back," Ex 33:23) to signify "the after-glow of the Divine radiance," the faint reflection of God’s essential glory. See also Isa 38:17 and compare 1Ki 14:9 and Ne 9:26.

(3) opisthen, ("back side"): "A book written within and on the back" (Re 5:1), "but the back of a book is not the same as the reverse side of a roll. John was struck, not only with the fact that the roll was sealed, but also with the amount of writing it contained" (HDB, I, 231). Compare Eze 2:10.

M. O. Evans


bak’-bit raghal; doloo: To slander the absent, like a dog biting behind the back, where one cannot see; to go about as a talebearer. "He that backbiteth [Revised Version, slandereth] not with his tongue" (Ps 15:3).

Backbiters bak’-bit-~rz (Greek katalaloi: Men who speak against. Vulgate, "detractors" (Ro 1:30)).

Backbiting bak’-bit-ing: cether: Adj. "a backbiting tongue"; literally, "a tongue of secrecy" (Pr 25:23). katalalia: substantive "a speaking against" (2Co 12:20; Wisdom 1:11); "evil speaking" (1Pe 2:1). glossa trite: "a backbiting tongue" (the King James Version of Ecclesiasticus 28:14,15); more literally translated in the Revised Version (British and American) "a third person’s tongue."

T. Rees


bak’sid’:See BACK.


bak’-slid’ (meshubhah; Ho 11:7; 14:4 and often in Ho and Jer, shobhabh; shobhebh, in Jer, 4 times: all meaning "turning back or away," "apostate," "rebellious." carar, in Ho 4:16 =" stubborn," "rebellious"; the Revised Version (British and American) "stubborn"): In all places the word is used of Israel forsaking Yahweh, and with a reference to the covenant relation between Yahweh and the nation, conceived as a marriage tie which Israel had violated. Yahweh was Israel’s husband, and by her idolatries with other gods she had proved unfaithful (Jer 3:8,14; 14:7; Ho 14:4). It may be questioned whether Israel was guilty so much of apostasy and defection, as of failure to grow with the growing revelation of God. The prophets saw that their contemporaries fell far short of their own ideal, but they did not realize how far their predecessors also had fallen short of the rising prophetic standard in ideal and action. See APOSTASY.

Backslider bak’-slid-er cugh lebh: "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways" (Pr 14:14). But the Revised Version (British and American) "backslider" conveys the wrong impression of an apostate. The Hebrew expression here implies simply non-adherence to the right, "The bad man reaps the fruits of his act" (Toy, Prov, in loc.).

T. Rees


baj’er: tachash: The word tachash occurs in the descriptions of the tabernacle in Ex 25; 26; 35; 36; 39, in the directions for moving the tabernacle as given in Nu 4, and in only one other passage, Eze 16:10, where Jerusalem is spoken of as a maiden clothed and adorned by her Lord. In nearly all these passages the word tachash occurs with ‘or, "skin," rendered: the King James Version "badgers’ skins," the Revised Version (British and American) "sealskin," the Revised Version, margin "porpoise-skin," Septuagint dermata huakinthina. In all the passages cited in Ex and Nu these skins are mentioned as being used for coverings of the tabernacle; in Eze 16:10, for shoes or sandals. The Septuagint rendering would mean purple or blue skins, which however is not favored by Talmudic writers or by modern grammarians, who incline to believe that tachash is the name of an animal. The rendering, "badger," is favored by the Talmudic writers and by the possible etymological connection of the word with the Latin taxus and the German Dachs. The main objection seems to be that badgers’ skins would probably not have been easily available to the Israelites. The badger, Meles taxus, while fairly abundant in Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, does not seem to occur in Sinai or Egypt.

A seal, Monachus albiventer (Arabic fukmeh), the porpoise, Phocoena comrnunis, and the common dolphin, Delphinus delphis, are all found in the Mediterranean. The dugong, Halicore dugong, inhabits the Indian Ocean and adjoining waters from the Red Sea to Australia. The Arabic tukhas or dukhas is near to tachash and is applied to the dolphin, which is also called delfin. It may be used also for the porpoise or even the seal, and is said by Tristram and others to be applied to the dugong. The statement of Gesenius (Boston, 1850, under the word "tachash") that the Arabs of Sinai wear sandals of dugong skin is confirmed by recent travelers, and is of interest with reference to Eze 16:10, ".... shod thee with badgers’ skin" (King James Version). The dugong is a marine animal from 5 to 9 ft. in length, frequenting the shore and feeding upon seaweed. It belongs to the order Sirenia. While outwardly resembling Cetacea (whales and porpoises), the Sirenia are really more allied to the Ungulata, or hoofed animals. The dugong of the Indian Ocean and the manatee of the Atlantic and of certain rivers of Africa and South America, are the only living representatives of the Sirenia. A third species, the sea-cow of Behring Sea, became extinct in the 18th century. The seal and porpoise of the Revised Version (British and American), the dolphin, and the dugong are all of about the same size and all inhabit the seas bordering on Egypt and Sinai, so that all are possible candidates for identification with the tachash. Of the four, recent opinion seems most to favor the dugong.

Mr. S. M. Perlmann has suggested (Zoologist, set. 4, XII, 256, 1908) that the okapi is the animal indicated by tachash.

Gesenius (Leipzig, 1905) cites Bondi (Aegyptiaca, i. ff) who adduces the Egyptian root t-ch-s and makes the expression ‘or tachash mean "soft-dressed skin." This suits the context in every passage and is very promising explanation.

Alfred Ely-Day


be’-an huioi Baian; the King James Version Bean; 1 Macc 5:4: A tribe mentioned only because of its malignant hatred of the Jews. Its aggressive hostility against their religion and the rebuilding of their sanctuary duplicated the conspiracy of Sanballat and his confederates against the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple in the days of Nehemiah (compare Ne 4:7,8). Utterly exterminated by Judas Maccabeus who burned alive, in towers, many of the imprisoned people. See MAON.


Bags of various kinds are mentioned in the English Bible, but often in a way to obscure rather than tr the original.

(1) "Bag" is used for a Hebrew word which means a shepherd’s "bag," rendered "wallet" in the Revised Version (British and American). This "bag" of the shepherd or "haversack" of the traveler was of a size sufficient for one or more days’ provisions. It was made of the skin of animals, ordinarily undressed, as most of the other "bags" of ancient times were, and was carried slung across the shoulder. This is the "scrip for the journey" pera mentioned in Mt 10:10 and its parallel (the King James Version). ("Scrip" is Old English, now obsolete.) A unique word appears in 1Sa 17:40,49 which had to be explained even to Hebrew readers by the gloss, "the shepherd’s bag," but which is likewise rendered "wallet" by the American Standard Revised Version.

(2) "Bag" translates also a word ballantion which stands for the more finished leather pouch, or satchel which served as a "purse" (see Christ’s words, Lu 10:4 King James Version: "Carry neither purse, nor scrip," and 12:33 King James Version: "Provide yourselves bags which wax not old"). The word rendered "purse" in Mt 10:9: "Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses"; Mr 6:8: "No money in their purse," is a different word entirely zone, the true rendering of which is "girdle" (Revised Version, margin). The oriental "girdle," though sometimes of crude leather, or woven camel’s hair (see GIRDLE), was often of fine material and elegant workmanship, and was either made hollow so to carry money, or when of silk or cloth, worn in folds, when the money was carried in the folds.

(3) The small "merchant’s bag" often knotted in a handkerchief for carrying the weights, such as is mentioned in De 25:13: "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small," was another variety. This too was used as "purse," as in the case of the proposed common purse of the wicked mentioned in Pr 1:14: "We will all have one purse," and sometimes carried in the girdle (compare Isa 46:6).

(4) Then there was the "bag" tseror, rendered "bundle" in Ge 42:35 which was the favorite receptacle for valuables, jewels, as well as money, used figuratively with fine effect in 1Sa 25:29: "The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life"—"life’s jewel-case" (see 2Ki 12:10 where the money of the temple was said to be put up "tied up" in bags). This was a "bag" that could be tied with a string: "Behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack," and with (compare Pr 7:20) "He hath taken a bag of money with him" (compare Hag 1:6: "earneth wages to put it into a bag holes"). A seal was sometimes put on the knot, which occasions the figure of speech used in Job 14:16,17, "Dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag," i.e. it is securely kept and reckoned against me (compare also 1Sa 9:7; 21:5 where the Hebrew keli, is rendered by "vessels" and stands for receptacles for carrying food, not necessarily bags).

(5) Another Hebrew word chariT; Arabic charitat, is used, on the one hand, for a "bag" large enough to hold a talent of silver (see 2Ki 5:23, "bound two talents of silver in two bags"), and on the other, for a dainty lady’s satchel, such as is found in Isa 3:22 (wrongly rendered "crisping pins" in the King James Version). This is the most adequate Hebrew word for a large bag. (6) The "bag" which Judas carried (see Joh 12:6 the King James Version, "He was a thief and had the bag"; compare Joh 13:29) was in reality the small "box" (Revised Version, margin) originally used for holding the mouthpieces of wind instruments (Kennedy, in the 1-volume HDB). The Hebrew ‘argaz, (found only here) of 1Sa 6:8, rendered "coffer" in English Versions of the Bible and translated glossokomon, by Josephus, appears to stand for a small "chest" used to hold the gold figures sent by the Philistines as a guilt offering. It is from a word that means "to wag," "to move to and fro"; compare the similar word in Arabic meaning a bag filled with stones hung at the side of the camel to "preserve" equilibrium (Gesenius). But the same word Josephus uses is found in modern Greek and means "purse" or "bag" (Hatch). Later to "carry the bag" came to mean to be treasurer.

George B. Eager



(1) keli, ("the impedimenta of an army"): "David left his baggage in the hand of the keeper of the baggage" (1Sa 17:22); "at Michmash he layeth up his baggage" (Isa 10:28). The American Standard Revised Version gives baggage for "stuff" at 1Sa 10:22; 25:13; 30:24.

(2) aposkeue: "Beside the baggage" (Judith 7:2), "a great ado and much baggage" (1 Macc 9:35,39), "the women and the children and also the baggage" (the King James Version "and other baggage"; 2 Macc 12:21).

(3) aposkeuazomai, ("to make ready for leaving," "to pack up baggage"): "We took up (made ready, Revised Version margin) our baggage" (Ac 21:15, the King James Version "carriages"), i.e. what they could carry—English: "luggage"; but others understand the term of the loading of the baggage animals.

M. O. Evans


ba’-go (Codex Alexandrinus, Bago; Codex Alexandrinus, @Banai = Bigvai [Ezr 8:14]): The descendants of Bago returned with Ezra to Jerusalem (1 Esdras 8:40).


ba-go’as Bagoas: The eunuch in charge of the household of Holofernes whom the latter engaged to bring Judith to his palace (Judith 12:11 ff; 13:1,3; 14:14). Compare JUDITH.


bag’-o-i (Codex Alexandrinus, Bagoi; Codex Vaticanus, Bosai = Bigvai [Ezr 2:14; Ne 7:19]): The descendants of B. returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (1 Esdras 5:14).


ba-ha’-rum-it; bar-hu’-mit (1Ch 11:33; 2Sa 23:31): A native of BAHURIM (which see).


ba-hu’-rim bachurim; (Baoureim usually, but there are variants): A place in the territory of Benjamin which lay on an old road from Jerusalem to Jericho followed by David in his flight from Absalom (2Sa 15:32-16:5 ff). It ran over the Mount of Olives and down the slopes to the East. The Talmud identifies it with Ale, math, the modern Almit, about a mile beyond ‘Anata, going from Jerusalem. If this identification is correct, Wady Farah may be the brook of water (2Sa 17:20). Here Paltiel was parted from his wife Miehal by Abner (2Sa 3:16). It was the home of Shimei, who ran along a ridge of the hill cursing and throwing stones at the fugitive king (2Sa 16:5; 1Ki 2:8). In Bahurim Jonathan and Ahimaaz, the native messengers of David, were concealed in a well by a loyal woman (2Sa 17:18 ff). Azmaveth, one of David’s heroes, was a of Bahurim. In 2Sa 23:31 we should read, as in 1Ch 11:33,

Barahumite. W. Ewing


ba-i’-ter-us Baiterous; (the King James Version Meterus): The descendants of Baiterus returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (1 Esdras 5:17). Omitted in Ezr 2 and Ne 7.





bak-bak’-ar baqbaqqar, "investigator": A Levite (1Ch 9:15).


bak’-buk baqbuq, "bottle" perhaps onomatopoetical, referring to the clucking noise created by the pouring out of the contents of a bottle = Acub, (1 Esdras 5:31): The descendants of Bakbuk returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (Ezr 2:51; Ne 7:53).


bak-bu-ki’-a baqbuqyah, ("the Lord pours out"):

(1) A Levite who "dwelt in Jerusalem" after the return from Babylon (Ne 11:17).

(2) A Levite who returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (Ne 12:9).

(3) A Levite and porter keeping "the watch at the store-houses of the gates" (Ne 12:25).


bak’-mets: Only in Ge 40:17 the King James Version and the English Revised Version. "All manner of baked food for Pharaoh" the American Standard Revised Version. Any kind of meat baked or cooked.








ba’-lam bil‘am, ("devourer"): The son of Beor, from a city in Mesopotamia called Pethor, a man possessing the gift of prophecy, whose remarkable history may be found in Nu 22:2-24:25; compare Num 31:8,16; De 23:4; Jos 13:22; 24:9; Ne 13:2; Mic 6:5; 2Pe 2:15; Jude 1:11; Re 2:14.

1. History:

When the children of Israel pitched their tents in the plains of Moab, the Moabites entered into some sort of an alliance with the Midianites. At the instigation of Balak, at that time king of the Moabites, the elders of the two nations were sent to Balaam to induce him, by means of a bribe, to pronounce a curse on the advancing hosts of the Israelites. But, in compliance with God’s command Balaam, refused to go with the elders. Quite different was the result of a second request enhanced by the higher rank of the messengers and by the more alluring promises on the part of Balak. Not only did God permit Balaam to go with the men, but he actually commanded him to do so, cautioning him, however, to act according to further instructions. While on his way to Balak, this injunction was strongly impressed on the mind of Balaam by the strange behavior of his ass and by his encounter with the Angel of the Lord.

Accompanied by Balak who had gone out to meet the prophet, Balaam came to Kiriath-huzoth. On the next morning he was brought up "into the high places of Baal" commanding a partial view of the camp of the Israelites. But instead of a curse he pronounced a blessing. From there he was taken to the top of Peor, yet this change of places and external views did not alter the tendency of Balaam’s parables; in fact, his spirit even soared to greater heights and from his lips fell glowing words of praise and admiration, of benediction and glorious prophecy. This, of course, fully convinced Balak that all further endeavors to persuade the seer to comply with his wishes would be in vain, and the two parted.

Nothing else is said of Balaam, until we reach Nu 31. Here in 31:8 we are told of his violent death at the hands of the Israelites, and in 31:16 we learn of his shameful counsel which brought disgrace and disaster into the ranks of the chosen people.

2. Problems:

Now, there are a number of interesting problems connected with this remarkable story. We shall try to solve at least some of the more important ones.

(1) Was Balaam a prophet of Jeh? For an answer we must look to Nu 22-24. Nowhere is he called a prophet. He is introduced as the son of Beor and as a man reputed to be of great personal power (compare Nu 22:6). The cause of this is to be found in the fact that he had intercourse of some kind with God (compare Nu 22:9,20; 22:22-35; 23:4; 23:16). Furthermore, it is interesting to note how Balaam was enabled to deliver his parables. First it is said: "And Yahweh put a word in Balaam’s mouth" (Nu 23:5; compare Nu 23:16), a procedure seemingly rather mechanical, while nothing of the kind is mentioned in Nu 24. Instead we meet with the remarkable sentence: "And when Balaam saw that it pleased Yahweh to bless Israel, he went not, as at the other times, to meet with enchantments ...."( Nu 24:1), and then: "the Spirit of God came upon him" (24:2b). All this is very noteworthy and highly instructive, especially if we compare with it 24:3 the Revised Version, margin and Nu 24:4: "The man whose eye is opened saith; he saith, who heareth the words of God, who seeth the vision of the Almighty," etc. The inference is plain enough: Balaam knew the Lord, the Yahweh of the Israelites, but his knowledge was dimmed and corrupted by heathen conceptions. He knew enough of God to obey Him, yet for a long time he hoped to win Him over to his own selfish plan (compare 23:4). Through liberal sacrifices he expected to influence God’s actions. Bearing this in mind, we see the import of Nu 24:1. After fruitless efforts to cajole God into an attitude favorable to his hidden purpose, he for a time became a prophet of the Lord, yielding to the ennobling influences of His spirit. Here was a chance for his better nature to assert itself permanently and to triumph over the dark forces of paganism. Did he improve this opportunity? He did not (compare Nu 31:8,16).

(2) Is the Balaam of Nu 22-24 identical with the person of the same name mentioned in Nu 31? Quite a number of scholars deny it, or, to be more accurate, there are according to their theory two accounts of Balaam: the one in Nu 22- 24 being favorable to his character, and the other in Nu 31 being quite the reverse. It is claimed the two accounts could only be made to agree by modifying or eliminating Nu 24:25. Now, we believe that Nu 31:16 actually does modify the report of Balaam’s return contained in Nu 24:25. The children of Israel slew Balaam with the sword (Nu 31:8). Why? Because of his counsel of Num 31:16. We maintain that the author of Nu 24:25 had this fact in mind when he wrote Nu 25:1: "And .... the people began to play the harlot," etc. Thus, he closely connects the report of Balaam’s return with the narrative contained in Nu 9:5. Therefore, we regard Nu 31:8,16 as supplementary to Nu 22-24. But here is another question:

(3) Is the narrative in Nu 22-24 the result of combining different traditions? In a general way, we may answer this question in the affirmative, and only in a general way we can distinguish between two main sources of tradition. But we maintain that they are not contradictory to each other, but supplementary.

(4) What about the talking of the ass and the marvelous prophecies of Balaam? We would suggest the following explanation. By influencing the soul of Balaam, God caused him to interpret correctly the inarticulate sounds of the animal. God’s acting on the soul and through it on the intellect and on the hearts of men—this truth must be also applied to Balaam’s wonderful prophetic words. They are called meshaliym or sayings of a prophet, a diviner.

In the first of these "parables" (Nu 23:7-10) he briefly states his reasons for pronouncing a blessing; in the second parable (Nu 23:18-24) he again emphasizes the fact that he cannot do otherwise than bless the Israelites, and then he proceeds to pronounce the blessing at some greater length. In the 3rd (Nu 24:3-9) he describes the glorious state of the people, its development and irresistible power. In the last four parables (Nu 24:15-24) he partly reveals the future of Israel and other nations: they are all to be destroyed, Israel’s fate being included in the allusion to Eber. Now, at last, Balaam is back again in his own sphere denouncing others and predicting awful disasters. (On the "star out of Jacob," Nu 24:17, see ASTRONOMY, ii, 9; STAR OF THE MAGI.)

3. Balaam’s Character:

This may furnish us a clue to his character. It, indeed, remains "instructively composite." A soothsayer who might have become a prophet of the Lord; a man who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and yet a man who in one supreme moment of his life surrendered himself to God’s holy Spirit; a person cumbered with superstition, covetousness and even wickedness, and yet capable of performing the highest service in the kingdom of God: such is the character of Balaam, the remarkable Old Testament type and, in a sense, the prototype of Judas Iscariot.

4. Balaam as a Type:

In 2Pe 2:15 Balaam’s example is used as a means to illustrate the pernicious influence of insincere Christian teachers. The author might have alluded to Balaam in the passage immediately preceding 2Pe 2:15 because of his abominable counsel. This is done in Re 2:14. Here, of course, Balaam is the type of a teacher of the church who attempts to advance the cause of God by advocating an unholy alliance with the ungodly and worldly, and so conforming the life of the church to the spirit of the flesh.


Butler’s Sermons, "Balaam"; ICC, "Numbers."

William Baur





bal’-a-dan bal’adhan, "He (i.e. Merodach) has given a son": Baladan is said in 2Ki 20:12 and Isa 39:1 to have been the father of Berodach (Merodach)-Baladan, king of Babylon. Some have thought that the Biblical. writer was wrong here, inasmuch as it is said in the inscriptions of Sargon (Annals, 228, 315; Pt., 122), that Merodach-Baladan was the son of Yakin. It is evident, however, from the analogy of Jehu, who is called by the Assyrian kings the son of Omri, that Yakin is to be looked upon as the founder of the dynasty or kingdom, rather than as the father of Merodach-Baladan. The Bith Yakin, over which Merodach-Baladan is said to have been king, corresponds exactly to the phrase Bith Khumria, or House of Omri, over which Jehu is said to have ruled. There is no reason, then, for supposing that there is an error in either case. There is, however, good reason for believing that the Merodach-Baladan of the Book of Kings was the son of another king of the same name. That only the latter part of the father’s name is here mentioned may be compared with the Shalman of Ho 10:14 for the more fully-written Shalmaneser of 2Ki 17:3; and with the Jareb of Ho 5:13 and Ho 10:6, probably for Sennacherib. Such abbreviation of proper names was usual among the Assyrians and Babylonians. See Tallquist, Namenbuch, xiv- xix.

R. Dick Wilson


ba’la balah; Bola: A place, unidentified, in the territory of Simeon (Jos 19:3), called Bilhah in 1Ch 4:29. It may be identical with Baalah in Judah (Jos 15:29).


ba’-ak balaq, ("devastator" or "one who lays waste"): Mentioned in connection with the story of Balaam/Balak (Nu 22-24; compare Jos 24:9; Jud 11:25; Mic 6:5; Re 2:14). He was the king of Moab who hired Balaam to pronounce a curse on the Israelites.



bal’-a-mon Balamon; (the King James Version, Balamo): In the field between Balamon and Dothaim Manasses, the husband of Judith, was buried (Judith 8:3). Compare Baal-hamon (So 8:11).


bal’-ans The English word "balance" is from the Latin bilanx =" having two scales" (bi =" two" and lanx =" plate," or "scale"). It is used to render three Hebrew words:

(1) mo’znayim (Le 19:36; Job 6:2; Ps 62:9; Pr 11:1; Isa 40:12,15; Jer 32:10, etc.);

(2) qaneh (Isa 46:6), and

(3) pelec (Pr 16:11).

It is found in the sing., e.g. "a just balance" (Pr 16:11); "a pair of balances" (Re 6:5, etc.), as well as in the plur., e.g. "just balances" (Le 19:36), "weighed in the balances" (Da 5:27, etc.).

1. Balances among the Ancient Hebrews; the Parts, etc.:

(1) The "balances" of the ancient Hebrews differed little, if at all, from those used by the Egyptians (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt (1878), II, 246 f). They consisted, probably, of a horizontal bar, either pivoted on a perpendicular rod (see Erman, Aegypten, I, 615 for similar Egyptian balances), or suspended from a cord and held in the hand, the more primitive form. At the ends of the bar were pans, or hooks, from which the things to be weighed were suspended, sometimes in bags.

A good description of the more developed and final form is this: A beam with its fulcrum in the middle and its arms precisely equal. From the ends of the arms were suspended two scales, the one to receive the object to be weighed, the other the counterpoise, or weight.

(2) The weights were of stone at first and are so named in De 25:13 King James Version, margin. A pair of scales (the King James Version "a pair of balances") is used in Re 6:5 by a figure of speech for the balance as a whole; only once is the beam so used, in Isa 46:6, literally, "weigh silver in the beam." Abraham, we are told (Ge 23:16), "weighed the silver."

2. Probably of Babylonian Origin:

The basis and fountain-head of all systems of weights and measurements is to be traced, it is now thought, to Babylonia; but the primitive instruments and systems were subject to many modifications as they entered other regions and passed into the derivative systems. The Roman "balance" is the same as our steelyard (vulgarly called "stillyards"). Compare the Chinese, Danish, etc.

3. The System of Weighing Liable to Fraud:

Though the "balances" in ancient times were rudely constructed, the weighing could be done quite accurately, as may be seen in the use of equally primitive balances in the East today. But the system was liable to fraud. A "false balance" might be literally one so constructed that the arms were of unequal length, when the longer arm would be intended, of course, for the article to be weighed. The system was liable, however, to various other subtle abuses then as now; hence the importance in God’s sight of "true weights" and a "just balance" is enforced again and again (see Le 19:36; Pr 11:1; 16:11; 20:23; Am 8:5; Mic 6:11, etc.).

4. "Wicked Balances" Condemned:

"A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh" (Pr 11:1; compare Pr 20:23), and "a just balance and scales are Yahweh’s" (Pr 16:11). Ho 12:7 condemns "the balances of deceit" in the hand of the wicked; Am 8:5 (the King James Version) cries out upon "falsifying the balances by deceit," and Mic 6:11 denounces "wicked balances." Indeed, the righteousness of a just balance and true weights, and the iniquity of false ones are everywhere emphasized by the lawmakers, prophets and moral teachers of Israel, and the preacher or teacher who would expose and denounce such things in God’s name today need be at no loss for texts and precedents.



Wilkinson, Ancient Egypt; Erman, Egypt; Lepsius, Denkmaler; and articles on "Balance." etc., in Smith, DB, EB, Jewish Encyclopedia, HDB, etc.

George B. Eager


bal’-ans-ins: "The balancings of the clouds" (Job 37:16), the manner in which they are poised and supported in the air, alike with their mysterious spreadings and motions, challenge the strongest intellect to explain.





bold lo’kust.



bald’-ness qorchah: The reference in the Bible to baldness is not to the natural loss of hair, but to baldness produced by shaving the head. This was practiced as a mark of mourning for the dead (Le 21:5; Isa 15:2; 22:12); as the result of any disaster (Am 8:10; Mic 1:16). The custom arose from the fact that the hair was regarded as a special ornament. It was the custom of the people of the land, and the Israelites were strictly forbidden to practice it (Le 21:5; Deut 14:1). These are striking passages with reference to the knowledge the Israelites had concerning the future life. This is saying to them what Paul said to the Thessalonians (1Th 4:13). To call one a "bald head" was an epithet of contempt, and was sometimes applied to persons who were not naturally bald. It was the epithet applied by certain infidel young men to Elisha (2Ki 2:23,24). In a figurative sense it is used to express the barrenness of the country (Jer 47:5).


Jacob W. Kapp


bol (dur): A rare Hebrew word used in this sense only in Isa 22:18, and correctly rendered in the American Standard Revised Version "He will surely wind thee round and round, and toss thee like a ball into a large country." De Or, Bottcher, Jastrow, following Talmud, regard the noun as kaddur, but perhaps incorrectly.

See also GAMES.


bam (tseri, tsori; Septuagint rhetine): The name of an odoriferous resin said to be brought from Gilead by Ishmaelite Arabs on their way to Egypt (Ge 37:25). It is translated "balm" in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), but is called "mastic," the Revised Version, margin. In Ge 43:11 it is one of the gifts sent by Jacob to Joseph, and in Eze 27:17 it is named as one of the exports from Judea to Tyre. The prophet Jeremiah refers figuratively to its medicinal properties as an application to wounds and as a sedative (Jer 8:22; 46:11; 51:8). The name is derived from a root signifying "to leak," and is applied to it as being an exudation. There is a sticky, honeylike gum resin prepared at the present day at Jericho, extracted from the Balanites Aegyptiaca grown in the Ghor, and sold to travelers in small tin boxes as "Balm of Gilead," but it is improbable that this is the real tscori and it has no medicinal value. The material to which the classic authors applied the name is that known as Mecca balsam, which is still imported into Egypt from Arabia, as it was in early times. This is the exudation from the Balsamodendron opobalsamum, a native of southern Arabia and Abyssinia. The tree is small, ragged-looking and with a yellowish bark like that of a plane tree, and the exudation is said to be gathered from its smaller branches. At the present day it grows nowhere in Palestine. Dr. Post and other botanists have sought for it on the Ghor and in Gilead, and have not found it, and there is no trace of it in the neighborhood of Jericho, which Pliny says is its only habitat. Strabo describes it as growing by the Sea of Galilee, as well as at Jericho, but both these and other ancient writers give inconsistent and incorrect descriptions of the tree evidently at second hand. We learn from Theophrastus that many of the spices of the farther East reached the Mediterranean shore through Palestine, being brought by Arab caravans which would traverse the indefinitely bounded tract East of Jordan to which the name Gilead is given, and it was probably thus that the balm received its local name. Mecca balsam is an orange-yellow, treacly fluid, mildly irritating to the skin, possibly a weak local stimulant and antiseptic, but of very little remedial value.

Alex. Macalister


The people of Jericho today prepare for the benefit of pilgrims a "Balm of Gilead" from the zaqqum (Balanites Aegyptiaca), but this has no serious claims to be the balm of antiquity. If we are to look beyond the borders of modern Palestine we may credit the tradition which claims that Mecca balsam, a product of Balsamodendron Gileadense and B. opobalsamum, was the true "balm," and Post (HDB, I, 236) produces evidence to show that these plants were once grown in the Jordan valley. Yet another suggestion, made by Lagarde, is that the tsori = sturax, and if so then "balm" would be the inspissated juice of the Storax- tree (Stytax officinalis), a common inhabitant of Gilead.

See also BALM.

E. W. G. Masterman


bal-nu’-us (Codex Alexandrinus, Balnouos; Codex Vaticanus, Balnous = Binnui (Ezr 10:30)): Balnuus put away his "strange wife" (1 Esdras 9:31).

BALSAM bol’-sam (basam, besem; hedusmata; thumiamata): Is usually "spices" but in the Revised Version, margin (So 5:1,13; 6:2) is rendered as "balsam." It was an ingredient in the anointing oil of the priests (Ex 25:6; 35:28). The Queen of Sheba brought it as a present to Solomon (1Ki 10:2) in large quantity (1Ki 10:10) and of a finer quality (2Ch 9:9) than that brought as a regular tribute by other visitors (1Ki 10:25). In the later monarchy Hezekiah had a treasure of this perfume (2Ch 32:27) which he displayed to his Babylonian visitors (Isa 39:2); and after the captivity the priests kept a store of it in the temple (1Ch 9:30). According to Ezekiel the Syrians imported it from Sheba (Eze 27:22). There is a tradition preserved in Josephus (Ant., VIII, vi, 6) that the Queen of Sheba brought roots of the plant to Solomon, who grew them in a garden of spices at Jericho, probably derived from the references to such a garden in So 5:1,13; 6:2. This may be the source of the statements of Strabo, Trogus and Pliny quoted above (see BALM). It was probably the same substance as the BALM described above, but from the reference in Ex 30:7; 35:8, it may have been used as a generic name for fragrant resins. The root from which the word is derived signifies "to be fragrant," and fragrant balsams or resins are known in modern Arabic as bahasan. The trees called in 2Sa 5:23,24 (Revised Version, margin) "balsam-trees" were certainly not those which yielded this substance, for there are none in the Shepehlah but there are both mulberry trees and terebinths in the district between Rephaim and Gezer. When used as a perfume the name basam seems to have been adopted, but as a medicinal remedy it is called tsori.

Alex. Macalister


bal-ta’-sar (Baltasar; the King James Version Balthasar):

(1) The Greek of Hebrew, belTesha’tstsar, or belTe’shatstsar, perhaps corresponding to BalaT-sar-ucur, "protect the life of the king," the Babylonian cognomen of Daniel. Compare Belteshazzar (Da 1:7; 2:26; 4:8 ff, et al.).

(2) Baltasar is also the Greek of the Hebrew belsha’tstsar, or bel’shatstsar, the name of the last king of Babylon (corresponding to the Babylonian Bel-sar-ucur; Schrader, Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament, III, 396; Syriac Blitshazzar; Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) Baltassar). Compare Baruch 1 11 and Belshazzar (Da 5:1 ff; 7:1; 8:1).

(3) The name of one of the Magi who according to the legend visited Jesus at Bethlehem: Melchior from Nubia, Balthasar from Godolia, Caspar from Tharsis.

A. L. Breslich


ba’-ma, ba’-ma (bamah, "high place"): The word appears in Eze 20:29 where reference is made to former "high-place worship," the prophet speaking with contempt of such manner of worship. Ewald suggests a play of words, ba’," come" and mah, "what," "what (mah) is the high place (ba-mah) whereunto ye come (ba’)?" It is possible that reference is made to a prominent high place like the one at Gibeon (compare 1Ki 3:4; 1Ch 16:39; 21:29; 2Ch 13) for which the name "Bamah" was retained after the reform mentioned by the prophet.


ba’-moth, ba’-moth-ba’-al (bamoth-ba’al, "high places of Baal"): Bamoth is referred to in Nu 21:19,20, as a station in the journeyings of Israel North of the Arnon. It is probably the same place as the Bamoth-baal of Nu 22:41 (Revised Version margin), whither Balak, king of Moab, conducted Balaam to view and to curse Israel. Bamoth-baal is named in Jos 13:17 as one of the cities given to Reuben. Mesha, on the Moabite Stone, speaks of having "rebuilt" Beth-bamoth.


(A, Ban; B, Bainan; 1 Esdras 5:37 = Tobiah (Ezr 2:60; Ne 7:62); some manuscripts of the Septuagint read Boua): The descendants of Ban were not able to trace their ancestry to show "how they were of Israel."


ban-a-i’-as (Banaias; 1 Esdras 9:35 = Benaiah (Ezr 10:43)): Banaias put away his "strange wife."


The English word has two generic meanings, each shading off into several specific meanings:

(1) that which holds together, binds or encircles: a bond;

(2) a company of men. The second sense may philologically and logically have been derived from the first, men being held together by social ties. Both meanings appear in Old Testament and New Testament representing various Hebrew and Greek words.

(1) A band

(a) (’ecur): a flaxen rope (Jud 15:14); a band of iron and brass (Da 4:15,23); metaphorically used of a false woman’s hands (Ec 7:26).

(b) (chebhel): "The bands of the wicked have robbed me" (the King James Version of Ps 119:61), where "bands" =" troops" by mistr; the Revised Version (British and American) "The cords of the wicked have wrapped me round"; plural chobhlim =" bands" = the name of the prophet’s symbolic staff representing the brotherhood between Judah and Israel (Zec 11:7,14).

(c) (‘abhoth): "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love" (Ho 11:4; compare Eze 3:25; 4:8; Job 39:10).

(d) (saphah): the edge of the round opening in the robe of the ephod with a band (the Revised Version (British and American) "binding") round about the hole of it (only in Ex 39:23).

(e) (chartsubboth): bands (the Revised Version (British and American) "bonds") of wickedness (Isa 58:6); bands (= pains) in death (Ps 73:4); the Revised Version, margin ("pangs," Cheyne, "torments").

(f) (moTah): the cross bar of oxen’s yoke, holding them together (Le 26:13; Eze 34:27 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "bars").

(g) (mocer): a fetter: "Who hath loosed the bonds of the swift ass?" (Job 39:5; Ps 2:3; 107:14; Isa 28:22; 52:2; Jer 2:20; all in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)). The same Hebrew word (in Ps 116:16; Jer 5:5; 27:2; 30:8; Na 1:13) is translated "bonds " in the King James Version, and in the English Revised Version of Ps 116:16, and Na 1:13, but "bands" in the English Revised Version of Jer 5:5; 27:2; 30:8; the American Standard Revised Version has "bonds" throughout. See BOND.

(h) (moshekhoth): "Canst thou .... loose the bands of Orion?" (only in Job 38:31).

(i) (desmos, sundesmos): a fetter: that which binds together: of the chains of a lunatic or prisoner (Lu 8:29; Ac 16:26; 22:30 the King James Version), metaphorically of the mystic union of Christ and the church (Col 2:19). These words are often translated by "bond" in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American).

(j) (zeukteria): the rudder’s bands (only in Ac 27:40).

(2) A company of men

(a) (gedhudh): a band of soldiers (2Sa 4:2; 1Ki 11:24, the King James Version; 2Ki 6:23; 13:20,21; 24:2; 1Ch 7:4; 12:18,21; 2Ch 22:1). So the Revised Version (British and American) (except in 1Ki 11:24, "troop").

(b) (ro’sh): "head" =" division": "The Chaldeans made three bands" (Job 1:17); 1Ch 12:23 the Revised Version (British and American) translates "heads."

(c) (chayil): "a band of men" the Revised Version (British and American) the "host" (only in 1Sa 10:26).

(d) (’aghappim): "the wings of an army," only in Ezekiel, armies of the King of Judah (12:14; 17:21); of Gomer and of Togarmah (38:6); of Gog (the Revised Version (British and American) "hordes") (38:9,22; 39:4).

(e) (machaneh): "camp": only in Ge 32:7,10; the Revised Version (British and American) "companies."

(f) (chotsets): of locusts dividing into companies or swarms (Pr 30:27).

(g) (speira): usually a "cohort" (see the Revised Version, margin) of Roman soldiers; the tenth part of a legion, about 600 men: (Mt 27:27; Mr 15:16; Ac 10:1; 21:31; 27:1). A smaller detachment of soldiers (Joh 18:3,12; compare 2 Macc 8:23; Judith 1:4:11).

(h) (poiein sustrophen): "to make a conspiracy": "The Jews banded together" (Ac 23:12).

T. Rees

(3) The Augustan Band (speira Sebaste) to which Julius, the Roman centurion who had charge of Paul as a prisoner on his voyage to Rome, belonged, was a cohort apparently stationed at Caesarea at the time (Ac 27:1). Schurer (GJV, I3, 461 f) is of opinion that it was one of five cohorts mentioned by Josephus, recruited in Samaria and called Sebastenes from the Greek name of the city of Samaria (Sebaste). This particular cohort had in all likelihood for its full name Cohors Augusta Sebastenorum, Augusta being an honorific title of which examples are found in the case of auxiliary troops. Sir William Ramsay, following Mommsen (Paul the Traveler, 315, 348), thinks it denotes a body of legionary centurions, selected from legions serving abroad, who were employed by the emperor on confidential business between the provinces and Rome, the title Augustan being conferred upon them as a mark of favor and distinction. The grounds on which the views of Mommsen and Ramsay rest are questioned by Professor Zahn (Introduction to the New Testament, I, 551 ff), and more evidence is needed to establish them.


(4) The Italian Band (speira Italike) was a cohort composed of volunteer Roman citizens born in Italy and stationed at Caesarea at this time (Ac 10:1). Schurer maintains that there could have been no Roman cohort there at this time, although he accepts the testimony of inscriptions to the presence of an Italian cohort at a later time. He accordingly rejects the story of Cornelius, holding that the author of the Ac has given in this narrative conditions belonging to a later time (GJV, I3, 462 f). In reply to Schurer, Blass asks why one of the five cohorts mentioned by Josephus may not have been composed of Roman citizens living at Caesarea or Sebaste, and bearing this name (Blass, Acta Apostolorum, 124). From a recently discovered inscription, Sir W. M. Ramsay has ascertained that there was an Italian cohort stationed in Syria in 69 AD, which heightens the probability of one actually being found in Caesarea at 41-44 AD, and he shows that even if his cohort was at the time on duty elsewhere a centurion like Cornelius might well have been at Caesarea at the time mentioned (Expositor, 5th series, IV, V, with Schurer’s rejoinder). The subject of detached service in the provinces of the Roman Empire is admittedly obscure, but nothing emerges in this discussion to cast doubt upon the historical character of Luke’s narrative.


T. Nicol.






ba’-ni (bani, "posterity"):

(1) A Gadite, one of David’s mighty men (2Sa 23:36).

(2) A Levite whose son was appointed for service in the tabernacle at David’s time (1Ch 6:46).

(3) A Judahite whose son lived in Jerusalem after the captivity (1Ch 9:4).

(4) The descendants of Bani (called Binnui, Ne 7:15) returned with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:10) and had taken "strange wives" (Ezr 10:29).

(5) Bani who had taken a "strange wife" (Ezr 10:38) mentioned with his brothers, the sons of Bani who also had taken "strange wives" (Ezr 10:34).

(6) Son of Bani, a Levite and builder (Ne 3:17).

(7) Bani, who instructed the people at Ezra’s time (Ne 8:7).

(8) Three Levites mentioned in connection with the temple worship at Ezra’s time (Ne 9:4,5).

(9) A Levite who sealed the covenant with Ne (Ne 10:13).

(10) A leader of the people who also signed the covenant (Ne 10:14).

(11) One whose son Uzzi was overseer of the Levites at Jerusalem (Ne 11:22).


A. L. Breslich


ba-ni’-as (B, Banias; A, Bani; the King James Version Banid (1 Esdras 8:36)): An ancestor of Salimoth. The descendants of Banias returned with Ezra to Jerusalem. The name is omitted (Ezr 8:10), perhaps due to the oversight of a copyist or a mistaken reading of bene, "sons of," for bani.




ba’-nid (1 Esdras 8:36): In the Revised Version (British and American) BANIAS, which see.






(1) (saphah, "lip," "edge"): "By the bank of the Jordan" (2Ki 2:13); "Upon the bank of the river were very many trees" (Eze 47:7,12).

(2) (gadhah, "cuttings"): Always of banks overflowed (Jos 3:15; 4:18; Isa 8:7), as also

(3) (gidhyah, 1Ch 12:15). (4) (solelah, "mound," "rampart"): "Cast up a bank against the city" (2Sa 20:15, the English Revised Version "mount," the American Standard Revised Version "mound"; compare 2Ki 19:32; Isa 37:33). "Banks of sweet herbs" (So 5:13); "the marginal rendering is the right one, ‘towers of perfumes,’ i.e. plants with fragrant leaves and flowers trained on trellis-work" (Speaker’s Commentary in the place cited.).

(5) (charax, "a stake," "entrenchment"): "Thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee" (Lu 19:43 the King James Version "trench"). It is probably a military term and stands for a "palisade" (so the Revised Version, margin), i.e. probably an embankment of stakes strengthened with branches and earth, with a ditch behind it, used by the besiegers as a protection against arrows or attacking parties (Latin vallum), such, no doubt, as was employed by Titus in the siege of Jerusalem, 70 AD (Josephus, BJ, V, vi, 2).

(6) BANK; BANKING (which see).

M. O. Evans


1. Introductory:

"Banking" in the full modern sense, of taking money on deposit and lending it out on interest, is of comparatively recent origin. A few "banks of deposit" were founded in Italy in the Middle Ages, but the earliest "banks of issue," of the modern sort, were those of Amsterdam (1609) and Hamburg (1619), beginning in the 17th century. The law of Moses forbade Israelites to charge each other interest (Ex 22:25; Le 25:35,37; De 23:19), but let them lend on interest to Gentiles (De 23:20), though this law was often evaded or disregarded (Ne 5:10,12). Banks and banking, however, are found in operation in the Greek cities; "moneychangers ," sitting at their tables (trapezai) in the market place, both changed coins and took money on deposit, giving high interest; and banking of a sort, in its incipient stages, existed among the ancient Hebrews. But the Phoenicians are now thought to have been the inventors of the money-changing, money-lending system which is found in more or less modified and developed forms among ancient peoples and in full development and operation in the palmy days of the Roman Empire. In the Greek-Roman period, without doubt, bankers both received money on deposit, paying interest, and let it out at a higher rate, or employed it in trade, as the publicani at Rome did, in farming the revenues of a province (Plumptre).

2. Banking among the Ancient Hebrews:

(1) The Hebrew money-changer, like his modern Syrian counterpart, the saraf (see PEFS, 1904, 49 ff, where the complexity of exchange in Palestine today is graphically described), changed the large coins current into those of smaller denominations, e.g. giving denarii for tetradrachms, or silver for gold, or copper for silver.

(2) But no mean part of his business was the exchanging of foreign money, and even the money of the country of a non- Phoenician standard, for shekels and half-shekels on this standard, the latter being accepted only in payment of the temple dues (see MONEY). The "money-changers" of Mt 21:12, as the Greek signifies, were men who made small change. Such men may be seen in Jerusalem now with various coins pried in slender pillars on a table (compare epi trapezan, Lu 19:23), ready to be used in changing money for a premium into such forms, or denominations, as would be more current or more convenient for immediate use.

(3) "Usury" in English Versions of the Bible is simply Old English for what we today call "interest," i.e. the sum paid for the use of money, Latin usura; and "interest" should take the place of it in all passages in the Old Testament and New Testament, where it has such significance.

3. Banking in New Testament Times:

The Greek word rendered (tokos), "usury" in the New Testament (see Lu 19:23 f) means literally, "what is born of money," "what money brings forth or produces." "Usury" has come to mean "exorbitant interest," but did not mean this at the time of the King James Version, 1611.

(1) In Christ’s time, and immediately following, there was great need for money-changers and money-changing, especially on the part of foreign Jews whom custom forbade to put any but Jewish coins into the temple treasury (see Mr 12:41). It was mainly for the convenience of these Jews of the Dispersion, and because it was in order to a sacred use, that the people thought it proper to allow the money-changers to set up their tables in the outer court of the temple (see Mt 21:12 ff).

(2) The language of Mt 25:27, ‘Thou oughtest to have put my money to the bankers,’ etc., would seem to indicate the recognition by Christ of the custom and propriety of lending out money on interest (compare 19:23). The "exchangers" here are "bankers" (compare Mt 25:27). The Greek (trapezitai) is from a word for "bank" or "bench" (trapeza), i.e. the "table" or "counter" on which the money used to be received and paid out. These "bankers" were clearly of a higher class than the "small-change men" of Mt 21:12, etc. (compare "changers of money," Joh 2:14, and "changers," Joh 2:15, English Versions). Christ upbraids the "slothful servant" because he had not given his pound to "the bank" (or "banker," epi trapezan, literally, "on a banker’s table"), who, it is implied, would have kept it safe and paid interest for it (Lu 19:23 f). It is noteworthy that the "tenminae" of Lu 19:24 are those acquired by "the good servant" from the "one" which was first lent him. So these wealthier bankers even then in a way received money on deposit for investment and paid interest on it, after the fashion of the Greeks.

4. Interpretations, Figurative Uses, etc.:

(1) In Christ’s parable (Lu 19:23 ff) "the bank" (literally, "a bank," "table") is taken by some to mean "the synagogue," by others to mean "the church" (Lange, LJ, II, 1, 414); i.e. it is thought that Christ meant to teach that the organized body, "synagogue" or "church," might use the gifts or powers of an adherent or disciple, when he himself could not exercise them (compare DCG, article "Bank").

(2) Then some have thought that Christ was here pointing to prayer as a substitute for good works, when the disciple was unable to do such. Such views seem far-fetched and unnecessary (compare Bruce, Parabolic Teaching of Christ, 209 f).

(3) The "money-changers," then as now, had ever to be on guard against false money, which gives point to the oft-quoted extra-scriptural saying (agraphon) of Jesus to His disciples: "Be ye expert money-changers" (Greek ginesthai trapezitai dokimoi; see Origen, in Joam, XIX), which was taken (Clem., Hom., . III, 61) to mean, "Be skillful in distinguishing true doctrine from false" (HDB, 1-vol).

George B. Eager





ban’-as (Bannos; the King James Version, Banuas): A name occurring in the list of those who returned from the captivity with Zerubbabel (1 Esdras 5:26). Bannas and Sudias are represented by Hoodaviah in the lists of Ezra and Nehemiah.


ban-e’-as (Bannaias; the King James Version Baanias (1 Esdras 9:26) = Benaiah (Ezr 10:25)): Banneas put away his "strange wife."


ban’-er (ENSIGN, STANDARDS): The English word "banner" is from banderia, Low Latin, meaning a banner (compare bandum, Latin, which meant first a "band," an organized military troop, and then a "flag"). It has come to mean a flag, or standard, carried at the head of a military band or body, to indicate the line of march, or the rallying point, and it is now applied, in its more extended significance, to royal, national, or ecclesiastical "banners" also. We find it applied sometimes to a streamer on the end of a lance, such as is used by the Arab sheik today. "Banner" occurs in the following significant Old Testament passages:

(1) in the singular, "Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain" (Isa 13:2 the King James Version); "a banner to them that fear thee" (Ps 60:4); and

(2) in the plur., "In the name of our God we will set up our banner" (Ps 20:5); "terrible as an army with banner" (So 6:4).

1. Military Ensigns among the Hebrews:

The Hebrews, it would seem, like the Assyrians, the Egyptians, and other ancient nations, had military ensigns. As bearing upon this question, a very significant passage is that found in Nu 2:2: "The children of Israel shall encamp every man by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers’ houses." "Standard-bearer" in Isa 10:18 the King James Version, "They shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth," is not a case in point, but is to be rendered as in the Revised Version, margin, "as when a si ck man pineth away."

In this noted passage a distinction seems intentionally made (another view is held by some) between "the ensigns of their fathers’ houses" (literally, "signs"; compare Ps 74:4, where the reference is thought by some today to be to the standards of Antiochus’ army), and "the standards" of the four great divisions of the Hebrew tribes in the wilderness (compare the "banner" of So 2:4 and So 6:4,10).

2. A Distinction with a Difference:

The relation of these to the "standard" of Nu 21:8 f (Hebrew nec, the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "standard") is by no means clear. The word nec, here translated "standard," seems to have meant at first a pole set up on an eminence as a signal for mustering troops (compare "mast" Isa 30:17 the English Revised Version, margin). But it occurs frequently in the prophets both in this literal and original sense, and in the figurative or derived sense of a rallying point for God’s people (see Isa 5:26; 11:10; Jer 4:21 and elsewhere). Here the rendering in English Versions of the Bible alternates between "ensign" and "banner" (see HDB, 1-vol, article "Banner").

George B. Eager


ban’-us (Bannous (1 Esdras 9:34) = Bani or Binnui (Ezr 10:29,30)): The sons of Bannus put away their "strange wives."



1. The Ancient Hebrew Customs:

(1) "Banquet" and "banqueting" in the King James Version always include and stand for wine-drinking, not simply "feast" or "feasting" in our sense. Thus (So 2:4), "He brought me to the banqueting-house" is literally, "the house of wine," and Es 7:2 has in the Hebrew "a banquet of wine." In the New Testament we see a reflection of the same fact in 1Pe 4:3 the King James Version, "We walked in .... excess of wine, banquetings" (Greek "drinkings"; the Revised Version (British and American) "carousings"). Compare Amos 6:7 the King James Version, "The banquet of them that stretched themselves," where the reference seems to be to reclining at wine-drinkings.


The Hebrew of Job 1:4, "make a banquet," may refer to a social feast of a less objectionable sort (compare Job 41:6 the King James Version), though the Hebrew for "to drink" yayin "wine," was used as synonymous with "banquet."


Music, dancing and merriment usually attended all such festivities. Certainly the ancient Hebrews, like other peoples of the ancient East, were very fond of social feasting, and in Christ’s day had acquired, from contact with Greeks and Romans, luxurious and bibulous habits, that often carried them to excess in their social feasts.

2. In Christ’s Teaching and Practice:

Among the Greeks the word for "feast" (doche) is from dechomai "to receive" (compare our English usage, "to receive" and "reception"). This word doche is used with poiein "to make," to signify "to make" or "give a feast." Compare Lu 5:29 where Levi "made a feast."

(1) In view of existing customs and abuses, Christ taught His followers when they gave a banquet to invite the poor, etc. (Lu 14:13), rather than, as the fashion of the day called for, to bid the rich and influential. Much in the New Testament that has to do with banquets and banquetings will be obscure to us of the West if we do not keep in mind the many marked differences of custom between the East and the West.

(2) "Banquets" were usually given in the house of the host to specially invited guests (Lu 14:15; Joh 2:2), but much more freedom was accorded to the uninvited than we of the West are accustomed to, as one finds to be true everywhere in the East today. The custom of reclining at meals (see MEALS; TRICLINIUM, etc.) was everywhere in vogue among the well-to-do in Christ’s day, even in the case of the ordinary meals, the guest leaning upon the left arm and eating with the aid of the right (compare Mt 26:20 m "reclining," and 1Co 11:20, "the Lord’s supper").

(3) "Banquets" were considered normal parts of weddings as they are now throughout the East. Jesus and His disciples were bidden to one at Cana in Galilee, and accepted the invitation (Joh 2:2 ff), and wine-drinking was a part of the feast. The "banquet" Levi gave was in Christ’s honor (Lu 5:29). There were numbers present and marked gradations in the places at table (Mt 23:6; Mr 12:39; Lu 14:7; 20:46). Guests were invited in advance, and then, as time-pieces were scarce, specially notified when the feast was ready, which helps to explain Christ’s words (Mt 22:4), "All things are ready: come to the marriage" (compare Lu 14:17; Es 5:8; 6:14).

(4) Matthew tells us (Mt 23:6) that the Pharisees "love the chief place ("uppermost rooms" the King James Version) at feasts."

In Mt 22:3,4 "made a marriage feast," is rendered by some simply "a feast," because Greek gamos, "marriage," was used by Septuagint to translate the Hebrew for "feast" in Es 1:5. But, as this is the only known example of such a use compare gamos, it is better to take it here in the literal sense of "marriage feast," as would seem to be required by the words "for his son" (Messiah). The Greek is plural (gamous) to indicate the several parts or stages of the feast (Button, 23; compare English "nuptials").

wine was provided, superintend the drinking, etc. (compare Lu 22:27).

3. A Distinction Giving Rise to a Question:

(1) In Mt 22:4, "I have made ready my dinner," "dinner" in Greek is ariston (compare Lu 11:38). "Supper" (Greek deipnon) is found in Mt 23:6 and often in the New Testament. Both words are found in Lu 14:12. The question arises, What was the distinction? Thus much may be said in answer: The ariston (English Versions "dinner") was a meal usually taken about the middle of the forenoon, with variations of earlier or later; the deipnon (English Versions "supper"), the one taken at the close of the day, often after dark. In Ant, V, iv, 2 Josephus supposes Eglon’s guards (Jud 3:24) were negligent about noon, "both because of the heat and because their attention was turned to dinner" (ariston). So the "dinner" (ariston) was sometimes as late as noon. Yet Joh 21:12,15 shows, on the other hand, that the ariston was on some occasions taken shortly after dawn.

(2) Another question raised is this, Were the ancient Jews accustomed to have two or three meals a day? Vambery, quoted by Morison, gives a saying of the Turks that is in point: "There are only two meals a day, the smaller at 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning, the second and larger after sunset." There seems no evidence to sustain the view, maintained by Grimm and entertained by others, that the Jews of Christ’s day were accustomed to take a separate and slight meal on rising, as the later Greeks and some of the later Romans did. There is certainly no clear evidence that the Jews of that day had more than two meals a day (see DB, article "Meals").

(3) The marriage feast of Mt 22:3 f was an ariston, somewhat like an English "wedding-breakfast"; but that in Lu 14:16 f was a deipnon, which was as usual delayed till after dark (Lu 14:17). Perhaps the ariston in this case was preliminary, while the marriage with its accompanying deipnon was after dark; such things are not unheard of today (compare Mt 26:20 and 1Co 11:20, "the Lord’s deipnon").

George B. Eager


ban’-u-as (1 Esdras 5:26): A misprint for BANNAS (Revised Version), which see.



1. The Derivation

2. The Meaning

3. The Application

4. Equivalent Terms


1. The Teaching of Scripture

(1) An Authoritative Command

(2) A Clear Declaration of the Object in View

(3) A Definite Promise

(4) A Plain Indication of the Scope

(5) A Prescribed Formula for Administering the Ordinance

2. The Biblical History of the Ordinance

3. Types of Baptism


1. Are Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15,16 Genuine?

2. Was the Trinitarian Formula Used in New Testament Times?

3. Was Christian Baptism Really a New Ordinance?

4. Should Infants Be Baptized?

5. Why Did Paul not Baptize?

6. What Is the Baptism for the Dead?

I. The Term.

1. The Derivation:

The word "baptism" is the Anglicized form of the Greek baptisma, or baptismos. These Greek words are verbal nouns derived from baptizo, which, again, is the intensive form of the verb bapto. "Baptismos denotes the action of baptizein (the baptizing), baptisma the result of the action (the baptism)" (Cremer). This distinction differs from, but is not necessarily contrary to, that of Plummer, who infers from Mr 7:4 and Heb 9:10 that baptismos usually means lustrations or ceremonial washings, and from Ro 6:4; Eph 4:1; 1Pe 3:21 that baptisma denotes baptism proper (Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes)).

2. The Meaning:

The Greek words from which our English "baptism" has been formed are used by Greek writers, in classical antiquity, in the Septuagint and in the New Testament, with a great latitude of meaning. It is not possible to exhaust their meaning by any single English term. The action which the Greek words express may be performed by plunging, drenching, staining, dipping, sprinkling. The nouns baptisma and baptismos do not occur in the Septuagint; the verb baptizo occurs only in four places, and in two of them in a figurative sense (2Ki 5:14; Judith 12:7; Isa 21:4; Ecclesiasticus @@31 (34): 25). Wherever these words occur in the New Testament, the context or, in the case of quotations, a comparison with the Old Testament will in many instances suggest which of the various renderings noted above should be adopted (compare Mr 7:4; Heb 9:10 with Nu 19:18,19; 8:7; Ex 24:4-6; Ac 2:16,17,41 with Joe 2:28). But there are passages in which the particular form of the act of baptizing remains in doubt. "The assertion that the command to baptize is a command to immerse is utterly unauthorized" (Hodge).

3. The Application:

In the majority of Biblical instances the verbs and nouns denoting baptism are used in a lit sense, and signify the application of water to an object or a person for a certain purpose. The ceremonial washings of the Jews, the baptism of proselytes to the Jewish faith, common in the days of Christ, the baptism of John and of the disciples of Christ prior to the Day of Pentecost, and the Christian sacrament of baptism, are literal baptisms (baptismus fluminis, "baptism of the river," i.e. water). But Scripture speaks also of figurative baptisms, without water (Mt 20:22; Mr 10:38; Lu 12:50 = the sufferings which overwhelmed Christ and His followers, especially the martyrs—baptismus sanguinis, "baptism of blood"; Mt 3:11; Mr 1:8; Lu 3:16; Ac 1:5; 11:16 = the outpouring of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost, which was a characteristic phenomenon of primitive Christianity—baptismus flaminis, "baptism of wind, breeze," i.e. "spirit"). Some even take Mt 21:25; Mr 11:30; Ac 18:25; 1Co 10:2 in a synecdochical sense, for doctrine of faith, baptism being a prominent feature of that doctrine (baptismus luminis, "baptism of light").

4. Equivalent Terms:

Scripture occasionally alludes to Christian baptism without employing the regular term. Thus in Tit 3:5, and Eph 5:26 we have the term loutron, "washing," instead lent terms of baptisma. From this term the Latin church derived its lavacrum (English "layer") as a designation of baptism. In Heb 10:22 we have the verbs rhantizo and louo, "sprinkle" and "wash"; in Eph 5:26 the verb katharizo, "cleanse"; in 1Co 6:11 the verb apolouo, "wash" are evidently synonyms of baptizo, and the act has been so denominated from its prime effect.

II. The Ordinance.

1. The Teaching of Scripture:

Christian baptism, as now practiced, is a sacred ordinance of evangelical grace, solemnly appointed by the risen Christ, prior to His entering into the state of glory by His ascension, and designed to be a means, until His second coming, for admitting men to discipleship with Him. Mt 28:18-20 and its parallel Mr 16:15,16 are the principal texts of Scripture on which the church in all ages has based every essential point of her teaching regarding this ordinance. The host of other baptismal texts of Scripture expand and illustrate the contents of these two texts. We have in these texts:

(1) An Authoritative Command

An authoritative (Mt 28:19) command, issued in plain terms: "Make disciples .... baptizing." This command declares (a) speciem actus, i.e. it indicates with sufficient clearness, by the use of the term "baptize," the external element to be employed, namely, water, and the form of the action to be performed by means of water, namely, any dipping, or pouring, or sprinkling, since the word "baptize" signifies any of these modes. On the strength of this command Luther held: "Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God’s command"; and the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Ques. 94) calls baptism "a washing with water." Water is distinctly mentioned as the baptismal element in Ac 8:38; 10:47; Eph 5:26; Heb 10:22. "There is no mention of any other element" (Plummer). The phraseology of Eph 5:26, "the washing of water with the word," shows that not the external element alone, nor the physical action of applying the water, constitutes baptism; but "the word" must be added to the element and the action, in order that there may be a baptism. (Detrahe verbum, et quid est aqua nisi aqua? Accedit verbum ad elementum, et fit sacramentum, "Remove the word and what is water but water? The word is added to the element and it becomes a sacrament" Augustine). "Without the Word of God the water is simple water, and no baptism" (Luther). The command prescribes (b) exercitium actus, i.e. it enjoins a continued exercise of this function of the messengers of Christ for all time.

(2) A Clear Declaration of the Object in View.

The participle "baptizing" qualifies the imperative "make disciples," and expresses that, what the imperative states as the end, is to be attained by what the participle names as a means to that end. The participle "baptizing," again, is qualified by "teaching" (Mt 28:20). The second participle is not connected by "and" with the first, hence, is subordinate to the first (Meyer). Discipleship is to be obtained by baptizing-teaching. There is no rigid law regarding the order and sequence of these actions laid down in these words; they merely state that Christ desires His disciples to be both baptized and fully informed as to His teaching.

(3) A Definite Promise:

Salvation (Mr 16:16), i.e. complete and final deliverance from all evil, the securing of "the end of faith" (1Pe 1:9). This is a comprehensive statement, as in 1Pe 3:21, of the blessing of baptism. Scripture also states, in detail, particular baptismal blessings:

(a) Regeneration, Tit 3:5; Joh 3:3,5. Despite Calvin and others, the overwhelming consensus of interpreters still agrees with the ancient church and with Luther in explaining both these texts of baptism.

(b) Remission of sins, or justification (Ac 2:38; 22:16; 1Co 6:11; Eph 5:26; Heb 10:22). This blessing, no doubt, is also intended in 1Pe 3:21, where eperotema has been rendered "answer" by the King James Version while the Revised Version (British and American) renders "interrogation." The word denotes a legal claim, which a person has a right to set up (See Cremer under the word and Ro 8:1).

(c) The establishment of a spiritual union with Christ, and a new relationship with God (Ga 3:26,27; Ro 6:3,4; Col 2:12). In this connection the prepositions with which baptizein in the New Testament connects may be noted. Baptizein eis, "to baptize into," always denotes the relation into which the party baptized is placed. The only exception is Mr 1:9. Baptizein en, or baptizein epi, "to baptize in" (Ac 10:48; 2:38), denotes the basis on which the new relation into which the baptized enters, is made to rest (Cremer).

(d) The sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit (1Co 12:13; Tit 3:5). All these blessings Scripture declares to be effects of baptism (Wirkung der Taufe, Riehm, Handworterb.). "Baptism is called ‘washing of regeneration,’ not merely because it symbolizes it, or pledges a man to it, but also, and chiefly, because it effects it" (Holtzmann, Huther, Pfleiderer, Weiss). "Regeneration, or being begotten of God, does not mean merely a new capacity for change in the direction of goodness, but an actual change. The legal washings were actual external purifications. Baptism is actual internal purification" (Plummer). To these modern authorities Luther can be added. He says: "Baptism worketh forgiveness of sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe, as the words and promises of God declare" (Smaller Catech.). In Tit 3:5 the King James Version the force of the preposition dia, "by," deserves to be noted: it declares baptism to be the regenerating, renewing, justifying, glorying medium to the heirs of eternal life. The baptismal promise is supported, not only in a general way, by the veracity and sincerity of the Speaker, who is the Divine Truth incarnate, but also in a special way, by the Author’s appeal to His sovereign majesty (Mt 28:18), and by the significant assurance of His personal ("I" = ego, is emphatic: Meyer) presence with the disciples in their afore-mentioned activity (Mt 28:20; compare Mr 16:20).

(4) A Plain Indication of the Scope:

"All nations," "the whole creation" (pase te ktisei to be understood as in Col 1:23 =" all men"). Baptism is of universal application; it is a cosmopolitan ordinance before which differences such as of nationality, race, age, sex, social or civil status, are leveled (compare Col 3:11 with 1Co 12:13). Accordingly, Christ orders baptism to be practiced "alway" (literally, "all days"), "even unto the end of the world," i.e. unto the consummation of the present age, until the Second Advent of the Lord. For, throughout this period Christ promises His cooperative presence with the efforts of His disciples to make disciples.

(5) A Prescribed Formula for Administering the Ordinance:

"Into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The belief in the Trinity is fundamental to Christianity; accordingly, the sacred rite by which men are initiated into the Christian religion justly emphasizes this belief. The three Persons are mentioned as distinct from one another, but the baptismal command is issued upon their joint and coequal authority ("in the name," not "names"), thus indicating the Unity in Trinity. This ancient baptismal formula represents "the Father as the Originator, the Son as the Mediator, the Holy Ghost as the Realization, and the vital and vitalizing blessing of the promise and fulfillment," which is extended to men in this ordinance (Cremer).

2. The Biblical History of the Ordinance:

After the Lord had entered into His glory, we find that in the era of the apostles and in the primitive Christian church baptism is the established and universally acknowledged rite by which persons are admitted to communion with the church (Ac 2:38,41; 8:12 f, 36,38; 9:18; 10:47 f; 16:15,33; 18:8; Ro 6:3; 1Co 12:13; Ga 3:27). Even in cases where an outpouring of the special gifts of the Holy Spirit had already taken place, baptism is still administered (Ac 10:44 ff; 11:15 f). "Thus, baptism occupied among the Gentile converts to Christianity, and later among all Christians, the same position as circumcision in the Old Covenant (Col 2:11 f; Ga 5:2). It is, essentially, part of the foundation on which the unity of the Christian society rested from the beginning (Eph 4:5; 1Co 12:13; Ga 3:27 f)" (Riehm, Handworterb.). 3. Types of Baptism:

In 1Co 10:1,2 the apostle states that the Israelites "were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." Farrar attempts the following solution of this type: "The passing under the cloud (Ex 14:19) and through the sea, constituting as it did their deliverance from bondage into freedom, their death to Egypt, and their birth to a new covenant, was a general type or dim shadow of Christian baptism (compare our collect, ‘figuring thereby Thy holy baptism’). But the typology is quite incidental; it is the moral lesson which is paramount. ‘Unto Moses’; rather, into. By this ‘baptism’ they accepted Moses as their Heavensent guide and teacher" (Pulpit Comm.). In 1Pe 3:21 the apostle calls baptism the antitupon of the Deluge. Delitzsch (on Heb 9:24) suggests that tupos and antitupon in Greek represent the original figure and a copy made therefrom, or a prophetic foretype and its later accomplishment. The point of comparison is the saving power of water in either instance. Water saved Noah and his family by floating the ark which sheltered them, and by removing from them the disobedient generation which had sorely tried their faith, as it had tried God’s patience. In like manner the water of baptism bears up the ark of the Christian church and saves its believing members, by separating them from their filthy and doomed fellow-men.

III. Difficulties.

1. Are Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15,16 Genuine?:

Feine (PER3, XIX, 396 f) and Kattenbusch (Sch-Herz, I, 435 f) argue that the Trinitarian formula in Mt 28:19 is spurious, and that the text in Mr belongs to a section which was added to this Gospel at a later time. The former claim had first been advanced by Conybeare, but later research by Riggenbach has established the genuineness of the Trinitarian formula in Mt. Feine still maintains his doubts, however, on subjective grounds. As to the concluding section in Mr (16:9- 20), Jerome is the first to call attention to its omission in most Greek manuscripts to which he had access. But Jerome himself acknowledged Mr 16:14 as genuine. Gregory of Nyssa reports that, while this section is missing in some manuscripts, in the more accurate ones many manuscripts contain it. No doctrinal scruple can arise on account of this section; for it contains nothing that is contrary to the doctrine of Scripture in other places on the same subject; and it has always been treated as genuine by the Christian church. The question is a purely historical one (see Bengel, Apparatus Criticus, 170 f).

2. Was the Trinitarian Formula Used in New Testament Times?:

No record of such use can be discovered in the Ac or the epistles of the apostles. The baptisms recorded in the New Testament after the Day of Pentecost are administered "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Ac 2:38), "into the name of the Lord Jesus" (Ac 8:16), "into Christ" (Ro 6:3; Ga 3:27). This difficulty was considered by the Fathers; Ambrose says: Quod verbo tacitum fuerat, expressum est fide, "What had not been expressed in word, was expressed by faith." On close inspection the difficulty is found to rest on the assumption that the above are records of baptismal formulas used on those occasions. The fact is that these records contain no baptismal formula at all, but "merely state that such persons were baptized as acknowledged Jesus to be the Lord and the Christ" (Plummer). The same can be said of any person baptized in our day with the Trinitarian formula. That this formula was the established usage in the Christian church is proven by records of baptisms in Justin (Apol., I, 61) and Tertullian (Adv. Prax., XXVI). 3. Was Christian Baptism Really a New Ordinance?:

Baptism was practiced among the Jews prior to the solemn inauguration of this ordinance by the risen Christ. The ceremonial washings of the Jews are classed with the transient forms of the Levitical worship (Heb 9:9,10), which had not been intended to endure except "until a time of reformation." They were removed when Christian baptism was erected into an abiding ordinance of the church of God (Col 2:11-13). It is erroneous to say that those ancient washings developed into Christian baptism. A shadow does not develop into a substance. Nor do we find the origin of Christian baptism in the baptism of proselytes, which seems to have been a Jewish church custom in the days of Christ. Though the rite of baptism was not by unknown to the Jews, still the baptism of John startled them (Joh 1:25). Such passages as Isa 4:4 (1:16); Eze 36:25; 37:23; Zec 13:1 had, no doubt, led them to expect a rite of purification in the days of the Messiah, which would supersede their Levitical purification. The delegation which they sent to John was to determine the Messianic character of John and his preaching and baptizing. Johannic baptism has been a fruitful theme of debate. The question does not affect the personal faith of any Christian at the present time; for there is no person living who has received Johannic baptism (Chemnitz). The entire subject and certain features of it, as the incident recorded Ac 19:1-7, will continue to be debated. It is best to fix in our minds a few essential facts, which will enable us to put the Scriptural estimate on the baptism of John. John had received a Divine commission to preach and baptize (Lu 3:2; Joh 1:33; Mt 21:25). He baptized with water (Joh 3:23). His baptism was honored by a wonderful manifestation of the holy Trinity (Mt 3:16,17), and the Redeemer, in His capacity as the Representative of sinful mankind, the sin-bearing Lamb of God, accepting baptism at John’s hand (Mt 3:13 ff; Joh 1:29 ff). It was of the necessity of receiving John’s baptism that Christ spoke to Nicodemus (Joh 3:3 ff). The Pharisees invited their eternal ruin by refusing John’s baptism (Lu 7:30); for John’s baptism was to shield them from the wrath to come (Mt 3:7); it was for the remission of sin (Mr 1:4); it was a washing of regeneration (Joh 3:5). When Jesus began His public ministry, He took up the preaching and baptism of John, and His disciples practiced it with such success that John rejoiced (Joh 3:22,25-36; 4:1,2). All this evidence fairly compels the belief that there was no essential difference between the baptism of John and the baptism instituted by Christ; that what the risen Christ did in Mt 28:18-20 was merely to elevate a rite that had previously been adopted by an order "from above" to a permanent institution of His church, and to proclaim its universal application. The contrast which John himself declares between his baptism and that of Christ is not a contrast between two baptisms with water. The baptism of Christ, which John foretells, is a baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire, the Pentecostal baptism. But for the general purpose of begetting men unto a new life, sanctifying and saving them, the Spirit was also bestowed through John’s baptism (Joh 3:5). 4. Should Infants Be Baptized?:

The command in Mt 28:19; Mr 16:16 is all-embracing; so is the statement concerning the necessity of baptism in Joh 3:5. After reading these statements, one feels inclined, not to ask, Should infants be baptized? but Why should they not be baptized? The onus probandi rests on those who reject infant baptism. The desire to have their infants baptized must have been manifested on the day when the first three thousand were baptized at Jerusalem, assuming that they were all adults. The old covenant had provided for their children; was the new to be inferior to the old in this respect? (See Plummer in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes).) The baptism of entire households is presumptive evidence that children and infants were baptized in apostolic times (Ac 16:15,33; 18:8; 1Co 1:16). The arguments against infant baptism imply defective views on the subject of original sin and the efficacy of baptism. Infant faith—for, faith is as necessary to the infant as to the adult—may baffle our attempts at explanation and definition; but God who extends His promises also to children (Ac 2:39), who established His covenant even with beasts (Ge 9:16,17); Christ who blessed also little children (Mr 10:13 ff), and spoke of them as believers (Mt 18:6), certainly does not consider the regeneration of a child or infant a greater task than that of an adult (compare Mt 18:3,4).

5. Why Did Paul not Baptize?:

Paul did baptize Crispus, Gaius and Stephanas with his household. These baptisms he performed at Corinth alone; we have no record of his baptisms at other places. What Paul declares in 1Co 1:14-17 is, that by his baptizing he could not have become the cause of the divisions in the Corinthian congregation, because he had baptized only a few persons at Corinth, and, moreover, he had not baptized in his own name, hence had attached no one to his person. The statement, "Christ sent me not to baptize," is made after the Semitic idiom, and means: "not so much to baptize as to preach" (Farrar in Pulpit Commentary). If they are taken in any other sense, it is impossible to protect Paul against the charge that he did something that he was not authorized to do, when he baptized Crispus, etc.

6. What Is the Baptism for the Dead?:

1Co 15:29 is sometimes taken to mean that the early Christians practiced baptism by proxy. After they had been converted to Christianity, it is held, they desired to convey the benefits of their faith to their departed friends who had died in paganism, by having themselves baptized "in their behalf," perhaps on their graves. We have no evidence from history that such a practice prevailed in the early Christian churches. Nor does the text suggest it. The Greek preposition huper expresses also the motive that may prompt a person to a certain action. In this case the motive was suggested by the dead, namely, by the dead in so far as they shall rise. The context shows this to be the meaning: If a person has sought baptism in view of the fact that the dead are to rise to be judged, his baptism is valueless, if the dead do not rise.


W. H. T. Dau




1. Baptism of Proselytes

2. Baptism of John

3. Baptism in the Pagan Mysteries


1. The administration of the Rite

2. The Mode of Using the Water

(1) Immersion

(2) Affusion

(3) Aspersion

3. Who May Perform Baptism

4. Who May Receive Baptism

(1) Baptism of Infants

(2) Baptism for the Dead



The Doctrine of Infant Baptism


Baptism (baptisma, baptismos, baptizein) has been from the earliest times the initiatory rite signifying the recognition of entrance into or of presence within the Christian church. We find the earliest mention of the ceremony in the Epistle to the Galatians (Ga 3:27), written about 20 years after the death of Jesus. There and in 1 Corinthians (1Co 1:13; 12:13) Paul takes for granted that everyone who becomes a Christian (himself included) must be baptized. The rite seems also to have existed among the discipleship of Jesus before His death. We are told (Joh 4:1,2) that, although Jesus Himself did not baptize, His disciples did, and that their baptisms were more numerous than those of John.

I. The Scriptural Names for the Rite.

The words commonly used in the New Testament to denote the rite are the verb baptizo, and the nouns baptisma and baptismos; but none are employed in this sense alone. The verb is used to denote the ceremonial purification of the Jews before eating, by pouring water on the hands (Lu 11:38; Mr 7:4); to signify the sufferings of Christ (Mr 10:38,39; Lu 12:50); and to indicate the sacrament of baptism. It is the intensive form of baptein, "to dip," and takes a wider meaning. The passages Lu 11:38 and Mr 7:4 show conclusively that the word does not invariably signify to immerse the whole body. Some have held that baptismos invariably means ceremonial purification, and that baptisma is reserved for the Christian rite; but the distinction can hardly be maintained. The former certainly means ceremonial purification in Mr 7:4, and in Mr 7:8 (the King James Version); but it probably means the rite of baptism in Heb 6:2. Exegetes find other terms applied to Christian baptism. It is called ‘the Water’ in Ac 10:47: "Can any man forbid ‘the Water,’ that these should not be baptized?"; the layer of the water in Eph 5:26 the Revised Version, margin (where baptism is compared to the bridal bath taken by the bride before she was handed over to the bridegroom); and perhaps the laver of regeneration in Tit 3:5 the Revised Version, margin (compare 1Co 6:11), and illumination in Heb 6:4; 10:32.

II. Pre-Christian Baptism.

1. Baptism of Proselytes:

Converts in the early centuries, whether Jews or Gentiles, could not have found this initiatory rite, in which they expressed their new-born faith, utterly unfamiliar. Water is the element naturally used for cleansing the body and its symbolical use entered into almost every cult; and into none more completely than the Jewish, whose ceremonial washings were proverbial. Besides those the Jew had what would seem to the convert a counterpart of the Christian rite in the baptism of proselytes by which Gentiles entered the circle of Judaism. For the Jews required three things of strangers who declared themselves to be converts to the Law of Moses: circumcision, baptism, and to offer sacrifice if they were men: the two latter if they were women. It is somewhat singular that no baptism of proselytes is forthcoming until about the beginning of the 3rd century; and yet no competent scholar doubts its existence. Schurer is full of contempt for those who insist on the argument from silence. Its presence enables us to see both how Jews accepted readily the baptism of John and to understand the point of objectors who questioned his right to insist that all Jews had to be purified ere they could be ready for the Messianic kingdom, although he was neither the Messiah nor a special prophet (Joh 1:19-23).

2. Baptism of John:

The baptism of John stood midway between the Jewish baptism of proselytes and Christian baptism. It differed from the former because it was more than a symbol of ceremonial purification; it was a baptism of repentance, a confession of sin, and of the need of moral cleansing, and was a symbol of forgiveness and of moral purity. All men, Jews who were ceremonially pure and Gentiles who were not, had to submit to this baptism of repentance and pardon. It differed from the latter because it only symbolized preparation to receive the salvation, the kingdom of God which John heralded, and did not imply entrance into that kingdom itself. Those who had received it, as well as those who had not, had to enter the Christian community by the door of Christian baptism (Ac 19:3-6). The Jewish custom of baptizing, whether displayed in their frequent ceremonial washings, in the baptism of proselytes or in the baptism of John, made Christian baptism a familiar and even expected rite to Jewish converts in the 1st century.

3. Baptism in the Pagan Mysteries:

Baptism, as an initiatory rite, was no less familiar to Gentileconverts who had no acquaintance with the Jewish religion. The ceremonial washings of the priests of pagan in the religions have been often adduced as something which might familiarize Gentileconverts with the rite which introduced them into the Christian community, but they were not initiations. A more exact parallel is easily found. It is often forgotten that in the earlier centuries when Christianity was slowly making its way in the pagan world pagan piety had deserted the official religions and taken refuge within the Mysteries, and that these Mysteries represented the popular pagan religions of the times. They were all private cults into which men and women were received one by one, and that by rites of initiation which each had to pass through personally. When admitted the converts became members of coteries, large or small, of like-minded persons, who had become initiated because their souls craved something which they believed they would receive in and through the rites of the cult. These initiations were secret, jealously guarded from the knowledge of all outsiders; still enough is known about them for us to be sure that among them baptism took an important place (Apuleius Metamorphoses xi). The rite was therefore as familiar to pagan as to Jewish converts, and it was no unexpected requirement for the convert to know that baptism was the doorway into the church of Christ. These heathen baptisms, like the baptism of proselytes, were for the most part simply ceremonial purifications; for while it is true that both in the cult of the Mysteries and beyond it a mode of purifying after great crimes was baptizing in flowing water (Eurip. Iph. in Tauri 167) or in the sea, yet it would appear that only ceremonial purification was thought of. Nor were ceremonial rites involving the use of water confined to the paganism of the early centuries. Such a ceremony denoted the reception of the newly-born child into pagan Scandinavian households. The father decided whether the infant was to be reared or exposed to perish. If he resolved to preserve the babe, water was poured over it and a name was given to it.

III. Christian Baptism.

1. The Administration of the Rite:

In the administration of the rite of Christian baptism three things have to be looked at: the act of baptizing; those who are entitled to perform it; and the recipients or those entitled to receive it. A complete act of baptizing involves three things: what has been called the materia sacramenti; the method of its use; and the forma sacramenti, the baptismal formula or form of words accompanying the use of the water. The materia sacramenti is water and for this reason baptism is called the Water Sacrament. The oldest ecclesiastical manual of discipline which has descended to us, the Didache, says that the water to be preferred is "living," i.e. running water, water in a stream or river, or fresh flowing from a fountain; "But if thou hast not living water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm" (c. 7). In those directions the prescriptions of the ceremonial for the Jewish baptism of proselytes are closely followed. The earlier canons of the church permit any kind of water, fresh or salt, provided only it be true and natural water (aqua vera et naturalis).

2. The Mode of Using the Water:

(1) Immersion.

The use of the water is called ablutio. According to the rules of by far the largest portion of the Christian church the water may be used in any one of three ways: Immersion, where the recipient enters bodily into the water, and where, during the action, the head is plunged either once or three times beneath the surface; affusion, where water was poured upon the head of the recipient who stood either in water or on dry ground; and aspersion where water was sprinkled on the head or on the face. It has frequently been argued that the word baptizein invariably means "to dip" or immerse, and that therefore Christian baptism must have been performed originally by immersion only, and that the two other forms of affusion and aspersion or sprinkling are invalid—that there can be no real baptism unless the method of immersion be used. But the word which invariably means "to dip" is not baptizein but baptein. Baptizein has a wider signification; and its use to denote the Jewish ceremonial of pouring water on the hands (Lu 11:38; Mr 7:4), as has already been said, proves conclusively that it is impossible to conclude from the word itself that immersion is the only valid method of performing the rite. It may be admitted at once that immersion, where the whole body including the head is plunged into a pool of pure water, gives a more vivid picture of the cleansing of the soul from sin; and that complete surrounding with water suits better the metaphors of burial in Roman 6:4 and Col 2:12, and of being surrounded by cloud in 1Co 10:2.

(2) Affusion.

On the other hand affusion is certainly a more vivid picture of the bestowal of the Holy Spirit which is equally symbolized in baptism. No definite information is given of the mode in which baptism was administered in apostolic times. Such phrases as "coming up out of the water," "went down into the water" (Mr 1:10; Ac 8:38) are as applicable to affusion as to immersion. The earliest account of the mode of baptizing occurs in the Didache (c. 7), where it is said: "Now concerning Baptism, thus baptize ye: having first uttered all these things, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in living water. But if thou hast not living water, baptize in other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice in the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost." This seems to say that to baptize by immersion was the practice recommended for general use, but that the mode of affusion was also valid and enjoined on occasions. What is here prescribed in the Didache seems to have been the practice usually followed in the early centuries of the Christian church. Immersion was in common use: but affusion was also widely practiced: and both were esteemed usual and valid forms of baptizing. When immersion was used then the head of the recipient was plunged thrice beneath the surface at the mention of each name of the Trinity; when the mode was by affusion the same reference to the Trinity was kept by pouring water thrice upon the head. The two usages which were recognized and prescribed by the beginning of the 2nd century may have been in use throughout the apostolic period although definite information is lacking. When we remember the various pools in Jerusalem, and their use for ceremonial washings it is not impossible to suppose that the 3,000 who were baptized on the day of Pentecost may have been immersed, but, when the furnishing and conditions of Palestinian houses and of oriental jails are taken into account, it is difficult to conceive that at the baptisms of Cornelius and of the jailer, the ceremony was performed otherwise than by affusion. It is a somewhat curious fact that if the evidence from written texts, whether ancient canons or writings of the earlier Fathers, be studied by themselves, the natural conclusion would seem to be that immersion was the almost universal form of administering the rite; but if the witness of the earliest pictorial representation be collected, then we must infer that affusion was the usual method and that immersion was exceptional; for the pictorial representations, almost without exception, display baptism performed by affusion, i.e. the recipient is seen standing in water while the minister pours water on the head. It may therefore be inferred that evidence for the almost universal practice of immersion, drawn from the fact that baptisms took place in river pools (it is more than probable that when we find the names of local saints given to pools in rivers, those places were their favorite places of administering the rite), or from the large size of almost all early medieval baptisteries, is by no means so conclusive as many have supposed, such places being equally applicable to affusion. It is also interesting to remember that when most of the Anabaptists of the 16th century insisted on adult baptism (re-baptism was their name for it) immersion was not the method practiced by them. During the great baptismal scene in the market-place of the city of Munster the ordinance was performed by the ministers pouring three cans of water on the heads of the recipients. They baptized by affusion and not by immersion. This was also the practice among the Mennonites or earliest Baptists. This double mode of administering the sacrament—by immersion or by affusion—prevailed in the churches of the first twelve centuries, and it was not until the 13th that the practice of aspersio or sprinkling was almost universally employed.

(3) Aspersion.

The third method of administering baptism, namely, by aspersio or sprinkling, has a different history from the other two. It was in the early centuries exclusively reserved for sick and infirm persons too weak to be submitted to immersion or affusion. There is evidence to show that those who received the rite in this form were somewhat despised; for the nicknames clinici and grabatorii were, unworthily Cyprian declares, bestowed on them by neighbors. The question was even raised in the middle of the 3rd century, whether baptism by aspersio was a valid baptism and Cyprian was asked for his opinion on the matter. His answer is contained in his lxxvth epistle (lxix Hartel’s ed.). There he contends that the ordinance administered this way is perfectly valid, and quotes in support of his opinion various Old Testament texts which assert the purifying effects of water sprinkled (Eze 36:25,26; Nu 8:5-7; 19:8,9,12,13). It is not the amount of the water or the method of its application which can cleanse from sin: "Whence it appears that the sprinkling also of water prevails equally with the washing of salvation .... and that where the faith of the giver and receiver is sound, all things hold and may be consummated and perfected by the majesty of God and by the truth of faith." His opinion prevailed. Aspersio was recognized as a valid, though exceptional, form of baptism. But it was long of commending itself to ministers and people, and did not attain to almost general use until the 13th century.

The idea that baptism is valid when practiced in the one method only of immersion can scarcely be looked on as anything else than a ritualistic idea.

3. Who May Perform Baptism:

The Scripture nowhere describes or limits the qualifications of those who are entitled to perform the rite of baptism. We find apostles, wandering preachers (Ac 8:38), a private member of a small and persecuted community (Ac 9:18) performing the rite. So in the sub-apostolic church we find the same liberty of practice. Clement of Alexandria tells us that the services of Christian women were necessary for the work of Christian missions, for they alone could have access to the gynaeceum and carry the message of the gospel there (Strom., III, 6). Such women missionaries did not hesitate to baptize. Whatever credit may be given to the Ac of Paul and Theckla, it is at least historical that Theckla did exist, that she was converted by Paul, that she worked as a missionary and that she baptized her converts. Speaking generally it may be said that as a sacrament has always been looked upon as the recognition of presence within the Christian church, it is an act of the church and not of the individual believer; and therefore no one is entitled to perform the act who is not in some way a representative of the Christian community—the representative character ought to be maintained somehow. As soon as the community had taken regular and organized form the act of baptism was suitably performed by those who, as office-bearers, naturally represented the community. It was recognized that the pastor or bishop (for these terms were synonymous until the 4th century at least) ought to preside at the administration of the sacrament; but in the early church the power of delegation was recognized and practiced, and elders and deacons presided at this and even at the Eucharist. What has been called lay-baptism is not forbidden in the New Testament and has the sanction of the early church. When superstitious views of baptism entered largely into the church and it was held that no unbaptized child could be saved, the practice arose of encouraging the baptism of all weakling infants by nurses. The Reformed church protested against this and was at pains to repudiate the superstitious thought of any mechanical efficacy in the rite by deprecating its exercise by any save approved and ordained ministers of the church. Still, while condemning lay-baptism as irregular, it may be questioned whether they would assert any administration of the rite to be invalid, provided only it had been performed with devout faith on the part of giver and receiver.

4. Who May Receive Baptism:

The recipients of Christian baptism are all those who make a presumably sincere profession of repentance of sin and of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour; together with the children of such believing parents. The requirements are set forth in the accounts given us of the performance of the rite in the New Testament, in which we see how the apostles obeyed the commands of their Master. Jesus had ordered them to "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19)—to "preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mr 16:15,16). The apostle Peter said to the inquirers on the Day of Pentecost, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit"; and 3,000 were added to the church through the initiatory rite of baptism. The Samaritans, who believed on Jesus through the preaching of Philip, were admitted to the Christian community through baptism; though in this case one of the baptized, Simon Magus, after his reception, was found to be still in "the bond of iniquity" (Ac 8:12,23). The jailer and all his, Lydia and her household, at Philippi, were baptized by Paul on his and her profession of faith on Jesus, the Saviour. There is no evidence in any of the accounts we have of apostolic baptisms that any prolonged course of instruction was thought to be necessary; nothing of classes for catechumens such as we find in the early church by the close of the 2nd century, or in modern missionary enterprise. We find no mention of baptismal creeds, declarative or interrogative, in the New Testament accounts of baptisms. The profession of faith in the Lord Jesus, the Saviour, made by the head of the family appears, so far as the New Testament records afford us information, to have been sufficient to secure the baptism of the "household"—a word which in these days included both servants and children.

(1) Baptism of Infants.

This brings us to the much-debated question whether infants are to be recognized as lawful recipients of Christian baptism. The New Testament Scriptures do not in so many words either forbid or command the baptism of children. The question is in this respect on all fours with the change of the holy day from the seventh to the first day of the week. No positive command authorizes the universal usage with regard to the Christian Sabbath day; that the change is authorized must be settled by a weighing of evidence. So it is with the case of infant baptism. It is neither commanded nor forbidden in so many words; and the question cannot be decided on such a basis. The strongest argument against the baptizing of infants lies in the thought that the conditions of the rite are repentance and faith; that these must be exercised by individuals, each one for himself and for herself; and that infants are incapable either of repentance or of faith of this kind. The argument seems weak in its second statement; it is more dogmatic than historical; and will be referred to later when the doctrine lying at the basis of the rite is examined. On the other hand a great deal of evidence supports the view that the baptism of infants, if not commanded, was at least permitted and practiced within the apostolic church. Paul connects baptism with circumcision and implies that under the gospel the former takes the place of the latter (Col 2:12); and as children were circumcised on the 8th day after birth, the inference follows naturally that children were also to be baptized. In the Old Testament, promises to parents included their children. In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost Peter declares to his hearers that the gospel promise is "to you and to your children" and connects this with the invitation to baptism (Ac 2:38,39). It is also noteworthy that children shared in the Jewish baptism of proselytes. Then we find in the New Testament narratives of baptisms that "households" were baptized—of Lydia (Ac 16:15), of the jailer at Philippi (Ac 16:32), of Stephanas (1Co 1:16). It is never said that the children of the household were exempted from the sacred rite. One has only to remember the position of the head of the household in that ancient world, to recollect how the household was thought to be embodied in its head, to see how the repentance and faith of the head of the household was looked upon as including those of all the members, not merely children but servants, to feel that had the children been excluded from sharing in the rite the exclusion would have seemed such an unusual thing that it would have at least been mentioned and explained. our Lord expressly made very young children the types of those who entered into His kingdom (Mr 10:14-16); and Paul so unites parents with children in the faith of Christ that he does not hesitate to call the children of the believing husband or wife "holy," and to imply that the children had passed from a state of "uncleanness" to a state of "holiness" through the faith of a parent. All these things seem to point to the fact that the rite which was the door of entance into the visible community of the followers of Jesus was shared in by the children of believing parents. Besides evidence for the baptism of children goes back to the earliest times of the sub-apostolic church. Irenaeus was the disciple of Polycarp, who had been the disciple of John, and it is difficult to draw any other conclusion from his statements than that he believed that the baptism of infants had been an established practice in the church long before his days (Adv. Haer., II, 22; compare 39). The witness of Tertullian is specially interesting; for he himself plainly thinks that adult baptism is to be preferred to the baptism of infants. He makes it plain that the custom of baptizing infants existed in his days, and we may be sure from the character and the learning of the man, that had he been able to affirm that infant-baptism had been a recent innovation and had not been a long-established usage descending from apostolic times, he would certainly have had no hesitation in using what would have seemed to him a very convincing way of dealing with his opponents. Tertullian’s testimony comes from the end of the 2nd century or the beginning of the 3rd century. Origen, the most learned Christian writer during the first three centuries and who comes a little later than Tertullian, in his 14th Homily on Luke bears witness to the fact that the baptism of infants was usual. He argues that original sin belongs to children because the church baptizes them. At the same time it is plain from a variety of evidence too long to cite that the baptism of infants was not a universal practice in the early church. The church of the early centuries was a mission church. It drew large numbers of its members from heathendom. In every mission church the baptism of adults will naturally take the foremost place and be most in evidence. But is is clear that many Christians were of the opinion of Tertullian and believed that baptism ought not to be administered to children but should be confined to adults. Nor was this a theory only; it was a continuous practice handed down from one generation to another in some Christian families. In the 4th century, few Christian leaders took a more important place than Basil the Great and his brother Gregory of Nyssa. They belonged to a family who had been Christians for some generations; yet neither of the brothers was baptized until after his personal conversion, which does not appear to have come until they had attained the years of manhood. The whole evidence seems to show that in the early church, down to the end of the 4th century at least, infant and adult baptism were open questions and that the two practices existed side by side with each other without disturbing the unity of the churches. In the later Pelagian controversy it became evident that theory and practice of infant baptism had been able to assert itself and that the ordinance was always administered to children of members of the church.

(2) Baptism for the Dead.

Paul refers to a custom of "baptizing for the dead" (1Co 15:29). What this "vicarious baptism" or "baptism for the dead" was it is impossible to say, even whether it was practiced within the primitive Christian church. The passage is a it very difficult one and has called forth a very large number of explanations, which are mere guesses. Paul neither commends nor disapproves of it; he simply mentions its existence and uses the fact as an argument for the resurrection. See BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD.

IV. The Formula of Baptism.

The Formula of Christian baptism, in the mode which prevailed, is given in Mt 28:19: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." But it is curious that the words are not given in any description of Christian baptism until the time of Justin Martyr: and there they are not repeated exactly but in a slightly extended and explanatory form. He says that Christians "receive the washing with water in the name of God, the Ruler and Father of the universe, and of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit" (1 Apol., 61). In every account of the performance of the rite in apostolic times a much shorter formula is in use. The 3,000 believers were baptized on the Day of Pentecost "in the name of Jesus" (Ac 2:38); and the same formula was used at the baptism of Cornelius and those that were with him (Ac 10:48). Indeed it would appear to have been the usual one, from Paul’s question to the Corinthians: "Were ye baptized into the name of Paul?" (1Co 1:13). The Samaritans were baptized "into the name of the Lord Jesus" (Ac 8:16); and the same formula (a common one in acts of devotion) was used in the case of the disciples at Ephesus. In some instances it is recorded that before baptism the converts were asked to make some confession of their faith, which took the form of declaring that Jesus was the Lord or that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. It may be inferred from a phrase in 1Pe 3:21 that a formal interrogation was made, and that the answer was an acknowledgment that Jesus Christ was Lord. Scholars have exercised a great deal of ingenuity in trying to explain how, with what appear to be the very words of Jesus given in the Gospel of Mt, another and much shorter formula seems to have been used throughout the apostolic church. Some have imagined that the shorter formula was that used in baptizing disciples during the lifetime of our Lord (Joh 4:1,2), and that the apostles having become accustomed to it continued to use it during their lives. Others declare that the phrases "in the name of Jesus Christ" or "of the Lord Jesus" are not meant to give the formula of baptism, but simply to denote that the rite was Christian. Others think that the full formula was always used and that the narratives in the Book of Ac and in the Pauline Epistles are merely brief summaries of what took place—an idea rather difficult to believe in the absence of any single reference to the longer formula. Others, again, insist that baptism in the name of one of the persons of the Trinity implies baptism in the name of the Three. While others declare that Matthew does not give the very words of Jesus but puts in His mouth what was the common formula used at the date and in the district where the First Gospel was written. Whatever explanation be given it is plain that the longer formula became universal or almost universal in the sub-apostolic church. Justin Martyr has been already. quoted. Tertullian, nearly half a century later, declares expressly that the "law of baptism has been imposed and the formula prescribed" in Mt 28:19 (De Bapt., 13); and he adds in his Adversus Praxean (c. 26): "And it is not once only, but thrice, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names." The evidence to show that the formula given by Matthew became the established usage is overwhelming; but it is more than likely that the use of the shorter formula did not altogether die out, or, if it did, that it was revived. The historian Socrates informs us that some of the more extreme Arians "corrupted" baptism by using the name of Christ only in the formula; while injunctions to use the longer formula and punishments, including deposition, threatened to those who presumed to employ the shorter which meet us in collections of ecclesiastical canons (Apos. Canons, 43, 50), prove that the practice of using the shorter formula existed in the 5th and 6th centuries, at all events in the East.

V. The Doctrine of Baptism.

The sacraments, and baptism as one of them, are always described to be

(1) signs representing as in a picture or figure spiritual benefits (1Pe 3:21), and also

(2) as seals or personal tokens and attestations corroborative of solemn promises of spiritual benefits.

Hence, the sacrament is said to have two parts: "the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified." It is held, moreover, that when the rite of baptism has been duly and devoutly performed with faith on the part of both giver and receiver, the spiritual benefits do follow the performance of the rite. The question therefore arises: What are the spiritual and evangelical blessings portrayed and solemnly promised in baptism? In the New Testament we find that baptism is intimately connected with the following: with remission of sins, as in Ac 22:16 ("Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins"), and in Heb 10:22; with regeneration or the new birth, as in Tit 3:6 and Joh 3:5 (this idea also entered into the baptism of proselytes and even into the thought of baptism in the Mysteries; neophytes were taught that in the water they died to their old life and began a new one (Apuleius Meta. xi)); with engrafting into Christ, with union with Him, as in Ga 3:27—and union in definite ways, in His death, His burial and His resurrection, as in Ro 6:3-6; with entering into a new relationship with God, that of sonship, as in Ga 3:26,27; with the bestowal of the Holy 16:16; Spirit, as in 1Co 12:13; with belonging to the church, as in Ac 2:41; with the gift of salvation, as in Joh 3:5. From these and similar passages theologians conclude that baptism is a sign and seal of our engrafting into Christ and of our union with Him, of remission of sins, regeneration, adoption and life eternal; that the water in baptism represents and signifies both the blood of Christ, which takes away all our sins, and also the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit against the dominion of sin and the corruption of our human nature; and that baptizing with water signifies the cleansing from sin by the blood and for the merit of Christ, together with the mortification of sin and rising from sin to newness of life by virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ. Or to put it more simply: Baptism teaches that all who are out of Christ are unclean by reason of sin and need to be cleansed. It signifies that just as washing with water cleanses the body so God in Christ cleanses the soul from sin by the Holy Spirit and that we are to see in this cleansing not merely pardon but also an actual freeing of the soul from the pollution and power of sin and therefore the beginnings of a new life. The sacrament also shows us that the cleansing is reached only through connection with the death of Christ, and further that through the new life begun in us we become in a special way united to Christ and enter into a new and filial relationship with God. Probably all Christians, reformed and unreformed, will agree in the above statement of the doctrinal meaning in the rite of baptism; and also that when the sacrament is rightly used the inward and spiritual grace promised is present along with the outward and visible signs. But Romanists and Protestants differ about what is meant by the right use of the sacrament. They separate on the question of its efficacy. The former understand by the right use simply the correct performance of the rite and the placing no obstacle in the way of the flow of efficacy. The latter insist that there can be no right use of the sacrament unless the recipient exercises faith, that without faith the sacrament is not efficacious and the inward and spiritual blessings do not accompany the external and visible signs. Whatever minor differences divide Protestant evangelical churches on this sacrament they are all agreed upon this, that where there is no faith there can be no regeneration. Here emerges doctrinally the difference between those who give and who refuse to give the sacrament to infants.

The Doctrine of Infant Baptism:

The latter taking their stand on the fundamental doctrine of all evangelical Christians that faith is necessary to make any sacrament efficacious, and assuming that the effect of an ordinance is always tied to the precise time of its administration, insist that only adults can perform such a conscious, intelligent, and individually independent act of faith, as they believe all Protestants insist on scriptural grounds to be necessary in the right use of a sacrament. Therefore they refuse to baptize infants and young children.

The great majority of evangelical Protestants practice infant baptism and do not think, due explanations being given, that it in any way conflicts with the idea that faith is necessary to the efficacy of the sacrament. The Baptist position appears to them to conflict with much of the teaching of the New Testament. It implies that all who are brought up in the faith of Christ and within the Christian family still lack, when they come to years of discretion, that great change of heart and life which is symbolized in baptism, and can only receive it by a conscious, intelligent and thoroughly independent act of faith. This seems in accordance neither with Scripture nor with human nature. We are told that a child may be full of the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Lu 1:15); that little children are in the kingdom of Christ (Mt 19:14); that children of believing parents are holy (1Co 7:14). Is there nothing in the fact that in the New Testament as in the Old Testament the promise is "to you and your children"? Besides, the argument of those who oppose the baptism of infants, if logically carried out, leads to consequences which few of them would accept. Faith is as essential to salvation, on all evangelical theology, as it is for the right use of the sacrament; and every one of the arguments brought against the baptism of infants is equally applicable to the denial of their salvation. Nor can the Baptist position be said to be true to the facts of ordinary human nature. Faith, in its evangelical sense of fiducia or trust, is not such an abrupt thing as they make it. Their demand for such a conscious, intelligent, strictly individualist act of faith sets aside some of the deepest facts of human nature. No one, young or old, is entirely self-dependent; nor are our thoughts and trust always or even frequently entirely independent and free from the unconscious influences of others. We are interwoven together in society; and what is true generally reveals itself still more strongly in the intimate relations of the family. Is it possible in all cases to trace the creative effects of the subtle imperceptible influences which surround children, or to say when the slowly dawning intelligence is first able to apprehend enough to trust in half-conscious ways? It is but a shallow view of human nature which sets all such considerations on the one side and insists on regarding nothing but isolated acts of knowledge or of faith. With all those thoughts in their minds, the great majority of evangelical churches admit and enjoin the baptism of infants. They believe that the children of believing parents are "born within the church and have interest in the covenant of grace and a right to its seal." They explain that the efficacy of a sacrament is not rigidly tied to the exact time of administration, and can be appropriated whenever faith is kindled and is able to rest on the external sign, and that the spiritual blessings signified in the rite can be appropriated again and again with each fresh kindling of faith. They declare that no one can tell how soon the dawning intelligence may awaken to the act of appropriation. Therefore these churches instruct their ministers in dispensing the sacrament to lay vows on parents that they will train up the infants baptized "in the knowledge and fear of the Lord," and will teach them the great blessings promised to them in and through the sacrament and teach them to appropriate these blessings for themselves. They further enjoin their ministers to admonish all who may witness a baptismal service to look back on their own baptism in order that their faith may be stirred afresh to appropriate for themselves the blessings which accompany the proper use of the rite.


The literature on the subject of baptism is very extensive. It may be sufficient to select the following: J. S. Candlish, The Sacraments, 10th thousand, 1900; J. C. W. Augusti, Denkwurdigkeiten aus d. christ. Archaologie, V, 1820; Hofling, Das Sakrament der Taufe, 1846-48; J. B. Mozley, Review of the Baptismal Controversy, 2nd edition, 1895; W. Goode, The Doctrine of the Church of England as to the Effects of Baptism in the Case of Infants, 1849; W. Wall, History of Infant Baptism, 1705; E. B. Underhill, Confessions of Faith .... of Baptist Churches of England (Hanserd Knollys Soc., IX), 1854.

T. M. Lindsay



1. Terminology

2. Proselyte Baptism

3. Greek Usage

4. New Testament Usage

5. The Didache

6. Baptismal Regeneration




This article is not a discussion of the whole subject, but is merely a presentation of the Baptist interpretation of the ordinance. The origin and history of the ordinance, as a whole, do not come within the range of the present treatment.

I. Meaning of Baptism.

1. Terminology:

The verb used in the New Testament is (baptizo). The substantives baptisma and baptismos occur, though the latter is not used in the New Testament of the ordinance of baptism except by implication (Heb 6:2, "the teaching of baptisms") where the reference is to the distinction between the Christian ordinance and the Jewish ceremonial ablutions. Some documents have it also in Col 2:12 (compare Heb 9:10, "divers washings") for a reference purely to the Jewish purifications (compare the dispute about purifying in Joh 3:25). The verb baptizo appears in this sense in Lu 11:38 (margin) where the Pharisee marveled that Jesus "had not first bathed himself before breakfast" (noon-day meal). The Mosaic regulations required the bath of the whole body (Le 15:16) for certain uncleannesses. Tertullian (de Baptismo, XV) says that the Jew required almost daily washing. Herodotus (ii.47) says that if an Egyptian "touches a swine in passing with his clothes, he goes to the river and dips himself (bapto) from it" (quoted by Broadus in Commentary on Matthew, 333). See also the Jewish scrupulosity illustrated in Sirach 34:25 and Judith 12:7 where baptizo occurs. The same thing appears in the correct text in Mr 7:4, "And when they come from the market-place, except they bathemselves, they eat not." Here baptizo is the true text. The use of rhantizo ("sprinkle") is due to the difficulty felt by copyists not familiar with Jewish customs. See also the omission of "couches" in the same verse. The couches were "pallets" and could easily be dipped into water. It is noteworthy that here rhantizo is used in contrast with baptizo, showing that baptizo did not mean sprinkle. The term baptismos occurs in Josephus (Ant., XVIII, v, 2) in connection with John’s baptism (compare also Irenaeus 686 B about Christ’s baptism). In general, however, baptisma is the substantive found for the ordinance. The verb baptizo is in reality a frequentative or intensive of bapto ("dip"). Examples occur where that idea is still appropriate, as in 2Ki 5:14 (Septuagint) where Naaman is said to have "dipped himself seven times in the Jordan" (ebaptisato). The notion of repetition may occur also in Josephus (Ant., XV, iii, 3) in connection with the death of Aristobulus, brother of Mariamne, for Herod’s friends "dipped him as he was swimming, and plunged him under water, in the dark of the evening." But in general the term baptizo, as is common with such forms in the late Greek, is simply equivalent to bapto (compare Lu 16:24) and means "dip," "immerse," just as rhantizo, like rhaino, means simply "sprinkle."

If baptizo never occurred in connection with a disputed ordinance, there would be no controversy on the meaning of the word. There are, indeed, figurative or metaphorical uses of the word as of other words, but the figurative is that of immersion, like our "immersed in cares," "plunged in grief," etc. It remains to consider whether the use of the word for a ceremony or ordinance has changed its significance in the New Testament as compared with ancient Greek

It may be remarked that no Baptist has written a lexicon of the Greek language, and yet the standard lexicons, like that of Liddell and Scott, uniformly give the meaning of baptizo as "dip," "immerse." They do not give "pour" or "sprinkle," nor has anyone ever adduced an instance where this verb means "pour" or "sprinkle." The presumption is therefore in favor of "dip" in the New Testament.

2. Proselyte Baptism:

Before we turn directly to the discussion of the ceremonial usage, a word is called for in regard to Jewish proselyte baptism. It is still a matter of dispute whether this initiatory rite was in existence at the time of John the Baptist or not. Schurer argues ably, if not conclusively, for the idea that this proselyte baptism was in use long before the first mention of it in the 2nd century. (Compare The Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ, Div ii, II, 319 ff; also Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, appendix, xii, Baptism of Proselytes). It matters nothing at all to the Baptist contention what is true in this regard. It would not be strange if a bath was required for a Gentile who became a Jew, when the Jews themselves required such frequent ceremonial ablutions. But what was the Jewish initiatory rite called proselyte baptism? Lightfoot (Horae Hebraicae, Mt 3:7) gives the law for the baptism of proselytes: "As soon as he grows whole of the wound of circumcision, they bring him to Baptism, and being placed in the water they again instruct him in some weightier and in some lighter commands of the Law. Which being heard, he plunges himself and comes up, and, behold, he is an Israelite in all things." To this quotation Marcus Dods (Presbyterian) HDB adds: "To use Pauline language, his old man is dead and buried in the water, and he rises from this cleansing grave a new man. The full significance of the rite would have been lost had immersion not been practiced." Lightfoot says further: "Every person baptized must dip his whole body, now stripped and made naked, at one dipping. And wheresoever in the Law washing of the body or garments is mentioned, it means nothing else than the washing of the whole body." Edersheim (op. cit.) says: "Women were attended by those of their own sex, the rabbis standing at the door outside." Jewish proselyte baptism, an initiatory ceremonial rite, harmonizes exactly with the current meaning of baptizo already seen. There was no peculiar "sacred" sense that changed "dip" to "sprinkle."

3. Greek Usage:

The Greek language has had a continuous history, and baptizo is used today in Greece for baptism. As is well known, not only in Greece, but all over Russia, wherever the Greek church prevails, immersion is the unbroken and universal practice. The Greeks may surely be credited with knowledge of the meaning of their own language. The substitution of pouring or sprinkling for immersion, as the Christian ordinance of baptism, was late and gradual and finally triumphed in the West because of the decree of the Council of Trent. But the Baptist position is that this substitution was unwarranted and subverts the real significance of the ordinance. The Greek church does practice trine immersion, one immersion for each person of the Trinity, an old practice (compare ter mergitamur, Tertullian ii.79 A), but not the Scriptural usage. A word will be needed later concerning the method by which pouring crept in beside immersion in the 2nd and later centuries. Before we turn directly to the New Testament use of bapti zo it is well to quote from the Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods by Professor E. A. Sophocles, himself a native Greek. He says (p. 297): "There is no evidence that Luke and Paul and the other writers of the New Testament put upon this verb meanings not recognized by the Greeks." We expect therefore to find in the New Testament "dip," as the meaning of this word in the ceremonial sense of an initiatory Christian rite. Thayer’s Lexicon likewise defines the word in this ceremonial Christian use to mean "an immersion in water, performed as a sign of the removal of sin."

Baptists could very well afford to rest the matter right here. There is no need to call for the testimony of a single Baptist scholar on this subject. The world of scholarship has rendered its decision with impartiality and force on the side of the Baptists in this matter. A few recent deliverances will suffice. Dr. Alfred Plummer (Church of England) in his new Commentary on Matthew (p. 28) says that the office of John the Baptist was "to bind them to a new life, symbolized by immersion in water." Swete (Church of England) in his Commentary on Mark (p. 7) speaks of "the added thought of immersion, which gives vividness to the scene." The early Greek ecclesiastical writers show that immersion was employed (compare Barnabas, XI, 11): "We go down into the water full of sins and filth, and we come up bearing fruit in the heart." For numerous ecclesiastical examples see Sophocles’ Lexicon.

4. New Testament Usage:

But the New Testament itself makes the whole matter perfectly plain. The uniform meaning of "dip" for baptizo and the use of the river Jordan as the place for baptizing by John the Baptist makes inevitable the notion of immersion unless there is some direct contradictory testimony. It is a matter that should be lifted above verbal quibbling or any effort to disprove the obvious facts. The simple narrative in Mt 3:6 is that "they were baptized of him in the river Jordan." In Mr 1:9,10 the baptism is sharpened a bit in the use of eis and ek. Jesus "was baptized of John in (eis) the Jordan. And straightway coming up out of (ek) the water, he saw." So in Ac 8:38 we read: "They both went down into (eis) the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of (ek) the water, the Spirit .... caught away Philip." If one could still be in doubt about the matter, Paul sets it at rest by the symbolism used in Ro 6:4, "We were buried therefore with him through bapti sm into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life." The submergence and emergence of immersion thus, according to Paul, symbolize the death and burial to sin on the one hand and the resurrection to the new life in Christ on the other. Sanday and Headlam (Church of England) put it thus in their Commentary on Romans (p. 153): "It expresses symbolically a series of acts corresponding to the redeeming acts of Christ. Immersion = Death. Submersion = Burial (the ratification of death). Emergence = Resurrection." In Col 2:12 Paul again says: "having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." The same image is here presented. Lightfoot (Church of England) on Colossians (p. 182) says: "Baptism is the grave of the old man, and the birth of the new. As he sinks beneath the baptismal waters, the believer buries there all his corrupt affections and past sins; as he emerges thence, he rises regenerate, quickened to new hopes and new life."

There is nothing in the New Testament to offset this obvious and inevitable interpretation. There are some things which are brought up, but they vanish on examination. The use of "with" after baptize in the English translation is appealed to as disproving immersion. It is enough to reply that the Committee of the American Standard Revision, which had no Baptist member at the final revision, substituted "in" for "with." Thus: "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance" (Mt 3:11; compare also Mr 1:8). The use of both "with" and "in" in Lu 3:16 is a needless stickling for the use of the Greek en with the locative case. In Mr 1:8 en is absent in the best manuscripts, and yet the American Revisers correctly render "in." In Ac 1:5 they seek to draw the distinction between the mere locative and en and the locative. As a matter of fact the locative case alone is amply sufficient in Greek without en for the notion of "in." Thus in Joh 21:8 the translation is: "But the other disciples came in the little boat." There is no en in the Greek, but "the boat" is simply in the locative case. If it be argued that we have the instrumental case (compare the instrumental case of en as in Re 6:8, "kill with sword"), the answer is that the way to use water as an instrument in dipping is to put the subject in the water, as the natural way to use the boat (Joh 21:8) as an instrument is to get into it. The presence or absence of en with baptizo is wholly immaterial. In either case "dip" is the meaning of the verb The objection that three thousand people could not have been immersed in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost is superficial. Jerusalem was abundantly supplied with pools. There were 120 disciples on hand, most of whom were probably men (compare the 70 sent out before by Jesus). It is not at all necessary to suppose that the 12 (Matthias was now one of them) apostles did all the baptizing. But even so, that would be only 250 apiece. I myself have baptized 42 candidates in a half-hour in a creek where there would be no delay. It would at most be only a matter of four or five hours for each of the twelve. Among the Telugus this record has been far exceeded. It is sometimes objected that Paul could not have immersed the jailer in the prison; but the answer is that Luke does not say so. Indeed Luke implies just the opposite: "And he took (took along in the Greek, para) them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized." He took Paul and Silas along with him and found a place for the baptism, probably, somewhere on the prison grounds. There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to dispute the unvarying significance of baptizo.

5. The Didache:

Appeal has been made to the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which may belong to the first half of the 2nd century. Here for the first time pouring is distinctly admitted as an ordinance in place of immersion. Because of this remarkable passage it is argued by some that, though immersion was the normal and regular baptism, yet alongside of it, pouring was allowed, and that in reality it was a matter of indifference which was used even in the 1st century. But that is not the true interpretation of the facts in the case. The passage deserves to be quoted in full and is here given in the translation of Philip Schaff (Presbyterian) in his edition of the Didache (pp. 184 ff): "Now concerning baptism, baptize thus: Having first taught all these things, baptize ye into (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, in living water. And if thou hast not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm (water). But if thou hast neither, pour water thrice upon the head in (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." There is thus no doubt that early in the 2nd century some Christians felt that baptism was so important that, when the real baptism (immersion) could not be performed because of lack of water, pouring might be used in its place. This is absolutely all that can be deduced from this passage. It is to be noted that for pouring another word (ekcheo) is used, clearly showing that baptizo does not mean "to po ur." The very exception filed proves the Baptist contention concerning baptizo. Now in the New Testament baptizo is the word used for baptism. Ekcheo is never so used. Harnack in a letter to C. E. W. Dobbs, Madison, Ind. (published in The Independent for February 9, 1885), under date of January 16, 1885 says:

(1) Baptizein undoubtedly signifies immersion (eintauchen).

(2) No proof can be found that it signifies anything else in the New Testament and in the most ancient Christian literature. The suggestion regarding ‘a sacred sense’ is out of the question.

This is the whole point of the Baptists admirably stated by Adolph Harnack. There is no thought of denying that pouring early in the 2nd century came to be used in place of immersion in certain extreme cases. The meaning of baptizo is not affected a particle by this fact. The question remains as to why this use of pouring in extreme cases grew up. The answer is that it was due to a mistaken and exaggerated estimate put upon the value of baptism as essential to salvation. Those who died without baptism were felt by some to be lost. Thus arose "clinic" baptisms.

6. Baptismal Regeneration:

(For the doctrine of baptismal regeneration see Justin Martyr, First Apology, 61.) Out of this perversion of the symbolism of baptism grew both pouring as an ordinance and infant baptism. If baptism is necessary to salvation or the means of regeneration, then the sick, the dying, infants, must be baptized, or at any rate something must be done for them if the real baptism (immersion) cannot be performed because of extreme illness or want of water. The Baptist contention is to protest against the perversion of the significance of baptism as the ruin of the symbol. Baptism, as taught in the New Testament, is the picture of death and burial to sin and resurrection to new life, a picture of what has already taken place in the heart, not the means by which spiritual change is wrought. It is a privilege and duty, not a necessity. It is a picture that is lost when something else is substituted in its place.


II. The Subjects of Baptism.

It is significant that even the Teaching of the Twelve apostles with its exaggerated notion of the importance of baptism does not allow baptism of infants. It says: "Having first taught all these things." Instruction precedes baptism. That is a distinct denial of infant baptism. The uniform practice in the New Testament is that baptism follows confession. The people "confessing their sins" were baptized by John (Mt 3:6). It is frankly admitted by Paedobaptist scholars that the New Testament gives no warrant for infant baptism. Thus Jacobus (Congregationalist) in the Standard Bible Dictionary says: "We have no record in the New Testament of the baptism of infants." Scott (Presbyterian) in the 1-vol HDB says: "The New Testament contains no explicit reference to the baptism of infants or young children." Plummer (Church of England), HDB, says: "The recipients of Christian baptism were required to repent and believe." Marcus Dods (Presbyterian), DCG, says: "A rite wherein by immersion in water the participant symbolizes and signalizes his transition from an impure to a pure life, his death to a past he abandons, and his new birth to a future he desires." It would be hard to state the Baptist interpretation in better terms. Thus no room is found in the New Testament for infant baptism which would symbolize what the infant did not experience or would be understood to cause the regeneration in the child, a form of sacramentalism repugnant to the New Testament teaching as understood by Baptists. The dominant Baptist note is the soul’s personal relation to God apart from ordinance, church or priest. The infant who dies unbaptized is saved without baptism. The baptized individual, child (for children are often baptized by Baptists, children who show signs of conversion) or man, is converted before his baptism. The baptism is the symbol of the change already wrought. So clear is this to the Baptist that he bears continual protest against that perversion of this beautiful ordinance by those who treat it as a means of salvation or who make it meaningless when performed before conversion. Baptism is a preacher of the spiritual life. The Baptist contention is for a regenerated church membership, placing the kingdom before the local church. Membership in the kingdom precedes membership in the church. The passages quoted from the New Testament in support of the notion of infant baptism are wholly irrelevant, as, for instance, in Ac 2:39 where there is no such idea as baptism of infants. So in 1Co 7:14, where note husband and wife. The point is that the marriage relation is sanctified and the children are legitimate, though husband or wife be heathen. The marriage relation is to be maintained. It is begging the question to assume the presence of infants in the various household baptisms in Acts. In the case of the family of Cornelius they all spake with tongues and magnified God (Ac 10:46). The jailer’s household "rejoiced greatly" (Ac 16:34). We do not even know that Lydia was married. Her household may have been merely her employes in her business. The New Testament presents no exceptions in this matter.

III. The Present Obligation.

The Baptists make one more point concerning baptism. It is that, since Jesus himself submitted to it and enjoined it upon His disciples, the ordinance is of perpetual obligation. The arguments for the late ecclesiastical origin of Mt 28:19 are not convincing. If it seem strange that Jesus should mention the three persons of the Trinity in connection with the command to baptize, one should remember that the Father and the Spirit were both manifested to Him at His baptism. It was not a mere ceremonial ablution like the Jewish rites. It was the public and formal avowal of fealty to God, and the names of the Trinity properly occur. The new heart is wrought by the Holy Spirit. Reconciliation with the Father is wrought on the basis of the work of the Son, who has manifested the Father’s love in His life and death for sin. The fact that in the acts in the examples of baptism only the name of Jesus occurs does not show that this was the exact formula used. It may be a mere historical summary of the essential fact. The name of Jesus stood for the other two persons of the Trinity. On the other hand the command of Jesus may not have been regarded as a formula for baptism; while in no sense sacramental or redemptive, it is yet obligatory and of perpetual significance. It is not to be dropped as one of the Jewish excrescences on Christianity. The form itself is necessary to the significance of the rite. Hence, Baptists hold that immersion alone is to be practiced, sinc e immersion alone was commanded by Jesus and practiced in the New Testament times. Immersion alone sets forth the death to sin, and burial in the grave the resurrection to new life in Christ. Baptism as taught in the New Testament is "a mould of doctrine," a preacher of the heart of the gospel. Baptists deny the right of disciples of Jesus to break that mould. The point of a symbol is the form in which it is cast. To change the form radically is to destroy the symbolism. Baptists insist on the maintenan ce of primitive New Testament baptism because it alone is baptism, it alone proclaims the death and resurrection of Jesus, the spiritual death and resurrection of the believer, the ultimate resurrection of the believer from the grave. The disciple is not above his Lord, and has no right to destroy this rich and powerful picture for the sake of personal convenience, nor because he is willing to do something else which Jesus did not enjoin and which has no association with Him. The long years of perversion do not justify this wrong to the memory of Jesus, but all the more call upon modern disciples to follow the example of Jesus who himself fulfilled righteousness by going into the waters of the Jordan and receiving immersion at the hands of John the Baptist.


The Greek Lexicons, like Suicer, Liddell and Scott, Sophocles, Thayer, Preuschen; the Biblical Dictionaries; the Critical Commentaries on the New Testament; books of antiquities like Smith’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities; the new Sch-Herz; Binghara’s Antiquities of the Christian Church; Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom; Neale’s History of the Holy Eastern Church; Lives of Christ, like Edersheim’s LTJM, or a survey of the customs of the Jews like Schurer’s HJP; books on John the Baptist like Reynolds’ John the Baptist, Feather’s Last of the Prophets, Robertson’s John the Loyal; special treatises on Baptism like Wall’s History of Infant Baptism, Stanley’s Christian Institutions, Dargan’s Ecclesiology, Conant’s Baptizein, Mozley’s Review of the Baptismal Controversy, Christian’s Immersion, Broadus’ Immersion, Frost’s The Moral Dignity of Baptism, Whitsitt’s a Question in Baptist History, Lofton’s The Baptist Reformation, Lambert’s The Sacraments of the New Testament, Dale’s Classic Baptism and Christian and Patristic Baptism, Kirtley’s Design of Baptism, Forester’s The Baptist Position, Frost’s Baptist Why and Why Not, Ford’s Studies in Baptism.

A. T. Robertson


(baptizomai huper ton nekron).

_1. Paul’s Argument:

Some of the Corinthian Christians denied the resurrection of the dead, and Paul advances three arguments to convince them that the dead will be raised:

(1) "If there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised," but Christ is raised (1Co 15:13,20).

(2) If the dead are not raised, why are men being baptized for the dead (1Co 15:29)?

(3) Why should the apostle himself wage his spiritual warfare (1Co 15:30)? The first argument rests upon the central fact of Christianity, and the other two are appeals to the consistency of the Corinthians, and of Paul himself. Whatever "baptism for the dead" meant, it was, in Paul’s opinion, as real, valid and legitimate a premise from which to conclude that the dead would rise as his own sufferings. The natural meaning of the words is obvious. Men in Corinth, and possibly elsewhere, were being continually baptized on behalf of others who were at the time dead, with a view to benefiting them in the resurrection, but if there be no resurrection, what shall they thus accomplish, and why do they do it? "The only legitimate reference is to a practice .... of survivors allowing themselves to be baptized on behalf of (believing?) friends who had died without baptism" (Alford in the place cited.).

2. Patristic Evidence:

Tertullian believed that Paul referred to a custom of vicarious baptism (Res., 48c; Adv. Marc., 5.10). There is evidence that the early church knew such a practice. Epiphanius mentions a tradition that the custom obtained among the Cerinthians (Haer., 28 6). And Chrysostom states that it prevailed among the Marcionites.

3. Modern Views:

But commentators have offered between thirty and forty other interpretations, more or less strained, of the passage. (For a summary of different views see T. C. Edwards and Stanley, Comms., at the place) Two of the most reasonable views from recent commentators are: "What shall they do who receive baptism on account of the dead? i.e. with a view to the resurrection of the dead?" and therefore to sharing in it themselves (Canon Evans, Speaker’s Comm., at the place); "that the death of Christians led to the conversion of survivors, who in the first instance ‘for the sake of the dead’ (their beloved dead), and in the hope of reunion, turn to Christ" (Findlay, Expositor’s Greek Test., at the place). Both ideas may be true, but they are simply imported into this passage, and the latter also is quite irrelevant to the argument and makes Paul identify conversion with baptism.

4. The Difficulty:

But why is all this ingenuity expended to evade the natural meaning? Because

(1) such a custom would be a superstition involving the principle of opus operarum; and

(2) Paul could not share or even tolerate a contemporary idea which is now regarded as superstition.

To reply (with Alford) that Paul does not approve the custom will not serve the purpose, for he would scarcely base so great an argument, even as an argumentum ad hominem, on a practice which he regarded as wholly false and superstitious. The retort of those who denied the resurrection would be too obvious. But why should it be necessary to suppose that Paul rose above all the limitations of his age? The idea that symbolic acts had a vicarious significance had sunk deeply into the Jewish mind, and it would not be surprising if it took more than twenty years for the leaven of the gospel to work all the Jew out of Paul. At least it serves the apostle’s credit ill to make his argument meaningless or absurd in order to save him from sharing at all in the inadequate conceptions of his age. He made for himself no claim of infallibility.

T. Rees


(en pneumati hagio kai puri): This expression is used in Mt 3:11. The copulative kai requires that the baptism "in the Holy Ghost and in fire," should be regarded as one and the same thing. It does violence to the construction, therefore, to make this statement refer to the fire Of judgment. The difficulty has always been in associating fire with the person of the Holy Ghost. But in the connection of fire with the work or influence of the Holy Ghost the difficulty disappears. The thought of John is that the Saviour would give them the Divine Sanctifier as purifying water to wash away their sins and as a refining fire to consume their dross; to kindle in their hearts the holy flame of Divine love and zeal; to illuminate their souls with heavenly wisdom. The statement, therefore, in this verse indicates the manner in which Christ will admit them to discipleship and prepare them for His service.


Jacob W. Kapp


1. The Biblical Material:

The expression "baptism of the Holy Spirit" is based on a number of predictions found in our four Gospels and in connection with these the record of their fulfillment in the Book of Acts. The passages in the Gospels are as follows: Mt 3:11: "I indeed baptize you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire." The last clause is autos humas baptisei en pneumati hagio kai puri. In Mr 1:8 and Lu 3:16 we have the declaration in a slightly modified form; and in Joh 1:33 John the Baptist declares that the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus at the baptism of the latter marked out Jesus as "he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit." Again in Joh 7:37,38 we read: "Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." Then the evangelist adds in Joh 7:39: "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." These are the specific references in the four Gospels to the baptisms of the Holy Spirit. In Ac we find direct reference by Luke to the promised baptism in the Holy Spirit. In Ac 1:5 Jesus, just before the ascension, contrasts John’s baptism in water with the baptism in the Holy Spirit which the disciples are to receive "not many days hence," and in Ac 1:8 power in witnessing for Jesus is predicted as the result of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. On the evening of the resurrection day Jesus appeared to the disciples and "he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (Joh 20:22). This was probably not a wholly symbolic act but an actual communication to the disciples, in some measure, of the gift of the Spirit, preliminary to the later complete bestowal.

We observe next the fulfillment of these predictions as recorded in Acts. The gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the miraculous manifestations which followed are clearly the chief historical fulfillment of the prediction of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Among the manifestations of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost were first those which were physical, such as "a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (Ac 2:2), and the appearance of "tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them" (Ac 2:3). Secondly, there were spiritual results: "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Ac 2:4). In Ac 2:16 ff Peter declares that this bestowment of the Holy Spirit is in fulfillment of the prediction made by the prophet Joe and he cites the words in Ac 2:28 ff of Joel’s prophecy.

There is one other important passage in Acts in which reference is made to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While Peter was speaking to Cornelius (Ac 10:44) the Holy Spirit fell on all that heard the word and they of the circumcision who were with Peter "were amazed" "because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit." When giving the brethren at Jerusalem an account of his visit to Cornelius, Peter declares that this event which he had witnessed was a baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ac 11:16): "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit."

2. Significance of Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

We consider next the significance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit from various points of view.

(1) From the Point of View of Old Testament Teaching as to the Gift of the Spirit.

The prophecy of Joe quoted by Peter indicates something extraordinary in the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit now comes in new forms of manifestation and with new power. The various classes mentioned as receiving the Spirit indicate the wide diffusion of the new power. In the Old Testament usually the Spirit was bestowed upon individuals; here the gift is to the group of disciples, the church. Here the gift is permanently bestowed, while in the Old Testament it was usually transient and for a special purpose. Here again the Spirit comes in fullness as contrasted with the partial bestowment in Old Testament times.

(2) From the Point of View of the Ascended Christ.

In Lu 24:49 Jesus commands the disciples to tarry in the city "until ye be clothed with power from on high," and in Joh 15:26 He speaks of the Comforter "whom I will send unto you from the Father," "he shall bear witness of me"; and in Joh 16:13 Jesus declares that the Spirit when He comes shall guide the disciples into all truth, and He shall show them things to come. In this verse the Spirit is called the Spirit of truth. It was fitting that the Spirit who was to interpret truth and guide into all truth should come in fullness after, rather than before, the completion of the life-task of the Messiah. The historical manifestation of Divine truth as thus completed made necessary the gift of the Spirit in fullness. Christ Himself was the giver of the Spirit. The Spirit now takes the place of the ascended Christ, or rather takes the things of Christ and shows them to the disciples. The baptism of the Spirit at Pentecost thus becomes the great historic event signalizing the beginning of a new era in the kingdom of God in which the whole movement is lifted to the spiritual plane, and the task of evangelizing the world is formally begun.

(3) The Significance of the Baptism of the Spirit from the Point of View of the Disciples.

It can scarcely be said with truth that Pentecost was the birthday of the church. Jesus had spoken of His church during His earthly ministry. The spiritual relation to Christ which constitutes the basis of the church existed prior to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But that baptism established the church in several ways. First in unity. The external bond of unity now gives place to an inner spiritual bond of profound significance. Secondly, the church now becomes conscious of a spiritual mission, and theocratic ideals of the kingdom disappear. Thirdly, the church is now endued with power for its work. Among the gifts bestowed were the gift of prophecy in the large sense of speaking for God, and the gift of tongues which enabled disciples to speak in foreign tongues. The account in the second chapter of Ac admits of no other construction. There was also bestowed power in witnessing for Christ. This was indeed one of the most prominent blessings named in connection with the promise of the baptism of the Spirit. The power of working miracles was also bestowed (Ac 3:4 ff; 5:12 ff). Later in the epistles of Paul much emphasis is given to the Spirit as the sanctifying agency in the hearts of believers. In Ac the word of the Spirit is chiefly Messianic, that is, the Spirit’s activity is all seen in relation to the extension of the Messianic kingdom. The occasion for the outpouring of the Spirit is Pentecost when men from all nations are assembled in Jerusalem. The symbolic representation of tongues of fire is suggestive of preaching, and the glossolalia, or speaking with tongues which followed, so that men of various nations heard the gospel in their own languages, indicates that the baptism of the Spirit had a very special relation to the task of world-wide evangelization for the bringing in of the kingdom of God.

3. Finality of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

The question is often raised whether or not the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred once for all or is repeated in subsequent baptisms. The evidence seems to point to the former view to the extent at least of being limited to outpourings which took place in connection with events recorded in the early chapters of the Book of Acts. The following considerations favor this view:

(1) In the first chapter of Ac Jesus predicts, according to Luke’s account, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit would take place, "not many days hence" (Ac 1:5). This would seem to point to a definite and specific event rather than to a continuous process.

(2) Again, Peter’s citation in Ac 2:17-21 of Joel’s prophecy shows that in Peter’s mind the event which his hearers were then witnessing was the definite fulfillment of the words of Joel.

(3) Notice in the third place that only one other event in the New Testament is described as the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and for special reasons this may be regarded as the completion of the Pentecostal baptism. The passage is that contained in Ac 10:1-11:18 in which the record is given of the following events:

(a) miraculous vision given to Peter on the housetop (Ac 10:11-16) indicating that the things about to occur are of unique importance;

(b) the speaking with tongues (Ac 10:45,46);

(c) Peter declares to the brethren at Jerusalem that the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles in this instance of Cornelius and his household "as on us at the beginning" (Ac 11:15);

(d) Peter also declares that this was a fulfillment of the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ac 11:16,17);

(e) the Jewish Christians who heard Peter’s account of the matter acknowledged this as proof that God had also extended the privileges of the gospel to the Gentiles (Ac 11:18). The baptism of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon Cornelius and his household is thus directly linked with the first outpouring at Pentecost, and as the event which signalized the opening of the door of the gospel formally to Gentiles it is in complete harmony with the missionary significance of the first great Pentecostal outpouring. It was a turning point or crisis in the Messianic kingdom and seems designed to complete the Pentecostal gift by showing that Gentiles as well as Jews are to be embraced in all the privileges of the new dispensation.

(4) We observe again that nowhere in the epistles do we find a repetition of the baptism of the Spirit. This would be remarkable if it had been understood by the writers of the epistles that the baptism of the Spirit was frequently to be repeated. There is no evidence outside the Book of Ac that the baptism of the Spirit ever occurred in the later New Testament times. In 1Co 12:13 Paul says, "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, .... and were all made to drink of one Spirit." But here the reference is not to the baptism of the Spirit, but rather to a baptism into the church which is the body of Christ. We conclude, therefore, that the Pentecostal baptism taken in conjunction with the baptism of the Spirit in the case of Cornelius completes the baptism of the Holy Spirit according to the New Testament teaching. The baptism of the Spirit as thus bestowed was, however, the definite gift of the Spirit in His fullness for every form of spiritual blessing necessary in the progress of the kingdom and as the permanent and abiding gift of God to His people. In all subsequent New Testament writings there is the assumption of this presence of the Spirit and of His availability for all believers. The various commands and exhortations of the epistles are based on the assumption that the baptism of the Spirit has already taken place, and that, according to the prediction of Jesus to the disciples, the Spirit was to abide with them forever (Joh 14:16). We should not therefore confound other forms of expression found in the New Testament with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. When Christians are enjoined to "walk by the Spirit" (Ga 5:16) and "be filled with the Spirit" (Eph 5:18), or when the Spirit is described as an anointing (chrisma) as in 1Jo 2:20-27, and as the "earnest of our inheritance" (arrabon). as in Eph 1:14, and when various other similar expressions are employed in the epistles of the New Testament, we are not to understand the baptism of the Holy Spirit. These expressions indicate aspects of the Spirit’s work in believers or of the believer’s appropriation of the gifts and blessings of the Spirit rather than the historical baptism of the Spirit.

4. Relation of Baptism of the Spirit to Other Baptisms:

Three final points require brief attention, namely, the relation of the baptism of the Spirit to the baptism in water, and to the baptism in fire, and to the laying on of hands.

(1) We note that the baptism in fire is coupled with the baptism in the Spirit in Mt 3:11 and in Lu 3:16. These passages give the word of John the Baptist. John speaks of the coming One who "shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire" (Lu 3:16). This baptism in fire is often taken as being parallel and synonymous with the baptism in the Spirit. The context however in both Matthew and Luke seems to favor another meaning. Jesus’ Messianic work will be both cleansing and destructive. The "you" addressed by John included the people generally and might naturally embrace both classes, those whose attitude to Jesus would be believing and those who would refuse to believe. His action as Messiah would affect all men. Some He would regenerate and purify through the Holy Ghost. Others He would destroy through the fire of punishment. This view is favored by the context in both gospels. In both the destructive energy of Christ is coupled with His saving power in other terms which admit of no doubt. The wheat He gathers into the garner and the chaff He burns with unquenchable fire.

(2) The baptism of the Holy Spirit was not meant to supersede water baptism. This is clear from the whole of the history in the Book of Acts, where water baptism is uniformly administered to converts after the Pentecostal baptism of the Spirit, as well as from the numerous references to water baptisms in the epistles. The evidence here is so abundant that it is unnecessary to develop it in detail. See Ro 6:3; 1Co 1:14-17; 10:2; 12:13; 15:29; Ga 3:27; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12; 1Pe 3:21.

(3) In Ac 8:17 and 19:6 the Holy Spirit is bestowed in connection with the laying on of the hands of apostles, but these are not to be regarded as instances of the baptism of the Spirit in the strict sense, but rather as instances of the reception by believers of the Spirit which had already been bestowed in fullness at Pentecost.


Arts. on Holy Spirit in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes) and Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels; article on "Spiritual Gifts" in Encyclopedia Biblica; Moule, Veni Creator; Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit; Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit.


E. Y. Mullins


See BAPTISM (I), II; (II), III, 3, v; (III), III, 3.


bap-tiz’-mal re-jen-er-a’-shun: As indicated in the general articles on BAPTISM and SACRAMENTS, the doctrine ordinarily held by Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, and also by Low-Church Episcopalians, differs from that of the Roman and Greek churches, and of High-Church Anglicans, in its rejection of the idea that baptism is the instrumental cause of regeneration, and that the grace of regeneration is effectually conveyed through the administration of that rite wherever duly performed. The teaching of Scripture on this subject is held to be that salvation is immediately dependent on faith, which, as a fruit of the operation of the Spirit of God in the soul, already, in its reception of Christ, implies the regenerating action of that Spirit, and is itself one evidence of it. To faith in Christ is attached the promise of forgiveness, and of all other blessings. Baptism is administered to those who already possess (at least profess) this faith, and symbolizes the dying to sin and rising to righteousness implicit in the act of faith (Ro 6). It is the symbol of a cleansing from sin and renewal by God’s Spirit, but not the agency effecting that renewal, even instrumentally. Baptism is not, indeed, to be regarded as a bare symbol. It may be expected that its believing reception will be accompanied by fresh measures of grace, strengthening and fitting for the new life. This, however, as the life is already there, has nothing to do with the idea of baptism as an opus operatum, working a spiritual change in virtue of its mere administration. In Scripture the agency with which regeneration is specially connected is the Divine "word" (compare 1Pe 1:23). Without living faith, in those capable of its exercise, the outward rite can avail nothing. The supposed "regeneration" may be received—in multitudes of instances is received—without the least apparent change in heart or life.

The above, naturally, applies to adults; the case of children, born and growing up within the Christian community, is on a different footing. Those who recognize the right of such to baptism hold that in the normal Christian development children of believing parents should be the subjects of Divine grace from the commencement (Eph 6:4); they therefore properly receive the initiatory rite of the Christian church. The faith of the parent, in presenting his child for baptism, lays hold on God’s promise to be a God to him and to his children; and he is entitled to hope for that which baptism pledges to him. But this, again, has no relation to the idea of regeneration through baptism.

James Orr


Regeneration, the initial gift of life in Christ, is, in the church’s normal system, associated with the sacrament of baptism. The basis for this teaching and practice of the church is found primarily in our Lord’s discourse to Nicodemus (Joh 3:1-8) wherein the new birth is associated not only with the quickening Spirit but with the element of water. The Saviour’s words, literally translated, are as follows: "Except one be born (out) of water and Spirit (ex hudatos kai pneumatos gennaomai), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (That it is the impersonal aspect of the Divine Spirit, i.e. as equivalent to "spiritual life" which is here presented, is indicated by the absence of the article in the Greek of Joh 3:5.) Entrance into the kingdom of God implies entrance into the church as the outward and visible embodiment of that kingdom. our Lord, in the passage above cited, does not limit the possibility or the need of "new birth" to those who have arrived at adult age, or "years of discretion," but uses the general pronoun tis, "anyone." The Anglican church does not, however, teach that baptism is unconditionally necessary, but only that it is "generally" necessary to salvation (compare the language of the Church Catechism with the qualification mentioned in the Prayer-Book "Office for the Baptism of Those of Riper Years," "Whereby ye may perceive the great necessity of this Sacrament, where it may be had"). It is not taught that the grace of God is absolutely or unconditionally bound to the external means, but only that these sacramental agencies are the ordinary and normal channels of Divine grace.

The typical form of baptism is that appropriate to the initiation of adults into the Christian body. Justin Martyr in his First Apology (chapter lxi) no doubt testifies to what was the general view of Christians in the 2nd century (circa 150 AD): "As many as are persuaded and believe that the things taught and said by us are true, and, moreover, take upon them to live accordingly, are taught to pray and ask of God with fasting for forgiveness of their former sins; .... and then they are brought to a place of water, and there regenerated after the same manner with ourselves; for they are washed in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit." For the due administration of this sacrament, personal faith and repentance on the part of the candidate are prerequisite conditions. However, "the baptism of young children" (i.e. of infants) "is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable to the institution of Christ" (XXXIX Articles, Art. XXVII, sub fin.). In the service "For the Baptism of Infants," repentance and faith are promised for the children by their "sureties" (ordinarily known as "sponsors" or "godparents"), "which promise, when they come to age (the children) themselves are bound to perform."

The person, whether adult or infant, receives in his baptism a real forgiveness; a washing away of all sins, whether original or actual. He also receives, at least in germ, the beginnings of new life in Christ; which life, however, must be developed and brought to perfection through his personal cooperation with the grace of God. But regeneration, as such, is not conversion; it is not even faith or love, strictly speaking. These latter, while they are conditions, or effects, or evidences of regeneration, are not regeneration itself, which is purely the work of God, operating by His creative power, through the Holy Ghost. The moral test of the existence of spiritual life is the presence in heart and conduct of the love of God and of obedience to His commandments (see 1 Joh passim).

It may be added that the bestowment of the gifts of spiritual strength—of the manifold graces and of the fullness of the Holy Spirit—is primarily associated with the laying on of hands (confirmation) rather than with baptism proper; the rite of confirmation was, however, originally connected with the baptismal service, as an adjunct to it. The newly-made Christian is not to rest content with the initial gift of life; he is bound to strive forward unto perfection. Confirmation is, in a sense, the completion of baptism. "The doctrine of laying on of hands" is accordingly connected with "the doctrine of baptisms," and both are reckoned by the author of the Epistle to the He as among "the first principles of Christ" (Heb 6:1,2 the King James Version).


For the Anglican doctrine on the subject of regeneration in baptism the following authorities may be consulted: Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, V, lix, lx; Waterland, The Doct. Use of Christian Sacraments; Regeneration; Wall, Infant Baptism; R. I. Wilberforce, The Doctrine of Holy Baptism; Darwell Stone, Holy Baptism, in "The Oxford Library of Practical Theology"; A. J. Mason, The Faith of the Gospel. For patristic teaching on this subject, compare Tertullian, De Baptismo.

William Samuel Bishop


1. Definition of Terms:

Regeneration is here taken in its strict meaning to denote that internal spiritual change, not of the substance, but of the qualities, of the intellect and will of natural man, by which blindness, darkness in regard to spiritual matters, especially the gospel, is removed from the former, and spiritual bondage, impotency, death from the latter (2Co 3:5; Ac 26:18; Php 2:13), and the heart of the sinner is made to savingly know and appropriate the Lord Jesus Christ and the merits of His of atoning sacrifice, as its only hope for a God-pleasing life here in time and a life in glory hereafter. Regeneration in the strict sense signifies the first spiritual movements and impulses in man, the beginning of his thinking Divine thoughts, cherishing holy desires and willing God-like volitions. But it does not signify the radical extinction of sin in man; for evil concupiscence remains also in the regenerate as a hostile element to the new life (Ro 7:23-25; Ga 5:16,17). Peccatum tollitur in baptismo, non ut non sit, sed ut non obsit—Augustine. "Sin is removed in baptism, not that it may not be, but that it may not hurt." Reduced to its lowest terms, regeneration in the strict sense may be defined as the kindling saving faith in the heart of the sinner; for according to 1 Joh 5:1, "whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God." Such terms as new creation (2Co 5:17; Ga 6:15 margin), spiritual quickening, or vivification (Eph 2:5; Ro 6:11), spiritual resurrection (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1), are true synonyms of regeneration in the strict sense. In the point of time justification coincides with regeneration in the strict sense; for it is by faith, too, that the sinner is justified. But these two spiritual events must not be confounded; for justification affects, not the internal conditions of the sinner’s heart, but his legal standing with God the righteous Judge. Regeneration is called baptismal regeneration in so far as it occurs in the event and as an effect of the application of the Christian baptism.

See BAPTISM (I), I, 6.

2. Scriptural Basis of This Doctrine:

The two leading texts of Scripture which declare in plain terms that baptism is a means for effecting regeneration in the strict sense are Joh 3:5 and Tit 3:5. But this doctrine is implied in Ac 2:38; Eph 5:26; Ga 3:27; 1Pe 3:21. In Joh 3:7 it is immaterial whether anothen gennethenai is rendered "to be born from above" or "to be born a second time." For the second birth is never of the flesh (Joh 1:13; 3:4,5); hence, is always of divine origin, "from above." It is ascribed to the agency of the entire Trinity: the Father (Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:3); the Son (Joh 1:12); and the Spirit (Tit 3:5). But by appropriation it is generally attributed to the Spirit alone, whose particular function is that of Quickener (see Cremer, Bibl.-theol. Worterb., 9th edition, under the word "pneuma," 894 f). Baptism is an instrument by which the Holy Spirit effects regeneration. "Water and the Spirit" (Joh 3:5) is a paraphrastic description of baptism: "water," inasmuch as the man is baptized therewith (1 Joh 5:7,8; Eph 5:26) for the forgiveness of sin (Ac 2:33; 22:16; 1Co 6:11), and "Spirit," inasmuch as the Holy Ghost is given to the person baptized in order to his spiritual renewal and sanctification; "both together—the former as causa medians, the latter as causa efficiens—constitute the objective and causative element out of which (compare Joh 1:13) the birth from above is produced (ek)" (Meyer). In Tit 3:5 "the expression to loutrou palingenesias, literally, ‘bath of regeneration,’ has been very arbitrarily interpreted by some expositors, some taking loutron as a figurative name for the regeneration itself, or for the praedicario evangelii, ‘preaching of the gospel’ or for the Holy Spirit, or for the abundant imparting of the Spirit. From Eph 5:26 it is clear that it can mean nothing else than baptism; compare too, Heb 10:22; 1Co 6:11; Ac 22:16." Of this laver of regeneration Paul says that through it (dia), i.e. by its instrumentality, men are saved. Meyer is right when, correcting a former view of his, he states: "According to the context, Paul calls baptism the bath of the new birth, not meaning that it pledges us to the new birth (‘to complete the process of moral purification, of expiation and sanctification,’ Matthies), nor that it is a visible image of the new birth (Wette), for neither in the one sense nor in the other could it be regarded as a means of saving. Paul uses that name for it as the bath by means of which God actually brings about the new birth." The application of baptism and the operation of the Spirit must be viewed as one undivided action. Thus the offense of Spurgeon, Weiss and others at "regeneration by water-baptism" can be removed.

3. Faith in Baptism:

Baptism does not produce salutary effects ex opere operato, i.e. by the mere external performance of the baptismal action. No instrument with which Divine grace works does. Even the preaching of the gospel is void of saving results if not "mixed with faith" (Heb 4:2 the King James Version). Luther correctly describes the working of baptism thus: "How can water do such great things? It is not the water indeed that does them, but the Word of God which is in and with the water (God’s giving hand), and faith which trusts such word of God in the water (man’s receiving hand)." But this faith, which is required for a salutary use of the gospel and baptism, is wrought by these as instruments which the Holy Spirit employs to produce faith; not by imparting to them a magical power but by uniting His Divine power with them (Ro 10:17; 2Co 4:6; Eph 5:26).

4. Infants and Adults:

The comprehensive statements in Joh 3:6; Eph 2:3 ("by nature") show that infants are in need of being regenerated, and Mt 18:3,6, that they are capable of faith. It is not more difficult for the Holy Spirit to work faith in infants by baptism, than in adults by the preaching of the gospel. And infant faith, though it may baffle our attempts at exact definition, is nevertheless honored in Scripture with the word which denotes genuine faith, pisteuein, i.e. trustfully relying on Christ (Mt 18:6; compare 2Ti 3:15; 1:5). In the case of adults who have received faith through hearing and reading the gospel (Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; 1Co 4:15), baptism is still "the washing of regeneration," because it is a seal to them of the righteousness which these people have previously obtained by believing the gospel (Ro 4:11-13; Ga 3:7); and it reminds them of, and enables them to discharge, their daily duty of putting away the old and putting on the new man (Eph 4:22,24), just as the Word is still the regenerating word of truth (Jas 1:18) though it be preached to persons who are regenerated a long time ago. Accordingly, Luther rightly extends the regenerating and renewing influences of baptism throughout the life of a Christian, when he says "Baptizing with water signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die, with all sins and evil lusts; and, again, a new man should come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever" (Smaller Catechism).

W. H. T. Dau




BAR (1)

bar (prefix): Aramaic for the Hebrew ben, "son." Compare Aramaic sections of Ezra and Daniel. In the Old Testament the word is found three times in Pr 31:2 and once in Syriac Ps 2:12 (Hier. translates "pure"). In the New Testament "Bar" is frequently employed as prefix to names of persons. Compare Barabbas; Bar-Jesus; Bar-Jonah; Barnabas; Barsabbas; Bartholomew; Bartimeus.

See BEN.

BAR (2)

bar (substantive):

(1) beriach =" a bolt" (Ex 26:26-29; 35:11; 36:31-34; 39:33; 40:18; Nu 3:36; 4:31; De 3:5; Jud 16:3; 1Sa 23:7; 1Ki 4:13; 2Ch 8:5; 14:7; Ne 3:3,6,13-15; Job 38:10 "bars and doors" for the sea (the bank or shore of the sea); Ps 107:16; 147:13 "the bars of thy gates": the walls of the city were now rebuilt and its gates only closed and barred by night (see Ne 7:3); Pr 18:19, "bars of a castle"; Isa 45:2; Jer 49:31; 51:30; La 2:9; Eze 38:11): meaning "a rock in the sea" (Jon 2:6).

(2) moT =" a staff," "stick," "pole" (Nu 4:10,12 margin); "strong fortification and great impediment" (Isa 45:2; Am 1:5, "the bolt of Damascus": no need here to render prince, as some do (G. A. Smith in the place cited.)).

(3) badh =" staff," "part of body," "strength" (Job 17:16, "bars of Sheol": the gates of the world of the dead; compare Isa 38:10; some read, "Will the bars of Sheol fall?").

(4) meTil =" something hammered out, a (forged) bar" (Job 40:18).


Frank E. Hirsch


bar-je’-zus (Bariesous): "A certain sorcerer (Greek magos), a false prophet, a Jew" whom Paul and Silas found at Paphos in Cyprus in the train of Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul (Ac 13:6 ff). The proconsul was "a man of understanding" (literally, a prudent or sagacious man), of an inquiring mind, interested in the thought and magic of his times. This characteristic explains the presence of a magos among his staff and his desire to hear Barnabas and Saul. Bar-Jesus was the magician’s Jewish name. Elymas is said to be the interpretation of his name (Ac 13:8). It is the Greek transliteration of an Aramaic or Arabic word equivalent to Greek magos. From Arabic ‘alama, "to know" is derived ‘alim, "a wise" or "learned man." In Koran, Sur note 106, Moses is called Sachir ‘alim, "wise magician." Elymas therefore means "sorcerer" (compare Simon "Magus").

The East was flooding the Roman Empire with its new and wonderful religious systems, which, culminating in neo-Platonism, were the great rivals of Christianity both in their cruder and in their more strictly religious forms. Superstition was extremely prevalent, and wonder-workers of all kinds, whether imposters or honest exponents of some new faith, found their task easy through the credulity of the public. Babylonia was the home of magic, for charms are found on the oldest tablets. "Magos" was originally applied to the priests of the Persians who overran Babylonia, but the title degenerated when it was assumed by baser persons for baser articles Juvenal (vi.562, etc.), Horace (Sat. i.2.1) and other Latin authors mention Chaldean astrologers and impostors, probably Babylonian Jews. Many of the Magians, however, were the scientists of their day, the heirs of the science of Babylon and the lore of Persia, and not merely pretenders or conjurers (see MAGIC). It may have been as the representative of some oriental system, a compound of "science" and religion, that Bar-Jesus was attached to the train of Sergius Paulus.

Both Sergius and Elymas had heard about the teaching of the apostles, and this aroused the curiosity of Sergius and the fear of Elymas. When the apostles came, obedient to the command of the proconsul, their doctrine visibly produced on him a considerable impression. Fearing lest his position of influence and gain would be taken by the new teachers, Elymas "withstood them, seeking to turn aside the proconsul from the faith" (Ac 13:8). Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, worked a wonder on the wonder-worker by striking him blind with his word, thus revealing to the proconsul that behind him was Divine power. Sergius Paulus believed, "being astonished at the teaching of the Lord" (Ac 13:12).

S. F. Hunter


bar-jo’-na (Bar-ionas): Simon Peter’s patronymic (Mt 16:17). Bar is Aramaic for "son" (compare Bar-timaeus, Bartholomew, etc.), and corresponds to Hebrew ben. Thus we are to understand that Peter’s father’s name was Jonah. But in Joh 1:42; 21:15-17, according to the best reading, his name is given as John (so the Revised Version (British and American), instead of the King James Version Jona, Jonas). There are two hypotheses to account for this difference:

(1) Ionas (Jonah) in Mt 16:17 may be simply a contraction of Ioanes (John);

(2) Peter’s father may have been known by two names, Jonah and John.

D. Miall Edwards


ba-rab’-as (Barabbas): For Aramaic Bar-abba = literally, "son of the father," i.e. of the master or teacher. Abba in the time of Jesus was perhaps a title of honor (Mt 23:9), but became later a proper name. The variant Barrabban found in the 19- Harclean Syriac would mean "son of the rabbi or teacher." Origen knew and does not absolutely condemn a reading of Mt 27:16,17, which gave the name "Jesus Barabbas," but although it is also found in a few cursives and in the Aramaic and the Jerusalem Syriac versions in this place only, it is probably due to a scribe’s error in transcription (Westcott-Hort, App., 20). If the name was simply Barabbas or Barrabban, it may still have meant that the man was a rabbi’s son, or it may have been a purely conventional proper name, signifying nothing. He was the criminal chosen by the Jerusalem mob, at the instigation of the priests, in preference to Jesus Christ, for Pilate to release on the feast of Passover (Mr 15:15; Mt 27:20,21; Lu 23:18; Joh 18:40). Matthew calls him "a notable (i.e. notorious) prisoner" (Mt 27:16). Mr says that he was "bound with them that had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder" (Mt 15:7). Luke states that he was cast into prison "for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder" (Lu 23:19; compare Ac 3:14). John calls him a "robber" or "brigand" (Joh 18:40). Nothing further is known of him, nor of the insurrection in which he took part. Luke’s statement that he was a murderer is probably a deduction from Mark’s more circumstantial statement, that he was only one of a gang, who in a rising had committed murder. Whether robbery was the motive of his crime, as Joh suggests, or whether he was "a man who had raised a revolt against the Roman power" (Gould) cannot be decided. But it seems equally improbable that the priests (the pro-Roman party) would urge the release of a political prisoner and that Pilate would grant it, especially when the former were urging, and the latter could not resist, the execution of Jesus on a political charge (Lu 23:2). The insurrection may have been a notorious case of brigandage. To say that the Jews would not be interested in the release of such a prisoner, is to forget the history of mobs. The custom referred to of releasing a prisoner on the Passover is otherwise unknown. "What Matthew (and John) represents as brought about by Pilate, Mark makes to appear as if it were suggested by the people themselves. An unessential variation" (Meyer). For a view of the incident as semi-legendary growth, see Schmiedel in Encyclopedia Biblica. See also Allen, Matthew, and Gould, Mark, at the place, and article "Barabbas" by Plummer in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes).

T. Rees


bar’-a-kel (barakh’el, "God blesses"): Barachel, the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was the father of Elihu, who was the last one to reason with Job (Job 32:2,6). Compare BUZ; RAM.


bar-a-ki’-a (Barachias; the King James Version Barachias; Mt 23:35): Father of Zachariah who was murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. It is possible that reference is made to Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (2Ch 24:20 ff), whom Matthew by mistake calls "Z., the son of Barachiah." Lu 11:51 omits the name of the father of Z. (compare Zahn’s Kommentar, 649, note).





ba’-rak (baraq, "lightning flash"): The name occurs in Sabeanbarqac, in Palmyrene baraq, and in Punic Barcas, as surname of Hamilcar; and as Divine name in Assyrian Ramman-Birqu and Gibil-Birqu (Del. Assyrian, HWB, 187). Barak was the son of Abinoam of Kedesh, a refuge city in Mt. Naphtali. He was summoned by the prophetess Deborah to lead his countrymen to war against the Canaanites under the leadership of Sisera. From the celebrated ode of Deborah we gather that Israel suffered at the hand of the enemy; the caravan roads were in danger, traffic almost ceased; the cultivated country was plundered (Jud 5:6,7). The fighting men in Israel were disarmed, a shield was not to be seen nor a spear among forty thousand men (Jud 5:8). The prophetess raised the signal of struggle for independence. Soon Barak came to her aid. With an army of 10,000 men—according to Jud 4:10 they were all drawn from Zebulun and Naphtali, whereas Jud 5:13-18 adds Benjamin, Machir and Issachar to the list of faithful tribes—Barak, accompanied by Deborah, rushed to the summit of Mt. Tabor. This location was very favorable to the rudely armed Israelites in warding off the danger of the well-armed enemy. The wooded slopes protected them against the chariots of the Canaanites. In addition they were within striking distance should the enemy expose himself on the march. Under the heavy rainfall the alluvial plain became a morass, in which the heavy-armed troops found it impossible to move. Soon the little stream Kishon was filled with chariots, horses and Canaanites. Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. Barak pursued him and found him murdered by Jael in her tent. This completed the victory. See BEDAN; Moore, "Judges," at the place.

Samuel Cohon


bar-ba’-ri-an, bar’-ba-rus (barbaros): A word probably formed by imitation of the unintelligible sounds of foreign speech, and hence, in the mouth of a Greek it meant anything that was not Greek, language, people or customs. With the spread of Greek language and culture, it came to be used generally for all that was non-Greek. Philo and Josephus sometimes called their own nation "barbarians," and so did Roman writers up to the Augustan age, when they adopted Greek culture, and reckoned themselves with the Greeks as the only cultured people in the world. Therefore Greek and barbarian meant the whole human race (Ro 1:14).

In Col 3:11, "barbarian, Scythian" is not a classification or antithesis but a "climax" (Abbott) =" barbarians, even Scythians, the lowest type of barbarians." In Christ, all racial distinctions, even the most pronounced, disappear.

In 1Co 14:11 Paul uses the term in its more primitive sense of one speaking a foreign, and therefore, an unintelligible language: "If then I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me." The speaking with tongues would not be a means of communication. The excited inarticulate ejaculations of the Corinthian revivalists were worse than useless unless someone had the gift of articulating in intelligible language the force of feeling that produced them (dunamis tes phones, literally, "the power of the sound").

In Ac 28:2,4 (in the King James Version of Ac 28:2 "barbarous people" = barbarians) the writer, perhaps from the Greek-Roman standpoint, calls the inhabitants of Melita barbarians, as being descendants of the old Phoenician settlers, or possibly in the more general sense of "strangers." For the later sense of "brutal," "cruel," "savage," see 2 Macc 2:21; 4:25; 15:2.

T. Rees



(1) The English word "barber" is from Latin barba, "beard" = a man who shaves the beard. Dressing and trimming the hair came to be added to his work. "Barber" is found only once English Versions of the Bible, in Eze 5:1, "Take thee a sharp sword; as a barber’s razor shalt thou take it unto thee, and shalt cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard" (compare Chaghigha’ 4b, Shab, section 6).

(2) In Ge 41:14 we probably have a case of conformity to Egyptian, rather than Palestinian custom, where Joseph "shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh." It is known that Egyptians of the higher classes shaved the beard regularly and completely (as the Hittites, Elamites and early Babylonians seem to have done), except that fashion allowed, as an exception to the rule, a small tuft, or "goatee," under the chin.

(3) We learn from various Scriptural allusions, as well as from other sources (compare W. Max Muller, Asien und Europa, 296 ff), that the business of the oriental barber included, besides ceremonial shaving, the trimming and polling of the hair and the beard. Compare 2Sa 19:24 where it appears that the moustache (Hebrew sapham; the King James Version "beard") received regular trimming; and 1Sa 21:14, where the neglect of the beard is set down as a sign of madness.

That men wore wigs and false beards in ancient days, the latter showing the rank of the wearer, appears from Herodotus ii.36; iii.12; and Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt, II, 324, etc. Josephus, Vita, II, gives one case where false hair appears to have been used as an intentional disguise. See also Polyb. iii.78.

(4) The business of the barber (see Eze 5:1, "as a barber’s razor shalt thou take it unto thee, and shalt cause it to pass upon thy head and upon thy beard"), outside of ceremonial shaving, may have consisted in trimming and polling the beard and the hair of the head. Of other nations with whom Israel of old came in contact, the Hittites and Elamites, it is now known, shaved the beard completely, as the earliest Babylonians also seem to have done.

(5) The prohibition enjoined in the Mosaic law upon "the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok" (Eze 44:15,20) forbidding either "shaving the head," or "suffering their locks to grow long," or shaving off the corners of their beard (Le 21:5), was clearly, in a sense peculiar to the priests, etc.: "They (the priests) shall only cut off," i.e. trim, not shave, "the hair of their heads" (Eze 44:20). But in the Apostolical Constitutions, I, 3, insistence is laid upon the Biblical prohibition as applicable to all as regards the removal of the beard (compare Clement of Alexandria, Paed., III, edition Migne, I, 580 f). Jerome on Eze 44:20 and some of the Jewish sages find the basis of this prohibition in the fact that God gave a beard to man to distinguish him from the woman—so, they reasoned, it is wrong thus to go against Nature (compare Bahya, on Le 19:27).

(6) In the Palestine of the Greek period, say in the 3rd century BC, when there was a large infusion of Hellenic population and influence, clipping of the beard prevailed in some circles, being omitted only in times of mourning, etc. The common people, however, seem to have seen little distinction between clipping the beard and shaving. But see pictures of captive Jews with clipped beard in the British Museum.


Benzinger, heb. Arch., 110; Nowack, Lehrbuch der Heb. Arch., 134; W. Max Muller, Asien und Europa, 296 ff.

George B. Eager


bar’-kus (Codex Vaticanus, Bachous; Codex Alexandrinus, Barchoue; the King James Version Charchus, from Aldine edition, Charkous; 1 Esdras 5:32 = Barkos (Ezr 2:53; Ne 7:55)): The descendants of Barchus (temple-servants) returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem.



1. Introductory:

The word is found in the following passages: English Versions of the Bible, "He went barefoot" (2Sa 15:30); "(Isaiah) did so, walking .... barefoot" (Isa 20:2); and like the Egyptians, "naked and barefoot" (Isa 20:3,4). It seems that David in his flight before Absalom "went barefoot," not to facilitate his flight, but to show his grief (2Sa 15:30), and that Micah (Mi 1:8) makes "going barefoot" a sign of mourning (Septuagint: "to be barefoot"; the King James Version "stripped"). The nakedness and bare feet of the prophet Isaiah (20:2) may have been intended to symbolize and express sympathy for the forlorn condition of captives (compare Job 12:17,19, where the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) have "spoiled," but some authorities give as the true translation "barefoot").

Jastrow, in article on "Tearing the Garments" (Jour. of the Am. Oriental Soc., XXI, 23-39) presents a view worth considering of going barefoot as a sign of mourning and then of grief in general (compare also Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Barefoot"). All these passages seem to imply the discomfort or going barefoot on long journeys, over stony roads or hot sands; but then, as now, in the Orient sandals seem to have been little worn ordinarily in and around the house.


2. An Ancient Oriental Custom:

The "shoes" of the ancients, as we know from many sources, were "sandals," i.e. simply soles, for the most part of rawhide, tied to the feet to protect them against the gravel, stones or thorns of the road. Shoes of the modern sort, as well as socks and stockings, were unknown. In ancient times it was certainly a common custom in Bible lands to go about in and around one’s house without sandals. The peasantry, indeed, like the fellaheen of today, being hardened to it, often went afield barefoot. But for a king, or a prophet, a priest or a worshipper, to go barefoot, was another matter, as it was also for a mourner, for one in great distress, to be found walking the streets of a city, or going any distance in bare feet. Here we come again to customs peculiar to the Orient, and of various significance. For instance, it was considered then, as it is now in the Moslem world, profane and shocking, nothing short of a desecration, to enter a sanctuary, or walk on "holy ground," with dust-covered shoes, or unwashed feet. Moses and Joshua were commanded to take off their shoes when on "holy ground" (Ex 3:5; Jos 5:15). "No one was allowed to walk on the temple ground with shoes on, or with dust on his feet" (Ber., IX, 5; compare Jamblichus, Pythagoras, section 105). No one in the East today is allowed to enter any mosque with shoes on, or without first putting slippers furnished for the purpose over his shoes. As a rule, too, the feet must be cleansed by ablution in every such case, as well as hands and feet before each meal.

3. Priests on Duty Went Barefoot:

The priests of Israel, as would seem true of the priests in general among the ancients, wore no shoes when ministering (see Silius Italicus, III, 28; compare Theodoret on Ex 3, questio 7; and Yer. Shet., 5, 48d). In ancient times, certainly the priests of Israel, when going upon the platform to serve before the ark, in Tabernacle or temple, as later in the synagogue to bless the congregation, went barefoot; though today strange to say, such ministering priests among the Jews wear stockings, and are not supposed to be barefoot (CoTah, 40a; RH, 316; Shulchan ‘Arukh, ‘Orach Chayyim, 128, 5; see Jewish Encyclopedia, article "Barefoot").

4. Reasons for the Ancient Custom:

The reason or reasons for the removal of the shoes in such cases as the above, we are not at a loss to divine; but when it comes to the removal of the shoes in times of mourning, etc., opinions differ. Some see in such customs a trace of ancestor- worship; others find simply a reversion or return to primitive modes of life; while others still, in agreement with a widely prevalent Jewish view, suggest that it was adopted as a perfectly natural symbol of humility and simplicity of life, appropriate to occasions of grief, distress and deep solemnity of feeling.

The shoes are set aside now by many modern Jews on the Day of Atonement and on the Ninth of Ab.


Winer, Robinson, Biblical Researches, under the word "Priester und Schuhe"; Riehm, Handworterbuch des bib. Alt., under the word "Schuhe."

George B. Eager





ba-ri’-ah (bariach, "fugitive"): Bariah was a descendant of David in the line of Solomon (1Ch 3:22).


bar’-kos (barqoc, "party-colored" (?) compare Gray, Studies in Hebrew Proper Names, 68, note 2): The descendants of Barkos returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (Ezr 2:53; Ne 7:55). Compare Barchus (1 Esdras 5:32).


bar’-li (se‘orah):

(1) In the Bible, as in modern times, barley was a characteristic product of Palestine—"a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees," etc. (De 8:8), the failure of whose crop was a national disaster (Joe 1:11). It was, and is, grown chiefly as provender for horses and asses (1Ki 4:28), oats being practically unknown, but it was, as it now is, to some extent, the food of the poor in country districts (Ru 2:17; 2Ki 4:42; Joh 6:9,13). Probably this is the meaning of the dream of the Midianite concerning Gideon: "Behold, I dreamed a dream; and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came unto the tent, and smote it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat. And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel" (Jud 7:13 f). Here the barley loaf is type of the peasant origin of Gideon’s army and perhaps, too, of his own lowly condition.

Barley was (Eze 4:9) one of the ingredients from which the prophet was to make bread and "eat it as barley cakes" after having baked it under repulsive conditions (Eze 4:12), as a sign to the people. The false prophetesses (Eze 13:19) are said to have profaned God among the people for "handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread."

Barley was also used in the ORDEAL OF JEALOUSY (s. v.). It was with five barley loaves and two fishes that our Lord fed the five thousand (Joh 6:9,10).

(2) Several varieties of barley are grown in Palestine The Hordeum distichum or two-rowed barley is probably the nearest to the original stock, but Hordeum tetrastichum, with grains in four rows, and Hordeum hexastichum, with six rows, are also common and ancient; the last is found depicted upon Egyptian monuments.

Barley is always sown in the autumn, after the "early rains," and the barley harvest, which for any given locality precedes the wheat harvest (Ex 9:31 f), begins near Jericho in April—or even March—but in the hill country of Palestine is not concluded until the end of May or beginning of June.

The barley harvest was a well-marked season of the year (see TIME) and the barley-corn was a well-known measure of length.


E. W. G. Masterman


barn (meghurah, "a granary," "fear," Hag 2:19; acam, "a storehouse," Pr 3:10; mammeghurah, "a repository," Joe 1:17; apotheke, Mt 6:26; 13:30; Lu 12:18,24): A place for the storing of grain, usually a dry cistern in the ground, covered over with a thick layer of earth. "Grain is not stored in the East until it is threshed and winnowed. The apotheke in Roman times was probably a building of some kind. But the immemorial usage of the East has been to conceal the grain, in carefully prepared pits or caves, which, being perfectly dry, will preserve it for years. It thus escaped, as far as possible, the attentions of the tax-gatherer as well as of the robber—not always easily distinguished in the East; compare Jer 41:8" (Temple Dictionary, 215).

Figurative of heaven (Mt 13:30).


M. O. Evans


bar’-na-bas (Barnabas, "son of exhortation," or possibly "son of Nebo"): This name was applied to the associate of Paul, who was originally called Joses or Joseph (Ac 4:36), as a testimony to his eloquence. Its literal meaning is "son of prophecy" (bar, "son"; nebhu’ah, "prophecy"). Compare word for prophet in Ge 20:7; De 18:15,18, etc. This is interpreted in Ac 4:36 as "son of exhortation" the Revised Version (British and American), or "son of consolation" the King James Version, expressing two sides of the Greek paraklesis, that are not exclusive. The office of a prophet being more than to foretell, all these interpretations are admissible in estimating Barnabas as a preacher. Deismann (Bibelstudien, 175-78) considers Barnabas the Jewish Grecized form of Barnebous, a personal Semitic name recently discovered in Asia Minor inscriptions, and meaning "son of Nebo" (Standard Bible Dictionary in the place cited.).

He was a Levite from the island of Cyprus, and cousin, not "nephew" (the King James Version), of the evangelist Mark, the word anepsios (Col 4:10), being used in Nu 36:11, for "father’s brothers’ sons." When we first learn of him, he had removed to Jerusalem, and acquired property there. He sold "a field," and contributed its price to the support of the poorer members of the church (Ac 4:36 ff). In Ac 11:24 he is described as "a good man and full of the Holy Spirit" (compare Isa 11:2; 1Co 12:8,11) "and of faith," traits that gave him influence and leadership. Possibly on the ground of former acquaintanceship, interceding as Paul’s sponsor and surety, he removed the distrust of the disciples at Jerusalem and secured the admission of the former persecutor into their fellowship. When the preaching of some of the countrymen of Barnabas had begun a movement toward Christianity among the Greeks at Antioch, Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to give it encouragement and direction, and, after a personal visit, recognizing its importance and needs, sought out Paul at Tarsus, and brought him back as his associate. At the close of a year’s successful work, Barnabas and Paul were sent to Jerusalem with contributions from the infant church for the famine sufferers in the older congregation (Ac 11:30). Ordained as missionaries on their return (Ac 13:3), and accompanied by John Mark, they proceeded upon what is ordinarily known as the "First Missionary Journey" of Paul (Ac 13:4,5). Its history belongs to Paul’s life. Barnabas as well as Paul is designated "an apostle" (Ac 14:14). Up to Ac 13:43, the precedency is constantly ascribed to Barnabas; from that point, except in 14:14 and 15:12,25, we read "Paul and Barnabas," instead of "Barnabas and Saul." The latter becomes the chief spokesman. The people at Lystra named Paul, because of his fervid oratory, Mercurius, while the quiet dignity and reserved strength of Barnabas gave him the title of Jupiter (Ac 14:12). Barnabas escaped the violence which Paul suffered at Iconium (Ac 14:19).

Upon their return from this first missionary tour, they were sent, with other representatives of the church at Antioch, to confer with the apostles and elders of the church at Jerusalem concerning the obligation of circumcision and the ceremonial law in general under the New Testament—the synod of Jerusalem. A separation from Paul seems to begin with a temporary yielding of Barnabas in favor of the inconsistent course of Peter (Ga 2:13). This was followed by a more serious rupture concerning Mark. On the second journey, Paul proceeded alone, while Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus. Luther and Calvin regard 2Co 8:18,19 as meaning Barnabas by "the brother whose praise is spread through all the churches," and indicating, therefore, subsequent joint work. The incidental allusions in 1Co 9:6 and Ga 2:13 ("even Barnabas") show at any rate Paul’s continued appreciation of his former associate. Like Paul, he accepted no support from those to whom he ministered.

Tertullian, followed in recent years by Grau and Zahn, regard him as the author of the Epistle to the He. The document published among patristic writings as the Epistle of Barnabas, and found in full in the Codex Sinaiticus, is universally assigned today to a later period. "The writer nowhere claims to be the apostle Barnabas; possibly its author was some unknown namesake of ‘the son of consolation’ "( Lightfoot, Apostolic Fathers, 239 f).

H. E. Jacobs






ba-ro’-dis (Barodeis, 1 Esdras 5:34): The descendants of Barodis (sons of the servants of Solomon) returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem. Omitted in Ezr 2 and Ne 7.


bar’-el: The word "barrel" in the King James Version (see 1Ki 17:12,14,16; 18:33: "The barrel of meal," "fill four barrels with water," etc.) stands for the large earthenware jar (so the American Standard Revised Version) used in the East for carrying water from the spring or well, and for storing grain, etc., according to a custom that still persists. It is elsewhere (EV) more fitly rendered "pitcher."



bar’-en, (bar’-en-nes tsiyah; melehah; shakhol; ‘aqar; steiros; argos):

(1) Of land that bears no crop, either

(a) because it is naturally poor and sterile: tsiyah "dry" (Joe 2:20), melechah, "salt" (Job 39:6 the King James Version), shakhol, "miscarrying" (2Ki 2:19,21), or

(b) because it is, under God’s curse, turned into a melechah or salt desert, for the wickedness of the people that dwell therein (Ps 107:34 the King James Version; compare Ge 3:17,18).

(2) Of females that bear no issue: ‘aqar: Sarah (Ge 11:30); Rebekah (Ge 25:21); Rachel (Ge 29:31); Manoah’s wife (Jud 13:2,3); Hannah (1Sa 2:5); steiros: Elisabeth (Lu 1:7,36).

In Israel and among oriental peoples generally barrenness was a woman’s and a family’s greatest misfortune. The highest sanctions of religion and patriotism blessed the fruitful woman, because children were necessary for the perpetuation of the tribe and its religion. It is significant that the mothers of the Hebrew race, Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel, were by nature sterile, and therefore God’s special intervention shows His particular favor to Israel. Fruitfulness was God’s special blessing to His people (Ex 23:26; De 7:14; Ps 113:9). A complete family is an emblem of beauty (So 4:2; 6:6). Metaphorically, Israel, in her days of adversity, when her children were exiled, was barren, but in her restoration she shall rejoice in many children (Isa 54:1; Ga 4:27). The utter despair and terror of the destruction of Jerusalem could go no farther than that the barren should be called blessed (Lu 23:29).

(3) Argos is translated in the King James Version "barren," but in the Revised Version (British and American) more accurately "idle" (2Pe 1:8).

T. Rees


bar’-sa-bas, bar-sab’-as.



bar’-ta-kus (Bartakos; Josephus Rhabezdkes; Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) Bezazes (1 Esdras 4:29)): The father of Apame. He is called "the illustrious," probably because of rank and merits. The family seems to be of Persian origin since the name Bartacus (Syriac,) in the form of Artachaeas is mentioned by Herodotus (vii.22.117) as a person of rank in the Persian army of Xerxes and the name of his daughter Apame is identical with that of a Persian princess who married Seleucus I, Nicator, and became the mother of Antiochus I. Apamea, a city in Asia Minor founded by Seleucus I, is named in honor of his wife Apame. Compare APAME; ILLUSTRIOUS.


bar-thol’-o-mu (Bartholomaios, i.e. "son of Tolmai or Tolmai"): One of the Twelve Apostles (Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:14; Ac 1:13). There is no further reference to him in the New Testament. According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50) "Bartholomew was of the house of Naphtali. Now his name was formerly John, but our Lord changed it because of John the son of Zebedee, His beloved." A "Gospel of Bartholomew" is mentioned by Hieronymus (Comm. Proem ad Matth.), and Gelasius gives the tradition that Bartholomew brought the Hebrew gospel of Matthew to India. In the "Preaching of Bartholomew in the Oasis" (compare Budge, II, 90) he is referred to as preaching probably in the oasis of Al Bahnasa, and according to the "Preaching of Andrew and Bartholomew" he labored among the Parthians (Budge, II, 183). The "Martyrdom of Bartholomew" states that he was placed in a sack and cast into the sea.

From the 9th century onward, Bartholomew has generally been identified with Nathanael, but this view has not been conclusively established.


C. M. Kerr




bar-ti-me’-us (Bartimaios): A hybrid word from Aramaic bar =" son," and Greek timaios =" honorable." For the improbability of the derivation from bar-tim’ai =" son of the unclean," and of the allegorical meaning = the Gentiles or spiritually blind, see Schmiedel in Encyclopedia Biblica. In Mr (Mr 10:46-52) Bartimeus is given as the name of a blind beggar, whose eyes Jesus Christ opened as He went out from Jericho on His last journey to Jerusalem. An almost identical account is given by Lu (Lu 18:35-43), except that the incident occurred "as he drew nigh unto Jericho," and the name of the blind man is not given. Again, according to Mt (Mt 20:29-34), "as they went out from Jericho" (like Mk) two blind men (unlike Mr and Lk) receive their sight. It is not absolutely impossible that two or even three events are recorded, but so close is the similarity of the three accounts that it is highly improbable. Regarding them as referring to the same event, it is easy to understand how the discrepancies arose in the passage of the story from mouth to mouth. The main incident is clear enough, and on purely historical grounds, the miracle cannot be denied. The discrepancies themselves are evidence of the wide currency of the story before our Gospels assumed their present form. It is only a most mechanical theory of inspiration that would demand their harmonization.

T. Rees


ba’-ruk, bar’-uk (baruk; Barouch, "blessed"):

(1) Son of Neriah and brother of Seraiah, King Zedekiah’s chamberlain (Jer 51:59). He was the devoted friend (Jer 32:12), the amanuensis (36:4 ff, 32) and faithful attendant (36:10 ff; Josephus, Ant, X, vi, 2) of the prophet Jeremiah. He seems to have been of noble family (see Ant, X, ix, 1; compare Jer 51:59; Baruch 1:1). He was also according to Josephus a man of unusual acquirements (Ant., X, ix, 1). He might have risen to a high position and seemed conscious of this, but under Jeremiah’s influence (see Jer 45:5) he repressed his ambition, being content to throw in his lot with the great prophet whose secretary and companion he became. Jeremiah dictated his prophecies to Baruch, who read them to the people (Jer 36). The king (Jehoiakim) was greatly angered at these prophecies and had Baruch arrested and the roll burnt. Baruch however rewrote the prophet’s oracles. In the final siege of Jerusalem Baruch stood by his master, witnessing the purchase by the latter of his ancestral estate in Anathoth (Jer 32). According to Josephus (Ant., X, ix, 1) he continued to reside with Jeremiah at Mizpah after the fall of Jerusalem. Subsequent to the murder of Gedaliah, he was accused of having unduly influenced Jeremiah when the latter urged the people to remain in Judah—a fact which shows how great was the influence which Baruch was believed to have had over his master (Jer 43:3). He was carried with Jeremiah to Egypt (Jer 43:6; Ant, X, ix, 6), and thereafter our knowledge of him is merely legendary. According to a tradition preserved by Jerome (on Isa 30:6 f) he died in Egypt soon after reaching that country. Two other traditions say that he went, or by Nebuchadnezzar was carried, to Babylon after this king conquered Egypt. The high character of Baruch and the important part he played in the life and work of Jeremiah induced later generations still further to enhance his reputation, and a large number of spurious writings passed under his name, among them the following:

(a) The APOCALYPSE OF BARUCH (which see);

(b) the Book of Baruch;

(c) the Rest of the Words of Baruch;

(d) the Gnostic Book of Baruch;

(e) the Latin Book of Baruch, composed originally in Latin;

(f) a Greek Apocalypse of Baruch belonging to the 2nd century of our era;

(g) another Book of Baruch belonging to the 4th or 5th century.

(2) A son of Zabbai who aided Nehemiah in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Ne 3:20).

(3) One of the priests who signed the covenant with Nehemiah (Ne 10:6).

(4) The son of Colhozeh, a descendant of Perez, the son of Judah (Ne 11:5).

T. Witton Davies




One of the Apocryphal or Deutero-canonical books, standing between Jeremiah and Lamentations in the Septuagint, but in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) after these two books.

I. Name.

See under BARUCH for the meaning of the word and for the history of the best-known Biblical. personage bearing the name. Though Jewish traditions link this book with Jeremiah’s amanuensis and loyal friend as author, it is quite certain that it was not written or compiled for hundreds of years after the death of this Baruch. According to Jer 45:1 it was in the 4th year (604 BC) of the reign of Jehoiakim (608-597 BC) that Baruch wrote down Jeremiah’s words in a book and read them in the ears of the nobles (English Versions, "princes," but king’s sons are not necessarily meant; Jer 36). The Book of Baruch belongs in its present form to the latter half of the 1st century of our era; yet some modern Roman Catholic scholars vigorously maintain that it is the work of Jeremiah’s friend and secretary.

II. Contents.

This book and also the Epistle of Jeremy have closer affinities with the canonical Book of Jer than any other part of the Apocrypha. It is probably to this fact that they owe their name and also their position in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) The book is apparently made up of four separate parts by independent writers, brought together by an editor, owing it is very likely to a mere accident—each being too small to occupy the space on one roll they were all four written on one and the same roll. The following is a brief analysis of the four portions of the book:

1. Historical Introduction:

Historical Introduction, giving an account of the origin and purpose of the book (Baruch 1:1-14). Baruch 1:1 f tell us that Baruch wrote this book at Babylon "in the fifth month (not "year" as the Septuagint) in the seventh day of the month, what time as the Chaldeans took Jerusalem, and burnt it with fire" (see 2Ki 25:8 ff). Fritzsche and others read: "In the fifth year, in the month Sivan (see 1:8), in the seventh day of the month," etc. Um gives the date of the feast Pentecost, and the supposition is that the party who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem did so in order to observe that feast. According to 1:3-14, Baruch read his book to King Jehoiachin and his court by the (unidentified) river Sud. King and people on hearing the book fell to weeping, fasting and praying. As a result money was collected and sent, together with Baruch’s book, to the high priest Jehoiakim, (NOTE: So spelled in the canonical books; but it is Joacim or Joachim in Apocrypha the King James Version, and in the Apocrypha the Revised Version (British and American) it is invariably Joakim.) to the priests and to the people at Jerusalem. The money is to be used in order to make it possible to carry on the services of the temple, and in particular that prayers may be offered in the temple for the king and his family and also for the superior lord King Nebuchadnezzar and his son Baltasar (= the Belshazzar of Da 5).

2. Confession and Prayer:

Confession and prayer (Baruch 1:15-3:8) (1) of the Palestinian remnant (Baruch 1:15-2:15). The speakers are resident in Judah not in Babylon (Baruch 1:15; compare 2:4), as J. T. Marshall and R. H. Charles rightly hold. This section follows throughout the arrangement and phraseology of a prayer contained in Da 9:7-15. It is quite impossible to think of Daniel as being based on Baruch, for the writer of the former is far more original than the author or authors of Baruch. But in the present section the original passage in Da is altered in a very significant way. Thus in Da 9:7 the writer describes those for whom he wrote as ‘the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel(ites): those near and those far off, in all the lands (countries) whither thou hast driven them on account of their unfaithfulness toward thee.’ The italicized words are omitted from Baruch 1:15, though the remaining part of Da 9:7 is added. Why this difference? It is evident, as Marshall has ably pointed out, that the editor of the section intends to put the confession and prayer of Baruch 1:15-2:5 into the mouths of Jews who had not been removed into exile. Ewald (History, V, 208, 6) holds that Da 9:7-9 is dependent on Baruch 1:15-2:17. The section may thus be analyzed:

(a) Baruch 1:15-22: Confession of the sins of the nation from the days of Moses down to the exile. The principle of solidarity (see Century Bible, "Psalms," II, 21, 195, 215) so governed the thoughts of the ancient Israelites that the iniquities of their forefathers were in effect their own.

(b) Baruch 2:1-5: God’s righteous judgment on the nation in humbling and scattering them.

Confession and prayer (2) of the exiles in Babylon Baruch 2:16-3:8. That the words in this section are supposed to be uttered by Babylonian exiles appears from 2:13 f; 3:7 f and from the general character of the whole. This portion of the book is almost as dependent on older Scriptures as the foregoing. Three sources seem in particular to have been used.

(a) The Book of Jeremiah has been freely drawn upon.

(b) Deuteronomic phrases occur frequently, especially in the beginning and end. These are perhaps taken second-hand from Jeremiah, a book well known to the author of these verses and deeply loved by him.

(c) Solomon’s prayer as recorded in 1Ki 8 is another quarry from which our author appears to have dug. This section may be thus divided:

(i.) Baruch 2:6-12: Confession, opening as the former (see 1:15) with words extracted from Da 9:7.

(ii.) Baruch 2:13-3:8: Prayer for restoration. Baruch 3:1-8 shows more independence than the rest, for the author at this point makes use of language not borrowed from any original known to us. As such these verses are important as a clue to the writer’s position, views and character.

In Baruch 3:4 we have the petition: "Hear now the prayer of the dead Israelites," etc., words which as they stand involve the doctrine that the dead (Solomon, Daniel, etc.) are still alive and make intercession to Goal on behalf of the living. But this teaching is in opposition to 2:17 which occurs in the same context. Without making any change in the Hebrew consonants we can and should read for "dead (methe) Israelites" "the men of (methe) Israel." The Septuagint confuses the same words in Isa 5:13.

3. The Praise of Wisdom:

The praise of "Wisdom," for neglecting which Israel is now in a strange land. God alone is the author of wisdom, and He bestows it not upon the great and mighty of this world, but upon His own chosen people, who however have spurned the Divine gift and therefore lost it (Baruch 3:9-4:4).

The passage, Baruch 3:10-13 (Israel’s rejection of "Wisdom" the cause of her exile), goes badly with the context and looks much like an interpolation. The dominant idea in the section is that God has made Israel superior to all other nations by the gift of "wisdom," which is highly extolled. Besides standing apart from the context these four verses lack the rhythm which characterize the other verses. What is so cordially commended is described in three ways, each showing up a different facet, as do the eight synonyms for the Divine word in each of the 22 strophes in Ps 119 (see Century Bible, "Psalms," II, 254).

(1) It is called most frequently "Wisdom."

(2) In Baruch 4:1 it is described as the Commandments of God and as the Law or more correctly as authoritative instruction. The Hebrew word for this last (torah) bears in this connection, it is probable, the technical meaning of the Pentateuch, a sense which it never has in the Old Testament. Compare De 4:6, where the keeping of the commandments is said to be "wisdom" and understanding.

4. The Dependence of This Wisdom Section:

(1) The line of thought here resembles closely that pursued in Job 28, which modern scholars rightly regard as a later interpolation. Wisdom, the most valuable of possessions, is beyond the unaided reach of man. God only can give it—that is what is taught in these parts of both Baruch and Job with the question "Where shall wisdom be found?" (Job 28:12; compare Baruch 3:14 f, where a similar question forms the basis of the greater portion of the section of Job 38 f). Wisdom is not here as in Proverbs hypostatized, and the same is true of Job 28. This in itself is a sign of early date, for the personifying of "wisdom" is a later development (compare Philo, John 1).

(2) The language in this section is modeled largely on that of Deuteronomy, perhaps however through Jeremiah, which is also especially after chapter 10 Deuteronomic in thought and phraseology. See ante II, 2 (2 1b).

The most original part of this division of the book is where the writer enumerates the various classes of the world’s great ones to whom God had not given "wisdom": princes of the heathen, wealthy men, silversmiths, merchants, theologians, philosophers, etc. (Baruch 3:16 ff).


5. Words of Cheer to Israel:

The general thought that pervades the section, Baruch 4:5-5:9, is words of cheer to Israel (i.e. Judah) in exile, but we have here really, according to Rothstein, a compilation edited so skillfully as to give it the appearance of a unity which is not real. Earlier Biblical writings have throughout been largely drawn upon. Rothstein (Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen, etc., 213-15) divides the section in the following manner:

(1) Baruch 4:5-9a: Introductory section, giving the whole its keynote—"Be of good cheer," etc.; 4:7 f follows De 32:15-18.

(2) Baruch 4:9b-29: A song, divisible into two parts.

(a) Personified Jerusalem deplores the calamities of Israel in exile (Baruch 4:9b-16).

(b) She urges her unfortunate children to give themselves to hope and prayer, amending their ways so that God may bring about their deliverance (Baruch 4:17-29).

(c) Baruch 4:30-5:9: A second song, beginning as the first with the words, "Be of good cheer," and having the same general aim, to comfort exiled and oppressed Israel.

In all three parts earlier Scriptures have been largely used, and in particular Deutero-Isaiah has had much influence upon the author. But there do not seem to the present writer reasons cogent enough for concluding, with Rothstein, that these three portions are by as many different writers. There is throughout the same recurring thought "Be of good cheer," and there is nothing in the style to suggest divergent authorship.

(3) The Relation between Baruch 4:36-5:9 and Psalter of Solomon 11. It was perhaps Ewald (Geschichte, IV, 498) who first pointed out the similarity of language and viewpoint between Baruch 4:36-5:9 and Psalter of Solomon 11, especially 11:3-8. The only possible explanation is that which makes Baruch 4:36 ff an imitation of Psalter of Solomon 11. So Ewald (op. cit.); Ryle and James (Ps 70:2 ff).

Ps Sol were written originally in Hebrew, and references to Pompey (died 48 BC) and to the capture of Jerusalem (63 BC) show that this pseudepigraphical Psalter must have been written in the first half of the 1st century BC. Bar, as will be shown, is of much later date than this. Besides it is now almost certain that the part of Baruch under discussion was written in Greek (see below, IV) and that it never had a Hebrew original. Now it is exceedingly unlikely that a writer of a Hebrew psalm would copy a Greek original, though the contrary supposition is a very likely one.

On the other hand A. Geiger (Psalt. Sol., XI, 137-39, 1811), followed by W. B. Stevenson (Temple Bible), and many others argue for the priority of Baruch, using this as a reason for giving Baruch an earlier date than is usually done. It is possible, of course, that the Pseudo-Solomon and the Pseudo-Baruch have been digging in the same quarry; and that the real original used by both is lost.

III. Language.

For our present purpose the book must be divided into two principal parts:

(1) Baruch 1-3:8;

(2) 3:9-5:9.

There is general agreement among the best recent scholars from Ewald downward that the first portion of the book at least was written originally in Hebrew.

(1) In the Syro-Hex. text there are margin notes to 1:17 and 2:3 to the effect that these verses are lacking in the Hebrew, i.e. in the original Hebrew text.

(2) There are many linguistic features in this first part which are best explained on the supposition that the Greek text is from a Hebrew original. In Baruch 2:25 the Septuagint English Versions of the Bible apostole at the end of the verse means "a sending of." The English Versions of the Bible ("pestilence") renders a Hebrew word which, without the vowel signs (introduced late) is written alike for both meanings (d-b-r). The mistake can be explained only on the assumption of a Hebrew original. Similarly the reading "dead Israelites" for "men of Israel" (= Israelites) in 3:4 arose through reading wrong vowels with the same consonants, which last were alone written until the 7th and 8th centuries of our era. off, in all the lands (countries) whither thou hast driven them on account of their unfaithfulness toward thee.’ The italicized words are omitted from Baruch 1:15, though the remaining part of Da 9:7 is added. Why this difference? It is evident, as Marshall has ably pointed out, that the editor of the section intends to put the confession and prayer of Baruch 1:15-2:5 into the mouths of Jews who had not been removed into exile. Ewald (History, V, 208, 6) holds that Da 9:7-9 is dependent on Baruch 1:15-2:17. The section may thus be analyzed:

Frequently, as in Hebrew, sentences begin with Greek kai (=" and") which, without somewhat slavish copying of the Hebrew, would not be found. The construction called parataxis characterizes Hebrew; in good Greek we meet with hypotaxis.

The Hebrew way of expressing "where" is put literally into the Greek of this book (Baruch 2:4,13,29; 3:8). Many other Hebrew idioms, due, it is probable, to the translator’s imitations of his original, occur: in "to speak in the ears of" (Baruch 1:3); the word "man" (anthropos) in the sense "everyone" (Baruch 2:3); "spoken by thy servants the prophets" is in Greek by "the hand of the servants," which is good Hebrew but bad Greek Many other such examples could be added.

There is much less agreement among scholars as to the original language or languages of the second part of the book (Baruch 3:9-5:9). That this part too was written in Hebrew, so that in that case the whole book appeared first in that language, is the position held and defended by Ewald (op. cit.), Kneucker (op. cit.), Konig (Ein), Rothstein (op. cit.) and Bissell (Lange). It is said by these writers that this second part of Baruch equally with the first carries with it marks of being a translation from the Hebrew. But one may safely deny this statement. It must be admitted by anyone who has examined the text of the book that the most striking Hebraisms and the largest number of them occur in the first part of the book. Bissell writes quite fully and warmly in defense of the view that the whole book was at first written in Hebrew, but the Hebraisms which he cites are all with one solitary exception taken from the first part of the book. This one exception is in Baruch 4:15 where the Greek conjunction holi is used for the relative ho, the Hebrew ‘asher having the meaning of both. There seems to be a Hebraism in 4:21: "He shall deliver thee from .... the hand of your enemies," and there are probably others. But there are Hebraisms in Hellenistic Greek always—the present writer designates them "Hebraisms" or "Semiticisms" notwithstanding what Deismann, Thumb and Moulton say. In the first part of this book it is their overwhelming number and their striking character that tell so powerfully in favor of a Hebrew original.

(3) The following writers maintain that the second part of the book was written first of all in Greek: Fritzsche, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, Schurer, Gifford, Cornill and R. H. Charles, though they agree that the first part had a Hebrew original. This is probably the likeliest view, though much may be written in favor of a Hebrew original for the whole book and there is nothing quite decisively against it. J. Turner Marshall (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, I, 253) tries to prove that Baruch 3:9-4:4 was written first in Aramaic, the rest of the book (4:5-5:9) in Greek But though he defends his case with great ability he does not appear to the present writer to have proved his thesis. Ewald (op. cit.), Hitzig (Psalmen2, II, 119), Dillmann, Ruetschi, Fritzsche and Bissell were so greatly impressed by the close likeness between the Greek of Baruch and that of the Septuagint of Jeremiah, that they came to the conclusion that both books were translated by the same person. Subsequently Hitzig decided that Baruch was not written until after 70 AD, and therefore abandoned his earlier opinion in favor of this one—that the translator of Baruch was well acquainted with the Septuagint of Jeremiah and was strongly influenced by it.

IV. Date or Dates.

It is important to distinguish between the date of the completion of the entire book in its present form and the dates of the several parts which in some or all cases may be much older than that of the whole as such.

1. The Historical Introduction:

Baruch 1:1-14 was written after the completion of the book expressly to form a prologue or historical explanation of the circumstances under which the rest of the book came to be written. To superficial readers it could easily appear that the whole book was written by one man, but a careful examination shows that the book is a compilation. One may conclude that the introduction was the last part of the book to be composed and that therefore its date is that of the completion of the book. Reasons will be given (see below) for believing that 4:5-5:9 belongs to a time subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 AD. This is still more true of this introduction intended as a foreword to the whole book.

2. Confession and Prayer:

The following points bear on the date of the section Baruch 1:15-3:8, assuming it to have one date:

(1) The generation of Israelites to which the writer belonged were suffering for the sins of their ancestors; see especially Baruch 3:1-8.

(2) The second temple was in existence in the writer’s day. Baruch 2:26 must (with the best scholars) be translated as follows: "And thou hast made the house over which thy name is called as it is this day," i.e. the temple—still in being—is shorn of its former glory. Moreover though Da 9:7-14 is largely quoted in Baruch 1:15-2:12, the prayer for the sanctuary and for Jerusalem in Da 9:16 is omitted, because the temple is not now in ruins.

(3) Though it is implied (see above II, 2, (1)) that there are Jews in Judah who have never left their land there are a large number in foreign lands, and nothing is said that they were servants of the Babylonian king.

(4) The dependence of Baruch 2:13-3:8 on Deuteronomy, Jer and 1Ki 8 (Solomon’s prayer) shows that this part of the book is later than these writings, i.e. later than say 550 BC. Compare Baruch 2:13 with De 28:62 and Jer 42:2.

(5) The fact that Da 9:7-14 has influenced Baruch 1:15-2:12 proves that a date later than Daniel must be assumed for at least this portion of Baruch. The temple is still standing, so that the book belongs somewhere between 165 BC, when Daniel was written, and 71 AD, when the temple was finally destroyed.

Ewald, Gifford and Marshall think that this section belongs to the period following the conquest of Jerusalem by Ptolemy I (320 BC). According to Ewald the author of Baruch 1:1-3:8 (regarded as by one hand) was a Jew living in Babylon or Persia. But Daniel had not in 320 BC been written. Fritzsche, Schrader, Keil, Toy and Charles assign the section to the Maccabean age—a quite likely date. On the other hand Hitzig, Kneucker and Schurer prefer a date subsequent to 70 AD. The last writer argues for the unity of this section, though he admits that the middle of chapter 1 comports ill with its context.

3. The Wisdom Section Baruch 3:9-4:4:

It has been pointed out (see above, II, 3) that Baruch 3:10-13 does not belong to this section, being manifestly a later interpolation. The dependence of this Wisdom portion on Job 28 and on Deuteronomy implies a post-exilic date. The identification of Wisdom with the Torah which is evidently a synonym for the Pentateuch, argues a date at any rate not earlier than 300 BC. But how much later we have no means of ascertaining. The reasons adduced by Kneucker and Marshall for a date immediately before or soon af ter the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD have not convinced the present writer.

4. Words of Cheer Baruch 4:5-5:9:

The situation implied in these words may be thus set forth:

(1) A great calamity has happened to Jerusalem (Baruch 4:9 f). Nothing is said proving that the whole land has shared the calamity, unless indeed this is implied in Baruch 4:5 f.

(2) A large number of Jerusalemites have been transported (Baruch 4:10).

(3) The nation that has sacked Jerusalem and carried away many of its inhabitants is "shameless," having "a strange language, neither reverencing old men nor pitying children" (Baruch 4:15).

(4) The present home of the Jerusalemites is a great city (Baruch 4:32-35), not the country. Now the above details do not answer to any dates in the history of the nation except these two:

(a) 586 BC, when the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians;

(b) 71 AD, when the temple was finally destroyed by the Romans.

But the date 586 BC is out of the question, and no modern scholar pleads for it. We must therefore assume for this portion of the book a date soon after 70 AD. In the time of Pompey, to which Graetz assigns the book, neither Jerusalem nor the temple was destroyed. Nor was there any destruction of either during the Maccabean war. In favor of this date is the dependence of Baruch 4:36 ff on Psalter of Solomon 11 (see above, II, 5, (3)).

Rothstein (in Kautzsch) says that in this section there are at least three parts by as many different writers. Marshall argues for four independent parts. But if either of these views is correct the editor has done his work exceedingly well, for the whole harmonizes well together.

Kneucker, author of the fullest Commentary, endeavors to prove that the original book consisted of Baruch 1:1 f plus 3a (the heading) plus 3:9-5:9, and that it belongs to the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD). The confession and prayer in 1:15-3:8 were written, he says, somewhat earlier and certainly before 71 AD, and as a separate work, being inserted in the book by the scribe who wrote 1:4-14.

V. Versions.

The most important versions are the following. It is assumed in the article that the Greek text of the book up to Baruch 3:8 is itself a translation from a Hebrew text now lost. The same remark may be true of the rest of the book or of a portion of it (see above, III).

1. Latin:

There are two versions in this language:

(1) The Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) which is really the Old Latin, since Jerome’s revision was confined to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Apocrypha being therefore omitted in this revision. This version is a very literal one based on the Greek It is therefore for that reason the more valuable as a witness to the Greek text.

(2) There is a later Latin translation, apparently a revision of the former, for its Latinity is better; in some cases it adopts different readings and in a general way it has been edited so as to bring it into harmony with the Vatican uncial (B). This Latin version was published in Rome by J. Maria Caro (died circa 1688) and was reprinted by Sabatier in parallel columns with the pre-Jeromian version noticed above (see Bibliotheca Casinensis, I, 1873).

2. Syriac:

There are also in this language two extant versions:

(1) The Peshitta, a very literal translation, can be seen in the London (Walton’s) Polyglot and most conveniently in Lagarde’s Libr. Apocrypha. Syriac., the last being a more accurate reproduction.

(2) The Hexapla Syriac translation made by Paul, bishop of Telle, near the beginning of the 7th century AD. It has been published by Ceriani with critical apparatus in his beautiful photograph-lithographed edition of the Hexapla Syriac Bible.

3. Arabic:

There is a very literal translation to be found in the London Polyglot, referred to above.


For editions of the Greek text see under APOCRYPHA. Of commentaries the fullest and best is that by Kneucker, Das Buch Baruch (1879), who gives an original German rendering based on a restored Hebrew original. Other valuable commentaries are those by Fritzsche (1851); Ewald, Die Propheten2, etc. (1868), III, 251-82 (Eng. translation); The Prophets of the Old Testament, V, 108-37, by Reusch (1855); Zockler (1891) and Rothstein (op. cit.); and in English, Bissell (in Lange’s series edited by D. S. Schaff, 1880); and Gifford (Speaker’s Comm., 1888). The S. P. C. K. has a handy and serviceable volume published in the series of popular commentaries on the Old Testament. But this commentary, though published quite recently (my copy belongs to 1894, "nineteenth thousand"), needs strengthening on the side of its scholarship.

Arts. dealing with introduction occur in the various Bible Dictionaries (Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, Westcott and Ryle; Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), J. T. Marshall, able and original; Encyclopedia Biblica, Bevan, rather slight). To these must be added excellent articles in Jewish Encyclopedia (G. F. Moore), and Encyclopedia Biblica (R. H. Charles).

T. Witton Davies


bar-zil’-a-i, bar-zil’-i (barzillay; Berzelli, "man of iron" (BDB, but compare Cheyne, Encyclopedia Biblica)):

(1) A Gileadite of Rogelim who brought provisions to David and his army to Mahanaim, in their flight from Absalom (2Sa 17:27-29). When David was returning to Jerusalem after Absalom’s defeat, Barzillai conducted him over Jordan, but being an old man of 80 years of age, he declined David’s invitation to come to live in the capital, and sent instead his son Chimham (2Sa 19:31-39). David before his death charged Solomon to "show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai." (1Ki 2:7). Cheyne in Encyclopedia Biblica, without giving any reason, differentiates this Barzillai from Barzillai the Gileadite (Ezr 2:61 = Ne 7:63). See (2) below.

(2) The father of a family of priests who in Ezra’s time, after the return of the exiles, could not trace their genealogy. "Therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood." This Barzillai had taken "a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite," and had adopted his wife’s family name (Ezr 2:61,62 = Ne 7:63,64). His original name is given as Jaddus (the King James Version Addus) (1 Esdras 5:38). (See ZORZELLEUS; the Revised Version, margin "Phaezeldaeus.")

(3) Barzillai the Meholathite, whose son Adriel was married to Saul’s daughter, either Michal (2Sa 21:8) or Merab (1Sa 18:19).

T. Rees


bas’-a-loth (A, Baaloth; B, Basalem; 1 Esdras 5:31 = Bazluth (Ezr 2:52) and Bazlith (Ne 7:54)): The descendants of Basaloth (temple-servants) returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem.


bas’-ka-ma (Baskama (1 Macc 13:23)): A town located in the country of Gilead, where Tryphon slew Jonathan, the son of Absalom. Compare JONATHAN (Apocrypha).

BASE bas:

(1) Substantive from Latin basis, Greek basis, a foundation.

(a) (mekhonah): the fixed resting-place on which the lavers in Solomon’s temple were set (1Ki 7:27-43; 2Ki 16:17; 25:13,16; 2Ch 4:14; Jer 27:19; 52:17,20; compare Ezr 3:3; Zec 5:11 the American Revised Version, margin).

(b) (ken): pedestal in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) (1Ki 7:29,31) and in the Revised Version (British and American) only (Ex 30:18,28; 31:9; 35:16; 38:8; 39:39; 40:11; Le 8:11) of the base of the laver of the tabernacle (the King James Version "foot").

(c) (yarekh): "base of candlestick" (the Revised Version (British and American) of Ex 25:31; 37:17) the King James Version "shaft."

(d) (yecodh): the Revised Version (British and American) "base of altar"; the King James Version "bottom" (Ex 29:12; 38:8; Le 4:7,18,25,30,34; 5:9; 8:15; 9:9).

(e) (gabh): the Revised Version (British and American) "elevation," i.e. basement of altar; the King James Version "higher place" (Eze 43:13).

(2) Adjective from French bas—low, or Welsh bas—"shallow": of lowly birth or station, of voluntary humility and of moral depravity.

(a) (shaphal, shephal): of David’s self-humiliation (2Sa 6:22): "a modest unambitious kingdom" (Eze 17:14; 29:14,15 (BDB); Da 4:17 (the American Standard Revised Version "lowest")): compare shephelah =" lowland."

(b) (qalah): men of humble birth and station as opposed to the nobles (Isa 3:5).

(c) (beli-shem): "nameless," "of no account": "children of fools, yea, children of base men" (Job 30:8).

(d) the King James Version men, sons, daughters, children of Belial; literally "worthless persons"; in the American Standard Revised Version "base," except 1Sa 1:16 "wicked woman"; also the English Revised Version of De 13:13, "base," which elsewhere retains the King James Version rendering.

(e) (tapeinos): "lowly," "humble or abject" (2Co 10:1); the Revised Version (British and American), "lowly"; so Paul’s enemies said he appeared when present in the church at Corinth.

(f) (agenes): "of low birth," "of no account" (1Co 1:28): "base things of the world."

(g) (agoraios): " belonging to the market-place," loafers, worthless characters (Ac 17:5): "certain lewd fellows of the baser sort"; the Revised Version (British and American) "certain vile fellows of the rabble."

T. Rees


bas’-e-math, bash’-e-math, bas’-math (basemath, "fragrant"):

(1) Basemath, one of the wives of Esau, a daughter of Elon, the Hittite (Ge 26:34; the King James Version Bashemath), probably identical with or a sister of Adah whom he also married (Ge 36:2). Compare ADAH.

(2) Basemath (the King James Version Bashemath), another wife of Esau, a daughter of Ishmael and a sister of Nebaioth (Ge 36:3,4,10,13,17). This wife is also called Mahalath (Ge 28:9), and is of the house of Abraham. Esau married her because his father was not pleased with his other wives who were daughters of Canaan. Compare MAHALATH.

(3) Basemath (the King James Version Basmath), the daughter of Solomon, and wife of Ahimaaz, a commissariat-officer in the service of Solomon (1Ki 4:15).

A. L. Breslich


ba’-shan (ha-bashan, "the Bashan"; Basan): This name is probably the same in meaning as the cognate Arabic bathneh, "soft, fertile land," or bathaniyeh (batanaea), "this land sown with wheat" ("wheatland").

1. Boundaries:

It often occurs with the article, "the Bashan," to describe the kingdom of Og, the most northerly part of the land East of the Jordan. It stretched from the border of Gilead in the South to the slopes of Hermen in the North. Hermon itself is never definitely included in Bashan, although Og is said to have ruled in that mountain (Jos 12:5; 13:11). In De 3:10 Salecah and Edrei seem to indicate the East and West limits respectively. This would agree with Jos 12:5; 13:11, which seem to make Geshur and Maacath the western boundary of Bashan. If this were so, then these unconquered peoples literally "dwelt in the midst of Israel." On the other hand De 4:47 may mean that the Jordan formed the western boundary; while De 33:22 makes Bashan extend to the springs of the Jordan. If Golan lay in the district in which its name is still preserved (el Jaulan), this also brings it to the lip of the Jordan valley (De 4:43). "A mountain of summits," or "protuberances" (Ps 68:15,16: Hebrew), might describe the highlands of the Jaulan, with its many volcanic hills as seen from the West. "A mountain of God" however does not so well apply to this region. Perhaps we should, with Wetzstein (Das batanaische Giebelgebirge) take these phrases as descriptive of Jebel Chauran, now usually called Jebel ed-Druze, with its many striking summits. This range protected the province from encroachment by the sands of the wilderness from the East. On the South Bashan marched with the desert steppe, el-Chamad, and Gilead. Of the western boundary as we have seen there can be no certainty. It is equally impossible to draw any definite line in the North.

2. Characteristics:

Bashan thus included the fertile, wooded slopes of Jebel ed-Druze, the extraordinarily rich plain of el-Chauran (en-Nuqrah—see HAURAN), the rocky tract of el-Leja’, the region now known as el-Jedur, resembling the Chauran in character, but less cultivated; and, perhaps, the breezy uplands of el-Jaulan, with its splendid reaches of pasture land. It was a land rich in great cities, as existing ruins sufficiently testify. It can hardly be doubted that many of these occupy sites of great antiquity. We may specially note Ashtaroth and Edrei, the cities of Og; Golan, the city of refuge, the site of which is still in doubt; and Salecah (Calkhad), the fortress on the ridge of the mountain, marking the extreme eastern limit of Israel’s possessions.

The famous oaks of Bashan (Isa 2:13; Eze 27:6) have their modern representatives on the mountain slopes. It seems strange that in Scripture there is no notice of the wheat crops for which the country is in such repute today. Along with Carmel it stood for the fruitfulness of the land (Isa 33:9 etc.); and their languishing was an evident mark of God’s displeasure (Na 1:4). The "bulls of Bashan" represent blatant and brutal strength (Ps 22:12, etc.). It is long since the lion deserted the plateau (De 33:22); but the leopard is still not unknown among the mountains (So 4:8).

3. History:

In pre-Israelite days Bashan was ruled by Og the Amorite. His defeat at Edrei marked the end of his kingdom (Nu 21:33 ff; Jos 13:11), and the land was given to the half tribe of Manasseh (Jos 13:30, etc.). In the Syrian wars Bashan was lost to Israel (1Ki 22:3 ff; 2Ki 8:28; 10:32 f), but it was regained by Jeroboam II (2Ki 14:25). It was incorporated in the Assyrian empire by Tiglath-pileser III (2Ki 15:29). In the 2nd century BC it was in the hands of the Nabateans. It formed part of the kingdom of Herod the Great, and then belonged to that of Philip and Agrippa II.

W. Ewing


ba’-shan-hav’-oth-ja’-ir (bashan chawwoth ya’ir).






baz’-i-lisk (tsepha‘, tsiph‘oni, from obsolete root tsapha‘, "to hiss": Isa 11:8; 14:29; 59:5; Jer 8:17; Pr 23:32 m. In Pr 23:32, the King James Version has "adder," margin "cockatrice"; in the other passages cited the King James Version has "cockatrice," margin "adder" (except Jer 8:17, no margin)): The word is from basiliskos, "kinglet," from basileus, "king," and signifies a mythical reptile hatched by a serpent from a cock’s egg. Its hissing drove away other serpents. Its look, and especially its breath, was fatal. According to Pliny, it was named from a crown-like spot on its head. It has been identified with the equally mythical COCKATRICE (which see). In all the passages cited, it denotes a venomous serpent (see ADDER; SERPENT), but it is impossible to tell what, if any, particular species is referred to. It must be borne in mind that while there are poisonous snakes in Palestine, there are more which are not poisonous, and most of the latter, as well as some harmless lizards, are commonly regarded as deadly. Several of the harmless snakes have crownlike markings on their heads, and it is quite conceivable that the basilisk myth may have been founded upon one of these.

Alfred Ely Day



1. The Terms Used and Their Meaning:

The American Standard Revised Version has "basin," the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "bason," the preferred spelling of the English revisers. In the Appendix to the Revised Old Testament the American Revisers (section viii) say, "The modern spelling is preferred for the following words"; then follow among others "basin" for "bason"; but no similar statement appears in the Appendix to the Revised New Testament. The Hebrew word so rendered in English Versions of the Bible is chiefly used for the large bowl of bronze (the King James Version "brass") employed by the priests to receive the blood of the sacrificial victims (Ex 27:3; compare Ex 29:16; 1Ki 7:45, etc.). It is found only once in secular use (Am 6:6, "drink wine in bowls"), if the text there is correct; the Septuagint has it otherwise. See BOWL. The "basins" of Ex 12:22; 2Sa 17:28 were probably of earthenware.

2. Of Various Materials and Forms:

While the priests’ bowls were of bronze, similar bowls or basins of silver were presented by the princes of the congregation, according to Nu 7:13 ff; and those spoken of in 1Ki 7:50 as destined for Solomon’s temple were of gold (compare 1Ch 28:17).

3. The Typical Ewer of the East:

(1) The well-known eastern mode of washing the hands was and is by pouring water on the hands, not by dipping them in water, an act, of course, calling for the aid of an attendant. Elisha "poured water on the hands of Elijah" (2Ki 3:11; see Kitto’s note in Pictorial Bible 2, II, 330). A disciple came to be known as "one who poured water on the hands of another." Such was beyond question the prevailing custom among the ancient Hebrews, as it was, and is, among eastern peoples in general. They incline to look with disgust, if not with horror, upon our western practice of washing face and hands in water retained in a basin.

(2) The typical vessel of the East used in such ablutions has a long spout, not unlike our large coffee-pot (see Kitto, Pict. Biblical, II, 331, note). While the English Versions of the Bible unfortunately often suggests nothing like such pouring, the Hebrew expresses it, e.g. in 1Sa 25:41, where we have the Qal of rachats compare Kennedy in 1-vol HDB, and HDB, articles "Bath," "Bathing." Kennedy shows that "affusion," "pouring on" of water, was meant in many cases where we read "bathe" or "wash" in Enoch glish Versions. Lane (Mod. Egypt, chapter v) says: "A servant brings him a basin and ewer (called Tsisht and ibreek) of tinned copper or brass. The first has a cover with holes, with a raised receptacle for the soap; and the water is poured upon the hands and passes through the ewer into the space below; so that when the basin is brought to a second person the water with which the former has washed is not seen."

4. A Basin of a Unique Sort:

(1) A wash-basin of a special sort was used by Jesus for washing the disciples’ feet (see Joh 13:5). The Greek is nipter eita ballei hudor eis ton niptera, translated the Revised Version (British and American), "then he poureth water into the basin." This word nipter is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, nor in the Septuagint, nor, indeed, in Greek profane literature. But fortunately the general sense is here made plain by the context and by comparison of the cognate verbs niptein and n izein. It evidently denotes an article, not necessarily a vessel, specifically suited to the use of washing a part of the body, e.g. the hands or the feet, and hence is used with the article, "the basin," the Revised Version (British and American). It is doubtful, therefore, if "basin," or "bason," conveys a true idea of either the oriental article here meant or the scene portrayed. The fact that, according to the custom of the day, the position of the disciples here was reclining, precludes the possibility of the use of a "basin" of our sort, in the way we are accustom edition to, i.e. for immersing the feet in the water, in whole or in part.

(2) So it is likely that the nipter was a jug, or ewer, with a dish, saucer, or basin placed under it and combined with it to catch the dripping water. We know from other sources that such a vessel was kept in the Jewish house regularly for ordinary handwashings, etc. (see Mt 15:2; Mr 7:3), and for ceremonial ablutions. Hence, it would naturally be ready here in the upper room as a normal part of the preparation of the "goodman of the house" for his guests (the King James Version Mr 14:14; Lu 22:12), and so it is distinguished by the Greek article ton. Jesus Himself used the nipter, standing, doubtless, to impress upon His disciples the lessons of humility, self-abasement and loving service which He ever sought to impart and illustrate.

(3) Our conclusion, we may say with George Farmer in DCG, article "Bason," is that nipter was not simply one large basin, but the set of ewer and basin combined, such a set as was commonly kept in the Jewish house for the purpose of cleansing either the hands or the feet by means of affusion. The Arabic Tisht, authorities tell us, is the exact rendering of nipter, and it comes from a root which means "to pour," or "rain slightly." (See Anton Tien, reviser of the Arabic prayer-book, author of Arabic an d Mod. Greek Grammars, etc., quoted in DCG, article "Bason.")

George B. Eager


bas’-ket: Four kinds of "baskets" come to view in the Old Testament under the Hebrew names, dudh, Tene’, cal and kelubh. There is little, however, in these names, or in the narratives where they are found, to indicate definitely what the differences of size and shape and use were. The Mishna renders us some help in our uncertainty, giving numerous names and descriptions of "baskets" in use among the ancient Hebrews (see Kreugel, Dasse Hausgerat in der Mishna, 39-45). They were variously m ade of willow, rush, palm-leaf, etc., and were used for various purposes, domestic and agricultural, for instance, in gathering and serving fruit, collecting alms in kind for the poor, etc. Some had handles, others lids, some both, others neither.

1. Meaning of Old Testament Terms:

(1) Dudh was probably a generic term for various kinds of baskets. It was probably the "basket" in which the Israelites in Egypt carried the clay for bricks (compare Ps 81:6, where it is used as a symbol of Egyptian bondage), and such as the Egyptians themselves used for that purpose (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, I, 379), probably a large, shallow basket, made of wicker-work. It stood for a basket that was used in fruit-gathering (see Jer 24:1), but how it differed from Amos’ "basket of summer fruit" (Am 8:1) we do not know. Dudh is used for the "pot" in which meat was boiled (1Sa 2:14), showing probably that a pot-shaped "basket" was known by this name. Then it seems to have stood for a basket tapering toward the bottom like the calathus of the Romans. So we seem forced to conclude that the term was generic, not specific.

(2) The commonest basket in use in Old Testament times was the cal. It was the "basket" in which the court-baker of Egypt carried about his confectionery on his head (Ge 40:16). It was made in later times at least of peeled willows, or palm leaves, and was sometimes at least large and flat like the canistrum of the Romans, and, like it, was used for carrying bread and other articles of food (Ge 40:16; Jud 6:19). Meat for the meat offerings and the unleavened bread, were placed in it (Ex 29:3; Le 8:2; Nu 6:15). It is expressly required that the unleavened cakes be placed and offered in such a "basket." While a "basket," it was dish-shaped, larger or smaller in size, it would seem, according to demand, and perhaps of finer texture than the dudh.

(3) The Tene’ was a large, deep basket, in which grain and other products of garden or field were carried home, and kept (De 28:5,17), in which the first-fruits were preserved (De 26:2), and the tithes transported to the sanctuary (De 26:2 f). It has been thought probable that the chabya, the basket of clay and straw of the Palestine peasantry of today, is a sort of survival or counterpart of it. It has the general shape of a jar, and is used for storing and keeping wheat, barley, oats, etc. At the top is the mouth into which the grain is poured, and at the bottom is an orifice through which it can be taken out as needed, when the opening is again closed with a rag. The Septuagint translates Tene’ by kartallos, which denotes a basket of the shape of an inverted cone.

(4) The term kelubh, found in Am 8:1 for a "fruit-basket," is used in Jer 5:27 (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "cage") for a bird-cage. But it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that a coarsely woven basket with a cover would be used by a fowler to carry home his feathered captives.

2. Meaning of New Testament Terms:

In the New Testament interest centers in two kinds of "basket," distinguished by the evangelists in their accounts of the feeding of the 5,000 and of the 4,000, called in Greek kophinos and spuris (Westcott-Hort sphuris).

(1) The kophinos (Mt 14:20; Mr 6:43; Lu 9:17; Joh 6:13) may be confidently identified with the kuphta’ of the Mishna which was provided with a cord for a handle by means of which it could be carried on the back with such provisions as the disciples on the occasions under consideration would naturally have with them (of Kreugel, and Broadus, Commentary in the place cited.). The Jews of Juvenal’s day carried such a specific "provision-basket" with them on their journeys regularly, and the Latin for it is a transliteration of this Greek word, cophinus (compare Juvenal iii.14, and Jastrow, Dictionary, article "Basket"). Some idea of its size may be drawn from the fact that in CIG, 1625, 46, the word denotes a Beotian measure of about two gallons.

(2) The sphuris or spuris (Mt 15:37; Mr 8:8) we may be sure, from its being used in letting Paul down from the wall at Damascus (Ac 9:25, etc.), was considerably larger than the kophinos and quite different in shape and uses. It might for distinction fitly be rendered "hamper," as Professor Kennedy suggests. Certainly neither the Greek nor ancient usage justifies any confusion.

(3) The sargane (2Co 11:33) means anything plaited, or sometimes more specifically a fish-basket.

George B. Eager











bas’-a-i, bas’-i (Bassai, Bassa; the King James Version Bassa; 1 Esdras 5:16; Bezai (Ezr 2:17; Ne 7:23)): The sons of Bassai returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem.





bas’-tard (mamzer; nothos): In De 23:2 probably the offspring of an incestuous union, or of a marriage within the prohibited degrees of affinity (Le 18:6-20; 20:10-21). He and his descendants to the tenth generation are excluded from the assembly of the Lord. (See Driver, at the place). Zechariah (Zec 9:6), after prophesying the overthrow of three Philistine cities, declares of the fourth: "And a bastard (the Revised Version, margin "a bastard race") shall dwell in Ashdod," meaning probably that a "mixed population" (BDB) of aliens shall invade and settle in the capital of the Philistines. In Heb (He 12:8) in its proper sense of "born out of wedlock," and therefore not admitted to the privileges of paternal care and responsibility as a legitimate son.

T. Ress


bas’-tha-i, bas’-thi (Basthai; the King James Version Bastai; 1 Esdras 5:31 = Besai (Ezr 2:49; Ne 7:52)): The descendants of Basthai (temple-servants) returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem.


(‘aTaleph; Le 11:19; De 14:18; Isa 2:20): Bats are the most widely distributed of mammals, reaching even the oceanic islands, and modern science has revealed the existence of an astonishing number of species, nearly twenty being recorded from Palestine. These include both fruit-eating and insect-eating bats, the latter being the smaller. It has not always been realized that they are mammals, and so it is not surprising that they should be mentioned at the end of the list of unclean birds in Le 11:19 and De 14:18. It may, however, be significant that they are at the end of the list and not in the middle of it. The fruit bats are a pest to horticulturists and often strip apricot and other trees before the fruit has ripened enough to be picked. On this account the fruit is often enclosed in bags, or the whole tree may be surrounded with a great sheet or net. They commonly pick the fruit and eat it on some distant perch beneath which the seeds and the ordure of these animals are scattered. The insect bats, as in other countries, flit about at dusk and through the night catching mosquitoes and larger insects, and so are distinctly beneficial.

The reference in Isa 2:20, "cast .... idols .... to the moles and to the bats" refers of course to these animals as inhabitants of dark and deserted places. As in the case of many animal names the etymology of ‘aTaleph is doubtful. Various derivations have been proposed but none can be regarded as satisfactory. The Arabic name, waTwaT, throws no light on the question.

Alfred Ely Day


bat-a-ne’-a: The name used in Greek times for BASHAN (which see), Josephus, Life, II; Ant, XV, x, 1; XVII, ii, 1, "toparchy of Butanea."


(bath): A liquid measure equal to about 9 gallons, English measure. It seems to have been regarded as a standard for liquid measures (Eze 45:10), as in the case of the molten sea and the lavers in Solomon’s temple (1Ki 7:26,38), and for measuring oil and wine (2Ch 2:10; Ezr 7:22; Isa 5:10; Eze 45:14). Its relation to the homer is given in Eze 45:11,14.



bath’-kol, bath kol (bath qol, "the daughter of the voice"): Originally signifying no more than "sound," "tone," "call" (e.g. water in pouring gives forth a "sound," bath qol, while oil does not), sometimes also "echo." The expression acquired among the rabbis a special use, signifying the Divine voice, audible to man and unaccompanied by a visible Divine manifestation. Thus conceived, bath qol is to be distinguished from God’s speaking to Moses and the prophets; for at Sinai the voice of God was part of a larger theophany, while for the prophets it was the resultant inward demonstration of the Divine will, by whatever means effected, given to them to declare (see VOICE). It is further to be distinguished from all natural sounds and voices, even where these were interpreted as conveying Divine instruction. The conception appears for the first time in Da 4:28 (English Versions 31)—it is in the Aramaic portion—where, however, qal = qol, "voice" stands without berath = bath, "daughter": "A voice fell from heaven." Josephus (Ant., XIII, x, 3) relates that John Hyrcanus (135- 104 BC) heard a voice while offering a burnt sacrifice in the temple, which Josephus expressly interprets as the voice of God (compare Babylonian SoTah 33a and Jerusalem SoTah 24b, where it is called bath qol). In the New Testament mention of "a voice from heaven" occurs in the following passages: Mt 3:17; Mr 1:11; Lu 3:22 (at the baptism of Jesus); Mt 17:5; Mr 9:7; Lu 9:35 (at His transfiguration); Joh 12:28 (shortly before His passion); Ac 9:4; 22:7; 26:14 (conversion of Paul), and Ac 10:13,15 (instruction of Peter concerning clean and unclean). In the period of the Tannaim (circa 100 BC- 200 AD) the term bath qol was in very frequent us and was understood to signify not the direct voice of God, which was held to be supersensible, but the echo of the voice (the bath being somewhat arbitrarily taken to express the distinction). The rabbis held that bath qol had been an occasional means of Divine communication throughout the whole history of Israel and that since the cessation of the prophetic gift it was the sole means of Divine revelation. It is noteworthy that the rabbinical conception of bath qol sprang up in the period of the decline of Old Testament prophecy and flourished in the period of extreme traditionalism. Where the gift of prophecy was clearly lacking—perhaps even because of this lack—there grew up an inordinate desire for special Divine manifestations. Often a voice from heaven was looked for to clear up matters of do ubt and even to decide between conflicting interpretations of the law. So strong had this tendency become that Rabbi Joshua (circa 100 AD) felt it to be necessary to oppose it and to insist upon the supremacy and the sufficiency of the written law. It is clear that we have here to do with a conception of the nature and means of Divine revelation that is distinctly inferior to the Biblical view. For even in the Biblical passages where mention is made of the voice from heaven, all that is really essential to the revelation is already present, at least in principle, without the audible voice.


F. Weber, System der altsynagogalen palastinischen Theologie, 2nd edition, 1897, 194 ff; J. Hamburger, Real-Enc des Judentums, II, 1896; W. Bacher, Agada der Tannaiten and Agada der palast. Amoraer (see Index); Jewish Encyclopedia, II, 588 ff; "Bath Kol" in TSBA, IX, 18; P. Fiebig, Rel. in Gesch. und Gegenwart, I, under the word

J. R. Van Pelt

BATH-RABBIM, THE GATE OF bath-rab’-im, (sha‘ar bath-rabbim; Septuagint en pulais thugatros pollon, literally "in the gates of the daughter of the many.") The gate of Heshbon near which were the pools compared to the Shulammite’s eyes (So 7:4). Guthe would translate "by the gate of the populous city." Cheyne would amend the passage and read " Thine eyes are like Solomon’s pools, By the wood of Beth-cerem," and transfer the scene to the pools of Solomon, S. of Bethlehem (EB, under the word). But this is surely very violent. One of the pools of Heshbon still survives, measuring 191 ft. X 139 ft., and is 10 ft. deep. The walls however have been rent by earthquakes, and now no longer retain the water.

W. Ewing


bath-she’-ba, bath’-she-ba (bath-shebha‘, "the seventh daughter," or "the daughter of an oath," also called Bathshua bath- shua‘, "the daughter of opulence" (1Ch 3:5); the Septuagint however reads Bersabee everywhere; compare BATHSHUA; HPN, 65, 67, 77, 206 for Bath-sheba, and 67, 69, note 3, for Bathshua): Bath-sheba was the daughter of Eliam (2Sa 11:3) or Ammiel (1Ch 3:5); both names have the same meaning. She was the beautiful wife of Uriah the Hittite, and because of her beauty was forced by David to commit adultery (2Sa 11:2 ff; Ps 51). Her husband Uriah was treacherously killed by the order of David (2Sa 11:6 ff). After the death of her husband David made her his wife and she lived with him in the palace (2Sa 11:27). Four sons sprang from this marriage (2Sa 5:14; 1Ch 3:5), after the first child, the adulterine, had died (2Sa 12:14 ff). With the help of the prophet Nathan she renders futile the usurpation of Adonijah and craftily secures the throne for her son Solomon (1Ki 1:11 ff). Later Adonijah succeeds in deceiving Bath-sheba, but his plan is frustrated by the king (1Ki 2:13 ff). According to Jewish tradition, Pr 31 is written by Solomon in memory of his mother. In the genealogy of Jesus (Mt 16) Bath-sheba is mentioned as the former wife of Uriah and the mother of Solomon by David.


A. L. Breslich





bath, bath’-ing.

1. Ordinary Bathing:

Bathing in the ordinary, non-religious sense, public or private, is rarely met with in the Scriptures. We find, however, three exceptional and interesting cases:

(1) that of Pharaoh’s daughter, resorting to the Nile (Ex 2:5);

(2) that of Bath-sheba, bathing on the house-top (2Sa 11:2 the Revised Version (British and American));

(3) the curious case mentioned in 1Ki 22:38. (To wash with royal blood was supposed to be beneficial to the complexion.)

The dusty, limestone soil of Palestine and the open foot-gear of the Orient on stockingless feet, called for frequent washing of the feet (Ge 24:32; 43:24; Jud 19:24; 1Sa 25:41; 2Sa 11:8; So 5:3, etc.), and bathing of the body for refreshment; but the chief concern of the writers of Scripture was with bathing of another sort. Indeed, something of the religious sense and aspect of bathing, in addition to that of bodily refreshment, seems to have entered into the ordinary use of water, as in the washing of the hands before meals, etc. (see Ge 18:4; 19:2; Lu 7:44).

2. Bathing Resorts:

The streams and ponds, when available, were the usual resorts for bathing (Ex 2:5; 2Ki 5:10, etc.), but the water- supply of large cities, stored up in great pools or large cisterns, was certainly available at times to some degree for bathing (2Sa 11:2); though, as Benzinger says, no traces of bathrooms have been found in old Hebrew houses, even in royal palaces. In Babylon, it would seem from Susanna 15, there were bathing pools in gardens, though this passage may refer simply to bathing in the open air. Certainly public baths as now known, or plunge-baths of the Greek type, were unknown among the Hebrews until they were brought in contact with the Greek civilization. Such baths first come into view during the Greek-Roman period, when they are found to be regularly included in the gymnasia, or "places of exercise" (1 Macc 1:14). Remains of them, of varying degrees of richness and architectural completeness, may be seen today in various parts of the East, those left of the cities of the Decapolis, especially at Gerash and Amman, being excellent examples (compare also those at Pompeii). A remarkable series of bath-chambers has recently been discovered by Mr. R. A. S. Macalister at Gezer in Palestine, in connection with a building supposed to be the palace built by Simon Maccabeus. For an interesting account of it see PEFS, 1905, 294 f.

3. Greek versus Semitic Ideas:

When we consider that in Palestine six months of the year are rainless, and how scarce and pricelessly valuable water is during most of the year, and in many places all the year round; and when we recall how the Bedouin of today looks on the use of water for cleansing in such times and places of scarcity, viewing it as a wanton waste (see Benzinger, Hebrew. Arch., 108, note), the rigid requirement of it for so many ritual purposes by the Mosaic law is, to say the least, remarkable (see ABLUTION; CLEAN; UNCLEANNESS, etc.). Certainly there was a marked contrast between the Greek idea of bathing and that of the Hebrews and Asiatics in general, when they came in contact. But when Greek culture invaded Palestine under Antiochus Epiphanes (circa 168 BC), it brought Greek ideas and Greek bathing establishments with it; and under Herod (40-44 BC) it was given the right of way and prevailed to no mean degree (see Anecdote of Gamaliel II in Schurer, HJP, II, i, 18, 53).

4. Ceremonial Purification:

But "bathing" in the Bible stands chiefly for ritual acts—purification from ceremonial uncleanness, from contact with the dead, with defiled persons or things, with "holy things," i.e. things "devoted," or "under the ban," etc. (see CLEAN; UNCLEANNESS, etc.). The Hebrew of the Old Testament does not sharply distinguish between bathing and partial washing—both are expressed by rahats, and the Revised Version (British and American) rightly renders "wash" instead of "bathe" in some cases. Talmudic usage simply codified custom which had been long in vogue, according to Schurer. But Kennedy grants that the "bath" at last became, even for the laity, "an important factor in the religious life of Israel." We read of daily bathing by the Essenes (Josephus, BJ, II, viii, 5). Then later we find John, the Baptizer, immersing, as the record clearly shows the apostles of Christ did also (Ac 8:38; Ro 6:3 f); compare Lu 11:38 where baptizo, in passive =" washed."

5. Bathing for Health:

In Joh 5:2-7 we have an example of bathing for health. There are remains of ancient baths at Gadara and at Callirrhoe, East of the Jordan, baths which were once celebrated as resorts for health-seekers. There are hot baths in full operation today, near Tiberias, on the southwestern shore of the Lake of Galilee, which have been a health resort from time immemorial. It is probably true, however, as some one has said, that in Old Testament times and in New Testament times, the masses of the people had neither privacy nor inclination for bathing.

George B. Eager


bath’-shu-a (bath-shua‘, "the daughter of opulence" or "the daughter of Shua"; compare BATH-SHEBA; for derivation see HPN, 67, 69, note 3):

(1) In Ge 38:2 and 1Ch 2:3, where the name is translated "Shua’s daughter," the wife of Judah.

(2) In 1Ch 3:5, the daughter of Ammiel and wife of David.






See WAR.





bat’-’-l-bo: Found in the striking Messianic prophecy: "The battle bow shall be cut off" (Zec 9:10). The prophet is predicting the peace that shall prevail when Zion’s king cometh, "just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass." The words convey their full significance only when read in the light of the context: "I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace unto the nations" (compare Zec 10:4). The battle-bow was sometimes made of tough wood, sometimes of two straight horns joined together (Hom. II. iv.105-11), and sometimes of bronze. In Ps 18:34 the Revised Version (British and American) we find "bow of brass," but it probably should be of "bronze" (nechosheth), a metal very different from our brass, which is a mixture of copper and zinc. The point of the passage in this connection ("He teacheth my hands to war; so that mine arms do bend a bow of bronze"), as well as of that in 2Ki 9:24 ("And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength") is that it required great strength to bend the battle-bow.


George B. Eager








bav’-a-i (bawway; Septuagint Codex Alexandrinus, Benei; Codex Vaticanus, Bedei; the King James Version Bavai, "wisher" (?)( Ne 3:18)): Perhaps identical with or a brother of Binnui (Ne 3:24). See BINNUI. Bavvai, "the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah," was of a Levitical family. He is mentioned as one of those who repaired the wall of Jerusalem after the return from Babylon (Ne 3:17 f).

BAY (1)



BAY (2)

ba (lashon, literally "tongue"; kolpos): The word occurs in the sense of inlet of the sea in the Old Testament only in Jos 15:2,5; 18:19, and in New Testament only in Ac 27:39 (of Malta, the King James Version "creek").


ba’-tre’ (the King James Version only; Ps 37:35; ‘ezrach): The word means "native," "indigenous," and the Revised Version (British and American) translations "a green tree in its native soil."


ba’-yith (bayith; the King James Version Bajith, "house" (Isa 15:2)): A town in the country of Moab. The reading of the Revised Version, margin, "Bayith and Dibon are gone up to the high places to weep," seems to be the proper rendering of this passage. Duhm et al., by changing the text, read either "house of" or "daughter of." The construct of this word beth is frequently used in compound words.



baz’-lith, baz’-luth (batslith, Ne 7:54; batsluth, Ezr 2:52; Basaloth, 1 Esdras 5:31, "asking"): The descendants of Bazlith (temple-servants) returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem.


del’-i-um (bedholach): The word occurs twice in the Pentateuch:

(1) in Ge 2:12, in conjunction with gold and onyx, as a product of the land of HAVILAH (which see), and

(2) in Nu 11:7, where the manna is likened to this substance in appearance: "The appearance thereof as the appearance of bdellium." The latter comparison excludes the idea of bedholach being a precious stone, and points to the identification of it with the fragrant resinous gum known to the Greeks as bdellion, several kinds being mentioned by Dioscorides and Pliny. It was a product of Arabia, India, Afghanistan, etc.

James Orr


bech (aigialos): The part of the shore washed by the tide on which the waves dash (Mt 13:2,48; Joh 21:4; Ac 21:5; 27:39,40).


be’-k’-n. The translation of the Hebrew toren, which usually means "mast" (compare Isa 33:23; Eze 27:5), but in Isa 30:17 being used in parallelism with "ensign" the meaning may be "signal-staff" (Isa 30:17 the American Revised Version, margin "pole").


be-a-li’-a (be‘alyah, "Yahweh is Lord," compare HPN, 144, 287): Bealiah, formerly a friend of Saul, joined David at Ziklag (1Ch 12:5).


be’-a-loth (be‘aloth; Baloth): An unidentified city of Judah in the Negeb (Jos 15:24).


bem: The word is used to translate various Old Testament terms:

(1) gebh (1Ki 6:9), tsela‘, "a rib" (1Ki 7:3), qurah (2Ch 3:7; 34:11; So 1:17), all refer to constructional beams used in buildings for roofing and upper floors, main beams being carried on pillars generally of wood. The last term is used in 2Ki 6:2,5 ("as one was felling a beam") of trees which were being cut into logs. A related form is qarah (used of the Creator, Ps 104:3; of building, Ne 2:8; 3:3,6). Yet another term, kaphim, is used in Hab 2:11: "The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it"—a protest against sin made by inanimate things. The Douay version, in translating, "the timber that is between the joints of the building," suggests the use of bond timbers in buildings, similar to that used at one time in English brickwork. It probably refers to its use in mud brick buildings, although bond timbers might also be used in badly built stone walls. The Arabs of the present day use steel joints to strengthen angles of buildings.

(2) Beam, in weaving, represents two words, ‘eregh (Jud 16:14, the beam of a loom to which Samson’s hair was fastened; used in Job 7:6 of a weaver’s shuttle), and manor (1Sa 17:7; 2Sa 21:19; 1Ch 11:23; 20:5), of a spear-staff.

(3) In the New Testament Jesus uses the word dokos, "a rafter," in bidding the censorious person first cast the "beam" out of his own eye before attempting to remove the "mote" from another’s eye (Mt 7:3; Lu 6:41,42).


Arch. C. Dickie





benz (pol; Arabic ful): A very common product of Palestine; a valuable and very ancient article of diet. The Bible references are probably to the Faba vulgaris (N. D. Leguminosae) or horsebean. This is sown in the autumn; is in full flower—filling the air with sweet perfume—in the early spring; and is harvested just after the barley and wheat. The bundles of black bean stalks, plucked up by the roots and piled up beside the newly winnowed barley, form a characteristic feature on many village threshing-floors. Beans are threshed and winnowed like the cereals. Beans are eaten entire, with the pod, in the unripe state, but to a greater extent the hard beans are cooked with oil and meat.

In Eze 4:9, beans are mentioned with other articles as an unusual source of bread and in 2Sa 17:28 David receives from certain staunch friends of his at Mahanaim a present, which included "beans, and lentils, and parched pulse."

E. W. G. Masterman


bar (dobh; compare Arabic dubb): In 1Sa 17:34-37, David tells Saul how as a shepherd boy he had overcome a lion and a bear. In 2Ki 2:24 it is related that two she bears came out of the wood and tore forty-two of the children who had been mocking Elisha. All the other references to bears are figurative; compare 2Sa 17:8; Pr 17:12; 28:15; Isa 11:7; 59:11; La 3:10; Da 7:5; Ho 13:8; Am 5:19; Re 13:2. The Syrian bear, sometimes named as a distinct species, Ursus Syriacus, is better to be regarded as merely a local variety of the European and Asiatic brown bear, Ursus arctos. It still exists in small numbers in Lebanon and is fairly common in Anti-Lebanon and Hermon. It does not seem to occur now in Palestine proper, but may well have done so in Bible times. It inhabits caves in the high and rugged mountains and issues mainly at night to feed on roots and vegetables. It is fond of the chummuc or chick-pea which is sometimes planted in the upland meadows, and the fields have to be well guarded. The figurative re ferences to the bear take account of its ferocious nature, especially in the case of the she bear robbed of her whelps (2Sa 17:8; Pr 17:12; Ho 13:8). It is with this character of the bear in mind that Isaiah says (Is 11:7), "And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together."

Alfred Y. Day


bar. A great northern constellation.

See ASTRONOMY, sec. II, 13.


bar, born (vb.), (yaladh): Occurs frequently in its literal sense, alluding to motherhood (Ge 16:11; 17:17,19,21; 18:13; 22:23; 30:3; Le 12:5; Jud 13:3; 5:7; Ru 1:12; 1Ki 3:21; Jer 29:6); in the New Testament gennao, in the same sense (Lu 1:13).

Figurative: It is often used with reference to the beginning of the spiritual life or regeneration (Joh 1:13; 3:3-8; 1Jo 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18 the King James Version).



bar, born (nasa’; lambano, anaphero, bastazo): In English Versions of the Bible the physical sense is familiar, of supporting or carrying any weight or burden. The translation of the Revised Version (British and American) is to be preferred in Ps 75:3 ("have set up"); La 3:28 ("hath laid it upon him"); Ze 1:11 ("were laden with silver"); Lu 18:7 ("he is longsuffering over them"); Joh 12:6 ("took away what was put therein"); Ac 27:15 ("could not face the wind").

Figurative: The words are used in the figurative sense of enduring or taking the consequences of, be it for oneself or as representative for others: one’s own iniquity (Le 5:17 and often); chastisement (Job 34:31); reproach (Ps 69:7; 89:50); or the sins of others (Isa 53:4,11,12; Mt 8:17; Heb 9:28; 1Pe 2:24). In Isa 46:1-7 a striking contrast is presented between the idols of Babylon whom their worshippers had carried (borne) about and which would be borne away by the conquerors, and Yahweh who had ca rried (borne) Israel from the beginning. "Jacob and Israel .... borne by me from their birth .... and I will bear; yea, I will carry." "They bear it upon the shoulder," etc.

M. O. Evans



(1) Western Semites in general, according to the monuments, wore full round beards, to which they evidently devoted great care. The nomads of the desert, in distinction from the settled Semites, wore a clipped and pointed beard (see Jer 9:26: "all that have the corners of their hair cut off, that dwell in the wilderness"; and compare 25:23; 49:32, etc.).

(2) Long beards are found on Assyrian and Babylonian monuments and sculptures as a mark of the highest aristocracy (compare Egyptian monuments, especially representations by W. Max Muller, Asien und Europa, 140). It is not clear that it was ever so with the Jews. Yet it is significant that the Hebrew "elder" (zaqen) seems to have received his name from his long beard (compare bene barbatus).

(3) The view of some that it was customary among the Hebrews to shave the upper lip is considered by the best authorities as without foundation. The mustache (Hebrew sapham, "beard"), according to 2Sa 19:24, received regular "trimming" (thus English Versions of the Bible after the Vulgate, but the Hebrew is generic, not specific: "He had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard").

(4) In one case (1Sa 21:13,14) the neglect of the beard is set down as a sign of madness: "(He) let his spittle fall down upon his beard. Then said Achish, .... Lo, ye see the man is mad."

(5) It was common. Semitic custom to cut both hair and beard as a token of grief or distress. Isa 15:2, describing the heathen who have "gone up to the high places to weep," says "Moab waileth over Nebo, and over Medeba; on all their heads is baldness, every beard is cut off." Jeremiah (Je 41:5), describing the grief of the men of Samaria for their slain governor, Gedaliah, says, "There came men from .... Samaria (his sorrowing subjects) even four score men, having their beards shaven and their clothes rent," etc. And Amos, in his prophecy of the vision of the "basket of summer fruit" (Am 8:1 ff), makes Yahweh say to His people: "I will turn your feasts into mourning; .... I will bring sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head" (Am 8:10). On the other hand it was even more significant of great distress or fear to leave the beard untrimmed, as did Mephibosheth, the son of Saul, when he went to meet King David, in the crisis of his guilty failure to go up with the king according to his expectation: "He had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came home in peace." (Compare 1Sa 21:13,14; 2Sa 19:24.)

(6) Absalom’s hair was cut only once a year, it would seem (2Sa 14:26; compare rules for priests, Levites, etc., Eze 44:20). But men then generally wore their hair longer than is customary or seemly with us (of So 5:2,11, "His locks are bushy, and black as a raven"). Later, in New Testament times, it was a disgrace for a man to wear long hair (1Co 11:6-15). To mutilate the beard of another was considered a great indignity (see 2Sa 10:4; compare Isa 50:6, "plucked off the hair"). The shaving of the head of a captive slave-girl who was to be married to her captor marked her change of condition and prospects (De 21:12; W. R. Smith, Kinship, 209).


Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, II, 324, 349; Herod. i.195; ii.36; iii.12; Josephus, Antiquities, VIII, viii, 3; XVI, viii, 1; W. R. Smith, Kinship, 209; RS, 324; Wellhausen, Skizzen, III, 167,

George B. Eager


best: This word occurs often in both Old and New Testaments and denotes generally a mammal (though sometimes a reptile) in distinction to a man, a bird, or a fish. In this distinction the English is fairly in accord with the Hebrew and Greek originals. The commonest Hebrew words behemah and chai have their counterpart in the Arabic as do three others less often used, be‘ir (Ge 45:17; Ex 22:5; Nu 20:8 the King James Version), nephesh (Le 24:18), and Tebhach (Pr 9:2). Behemah and A rabic bahimah are from a root signifying vagueness or dumbness and so denote primarily a dumb beast. Chai and Arabic chaiwan are from the root chayah (Arabic chaya), "to live," and denote primarily living creatures. Be‘ir, "cattle," and its root-verb, ba‘ar, "to graze," are identical with the Arabic ba‘ir and ba‘ara, but with a curious difference in meaning. Ba‘ir is a common word for camel among the Bedouin and the root-verb, ba‘ara, means "to drop dung," ba‘rah being a common word for the dung of camels, goats, and sheep. Nephesh corresponds in every way with the Arabic nephs, "breath," "soul" or "self" Tebhach from Tabhach, "to slaughter," is equivalent to the Arabic dhibch from dhabacha, with the same meaning. Both therion ("wild beast"), and zoon ("living thing"), occur often in the Apocalypse. They are found also in a few other places, as mammals (Heb 13:11) or figuratively (Tit 1:12). Therion is used also of the viper which fastened on Paul’s hand, and this has parallels in classic al Greek. Beasts of burden and beasts used for food were and are an important form of property, hence, ktenos ("possession"), the word used for the good Samaritan’s beast (Lu 10:34) and for the beasts with which Lysias provided Paul for his journey to Caesarea (Ac 23:24).

For "swift beast," kirkaroth, "dromedary" (Isa 66:20 the King James Version), see CAMEL. For "swift beast," rekhesh, see HORSE (Mic 1:13 the King James Version; 1Ki 4:28 the King James Version, margin; compare Es 8:10,14).

See also WILD BEAST.

Alfred Ely Day













1. The Name:

The word "beatitude" is not found in the English Bible, but the Latin beatitudo, from which it is derived, occurs in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) version of Ro 4:6 where, with reference to Ps 32:1,2, David is said to pronounce the "beatitude" of the man whose transgressions are forgiven. In the Latin church beatitudo was used not only as an abstract term denoting blessedness, but in the secondary, concrete sense of a particular declaration of blessedness and especially of such a declaration coming from the lips of Jesus Christ. Beatitudes in this derivative meaning of the word occur frequently in the Old Testament, particularly in the Psalms (Ps 32:1,2; 41:1; 65:4, etc.), and Jesus on various occasions threw His utterances into this form (Mt 11:6; 13:16; 16:17; 24:46, with the Lukan parallels; Joh 13:17; 20:29). But apart from individual sayings of this type the name Beatitudes, ever since the days of Ambrose, has been attached specifically to those words of blessing with which, according to both Matthew and Luke, Jesus began that great discourse which is known as the Sermon on the Mount.

2. The Two Groups:

When we compare these Beatitudes as we find them in Mt 5:3-12 and Lu 6:20-23 (24-26), we are immediately struck by the resemblances and differences between them. To the ordinary reader, most familiar with Matthew’s version, it is the differences that first present themselves; and he will be apt to account for the discrepancy of the two reports, as Augustine did, by assigning them to two distinct occasions in the Lord’s ministry. A careful comparative study of the two narratives, however, with some attention to the introductory circumstances in each case, to the whole progress of the discourses themselves, and to the parabolic sayings with which they conclude, makes this view improbable, and points rather to the conclusion that what we have to do with is two varying versions given by the Evangelists of the material drawn from an underlying source consisting of Logia of Jesus. The differences, it must be admitted, are very marked.

(a) Matthew has 8 Beatitudes; Luke has 4, with 4 following Woes.

(b) In Matthew the sayings, except the last, are in the 3rd person; in Luke they are in the 2nd.

(c) In Matthew the blessings, except the last, are attached to spiritual qualities; in Luke to external conditions of poverty and suffering.

Assuming that both Evangelists derived their reports from some common Logian source, the question arises as to which of them has adhered more closely to the original. The question is difficult, and still gives rise to quite contrary opinions. One set of scholars decides in favor of Matt hew, and accounts for Luke’s deviation from the Matthean version by ascribing to him, on very insufficient grounds, an ascetic bias by which he was led to impart a materialistic tone to the utterances of Jesus. Another set inclines to theory that Luke’s version is the more literal of the two, while Matthew’s partakes of the nature of a paraphrase. In support of this second view it may be pointed out that Luke is usually more careful than Matthew to place the sayings of Jesus in their original setting and to preserve them in their primitive form, and further that owing to the natural tendency of the sacred writers to expand and interpret rather than to abbreviate an inspired utterance, the shorter form of a saying is more likely to be the original one. It may be noted, further, that in Mt 5:11,12 the Beatitude takes the direct form, which suggests that this may have been the form Matthew found in his source in the case of the others also. On the whole, then, probabilities appear to favor the view that Luke’s version is the more literal one. It does not follow, however, that the difference between the two reports amounts to any real inconsistency. In Luke emphasis is laid on the fact that Jesus is addressing His disciples (Lu 6:20), so that it was not the poor as such whom He blessed, but His own disciples although they were poor. It was not poverty, hunger, sorrow or suffering in themselves to which He promised great rewards, but those experiences as coming to spiritual men and thus transformed into springs of spiritual blessing. And so when Matthew, setting down the Lord’s words with a view to their universal application rather than with reference to the particular circumstances in which they were uttered, changes "the poor" into "the poor in spirit," and those that "hunger" into those that "hunger and thirst after righteousness," he is giving the real purport of the words of Jesus and recording them in the form in which by all men and through all coming time they may be read without any chance of misunderstanding.

As regards the Beatitudes of the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, which are given by Matthew only, they may have been spoken by Jesus at the same time as the rest and have been intended by Him in their association with the other four to fill out a conception of the ideal character of the members of the Kingdom of God. In view, however, of their omission from Luke’s list, it is impossible to affirm this with certainty. That they are all authentic utterances of Jesus Himself there is no reason to doubt. But they may have been originally scattered through the discourse itself, each in its own proper place. Thus the Beatitude of the meek would go fitly with Lu 6:38 ff, that of the merciful with Lu 6:43 ff, that of the pure in heart with Lu 6:27 ff, that of the peacemakers with Lu 6:23 ff. Or they may even have been uttered on other occasions than that of the Sermon on the Mount and have been gathered together by Matthew and placed at the head of the Sermon as forming along with the other four a suitable introduction to our Lord’s great discourse on the laws and principles of the Kingdom of God.

3. Number, Arrangement, Structure:

With regard to the number of the Beatitudes in Matthew’s fuller version, some have counted 7 only, making the list end with Mt 5:9. But though the blessing pronounced on the persecuted in Mt 5:10-12 differs from the preceding Beatitudes, both in departing from the aphoristic form and in attaching the blessing to an outward condition and not to a disposition of the heart, the parallel in Lu (Lu 6:22 f) justifies the view that this also is to be added to the list, thus making 8 Beatitudes in all. On the arrangement of the group much has been written, most of it fanciful and unconvincing. The first four have been described as negative and passive, the second four as positive and active. The first four, again, have been represented as pertaining to the desire for salvation, the second four as relating to its actual possession. Some writers have endeavored to trace in the group as a whole the steadily ascending stages in the development of the Christian character. The truth in this last suggestion lies in the reminder it brings that the Beatitudes are not to be thought of as setting forth separate types of Christian character, but as enumerating qualities and experiences that are combined in the ideal character as conceived by Christ—and as exemplified, it may be added, in His own life and person.

In respect of their structure, the Beatitudes are all alike in associating the blessing with a promise—a promise which is sometimes represented as having an immediate realization (Mt 5:3,10), but in most cases has a future or even (compare Mt 5:12) an eschatological outlook. The declaration of blessedness, therefore, is based not only on the possession of the quality or experience described, but on the present or future rewards in which it issues. The poor in spirit are called blessed not merely because they are poor in spirit, but because the kingdom of heaven is theirs; the mourners because they shall be comforted; those that hunger and thirst after righteousness because they shall be filled; those who are persecuted because a great reward is laid up for them in heaven. The Beatitudes have often been criticized as holding up an ideal of which limitation, privation and self-renunciation are the essence, and which lacks those positive elements that are indispensable to any complete conception of blessedness. But when it is recognized that the blessing in every case rests on the associated promise, the criticism falls to the ground. Christ does demand of His followers a renunciation of many things that seem desirable to the natural heart, and a readiness to endure many other things from which men naturally shrink. But just as in His own case the great self-emptying was followed by the glorious exaltation (Php 2:6 ff), so in the case of His disciples spiritual poverty and the bearing of the cross carry with them the inheritance of the earth and a great reward in heaven.


Votaw in HDB, V, 14 ff; Adeney in Expositor, 5th series, II, 365 ff; Stanton, The Gospels as Historical Documents, II, 106 ff, 327 f; Gore, Sermon on the Mount, 15 ff; Dykes, Manifesto of the King, 25-200.

J. C. Lambert


bu’-ti-fool, gat.



bu’-ti: The space allotted to this topic allows liberty only for the statement of two problems to students of the Bible. They should give distinct attention to the interblending of aesthetics with ethics in the Scripture. They should observe the extent and meaning of aesthetics in Nature.

1. Aesthetics in Scripture:

That the Bible is an ethical book is evident. Righteousness in all the relations of man as a moral being is the key to its inspiration, the guiding light to correct understanding of its utterance. But it is everywhere inspired and writ in an atmosphere of aesthetics. Study will bring out this fact from Genesis to Revelation. The first pair make their appearance in a garden where grew "every tree that is pleasant to the sight" (Ge 2:9), and the last vision for the race is an abode in a city whose gates are of pearl and streets of gold (Re 21:21). Such is the imagery that from beginning to end is pictured as the home of ethics—at first in its untried innocence and at last in its stalwart righteousness. The problem will be to observe the intermingling of these two elements—the beautiful and the good—in the whole Scripture range. A few texts will set before us this kinship and then the Bible student can detect it as he reads. " One thing have I asked of Yahweh, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of Yahweh, And to inquire in his temple" (Ps 27:4).

"For all the gods of the peoples are idols; But Yahweh made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before him: Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary" (Ps 96:5,6). If we catch the spirit set forth in such and similar Psalms, we can use it as a magnetic needle to detect its like wherever we shall read: and we shall find that like in abundance. It is only necessary to turn to the directions given for making the Ark of the Covenant and its encircling tabernacle, and the decorations of the priests that were to minister in the worship of Yahweh in the ceremonies described, as given in Ex 25 ff, to see that every resource of Israel was brought to bear to render ark and tabernacle and their service beautiful. One will find in a concordance half a column of references under the word "Ark" and a column and a half under the word "Tabernacle." By looking up these references one can realize how much care was spent to give and preserve to these aids to worship the attractiveness of beauty.

In 1Ch 15 and 16 we have an account of David’s bringing in the Ark of the Covenant into his own city to rest in a tent he had provided for it. On this occasion a demonstration was made with all the aesthetics of which the music of that day was capable. "And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren the singers, with instruments of music, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding aloud and lifting up the voice with joy." And David himself gave to the celebration the aesthetics of one of the noblest of his psalms (1Ch 16:8-36).

It is almost idle to refer to Solomon and his temple (1Ki 6 ff; 2Ch 3 ff). It is a common understanding that the civilization of Solomon’s day was drawn upon to its utmost in every department of aesthetics, in the building of that house for Yahweh and in the appointments for the worship there to be conducted. Beauty of form and color and harmony of sound were then and there integrated—made one—with worship in holiness. The propriety of that association has been seen and felt through the ages.

There is beauty in speech. It is a fact that the supreme classics in the literature of the tongues of two of the dominant nations of the earth, the English and the German, are translations of the Bible. There is no explanation of such fact except that the original justified the translations. You can read indifferently from one translation to the other and catch the same aesthetic gleam. Nobility and poetry of thought lay in what was to be translated. Here is proof that cannot be gainsaid that the Scripture authors sought the aid of aesthetics as garb for the ethics they taught. So they wrote in poetry. So they used allegory, illustration, figure, metaphor that would charm and hold. The parables of Jesus are examples of this method of clothing thought. They do their ethical work because they have swept into it figure and imagery from familiar aesthetic perceptions. "The sower went forth to sow" (Mt 13:3). That is a glad sight—always has been and always will be. That is why a picture of "The Sower" hangs on the walls of a Christian home. Just the painting—and every beholder remembers the parable and cannot forget its ethics. The intensity of thought concentrated upon ethics in the New Testament has drawn away attention from the partnership between these two principles in religion. But it is there, and we shall see it when once we look for it.

It is something to which we do not wake up till late in life—to wit, the measurelessness of the provision in Nature for beauty. Common consent awards beauty to the rainbow.

2. Aesthetics in Nature:

Reflect that every drop of water in the ocean, or in the hydrated rocks, or in the vapor floating over Saturn, has in it the possibility of rainbow coloring. In fact all matter has color of which the rainbow is only specimen. Any element incandescent has a spectrum partially coincident with that of water and ranging above and below it in the infinite capacity it has to start ether undulations. As apparently the larger part of the matter of the universe is incandescent, we can see that the field for expression in color is infinite. No one but the infinite God can see it all.

If we come down to this plain, plodding earth, cultivation of aesthetic sense will bring out beauty everywhere, from the grandeur of mountain scenery to aesthetic curves and colors revealed only by the microscope. We say the butterfly is finish beautiful. But the larva from which it is derived often carries as much beauty in mottling of color and of the fineness of of spine and mandible. Looking across the scale in this way the evidence of theism from beauty itself becomes convincing. Beauty becomes a messenger of and from God—as Iris was to the Greek and the rainbow to the Hebrew (Ec 3:11).

This from Amiel’s Journal Intime, I, 233, sets forth the radical, inexpugnable position of beauty in Nature and in philosophy thereof correctly interpretative: "To the materialist philosopher the beautiful is a mere accident, and therefore rare. To the spiritualist philosopher the beautiful is the rule, the law, the universal foundation of things, to which every form returns as soon as the force of accident is withdrawn."

As we accustom ourselves to make larger and larger synthesis in the department of aesthetics, what diapason of theistic message may we not hear? Beauty wherever and however expressed is a medium of revelation. It is a bush ever burning, never consumed. Before it "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." That beauty should be—to that intent, for that end, from everlasting hath wrought the Ancient of Days.

C. Caverno


bu’-ti, bandz (no‘am, and chobhelim): The names given in Zec 11:7,14 to two symbolical staves, the first signifying Yahweh’s covenant of grace with the peoples, and the second representing the brotherhood of Judah and Israel. The breaking of the two staves is symbolic of the breaking of Yahweh’s covenant and of the union between Judah and Israel.


be’-ba-i, beb’-a-i (bebhay; Septuagint Bebai, "fatherly"):

(1) Descendants of B: returned with Ezra to Jerusalem (Ezr 8:11 called Babi; 1 Esdras 8:37); one of these is Zechariah, the son of Bebai (Ezr 8:11, Zaeharias; 1 Esdras 8:37). 623 returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (Ezr 2:11; 1 Esdras 5:13; Ne 7:16 gives the number 628); some of these had married "strange wives" (Ezr 10:28; 1 Esdras 9:29).

(2) A chief of the people who sealed the covenant with Nehemiah (Ne 10:15).

(3) An unknown town (Judith 15:4). Omitted in Codex Vaticanus and Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.)


be-kos’ (hina, "in order that"): "The multitude rebuked them, because (AV; the Revised Version (British and American) "that") they should hold their peace" (Mt 20:31).

BECHER be’-ker (bekher, "the firstborn"; compare HPN, 88):

(1) Son of Benjamin (Ge 46:21; 1Ch 7:6,8).

(2) Son of Ephraim whose family is called Becherites (the King James Version "Bachrites"), Nu 26:35 (1Ch 7:20 called Bered). Compare BERED.





bek, bek’-’-n (neuma): This word from neuo, "to nod," "beckon," "make a sign" by moving the head or eyes (Lu 5:7; Joh 13:24; Ac 21:40; 24:10), occurs only in 2 Macc 8:18, "Almighty God who at a beck can cast down both them that come against us, and also all the world," the Revised Version (British and American), "able at a beck." So Shak, "troops of soldiers at their beck"; "nod" is now generally used.



(1) Greek ginomai, used in New Testament for a change of state, corresponding to Hebrew hayah of Old Testament. Compare Mt 18:3 with De 27:9.

(2) For what is fitting, suitable, proper, in New Testament: "prepei" (Mt 3:15; Eph 5:3; 1Ti 2:10); in Old Testament, na’awah, na’ah, Ps 93:5: "Holiness becometh thy house." in this sense, the adverb "becomingly" must be interpreted: "Walk becomingly toward them that are without" (1Th 4:12), i.e. in a way that is consistent with your profession.


be-ko’-rath (bekhorath, "the first birth"; the King James Version Bechorath): A forefather of Saul of the tribe of Benjamin (1Sa 9:1).


bek’-ti-leth (to pedion Baikteilaith): A plain which is defined as "near the mountain which is at the left hand of the upper Cilicia" (Judith 2:21). The name in Syriac is Beth QeTilath, "house of slaughter." So far there is no clue to its identification.


For the very poor of the East, in ancient times as now, the "bed" was and is, as a rule, the bare ground; and the bedclothes, the gown, simlah, or "outer garment," worn during the day ("For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep?" (Ex 22:27); compare De 24:13, "Thou shalt surely restore to him the pledge when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his garment").

When one was on a journey, or watching his flock by night as a shepherd, such a "bed" was the most natural, and often a stone would serve as a pillow. (See Ge 28:11, where Jacob "took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep.")

An advance on this custom, which came in due course of time, or under change of circumstances, was the use of a mat on the floor as a bed, with or without covering. At first it was literally laid on the floor, which was generally of one common level, in some convenient place near the wall; but later it was put on an elevation, either a raised part of the floor on one side, or a bedstead, which gave rise to the expression "going up to the bed" (compare Ge 49:33 English Versions of the Bible, "He gathered up his feet into the bed," and Ps 132:3, "go up into my bed").

1. Old Testament Terms for Bed, and Sleeping Customs of the Hebrews:

With a later development and civilization, "beds" came to be built upon supports and constructed in different forms, which fact is reflected in the variety of names given the "bed" in the Hebrew and related languages.

(1) The following Hebrew words are used in the Bible for "bed," and, though it is impossible at this remove of time and place and custom to differentiate them sharply, they will repay study: miTTah (Ge 48:2, "And Israel strengthened himself and sat upon the bed"; Ex 8:3, "frogs .... shall come into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed"); mishkabh, compare (Ge 49:4, Jacob to Reuben: "Because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it"); ‘eres (Pr 7:16, the "strange woman" says: " I have spread my couch with carpets of tapestry"; compare Ps 41:3, "Thou makest all his bed in his sickness"); matstsa‘ (once only, Isa 28:20, "For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it"); and yetsua‘ (Job 17:13, "I have spread my couch in the darkness"; 1Ch 5:1, "He defiled his father’s couch"; compare Ge 49:4 where the same "father’s bed" is mishkabh; Ps 63:6, "when I remember thee upon my bed"; Ps 132:3, "nor go up into my bed").

(2) It is a far cry from the simple sleeping customs of De 24:13 to the luxurious arts and customs of the post-exilic days, when beds of fine wood and ivory are found in use among the Hebrews, as well as pillows of the most costly materials elaborately embroidered (see Judith 10:21; Es 1:6; compare So 3:10); but it all came about as a natural, as well as artificial development, with changed conditions and contacts and increasing civilization and luxury. As marking the several stages of that development, we find pictures of the poor, first sleeping upon the ground without mat or mattress, then in a single sleeping-room for the whole family, often without a separate bed, then with "beds" that were simply wadded quilts, or thin mattresses, and mats for keeping them off the ground; then with still better "beds" laid upon light portable, wooden frames, or upon more elevated bedsteads (compare Ps 132:3 and Mr 4:21 the Revised Version (British and American) "under the bed"). The degree of richness depended, of course, upon time and place, in a measure, but more upon the wealth and station of the family and the style of the house or tent in which they lived, as it does even with the Bedouin of today. The prophet Amos gives a vivid and significant picture of the luxury of certain children of Israel, "that sit in Samaria in the corner of a couch, and on the silken cushions of a bed" (Am 3:12); and of certain children of luxury "that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock .... that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief oils; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph" (Am 6:4-6; compare Re 18:10-13).

(3) We find that the poor, while sleeping for the most part in their ordinary clothing, often, in cold weather, made their beds of the skins of animals, old cloaks, or rugs, as they do still in the East. The "beds" and "bedding" now in ordinary use among Orientals are much the same, we may be sure, as they were in olden times. "Bedsteads" of any pretention were and are rare among the common people; but the richness of "beds" and "bedsteads" among Asiatics of wealth and rank was quite equal to that of the Greeks and Romans (compare Pr 7:16,17, "I have spread my couch with carpets of tapestry, with striped cloths of the yarn of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon"); So 1:16,17: "The beams of our house are cedars, and our rafters are firs .... also our couch is green." Compare the "palanquin" of Solomon, "of the wood of Lebanon," "the pillars thereof of silver," "the bottom of gold," and "the seat of purple" (So 3:9,10).

(4) As soon as any family could afford it, a special bedroom would be set apart, and the whole family would sleep in it (see Lu 11:5-8, "My children are with me in bed"). When the house had two stories the upper story was used for sleeping, or, during very hot weather, preferably the roof, or the room on the roof. See HOUSE. When morning came the "bed," a wadded quilt or mattress, used with or without covering according to the season, was rolled up, aired and sunned, and then put aside on the raised platform, or packed away in a chest or closet.

The words mishkabh and miTTah came to have a figurative meaning signifying the final resting-place; and ‘eres used of the "bedstead" of the King of Og (De 3:11) is thought by some to mean his sarcophagus (Benzinger, Hebrew Arch., 123; Nowack, I, 143). Ge 47:31, "And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head" is not rightly rendered (see STAFF, and Crit. Commentary in the place cited.).

2. New Testament Terms for Bed, Their Meaning, etc.:

(1) We find several Greek words, kline, krabbatos, and koitte, used in the New Testament somewhat indiscriminately and rendered English Versions of the Bible by "bed," "couch," etc.; but, as with the Hebrew words noted, there is little to indicate just exactly what they severally stand for, or how they are related to the Hebrew terms rendered "bed" or "couch" in the Old Testament. Of one thing we can be sure, reasoning from what we know of "the unchanging East," the "beds" and sleeping customs of the Hebrews in Christ’s time were in the main about what they were in later Old Testament times.

(2) An interesting case for study is that of the man "sick of the palsy" whom they brought to Jesus "lying on a bed," and who when healed "took up the bed, and went forth before them all" (Mt 9:2,6; Mr 2:4,12; Lu 5:18,19; compare Joh 5:8- 12). Here the "bed" on which the sick of the palsy lay was let down from the housetop "through the tiles with his couch into the midst before Jesus" (Lu 5:18,19); and when the man was healed Jesus commanded him, as Luke says, to "take up (his) couch and go unto (his) house ," and he "took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his house, glorifying God" (Lu 5:24,25). It seems, therefore, that this "bed" was a "pallet" and "couch" combined, a thin mattress upon a light portable frame, such as we have already seen was in use among the ancients. Another kindred case was that of the sick man at the pool of Bethesda (Joh 5:2 ff) whom Jesus healed and commanded to "take up his bed and walk," and he "took up his bed and walked"; only in this case the "bed" is a "pallet" without the frame, it would seem.

(3) Jesus in His teaching (Mr 4:21; compare Lu 8:16) asks, in language which is significant in this connection: "Is the lamp brought to be put under .... the bed?" (Lu 8:16: "No man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed"). Here, clearly, "the bed" is the "bedstead," bedclothes, draperies and all, under which "the lamp" would be obscured and hindered in its function of "giving light to all in the room." Again (Lu 17:34) Jesus says, "In that night there shall be two men on one bed," which is incidental evidence that the "beds" of that day were not all "pallets" or "couches" for one only (compare Lu 11:7, "My children are with me in bed"; So 1:16; 3:10; Pr 7:16,18).

(4) For figurative use in the prophets (e.g. Eze 23:17) and in the New Testament (e.g. "Let the bed be undefiled," Heb 13:4), see commentaries in the place cited

George B. Eager


be’-dad (bedhadh, "alone"): Father of Hadad, king of Edom "before there reigned any king over the children of Israel" (Ge 36:35; 1Ch 1:46).


be’-dan (bedhan, "son of judgment" (?)):

(1) One of the leaders in Israel who with Jerubbaal, Jephthah and Samuel is mentioned as a deliverer of the nation (1Sa 12:11). The text is questioned because the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic read "Barak" instead.

(2) A son of Ulam of the house of Manasseh (1Ch 7:17).



See BED.


be-de’-ya (bedheydh, "servant of Yah"): A son of Bani who had married a "strange wife" (Ezr 10:35).



See BED.


be (debhorah; compare Arabic dabr, "a swarm of bees," also Arabic debbur, "a wasp," said to be a corruption of zunbur, "a wasp"; all are apparently from the Hebrew dabhar, "to speak," "arrange," "lead," "follow," or from Arabic dabara, "follow" (compare Arabic dabbara, "arrange"), though the connection in meaning is not apparent): Honey is mentioned many times in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, but the word "bee" occurs only four times, and only one of the four times in connection with honey in the story of Samson (Jud 14:8). Both wild and domesticated bees are found today in Palestine, but it is not clear that bees were kept in Bible times, although it would seem very probable. The frequently recurring phrase, "a land flowing with milk and honey," certainly suggests that the honey as well as the milk is a domestic product. The hives now in use are very primitive and wasteful as compared with hives that are made in Europe and America. Sometimes a large water jar is used. More frequently a cylinder about 3 or 4 ft. long and 6 inches in diameter is constructed of mulberry withes plaited together and plastered with mud or cow dung. A number of these cylinders are placed horizontally, being piled up together under some rude structure which serves as a protection from the direct rays of the sun. In the passage already cited it is related that Samson found a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion which he had killed on his previous visit. We are not told how much time had intervened, but it does not take long in the dry climate of Palestine for scavenging beasts and insects to strip the flesh from the bones and make the skeleton a possible home for a swarm of bees. The other three passages refer to the offensive power of bees. In De 1:44, in the speech of Moses he says, "The Amorites chased you, as bees do"; in Ps 118:12, the psalmist says, "They compassed me about like bees"; in Isa 7:18, the bee is the type of the chastisement that the Lord will bring from the land of Assyria.

Alfred Ely Day





be-e-li’-a-da (be‘elyadha‘, "the Lord knows"; ELIADA, which see; compare HPN, 144, 192, note 1, 202): A son of David (1Ch 14:7).


be-el’-sa-rus, be-el-sa’-rus (Beelsaros): One who accompanied Zerubbabel in the return from the captivity (1 Esdras 5:8), called Bilshan in Ezr 2:2 and Ne 7:7.


be-el-teth’-mus (Beeltethmos; Balthemus): One of the officers of King Artaxerxes in Palestine (1 Esdras 2:16,25). According to Professor Sayce, the name by etymology means "lord of official intelligence" or "postmaster." Rendered "chancellor" in Ezr 4:8 and "story-writer" in 1 Esdras 2:17.


be-el’-ze-bub (in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) is an error (after the Vulgate) for Beelzebul (Revised Version margin) Beelzeboul; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, Beezeboul): In the time of Christ this was the current name for the chief or prince of demons, and was identified with SATAN (which see) and the DEVIL (which see). The Jews committed the unpardonable sin of ascribing Christ’s work of casting out demons to Beelzebul, thus ascribing to the worst source the supreme manifestation of goodness (Mt 10:25; 12:24,27; Mr 3:22; Lu 11:15,18,19). There can be little doubt that it is the same name as BAALZEBUB (which see). It is a well-known phenomenon in the history of religions that the gods of one nation become the devils of its neighbors and enemies. When the Aryans divided into Indians and Iranians, the Devas remained gods for the Indians, but became devils (daevas) for the Iranians, while the Ahuras remained gods for the Iranians and became devils (asuras) for the Indians. Why Baalzebub became Beelzebul, why the b changed into l, is a matter of conjecture. It may have been an accident of popular pronunciation, or a conscious perversion (Beelzebul in Syriac =" lord of dung"), or Old Testament zebhubh may have been a perversion, accidental or intentional of zebhul (=" house"), so that Baalzebul meant "lord of the house." These are the chief theories offered (Cheyne in EB; Barton in Hastings, ERE).

T. Rees


be’-er (be’er; phrear; Latin puteus =" well"):

(1) A station on the march of the Israelites to the North of the Arnon (Nu 21:16). Here it was that they sang round the well this song: ‘ Spring up O well; greet it with song, Well, that the princes have dug, The nobles of the people have bored, With the scepter—with their staves’ (Nu 21:16 ff). The place is not identified.

(2) The town to which Jotham fled from his brother Abimelech after declaring his parable from Mt. Gerizim (Jud 9:21). This may be identical with BEEROTH, which see.


be-er-e’-lim (be’er ‘elim; phrear tou Aileim, literally "well of Elim"): Probably lay to the North of Moab, answering to Eglaim in the South (Isa 15:8). It may possibly be identical with BEER (1); but there is no certainty.


be-er-la-hi’-roi, be-er-la-hi-ro’-i (be’er lachai ro’i, "well of the Living One that seeth me"): "A fountain of water in the wilderness," "the fountain in the way to Shur" (Ge 16:7-14). It was the scene of Hagar’s theophany, and here Isaac dwelt for some time (Ge 16:7 f; 24:62; 25:11). The site is in The Negeb between Kadesh and Bered (Ge 16:14). Rowland identifies the well with the modern ‘Ain Moilaihhi, circa 50 miles South of Beersheba and 12 miles West of ‘Ain Kadis. Cheyne thinks that Hagar’s native country, to which she was fleeing and from which she took a wife for Ishmael, was not Egypt (mitsrayim), but a north Arabian district called by the Assyrians Mucri (Encyclopedia Biblica).

S. F. Hunter

BEERA be-e’-ra, be’-er-a (be’era’," expounder"): A descendant of Asher (1Ch 7:37).


be-e’-ra, be’-er-a (be’erah; "expounder"): A prince of the house of Reuben whom Tiglath-pileser carried away captive (1Ch 5:6). Compare 2Ki 15:29; 16:7.


be-e’-ri (be’eri, "expounder"):

(1) Father of Judith, one of Esau’s wives (Ge 26:34).

(2) The father of the prophet Hosea (Ho 1:1).


be-e’-roth, be’-er-oth (be’eroth; Beroth): One of the cities of the Canaanites whose inhabitants succeeded in deceiving Israel, and in making a covenant with them (Jos 9:3 ff). Apparently they were Hivites (Jos 9:7). The occasion on which the Beerothites fled to Gittaim where they preserved their communal identity is not indicated. The town was reckoned to Benjamin (2Sa 4:2 f). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it under Gibeon, 7 Roman miles from Jerusalem on the way to Nicopolis (Amwas). If we follow the old road by way of Gibeon (el-Jib) and Bethhoron, Beeroth would lie probably to the Northwest of el-Jib. The traditional identification is with el-Bireh, about 8 miles from Jerusalem on the great north road. If the order in which the towns are mentioned (Jos 9:17; 18:25) is any guide as to position, el-Bireh is too far to the Northwest. The identification is precarious. To Beeroth belonged the murderers of Ish-bosheth (2Sa 4:2), and Naharai, Joab’s armor- bearer (2Sa 23:37; 1Ch 11:39). It was reoccupied after the Exile (Ezr 2:25; Ne 7:29).

W. Ewing


ben’-e-ja’-a-kan (be’eroth bene ya‘aqan; the Revised Version, margin "the wells of the children of Jaakan"): A desert camp of the Israelites mentioned before Moserah (De 10:6). In Nu 33:31,32 the name is given simply "Bene-jaakan," and the situation after Moseroth.



be-e’-roth-it, be’-er-oth-it (be’erothi; 2Sa 4:5,9; 2Sa 23:37; shortened form, 1Ch 11:39).



be-er-she’-ba (be’er shebha‘; Bersabee): Allotted originally to Simeon (Jos 19:2), one of "the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah" (Jos 15:28).

1. The Meaning of the Name:

The most probable meaning of Beersheba is the "well of seven." "Seven wells" is improbable on etymological grounds; the numeral should in that case be first. In Ge 21:31 Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice, "Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them." Here the name is ascribed to the Hebrew root shabha‘, "to swear," but this same root is connected with the idea of seven, seven victims being offered and to take an oath, meaning "to come under the influence of seven."

Another account is given (Ge 26:23-33), where Isaac takes an oath and just afterward, "the same day Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged (dug), and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day."

2. A Sacred Shrine: Beersheba was a sacred shrine. "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God" Ge (Ge 21:33). Theophanies occurred there to Hagar (Ge 21:17), to Isaac (Ge 26:24), to Jacob (Ge 46:2), and to Elijah (1Ki 19:5). By Amos (Am 5:5) it is classed with Bethel and Gilgal as one of the rival shrines to the pure worship of Yahweh, and in another place (Am 8:14) he writes "They shall fall, and never rise up again," who sware, "As the way (i.e. cult) of Beersheba liveth." The two unworthy sons of Samuel were Judges in Beersheba (1Sa 8:2) and Zibiah, mother of King Jehoash, was born there (2Ki 12:1; 2Ch 24:1).

3. Its Position:

Geographically Beersheba marked the southern limit of Judah, though theoretically this extended to the "river of Egypt" (Ge 15:18)—the modern Wady El‘avish—60 miles farther south. It was the extreme border of the cultivated land. From Da to Beersheba (2Sa 17:11, etc.) or from Beersheba to Da (1Ch 21:2; 2Ch 30:5) were the proverbial expressions, though necessarily altered through the changed conditions in later years to "from Geba to Beer-sheba" (2Ki 23:8) or "from Beer-sheba to the hill-country of Ephraim" (2Ch 19:4).

4. Modern Beersheba:

Today Beersheba is Bir es-Seba‘ in the Wady es Seba‘, 28 miles Southwest of Hebron on "the southern border of a vast rolling plain broken by the torrent beds of Wady Khalil and Wady Seba" (Robinson). The plain is treeless but is covered by verdure in the spring; it is dry and monotonous most of the year. Within the last few years this long-deserted spot—a wide stretch of shapeless ruins, the haunt of the lawless Bedouin—has been re-occupied; the Turks have stationed there an enlightened Kaimerkhan (subgovernor); government offices and shops have been built; wells have been cleared, and there is now an abundant water supply pumped even to the separate houses. Robinson (BW, XVII, 247 ff) has described how he found seven ancient wells there—probably still more will yet be found. The whole neighborhood is strewn with the ruins of the Byzantine city which once flourished there; it was an episcopal see. It is probable that the city of Old Testament times stood where Tell es Seba’ now is, some 2 1/2 miles to the East; from the summit a commanding view can be obtained (PEF, III, 394, Sheet XXIV).

E. W. G. Masterman


be-esh’-te-ra (Jos 21:27).



be’-t’-l (the Revised Version (British and American) CRICKET; chargol; See LOCUST): This name occurs only in Le 11:22 as one of four winged Jumping insects (sherets ha-‘oph) which may be eaten. It certainly is not a beetle and is probably not a cricket. Probably all four are names of locusts, of which more than 30 species have been described from Syria and Palestine, and for which there are at least 8 Arabic names in use, though with little distinction of species. Closely allied to chargol are the Arabic charjalet, a troop of horses or a flight of locusts, from charjal, "to gallop," and harjawan, "a wingless locust."

Alfred Ely Day


bevs (Le 22:21 the King James Version).



be-for’:The translation of a great variety of Hebrew and Greek words. "Haran died before (the English Revised Version "in the presence of," literally "before the face of") his father Terah" (Ge 11:28). To be "before" God is to enjoy His favor (Ps 31:22). "The Syrians before" (Isa 9:12 the Revised Version, margin "on the east," as "behind," owing to the position of Canaan, relative to Syria, implies the west).


1. No Law Concerning Beggars or Begging in Israel:

It is significant that the Mosaic law contains no enactment concerning beggars, or begging, though it makes ample provision for the relief and care of "the poor in the land." Biblical Hebrew seems to have no term for professional begging, the nearest approach to it being the expressions "to ask (or seek) bread" and "to wander." This omission certainly is not accidental; it comports with the very nature of the Mosaic law, the spirit of which is breathed in this, among other kindred provisions, that a poor Hebrew who even sold himself for debt to his wealthy brother was allowed to serve him only until the Jubilee (See JUBILEE), and his master was forbidden to treat him as a sl ave (Le 25:39). These laws, as far as actually practiced, have always virtually done away with beggars and begging among the Jews.

2. Begging Not Unknown to the Ancient Jews:

Begging, however, came to be known to the Jews in the course of time with the development of the larger cities, either as occurring among themselves, or among neighboring or intermingling peoples, as may be inferred from Ps 59:15; compare Ps 109:10, where Yahweh is besought that the children of the wicked may be cursed with beggary, in contra-distinction to the children of the righteous, who have never had to ask bread (Ps 37:25, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed asking (English Versions, "begging") bread.") For the Hebrew expression not corresponding to "begging" see Ps 59:15, "They shall wander up and down for food"; and compare Ps 119:10, "Let me wander," etc.

3. Begging and Alms-taking Denounced in Jewish Literature:

The first clear denunciation of beggary and almstaking in Jewish literature is found in Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 40:28-30, where the Hebrew for "begging" is to "wander," ete, as in Ps 59:15, according to the edition of Cowley and Neubauer; Oxford, 1897. There as well as in Tobit, and in the New Testament, where beggars are specifically mentioned, the word eleemosune has assumed the special sense of alms given to the begging poor (compare Tobit 4:7,16,17; 12:8-11; Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:14,30; 7:10; 16:14; Mt 6:2-4; 20:30-34; Mr 10:46-52; Lu 11:41; 12:33; Joh 9:1-41; Ac 9:36; 10:2,4,31; 24:17).

4. Professional Beggars a Despised Class: As to professional beggars, originally, certainly, and for a long time, they were a despised class among the Hebrews; and the Jewish communities are forbidden to support them from the general charity fund (BB, 9a; Yoreh De‘ah, 250, 3). But the spirit of the law is evinced again in that it is likewise forbidden to drive a beggar away without an alms (ha-Yadh ha- Chazaqah, in the place cited 7 7).

5. In the Gospel Age:

Begging was well known and beggars formed a considerable class in the gospel age. Proof of this is found in the references to almsgiving in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7 and parallels), and in the accounts of beggars in connection with public places, e.g. the entrance to Jericho. (Mt 20:30 and parallels), which was a gateway to pilgrims going up to Jerusalem to the great festivals and in the neighborhood of rich men’s houses (Lu 16:20), and especially the gates of the Temple at Jerusalem (Ac 3:2). This prevalence of begging was due largely to the want of any adequate system of ministering relief, to the lack of any true medical science and the resulting ignorance of remedies for common diseases like ophthalmia, for instance, and to the impoverishment of the land under the excessive taxation of the Roman government (Hausrath, History of New Testament Times, I, 188 (Eng. translation Williams and Norgate), compare Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus, II, 178). That begging was looked down upon is incidentally evidenced by the remark of the unjust steward, "To beg I am ashamed" (Lu 16:3); and that, when associated with indolence, it was strongly condemned by public opinion appears from Sirach (40:28-30).

The words used for "beg," "beggar" of English Versions of the Bible in the New Testament differ radically in idea: in those formed from aiteo (Mr 10:46; Lu 16:3; 18:35; Joh 9:8 the Revised Version (British and American)) the root idea is that of "asking," while ptochos (Lu 16:20,22) suggests the cringing or crouching of a beggar. But see Mt 5:3 where the word for "humble" is ptochos.

6. A Change in Modern Times:

A marked change has come over Jewish life in modern times, in this as well as in other respect. Since the 17th century the Jewish poor in many parts of the world have made it a practice, especially on Fridays and on the eves of certain festivals, to go systematically from house to house asking alms. In parts of Europe today it is a full-grown abuse: crowds of Jewish beggars push their way and ply their trade about the synagogue doors (Abrahams, EB, article "Alms," 310). So the Jewish beggar, in spite of the spirit of the law and ancient Jewish custom, has, under modern conditions too well known to require explanation here, become a troublesome figure and problem in modern Jewish society. For such beggars and begging, see Jew Encyclopedia, articles "Schnorrers," "Alms," etc., and for another kind of begging among modern Jews, and collections for poverty-stricken Jewish settlers in Palestine, see the articles "Chalukah," "Charity," etc.


Saalschiutz, Arch. der Hebraer, II, chapter xviii (Konigsberg, 1855-56); Riehm Handworterbuch zu den Buchern des A T, under the word "Almosen "; compare Jew Encyclopedia, HDB, and Encyclopedia B, arts, "Alms"; and Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages, chapters xvii, xviii (Philadelphia, 1896); Mackie, Bible Manners and Customs; Day, The Social Life of the Hebrews.

George B. Eager


beg’-er-li (ptochos): The word has the thought of "to crouch" or "cringe," such as is common with professional beggars. It is used in Mt 5:3 and Ga 4:9, and in both cases means complete spiritual destitution. As used in Galatians it expresses the contrast between their present condition and the former estate, toward which he says they are again tending. Paul has in mind both the Jewish and heathen systems of religion with all their outward show. He therefore here emphasizes to the immeasurable superiority of the riches and liberty in Christ. He further expresses this same thought of the law in Ro 8:3 and Heb 7:18. In view of the wretchedness of the condition indicated by the word "beggarly," he states his astonishment that they should so little appreciate the liberty and riches which they now enjoy as even to think of going back the former condition.

Jacob W. Kapp


be-gin’:To make the first movement toward a given end (chalal; archomai). Those who interpret it in many passages pleonastically mean by this, that in such passages as "began to teach" or "began to speak," nothing more is intended than to express vividly and graphically the thought of the dependent infinitive. Mt 4:17; Lu 3:23; Ac 1:1 are so understood. For contrary opinion, see Thayer’s Lexicon and Winer’s Grammar of New Testament Greek.

The noun, arche, "beginning," in the writings of John, is used sometimes in an abstract sense, to designate a previous stage (Joh 1:1,2; 8:25; 1Jo 1:1; 3:8) and, sometimes, the Source or First Cause (Re 3:14; 21:6; 22:13). Often used also, not for the absolute beginning, but, relatively, for the starting-point of some important movement (1Jo 2:7,24; Ac 11:15; Php 4:15).

H. E. Jacobs


be-gin’-ing (re’-shith; arche): The natural meaning of the word is with reference to time. The primitive Greek root means "to be long," "to draw out." Thus, it is used to refer to some point of time long drawn out, or long past (Ge 1:1). It is used also to express the inauguration of a particular event (Ex 12:2). The principal interest in the word centers in the use of it in Joh 1:1. It must be interpreted here by that which follows in the statement as to the relation of the Logos to the Eternal God and the use of the word "was." It is true that the word arche cannot be separated from the idea of time, but when time began He already was, and therefore He was from eternity.


Figurative: in a figurative sense it is used of that which is most excellent, the chief part (Pr 1:7); of the most eminent person (Col 1:18); the author (Re 3:14).

Jacob W. Kapp


be-got’-’-n (yaladh; "to bear," "bring forth," "beget"; denotes the physical relation of either parent to a child, Ge 3:16; 4:18): Used metaphorically of God’s relation to Israel (De 32:18) and to the Messianic king (Ps 2:7); (gennao, "to beget," or "bear"): generally used of a father (Mt 1:1-16); more rarely of a mother (Lu 1:13,57); used metaphorically of causing or engendering moral and spiritual relations and states (1Co 4:15; Phm 1:10); of the new birth the Holy Spirit (Joh 3:3 ff). Men who obey and love God as sons are begotten of Him (Joh 1:13; 1Jo 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18; compare 1Pe 1:23). Used especially of God’s act in making Christ His Son: "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee" (Ps 2:7) quoted in Ac 13:33 in reference to His resurrection (compare Ro 1:4). The same passage is cited (Heb 1:5) as proving Christ’s filial dignity, transcending the angels in that "he hath inherited a more excellent name than they," i.e. the name of son; and again (Heb 5:5) of God conferring upon Christ the glory of the priestly office.

Commentators differ as to whether the act of begetting the Son in these two passages is

(a) the eternal generation, or

(b) the incarnation in time, or

(c) the resurrection and ascension.

The immediate context of Heb 1:5 (see Heb 1:3) seems to favor the last view (Westcott). The first view would not be foreign to the author’s thought: with Heb 5:5 compare Heb 6:20, "a high priest forever" (Alford). The author of Heb thinks of the eternal and essential sonship of Christ as realized in history in His ascension to the "right hand of the Majesty" (Heb 1:3). And what is emphatic is the fact and status of sonship, rather than the time of begetting.

T. Rees


be-gil’:In 2Pe 2:14 the King James Version (compare Jas 1:14) the word deleazo, is translated "beguile," and means particularly to "entice," "catch by bait." Doubtless Peter got this idea from his old business of fishing, baiting the hook to beguile the fish. In Ro 7:11; 16:18; 1Co 3:18 the word is exapatao, and means "to cheat" or "to thoroughly deceive." The thought is to be so completely deceived as to accept falsehood for the truth, believing it to be the truth. In Col 2:4,18 the King James Version; Jas 1:22 the word is paralogizomai, and means "to miscalculate," "to be imposed upon." It refers particularly to being beguiled by mere probability.


Jacob W. Kapp


be-haf’:"On the part of" (Ex 27:21, i.e. so far as it affects them); "on the side of" (Job 36:2). For huper, "over," in the sense of furnishing assistance, as in 2Co 5:20, "in the interest of Christ" (2Co 5:21); "for our good," "in his cause" (Php 1:29); also, often in 2 Cor, in general sense of "concerning" (2Co 5:12; 7:4; 8:24; 9:2; 12:5). Huper does not of itself indicate substitution, although one who shelters ("is over") another, suffers "in his stead" (the King James Version 2Co 5:20), as well as "in his behalf."


be-hav’-yer (Ta‘am, "taste," "flavor," hence, "intellectual taste," i.e. judgment, reason, understanding): Of significance as referring to David’s feigning madness before Aehish, king of Gath, being "sore afraid." Gesenius renders it "changed his understanding," i.e. his mental behavior and outward manner (1Sa 21:13, and title to Ps 34).

Twice used in the New Testament (the King James Version) of the well-ordered life of the Christian (kosmios, "well-arranged," "modest," i.e. living with decorum: 1Ti 3:2), defining the blameless life expected of a minister (overseer), "A bishop must be. .... of good behavior," the Revised Version (British and American) "orderly" (katastema, "demeanor," "deportment"), including, according to Dean Alford, "gesture and habit" as the outward expression of a reverent spirit (1Pe 3:1,2). "Aged women .... in behavior as becometh holiness" (Tit 2:3; the Revised Version (British and American) "reverent in demeanor").

Dwight M. Pratt





be’-he-moth, be-he’-moth (behemoth: Job 40:15): Apparently the plural of behemah, "a beast," used of domestic or wild animals. The same form, behemoth, occurs in other passages, e.g. De 28:26; 32:24; Isa 18:6; Hab 2:17, where it is not rendered "behemoth" but "beasts." According to some, the word behemoth, occurring in Job 40:15, is not a Hebrew word, the plural of behemah, but a word of Egyptian origin signifying "water ox." This etymology is denied by Cheyne and others. The word has by various writers been understood to mean rhinoceros and elephant, but the description (Job 40:15-24) applies on the whole very well to the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus arnphibius) which inhabits the Nile and other rivers of Africa. Especially applicable are the references to its great size, its eating grass, the difficulty with which weapons penetrate its hide, and its frequenting of streams. " He lieth under the lotus-trees, In the covert of the reed, and the fen. The lotus-trees cover him with their shade; The willows of the brook compass him about." The remains of a fossil hippopotamus of apparently the same species are found over most of Europe, so that it may have inhabited Palestine in early historical times, although we have no record of it. There is a smaller living species in west Africa, and there are several other fossil species in Europe and India. The remains of Hippopotamus minutus have been found in enormous quantities in caves in Malta and Sicily.

For an elaborate explanation of behemoth and leviathan (which see) as mythical creatures, see Cheyne, EB, under the word

Alfred Ely Day


be-hold’-ing: Many Hebrew and Greek words are so rendered in English Versions of the Bible, but epopteusantes, "your good works, which they behold" (1Pe 2:12); "beholding your chaste behavior" (1Pe 3:2), and epoptai, "We were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2Pe 1:16) are peculiar to Peter. The fact that this word is used only by Peter and is used in both epistles is an argument for identity of authorship. The word epoptes denotes one who had been initiated into the innermost secrets of his faith and who enjoyed the highest religious privileges; but now in contradiction to the secrecy of all pagan "mysteries" (Eleusinian, etc.) the apostles would share with all the faithful every spiritual vision which they enjoyed ("we made known unto you").

In 2Co 3:18, for katoptrizomenoi, the English Revised Version gives "reflecting (as a mirror) the glory of the Lord," the American Standard Revised Version "beholding (as in mirror," etc.). Katoptron was a mirror of polished metal. We cannot clearly and fully behold the outshining of spiritual grandeur in Christ Jesus, but in the gospel God accommodates and adjusts the vision as we are able to bear it, and the glory beheld becomes glory imparted to (and reflected by) the beholder.

John’s Gospel gives us theaomai ("to look closely at"), and theoreo ("to discern"). "We beheld (etheasametha) his glory" (Joh 1:14), "that they may behold (theorosin) my glory" (Joh 17:24). In classic literature, the former word is closely associated with theatrical spectacles, and the latter with athletic games, and they both convey the idea of unceasing interest, deepening in this connection into love and joy.

M. O. Evans


be-hoov’:Used in the New Testament for two Greek words dei (Lu 24:26; Ac 17:3) and opheilo (Heb 2:17); the former referring to a physical, and the latter to a moral, necessity (Bengelon, 1Co 11:10). The former means "must," that is, it is required by the order which God has ordained; the latter, "ought," that is, it is required as a debt.





be’-ka (beqa‘, "half"): Half a shekel, the amount contributed by each male of the Israelites for the use of the Sanctuary (Ex 38:26). Its value varied according to the standard used, but on the ordinary, or Phoenician, standard it would represent about 122 grams.



bel, bal (bel): Appellative name of a Bah god (compare BAAL), in the Old Testament and Apocrypha identified with Marduk or Merodach, the tutelary deity of Babylon (compare Isa 46:1; Jer 51:44; Baruch 6:41).



See DANIEL, BOOK OF, sec. X.


bel, bal, drag’-un (Greek words: drakon, "dragon," "serpent"; ektos, "except"; horasis "vision," "prophecy"; ophis, "serpent"; sphragisamenos, "having sealed"; choris, "except," Hebrew or Aramaic words: chatham, "to seal"; zepha’," pitch"; za‘apha’," storm," "wind"; nachash, "snake"; tannin, "serpent," "sea monster"):




1. The Bel Story: the God of Bel

2. The Dragon Story; Meaning of "Dragon"; Serpent-Worship in Babylon


1. Manuscripts

(1) Greek

(2) Syriac

2. Recensions or Versions

(1) Greek

(2) Syriac

(3) Latin

(4) Aramaic


VI. TEACHING Little in this work that is distinctly Jewish. God is great, absolute and ever-living; angels intervene for special ends; the absurdity of idol-worship


Probably not in Babylon; perhaps the Hebrew text originated in Palestine about 146 BC or later. The Septuagint version produced in Egypt about 100 BC, which may be the date and language of the Book. Theta (Theodotion’s version) was produced probably at Ephesus about 180 AD


Accepted as canonical by the Jews of Egypt but rejected by the Jews of Palestine Accepted as part of the Bible by Greek and Latin church Fathers, by the Council of Trent and therefore by the Roman church; denied by Protestants to be canonical


I. Introductory.

Bel and the Dragon is the third of the three Apocryphal additions to Daniel, The SONG OF THE THREE CHILDREN and SUSANNA (which see) being the other two. In the Greek and Latin versions (see below, "IV. Textual Authorities") these "additions" form an integral part of the canonical Book of Daniel, and they are recognized as such and therefore as themselves canonical by the Council of Trent. But the So of the Three Children is the only piece having a necessary connection with the Hebrew canonical Book of Daniel; in the Greek and Latin texts it follows Da 3:24. The other two are appended and appear to have an origin independent of the book to which they are appended and also of each other, though in all three as also in the Hebrew Book of Daniel the name and fame of Daniel stand out prominently.

II. Name of Bel and the Dragon.

Since in the Greek and Latin recensions or versions Bel and the Dragon forms a portion of the Book of Da it does not bear a special name. But in the only two known manuscripts of the Septuagint in Syro-Hexaplar (see below, "IV. Textual Authorities") these words stand at the head of the "addition" now under consideration: "From (or "a part of") the prophecy of Habakkuk son of Joshua of the tribe of Levi." That the Biblical writing prophet of that name is meant is beyond question. In Theta (Theodotian) this fact is distinctly stated (see Bel and the Dragon verse 33); and it is equally beyond question that these tales could never have come from the prophet so called (see below "VIII. Canonicity and Authenticity").

In codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus of Theodotian (Theta) the title is: Horasis 12, i.e. Da 12, canonical Daniel being comprised in 11 chapters. In the Vulgate, Bel and the Dragon forms chapter 14, but, as in the case of the earlier chapters, it has no heading.

In the Syriac Peshitta (W) the story of Bel and the Dragon is preceded by "Bel the idol," and that of the Dragon by "Then follows the Dragon." Bel and the Dragon is the title in all Protestant versions of the Apocrypha, which rigidly keep the latter separate from the books of the Hebrew canon.

III. Contents.

The stories of Bel and of the Dragon have a separate origin and existed apart: they are brought together because they both agree in holding up idolatry to ridicule and in encouraging Jewish believers to be true to their religion. The glorification of Daniel is also another point in which both agree, though while the Daniel of the Bel and the Dragon story appears as a shrewd Judge corresponding to the etymology of that name, he of the Dragon story is but a fearless puritan who will die rather than be faithless to his religion.

It is evident, however that the editor of the "additions" has fused both stories into one, making the Dragon story depend on that which precedes (See Bel and of the Dragon verses 23 f). It seems very likely that, in a Nestorian list mentioned by Churton (Uncanonical and Apocryphal Scriptures, 391), Bel and the Dragon is comprised under the title, The Little Daniel.

The two stories as told in common by Septuagint and Theodotion may be thus summarized:

1. The Story of Bel: the God of Bel:

There is in Babylon an image of Bel which Daniel refuses to worship, though no form of worship is mentioned except that of supplying the god with food. The king (Cyrus according to Theodotion) remonstrates with the delinquent Hebrew, pointing Out to him the immense amount of food consumed daily by Bel, who thus proves himself to be a living god. Daniel, doubting the king’s statement as to the food, asks to be allowed to test the alleged fact. His request being granted, he is shown by expressed desire th e lectisternia, the sacred tables being covered by food which the god is to consume during the night. The doors are all sealed by arrangement, and after the priests have departed Daniel has the temple floor strewn with light ashes. When the morning breaks it is found that the doors are still sealed, but the food has disappeared. Upon examination the tracks of bare feet are found on the ash-strewn floor, showing that the priests have entered the temple by a secret way and removed the food. Angered by the trick played on him the king has the priests put to death and the image destroyed.

The word Bel, a short form of Baal, occurs in the Old Testament in Isa 46:1; Jer 50:2; 51:44, where it stands for Merodach or Marduk, chief of the Babylonian deities. Originally however it denotes any one of the Babylonian local deities, and especially the principal deity worshipped at Nippur (for similar use of the Hebrew "Baal" see the article on this word). In Theodotion Cyrus appears as an abettor of Bel-worship, which is quite in accordance with the practice of the early Persian kings to show favor to the worship of the countries they conquered. See Century Bible, "Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther," 40.

2. The Dragon Story; Meaning of "Dragon"; Serpent-Worship in Babylon:

There is in Babylon a great live dragon worshipped by a large number of the inhabitants, who lavishly feed it. In the present case the god is or is represented by a living creature which can be fed, and, indeed, needs feeding. Daniel refuses to bow down before the dragon and makes an offer to the king to kill it. Believing the god well able to care for himself, the king accepts Daniel’s challenge. Daniel makes a mixture of which pitch forms the principal ingredient and thrusts it down the dragon’s throat, so that "it bursts asunder and dies." The people are infuriated at the death of their god and demand that the king shall have the god-murderer put to death, a demand to which the royal master yields by having Daniel cast into a den of lions, as was done to other culprits found guilty of capital charges. But though the prophet remained in the company of 7 lions for 6 days he suffered no injury. On the last day when Daniel, without food, was naturally hungry, a miracle was performed by way of supplying him with food. Habakkuk (see above, "II. Name"), when cooking food for his reapers, heard an angel’s voice commanding him to carry the food he had prepared to Daniel in the lions’ den in Babylon. Upon his replying that he did not know where the den, or even Babylon, was, the angel laid hold of his hair and by it carried the prophet to the very part of the den where Daniel was. Having handed the latter the meal intended for the reapers, he was safely brought back by the angel to his own home. It would seem that Habakkuk was protected from the lions as well as Daniel. Seeing all this the king worshipped God, set Daniel free, and in his stead east his accusers into the lions’ den, where they were instantly devoured,

Zockler in his commentary (p. 215) speaks of the "fluidity" of the Dragon myth, and he has been followed by Marshall and Daubney. But what in reality does the Greek word drakon, rendered "dragon," mean? In the Septuagint the word is used generally (15 times) to translate the Hebrew tannin which denotes a serpent or sea monster. It is this word (tannin) which in the Aramaic version of the Dragon story translates the Greek drakon. Now in Ex 4:3 and Ex 7:9 the Hebrew tannin and nachash ("serpent") seem identified as are the Greek drakon and ophis in Re 12:9. We may therefore take drakon in the present story to stand for a serpent. We know that in Babylon the god Nina was worshipped in the form of a serpent (see Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, 281 f), and it is more probable that it is the worship of this god or of some other serpent deity that is here meant, than that there is any allusion to the Babylonian story according to which Marduk the supreme deity of Babylon engaged in a conflict with Tiamat the monster—foe to light and order.

(1) The dragon of the present story is a god and not as Tiamat, a kind of devil, and a male, not a female.

(2) The dragon in the present story is a serpent, which is not true of Tiamat.

(3) Apsu (male) and Tiamat (female) are Babylonian deities who give birth to the gods of heaven; these gods subsequently led by their mother Tiamat engaged in a fierce contest with Marduk.

Since Gunkel published his book, Schopfung und Chaos (1895), it has been the fashion to see reflections of the Marduk-Tiamat conflict throughout the Old Testament. But recent investigations tend to show that Babylonian mythology has not dominated Hebrew thought to the extent that was formerly thought, and with this statement Gunkel himself now agrees, as the last edition of his commentary on Genesis proves.

IV. Textual Authorities.

1. Manuscripts:

(1) Greek.

There exist in Greek two forms of the text (see below).

(a) The Septuagint text has been preserved in but one original MS, the codex Christianus (from the Chigi family who owned it, published in Rome in 1772). This belongs to about the 9th century. This text has been printed also in Cozza’s Sacrorum Bibliorum vestustissima fragmenta Graeca et Latina, part iii, Romae, 1877, and in Swete’s edition of the Septuagint side by side with Theodotion. In Tischendorf’s Septuagint it occurs at the close of the ordinary text of the Septuagint.

(b) Of Theta (the text of Theodotion) we have the following important manuscripts: Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Q (codex Marchalianus), Gamma (verses 1,2-4 only) and Delta (from verse 21 to verse 41).

(2) Syriac.

There exists in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, a manuscript of the 8th century of the Syro-Hexaplar version made by Paul of Tella in 617 AD at Alexandria from col vi (Septuagint) of Origen’s Hexapla. This most valuable manuscript has been edited and published by Ceriani.

2. Recensions or Versions:

(1) Greek.

(a) The Septuagint:

Of this we have but one manuscript (see above under "Manuscripts") and until its publication at Rome in 1772 what is now known as Theta was believed to be the real Septuagint version, notwithstanding hints to the contrary by early Christian writers.

(b) Theta, or the Version of Theodotion:

This version appears to be a revision of the Septuagint, with the help, perhaps, as in the case of the canonical Daniel, of a Hebrew (or Aramaic) original, now lost. It is much less pedantic than Aquila’s Greek translation which preceded it, and its Greek is better. It is also a better translation than the Septuagint; yet it has many transliterations of Hebrew words instead of translations. This version of Daniel displaced that of the Septuagint at a very early time, for though Origen gave place to the Septuagint in his Hexapla, in his writings he almost always cites from Theta. In his preface to Daniel Jerome points to the fact that in his own time the church had rejected the Septuagint in favor of Theodotion, mentioning the defectiveness of the former as the ground. Even Irenaeus (died 202) and Porphyry (died 305) preferred Theodotion to the Septuagint. Field was the first to point out that it is the work of Theodotion (not the Septuagint) that we have in 1 Esdras, etc.

(2) Syriac.

In addition to the Syro-Hexaplar version (see above, under "Manuscript") the Peshitta version must be noted. It follows Theodotion closely, and is printed in Walton’s Polyglot (in one recension only of Bel and the Dragon) and in a revised text edited by Lagarde in 1861; not as R. H. Charles (Enc Brit, VII, 807) erroneously says in The Book of Tobit by Neubauer.

(3) Latin.

(a) The old Latin version, which rests on Theodotion, fragments of which occur in Sabatier’s work, Bibliorum sacrorum Latinae versiones antiquae (1743, etc., II).

(b) The Vulgate, which follows Jerome’s translation, is also based on Theodotion, and follows it closely.

(4) Aramaic.

For the Aramaic version published by M. Caster and claimed to be the text of the book as first written, see below, "V. Original Language." V. The Original Language: Principal Opinions.

It has been until recent years most generally maintained that Bel and the Dragon was composed and first edited in the Greek language. So Eichhorn, de Wette, Schrader, Fritzsche, Schurer and Konig. In favor of this the following reasons have been given:

(1) No Semitic original with reasonable claims has been discovered. Origen, Eusebius and Jerome distinctly say that no Hebrew (or Aramaic) form of this tract existed or was known in their time.

(2) The Hebraisms with which this work undoubtedly abounds are no more numerous or more crucial than can be found in works by Jewish authors which are known to have been composed in the Greek language, such as the continual recurrence of kai (=" and"), kai eipe ("and he said"), etc.

On the other hand, the opinion has been growing among recent scholars that this work was written first of all either in Hebrew or Aramaic Some of the grounds are the following:

(1) It is known that Theodotion in making his translation of other parts of the Old Testament (Daniel) endeavored to correct the Septuagint with the aid of the Massoretic Text. A comparison of the Septuagint and of Theodotion of Bel and the Dragon reveal differences of a similar character. How can we account for them unless we assume that Theodotion had before him a Semitic original? A very weak argument, however, for the translator might have corrected on a priori principles, using his own Judgment; or there might well have been in his time different recensions of the Septuagint. Westcott (DB, I, 397a; 2nd edition, 714a) holds that some of Theodotion’s changes are due to a desire to give consistency to the facts.

(2) Much has been made of the Semiticisms in the work, and it must be admitted that they are numerous and striking. But are these Hebraisms or Aramaisms? The commonest and most undoubted Semiticism is the repeated use of kai and kai egeneto with the force of the waw-consecutive and only to be explained and understood in the light of that construction. But the waw- consecutive exists only in classical Hebrew; Aramaic and post-Biblical. Hebrew, including late parts of the Old Testament (parts of Ecclesiastes, etc.), know nothing of it. It must be assumed then that if the Semiticisms of this work imply a Semitic original, that original was Hebrew, not Aramaic

The following Hebraisms found in the Septuagint and in Theodotion may briefly be noted:

(1) The use of the Greek kai with all the varied meanings of the waw-consecutive. (see below, under "VI. Teaching"). The beginning of a sentence with kai en ("and there was") Bel and the Dragon (verses 1,3 in the Septuagint; 2 f, etc., in Theodotion) agrees with the Hebrew waw-consecutive construction, but makes poor Greek. In verse 15 kai egeneto can be understood only in the light of the Hebrew for which it stands.

(2) The syntactical feature called parataxy (coordination) presents itself throughout the Greek of this piece, and it has been reproduced in the English translations (the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American)) as any English reader can see. In the classical languages it is hypotaxy that prevails. If, as seems likely, those responsible for Septuagint and Theodotion followed a Hebrew original, they failed to make sufficient allowance for the peculiar force of the waw-consecutive idiom, for this does not involve hypotaxy to an y considerable extent.

(3) The constant occurrence of Kurios ("Lord") without the article implies the Hebrew Yahweh; and the phrase the "Lord God" is also Hebrew.

(4) There are difficulties and differences best explained by assuming a Hebrew origin. The Greek word sphragisamenos has no sense in verse 14 (Septuagint) for, retaining it, we should read of a sealing of the temple (of Bel) and also of a sealing with signet rings of the doors. The Hebrew word "shut" (catham) is written much like that for "seal" (chatham), and was probably, as Marshal suggests, mistaken for the latter. The temple was "shut" and the doors "sealed." In verse 10 the Septuagint (choris) and Theodotion (ektos) have 2 words of similar sense, which are best explained as independent renderings of one Hebrew word.

Marshall, identifying this dragon story with the Babylonian creation-myth of Marduk and Tiamat, thinks that instead of "pitch" used in making the obolus with which Daniel destroyed the dragon, the original Aramaic document has "storm wind," the two words being in Aramaic written much alike (za‘apha’ =" storm wind," and zepha’ = pitch). But the fact is quite overlooked that the obolus contained not only pitch, but also "fat" and "hair" (see Bel and the Dragon, verse 27). Besides, in the Aramaic version, published by Gaster, to which Marshall attaches great importance as at least a real source, we have four ingredients, namely, pitch (zepetha’), fat, flax (kittan) and hair. Dr. Marshall’s suggestion involves therefore not only the confusion of two words spelled differently in Aramaic, but the substitution of 3 or 4 terms for one in the original draft. Moreover, in Bel and the Dragon the several ingredients are made up into a cake with which the dragon was gorged. Dr. Marshall’s view assumes also an Aramaic original which is a gainst the evidence. But the suggestion would not have been made but for a desire to assimilate the dragon story to the Babylonian creation-myth, though in motive and details both differ so essentially.

In favor of a Semitic original many writers have cited the fact that forms of the story have been found in Hebrew and Aramaic in the 13th century. Raymund Martini in his Pugio Fidei (written against the Jews) quotes Bel and the Dragon from a Hebrew Midrash on Genesis which Neubauer discovered and which is almost verbatim identical with the unique manuscript containing Midrash Rabba de Rabba (see Neubauer, Tobit, viii, and Franz Delitzsch, de Habacuci, 82). Still other Hebrew forms of these stories have been found. All the "additions" to Daniel "occur in Hebrew in the remains of Yosippon," the "Hebrew Josephus," as he has been called. He wrote in the 10th century.

But most important of all is the discovery by Dr. M. Gaster of the dragon story in Aramaic, imbedded in the Chronicles of Yerahmeel, a work of the 10th century. Dr. Gaster maintains that in this Aramaic fragment we have a portion of the original Bel and the Dragon (see PSBA, 1894, 280 ff (Introduction), 312 (Text) and 1895 (for notes and translation)). The present writer does not think Dr. Gaster has made out his case.

(1) If such an Aramaic original did really exist at any time we should have learned something definite about it from early writers, Jewish and Christian.

(2) Dr. Gaster has discovered an Aramaic form of only two of the three "additions," those of the So of the Three Children and of the dragon story. What of the rest of the Aramaic document?

(3) It has already been pointed out that the waw-consecutive constructions implied in the Greek texts go back to a Hebrew, not an Aramaic original.

(4) The Aramaic text of the Dragon story not seldom differs both from the Septuagint and Theodotion as in the following and many other cases: The two Greek versions have in Bel and the Dragon, verse 24 "The king (said)," which the Aramaic omits: in verse 35 the Aramaic after "And Habakkuk said" adds "to the angel," which the Septuagint and Theodotion are without.

(5) The compiler of the Yerahmeel Chronicle says distinctly that he had taken the So of the Three Children and the dragon story from the writings of Theodotion (see PSBA, 1895, 283), he having, it is quite evident, himself put them into Aramaic. Dr. Gaster lays stress on the words of the compiler, that what he gives in Aramaic is that which "Theodotion found" (loc. cit.). But the reference can be only to the Septuagint which this translator made the basis of his own version; it is far too much to assume that the Chronicler means an Aramaic form of the stories.

VI. Teaching.

The two stories teach the doctrine of the oneness and absoluteness of Yahwe, called throughout Kurios ("Lord"), a literal rendering of the Hebrew word ‘adhonai ("Lord") which the Jews substituted for Yahwe in reading the Hebrew as do now-a-day Jews. In the Greek and Latin versions it is the word read (the Qere perpetuum, not that written Kethibh), which is translated. It would have been more consonant with universal practice if the proper name Yahweh had been transliterated as proper names usually are.

But very little is said of the character of Yahweh. He is great and the only (true) God in Bel and the Dragon (verse 41), the living God in contrast with Bel (verse 57). Of the nature of His demands on His worshippers, ritualistic and ethical, nothing is said. There is no reference to any distinctly Jewish beliefs or practices; nothing about the torah or about any Divine revelation to men, about sacrifice or the temple or even a priesthood, except that in the Septuagint (not in Theodotion) Daniel the prophet is spoken of as a priest—strong evidence of the low place assigned by the writer to the external side of the religion he professed. We do however find mention of an angel, a sort of deus ex machina in the Dragon story (verses 34 ff); compare Da 6:22.

The incident of the transportation of Habakkuk to Babylon shows that the writer had strong faith in supernatural intervention on behalf of the pious. Apart from this incident the two stories steer fairly clear of anything that is supernatural. But Bel and the Dragon verses 33-39 are a late interpolation.

VII. Author, Place and Date of Composition.

Nothing whatever is known of the author of the book and nothing definite or certain of the place or date of composition. It has been commonly felt, as by Bissell, etc., that it reflects a Babylonian origin. Clay (see Bel and the Dragon, verse 7) abounded in Babylon (but surely not only in Babylon); bronze (Bel and the Dragon, verse 7) was often used in that country for the manufacturing of images, and the lion, it is known, was native to the country (but that was the case also in Palestine in Biblical, and even post-Biblical times). None of the arguments for a Babylonian origin have much weight, and there are contrary arguments of considerable force.

The anachronisms and inconsistencies are more easily explained on the assumption of a non-Babylonian origin. Besides, the Judaism of Babylon was of a very strict and regulation kind, great attention being given to the law and to matters of ritual. There is nothing in Bel and the Dragon regarding these points (see above under "Teaching").

If we assume a Hebrew original, as there are good grounds for doing, it is quite possible that these legends were written in Palestine at a time when the Jewish religion was severely persecuted: perhaps when Antiochus VII (Sidetes, 139-128 BC) reconquered Judah for Syria and sorely oppressed the subject people. Yet nothing very dogmatic can be said as to this. We cannot infer much from the style of the Hebrew (or Aramaic?), since no Semitic original has come down to us. It is quite clear that these "additions" imply the existence of the canonical Book of Da and belong to a subsequent date, for they contain later developments of traditions respecting Daniel. The canonical Book of Daniel is dated by modern scholars about 160 BC, so that a date about 136 BC (see above) could not be far amiss.

If, on the other hand, we take for granted that the Septuagint is the original text of the book, the date of that recension is the date of the work itself. It seems probable that this recension of Daniel was made in Egypt about 150 BC (see 1 Macc 1:54; 2:59), and we have evidence that up to that date the "three additions" formed no part of the book, though they exist in all Greek and Syriac manuscripts of Daniel, which have come down to us. Probably the "additions" existed as separate compositions for some time before they were joined to Daniel proper, but it is hardly too much to assume that they were united no later than 100 BC. Yet the data for reaching a conclusion are very slight. It may be added that the Greek of the Septuagint is distinctly Alexandrian in its character, as Westcott, Bissell and others have pointed out. Theodotion’s version is supposed to have been made at Ephesus toward the end of the 2nd century AD.

VIII. Canonicity and Authenticity.

The Alexandrian Jews, recognizing the Septuagint as their Bible, accepted the whole of the Apocrypha as canonical. The Palestine Jews, on the other hand, limited their canonical Scriptures to the Hebrew Old Testament. There is, of course, some uncertainty (largely no doubt because it was originally a translation from the Hebrew) as to whether the Septuagint at the first included the Apocrypha in its whole extent or not, but all the evidence points to the fact that it did, though individual books like Da existed apart before they formed a portion of the Greek or Egyptian canon.

In the early Christian church all the three "additions" are quoted as integral parts of Da by Greek and by Latin Fathers, as e.g. by Irenaeus (IV, 5, 2 f); Tertullian (De idololatria c.18); Cyprian (Ad fortunatum, c.11).

By a decree of the Council of Trent these "additions" were for the Roman church made as much a part of the Bible canon as the Hebrew Book of Daniel. Protestant churches have as a rule excluded the whole of the Apocrypha from their Bibles, regarding its books as either "Deutero-canonical" or "non-canonical." In consequence of this attitude among Protestants the Apocrypha has until lately been greatly neglected by Protestant writers. But a great change is setting in, and some of the best commentaries by Protestant scholars produced in recent years deal with the Apocrypha and its teaching.

Julius Africanus (flourished about first half of 3rd century AD) was the first to impugn the truth of the stories embodied in the "additions" to Daniel. This he did in a letter to Origen to which the recipient vigorously replied.

The improbabilities and contradictions of these three pieces have often been pointed out from the time of Julius Africanus down to the present day. The following points may be set down as specimens:

(1) Daniel is called a priest in the Septuagint (Bel and the Dragon, verse 1), and yet he is identified with the prophet of that name.

(2) Habakkuk the prophet (he is so called in Theodotion (see Bel and the Dragon, verse 33), and no other can be intended) is made to be a contemporary of Daniel and also of the Persian king Cyrus (see Bel and the Dragon, verses 1 and 33 in the English Bible). Now Cyrus conquered Babylon in 538 BC, the principal Jews in Babylon returning to Palestine the following year. The events narrated in Bel and the Dragon could not have occurred during the time Cyrus was king of Babylon, but the Septuagint speaks of "the king" without naming him.

(3) It was not Cyrus but Xerxes who destroyed the image of Bel, this being in 475 BC (see Herodotus i.183; Strabo xvi.1; Arrian, Exped. Alex., vii.1).

(4) It is further objected that dragon-worship in Babylon, such as is implied in the dragon story, is contrary to fact. Star-worship, it has been said, did exist, but not animal-worship. So Eichhorn and Fritzsche. But there is every reason for believing that the worship of living animals as representing deity, and especially of the living serpent, existed in Babylon as among other nations of antiquity, including the Greeks and Romans (see Herzog, 1st edition, article "Drache zu Babylon," by J. G. Muller). It has already been pointed out (see list of meanings) that the word "dragon" denotes a serpent.


Eichhorn, Einleitung in die apoc. Schriften des Alten Testaments (1795), 431 ff (remarkable for its time: compares the Septuagint and Theodotion); W. H. Daubney, The Three Additions to Daniel (Cambridge, 1906; contains much matter though rather uncritically treated); the commentaries of Fritzsche (Vol I: still very rich in material; it forms part of the Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch); Bissell (in Lange’s series, but not a translation); Ball Speaker’s Commentary (this is the best English commentary on the Apocrypha). See also Schurer, Geschichte3, III, 333, and his article in RE3, I, 639; and the articles by Kamphausen in EB, I, 1014; Toy, in Jewish Encyclopedia, II, 650; R. H. Charles, Encyclopedia Brittanica, VII, 807, and especially that by J. Turner Marshall in HDB, I, 267. Fritzsche Libri Veteris Testamenti Graece (1871), and Swete, The Old Testament in Greek, III, 1894, and later editions, give the Septuagint and Theodotion on parallel pages. In the edition of the Septuagint edited by Tischendorf, the Septuagint is given in the text and Theodotion in an appendix.

T. Witton Davies





be’-la (bela‘, "destruction"; the King James Version Belah, Ge 46:21):

(1) Bela, the son of Beor, was the first king of Edom previous to the kingdom of Israel and reigned in the city of Dinhabah (Ge 36:32 f; 1Ch 1:43 f). Septuagint Codex Alexandrinus, Balak.

(2) Bela, the firstborn son of Benjamin (Ge 46:21; 1Ch 7:6 f; 1Ch 8:1). He was the head of the family of the Belaites (Nu 26:38), the father of Addar (called Ard, Nu 26:40), Gera, Abihud, Abishua, Naaman, Ahoah, Gera, Shephuphan (compare Shephupham, Nu 26:39), Huram (1Ch 8:3-5; Nu 26:40).

(3) Bela, a son of Azaz, of the tribe of Reuben, was a man of great power and wealth. His possessions reached from Nebo to the Euphrates (1Ch 5:8 ff).

A. L. Breslich


be’-la-its (bal‘i, "belonging to Bela"): The descendants of Bela (Nu 26:38). Compare BELA (2).


belsh: The primary idea of this word is "to gush forth" as a fountain. As used in Ps 59:7 the thought is that these enemies had so cherished these evil thoughts and bitter wrath that now the heart is a very fountain of evil, and has taught the tongue how to give utterance thereto. But the previous verse shows that the Psalmist also had in mind the howling and barking of the dogs about the city. The imprecations of his enemies are like the snarling, howling, barking of dogs which in an eastern city makes the night hideous with the noise, and is continued until the daybreak.

Jacob W. Kapp


bel’-e-mus (Belemos; Balsamus): An officer of King Artaxerxes in Palestine associated with Beeltethmus in hindering the rebuilding of the temple (1 Esdras 2:16): called Bishlam in Ezr 4:7.


be’-li-al, bel’-yal (beliya‘al; Beliar): This name, occurring very frequently in the Old Testament, has the sense of "worthlessness" (compare 2Sa 23:6 margin); accordingly in such phrases as "sons of Belial" (Jud 20:13; 1Sa 10:27, etc.), "men of Belial" (1Sa 30:22; 1Ki 21:13, etc.), which the English Revised Version usually retains, the American Standard Revised Version more correctly renders, "base fellows" (so "daughter of Belial" 1Sa 1:16, "wicked woman"). There is here no suggestion a proper name. Afterward, however, "Belial" became a proper name for Satan, or for Antichrist (thus frequently in the Jewish Apocalyptic writings, e.g. in XII the Priestly Code (P), Book Jubilees, Asc Isa, Sib Or). In this sense Paul used the word in 2Co 6:15, "What concord hath Christ with Belial?" (Beliar). Bousset thinks that Paul’s "man of sin" in 2Th 2:3, where some authorities read "man of lawlessness," is a translation of this term. The sense at least is similar.


James Orr


be-li’:Is the translation of kachash, "to be untrue" (Jer 5:12), "They have belied the Lord" (the American Standard Revised Version "denied Yahweh"), here used as synonym of "give the lie to."

In The Wisdom of Solomon 1:11 "belle" translates katapseudomai (the kata prefix referring to the kata in katalalia in the same verse), "A mouth that belieth destroyeth a soul."





be-lev’-ers (in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) of Ac 5:14, for posteuontes, the Revised Version, margin "believing"; in the King James Version of 1Ti 4:12 for hoi pistoi, the Revised Version (British and American) "them that believe"): Equivalent phrases, they (he, she) that believe (for hoi pepisteukotes; hoi, pisteuontes; (adj.), pistos, etc.) occur frequently as a regular description of those who professed their faith in Christ, and attached themselves to the Christian church. The one essential condition of admission into the Christian community was, that men should believe in Jesus Christ (Ac 16:31). The actual experiences of the men thus denoted varied with all the possible degrees and modifications of FAITH (which see). Believers are nowhere in the New Testament distinguished as a subordinate class from the "Christians who know" as in the Gnostic antithesis of pistikoi and gnostikoi, "believers" and "knowers."

T. Rees


(metsilloth, pa‘amon): The former of these terms occurs only once (Zec 14:20) where it is thus translated. It is derived from a verb meaning "to tingle" or "dirl" (1Sa 3:11), and there is, therefore, no objection etymologically to rendering the noun by "bells." But the little bell attached to the harness of horses would hardly be a suitable place for a fairly long inscription, and as buckles shaped exactly like cymbals (see MUSIC) were used as ornaments for horses, "cymbals" is probably a better rendering.

The other Hebrew word for bell is found only in Ex 28:33 f; 39:25,26, where "bells of gold" are directed to be attached to the hem of Aaron’s official robe, that the people may hear him when he enters and quits the sanctuary. Bells were not employed by the Hebrews to summon the congregation to worship, nor do Mohammedans so use them at the present day. The church bell is a peculiarly Christian institution, said to have been introduced by Bishop Paulinus of Nola in Campania, who lived about the end of the 4th century. Little bells, however, like those attached to the hem of Aaron’s robe, frequently form part of the harness of horses, or are fastened to the necks of the he-goats or wethers that lead the flock in eastern lands.

James Millar


bel’-oz, bel’-us: The word occurs once only in English Versions of the Bible, in Jer 6:29, where the prophet is predicting the coming of the destroyer (verse 26), "a great nation" from "the north country" (verse 22), down upon Israel, because "all of them deal corruptly" (verse 28). "The bellows blow fiercely; the leads is of the fire." Here the imagery is drawn from the refiner’s art, and the "bellows" are those used to make the refiner’s fires burn fiercely.

See CRAFTS, II, 10.


bel’-i: gachon =" the external abdomen" (Ge 3:14; Le 11:42). qobhah =" the abdominal cavity" (Nu 25:8 the American Standard Revised Version "body"). beTen =" the internal abdomen," "the womb" (1Ki 7:20; Job 15:2,35 the King James Version; Job 20:15,23; 40:16; Ps 17,14; Pr 13:25; 18:20; Jer 1:5; Eze 3:3); also figuratively "the internal regions," "the body of anything" (Jon 2:2). me‘eh =" intestines," "abdomen" (Da 2:32; Jon 1:17; 2:1,2). In the New Testament koilia =" a cavity," espec ially the abdominal (Mt 12:40; 15:17; Mr 7:19); the seat of appetite and of the carnal affections (Ro 16:18; 1Co 6:13; Php 3:19; Re 10:9,10); the innermost of the soul (the American Revised Version, margin Joh 7:38).

Frank E. Hirsch


bel’-ma-im, the King James Version Belmen (Belmaim, Judith 7:3; Bailmain, 4:4): A place in the neighborhood of Dothan (Judith 7:3), to which warning was sent to prepare for the invasion of Holofernes (Judith 4:4). It probably answers to the modern Bir Bil‘ameh (Ibleam), a ruined site about half a mile South of Jenin.


bel’-men, bel’-mon.




See AUGURY, IV, 2.


be-luv’-ed, be-luv’-d’ (agapetos): A term of affectionate endearment common to both Testaments; in the Old Testament found, 26 out of 42 times, in Solomon’s So of Love. Limited chiefly to two Heb words and their derivatives: ‘ahebh, "to breathe" or "long for," hence, to love, corresponding to the New Testament, agapao, "to prefer," i.e. a love based on respect and benevolent regard; dodh, "love," chiefly love between the sexes, based on sense and emotion, akin to phileo (Latin amare). Used occasionally, in their nobler sense, interchangeably, e.g. the former of a husband’s love for his wife (De 21:15,16); twice of a lover (So 1:14,16), thus lifting the affection of the So of Solomon out of mere amorousness into the realm of the spiritual and possibly Messianic. Both words used of God’s love for His chosen: e.g. Solomon, "beloved of his God" (Ne 13:26); Benjamin "beloved of Yahweh" (De 33:12); so even of wayward Israel (Jer 11:15).

In the New Testament "beloved" used exclusively of Divine and Christian love, an affection begotten in the community of the new spiritual life in Christ, e.g. "beloved in the Lord" (Ro 16:8). The beauty, unity, endearment of this love is historically unique, being peculiarly Christian. "Brethren" in Christ are "beloved" (1Th 1:4; 1Co 15:58; Jas 1:16; 2:5). Many individuals are specified by name: Timothy (2Ti 1:2); Philemon (Phm 1:1); Amplias, Urbane, Stachys, Persis (Ro 16:8,9,12), etc. The aged John is the conspicuous New Testament illustration of the depth and tenderness of Christian love. In his epistles alone he addresses his disciples 12 times as "beloved." Paul terms "God’s elect" "holy and beloved" (Col 3:12).

The term rises to still Diviner significance as an epithet of Christ, whom Paul, grateful for His "freely bestowed" grace, terms "the Beloved." This is the word used repeatedly to express God the Father’s infinite affection for Jesus His "beloved Son" (Mt 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mr 1:11; 9:7; Lu 3:22; 20:13).

Agapetos rendered as above 47 times is 9 times "dearly beloved" (the Revised Version (British and American) uniformly omits "dearly") and 3 times "well beloved" (the Revised Version (British and American) omits "well"). The former rendering found only once in the Old Testament (yedhidhuth, "something beloved"), portraying God’s tender love for His people: "dearly beloved of my soul" (Jer 12:7). Thrice is Daniel spoken of as "greatly beloved" of Gabriel and of God (hamudhoth, "precious," i.e. delight = beloved; Da 9:23; 10:11,19). Through the apostles the word has become familiar in pastoral and sermonic address. Few New Testament words better illustrate the power and impress of the Christian spirit on succeeding centuries than this.

Dwight M. Pratt


bel-shaz’-ar (belsha’tstsar; Baltasar, Babylonian Bel-shar-usur): According to Da 5:30, he was the Chaldean king under whom Babylon was taken by Darius the Mede. The Babylonian monuments speak a number of times of a Bel-shar-usur who was the "firstborn son, the offspring of the heart of" Nabunaid, the last king of the Babylonian empire, that had been founded by Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, at the time of the death of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, in 626 BC. There is no doubt that this Belshazzar is the same as the Belshazzar of Dnl. It is not necessary to suppose that Belshazzar was at any time king of the Babylonian empire in the sense that Nebuchadnezzar and Nabunaid were. It is probable, as M. Pognon argues, that a son of Nabunaid, called Nabunaid after his father, was king of Babylon, or Babylonian king, in Harran (Haran), while his father was overlord in Babylon. This second Nabunaid is called "the son of the offspring of the heart" of Nabunaid his father. It is possible that this second Nabundid was the king who was killed by Cyrus, when he crossed the Tigris above Arbela in the 9th year of Nabunaid his father, and put to death the king of the country (see the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle col. ii, 17); since according to the Eshki-Harran inscription, Nabunaid the Second died in the 9th year of Nabunaid the First. Belshazzar may have been the son of the king who is said in the same chronicle to have commanded the Babylonian army in Accad from the 6th to the 11th year of Nabunaid I; or, possibly longer, for the annals before the 6th and after the 11th year are broken and for the most part illegible. This same son of the king is most probably mentioned again in the same chronicle as having died in the night in which Babylon was captured by Gobryas of Gutium. As Nabunaid II, though reigning at Hatran under the overlordship of his father, is called king of Babylon on the same inscription on which his father is called by the same title; so Belshazzar may have been called king of Babylon, although he was only crown prince. It is probable also, that as Nabunaid I had made one of his sons king of Harran, so he had made another king of Chaldea. This would account for Belshazzar’s being called in Da 5:30 the Chaldean king, although, to be sure, this word Chaldean may describe his race rather than his kingdom. The 3rd year of Belshazzar spoken of in Da 8:1, would then refer to his 3rd year as subking of the Chaldeans under his father Nabunaid, king of Babylon, just as Cambyses was later subking of Babylon, while his fathe r Cyrus was king of the lands. From the Book of Daniel we might infer that this subkingdom embraced Chaldea and Susiana, and possibly the province of Babylon; and from the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle that it extended over Accad as well. That the city of Babylon alone was sometimes at least governed by an official called king is highly probable, since the father of Nergal-har-ucur is certainly, and the father of Nabunaid I is probably, called king of Babylon, in both of which cases, the city, or at most the province, of Babylon must have been meant, since we know to a certainty all of the kings who had been ruling over the empire of Babylon since 626 BC, when Nabopolassar became king, and the names of neither of these fathers of kings is found among them.

In addition to Nabunaid II, Belshazzar seems to have had another brother named Nebuchadnezzar, since the two Babylonian rebels against Darius Hystaspis both assumed the name of Nebuchadnezzar the son of Nabunaid (see the Behistun Inscription, I, 85, 89, 95). He had a sister also named Ina-esagilaremat, and a second named probably Ukabu’shai’-na.

Belshazzar had his own house in Babylon, where he seems to have been engaged in the woolen or clothing trade. He owned also estates from which he made large gifts to the gods. His father joins his name with his own in some of his prayers to the gods, and apparently appointed him commander of the army of Accad, whose especial duty it was to defend the city of Babylon against the attacks of the armies of Media and Persia.

It would appear from the Nabunaid-Cyrus Chronicle, that Belshazzar was de facto king of the Babylonian empire, all that was left of it, from the 4th to the 8th month of the 17th year of the reign of his father Nabunaid, and that he died on the night in which Babylon was taken by Gobryas of Gutium (that is, probably, Darius the Mede (see DARIUS)).

The objection to the historical character of the narrative of Daniel, based upon the fact that Belshazzar in 5:11,18 is said to have been the son of Nebuchadnezzar whereas the monuments state that he was the son of Nabunaid, is fully met by supposing that one of them was his real and the other his adoptive father; or by supposing that the queen-mother and Daniel referred to the greatest of his predecessors as his father, just as Omri is called by the Assyrians the father of Jehu, and as the claimants to the Medo-Pers throne are called on the Behistun Inscription the sons of Cyaxares, and as at present the reigning sheikhs of northern Arabia are all called the sons of Rashid, although in reality they are not his sons.


The best sources of information as to the life and times of Belshazzar for English readers are: The Records of the Past; Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of Assyria and Babylonia; Sayce. The Higher Criticism and the Monuments; and W. W. Wright’s two great works, Daniel and His Prophecies and Daniel and His Critics.

R. Dick Wilson




bel-te-shaz’-ar (belTsha’tstsar Babylonian BalaT-sharucur "protect his life"; Da 4:8): The Bah name given to Daniel (Da 1:7; 2:26; 5:12). Not to be confounded with Belshazzar.





ben (ben, "son"): A Levite appointed to assist as musician in the temple service (1Ch 15:18). The text seems to be doubtful, since the name is omitted in 1Ch 15:20 and not mentioned at all in the Septuagint.


Ben (prefix) (singular ben, "son of"; plural bene, "sons of" = Aramaic bar): This word is used in the singular or plural to express relationship of almost any kind:

(1) to a person; as such it is found as part of many compound names like Benjamin, Benhur, etc. (compare Bar);

(2) to a clan; in this connection it is found in the plural only: "children of Israel," "children of Ammon," etc.;

(3) to a town; perhaps as place of birth ("son of Jabesh"; 2Ki 15:10 ff);

(4) to occupation, state of life, age, character, quality even of things;

(5) peculiarly employed in the sense of "scholar disciple" ("son of prophet"), or in phrases like "son of death," etc.;

(6) in poetry, "sons of flame" for "sparks" (Job 5:7 margin), etc. The frequent metaphorical use of the word indicates that it was rarely used to express the relation of father to son like the Arabic Ibn. Compare HPN, 64 ff.

A. L. Breslich


ben-a-bin’-a-dab, ben-ab-i-na’-dab (ben ‘abhinadhabh, "son of Abinadab"): One of the "captains" of Solomon who provided for the king and his household, each for a month in the year (1Ki 4:11). His district was the region of Dor. In the King James Version he is called "the son of Abinadab." His wife was Tappath, the daughter of Solomon.


ben-am’-i (ben ‘ammi, "son of my kinsman," Ge 19:38): The progenitor of the Ammonites was a son of Lot’s younger daughter, born after the destruction of Sodom. The account of his birth as well as that of Moab was commonly regarded as an expression of Israel’s intense hatred and contempt toward these two nations. However, this idea is rather unwarranted, in view of the fact that the origin of the tribe of Judah (which is held in especial honor by J) is accounted for in a similiar way (Ge 38). Gunkel (Schopfung und Chaos, 190) suggests that the narrative (Ge 19:30-38) was originally a Moabitic account tracing the common origin of Moab and Ammon to Lot. It presupposes a universal catastrophe—such as the conflagration of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim suggests—in which all the human race, save Lot and his two daughters, perished. In order to avert the extinction of the race, his daughters resorted to incestuous practices. In this case we have here a Moabite parallel to the Deluge story (Skinner, Genesis, 313-14). While the common origin of the two brother tribes is undoubtedly a fact (Jud 10:6; 11:15,18,25; De 2:19; 2Ch 20, etc.), the folk-etymology of their names is rather suspicious. The name Ben-Ammi is probably derived from the deity "Emu," which is the name for Nergal among the shuchites on the West of the Euphrates a land which corresponds to the position of the Bene-‘Ammo, "children of his people" (Nu 22:5). The chief god of the Kataban Arabs was called Ammi (Hom., ZDMG, V, 95, 525, note 1). In cuneiform inscriptions this name appears as part of the title of the Ammonite rulers (HDB). Neubauer (Studia Biblica, 1-26) suggests that the name Balaam is a compound of Bel plus Am, that is, "Am is Lord." For other compounds with Ammi see Gray, HPN, 41-60.

S. Cohon


ben-de’-ker (ben-deqer, "son of Deker," the King James Version "son of Dekar"): The word is derived from a Hebrew root meaning "to pierce." Compare HPN, 69. One of the 12 officers who provided victuals for King Solomon and his household (1Ki 4:9).


ben-ge’-ber (ben-gebher, "son of Geber"; the King James Version son of Geber; the word is derived from a Hebrew root meaning "to be strong." Compare HPN, 66, 69): One of the twelve commissariat officers in the service of Solomon (1Ki 4:13).


ben-ha’-il (ben-chayil, "son of strength"; compare HPN, 65, 231): One of the princes who was sent by Jehoshaphat "to teach in the cities of Judah" (2Ch 17:7).


ben-ha’-nan (ben-chanan, "son of grace"): A son of Shimon of the house of Judah (1Ch 4:20).


ben-he’-sed (ben-checedh, "son of Hesed"; the King James Version son of Hesed; the word is derived from a Hebrew root meaning "to be kind"): A commissariat officer in the service of Solomon (1Ki 4:10).


ben-hur’ (ben-chur, "son of Hur"; the King James Version son of Hur; from a Hebrew root meaning "to be white." Compare HPN, 69, note 3): One of the twelve commissariat officers in the service of Solomon (1Ki 4:8).





ben-o’-ni (ben-’oni; huios odunes mou, "son of my sorrow"): The name given by the dying Rachel to her new-born son; changed by his father Jacob to BENJAMIN (Ge 35:18) which see.


ben-zo’-heth (ben-zoheth, "son of Zoheth," from a Hebrew root meaning "to be strong(?)"): A son of Ishi of the house of Judah (1Ch 4:20).


be-na’-ya, be-ni’-a (benayah, benayahu, "Yahweh has built." Compare HPN, 182, 265, 268):

(1) Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada of Kabzeel (compare Jos 15:21), was a man of "mighty deeds" and was more honorable than any of the mighty men of David except the three chiefs. Therefore David made him his chief counselor (2Sa 23:23 m; month compare 1Ch 27:34 where the order of names seems to be reversed) and set him over the Cherethites (compare Carites, 2Ki 11:4 ff and margin) and Pelethites and he was made the 3rd captain of the host and chief over the course of the 3rd (1Ch 27:5 f; 2Sa 8:18; 20:23; 1Ch 18:17; 2Sa 23:20 ff; 11:22 ff). Being a true friend of David (compare 2Sa 15:18) he did not take part in the usurpation of Adonijah (1Ki 1:8,10,26), and was therefore with others chosen by the king to proclaim Solomon king over Israel (1Ki 1:32 ff) and later by Solomon to execute Adonijah (1Ki 2:25), Joab (1Ki 2:29 ff), and Shimei (1Ki 2:46). In recognition of his services Solomon appointed him over the host in Joab’s place (1Ki 2:35; 4:4).

(2) Benaiah, a Pirathonite (compare Jud 12:13,15), was one of David’s 30 mighty men (2Sa 23:30; 1Ch 11:31). He was captain over the course of the 11th month numbering 24,000 (1Ch 27:14).

(3) A ruler of the house of Simeon (1Ch 4:36).

(4) A Levite of second degree appointed as singer (1Ch 15:18) with "psalteries Set to Alamoth" (1Ch 15:20; 16:5).

(5) A priest appointed "to blow the trumpet before the ark of God" (1Ch 15:24; 16:6).

(6) The father of Jehoiada (1Ch 27:34), but see (1) above.

(7) An ancestor of Jahaziel of the house of Asaph (2Ch 20:14).

(8) An overseer in the service of Hezekiah (2Ch 31:13).

(9, 10, 11, 12) Four different men of Israel who had taken "strange wives" (Ezr 10:25,30,35,43).

(13) The father of Pelatiah who was seen by Ezekiel in his vision (Eze 11:1,13).

A. L. Breslich


(qeresh): Found only in English Versions of the Bible in Eze 27:6, in the prophet’s "lamentation over Tyre": "They have made thy benches of ivory inlaid in boxwood, from the isles of Kittim," where the word evidently stands for the "benches" of the boat whose "mast" (verse 5) and "oars" (verse 6) have just been described, in the vivid figs. of speech in which the city itself is pictured as a merchantship. Compare verse 8, "Thy wise men, O Tyre, were in thee, they were thy pilots."



ben-e-be’-rak (bene beraq; Banebarak): A town in the territory of Da (Jos 19:45), represented by the modern village Ibn Ibraq, about an hour Southeast of Jaffa.


ben-e-ja’-a-kan, be-ne-ja’-a-kan (bene ya‘aqan: Nu 33:31,32).



be-neth’:The adverb for "under" (kato). In Joh 8:23, the words "ye are from beneath," suggest hell in contrast to heaven. But the succeeding clause, "ye are of this world," gives the key for the interpretation. Earth, not hell, is expressed, although "that more awful meaning surely is not excluded" (Alford).


ben-e-dik’-shun: From the earliest times the records bear testimony that pronouncing the benediction or giving the blessing was a common practice. In the temple service, this duty was assigned to the Aaronites and was made an impressive part of the service. The form of the benediction used is given in Nu 6:22-27. References to this practice may be found in Le 9:22; De 10:8; 2Ch 30:27. After a time, minute directions were given concerning it and careful preparation was made for this part of the service. All Aaronites, of proper age, were entitled to perform this service, except those who by previous conduct or on account of physical defect were disqualified. One who had killed another, whether intentionally or otherwise, who had violated the marriage vows, had given himself excessively to wine drinking or other excesses, or indeed had been guilty of unrighteous conduct or life, was not only prohibited from pronouncing the blessing, but was required to withdraw before this part of the service was performed. If one was blind even of one eye, or had a defect in his hands or speech, or was a hunchback, he was also excluded. Before the priest could engage in this service he was required to wash his hands. Then, with uplifted hands, while the people stood, he uttered the words of blessing. The main idea was that thus the name of Yahweh was put on the people. Later it came to be regarded as having some special blessing in and of itself, a result against which the more spiritual of the priests protested.

It was common not only to pronounce the benediction in the public worship but also in the family. We have such instances in Ge 9:26,27; 27:27-30. This practice prevailed also on many other occasions not only in Israel, but among the heathen as well. We may readily see, therefore, that from the very beginning of the Christian church the use of the benediction was common. In the course of time an extensive liturgy developed on this subject and it may be said that there are now three distinct ideas in the church as to the benediction. That section of the church which regards the minister as clothed with sacerdotal powers, holds that the blessings pronounced are actually conferred in the act of the utterance of the words, because of the powers conferred upon him when he was set aside for the sacred office. On the other hand it is held that it is merely a prayer that God may bestow certain blessings on the people. From this position others dissent, and teach that it is the declaration of the special privileges and relations in which those stand who have entered into covenant fellowship with Christ; that the blessings now declared are theirs by fight of that relation, and are conferred upon them by the Holy Spirit. The Greek and Roman Catholic churches take the first portion, and therefore we find among them much of detail and minutiae as to the manner in which it should be pronounced. In the Greek church the priest raises his hand with the thumb touching the third finger, signifying the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father alone; or according to others to form the sacred name IHS. In the Roman church the form is, the thumb, first and second fingers are to be open, to symbolize the Trinity. In this church too, the benediction is pronounced in a multitude of cases and in each case the thing so blessed by the priest is made sacred. Crosses, church vessels, houses, paschal eggs, churchyards, are thus blessed. Every parish has a collection of these forms of blessing in what is known as the "Benedictionale." The authority for this is based on some documents claiming to reach back to early church history, but as they belong to the forged decretal class, the position of the Roman church on this subject is untenable.

Apostolic benedictions, as we find them in the epistles, present considerable variety. One of the striking features is that in a number of cases there is the omission of the Holy Ghost. The best explanation seems to be that the Father and the Son effect the redemption of the world and the Holy Ghost applies the blessing so wrought out. "Grace, mercy and peace" may then be said to be sent from the Father and the Son through the Holy Ghost to be the possession of all who have come into the kingdom. The third person of the Trinity, being thus in the act of applying the blessing, is not mentioned. The fact that in other cases Father, Son and Holy Ghost are mentioned, proves that the writers knew the character and office of the Holy Ghost. The most common form used today is that in 2Co 13:14. Occasionally some changes are introduced by ministers, but it would seem best to adhere strictly to the Scriptural forms.


Jacob W. Kapp


ben-e-fak’-ter (Greek euergetes, Lu 22:25): There is here a probable allusion to two kings of Egypt (Ptolemy III and VII), who had the surname "Euergetes," of whom the period of the first was 247-242 BC, and of the second, 147-117 BC. Jesus draws the contrast between worldly kingdoms, in which the title "benefactor" is given those who rule with all the splendor of earthly display and luxury, and His kingdom, in which it belongs only to those whose work is that of humble, obscure and often menial service.


ben’-e-fit (gemul =" a deed," 2Ch 32:25); yaTabh =( causat.) "to make well," "to do good" (Jer 18:10). The plural of gemul, is found is found in Ps 103:2. Ps 68:19 (the King James Version) should be translated "Blessed be the Lord. Day by day he sustains us; God is our salvation." charis =" gift"; "grace" (2Co 1:15, "a second benefit": that is, two visits in the same journey). euergesia =" good deed done" (1Ti 6:2: "because they that partake of the benefit (of their service) are believing and beloved"); agathos =" good" (Philemon 1:14, the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "goodness").

Frank E. Hirsch


be-nev’-o-lens: the King James Version translation of phrase in Textus Receptus of the New Testament of 1Co 7:3, rejected by the Revised Version (British and American) which following Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek translates Greek opheile, "due." This reference to the marriage relation is explained in 7:4. Compare Ex 21:10.


ben-ha’-dad (ben-hadhadh; Septuagint huios Hader):

The Name


1. The Kingdom of Syria Founded

2. Syria and Judah

3. Shortsightedness of Asa


1. Hadad-’idri of the Monuments

2. Expeditions against Israel

3. Alliance with Ahab

4. Biblical History Confirmed by the Monuments

5. Alliance Broken off

6. Benhadad and Elisha

7. Panic of Syrians at Samaria

8. Murder of Benhadad


1. His Contemporaries

2. The Assyrians in the West

3. Downfall of Damascus before Ramman-Nirari III

4. Breathing Space for Israel

The Name:

The name of three kings of Syria mentioned in the historical books. Hadad is the Syrian god of storms, and is apparently identical with Rimmon (2Ki 5:18), the Assyrian Rammanu, "the Thunderer," whose temple was in Damascus. The name Benhadad, "son of Hadad," accords with the custom which obtained in Semitic mythology of calling a king or a nation the son of the national god, as we have Mesha‘, son of Chemosh, and the Moabites, children of Chemosh. Benhadad seems to have become a general designation for the kings of Syria (Am 1:4; Jer 49:27).

I. Benhadad I

1. The Kingdom of Syria Founded:

Benhadad I was the son of Tabrimmon, who is called (1Ki 15:18) "the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus." Hezion has been with some plausibility identified with Rezon (1Ki 11:23,25) who founded the kingdom of Damascus and imparted to Syria that temper of hostility to Israel which became hereditary. Meanwhile the Arameans had shaken themselves free from the rule of the Hittites, and with Damascus for a center had planted strong settlements in the plains westward from the Euphrates. By the time that Benhadad entered into this succession, Syria was the strongest power in this region of Western Asia, and ready to take advantage of every opportunity of increasing her dominions.

2. Syria and Judah:

Such an opportunity presented itself in the appeal of Asa, king of Judah, for help against Baasha king of Israel. The two Hebrew kingdoms had been at feud ever since their disruption. Baasha had pushed his frontier southward to Ramah, within 5 miles of Jerusalem, and this commanding eminence he proceeded to fortify. The danger of a hostile fortress overlooking his capital, and the humiliation of his rival’s presence so near, were more than Asa could bear. It was at this juncture that he bethought him of Benhadad. Taking all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasury of the house of the Lord, and the treasury of the king’s house, he sent them to Benhadad with a request for an alliance begging him at the same time to break off the league he had with Baasha and thus enable Asa to dislodge his enemy. Benhadad saw an opening for the aggrandizement of his kingdom and broke off the alliance he had had with Jeroboam and Baasha. By an invasion of Northern Israel he obliged Baasha to withdraw from Ramah and confine himself to the neighborhood of his own capital (1Ki 15:16 ff). Judah obtained relief, but the price paid for it was too great. Asa had surrendered his treasures, and very likely some of his independence.

3. Shortsightedness of Asa:

For his shortsightedness in laying himself under obligation to Benhadad and relying upon the help of Syria rather than upon the Lord his God, Asa was rebuked by the prophet Hanani (2Ch 16:1 ff). Benhadad had extended his territories by the transaction and seems to have exercised henceforward some sort of sovereignty over both the Hebrew kingdoms.


McCurdy HPM, I, 256; H. P. Smith, Old Testament History, 186.

II. Benhadad II

1. Hadad-’idri of the Monuments:

Benhadad II was in all probability the son of Benhadad I. He is the Hadad-ezer, or Hadad-’idri, of the monuments. He comes first upon the scene of the Biblical history invading the land of Israel with a large host, in which were 32 tributary kings, and horses and chariots. He had penetrated as far as Samaria, the newly built city of Omri, now the capital of his son Ahab. Benhadad and his Syrian host had laid siege to Samaria and Ahab had been summoned to surrender. Ahab was disposed to come to terms, but the intolerable proposals made by Benhadad drove him to resistance. Encouraged by the elders of the people, and acting on the counsel of a prophet, Ahab made a sortie and falling upon the carousing Syrians put them so completely to rout that Benhadad himself only escaped on a horse with the horsemen.

2. Expeditions against Israel:

Next year the Syrians resolved to retrieve their defeat saying of the Israelites, "Their God is a god of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we: but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they." Ahab had been warned to expect the return of the Syrians and was prepared for the fresh attack. For seven days the two armies faced each other, the Israelites "like two little flocks of kids" before a host that filled the country. On the seventh day they joined battle near to Aphek, and the Syrians met again an overwhelming defeat. Yahweh was proved to be God both of the plains and of the hills. Benhadad was taken prisoner, and appealing to the clemency of the victor, he persuaded Ahab to spare his life.

3. Alliance with Ahab:

A treaty was agreed upon between the two monarchs under which Ahab’s people were to have bazaars of their own in Damascus, as it would appear Benhadad I had had for his subjects before in Samaria (1Ki 20:1-34). The treaty was denounced by a prophet, and Ahab was warned that this man whom God had devoted to destruction would be the destruction of himself and his people. Under the treaty, however, there were three years without war between Syria and Israel.

4. Biblical History Confirmed by the Monuments:

The treaty and the resulting period of peace receive striking confirmation from the monuments. From the monolith inscription of Shalmaneser II we learn that this Assyrian king in the 6th year of his reign (854 BC) had crossed the Tigris and made his way across the Euphrates on boats of sheepskin into Syria to Chalman (Aleppo). At Karkar he encountered the combined forces of Damascus, Hamath, Israel and the states which had united to oppose his progress westward. Achabbu Sir-’lai, Ahab of Israel Damascus are Dad’idri Hadadezer (Benhadad II) of Damascus are named in the inscription with chariots, horsemen and infantry, making common cause against Shalmaneser and fighting on the same side. It was Benhadad, as we gather, that bore the brunt of the assault, but the result of the battle was the complete rout of the allies with the loss of 14,000 men. That the assistance of Israel on the occasion was the outcome of the treaty between Ahab and Benhadad, and that the combination against Shalmaneser took place dur ing the three years of peace, are in the highest degree probable.

5. Alliance Broken Off:

The disaster to the allies, however, seems to have broken up the confederacy. When the king of Syria is next mentioned in Biblical history, it is defending the city of Ramoth-Gilead against the attack made upon it by Ahab, who is found now in alliance with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, attempting unsuccessfully and with fatal results to himself, to recover this city of Israel from the weakened power of Damascus. At Ramoth-Gilead Benhadad is not said to have 32 tributary kings in his train, but 32 military commanders who have taken their place (1Ki 22:2,29-31).

6. Benhadad and Elisha:

The peace between Israel and Syria having been broken, there was frequent, if not continuous, war between the kingdoms, in which the prophet Elisha is a prominent figure. He healed of his leprosy Naaman, Benhadad’s commander-in-chief. He disclosed to the king of Israel the places wherever Benhadad pitched his camp. He smote with blindness a great host whom Benhadad had sent with horses and chariots to seize him at Dothan, and led them into Samaria where he saw them treated kindly and sent back to their master (2Ki 6:8-23).

7. Panic of Syrians at Samaria:

Some time after Benhadad again assembled all his host and laid siege to Samaria. So great was the famine that women ate their own children. The king of Israel sent one of his men to put Elisha to death, but Elisha closed his house against him and announced that on the morrow there would be great plenty in the city. And so it happened. Certain lepers, despairing of relief, had gone into the Syrian camp and learned that the Syrians had abandoned their camp in a panic, believing that the king of Israel had hired the kings of the Mucri and the northern Hittites to raise the siege (2Ki 6:24-7:20; compare Burney’s note, 2Ki 7:6).

8. Murder of Benhadad:

Still another notice of Benhadad II is found in the Annals of Shalmaneser, who records that in the 11th year of his reign he defeated a combination of 12 kings of the Hittites with Benhadad at their head, and slew 10,000 men. Of this. there is no record in Biblical history, but it must have been shortly before the tragedy which ended the career of the Syrian king. Benhadad had fallen sick and sent his commander-in-chief, Hazael, to inquire as to the issue of his sickness of the prophet Elisha, who was visiting Damascus. Elisha foretold the king’s death, and wept as he read to Hazael the cruel purpose which the Syrian commander was even then maturing. Hazael professed to be incredulous, but he departed from Elisha and the very next day in cold blood put his master to death and ascended the throne (2Ki 8:7-15). Thus ingloriously ended the reign of one of the most powerful of the Syrian kings.


McCurdy, HPM, I, 267 ff; Schrader, COT, I, 179 if; Winckler, Geschichte Israels, Theil I, 133-55.

III. Benhadad III

1. His Contemporaries:

Benhadad III was the son of the usurper Hazael, and though not in the dynastic succesion, assumed on the dent h of his father the dynastic name. He was contemporary with Amaziah, king of Judah; Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel; and Ramman-Nirari III, king of Assyria. The fortunes of Israel had fallen low in the days of Jehoahaz, and Hazael and Benhadad III were the instruments of Yahweh’s displeasure with the nation. At this time Jehoahaz had no more than 53 horsemen and 10 chariots and 10,000 footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust in threshing (2Ki 13:7). It was when the fortunes of Israel were at the lowest ebb by reason of the oppression of the king of Syria—by this time Benhadad—that help came to them and Yahweh gave Israel a savior, so that Israel went out from under the hands of the Syrians, "and the children of Israel dwelt in their tents (in their homes) as beforetime" (2Ki 13:5).

2. The Assyrians in the West:

The "saviour" of the Biblical narrative is the one allusion in Scripture to the king of Assyria of that day, Ramman-Nirari III, whose inscriptions record his victorious expedition to the West. "From the Euphrates to the land of the Hittites," runs an inscription, "the west country in its entire compass, Tyre, Zidon, the land Omri, Edom, Philistia as far as the Great Sea of the sunsetting, I subjected to my yoke; payment of tribute I imposed upon them. Against Syria of Damascus I marched; Mari, the king of Syria, in Damascus his royal city I besieged." He then proceeds to tell of the subjugation of the monarch and of the spoils obtained from his capital. That Mari which means in Aramaic "lord," is Benhadad III, the son of Hazael, is now generally believed.

3. Downfall of Damascus before Ramman-Nirari III:

With the capture of Damascus and the collapse of the Syrian power under Marl (Benhadad III), an era of recuperation and prosperity became possible to Israel and Judah. So it came to pass that "Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz took again out of the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael the cities which he had taken out of the hand of Jehoahaz by war. Three times did Joash smite him, and recovered the cities of Israel" (2Ki 13:25). 4. Breathing Space for Israel:

Israel was able to breathe freely for a time and Jeroboam II restored the Northern Kingdom to its former extent and glory. But the flame of war which had been sent into the house of Hazael and which devoured the palaces of Benhadad (Am 1:4 ff) was only waiting the time when the Assyrians would be free to renew their expeditions to the West and carry Samaria and Israel "into captivity beyond Damascus" (Am 5:27).


McCurdy, HPM, I, 291 ff; Schrader, COT, I, 202-ff.

T. Nicol.


be-ni’-nu (beninu, "our son"): A Levite who with Nehemiah sealed the covenant (Ne 10:13).


ben’-ja-min (binyamin, or binyamin; Beniaein, Beniamin):

1. The Patriarch:

The youngest of Jacob’s sons. His mother Rachel died in giving him birth. As she felt death approaching she called him Benoni, "son of my sorrow." Fearing, probably, that this might bode evil for the child—for names have always preserved a peculiar significance in the East—Jacob called him Benjamin, "son of the fight hand" (Ge 35:17 ff). He alone of Jacob’s sons was born in Palestine, between Bethel and Ephrath. Later in the chapter, in the general enumeration of the children born in Paddan-ar am, the writer fails to except Benjamin (Ge 35:24). Joseph was his full brother. In the history where Benjamin appears as an object of solicitude to his father and brothers, we must not forget that he was already a grown man. At the time of the descent of Israel to Egypt Joseph was about 40 years of age. Benjamin was not much younger, and was himself the father of a family. The phrase in Ge 44:20, "a little one," only describes in oriental fashion one much younger than the speaker. And as the youngest of the family no doubt he was made much of. Remorse over their heartless treatment of his brother Joseph may have made the other brothers especially tender toward Benjamin. The conduct of his brethren all through the trying experiences in Egypt places them in a more attractive light than we should have expected; and it must have been a gratification to their father (Ge 42 ff). Ten sons of Benjamin are named at the time of their settlement in Egypt (Ge 46:21).

2. The Tribe:

At the Exodus the number of men of war in the tribe is given as 35,400. At the second census it is 45,600 (Nu 1:37; 26:41). Their place in the host was with the standard of the camp of Ephraim on the west of the tabernacle, their prince being Abidan the son of Gideoni (Nu 2:22 f). Benjamin was represented among the spies by Palti the son of Raphu; and at the division of the land the prince of Benjamin was Elidad the son of Chislon (Nu 13:9; 34:21).

3. Territory:\

The boundaries of the lot that fell to Benjamin are pretty clearly indicated (Jos 18:11 ff). It lay between Ephraim on the North and Judah on the South. The northern frontier started from the Jordan over against Jericho, and ran to the north of that town up through the mountain westward past Bethaven, taking in Bethel. It then went down by Ataroth-addar to Beth- horon the nether. From this point the western frontier ran southward to Kiriath-jearim. The southern boundary ran from Kiriath-jearim eas tward to the fountain of the waters of Netophah, swept round by the south of Jerrus and passed down through the wilderness northern by shore of the Dead Sea at the mouth of the Jordan. The river formed the eastern boundary. The lot was comparatively small. This, according to Josephus, was owing to "the goodness of the land" (Ant., V, i, 22); a description that would apply mainly to the plans of Jericho. The uplands are stony, mountainous, and poor in water; but there is much good land on the western slopes.

4. Importance of Position:

It will be seen from the above that Benjamin held the main avenues of approach to the highlands from both East and West: that by which Joshua led Israel past Ai from Gilgal, and the longer and easier ascents from the West, notably that along which the tides of battle so often rolled, the Valley of Aijalon, by way of the Beth-horons. Benjamin also sat astride the great highway connecting North and South, which ran along the ridge of the western range, in the district where it was easiest of defense. It was a position calling for occupation by a brave and warlike tribe such as Benjamin proved to be. His warriors were skillful archers and slingers, and they seem to have cultivated the use of both hands, which gave them a great advantage in battle (Jud 20:16; 1Ch 8:40; 12:2, etc.). These characteristics are reflected in the Blessing of Jacob (Ge 49:27). The second deliverer of Israel in the period of the Judges was Ehud, the left-handed Benjamite (Jud 3:15).

5. History:

The Benjamites fought against Sisera under Deborah and Barak (Jud 5:14). The story told in Jud 20:21 presents many difficulties which cannot be discussed here. It is valuable as preserving certain features of life in these lawless times when there was no details in Israel. Whatever may be said of the details, it certainly reflects the memory of some atrocity in which the Benjamites were involved and for which they suffered terrible punishment. The election of Saul as first king over united Israel naturally lent a certain prestige to the tribe. After the death of Saul they formed the backbone of Ish- bosheth’s party, and most unwillingly conceded precedence to Judah in the person of David (2Sa 2:15,25; 3:17 ff). It was a Benjamite who heaped curses upon David in the hour of his deep humiliation (2Sa 16:5); and the jealousy of Benjamin led to the revolt on David’s return, which was so effectually stamped out by Joab (2Sa 19 f). Part of the tribe, probably the larger part, went against Judah at the disruption of the kingdom, taking Bethel with them. 1Ki 12:20 says that none followed the house of David but the house of Judah only. But the next verse tells us that Rehoboam gathered the men of Judah and Benjamin to fight against Jeroboam. It seems probable that as Jerusalem had now become the royal city of the house of David, the adjoining parts of Benjamin proved loyal, while the more distant joined the Northern Kingdom. After the downfall of Samaria Judah assumed control of practically the whole territory of Benjamin (2Ki 23:15,19, etc.). Nehemiah gives the Valley of Hinnom as the south boundary of Benjamin in his time (Ne 11:30), while westward it extended to include Lod and Ono. Saul of Tarsus was a member of this tribe (Php 3:5).

(4) A great-grandson of Benjamin, son of Jacob (1Ch 7:10).

(5) One of those who had married a foreign wife (Ezr 10:32, and probably also Ne 3:23; 12:34).

W. Ewing




ben’-ja-mit: One belonging to the tribe of Benjamin, such as Ehud (Jud 3:15), Saul (1Sa 9:1,2), Sheba (2Sa 20:1), Shimei (1Ki 2:8), etc.


be’-no (beno, "his son"): The son of Jaaziah of the house of Levi (1Ch 24:26,27).


be’-on (Nu 32:3).



be’-or (be‘or, "destroyer"(?)):

(1) Father of Bela, the first king of Edom (Ge 36:32; 1Ch 1:43).

(2) The father of the seer Balaam (Nu 22:5; 24:3,15; 31:8; De 23:4; Jos 13:22; 24:9, omitted in Septuagint; Mic 6:5; 2Pe 2:15, the King James Version and the Revised Version, margin "Bosor").


be’-ra (bera‘, "gift"(?); compare HPN, 74 note): King of Sodom (Ge 14:2) who in the battle of Siddim was subdued by Chedorlaomer.


be-ra’-ka (berakhah, "blessing," the King James Version Berachah): A Benjamite who joined David at Ziklag (1Ch 12:3).


be-ra’-ka, ber’-a-ka (the King James Version Berachah; ‘emeq berkhah; koilas eulogias): After the victory of Jehoshaphat and his people over Moab and Ammon, "On the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Beracah; for there they blessed Yahweh: therefore the name of that place was called The valley of Beracah (i.e. of blessing) unto this day" (2Ch 20:26). In the Wady ‘Arrub there is a ruin called Breikut and the valley in its proximity receives the same name. This is on the main road from Hebron to Jerusalem and not far from Tekoa; it suits the narrative well (see PEF, III, 352).

E. W. G. Masterman





be-ri’-a (bera’yah, "Yah hath created"): A son of Shimei of the house of Benjamin (1Ch 8:21).





be-rev’, be-rev’-er, be-reft’:Bereave is frequently used in the Old Testament in the (now almost obsolete) meaning of "to deprive," "to take away," especially with reference to loss of children. The Hebrew word used here is shakhol, "to be childless," or in the Piel "to make childless" (compare Ge 42:36 et al.). In the King James Version Ec 4:8 (from the Hebrew chacer, "to lack") we read "and bereave my soul of good" (the Revised Version (British and American) "deprive"), and in Eze 36:14 (from Hebrew kashal, "to stumble"), "neither bereave thy nations any more" (the Revised Version, margin "cause to stumble").

Bereaver, otherwise very rare, is found the Revised Version (British and American) Eze 36:13 (from Hebrew shakhol "to be childless"), "a bereaver of thy nation" (the King James Version "hast bereaved").

Bereft is found in 1Ti 6:5 (from the Greek apostereo, "to rob") "bereft of the truth" (the King James Version "destitute"). The expression bereavement (the Revised Version (British and American) Isa 49:20) in the phrase "the children of thy bereft" means "the children born to thee in the time when God had afflicted thee."

A. L. Breslich


ber-e-ki’-a (berekhyah, berekhyahu, "Yahweh blesses," HPN, 216, 287):

(1) A descendant of David (1Ch 3:20).

(2) The father of Asaph, the singer (1Ch 6:39 the King James Version "Berachiah"; 1Ch 15:17).

(3) A former inhabitant of Jerusalem, a Levee (1Ch 9:16).

(4) A doorkeeper ‘for the ark at David’s time (1Ch 15:23).

(5) One of the heads of the children of Ephraim (2Ch 28:12).

(6) The father of Meshullam the builder (Ne 3:4,30; 6:18).

(7) The father of the prophet Zechariah (Zec 11:7).

A. L. Breslich


be’-red (beredh, "hail," from a Hebrew root meaning "to be cold"): The son of Shuthelah of the house of Ephraim (1Ch 7:20). Compare BECHER.


be’-red (beredh; Barad): A place in the Negeb mentioned in the story of Hagar (Ge 16:14). The well Beer-lahai-roi was "between Kadesh and Bered." The Onkelos Targum renders it Chaghra’, which is the usual equivalent of Shur, while the Jerusalem Targum renders it Chalutsah, which is also Shur (Ex 15:22). Chalutsah is clearly the city of Elusu mentioned by Ptolemy and from the 4th to the 7th centuries by various ecclesiastical writers. It was an important town on the road from Palestine to Kadesh and Mount Sinai. This is without doubt the very large and important ruin Kh. Khalasa, some 70 miles South of Jerusalem on the road from Beersheba and Rehoboth. "These ruins cover an area of 15 to 20 acres, throughout which the foundations and enclosures of houses are distinctly to be traced. .... We judged that here there must have been a city with room enough for a population of 15,000 to 20,000 souls" (Robinson, BR, I, 201).

E. W. G. Masterman





be’-ri (beri, "wisdom"): A descendant of Asher (1Ch 7:36).


be-ri’-a, be-ri’-its (beri‘ah, "in shouting," probably derived from a Hebrew root meaning "to make noise," or "in evil," from another Hebrew root):

(1) A son of Asher and father of Heber and Malchiel (Ge 46:17; 1Ch 7:30,31; the head of the family of the Beriites, Nu 26:44 ff).

(2) A son of Ephraim, called Beriah by his father because "it went evil with his house" (1Ch 7:23).

(3) A descendant of Benjamin (1Ch 8:13,16).

(4) A Levite in the line of Gershon (1Ch 23:10 f).


be’-rits (berim; according to Klostermann and others, bikhrim): The word is found only once in the Old Testament (2Sa 20:14). The passage seems to be doubtful. The suggestion of Klostermann does not improve matters any; the other proposed reading, bachrim (Vulgate, viri electi), "choice young men," is to be preferred.


be’-rith (berith, "covenant").


BERNICE ber-ni’-se (Bernike "victorious"): One of the shameless women of the Bible, mentioned in Ac 25:13,23; 26:30. She was the eldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I (Ac 12:1,6,11,21) who ruled from 38-45 AD. Her whole life from the Jewish standpoint was incestuous. Its story is told by Josephus (Ant XIX, v, 1; XX, vii, 1-3), also by Juvenal (6, 156). Her first husband was her own uncle, Herod of Calchis. After his death she consorted with her own brother Agrippa II, with whom she listened to the impassioned defense of Paul at Caesarea before Felix. For a while she was married to King Ptolemy or Polemo of Sicily, who for her sake embraced Judaism, by the rite of circumcision. But she left him soon to return to Agrippa. Later on she figures shamefully in the lives of Vespasian and Titus, father and son. If heredity stands for anything, its lessons are forcibly taught in the history of the Herodian family.

Henry E. Dosker





be-re’-a (Beroia or Berroia):

(1) A town of southwestern Macedonia, in the district of Emathia. It lay at the foot of Mt. Bermius, on a tributary of the Haliacmon, and seems to have been an ancient town, though the date of its foundation is uncertain. A passage in Thucydides (i.61) relating to the year 432 BC probably refers to another place of the same name, but an inscription (Inscr Graec, II, 5, 296i) proves its existence at the end of the 4th century BC, and it is twice mentioned by Polybius (xxvii.8; xxviii.8). After the battle of Pydba in 168 BC Berea was the first city to surrender to Rome and fell in the third of the four regions into which Macedonia was divided (Livy xliv.45; xlv.29). Paul and Silas came to Berea from Thessalonica which they had been forced by an uproar to leave, and preached in the synagogue to the Jews, many of whom believed after a candid examination of the apostolic message in the light of their Scriptures (Ac 17:10,11). A number of "Gr women of honorable estate and of men" also believed, but the advent of a body of hostile Jews from Thessalonica created a disturbance in consequence of which Paul had to leave the city, though Silas and Timothy stayed there for a few days longer (Ac 17:12-15). Perhaps the Sopater of Berea who accompanied Paul to Asia on his last journey to Jerusalem was one of his converts on this visit (Ac 20:4). Berea, which was one of the most populous cities of Macedonia early became a bishopric under the metropolitan of Thessalonica and was itself made a metropolis by Andronicus II (1283-1328): there is a tradition that the first bishop of the church was Onesimus. It played a prominent part in the struggles between the Greeks and the Bulgarians and Serbs, and was finally conquered by the Turks in 1373-74. The town, which still bears among the Greeks its ancient name (pronounced Verria) though called by the Turks Karaferia, possesses but few remains of antiquity with the exception of numerous inscriptions (Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, III, 290 if; Cousinery, Voyage dans la Macedoine, I, 57 ff; Dimitsas, Makedonia in Greek, 57 ff).

Marcus N. Tod

(2) The place where Menelaus the ex-high priest was executed by order of Antiochus Eupator, the victim, according to local custom, being cast from a tower 50 cubits high into a bed of ashes (2 Macc 13:3 ff). It was the ancient city of Chalab, lying about midway between Antioch and Hierapolis. Seleucus Nicator gave it the name Berea. It was a city of importance under the Moslems in the Middle Ages, when the old name again asserted itself, and remains to the present time.

The name "Aleppo" came to us through the Venetian traders in the days before the great overland route to India via Aleppo lost its importance through the discovery of the passage round the Cape. Aleppo is now a city of nearly 130,000 inhabitants. The governor exercises authority over a wide district extending from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.

(3) (Berea); A place mentioned in 1 Macc 9:4. It may be identical with BEEROTH (which see) in Benjamin, a Hivite town, 8 miles North of Jerusalem, or with the modern Birez-Zait, 1 1/2 miles Northwest of Jifneh.

W. Ewing


be’-roth (1 Esdras 5:19). See BEEROTH.


be-ro’-tha (Eze 47:16: berothah; Septuagint Codex Vaticanus, Abthera; or BEROTHAH 2Sa 8:8; berothai, where for mibberothai Septuagint reads ek ton eklekton poleon, "from the select cities"): Probably two forms of the same name. Eze 47:16 places it on the ideal northern frontier of Israel, between Damascus and Hamath. According to 2Sa 8:8 it was a city of Hadadezer, king of Zobah. In the parallel passage (1Ch 18:8) Cun is given in place of Berothai. Its site is unknown. Ewald connected it with Beirut (so also apparently H. P. Smith, ICC, "Samuel," 307), but Ezekiel’s description excludes this view. Others have sought it in the Wady Brissa, in the East slope of Lebanon, North of Baalbec. A more plausible conjecture identifies it with Bereitan (Brithen), a village somewhat South of Baalbec (Baedeker, Pal3, 369). Possibly, however, the ideal northern frontier line should be drawn farther south. See HETHLON; ZEDAD; ZOBAH.

C. H. Thomson





ber’-is: Occurs in Jas 3:12 (the King James Version) in the phrase "olive berries" (elaiai). The Revised Version (British and American) reads simply "olives."





ber’-i-tus, be-ri’-tus (Berutos; Arabic: modern Beirut, Beyrout, Beyrouth): An ancient Phoenician city situated on the North side of a promontory jutting out from the base of Lebanon to the West into the Mediterranean and forming a bay on the North connected with the fable of George and the Dragon, and hence called George’s Bay. The city is about 25 miles North of Sidon and about 12 South of the famous Lycus or Dog River, at the mouth of which are found the sculptured rocks bearing the monuments of the ancient kings of Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria.

The city has been thought by some to be the Berothai of 2Sa 8:8 or the Berothah of Eze 47:16, but the connection in which these cities are mentioned seems to preclude the identification. The town is, however, an ancient one, for it occurs in Tell el-Amarna Letters as Beruti where it is closely connected with Gebal of which it may have been a dependency.

Though not mentioned in Old Testament or New Testament it appears in the history of Herod the Great as an important town where was assembled a court of 150 judges, presided over by Saturninus, a former Roman consul, to try the case which Herod brought against his two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus, who were condemned there by the Roman court (Ant., XVI, xi, 2). Beirut was a Roman colony at this time where many veterans settled and it afterward became the seat of a great Roman law school which was attended, in the days of Justinian, by thousands of students. It was utterly destroyed by an earthquake in 551 AD, and for a time was abandoned. Many remains of temples and public buildings of the Roman period remain. It rose to some importance during the Crusades and is at present the chief seaport of Syria, and has the only harbor on the coast. It is a town of about 125,000 inhabitants.

H. Porter





be’-si (becay, "downtrodden"): The descendants of Besai (Nethinim) returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (Ezr 2:49; Ne 7:52 = Basthai, 1 Esdras 5:31).


be-set’ (euperistatos): The most common sense of this word is "to surround." This is the thought in Ps 139:5, and teaches the omnipresence of God. Often wicked men find that the things which they have done so envelope them that they cannot escape ruin (Ho 7:2). The reference in Heb 12:1 is first of all against the sin of apostasy against which repeated warning is given in this book. But the warning is also against any sin that is especially dangerous to us. It, again and again, surrounds us like a besieging army. To surrender would be traitorous and disgraceful, since the Captain of the Lord’s host is with us.

Jacob W. Kapp


be-sid’:Near to, or close to (Ps 23:2). It is often used to refer to the mental state, to the derangement of the mind (existemi, Mr 3:21; Ac 26:24 the King James Version). Or it may refer to the condition of being out of the ordinary course of the life. A life consecrated to God and spent in the interest of humanity is so designated (2Co 5:13). It has the sense also of a state of being out of one’s usual mind, but not of mental derangement, occasioned by something that causes amazement or ast onishment (Mr 5:42). Or it may refer to a state in which one is not conscious of present conditions, but is rapt in vision (Ac 10:10).

Besides is used in the sense of in addition to or that which is over and above what has been said or is possessed (Lu 16:26; see the American Revised Version, margin "in"; Philemon 1:19).

Jacob W. Kapp





bes-o-de’-ya, bes-o-di’-a (becodheyah, "in the confidence or counsel of Yah"; compare Jer 23:18,22; and HPN, 207, 221, 286): Father of Meshullam, the builder (Ne 3:6).


be’-zum: Occurs only once in Scripture: "I will sweep it with the besom of destruction" (Isa 14:23). Refers to what was in store for Babylon. The Hebrew word maT’ate’, rendered "besom," is close of kin to the one (ti’te’thiha) rendered "sweep." In early English "besom" was synonymous with "broom," and is still so used in some parts of England.


be’-sor, (nachal besor; Codex Alexandrinus, Bechor, Codex Vaticanus, Beana; 1Sa 30:9,20,21; Josephus, Ant, VI, xiv, 6): A torrent-bed (nachal) mentioned in the account of David’s pursuit of the Amalekites. Thought to be Wady Ghazza, which enters the sea Southwest of Gaza.


Of five Hebrew originals the chief is Tobh, "good," expressing quality, character. Variously used of objects pleasing to the senses, feelings, mind, moral sense, e.g. "best of the land" (Ge 47:6); "of sheep" (1Sa 15:9); of persons "married to whom they think best" (Nu 36:6); of abode, "where it liketh (the Revised Version (British and American) "pleaseth") him best" (De 23:16).

In Nu 18:12 the revenues of the priests were to be "holy gifts," e.g. the "best of the oil," etc. (chelebh, "fat"); also 18:29,30,32, the gifts of the heave-offering were to be "of all the best," indicating that the richest elements of life were to go into the support and service of the sanctuary. So "the choice (best) fruits" (zimrah, literally, "the song of the land"), a beautifully poetic expression for the most celebrated fruits (Ge 43:11); equally choice is pazaz, "separate," "the finest (best) gold," hence "purified" (1Ki 10:18).

Used but twice in the New Testament:

(1) of spiritual gifts ((kreitton, "better" the Revised Version (British and American) "greater"); 1Co 12:31);

(2) of raiment (protos, "first"), "best robe" (Lu 15:22), of special significance as expressing the Father’s lavish love for the repentant and returning sinner.

Dwight M. Pratt


be-sted’ (niqsheh, "caught in a snare," "entrapped"; as Judah hard pressed in their own land by the Assyrians (Isa 8:21 the King James Version)): Found only here. Old English word steden meaning "place," hence, "set," "beset"; usually with "ill," "sorely bested." In the Revised Version (British and American) rendered "sore distressed."





be-sto’:The seven Hebrew words rendered by this term variously mean "to put" or "place," "to give"; "do," "deposit," as e.g. to locate chariots and horsemen in cities (1Ki 10:26); or give a blessing (Ex 32:29). Four Greek words so translated signify "to give," "to labor," "to feed," "to place around"; as sunago, "to stow away goods" (Lu 12:17); or psomizo, "give away" (1Co 13:3). The term has richest significance in expressing God’s abundant gift of grace and love, didomi (2Co 8:1 the King James Version; 1Jo 3:1).


be’-ta (2Sa 8:8).



bet’-a-ne (Baitane): A place named in Judith 1:9, among those to which the messengers of Nebuchadnezzar were sent. From the order in which they are named we should seek for it South of Jerusalem. It may be identical with Beit ‘Ainun, about 3 miles North of Hebron.


be’-ten (beTen; Batne): A city of Asher mentioned between Hall and Achshaph (Jos 19:25). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 8 Roman miles East of Ptolemais, giving it the name Bethseten. It may be identical with the modern village el-B‘aneh, but no certainty is possible.

BETH (1)

bath (b): The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. With the daghesh it is transliterated in this dictionary as "b," and, without the daghesth, as "bh" ( =" v"). It came also to be used for the number two (2) and with the dieresis for 2,000. For name, etc., see ALPHABET; BAYITH.

BETH (2)

beth (in proper names; Greek transliteration in Septuagint, beth, baith, or beth): This is the English transliteration for the Hebrew beth, meaning "house," "tent," "place." It occurs in many compound proper names formed similarly to the method of compounding words in the German language, as shown in the articles immediately following. Thus we have beth ‘anath or ‘anoth =" house of replies" (Jos 19:38; Jud 1:33); beth’el =" house of God" (Ge 12:8; 13:3), etc. We also find the word in hybrid formations, e.g. Bethphage = Bethphage =" fig house" (Mt 21:1).

Frank E. Hirsch


beth-a’-nath (beth‘anath; Bainathath): A city in the territory of Naphtali, named with Horem and Bethshemesh (Jos 19:38; Jud 1:33). It is represented by the modern village Ainatha, about 12 miles Northwest of Cafed. The name signifies the "house" or "temple" of Anath, a goddess of the Canaanites.


beth-a’-noth (beth‘anoth; Baithanam, probably "House of Anath"—a god; Jos 15:59): The ruin of Beit ‘Ainun, 1 1/2 miles Southeast of Halhul, in the neighborhood also of Bethzur and Gedor—places mentioned in association with it as towns in the hill country of Judah—appears to be a probable site. The present surface ruins belong to later ages.


beth-ar’-a-ba (beth ha-‘arabhah; Baitharaba, "place of the Arabah"):

(1) One of the 6 cities of Judah "in the wilderness" (Jos 15:61), on the borders of Benjamin and Judah (Jos 15:6; 18:18 Septuagint). "The wilderness of Judah" is the barren land West of the Dead Sea. Beth-arabah is not yet identified.

(2) One of the cities of Benjamin (Jos 18:22). Septuagint (Codex Vaticanus) reads Baithabara, and this may be correct. The names are early confounded.



beth-ar’-bel (beth ‘arbe’l): The scene of a terrific disaster inflicted on the inhabitants by Shalman (Ho 10:14). If the place intended was in Palestine, and was not the famous city of that name on the Euphrates, then probably it should be identified either with Irbid (or Irbil) in Galilee, or with Irbid, which corresponds to Arbela of the Eusebius, Onomasticon, East of the Jordan, about 12 miles Southeast of Gadara. If, as Schrader thinks (COT, II, 140), Shalman stands for the Moabite king, Shalamanu, a tributary of Tiglath-pileser, the eastern town would be the more natural identification. Possibly however the reference is to Shalmaneser III or IV. For the Galilean site, see ARBELA; see also DB, under the word

W. Ewing


beth-a’-ven (beth ‘awen; Baithon, Baithaun): A place on the northern boundary of the territory of Benjamin (Jos 18:12) East of Bethel, near Ai (Jos 7:2), West of Michmash (1Sa 13:5; 14:23). Beth-aven, "house of vanity," i.e. "idolatry," may possibly represent an original beth-’on, "house of wealth." Wilson (PEFS, 1869, 126) suggests Khirbet An, West of Michmash. The name is used in mockery for Bethel by Hosea (4:15; 10:5,8, etc.; compare Am 5:5).


beth-az-ma’-veth (Ne 7:28).



beth-ba-al-me’-on (Jos 13:17).



beth-ba’-ra (beth barah; Baithera): Perhaps Beth-‘abharu, the guttural being lost in copying. It is a ford which the Midianites were expected to pass in fleeing from Gideon. Messengers were therefore sent by Gideon to the Ephraimites bidding them "take before them the waters, as far as Beth-barah, even (the Revised Version, margin "and also") the Jordan" (Jud 7:24). "The waters" were the streams emptying themselves into the Jordan: "even the Jordan" is a gloss on "the waters." Between the Jordan and the modern Wady Fari‘ah an enemy could be entrapped; it is therefore probable that Beth-barah was on that stream near its entrance into the Jordan.


S. F. Hunter


beth-bir’-i (the King James Version Beth-birei, beth-bir’-e-i) beth bir’i; oikos Braoumseoreim; 1Ch 4:31 (called in Jos 19:6, Beth-lebaoth, "abode of lions"): A site belonging to Simeon in the Negeb—unidentified.


beth’-kar (beth-kar; Baithchor, Belchor): "And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, Until they came under Beth-car" (1Sa 7:11). ‘Ain Karem has been suggested; if Mizpah is nebi Samwil then this identification is probable, as the pursuit would be along the deep Wady beit Hannineh—a natural line of retreat for the Philistines to take.



beth-da’-gon (bethdaghon; Bethdagon):

(1) A town in the Shephelah of Judah named with Gederoth, Naamah, and Makkedah (Jos 15:41). It may be represented by the modern Beit Dijan, about 6 miles Southeast of Jaffa. This however is a modern site, and not in the Shephelah. Nearly 2 miles to the south is Khirbet Dajan, a Roman site. The connection in which it occurs leads us to expect a position farther Southeast

(2) A city on the border of Asher (Jos 19:27) which Conder would identify with Tell D’auk, near the mouth of the Belus, in the plan of Acre.

The name seems to have been of frequent occurrence. There is a Beit Dejan about 6 miles East of Nablus, and Josephus speaks of a fortress called Dagon above Jericho (Ant., XII, viii, 1; BJ, I, ii, 3). This would seem to indicate a widespread worship of Dagon. But the name may mean "house of corn."

W. Ewing


beth-dib-la-tha’-im (beth dibhlathayim; oikos Deblaithaim, literally, "house of Diblathaim"): A town in Moab mentioned with Dibon and Nebo (Jer 48:22). It is probably identical with Almondiblathaim (Nu 33:46 f). Mesha claims to have fortified it along with Mehedeba and Ba‘al-me‘on (see MOABITE STONE). The place is not yet identified.


beth-e’-den (Am 1:5 King James Version, margin; English Versions of the Bible "house of Eden").



beth-e’-mek (beth ha-’emeq; Bethaemek, "house of the valley"): A town in the territory of Zebulun (Jos 19:27). It has not been identified, but must be sought somewhere East of Acre, not far from Kabul, the ancient Cabul.


beth-e’-zel (beth ha-’etsel; oikos echomenous autes; literally, "adjoining house"): A place named along with other cities in the Philistine plain (Mic 1:11). The site has not been identified. By some it is thought to be the same as Azel of Zec 14:5; but see AZEL.


beth-ga’-der (bethgadher; Baithgedor, or (Codex Vaticanus) Baithgaidon): The name occurs between those of Bethlehem and Kiriath-jearim in 1Ch 2:51. It is possibly identical with Geder of Jos 12:13.


beth-ga’-mul (beth gamul; oikos Gaimol; Codex Sinaiticus, Gamola): A city in Moab named with Dibon, Kiriathaim and Beth-meon (Jer 48:23). Conder places it at Umm el-Jamal, toward East of the plateau, S. of Medeba (HDB, under the word). Others (Guthe, Kurz. bib. Worterbuch, under the word; Buhl, GAP, 268, etc.) favor Jemeil, a site 6 miles East of Dhiban. Since the town is not mentioned among the cities of Israel Buhl doubts if it should be sought North of the Arnon.


beth-gil’-gal (beth ha-gilgal; Bethaggalgal; the King James Version house of Gilgal): The Gilgal which lay in the plain East of Jericho (Ne 12:29).



beth-ha-ke’-rem, beth-hak’-e-rem (the King James Version Beth-haccerem; beth ha-kerem; Bethachcharma (see DB), "place of the vineyard"): A district (in Ne 3:14) ruled over by one, Malchijah; mentioned in Jer 6:1 as a suitable signal station. From its association with Tekoa (Jer 6:1) and from the statement by Jerome that it was a village which he could see daily from Bethlehem, the Frank mountain (Herodium) has been suggested. It certainly would be a unique place for a beacon. More suitable is the fertile vineyard country around ‘Ain Karem (the "spring of the vineyard"). On the top of Jebel ‘Ali, above this village, are some remarkable cairns which, whatever their other uses, would appear to have been once beacons. ‘Ain Karem appears as Carem in the Septuagint (Jos 15:59).


E. W. G. Masterman


beth-hag’-an (beth-ha-gan, "house of the garden"). The place where Ahaziah was slain by Jehu (2Ki 9:27). The words are rendered in English Versions of the Bible "the garden house," but some take them to be a proper name. The location is doubtful.


beth-ha’-nan (1Ki 4:9).



beth-ha’-ram (beth haram; Baitharan; Codex Alexandrinus, Baitharra; the King James Version wrongly, Beth-Aram): An Amorite city taken and fortified by the Gadites (Jos 13:27; Nu 32:36; in the latter passage the name appears as Beth-haran, probably the original form). It corresponds to Bethramphtha of Josephus (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1), which, according to Eusebius, was the name used by the Syrians. Here was a palace of Herod (Ant., XVII, x, 6; BJ, II, iv, 2). Eusebius, Onomasticon says it was called Livias. Josephus says it was fortified by Herod Antipas, who called it Julias for the wife of Augustus (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 1). The name would be changed to Julias when Livia, by the will of the emperor, was received into the Gens Julia. It is represented by Tell er-Rameh in Wady Chesban, about 6 miles East of Jordan.

W. Ewing


beth-ha’-ran (beth haran): A fenced city East of the Jordan (Nu 32:36) identical with BETH-HARAM, which see.


beth-hog’-la (beth-choghlah; Septuagint Baithaglaam, "house of partridge"): Mentioned in Jos 15:6; 18:19, identified with Ain Haijab ("partridge spring") lying between Jericho and the Jordan, where in 1874 there was still a ruined Greek monastery called Kasr Hajlah, dating from the 12th century. The ruins are now destroyed. In Jos 15:5; 18:19 it is said to be at the mouth of the Jordan on a Tongue (Lisan) of the Salt Sea. But it is now several miles inland, probably because the Jordan has silt edition up a delta to that extent.


George Frederick Wright


beth-ho’-ron (beth-choron (other Hebrew forms occur); Bethoron, probably the "place of the hollow"; compare Hauran, "the hollow"):

1. The Ancient Towns:

The name of two towns, Beth-horon the Upper (Jos 16:5) and Beth-horon the Lower (Jos 16:3), said to have been built (1Ch 7:24) by Sheerah, the daughter of Beriah. The border line between Benjamin and Ephraim passed by the Beth- horons (Jos 16:5; 21:22), the cities belonging to the latter tribe and therefore, later on, to the Northern Kingdom. Solomon "built Beth-horon the upper, and Beth-horon the nether, fortified cities, with walls, gates, and bars" (2Ch 8:5; 1Ki 9:17).

From Egyptian sources (Muller, As. und Europa, etc.) it appears that Beth-horon was one of the places conquered by Shishak of Egypt from Rehoboam. Again, many centuries later, Bacchides repaired Beth-horon, "with high walls, with gates and with bars and in them he set a garrison, that they might work malice upon ("vex") Israel" (1 Macc 9:50,51), and at another time the Jews fortified it against Holofernes (Judith 4:4,5).

2. The Modern Beit Ur el foqa and el tachta:

These two towns are now known as Beit Ur el foqa (i.e. "the upper") and Beit Ur el tachta (i.e. "the lower"), two villages crowning hill tops, less than 2 miles apart; the former is some 800 ft. higher than the latter. Today these villages are sunk into insignificance and are off any important lines of communication, but for many centuries the towns occupying their sites dominated one of the most historic roads in history.

3. The Pass of the Beth-horons:

When (Jos 10:10) Joshua discomfited the kings of the Amorites "he slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ‘Ascent of Beth-horon.’ " When the Philistines were opposing King Saul at Michmash they sent a company of their men to hold "the way of Beth-horon."

This pass ascends from the plain of Ajalon (now Yalo) and climbs in about 3/4 hr. to Beit Ur el tachta (1,210 ft.); it then ascends along the ridge, with valleys lying to north and south, and reaches Beit Ur el foqa (2,022 ft.), and pursuing the same ridge arrives in another 4 1/2 miles at the plateau to the North of el Jib (Gibeon). At intervals along this historic route traces of the ancient Roman paving are visible. It was the great highroad into the heart of the land from the earliest times until about three or four centuries ago. Along this route came Canaanites, Israelites, Philistines, Egyptians, Syrians, Romans, Saracens and Crusaders. Since the days of Joshua (Jos 10:10) it has frequently been the scene of a rout. Here the Syrian general Seron was defeated by Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc 3:13-24), and six years later Nicanor, retreating from Jerusalem, was here defeated and slain (1 Macc 7:39 ff; Josephus, Ant, XII, x, 5). Along this pass in 66 AD the Roman general Cestius Gallus was driven in headlong flight before the Jews.

Now the changed direction of the highroad to Jerusalem has left the route forsaken and almost forgotten. See PEF, III, 86, Sh XVII.

E. W. G. Masterman


1. The Political Situation

2. Joshua’s Strategy

3. Joshua’s Command to the Sun and Moon

4. The Astronomical Relations of the Sun and Moon

5. The "Silence" of the Sun

6. "Yahweh Fought for Israel"

7. The Afternoon’s March

8. The Chronicle and the Poem Independent Witnesses

9. Date of the Events

10. The Records Are ntemporaneous with the Events

1. The Political Situation:

The battle which gave to the Israelites under Joshua the command of southern Palestine has always excited interest because of the astronomical marvel which is recorded to have then taken place.

In invading Palestine the Israelites were not attacking a single coherent state, but a country occupied by different races and divided, like Greece at a later period, into a number of communities, each consisting practically of but a single city and the cultivated country around it. Thus Joshua destroyed the two cities of Jericho and Ai without any interference from the other Amorites. The destruction of Jericho gave him full possession of the fertile valley of the Jordan; the taking of Ai opened his way up to the ridge which forms the backbone of the country, and he was able to lead the people unopposed to the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim for the solemn reading of the Law. But when the Israelites returned from this ceremony a significant division showed itself amongst their enemies. Close to Ai, Joshua’s most recent conquest, was Beeroth, a small town inhabited by Hivites; and no doubt because in the natural order of events Beeroth might look to be next attacked, the Hivites determined to make terms with Israel. An embassy was therefore sent from Gibeon, their chief city, and Joshua and the Israelites, believing that it came from a distant land not under the Ban, entered into the proposed alliance.

The effect on the political situation was immediate. The Hivites formed a considerable state, relatively speaking; their cities were well placed on the southern highland, and Gibeon, their capital, was one of the most important fortresses of that district, and only 6 miles distant from Jerusalem, the chief Amorite stronghold. The Amorites recognized at once that, in view of this important defection, it was imperative for them to crush the Gibeonites before the Israelites could unite with them, and this they endeavored to do. The Gibeonites, seeing themselves attacked, sent an urgent message to Joshua, and he at the head of his picked men made a night march up from Gilgal and fell upon the Amorites at Gibeon the next day and put them to flight.

2. Joshua’s Strategy:

We are not told by which route he marched, but it is significant that the Amorites fled by the way of Beth-horon; that is to say, not toward their own cities, but away from them. A glance at the map shows that this means that Joshua had succeeded in cutting their line of retreat to Jerusalem. He had probably therefore advanced upon Gibeon from the south, instead of by the obvious route past Ai which he had destroyed and Beeroth with which he was in alliance. But, coming up from Gilgal by the ravines in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, he was exposed to a great danger, for the Amorites might have caught him before he had gained a footing on the plateau, and have taken him at a complete disadvantage. It was thus that the eleven tribes suffered such terrible loss at the hands of the Benjamites in this very region during the first inter-tribal war, and probably the military significance of the first repulse from Ai was of the same character; the forces holding the high ground being able to overwhelm their opponent s without any fear of reprisals.

It would seem possible, therefore, that Joshua may have repeated, on a larger scale, the tactics he employed in his successful attack upon Ai. He may have sent one force to draw the Amorites away from Gibeon, and when this was safely done, may have led the rest of his army to seize the road to Jerusalem, and to break up the forces besieging Gibeon. If so, his strategy was successful up to a certain point. He evidently led the Israelites without loss up to Gibeon, crushed the Amorites there, and cut off their retreat toward Jerusalem. He failed in one thing. In spite of the prodigious efforts which he and his men had made, the greater part of the Amorite army succeeded in escaping him and gained a long start in their flight, toward the northwest, through the two Beth-horons.

3. Joshua’s Command to the Sun and Moon:

It was at this point that the incident occurred upon which attention has been chiefly fixed. The Book of Jashar (which seems to have been a collection of war songs and other ballads) ascribes to Joshua the command: +‘ Sun, be thou silent upon (be) Gibeon (compare Revised Version margin); And thou, Moon, in (be) the valley of Aijalon. And the Sun was silent, And the Moon stayed, Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies’ (Jos 10:12,23). -And the prose narrative continues, "The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day."

4. The Astronomical Relations of the Sun and Moon:

In these two, the ballad and the prose chronicle, we have several distinct astronomical relations indicated. The sun to Joshua was associated with Gibeon, and the sun can naturally be associated with a locality in either of two positions: it may be overhead to the observer, in which case he would consider it as being above the place where he himself was standing; or on the other hand, he might see the locality on the skyline and the sun rising or setting just behind it. In the present instance there is no ambiguity, for the chronicle distinctly states that the sun was in "the midst of heaven"; literally, in the halving of the heaven, that is to say overhead. This is very important because it assures us that Joshua must have been at Gibeon when he spoke, and that it must have been noonday of summer when the sun in southern Palestine is only about 8 degrees or 12 degrees from the exact zenith. Next, the moon appeared to be associated with the valley of Aijalon; that is, it must have been low down on the horizon in that direction, and since Aijalon is Northwest of Gibeon it must have been about to set, which would imply that it was about half full, in its "third quarter," the sun being, as we have seen, on the meridian. Thirdly, "the sun hasted not to go down," that is to say, it had already attained the meridian, its culmination; and henceforward its motion was downward. The statement that it was noonday is here implicitly repeated, but a further detail is added. The going down of the sun appeared to be slow. This is the work of the afternoon, that is of half the day, but on this occasion the half-day appeared equal in length to an ordinary whole day. There is therefore no question at all of the sun becoming stationary in the sky: the statement does not admit of that, but only of its slower progress.

5. The "Silence" of the Sun:

The idea that the sun was fixed in the sky, in other words, that the earth ceased for a time to rotate on its axis, has arisen from the unfortunate rendering of the Hebrew verb dum, "be silent," by "stand thou still." It is our own word "dumb," both being onomatopoetic words from the sound made when a man firmly closes his lips upon his speech. The primary meaning of the word therefore is "to be silent," but its secondary meaning is "to desist," "to cease," and therefore in some cases "to stand still. "

From what was it then that Joshua wished the sun to cease: from its moving or from its shining? It is not possible to suppose that, engaged as he was in a desperate battle, he was even so much as thinking of the sun’s motion at all. But its shining, its scorching heat, must have been most seriously felt by him. At noon, in high summer, the highland of southern Palestine is one of the hottest countries of the world. It is impossible to suppose that Joshua wished the sun to be fixed overhead, where it must have been distressing his men who had already been 17 hours on foot. A very arduous pursuit lay before them and the enemy not only had a long start but must have been fresher than the Israelites. The sun’s heat therefore must have been a serious hindrance, and Joshua must have desired it to be tempered. And the Lord hearkened to his voice and gave him this and much more. A great hailstorm swept up from the west, bringing with it a sudden lowering of temperature, and no doubt hiding the sun and putting it to "silence."

6. "Yahweh Fought for Israel":

And "Yahweh fought for Israel," for the storm burst with such violence upon the Amorites as they fled down the steep descent between the Beth-horons, that "they were more who died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword" (Jos 10:11). This was the culminating incident of the day, the one which so greatly impressed the sacred historian. "There was no day like that before it or after it, that Yahweh hearkened unto the voice of a man" (Jos 10:14). It was not the hailstorm in itself nor the veiling of the sun that made the day so remarkable. It was that Joshua had spoken, not in prayer or supplication, but in command, as if all Nature was at his disposal; and the Lord had hearkened and had, as it were, obeyed a human voice: an anticipation of the time when a greater Joshua should command even the winds and the sea, and they should obey Him (Mt 8:23-27).

7. The Afternoon’s March:

The explanation of the statement that the sun "hasted not to go down about a whole day" is found in Jos 10:10, in which it is stated that the Lord discomfited the Amorites before Israel, "and he slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah." The Israelites had of course no time-keepers, no clocks or watches, and the only mode of measuring time available to them was the number of miles they marched. Now from Gibeon to Makkedah by the route indicated is some 30 miles, a full day’s march for an army. It is possible that, at the end of the campaign, the Israelites on their return found the march from Makkedah to Gibeon heavy work for an entire day. Measured by the only means available to them, that afternoon seemed to be double the ordinary length. The sun had "hasted not to go down about a whole day."

8. The Chronicle and the Poem Independent Witnesses:

Joshua’s reference to the moon in connection with the Valley of Aijalon appears at first sight irrelevant, and has frequently been assumed to be merely inserted to complete the parallelism of the poem. But when examined astronomically it becomes clear that it cannot have been inserted haphazard. Joshua must have mentioned the moon because he actually saw it at the moment of speaking. Given that the sun was "in the midst of heaven," above Gibeon, there was only a very restricted arc of the horizon in which the moon could appear as associated with some terrestrial object; and from Gibeon, the Valley of Aijalon does lie within that narrow arc. It follows therefore that unless the position assigned to the moon had been obtained from actual observation at the moment, it would in all probability have been an impossible one. The next point is especially interesting. The ballad does not expressly state whether the sun was upon Gibeon in the sense of being upon it low down on the distant horizon, or upon it, in the sense of being overhead both to Joshua and to that city. But the moon being above the Valley of Aijalon, it becomes clear that the latter is the only possible solution. The sun and moon cannot both have been setting—though this is the idea that has been generally held, it being supposed that the day was far spent and that Joshua desired it to be prolonged—for then sun and moon would have been close together, and the moon would be invisible. The sun cannot have been setting, and the moon rising; for Aijalon is West of Gibeon. Nor can the sun have been rising, and the moon setting, since this would imply that the time of year was either about October 30 of our present calendar, or about February 12. The month of February was already past, since the Israelites had kept the Feast of the Passover. October cannot have come; for, since Beeroth, Gibeon and Jerusalem were so close together, it is certain that the events between the return of the Israelites to Gilgal and the battle of Beth-horon cannot h ave been spread over several months, but must have occupied only a few days. The poem therefore contains implicitly the same fact that is explicitly stated in the prose narrative—that the sun was overhead—but the one statement cannot, in those days, have been inferred from the other.

9. Date of the Events:

A third point of interest is that the position of the moon gives an indication of the time of the year. The Valley of Aijalon is 17 degrees North of West of from Gibeon, of which the latitude is 31 degrees 51 minutes North. With these details, and assuming the time to be nearly noon, the date must have been about the 21st day of the 4th month of the Jewish calendar, corresponding to July 22 of our present calendar, with a possible uncertainty of one or two days on either side. The sun’s declination would then be about 21 degrees North, so that at noon it was within 11 degrees of the zenith. It had risen almost exactly at 5 AM and would set almost exactly at 7 PM. The moon was now about her third quarter, and in North latitude. about 5 degrees. It had risen about 11 o’clock the previous night, and was now at an altitude of under 7 degrees, and within about half an hour of setting. The conditions are not sufficient to fix the year, since from the nature of the luni-solar cycle there will always be one or two years in each cycle of 19 that will satisfy the conditions of the case, and the date of the Hebrew invasion of Palestine is not known with sufficient certainty to limit the inquiry to any particular cycle.

10. The Records Are Contemporaneous with the Events:

It will be seen however that the astronomical conditions introduced by the mention of the moon are much more stringent than might have been expected. They supply therefore proof of a high order that the astronomical details, both of the poem and prose chronicle, were derived from actual observation at the time and have been preserved to us unaltered. Each, therefore, supplies a strictly contemporaneous and independent record.

This great occurrence appears to be referred to in one other passage of Scripture—the Prayer of Habakkuk. Here again the rendering of the English versions is unfortunate, and the passage should stand: +‘ The sun and moon ceased (to shine) in their habitation; At the light of Thine arrows they vanished, And at the shining of Thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, Thou didst thresh the nations in anger’ (Hab 3:11,12). -E. W. Maunder


beth-jesh’-i-moth (beth ha-yeshimoth; Codex Vaticanus, Haisimoth; Codex Alexandrinus, Asimoth, and other variants (see DB, under the word)): Mentioned as the point in the south from which the camp of Israel stretched to Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab (Nu 33:49). In Jos 12:3 the way to Beth-jeshimoth is described as South of the Arabah, near the Dead Sea. It was in the lot assigned to Reuben (Jos 13:20), At what times and how long it was actually held by Israel we do not know; but it appears in Eze 25:9 as belonging to Moab. It may be identical with Khirbet es-Suweimeh, where there are some ruins and a well, about 3 miles East of the mouth of the Jordan.

W. Ewing


beth-le-af’-ra (beth le‘aphrah; Septuagint ex oikou kata gelota, "house of dust"): The name of a place found only in Mic 1:10. From the connection in which it is used it was probably in the Philistine plain. There seems to be a play upon the name in the sentence, "at Beth le-‘apharah have I rolled myself in the dust," ‘aphrah meaning "dust," and possibly another on Philistine in rolled, hith-palldshithi (see G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, called Minor, in the place cited.).


beth-le-ba’-oth, beth-leb’-aoth (beth lebha’oth; Baithalbath, "house of lionesses"): A town in the territory of Simeon (Jos 19:6). In 1Ch 4:31 the name is given as Beth-birei: the Revised Version (British and American) BETH-BIRI (which see).


beth’-le-hem-it (beth ha-lachmi): An inhabitant of Bethlehem, a town in Judah, 5 miles South of Jerusalem. Jesse is so named in 1Sa 16:18; 17:58, and Elhanan in 2Sa 21:19. The children of Bethlehem are referred to in Ezr 2:21; Ne 7:26; 1 Esdras 5:17.


beth-lo’-mon (Baithlomon; Codex Vaticanus, Rhagethlomon): The inhabitants of this city are mentioned as returning with Zerubbabel from Babylon (1 Esdras 5:17). It is the city of Bethlehem in Judah, the modern Beit Lachm (Ezr 2:21).





beth-mar’-ka-both (beth ha-markabhoth; Baithmachereb, "the house of chariots"): Mentioned along with Hazar-susah, "the station of horses" (Jos 19:5; 1Ch 4:31) as cities in the Negeb near Ziklag. It is tempting to connect these stations with "the cities for his chariots, and the cities for his horsemen" which Solomon built (1Ki 9:19; compare 1Ki 10:26). The site of Beth-marcaboth has not been identified, but Guerin (La Terre Sainte. Jerusalem et le Nord de la Judee, II, 230) suggests Khan Yunas , Southwest of Gaza, as a suitable chariot city.

E. W. G. Masterman


beth-me’-on: A city of Moab (Jer 48:23), identical with BAAL-MEON (which see).


beth-mer’-hak (beth ha-merchaq; en oiko to makran, literally "a place (house) that was far off" (2Sa 15:17 the Revised Version, margin "the Far House")): A place mentioned in the account of David’s flight from Absalom. No town of this name is known on the route which he followed. Some scholars think the name denotes simply the outermost of the houses of the city.





beth-nim’-ra (beth nimrah, "house of leopard," Nu 32:36, but in verse Nu 32:3 it is simply Nimrah): In Jos 13:27 the full name appears. In Isa 15:6 the name appears as Nimrim, identified as Tell Nimrim, between Jericho and the mountains on the east, where there is a fountain of large size. The city was assigned to Gad. In the 4th century AD it was located as five Roman miles North of Livias. Eusebius calls it Bethamnaram (SEP, I, Tell Nimrin).





beth-paz’-ez (beth patstsets; Bersaphes, Baithphrasee): A town in the territory of Issachar, named with En-gannim and En- haddah (Jos 19:21). The site has not been discovered; it probably lay near the modern Jenin.


beth-pe’-let (beth-peleT; Baithphaleth, "house of escape"; the King James Version Beth-palet; Jos 15:27, Beth-phelet, the King James Version Ne 11:26): One of "the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the border of Edom in the (Negeb) South" (Jos 15:21,27). Site unknown.


beth-pe’-or (beth pe‘or; oikos Phogor; in Joshua (Vaticanus), Baithphogor, or beth-):" Over against Beth-peor" the Israelites were encamped, "beyond the Jordan, in the valley," when Moses uttered the speeches recorded in De (De 3:29; 4:46). "In the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor" Moses was buried (De 34:6). Beth-peor and the slopes of Pisgah (the King James Version "Ashdoth-pisgah") are mentioned in close connection in Jos 13:20. According to Eusebius, Onomasticon, Beth-peor was situated near Mt. Peor (Fogor) opposite Jericho, 6 miles above Livias. Mt. Peor is the "top" or "head" of Peor (Nu 23:28). Some height commanding a view of the plain East of the river in the lower Jordan valley is clearly intended, but thus far no identification is possible. "The slopes of Pisgah" are probably the lower slopes of the mountain toward Wady ‘Ayun Musa. Somewhere North of this the summit we are in search of may be found. Conder suggested the cliff at Minyeh, South of Wady Jedeideh, and of Pisgah; and would locate Beth-peor at el-Mareighat, "the smeared things," evidently an ancient place of worship, with a stone circle and standing stones, about 4 miles East, on the same ridge. This seems, however, too far South, and more difficult to reach from Shittim than we should gather from Nu 25:1 ff.

W. Ewing





beth-ra’-fa (beth rapha’; B, ho Bathraia, Bathrepha): The name occurs only in the genealogical list in 1Ch 4:12. It does not seem possible now to associate it with any particular place or clan.


beth-re’-hob (beth-rechobh; ho oikos Rhaab) :An Aramean town and district which, along with Zobah and Maacah, assisted Ammon against David (2Sa 10:6,8, Rehob). It is probably identical with Rehob (Nu 13:21), the northern limit of the spies’ journey. Laish-Da (probably Tell el-Kadi) was situated near it (Jud 18:28). The site of the town is unknown. It has been conjecturally identified with Hunin, West of Banias, and, more plausibly, with Banias itself (Thomson, The Land and the Book (2), 218; Buhl, Geog., 240; Moore, ICC, Jgs, 399).

C. H. Thomson


beth-she’-an, beth’-shan (beth-shan, or [beth-she’an]; in Apocrypha Baithsan or Bethsa): A city in the territory of Issachar assigned to Manasseh, out of which the Canaanites were not driven (Jos 17:11; Jud 1:27); in the days of Israel’s strength they were put to taskwork (Jud 1:28). They doubtless were in league with the Philistines who after Israel’s defeat on Gilboa exposed the bodies of Saul and his sons on the wall of the city (1Sa 31:7 ff), whence they were rescued by the men of Jabesh , who remembered the earlier kindness of the king (1Sa 31:7 ff; 2Sa 21:12). In 1Ki 4:12 the name applies to the district in which the city stands. It was called Scythopolis by the Greeks. This may be connected with the invasion of Palestine by the Scythians who, according to George Syncellus, "overran Palestine and took possession of Beisan." This may be the invasion noticed by Herodotus, circa 600 BC (i.104-6). Here Tryphon failed in his first attempt to take Jonathan by treachery (1 Macc 12:40). It fell to John Hyrcanus, but was taken from the Jews by Pompey. It was rebuilt by Gabinius (Ant., XIV, v, 3), and became an important member of the league of the "ten cities" (BJ, III, ix, 7). The impiousness of the inhabitants is painted in dark colors by Josephus (Vita, 6; BJ, II, xviii, 3); and the Mishna speaks of it as a center of idol worship (‘Abhodhah Zarah, i.4). Later it was the seat of a bishop.

It is represented by the modern Beisan, in the throat of the Vale of Jezreel where it falls into the Jordan valley, on the southern side of the stream from ‘Ain Jalud. The ruins of the ancient city are found on the plain, and on the great mound where probably stood the citadel. Between the town and the stretch of marsh land to the South runs the old road from East to West up the Vale of Jezreel, uniting in Esdraelon with the great caravan road from North to South.

W. Ewing


beth-she’-mesh, beth’-shemesh (beth-shemesh; Baithsamus, "house of the sun"): This name for a place doubtless arose in every instance from the presence of a sanctuary of the sun there. In accordance with the meaning and origin of the word, it is quite to be expected that there should be several places of this name in Bible lands, and the expectation is not disappointed. Analysis and comparison of the passages in the Bible where a Beth-shemesh is mentioned show four places of this name.

1. Beth-shemesh of Judah:

The first mention of a place by this name is in the description of the border of the territory of Judah (Jos 15:10) which "went down to Beth-Shemesh." This topographical indication "down" puts the place toward the lowlands on the East or West side of Palestine, but does not indicate which. This point is clearly determined by the account of the return of the ark by the Philistine lords from Ekron (1Sa 6:9-19). They returned the ark to Beth-shemesh, the location of which they indicated by the remark that if their affliction was from Yahweh, the kine would bear the ark "by the way of its own border." The Philistines lay along the western border of Judah and the location of Beth-Shemesh of Judah is thus clearly fixed near the western lowland, close to the border between the territory of Judah and that claimed by the Philistines. This is confirmed by the account of the twelve officers of the commissariat of King Solomon. One of these, the son of Dekar, had a Beth-shemesh in his territory. By excluding the territory assigned to the other eleven officers, the territory of this son of Dekar is found to be in Judah and to lie along the Philistine border (1Ki 4:9). A Philistine attack upon the border- land of Judah testifies to the same effect (2Ch 28:18). Finally, the battle between Amaziah of Judah and Jehoash of Israel, who "looked one another in the face" at Beth-shemesh, puts Beth-Shemesh most probably near the border between Judah and Israel, which would locate it near the northern part of the western border of Judah’s territo ry. In the assignment of cities to the Levites, Judah gave Beth-shemesh with its suburbs (Jos 21:16). It has been identified with a good degree of certainty with the modern ‘Ain Shems.

It may be that Ir-shemesh, "city of the sun," and Har-cherec, "mount of the sun," refer to Beth-shemesh of Judah (Jos 15:10; 19:41-43; 1Ki 4:9; Jud 1:33,35). But the worship of the sun was so common and cities of this name so many in number that it would be hazardous to conclude with any assurance that because these three names refer to the same region they therefore refer to the same place.

2. Beth-shemesh of Issachar:

In the description of the tribal limits, it is said of Issachar (Jos 19:22), "And the border reached to Tabor, and Shahazumah, and Beth-shemesh; and the goings out of their border were at the Jordan." The description indicates that Beth- shemesh was in the eastern part of Issachar’s territory. The exact location of the city is not known.

3. Beth-shemesh of Naphtali:

A Beth-shemesh is mentioned together with Beth-anath as cities of Naphtali (Jos 19:38). There is no clear indication of the location of this city. Its association with Beth-anath may indicate that they were near each other in the central part of the tribal allotment. As at Gezer, another of the cities of the Levites the Canaanites were not driven out from Beth- shemesh.

4. Beth-shemesh "that is in the Land of Egypt":

A doom is pronounced upon "Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt" (Jer 43:13). The Seventy identify it with Heliopolis. There is some uncertainty about this identification. If Beth-shemesh, "house of the sun," is here a description of Heliopolis, why does it not have the article? If it is a proper name, how does it come that a sanctuary in Egypt is called by a Hebrew name? It may be that the large number of Jews in Egypt with Jeremiah gave this Hebrew name to Heliopolis for use among themselves, Beth-shemesh. being a translation of Egyptian Perra as suggested by Griffith. Otherwise, Beth- shemesh. cannot have been Heliopolis, but must have been some other, at present unknown, place of Semitic worship. This latter view seems to be favored by Jeremiah’s double threat: "He shall also break the pillars of Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire" (save place). If Beth-shemesh were the "house of the sun," then the balancing of the state ment would be only between "pillars" and "houses," but it seems more naturally to be between Beth-shemesh, a Semitic place of worship "that is in the land of Egypt" on the one hand, and the Egyptian place of worship, "the houses of the gods of Egypt," on the other.

But the Seventy lived in Egypt and in their interpretation of this passage were probably guided by accurate knowledge of facts unknown now, such as surviving names, tradition and even written history. Until there is further light on the subject, it is better to accept their interpretation and identify this Beth-shemesh with Heliopolis.

See ON.

M. G. Kyle


beth-she’-mit beth-shimshi (1Sa 6:14,20): An inhabitant of Beth-shemesh in Judah (compare BETH-SHEMESH 1).


beth-shit’-a (beth ha-shiTTah, "house of the acacia"): A place on the route followed by the Midianites in their flight before Gideon (Jud 7:22). It is probably identical with the modern ShuTTa, a village in the Vale of Jezreel, about 6 miles Northwest of Beisan.


beth-tap’-u-a (beth-tappuach; Beththapphoue, "place of apples" (see however APPLE)); A town in the hill country of Judah (Jos 15:53), probably near Hebron (el Tappuah, 1Ch 2:43), possibly the same as Tephon (1 Macc 9:50). The village of Tuffuch, 3 1/2 miles Northwest of Hebron, is the probable site; it stands on the edge of a high ridge, surrounded by very fruitful gardens; an ancient highroad runs through the village, and there are many old cisterns and caves. (See PEF, III, 310, 379, Sh XXI.)

E. W. G. Masterman


beth-zak-a-ri’-as (Baith-zacharia): Here Judas Maccabeus failed in battle with Antiochus Eupator, and his brother Eleazar fell in conflict with an elephant (1 Macc 6:32 ff; the King James Version "Bathzacharias"). It was a position of great strength, crowning a promontory which juts out between two deep valleys. It still bears the ancient name with little change, Beit Zakaria. It lies about 4 miles Southwest of Bethlehem (BR, III, 283 ff; Ant, XII, ix, 4).


beth’-zur (beth-tsur; Baith-sour, "house of rock"; less probably "house of the god Zur"):

(1) Mentioned (Jos 15:58) as near Halhul and Gedor in the hill country of Judah; fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:7). In Ne 3:16 mention is made of "Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth-zur." During the Maccabean wars it (Bethsura) came into great importance (1 Macc 4:29,61; 6:7,26,31,49,50; 9:52; 10:14; 11:65; 14:7,33). Josephus describes it as the strongest place in all Judea (Ant., XIII, v, 6). It was inhabited in the days of Eusebius and Jerome.

(2) It is the ruined site Belt Cur, near the main road from Jerusalem to Hebron, and some 4 miles North of the latter. Its importance lay in its natural strength, on a hilltop dominating the highroad, and also in its guarding the one southerly approach for a hostile army by the Vale of Elah to the Judean plateau. The site today is conspicuous from a distance through the presence of a ruined medieval tower. (See PEF, III, 311, Sh XXI).

E. W. G. Masterman


beth-ab’-a-ra beth‘abharah; (Bethabara, "house of the ford"): According to the King James Version (following Textus Receptus of the New Testament) the place where John baptized (Joh 1:28). the Revised Version (British and American) (with Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek following Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Ephraemi) reads BETHANY. It is distinguished from the Bethany of Lazarus and his sisters as being "beyond the Jordan." The reading "Bethabara" became current owing to the advocacy of Origen. Various suggestions have been made to explain the readings. G. A. Smith (HGHL) suggests that Bethany ("house of the ship") and Bethabara ("house of the ford") are names for the same place. Bethabara has also been identified with Bethbarah, which, however, was probably not on the Jordan but among the streams flowing into it (Jud 7:24). It is interesting to note that LXXB reads Baithabara for Massoretic Text Beth-‘arabhah, one of the cities of Benjamin (Jos 18:22). If this be correct, the site is in Judea.

Another solution is sought in the idea of a corruption of the original name into Bethany and Bethabara, the name having the consonants n, b and r after Beth. In Jos 13:27 (Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus) we find Baithanabra for Bethnimrah (Massoretic Text), and Sir George Grove in DB (arts. "Bethabara" and "Beth-nimrah") identifies Bethabara and Beth-nimrah. The site of the latter was a few miles above Jericho (see BETH-NIMRAH), "immediately accessible to Jerusalem and all Judea" (compare Mt 3:5; Mr 1:5, and see article "Bethany" in EB). This view has much in its favor.

Then, again, as Dr. G. Frederick Wright observes: "The traditional site is at the ford east of Jericho; but as according to Joh 1:29,35,43 it was only one day’s journey from Cana of Galilee, while according to Joh 10:40; 11:3,6,27 it was two or three days from Bethany, it must have been well up the river toward Galilee. Conder discovered a well-known ford near Beisan called Abarah, near the mouth of the valley of Jezreel. This is 20 miles from Cana and 60 miles from Bethany, and all the conditions of the place fit in with the history."

See also BETHANY (2).

S. F. Hunter


beth’-a-ni (Bethania):

(1) A village, 15 furlongs from Jerusalem (Joh 11:18), on the road to Jericho, at the Mount of Olives (Mr 11:1; Lu 19:29), where lived "Simon the leper" (Mr 14:3) and Mary, Martha and Lazarus (Joh 11:18 f). This village may justifiably be called the Judean home of Jesus, as He appears to have preferred to lodge there rather than in Jerusalem itself (Mt 21:17; Mr 11:11). Here occurred the incident of the raising of Lazarus (Joh 11) and the feast at the house of Simon (Mt 26:1-13; Mr 14:3-9; Lu 7:36-50; Joh 1:2:1-8). The Ascension as recorded in Lu 24:50-51 is thus described: "He led them out until they were over against Bethany: and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven."

Bethany is today el ‘Azareyeh ("the place of Lazarus"—the L being displaced to form the article). It is a miserably untidy and tumble-down village facing East on the Southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, upon the carriage road to Jericho. A fair number of fig, almond and olive trees surround the houses. The traditional tomb of Lazarus is shown and there are some remains of medieval buildings, besides rock-cut tombs of much earlier date (PEF, III, 27, Sheet XVII).

(2) "Bethany beyond the Jordan" (Joh 1:28; the King James Version Bethabara; Bethabara, a reading against the majority of the manuscripts, supported by Origen on geographical grounds): No such place is known. Grove suggested that the place intended is BETH-NIMRAH (which see), the modern Tell nimrin, a singularly suitable place, but hard to fit in with Joh 1:28; compare Joh 2:1. The traditional site is the ford East of Jericho.

E. W. G. Masterman


beth-a’-ram (beth haram).



beth-az’-moth (the King James Version Bethsamos; Baithasmoth (1 Esdras 5:18); corresponds to Beth-azmaveth in Ne 7:28): A town in the territory of Benjamin, and may be identified with the modern el-Hizmeh.



beth-ba’-si (Baithbasi): The name may mean "place of marshes" = Hebrew beth-betsi. According to G. A. Smith there is a Wady el-Bassah East of Tekoa in the wilderness of Judea. The name means "marsh," which Dr. Smith thinks impossible, and really "an echo of an ancient name." Jonathan and Simon repaired the ruins of the fortified place "in the desert" (1 Macc 9:62,64). Josephus reads Bethalaga, i.e. Beth-hoglah (Ant., XIII, i, 5). Peshitta version reads Beth-Yashan (see JESHANAH), which Dr. Cheyne thinks is probably correct. Thus the origin of the name and the site of the town are merely conjectural.

S. F. Hunter


beth’-el (beth-’el; Baithel and oikos theou, literally, "house of God"):

(1) A town near the place where Abraham halted and offered sacrifice on his way south from Shechem.

1. Identification and Description:

It lay West of Ai (Ge 12:8). It is named as on the northern border of Benjamin (the southern of Ephraim, Jos 16:2), at the top of the ascent from the Jordan valley by way of Ai (Jos 18:13). It lay South of Shiloh (Jud 21:19). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 12 Roman miles from Jerusalem, on the road to Neapolis. It is represented by the modern Beitin, a village of some 400 inhabitants, which stands on a knoll East of the road to Nablus. There are four springs which yield supplies of good water. In ancient times these were supplemented by a reservoir hewn in the rock South of the town. The surrounding country is bleak and barren, the hills being marked by a succession of stony terraces, which may have suggested the form of the ladder in Jacob’s famous dream.

2. The Sanctuary:

The town was originally called Luz (Ge 28:19, etc.). When Jacob came hither on his way to Paddan-aram we are told that he lighted upon "the place" (Ge 28:11. Hebrew). The Hebrew maqom, like the cognate Arabic maqam, denotes a sacred place or sanctuary. The maqom was doubtless that at which Abraham had sacrificed, East of the town. In the morning Jacob set up "for a pillar" the stone which had served as his pillow (Ge 28:18; see PILLAR, matstsebhah), poured oil upon it and called the name of the place Bethel, "house of God"; that is, of God whose epiphany was for him associated with the pillar. This spot became a center of great interest, lending growing importance to the town. In process of time the name Luz disappeared, giving place to that of the adjoining sanctuary, town and sanctuary being identified. Jacob revisited the place on his return from Paddan-aram; here Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under "the oak" (Ge 35:6 f). Probably on rising ground East of Bethel Abraham and Lot stood to view the uninviting highlands and the rich lands of the Jordan valley (Ge 13:9 ff).

3. History:

Bethel was a royal city of the Canaanites (Jos 12:16). It appears to have been captured by Joshua (8:7), and it was allotted to Benjamin (Jos 18:22). In Jud 1:22 ff it is represented as held by Canaanites, from whom the house of Joseph took it by treachery (compare 1Ch 7:28). Hither the ark was brought from Gilgal (Jud 2:1, Septuagint). Israel came to Bethel to consult the Divine oracle (Jud 20:18), and it became an important center of worship (1Sa 10:3). The home of the prophetess Deborah was not far off (Jud 4:5). Samuel visited Bethel on circuit, judging Israel (1Sa 7:16).

With the disruption of the kingdom came Bethel’s greatest period of splendor and significance. To counteract the influence of Jerusalem as the national religious center Jeroboam embarked on the policy which won for him the unenviable reputation of having "made Israel to sin." Here he erected a temple, set up an image, the golden calf, and established an imposing ritual. It became the royal sanctuary and the religious center of his kingdom (1Ki 12:29 ff; Am 7:13). He placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made (1Ki 12:32). To Bethel came the man of God from Judah who pronounced doom against Jeroboam (1Ki 13), and who, having been seduced from duty by an aged prophet in Bethel, was slain by a lion. According to the prophets Amos and Hosea the splendid idolatries of Bethel were accompanied by terrible moral and religious degradation. Against the place they launched the most scathing denunciations, declaring the vengeance such things must entail (Am 3:14; 4:4; 5:11 m; Am 9:1; Ho 4:15; 5:8; 10:5,8,15). With the latter the name Bethel gives place in mockery to Beth-aven. Bethel shared in the downfall of Samaria wrought by the Assyrians; and according to an old tradition, Shalmaneser possessed himself of the golden calf (compare Jer 48:13). The priest, sent by the Assyrians to teach the people whom they had settled in the land how to serve Yahweh, dwelt in Bethel (2Ki 17:28). King Josiah completed the demolition of the sanctuary at Bethel, destroying all the instruments of idolatry, and harr ying the tombs of the idolaters. The monument of the man of God from Judah he allowed to stand (2Ki 23:4,25). The men of Bethel were among those who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:28; Ne 7:32), and it is mentioned as reoccupied by the Benjamites (Ne 11:31). Zechariah (Zec 7:2) records the sending of certain men from Jerusalem in the 4th year of King Darius to inquire regarding particular religious practices. Bethel was one of the towns fortified by Bacchides in the time of the Maccabees (1 Macc 9:50; Ant, XIII, i, 3). It is named again as a small town which, along with Ephraim, was taken by Vespasian as he approached Jerusalem (BJ, IV, ix, 9).

(2) A city in Judah which in 1Sa 30:27 is called Bethel; in Jos 19:4 Bethul; and in 1Ch 4:30 Bethuel. The site has not been identified. In Jos 15:30 Septuagint gives Baithel in Judah, where the Hebrew has Kecil—probably a scribal error.

W. Ewing


(har beth-’el; Baithel louza (1Sa 13:2, the Revised Version (British and American) "the mount of Bethel"; Jos 16:1)): The hill which stretches from the North of the town to Tell ‘Acur. The road to Shechem lies along the ridge. An army in possession of these heights easily commanded the route from north to south.


beth’-el-it: The term applied to a man who in the days of Ahab rebuilt Jericho (1Ki 16:34).



be’-ther (bether): In So 2:17 mention is made of "the mountains of Bether." It is doubtful if a proper name is intended. The Revised Version, margin has, "perhaps, the spice malobathron." A Bether is prominent in late Jewish history as the place where the Jews resisted Hadrian under Bar Cochba in 135 AD. Its identity with Bittir, 7 miles Southwest of Jerusalem, is attested by an inscription.


be-thez’-da (Bethesda; Textus Receptus of the New Testament, Joh 5:2 (probably beth chicda’," house of mercy"); other forms occur as Bethzatha and Bethsaida):

1. The Conditions of the Narrative: Joh 5:2:

The only data we have is the statement in Joh 5:2-4: "Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a multitude of them that were sick, blind, halt, withered." Many ancient authorities add (as in the Revised Version, margin) "waiting for the moving of the water: for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water," etc.

The name does not help as to the site, no such name occurs elsewhere in Jerusalem; the mention of the sheep gate is of little assistance because the word "gate" is supplied, and even were it there, its site is uncertain. Sheep "pool" or "place" is at least as probable; the tradition about the "troubling of the water" (which may be true even if the angelic visitant may be of the nature of folk-lore) can receive no rational explanation except by the well-known phenomenon, by no means uncommon in Syria and always considered the work of a supernatural being, of an intermittent spring. The arrangement of the five porches is similar to that demonstrated by Dr. F. Bliss as having existed in Roman times as the Pool of Siloam; the story implies that the incident occurred outside the city walls, as to carry a bed on the Sabbath would not have been forbidden by Jewish traditional law.

2. The Traditional Site:

Tradition has varied concerning the site. In the 4th century, and probably down to the Crusades, a pool was pointed out as the true site, a little to the Northwest of the present Stephen’s Gate; it was part of a twin pool and over it were erected at two successive periods two Christian churches. Later on this site was entirely lost and from the 13th century the great Birket Israel, just North of the Temple area, was pointed out as the site.

Within the last quarter of a century, however, the older traditional site, now close to the Church of Anne, has been rediscovered, excavated and popularly accepted. This pool is a rock-cut, rain-filled cistern, 55 ft. long X 12 ft. broad, and is approached by a steep and winding flight of steps. The floor of the rediscovered early Christian church roofs over the pool, being supported upon five arches in commemoration of the five porches. At the western end of the church, where probably the font was situated, there was a fresco, now much defaced and fast fading, representing the angel troubling the waters.

3. A More Probable Site:

Although public opinion supports this site, there is much to be said for the proposal, promulgated by Robinson and supported by Conder and other good authorities, that the pool was at the "Virgin’s Fount" (see GIHON), which is today an intermittent spring whose "troubled" waters are still visited by Jews for purposes of cure. As the only source of "living water" near Jerusalem, it is a likely spot for there to have been a "sheep pool" or "sheep place" for the vast flocks of sheep coming to Jerusalem in connection with the temple ritual. See Biblical World, XXV, 80 ff.

E. W. G. Masterman


be-think’ (heshibh ‘el lebh, "to lay to heart," hence, "recall to mind"): Anglo-Saxon word used only in seventh petition of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple. If the people, carried into captivity, because of sin, should "take it to heart," then God (he prayed) would hear and forgive (1Ki 8:47; 2Ch 6:37). A choice illustration of the mental and heart process in reflection, repentance and conversion.


beth’-le-hem (bethlechem; Baithleem, or Bethleem, "house of David," or possibly "the house of Lakhmu," an Assyrian deity):

I. Bethlehem Judah:

Bethlehem Judah, or EPHRATH or EPHRATHAH (which see) is now Beit Lahm (Arabic =" house of meat"), a town of upward of 10,000 inhabitants, 5 miles South of Jerusalem and 2,350 ft. above sea level. It occupies an outstanding position upon a spur running East from the watershed with deep valleys to the Northeast and South It is just off the main road to Hebron and the south, but upon the highroad to Tekoa and En-gedi. The position is one of natural strength; it was occupied by a garrison of the Philistines in the days of David (2Sa 23:14; 1Ch 11:16) and was fortified by Rehoboam (2Ch 11:6). The surrounding country is fertile, cornfields, fig and olive yards and vineyards abound. Bethlehem is not naturally well supplied with water, the nearest spring is 800 yds. to the Southeast, but for many centuries the "low level aqueduct" from "Solomon’s Pools" in the ArTas valley, which has here been tunneled through the hill, has been tapped by the inhabitants; there are also many rock-cut cisterns.

1. Early History:

In 1Ch 2:51 Salma, the son of Caleb, is described as the "father of Bethlehem." In Ge 35:19; 48:7 it is recorded that Rachel "was buried in the way to Ephrath (the same is Beth-lehem)." Tradition points out the site of Rachel’s tomb near where the road to Bethlehem leaves the main road. The Levites of the events of Jud 17; Jud 19 were Bethlehemites. In the list of the towns of Judah the name Bethlehem occurs, in the Septuagint version only in Jos 15:57.

2. David the Bethlehemite:

Ruth, famous chiefly as the ancestress of David, and of the Messiah, settled in Bethlehem with her second husband Boaz, and it is noticeable that from her new home she could view the mountains of Moab, her native land. David himself "was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehem-judah, whose name was Jesse" (1Sa 17:12). To Bethlehem came Samuel to anoint a successor to unworthy Saul (1Sa 16:4): "David went to and fro from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem" (1Sa 17:15). David’s "three mighty men" "brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Beth- lehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David" (2Sa 23:14,16). Tradition still points out the well. From this town came those famous "sons of Zeruiah," David’s nephews, whose loyalty and whose ruthless cruelty became at once a protection and a menace to their royal relative: in 2Sa 2:32 it is mentioned that one of them, Asahel, was buried "in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Bethlehem."

3. Later Bible History:

After the time of David, Bethlehem would appear to have sunk into insignificance. But its future fame is pointed at by Micah (Mi 5:2): "But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."

In the return of the Jews captive Bethlehemites re-inhabited the place (Ezr 2:21; Ne 7:26 "men"; 1 Esdras 5:17 "sons").

4. The Christian Era:

In the New Testament Bethlehem is mentioned as the birthplace of the Messiah Jesus (Mt 2:1,5; Lu 2:4,25) in consequence of which event occurred Herod’s "massacre of the innocents" (Mt 2:8,16). Inasmuch as Hadrian devastated Bethlehem and set up there a sacred grove to Adonis (Jerome, Ep. ad Paul, lviii.3) it is clear that veneration of this spot as the site of the Nativity must go back before 132 AD. Constantine (circa 330) founded a basilica over the cave-stable which tradition pointed out as the scene of the birth, and his church, unchanged in general structure though enlarged by Justinian and frequently adorned, repaired and damaged, remains today the chief attraction of the town. During the Crusades, Bethlehem became of great importance and prosperity; it remained in Christian hands after the overthrow of the Latin kingdom, and at the present day it is in material things one of the most prosperous Christian centers in the Holy Land.

II. Bethlehem of Zebulun:

Bethlehem of Zebulun (Jos 19:15) was probably the home of Ibzan (Jud 12:8) though Jewish tradition is in support of (1). See Josephus, Ant, V, vii, 13. This is now the small village of Beit Lahm, some 7 miles Northwest of Nazareth on the edge of the oak forest. Some antiquities have been found here recently, showing that in earlier days it was a place of some importance. It is now the site of a small German colony. See PEF, I, 270, Sh V.

E. W. G. Masterman




beth’-fa-je, beth’-faj (from beth paghah; Bethphage, or Bethphage; in Aramaic "place of young figs"): Near the Mount of Olives and to the road from Jerusalem to Jericho; mentioned together with Bethany (Mt 21:1; Mr 11:1; Lu 19:29). The place occurs in several Talmudic passages where it may be inferred that it was near but outside Jerusalem; it was at the Sabbatical distance limit East of Jerusalem, and was surrounded by some kind of wall. The medieval Bethphage was between the summit and Bethany. The site is now enclosed by the Roman Catholics. As regards the Bethphage of the New Testament, the most probable suggestion was that it occupied the summit itself where Kefr et Tur stands today. This village certainly occupies an ancient site and no other name is known. This is much more probable than the suggestion that the modern Abu Dis is on the site of Bethphage.

E. W. G. Masterman


beth-sa’-i-da (Bethsaida, "house of fishing"):

(1) A city East of the Jordan, in a "desert place" (that is, uncultivated ground used for grazing) at which Jesus miraculously fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes (Mr 6:32 ff; Lu 9:10). This is doubtless to be identified with the village of Bethsaida in Lower Gaulonitis which the Tetrarch Philip raised to the rank of a city, and called Julias, in honor of Julia, the daughter of Augustus. It lay near the place where the Jordan enters the Sea of Gennesaret (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 1; III, x, 7; Vita, 72). This city may be located at et-Tell, a ruined site on the East side of the Jordan on rising ground, fully a mile from the sea. As this is too far from the sea for a fishing village, Schumacher (The Jaulan, 246) suggests that el-‘Araj, "a large, completely destroyed site close to the lake," connected in ancient times with et-Tell "by the beautiful roads still visible," may have been the fishing village, and et- Tell the princely residence. He is however inclined to favor el-Mes‘adiyeh , a ruin and winter village of Arab et- Tellawiyeh, which stands on an artificial mound, about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Jordan. It should be noted, however, that the name is in origin radically different from Bethsaida. The substitution of sin for cad is easy: but the insertion of the guttural ‘ain is impossible. No trace of the name Bethsaida has been found in the district; but any one of the sites named would meet the requirements.

To this neighborhood Jesus retired by boat with His disciples to rest awhile. The multitude following on foot along the northern shore of the lake would cross the Jordan by the ford at its mouth which is used by foot travelers to this day. The "desert" of the narrative is just the barriyeh of the Arabs where the animals are driven out for pasture. The "green grass" of Mr 6:39, and the "much grass" of Joh 6:10, point to some place in the plain of el-BaTeichah, on the rich soil of which the grass is green and plentiful compared with the scanty herbage on the higher slopes.

(2) Bethsaida of Galilee, where dwelt Philip, Andrew, Peter (Joh 1:44; 12:21), and perhaps also James and John. The house of Andrew and Peter seems to have been not far from the synagogue in Capernaum (Mt 8:14; Mr 1:29, etc.). Unless they had moved their residence from Bethsaida to Capernaum, of which there is no record, and which for fishermen was unlikely, Bethsaida must have lain close to Capernaum. It may have been the fishing town adjoining the larger city. As in the case of the other Bethsaida, no name has been recovered to guide us to the site. On the rocky promontory, however, East of Khan Minyeh we find Sheikh ‘Aly ec-Caiyadin, "Sheikh Aly of the Fishermen," as the name of a ruined weley, in which the second element in the name Bethsaida is represented. Near by is the site at ‘Ain et-Tabigha, which many have identified with Bethsaida of Galilee. The warm water from copious springs runs into a little bay of the sea in which fishes congregate in great numbers. This has therefore always been a favorite haunt of fishermen. If Capernaum were at Khan Minyeh, then the two lay close together. The names of many ancient places have been lost, and others have strayed from their original localities. The absence of any name resembling Bethsaida need not concern us.

Were There Two Bethsaidas?:

Many scholars maintain that all the New Testament references to Bethsaida apply to one place, namely, Bethsaida Julias. The arguments for and against this view may be summarized as follows:

(a) Galilee ran right round the lake, including most of the level coastland on the East. Thus Gamala, on the eastern shore, was within the jurisdiction of Josephus, who commanded in Galilee (BJ, II, xx, 4). Judas of Gamala (Ant., XVIII, i, l) is also called Judas of Galilee (ibid., i, 6). If Gamala, far down the eastern shore of the sea, were in Galilee, a fortiori Bethsaida, a town which lay on the very edge of the Jordan, may be described as in Galilee.

But Josephus makes it plain that Gamala, while added to his jurisdiction, was not in Galilee, but in Gaulonitis (BJ, II, xx, 6). Even if Judas were born in Gamala, and so might properly be called a Gaulonite, he may, like others, have come to be known as belonging to the province in which his active life was spent. "Jesus of Nazareth" was born in Bethlehem. Then Josephus explicitly says that Bethsaida was in Lower Gaulonitis (BJ, II, ix, 1). Further, Luke places the country of the Gerasenes on the other side of the sea from Galilee (Lu 8:26)—antipera tes Galilaias ("over against Galilee").

(b) To go to the other side—eis to peran (Mr 6:45)—does not of necessity imply passing from the East to the West coast of the lake, since Josephus uses the verb diaperaioo of a passage from Tiberias to Tarichea (Vita, 59). But (i) this involved a passage from a point on the West to a point on the South shore, "crossing over" two considerable bays; whereas if the boat started from any point in el-BaTeichah, to which we seem to be limited by the "much grass," and by the definition of the district as belonging to Bethsaida, to sail to et-Tell, it was a matter of coasting not more than a couple of miles, with no bay to cross. (ii) No case can be cited where the phrase eis to peran certainly means anything else than "to the other side." (iii) Mark says that the boat started to go unto the other side to Bethsaida, while John, gives the direction "over the sea unto Capernaum" (Mr 6:17). The two towns were therefore practically in the same line. Now there is no question that Capernaum was on "the other side," nor is there any suggestion that the boat was driven out of its course; and it is quite obvious that, sailing toward Capernaum, whether at Tell Chum or at Khan Minyeh, it would never reach Bethsaida Julius. (iv) The present writer is familiar with these waters in both storm and calm. If the boat was taken from any point in el-BaTeichah towards et-Tell, no east wind would have distressed the rowers, protected as that part is by the mountains. Therefore it was no contrary wind that carried them toward Capernaum and the "land of Gennesaret." On the other hand, with a wind from the West, such as is often experienced, eight or nine hours might easily be occupied in covering the four or five miles from el-BaTeichah to the neighborhood of Capernaum.

(c) The words of Mark (Mr 6:45), it is suggested (Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels, 42), have been too strictly interpreted: as the Gospel was written probably at Rome, its author being a native, not of Galilee, but of Jerusalem. Want of precision on topographical points, therefore, need not surprise us. But as we have seen above, the "want of precision" must also be attributed to the writer of Joh 6:17. The agreement of these two favors the strict interpretation. Further, if the Gospel of Mark embodies the recollections of Peter, it would be difficult to find a more reliable authority for topographical details connected with the sea on which his fisher life was spent.

(d) In support of the single-city theory it is further argued that

(i) Jesus withdrew to Bethsaida as being in the jurisdiction of Philip, when he heard of the murder of John by Antipas, and would not have sought again the territories of the latter so soon after leaving them.

(ii) Medieval works of travel notice only one Bethsaida.

(iii) The East coast of the sea was definitely attached to Galilee in AD 84, and Ptolemy (circa 140) places Julius in Galilee. It is therefore significant that only the Fourth Gospel speaks of "Bethsaida of Galilee."

(iv) There could hardly have been two Bethsaidas so close together.


(i) It is not said that Jesus came hither that he might leave the territory of Antipas for that of Philip; and in view of Mr 6:30 ff, and Lu 9:10 ff, the inference from Mt 14:13 that he did so, is not warranted.

(ii) The Bethsaida of medieval writers was evidently on the West of the Jordan. If it lay on the East it is inconceivable that none of them should have mentioned the river in this connection.

(iii) If the 4th Gospel was not written until well into the 2nd century, then the apostle was not the author; but this is a very precarious assumption. John, writing after 84 AD, would hardly have used the phrase "Bethsaida of Galilee" of a place only recently attached to that province, writing, as he was, at a distance from the scene, and recalling the former familiar conditions.

(iv) In view of the frequent repetition of names in Palestine the nearness of the two Bethsaidas raises no difficulty. The abundance of fish at each place furnished a good reason for the recurrence of the name.

W. Ewing





beth-su’-ra (Baithsoura (1 Macc 4:29, etc.)), (2 Macc 11:5 the Revised Version (British and American)): The Greek form of the name BETH-ZUR (which see).


be-thu’-el (bethu’el; "dweller in God"): A son of Nahor and Milcah, Abraham’s nephew, father of Laban and Rebekah (Ge 22:23; 24:15,24,47,50; 25:20; 28:2,5). In the last-named passage, he is surnamed "the Syrian." The only place where he appears as a leading character in the narrative is in connection with Rebekah’s betrothal to Isaac; and even here, his son Laban stands out more prominently than he—a fact explainable on the ground of the custom which recognized the right of the brother to take a special interest in the welfare of the sister (compare Ge 34:5,21,25; 2Sa 13:20,22). Ant, I, xvi, 2 states that Bethuel was dead at this time.

Frank E. Hirsch


be-thu’-el, beth’-u-el (bethu’el, "destroyed of God"): A town of Simeon (1Ch 4:30), the same as Bethul (Jos 19:4), and, probably, as the Beth-el of 1Sa 30:27.


beth’-ul, be’-thul (bethul):



be-thu’-li-a (Baithouloua): A town named only in the Book of Judith (4:6; 6:10 ff; 7:1 ff; 8:3; 10:6; 12:7; 15:3,6; 16:21 ff). From these references we gather that it stood beside a valley, on a rock, at the foot of which was a spring, not far from Jenin; and that it guarded the passes by which an army might march to the South. The site most fully meeting these conditions is that of Sanur. The rock on the summit of which it stands rises sheer from the edge of Merj el-Ghariq, on the main highway, some 7 miles South of Jenin. Other identifications are suggested: Conder favoring Mithiliyeh, a little farther north; while the writer of the article "Bethulia" in Encyclopedia Biblica argues for identification with Jerusalem.

W. Ewing


be-timz’:In the sense of "early" is the translation of two Hebrew words:

(1) shakham, a root meaning "to incline the shoulder to a load," hence "to load up," "start early": in Ge 26:31 "they rose up betimes in the morning," also in 2Ch 36:15 (the American Standard Revised Version "early");

(2) of shachar, a root meaning "to dawn" in Job 8:5; 24:5, the American Standard Revised Version "diligently," and in Pro 13:24, "chasteneth him betimes."

In the Apocrypha (Sirach 6:36) "betimes" is the translation of orthizo, literally, "to rise early in the morning," while in Bel and the Dragon verse 16 the same word is translated "betime."

In other cases the King James Version "betimes" appears as "before the time" (Sirach 51:30); "early" (1 Macc 4:52; 11:67); "the mourning" (1 Macc 5:30).

Arthur J. Kinsella


be-to’-li-on (Betolio (Codex Alexandrinus), or (Codex Vaticanus) Betolio; the King James Version Betolius, be-to’-li-us): A town the people of which to the number of 52 returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (1 Esdras 5:21). It corresponds to Bethel in Ezr 2:28.


be-to-mes’-tha-im, be-to-mes’-tham the King James Version Betomestham, (Betomesthaim (Judith 4:6)): the King James Version Betomasthem (Baitornasthaim (Judith 15:4)): The place is said to have been "over against Jezreel, in the face of (i. e eastward of) the plain that is near Dothan" It can hardly be Deir Massin, which lies West of the plain. The district is clearly indicated, but no identification is yet possible.


bet’-o-nim, be-to’-nim (beTonim; Botanei or Botanin): A town East of the Jordan in the territory of Gad (Jos 13:26). It may be identical with BaTneh, about 3 miles Southwest of es-SalT.


be-tra’ (ramah; paradidomi): In the Old Testament only once (1Ch 12:17). David warns those who had deserted to him from Saul: "If ye be come to betray me to mine adversaries .... the God of our fathers look thereon." The same Hebrew word is elsewhere translated "beguile" (Ge 29:25; Jos 9:22), "deceive" (1Sa 19:17; 28:12; 2Sa 19:26; Pr 26:19; La 1:19).

In the New Testament, for paradidomi: 36 times, of the betrayal of Jesus Christ, and only 3 times besides (Mt 24:10; Mr 13:12; Lu 21:16) of kinsmen delivering up one another to prosecution. In these three places the Revised Version (British and American) translates according to the more general meaning, "to deliver up," and also (in Mt 17:22; 20:18; 26:16; Mr 14:10,21; Lu 22:4,6) where it refers to the delivering up of Jesus. The Revisers’ idea was perhaps to retain "betray" only in direct references to Judas’ act, but they have not strictly followed that rule. Judas’ act was more than that of giving a person up to the authorities; he did it under circumstances of treachery which modified its character:

(a) he took advantage of his intimate relation with Jesus Christ as a disciple to put Him in the hands of His enemies;

(b) he did it stealthily by night, and

(c) by a kiss, an act which professed affection and friendliness;

(d) he did it for money, and

(e) he knew that Jesus Christ was innocent of any crime (Mt 27:4).

T. Rees


be-tra’-ers (prodotai, "betrayers," "traitors"): Stephen charged the Jews with being betrayers of the Righteous One (Ac 7:52) i.e. as having made Judas’ act their own; compare Lu 6:16: "Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor;" 2Ti 3:4, "traitors."


be-troth’, be-troth’ (’dras): On betrothal as a social custom see MARRIAGE. Hosea, in his great parable of the prodigal wife, surpassed only by a greater Teacher’s parable of the Prodigal Son, uses betrothal as the symbol of Yahweh’s pledge of His love and favor to penitent Israel (Ho 2:19,20). In Ex 21:8,9 the Revised Version (British and American) renders "espouse" for the "betroth" of the King James Version, the context implying the actual marriage relation.




1. The Egyptian Empire

2. Greece

3. Rome

4. Asia


1. The Persian Period

2. The Alexandrian Period

3. The Egyptian Period

4. The Syrian Period

5. The Maccabean Period

6. The Roman Period


1. Literary Activity

(a) The Apocrypha

(b) Pseudepigrapha

(c) The Septuagint

2. Spiritual Conditions

3. Parties

4. Preparation for Christianity

As the title indicates, the historical period in the life of Israel extends from the cessation of Old Testament prophecy to the beginning of the Christian era.

I. The Period in General.

The Exile left its ineffaceable stamp on Judaism as well as on the Jews. Their return to the land of their fathers was marked by the last rays of the declining sun of prophecy. With Malachi it set. Modern historical criticism has projected some of the canonical books of the Bible far into this post-exilic period. Thus Kent (HJP, 1899), following the lead of the Wellhausen-Kuenen hypothesis, with all its later leaders, has charted the period between 600 BC, the date of the first captivity, to 160 BC, the beginning of the Hasmonean period of Jewish history, in comparative contemporaneous blocks of double decades. Following the path of Koster, the historical position of Ezra and Nehemiah is inverted, and the former is placed in the period 400-380 BC, contemporaneously with Artaxerxes II; Joe is assigned to the same period; portions of Isa (chapters 63-66; 24-27) are placed about 350 BC; Zec is assigned to the period 260-240, and Da is shot way down the line into the re ign of the Seleucids, between 200 and 160 BC. Now all this is very striking and no doubt very critical, but the ground of this historical readjustment is wholly subjective, and has the weight only of a hypothetical conjecture. Whatever may be our attitude to the critical hypothesis of the late origin of some of the Old Testament literally, it seems improbable that any portion of it could have reached far into the post-exilic period. The interval between the Old and the New Testaments is the dark period in the hist ory of Israel. It stretches itself out over about four centuries, during which there was neither prophet nor inspired writer in Israel. All we know of it we owe to Josephus, to some of the apocryphal books, and to scattered references in Greek and Latin historians. The seat of empire passed over from the East to the West, from Asia to Europe. The Persian Empire collapsed, under the fierce attacks of the Macedonians, and the Greek Empire in turn gave way to the Roman rule.

II. A Glance at Contemporaneous History.

For the better understanding of this period in the history of Israel, it may be well to pause for a moment to glance at the wider field of the history of the world in the centuries under contemplation, for the words "fullness of time" deal with the all-embracing history of mankind, for whose salvation Christ appeared, and whose every movement led to its realization.

1. The Egyptian Empire:

In the four centuries preceding Christ, The Egyptian empire, the oldest and in many respects the most perfectly developed civilization of antiquity, was tottering to its ruins. The 29th or Mendesian Dynasty, made place, in 384 BC, for the 30th or Sebennitic Dynasty, which was swallowed up, half a century later, by the Persian Dynasty. The Macedonian or 32nd replaced this in 332 BC, only to give way, a decade later, to the last or 33rd, the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The whole history of Egypt in this period was therefore one of endless and swiftly succeeding changes. In the Ptolemaic Dynasty there was a faint revival of the old glory of the past, but the star of empire had set for Egypt, and the mailed hand of Rome finally smote down a civilization whose beginnings are lost in the dim twilight of history. The Caesarian conquest of 47 BC was followed, 17 years later, by the annexation of Egypt to the new world-power, as a Roman province. Manetho’s history is the one great literary monument of Egyptian history in this period. Her priests had been famous for their wisdom, to which Lycurgus and Solon, the Greek legislators, had been attracted, as well as Pythagoras and Plato, the world’s greatest philosophers.

2. Greece:

In Greece also the old glory was passing away. Endless wars sapped the strength of the national life. The strength of Athens and Sparta, of Corinth and Thebes had departed, and when about the beginning of our period, in 337 BC, the congress of Greek states had elected Philip of Macedon to the hegemony of united Greece, the knell of doom sounded for all Greek liberty. First Philip and after him Alexander wiped out the last remnants of this liberty, and Greece became a fighting machine for the conquest of the world in the meteoric career of Alexander the Great. But what a galaxy of illustrious names adorn the pages of Greek history, in this period, so dark for Israel! Think of Aristophanes and Hippocrates, of Xenophon and Democritus, of Plato and Apelies, of Aeschines and Demosthenes, of Aristotle and Praxiteles and Archimedes, all figuring, amid the decay of Greek liberty, in the 4th and 3rd centuries before Christ! Surely if the political glory of Greece had left its mark on the ages, its intellectual brilliancy is their pride.

3. Rome:

Rome meanwhile was strengthening herself, by interminable wars, for the great task of world-conquest that lay before her. By the Latin and Samnite and Punic wars she trained her sons in the art of war, extended her territorial power and made her name dreaded everywhere. Italy and north Africa, Greece and Asia Minor and the northern barbarians were conquered in turn. Her intellectual brilliancy was developed only when the lust of conquest was sated after a fashion, but in the century immediately preceding the Christian era we find such names as Lucretius and Hortentius, Cato and Cicero, Sallust and Diodorus Siculus, Virgil and Horace. At the close of the period between the Testaments, Rome had become the mistress of the world and every road led to her capital.

4. Asia:

In Asia the Persian empire, heir to the civilization and traditions of the great Assyrian-Babylonian world-power, was fast collapsing and was ultimately utterly wiped out by the younger Greek empire and civilization. In far-away India the old ethnic religion of Brahma a century or more before the beginning of our period passed through the reformatory crisis inaugurated by Gatama Buddha or Sakya Mouni, and thus Buddhism, one of the great ethnic religions, was born. Another reformer of the Tauistic faith was Confucius, the sage of China, a contemporary of Buddha, while Zoroaster in Persia laid the foundations of his dualistic world-view. In every sense and in every direction, the period between the Testaments was therefore one of political and intellectual ferment.

III. Historical Developments.

As regards Jewish history, the period between the Testaments may be divided as follows:

(1) the Persian period;

(2) the Alexandrian period;

(3) the Egyptian period;

(4) the Syrian period;

(5) the Maccabean period;

(6) the Roman period.

1. The Persian Period:

The Persian period extends from the cessation of prophecy to 334 BC. It was in the main uneventful in the history of the Jews, a breathing spell between great national crises, and comparatively little is known of it. The land of Palestine was a portion of the Syrian satrapy, while the true government of the Jewish people was semi-theocratic, or rather sacerdotal, under the rule of the high priests, who were responsible to the satrap. As a matter of course, the high-priestly office became the object of all Jewish ambition and it aroused the darkest passions. Thus John, the son of Judas, son of Eliashib, through the lust of power, killed his brother Jesus, who was a favorite of Bagoses, a general of Artaxerxes in command of the district. The guilt of the fratricide was enhanced, because the crime was committed in the temple itself, and before the very altar. A storm of wrath, the only notable one of this period, thereupon swept over Judea. The Persians occupied Jerusalem, the temple was defiled, the city laid waste in part, a heavy fine was imposed on the people and a general persecution followed, which lasted for many years (Ant., XI, 7; Kent, HJP, 231). Then as later on, in the many persecutions which followed, the Samaritans, ever pliable and willing to obey the tyrant of the day, went practically scot free.

2. The Alexandrian Period:

The Alexandrian period was very brief, 334-323 BC. It simply covers the period of the Asiatic rule of Alexander the Great. In Greece things had been moving swiftly. The Spartan hegemony, which had been unbroken since the fall of Athens, was now by destroyed by the Thebans under Epaminondas, in the great battles of Leuctra and Mantinea. But the new power was soon crushed Philip of Macedon, who was thereupon chosen general leader by the unwilling Greeks. Persia was the object of Philip’s ambition and vengeance, but the dagger of Pausanias (Ant., XI, viii, 1) forestalled the execution of his plans. His son Alexander, a youth of 20 years, succeeded him, and thus the "great he-goat," of which Daniel had spoken (Da 8:8; 10:20), appeared on the scene. In the twelve years of his reign (335-323 BC) he revolutionized the world. Swift as an eagle he moved. All Greece was laid at his feet. Thence he moved to Asia, where he defeated Darius in the memorable battles of Granicus and Issus. Passing southward, he conquered the Mediterranean coast and Egypt and then moved eastward again, for the complete subjugation of Asia, when he was struck down in the height of his power, at Babylon, in the 33rd year of his age. In the Syrian campaign he had come in contact with the Jews. Unwilling to leave any stronghold at his back, he reduced Tyre after a siege of several months, and advancing southward demanded the surrender of Jerusalem. But the Jews, taught by bitter experience, desired to remain loyal to Persia. As Alexander approached the city, Jaddua the high priest, with a train of priests in their official dress, went out to meet him, to supplicate mercy. A previous dream of this occurrence is said to have foreshadowed this event, and Alexander spared the city, sacrificed to Yahweh, had the prophecies of Daniel concerning him rehearsed in his hearing, and showed the Jews many favors (Ant., XI, viii, 5) From that day on they became his favorites; he employed them in his army and gave them equal rights w ith the Greeks, as first citizens of Alexandria, and other cities, which he founded. Thus the strong Hellenistic spirit of the Jews was created, which marked so large a portion of the nation, in the subsequent periods of their history.

3. The Egyptian Period:

The Egyptian period (324-264 BC). The death of Alexander temporarily turned everything into chaos. The empire, welded Thrace together by his towering genius, fell apart under four of his generals—Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander, and Selenus (Da 8:21,22). Egypt fell to the share of Ptolemy Soter and Judea was made part of it. At first Ptolemy was harsh in his treatment of the Jews, but later on he learned to respect them and became their patron as Alexander had been. Hecataeus of is at this time said to have studied the Jews, through information received from Hezekiah, an Egyptian Jewish immigrant, and to have written a Jewish history from the time of Abraham till his own day. This book, quoted by Josephus and Origen, is totally lost. Soter was succeeded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, an enlightened ruler, famous through the erection of the lighthouse of Pharos, and especially through the founding of the celebrated Alexandrian library. Like his father he was very friendly to the Jews, and in his reign the celebrated Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures, the Septuagint, was made, according to tradition (Ant., . XII, ii). As however the power of the Syrian princes, the Seleucids, grew, Palestine increasingly became the battle ground between them and the Ptolemies. In the decisive battle between Ptolemy Philopator and Antiochus the Great, at Raphia near Gaza, the latter was crushed and during Philopator’s reign Judea remained an Egyptian province. And yet this battle formed the turning-point of the history of the Jews in their relation to Egypt. For when Ptolemy, drunk with victory, came to Jerusalem, he endeavored to enter the holy of holies of the temple, although he retreated, in confusion, from the holy place. But he wreaked his vengeance on the Jews, for opposing his plan, by a cruel persecution. He was succeeded by his son Ptolemy Epiphanes, a child of 5 years. The long-planned vengeance of Antiochus now took form in an invasion of Egypt. Coele-Syria and Judea were occupied by the Syrians and passed over into the possession of the Seleucids.

4. The Syrian Period:

The Syrian period (204-165 BC). Israel now entered into the valley of the shadow of death. This entire period was an almost uninterrupted martyrdom. Antiochus was succeeded by Seleucis Philopator. But harsh as was their attitude to the Jews, neither of these two was notorious for his cruelty to them. Their high priests, as in former periods, were still their nominal rulers. But the aspect of everything changed when Antiochus Epiphanes (175-164 BC) came to the throne. He may fitly be called the Nero of Jewish history. The nationalists among the Jews were at that time wrangling with the Hellenists for the control of affairs. Onias III, a faithful high priest, was expelled from office through the machinations of his brother Jesus or Jason (2 Macc 4:7-10). Onias went to Egypt, where at Heliopolis he built a temple and officiated as high priest. Meanwhile Jason in turn was turned out of the holy office by the bribes of still another brother, Menelaus, worse by far than Jason, a Jew-hater and an avowed defender of Greek life and morals. The wrangle between the brothers gave Antiochus the opportunity he craved to wreak his bitter hatred on the Jews, in the spoliation of Jerusalem, in the wanton and total defilement of the temple, and in a most horrible persecution of the Jews (1 Macc 1:16-28; 2 Macc 5:11-23; Da 11:28; Ant, XII, v, 3.4). Thousands were slain, women and children were sold into captivity, the city wall was torn down, all sacrifices ceased, and in the temple on the altar of burnt off ering a statue was erected to Jupiter Olympius (1 Macc 1:43; 2 Macc 6:1-2). Circumcision was forbidden, on pain of death, and all the people of Israel were to be forcibly paganized. As in the Persian persecution, the Samaritans again played into the hands of the Syrians and implicitly obeyed the will of the Seleucids. But the very rigor of the persecution caused it to fail of its purpose and Israel proved to be made of sterner stuff than Antiochus imagined. A priestly family dwelling at Modin, west of Jerusalem , named Hasmonean, after one of its ancestors, consisting of Mattathias and his five sons, raised the standard of revolt, which proved successful after a severe struggle.


5. The Maccabean Period:

The Maccabean period (165-63 BC). The slaying of an idolatrous Jew at the very altar was the signal of revolt. The land of Judea is specially adapted to guerilla tactics, and Judas Maccabeus, who succeeded his father, as leader of the Jewish patriots, Was a past master in this kind of warfare. All efforts of Antiochus to quell the rebellion failed most miserably, in three Syrian campaigns. The king died of a loathsome disease and peace was at last concluded with the Jews. Though still nominally under Syrian control, Judas became governor of Palestine. His first act was the purification and rededication of the temple, from which the Jews date their festival of purification (see PURIFICATION). When the Syrians renewed the war, Judas applied for aid to the Romans, whose power began to be felt in Asia, but he died in battle before the promised aid could reach him (Ant., XII, xi, 2). He was buried by his father’s side at Modin and was succeeded by his brother Jonathan. From that time the Maccabean history becomes one of endless cabals. Jonathan was acknowledged by the Syrians as meridarch of Judea, but was assassinated soon afterward. Simon succeeded him, and by the help of the Romans was made hereditary ruler of Palestine. He in turn was followed by John Hyrcanus. The people were torn by bitter partisan controversies and a civil war was waged, a generation later, by two grandsons of John Hyrcanus, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. In this internecine struggle the Roman general Pompey participated by siding with Hyrcanus, while Aristobulus defied Rome and defended Jerusalem. Pompey took the city, after a siege of three months, and entered the holy of holies, thereby forever estranging from Rome every loyal Jewish heart.

6. The Roman Period:

The Roman period (63-4 BC). Judea now became a Roman province. Hyrcanus, stripped of the hereditary royal power, retained only the high-priestly office. Rome exacted an annual tribute, and Aristobulus was sent as a captive to the capital. He contrived however to escape and renewed the unequal struggle, in which he was succeeded by his sons Alexander and Antigonus. In the war between Pompey and Caesar, Judea was temporarily forgotten, but after Caesar’s death, under the triumvirate of Octavius, Antony and Lepidus, Antony, the eastern triumvir, favored Herod the Great, whose intrigues secured for him at last the crown of Judea and enabled him completely to extinguish the old Maccabean line of Judean princes.

IV. Internal Developments in This Period.

One thing remains, and that is a review of the developments within the bosom of Judaism itself in the period under consideration. It is self-evident that the core of the Jewish people, which remained loyal to the national traditions and to the national faith, must have been radically affected by the terrible cataclysms which mark their history, during the four centuries before Christ. What, if any, was the literary activity of the Jews in this period? What was their spiritual condition? What was the result of the manifest difference of opinion within the Jewish economy? What preparation does this period afford for the "fullness of time"? These and other questions present themselves, as we study this period of the history of the Jews.

1. Literary Activity:

The voice of prophecy was utterly hushed in this period, but the old literary instinct of the nation asserted itself; it was part and parcel of the Jewish traditions and would not be denied. Thus in this period many writings were produced, which of although they lack canonical authority, among Protestants at least, still are extremely helpful for a correct understanding the life of Israel in the dark ages before Christ.

(a) The Apocrypha.

First of all among the fruits of this literary activity stand the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. It is enough here to mention them. They are fourteen in number: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 2 Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, in Baruch, So of the Three Holy Children, History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasses, 1 and 2 Maccabees. As 3 and 4 Maccabees fall presumably within the Christian era, they are not here enumerated. All these apocryphal writings are of the utmost importance for a correct understanding of the Jewish problem in the day which they were written. For fuller information, see APOCRYPHA.

(b) Pseudepigrapha.

Thus named from the spurious character of the authors’ names they bear. Two of these writings very probably belong to our of period, while a host of them evidently belong to a later date. In this class of writings there is a mute confession of the conscious poverty of the day. First of all, we have the Psalter of Solomon, originally written in Hebrew and translated into Greek—a collection of songs for worship, touching in their spirit, and evincing the fact that true faith never died in the heart of the true believer. The second is the Book of Enoch, a production of an apocalyptic nature, named after Enoch the patriarch, and widely known about the beginning the Christian era. This book is quoted in the New Testament (Jude 1:14). It was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic and translated into Greek as there is no trace of a Christian influence in the book, the presumption is that the greater part of it was written at an earlier period. Both Jude and the author of Revelation must have known it, as a comparative study of both books will show. The question of these quotations or allusions is a veritable crux interpretum: how to reconcile the inspiration of these books with these quotations?

(c) The Septuagint.

The tradition of the Septuagint is told by Josephus (Ant., XII, ii, 13). Aristeas and Aristobulus, a Jewish priest in the reign of Ptolemy Philometor (2 Macc 1:10), are also quoted in support of it by Clement of Alexandria and by Eusebius. See SEPTUAGINT. The truth of the matter is most probably that this great translation of the Old Testament Scriptures was begun at the instance of Ptolemy Philadelphus 285-247 BC, under the direction of Demetrius Phalereus, and was completed somewhere about the middle of the 2nd century BC. Internal evidence abounds that the translation was made by different hands and at different times. If the translation was in any way literal, the text of the Septuagint raises various interesting questions in regard to the Hebrew text that was used in the translation, as compared with the one we now possess. The Septuagint was of the utmost missionary value and contributed perhaps more than any other thing to prepare the world for the "fullness of time."

2. Spiritual Conditions:

The return from Babylon marked a turning point in the spiritual history of the Jews. From that time onward, the lust of idolatry, which had marked their whole previous history, utterly disappears. In the place of it came an almost intolerable spirit of exclusiveness, a striving after legal holiness, these two in combination forming the very heart and core of the later Pharisaism. The holy books, but especially the law, became an object of almost idolatrous reverence; the spirit was utterly lost in the form. And as their own tongue, the classic Hebrew, gradually gave way to the common Aramaic, the rabbis and their schools strove ever more earnestly to keep the ancient tongue pure, worship and life each demanding a separate language. Thus, the Jews became in a sense bilingual, the Hebrew tongue being used in their synagogues, the Aramaic in their daily life, and later on, in part at least, the Greek tongue of the conqueror, the lingua franca of the period. A spiritual aristocracy very largely replaced the former rule of their princes and nobles. As the core of their religion died, the bark of the tree flourished. Thus, tithes were zealously paid by the believer (compare Mt 23:23), the Sabbath became a positive burden of sanctity, the simple laws of God were replaced by cumbersome human inventions, which in later times were to form the bulk of the Talmud, and which crushed down all spiritual liberty in the days of Christ (Mt 11:28; 23:4,23). The substitution of the names "Elohim" and "Adonai" for the old glorious historic name "Yahweh" is an eloquent commentary on all that has been said before and on the spiritual condition of Israel in this period (Ewald, History of Israel, V, 198), in which the change was inaugurated. The old centripetal force, the old ideal of centralization, gave way to an almost haughty indifference to the land of promise. The Jews became, as they are today, a nation without a country. For, for every Jew that came back to the old national home, a thousand remained in the land of their adopti on. And yet scattered far and wide, in all sorts of environments, they remained Jews, and the national consciousness was never extinguished. It was God’s mark on them now as then. And thus they became world-wide missionaries of the knowledge of the true God, of a gospel of hope for a world that was hopeless, a gospel which wholly against their own will directed the eyes of the world to the fullness of time and which prepared the fallow soil of human hearts for the rapid spread of Christianity when it ultimately appeared.

3. Parties:

During the Greek period the more conservative and zealous of the Jews were all the time confronted with a tendency of a very considerable portion of the people, especially the younger and wealthier set, to adopt the manners of life and thought and speech of their masters, the Greeks. Thus the Hellenistic party was born, which was bitterly hated by all true blooded Jews, but which left its mark on their history, till the date of the final dispersion 70 AD. From the day of Mattathias, the Chasids or Haside ans (1 Macc 2:42) were the true Jewish patriots. Thus the party of the Pharisees came into existence (Ant., XIII, x, 5; XVIII, i, 2; BJ, I, v, 2). See PHARISEES. They were opposed by the more secular-minded Sadducees (Ant., XIII, x, 6; XVIII, i, 3; BJ, II, viii, 14), wealthy, of fine social standing, wholly free from the restraints of tradition, utterly oblivious of the future life and closely akin to the Greek Epicureans. See SADDUCEES. These parties bitterly opposed each other till the very end of the national existence of the Jews in Palestine, and incessantly fought for the mastery, through the high-priestly office. Common hatred for Christ, for a while, afforded them a community of interests. 4. Preparation for Christianity:

Throughout this entire dark period of Israel’s history, God was working out His own Divine plan with them. Their Scriptures were translated into Greek, after the conquest of Alexander the Great the common language in the East. Thus the world was prepared for the word of God, even as the latter in turn prepared the world for the reception of the gift of God, in the gospel of His Son. The Septuagint thus is a distinct forward movement in the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise (Ge 12:3; 18:18). As the sacrificial part of Jewish worship declined, through their wide separation from the temple, the eyes of Israel were more firmly fixed on their Scriptures, read every Sabbath in their synagogues, and, as we have seen, these Scriptures, through the rendering of the Septuagint, had become the property of the entire world. Thus, the synagogue everywhere became the great missionary institute, imparting to the world Israel’s exalted Messianic hopes. On the other hand, the Jews themselves, embittered by long-continued martyrdoms and suffering, utterly carnalized this Messianic expectation in an increasing ratio as the yoke of the oppressor grew heavier and the hope of deliverance grew fainter. And thus when their Messiah came, Israel recognized Him not, while the heart-hungry heathen, who through the Septuagint had become familiar with the promise, humbly received Him (Joh 1:9-14). The eyes of Israel were blinded for a season, ‘till the fullness of the Gentiles shall be gathered in’ (Ro 9:32; 11:25).

Henry E. Dosker


bu’-la (be‘ulah "married"): A name symbolically applied to Israel: "Thy land (shall be called) Beulah .... thy land shall be married. .... so shall thy sons marry thee" (Isa 62:4 f). In this figure, frequently used since Hosea, the prophet wishes to express the future prosperity of Israel. The land once desolate shall again be populated.


be-wal’ (kopto): In the middle voice, this word has the thought of striking on the breast and of loud lamentation, so common among oriental people in time of great sorrow. It is used to express the most intense grief, a sorrow that compels outward demonstration (Lu 8:52; 23:27). A striking instance of this grief is that of the daughter of Jephthah (Jud 11:37; Le 10:6).

See BURIAL, IV, 4, 5, 6; GRIEF.


be-wich’ (existemi): There are two Greek words in the New Testament translated "bewitch." The one given above (Ac 8:9,21 the King James Version "bewitched," the Revised Version (British and American) "amazed") has reference to the work of Simon Magus. It means "to be out of one’s mind," "to astonish," "to overwhelm with wonder." The other word, baskaino (Ga 3:1), means "to fascinate by false representation." It is by this means the apostle complains they have been led to accept a teaching wholly contrary to the gospel of Christ. Both these words reveal to us something of the difficulty the early teachers had to eradicate the idea so widely held by the Jews and Egyptians especially, that there were certain powers, dark and mysterious, which by certain occult forces they could control. For a long time this had to be contended with as one of the corrupt practices brought into the church by the converts, both from Judaism and heathenism. These words have a reference to the evil eye which for centuries was, and even today is, an important factor in the life of the people of the East. 1Ti 6:20 is a reference to this thought and explains the word "science" (the King James Version) as there used.


Jacob W. Kapp


be-ra’, be-ra’-er: In its derivation is entirely different from betray (Latin, tradere), and meant originally "to disclose," "reveal" (compare Shakspere, Titus Andronicus, II, iv, 3: "Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so"); but has been affected by the former word and is used almost synonymously. It is the translation of three Hebrew words:

(1) qara’, meaning "to call out" (Pr 27:16), "the ointment of his right hand which bewrayeth itself" (the American Standard Revised Version "his right hand encountereth oil," the American Revised Version, margin "the oil of his right hand betrayeth itself");

(2) naghadh meaning "to front," "to announce" (by word of mouth): Pr 29:24, "heareth cursing and bewrayeth it not" (the American Standard Revised Version "heareth the adjuration and uttereth nothing");

(3) galah, "to denude," figuratively, "to reveal" (Isa 16:3), "bewray not him that wandereth" (the American Standard Revised Version "betray not the fugitive").

In Sirach 27:17 "bewray (the Revised Version (British and American) "reveal") his secrets" is the translation of apokalupto, literally "to uncover"; so also in Sirach 27:21 (the Revised Version (British and American) "revealeth"). Bewrayer of 2 Macc 4:1 ("bewrayer of. the money and of his country," the Revised Version (British and American) "had given information of the money and had betrayed his country") is the translation of endeiktes, literally, "one who shows."

In the New Testament "bewrayeth" is the King James Version of Mt 26:73; "thy speech bewrayeth thee" is the translation of the phrase delon poiein, which the American Standard Revised Version renders "maketh thee known."

Arthur J. Kinsella


be-yond’:Found in the Hebrew only in its application to space and time, and for these ideas three words are employed: hale’ah (Ge 35:21) =" to the distance"; ‘abhar =" to go beyond" "to cross" derivative ‘ebher (Chald. ‘abhar) =" across," "beyond" (De 30:13; Jos 18:7; Jud 3:26; 1Sa 20:36; 2Ch 20:2; Ezr 4:17,20; Jer 25:22); and ‘al (Le 15:25) =" beyond the time." In the New Testament peran, is used to express "beyond" in the spatial sense (Mt 4:15), while other words and phrases are employed for adverbial ideas of degree: huperperissos (Mr 7:37); huper (2Co 8:3; 10:16); kathuperbolen (Ga 1:13). In the King James Version be‘eher, is occasionally translated "beyond," and when this word is joined to ha- yarden, "Jordan," as it usually is, it becomes critically important. In the American Standard Revised Version, be‘ebher ha- yarden is translated "beyond the Jordan," in Ge 50:10,21; De 3:20,25; Jos 9:10; Jud 5:17; "on this side Jordan" in De 1:1,5; Jos 1:14,15; "on the other side Jordan" in De 11:30; Jos 12:1; 22:4; 24:2,8 (compare the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), Jos 24:14,25; see RIVER, THE), Jud 10:8; 1Sa 31:7; and "on the side of Jordan" in Jos 5:1. the American Standard Revised Version gives "beyond the Jordan" throughout. me‘ebher, is used with ha-yarden in Nu 34:15; 35:14; Jos 13:32; Jud 7:25; and ‘ebher, alone in De 4:49 (the King James Version "on this side"); Jos 13:27 (the King James Version "on the other side"). It is clear that the phrase may be translate d "across Jordan"; that it is used of either side of the Jordan (De 3:8 speaks of the eastern, De 3:20,25 of the western); that "beyond Jordan" may be used of the side of the Jordan on which the writer stands (Jos 5:1; 9:1; 12:7); but from the fact that De 1:1,5; 4:41,46,47,49, where statements are made about Moses, the reference is to the country East of the Jordan, while in De 3:20,25; 11:30, where Moses is represented as speaking, the West is indicated, critics have concluded that the author (at least of Deuteronomy) must have lived after Moses, being careful to distinguish between himself and the prophet.

Frank E. Hirsch


be-za-an-an’-im (Jos 19:33 the Revised Version, margin).



be’-za-i (betsay, "shining"(?)):

(1) A chief who with Nehemiah sealed the covenant (Ne 10:18).

(2) The descendants of Bezai returned with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem (323, Ezr 2:17; 324, Ne 7:23 = Bassai, 1 Esdras 5:16).


bez’-a-lel (betsal’el, "in the shadow (protection) of ‘El (God)"; Beseleel; the King James Version Bezaleel):

(1) A master workman under Moses; son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. Yahweh gave him especial wisdom and skill for his task, which was, with the aid of Oholiab of the tribe of Dan, to superintend the making of the tabernacle and its furniture (Ex 31:2; 35:30; 36:1,2, 8; 37:1; 38:22; 1Ch 2:20; 2Ch 1:5).

(2) An Israelite of the time of Ezra who put away a foreign wife (Ezr 10:30).

F. K. Farr


be’-zek (bezeq; Bezek, Codex Vaticanus, Abiezek):

(1) The city of Adoni-bezek taken by Judah and Simeon (Jud 1:4 f), in the territory allotted to Judah. It is somewhat doubtfully identified with Bezqah, about 3 miles Northeast of Gezer.

(2) The place where Saul marshaled his army before marching to the relief of Jabesh-gilead (1Sa 11:8). Eusebius, Onomasticon speaks of two villages of this name 17 Roman miles from Shechem, on the way to Scythopolis. No doubt Khirbet Ibziq is intended. Here, or on the neighboring height, Ras Ibziq, a mountain 2,404 ft. above sea level, the army probably assembled.

W. Ewing


be’-zer (betser; Bosor, "strong"):

(1) A city of refuge, set apart by Moses for the Reubenites and located in the "plain country" (or table-land, Mishor) East of the Jordan, later assigned to this tribe by Joshua (De 4:43; Jos 20:8). The same city was assigned by lot as place of residence to the children of Merari of the Levite tribe (Jos 21:36; 1Ch 6:63,78). Driver, HDB, suggests the identity of Bezer with Bozrah (Septuagint, Bosor) (Jer 48:24). Besheir has been suggested as the present site. According to the manuscript it was forti fied by Mesha.

(2) A son of Zophah of the house of Asher (1Ch 7:37).

A. L. Breslich


be’-zeth (Bezeth): A place in the neighborhood of Jerusalem to which Bacchides withdrew and where he slew several deserters (1 Macc 7:19). Possibly the same as Bezetha (see JERUSALEM).


be-ze’-tha: Also called by Josephus the "New City" (BJ, V, iv, 2), certain suburbs of Jerusalem, North of the Temple, which were outside the second but included within the third wall. BEZETH (which see) may be the same place.



bi’-a-tas (Phalias; Codex Alexandrinus, Phiathas): the Revised Version (British and American) "Phalias," one of the Levites (1 Esdras 9:48) who "taught (the people) the law of the Lord, making them withal to understand it." Called Pelaiah in Ne 8:7.


bi’-b’-l, (biblia):


1. Bible

2. Other Designations—Scriptures, etc.

3. Old Testament and New Testament



1. The Jewish Bible

Josephus, etc.

2. The Septuagint

The Apocrypha

3. The Vulgate (Old Testament)

4. The New Testament

(1) Acknowledged Books

(2) Disputed Books


1. The Old Testament

(1) Indications of Old Testament Itself

(a) Patriarchal Age

(b) Mosaic Age

(c) Judges

(d) Monarchy

(e) Wisdom Literature—History

(f) Prophecy

(aa) Assyrian Age

(bb) Chaldean Age

(g) Josiah’s Reformation

(h) Exilian and Post-Exilian

(i) Daniel, etc.

(j) Pre-exilic Bible

(2) Critical Views

(a) The Pentateuch

(b) Histories

(c) Psalms and Prophets

(3) Formation of Canon

(a) Critical Theory

(b) More Positive View

(c) Close of Canon

2. The New Testament

(1) Historical Books

(a) The Synoptics

(b) Fourth Gospel

(c) Acts

(2) The Epistles

(a) Pauline

(b) Epistle to Hebrews

(c) Catholic Epistles

(3) Prophecy

Book of Revelation

(4) New Testament Canon


1. Scripture a Unity

2. The Purpose of Grace

3. Inspiration

4. Historical Influence


1. Chapters and Verses

2. The King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)

3. Helps to Study


General Designation:

This word designates the collection of the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament recognized and in use in the Christian churches. Different religions (such as the Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, Mohammedan) have their collections of sacred writings, sometimes spoken of as their "Bibles." The Jews acknowledge only the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Christians add the writings contained in the New Testament. The present article deals with the origin, character, contents and purpose of the Christian Scriptures, regarded as the depository and authoritative record of God’s revelations of Himself and of His will to the fathers by the prophets, and through His Son to the church of a later age (Heb 1:1,2). Reference is made throughout to the articles in which the several topics are more fully treated.

I. The Names.

1. Bible:

The word "Bible" is the equivalent of the Greek word biblia (diminutive from biblos, the inner bark of the papyrus), meaning originally "books." The phrase "the books" (ta biblia) occurs in Da 9:2 (Septuagint) for prophetic writings. In the Prologue to Sirach ("the rest of the books") it designates generally the Old Testament Scriptures; similarly in 1 Macc 12:9 ("the holy books"). The usage passed into the Christian church for Old Testament (2 Clem 14:2), and by and by (circa 5th century) was extended to the whole Scriptures. Jerome’s name for the Bible (4th century) was "the Divine Library" (Bibliotheca Divina). Afterward came an important change from plural to singular meaning. "In process of time this name, with many others of Greek origin, passed into the vocabulary of the western church; and in the 13th century, by a happy solecism, the neuter plural came to be regarded as a feminine singular, and ‘The Books’ became by common consent ‘The Book’ (biblia, singular), in which form the word was passed into the languages of modern Europe" (Westcott, Bible in the Church, 5). Its earliest occurrences in English are in Piers Plowman, Chaucer and Wycliffe.

2. Other Designations—Scriptures, etc.:

There is naturally no name in the New Testament for the complete body of Scripture; the only Scriptures then known being is those of the Old Testament. In 2Pe 3:16, however, Paul’s epistles seem brought under this category. The common designations for the Old Testament books by our Lord and His apostles were "the scriptures" (writings) (Mt 21:42; Mr 14:49; Lu 24:32; Joh 5:39; Ac 18:24; Ro 15:4, etc.), "the holy, scriptures" (Ro 1:2); once "the sacred writings" (2Ti 3:15). The Jewish technical division (see below) into "the law," the "prophets," and the "(holy) writings" is recognized in the expression "in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms" (Lu 24:44). More briefly the whole summed up under "the law and the prophets" (Mt 5:17; , 11:13; Ac 13:15). Occasionally even the term "law" is extended to include the other divisions (Joh 10:34; 12:34; 15:25; 1Co 14:21). Paul uses the phrase "the oracles of God" as a name for the Old Testament Scriptures (Ro 3:2; compare Ac 7:38; Heb 5:12; 1Pe 4:11).

3. Old Testament and New Testament:

Special interest attaches to the names "Old" and "New Testament," now and since the close of the 2nd century in common use to distinguish the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. "Testament" (literally "a will") is used in the New Testament (the King James Version) to represent the Greek word diatheke, in classical usage also "a will," but in the Septuagint and New Testament employed to translate the Hebrew word berith, "a covenant." In the Revised Version (British and American), accordingly, "testament" is, with two exceptions (Heb 9:16,27), changed to "covenant" (Mt 26:28; 2Co 3:6; Ga 3:15; Heb 7:22; 9:15, etc.). Applied to the Scriptures, therefore, "Old" and "New Testament" mean, strictly, "Old" and "New Covenant," though the older usage is now too firmly fixed to be altered. The name is a continuation of the Old Testament designation for the law, "the book of the covenant" (2Ki 23:2). In this sense Paul applies it (2Co 3:14) to the Old Testament law; "the reading of the old testament" (the Revised Version (British and American) "Covenant"). When, after the middle of the 2nd century, a def inite collection began to be made of the Christian writings, these were named "the New Testament," and were placed as of equal authority alongside the "Old." The name Novum Testamentum (also Instrumentum) occurs first in Tertullian (190-220 AD), and soon came into general use. The idea of a Christian Bible may be then said to be complete.

II. Languages.

The Old Testament, it is well known, is written mostly in Hebrew; the New Testament is written wholly in Greek, the parts of the Old Testament not in Hebrew, namely, Ezr 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Jer 10:11; Da 2:4-7:28, are in Aramaic (the so-called Chaldee), a related dialect, which, after the Exile, gradually displaced Hebrew as the spoken language of the Jews (see ARAMAIC; LANGUAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT). The ancient Hebrew text was "unpointed," i.e. without the vowel-marks now in use. These are due to the labors of the Massoretic scholars (after 6th century AD).

The Greek of the New Testament, on which so much light has recently been thrown by the labors of Deissmann and others from the Egyptian papyri, showing it to be a form of the "common" (Hellenistic) speech of the time (see LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT), still remains, from its penetration by Hebrew ideas, the influence of the Septuagint, peculiarities of training and culture in the writers, above all, the vitalizing and transforming power of Christian conceptions in vocabulary and expression, a study by itself. "We speak," the apostle says, "not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth" (1Co 2:13). This is not always remembered in the search for parallels in the papyri. (For translations into other languages, see VERSIONS.)

III. Compass and Divisions.

The story of the origin, collection, and final stamping with canonical authority of the books which compose our present Bible involves many points still keenly in dispute. Before touching on these debatable matters, certain more external facts fall to be noticed relating to the general structure and compass of the Bible, and the main divisions of its contents.

1. Jewish Bible

Josephus, etc.:

A first step is to ascertain the character and contents of the Jewish Bible—the Bible in use by Christ and His apostles. Apart from references in the New Testament itself, an important aid is here afforded by a passage in Josephus (Apion, I, 8), which may be taken to represent the current belief of the Jews in the 1st century AD. After speaking of the prophets as writing their histories "through the inspiration of God," Josephus says: "For we have not myriads of discordant and conflicting books, but 22 only, comprising the record of all time, and justly accredited as Divine. Of these, 5 are books of Moses, which embrace the laws and the traditions of mankind until his own death, a period of almost 3,000 years. From the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, the successor of Xerxes, king of Persia, the prophets who followed Moses narrated the events of their time in 13 books. The remaining 4 books consist of hymns to God, and maxims of conduct for men. From Artaxerxes to our own age, the history has been written in detail, but it is not esteemed worthy of the same credit, on account of the exact succession of the prophets having been no longer maintained." He goes on to declare that, in this long interval, "no one has dared either to add anything to (the writings), or to take anything from them, or to alter anything," and speaks of them as "the decrees (dogmata) of God," for which the Jews would willingly die. Philo (20 BC-circa 50 AD) uses similar strong language about the law of Moses (in Eusebius, Pr. Ev., VIII, 6).

In this enumeration of Josephus, it will be seen that the Jewish sacred books—39 in our Bible—are reckoned as 22 (after the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet), namely, 5 of the law, 13 of the prophets and 4 remaining books. These last are Ps, Prov, So and Eccl. The middle class includes all the historical and prophetical books, likewise Job, and the reduction in the number from 30 to 13 is explained by Jgs-Ruth, 1 and 2 S, 1 and 2 K, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezr-Neh, Jer-La and the 12 minor prophets, each being counted as one book. In his 22 books, therefore, Josephus includes all those in the present Hebrew canon, and none besides—not the books known as the APOCRYPHA, though he was acquainted with and used some of these.

Other Lists and Divisions.

The statement of Josephus as to the 22 books acknowledged by the Jews is confirmed, with some variation of enumeration, by the lists preserved by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, vi.26) from Melito of Sardis (circa 172 AD) and Origen (186-254 AD), and by Jerome (Pref to Old Testament, circa 400)—all following Jewish authorities. Jerome knew also of a rabbinical of division into 24 books. The celebrated passage from the Talmud (Babha’ Bathra’, 14b: see CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; compare Westcott, Bible in Church, 35; Driver, LOT, vi) counts also 24. This number is obtained by separating Ru from Judges and Lamentations from Jeremiah. The threefold division of the books, into Law, Prophets, and other sacred Writings (Hagiographa), is old. It is already implied in the Prologue to Sirach (circa 130 BC), "the law, the prophets, and the rest the books"; is glanced at in a work ascribed to Philo (De vita contempl., 3); is indicated, as formerly seen, in Lu 24:44. It really reflects stages in the formation of the Hebrew canon (see below). The rabbinical division, however, differed materially from that of Josephus in reckoning only 8 books of the prophets, and relegating 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezr- Neh, Esther, Job and Da to the Hagiographa, thus enlarging that group to 9 (Westcott, op. cit., 28; DB, I, "Canon"). When Ru and La were separated, they were added to the list, raising the number to 11. Some, however, take this to be the original arrangement. In printed Hebrew Bibles the books in all the divisions are separate. The Jewish schools further divided the "Prophets" into "the former prophets" (the historical books—Josh, Jgs, Sam and Ki), and "the latter prophets" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets as one book).

New Testament References.

It may be concluded that the above lists, excluding the Apocrypha, represent the Hebrew Bible as it existed in the time of our Lord (the opinion, held by some, that the Sadducees received only the 5 books of the law rests on no sufficient evidence). This result is borne out by the evidence of quotations in Josephus and Philo (compare Westcott, op. cit.). Still more is it confirmed by an examination of Old Testament quotations and references in the New Testament. It was seen above that the main divisions of the Old Testament are recognized in the New Testament, and that, under the name "Scriptures," a Divine authority is ascribed to them. It is therefore highly significant that, although the writers of the New Testament were familiar with the Septuagint, which contained the Apocrypha (see below), no quotation from any book of the Apocrypha occurs in their pages, One or two allusions, at most, suggest acquaintance with the Book of Wisdom (e.g. The Wisdom of Solomon 5:18-21 parallel Eph 6:13-17). On the other hand, "every book in the Hebrew Bible is distinctly quoted in the New Testament with the exception of Josh, Jgs, Chronicles, Cant, Eccl, Ezr, Neh, Esther, Ob, Ze and Nah" (Westcott). Enumerations differ, but about 178 direct quotations may be reckoned in the Gospels, Ac and Epistles; if references are included, the number is raised to about 700 (see QUOTATIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT). In four or five places (Lu 11:49- 51; Jas 4:5; 1Co 2:9; Eph 5:14; Joh 7:38) apparent references occur to sources other than the Old Testament; it is doubtful whether most of them are really so (compare Westcott, op. cit., 46-48; Eph 5:14 may be from a Christian hymn). An undeniable influence of Apocalyptic literature is seen in Jude, where Jude 1:14,25 are a direct quotation from the Book of Enoch. It does not follow that Jude regarded this book as a proper part of Scripture.

2. The Septuagint:

Hitherto we have been dealing with the Hebrew Old Testament; marked changes are apparent when we turn to the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Septuagint current in the Greek-speaking world at the commencement of the Christian era. The importance of this version lies in the fact that it was practically the Old Testament of the early church. It was used by the apostles and their converts, and is freely quoted in the New Testament, sometimes even when its renderings vary considerably from the Hebrew. Its influence was necessarily, therefore, very great.


The special problems connected with origin, text and literary relations of the Septuagint are dealt with elsewhere (see SEPTUAGINT). The version took its rise, under one of the early Ptolemies, from the needs of the Jews in Egypt, before the middle of the 2nd century BC; was gradually executed, and completed hardly later than circa 100 BC; thereafter spread into all parts. Its renderings reveal frequent divergence in manuscripts from the present Massoretic Text, but show also that the translators permitted themselves considerable liberties in enlarging, abbreviating, transposing and otherwise modifying the texts they had, and in the insertion of materials borrowed from other sources.

The Apocrypha.

The most noteworthy differences are in the departure from Jewish tradition in the arrangement of the books (this varies greatly; compare Swete, Introduction to Old Testament in Greek, II, chapter i), and in the inclusion in the list of the other books, unknown to the Hebrew canon, now grouped as the Apocrypha. These form an extensive addition. They include the whole of the existing Apocrypha, with the exception of 2 Esdras and Pr Man. All are of late date, and are in Greek, though Sirach had a Hebrew original which has been partly recovered. They are not collected, but are interspersed among the Old Testament books in what are taken to be their appropriate places. The Greek fragments of Esther, e.g. are incorporated in that book; Susanna and Bel and the Dragon form part of Daniel; Baruch is joined with Jeremiah, etc. The most important books are Wisdom, Sirach and 1 Maccabees (circa 100 BC). The fact that Sirach, originally in Hebrew (circa 200 BC), and of high repute, was not included in the Hebrew canon, has a weighty bearing on the period of the closing of the latter.

Ecclesiastical Use.

It is, as already remarked, singular that, notwithstanding this extensive enlargement of the canon by the Septuagint, the books just named obtained no Scriptural recognition from the writers of the New Testament. The more scholarly of the Fathers, likewise (Melito, Origen, Athanasius, Cyprian, Jerome, etc.), adhere to the Hebrew list, and most draw a sharp distinction between the canonical books, and the Greek additions, the reading of which is, however, admitted for edification (compare Westcott, op. cit., 135-36, 168, 180, 182-83). Where slight divergencies occur (e.g. Es is omitted by Melito and placed by Athanasius among the Apocrypha; Origen and Athanasius add Baruch to Jer), these are readily explained by doubts as to canonicity or by imperfect knowledge. On the other hand, familiarity with the Septuagint in writers ignorant of Hebrew could not but tend to break down the limits of the Jewish canon, and to lend a Scriptural sanction to the additions to that canon. This was aided in the West by the fact that the Old Latin versions (2nd century) based on the Septuagint, included these additions (the Syriac Peshitta followed the Hebrew). In many quarters, therefore, the distinction is found broken down, and ecclesiastical writers (Clement, Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Basil, etc.) quote freely from books like Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, 2 Esdras, as from parts of the Old Testament.

3. The Vulgate (Old Testament):

An important landmark is reached in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) or Latin version of Jerome. Jerome, on grounds explained in his Preface, recognized only the Hebrew Scriptures as canonical; under pressure he executed later a hasty translation of Tobit and Judith. Feeling ran strong, however, in favor of the other books, and ere long these were added to Jerome’s version from the Old Latin (see VULGATE). It is this enlarged Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) which received official recognition, under anathema, at the Council of Trent (1543), and, with revision, from Clement VIII (1592), though, earlier, leading Romish scholars (Ximenes, Erasmus, Cajetan) had made plain the true state of the facts. The Greek church vacillated in its decisions, sometimes approving the limited, sometimes the extended, canon (compare Westcott, op. cit., 217-29). The churches of the Reformation (Lutheran, Swiss), as was to be expected, went back to the Hebrew canon, giving only a qualified sanction to the reading and ecclesiastical use of the Apocrypha. The early English versions (Tyndale, Coverdale, etc.) include, but separate, the apocryphal books (see ENGLISH VERSIONS). The Anglican Articles express the general estimate of these books: "And the other books (as Jerome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine" (Art. VIII). Modern Protestant Bibles usually exclude the Apocrypha altogether.

4. The New Testament:

From this survey of the course of opinion on the compass of the Old Testament, we come to the New Testament. This admits of being more briefly treated. It has been seen that a Christian New Testament did not, in the strict sense, arise till after the middle of the 2nd century. Gospels and Epistles had long existed, collections had begun to be made, the Gospels, at least, were weekly read in the assemblies of the Christians (Justin, 1 Apol., 67), before the attempt was made to bring together, and take formal account of, all the books which enjoyed apostolic authority (see CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT). The needs of the church, however, and very specially controversy with Gnostic opponents, made it necessary that this work should be done; collections also had to be formed for purposes of translation into other tongues. Genuine gospels had to be distinguished from spurious; apostolic writings from those of later date, or falsely bearing apostolic names. When this task was undertaken, a distinction soon revealed itself between two classes of books, setting aside those recognized on all hands as spurious: (1) books universally acknowledged—those named afterward by Eusebius the homologoumena; and (2) books only partially acknowledged, or on which some doubt rested—the Eusebian antilegomena (Historia Ecclesiastica, iii.25). It is on this distinction that differences as to the precise extent of the New Testament turned.

(1) Acknowledged Books.

The "acknowledged" books present little difficulty. They are enumerated by Eusebius, whose statements are confirmed by early lists (e.g. that of Muratori, circa 170 AD), quotations, versions and patristic use. At the head stand the Four Gospels and the Acts, then come the 13 epistles of Paul, then 1 Peter and 1 John. These, Westcott says, toward the close of the 2nd century, "were universally received in every church, without doubt or limitation, as part of the written rule of Christian faith, equal in authority with the Old Scriptures, and ratified (as it seemed) by a tradition reaching back to the date of their composition" (op. cit., 133). With them may almost be placed Revelation (as by Eusebius) and He, the doubts regarding the latter relating more to Pauline authority than to genuineness (e.g. Origen).

(2) Disputed Books.

The "disputed" books were the epistles of James, Jude, 2 John and 3 John and 2 Peter. These, however, do not all stand in the same rank as regards authentication. A chief difficulty is the silence of the western Fathers regarding James, 2 Peter and 3 John. On the other hand, James is known to Origen and is included in the Syriac Peshitta; the Muratorian Fragment attests Jude and 2 John as "held in the Catholic church" (Jude also in Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen); none of the books are treated as spurious. The weakest in attestation is 2 Pet, which is not distinctly traceable before the 3rd century (See CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; articles under the word) It is to be added that, in a few instances, as in the case of the Old Testament Apocrypha, early Fathers cite as Scripture books not generally accepted as canonical (e.g. Barnabas, Hermas, Apocrypha of Peter).

The complete acceptance of all the books in our present New Testament canon may be dated from the Councils of Laodicea (circa 363 AD) and of Carthage (397 AD), confirming the lists of Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome and Augustine.


IV. Literary Growth and Origin—Canonicity.

Thus far the books of the Old Testament and New Testament have been taken simply as given, and no attempt has been made to inquire how or when they were written or compiled, or how they came to acquire the dignity and authority implied in their reception into a sacred canon. The field here entered is one bristling with controversy, and it is necessary to choose one’s steps with caution to find a safe way through it. Details in the survey are left, as before, to the special articles.

1. The Old Testament:

Attention here is naturally directed, first, to the Old Testament. This, it is obvious, and is on all sides admitted, has a long literary history prior to its final settlement in a canon. As to the course of that history traditional and modern critical views very widely differ. It may possibly turn out that the truth lies somewhere midway between them.

(1) Indications of Old Testament Itself.

If the indications furnished by the Old Testament itself be accepted, the results are something like the following:

(a) Patriarchal Age:

No mention is made of writing in the patriarchal age, though it is now known that a high literary culture then prevailed in Babylonia, Egypt and Palestine, and it is not improbable, indeed seems likely, that records in some form came down from that age, and are, in parts, incorporated in the early history of the Bible.

(b) Mosaic Age:

In Mosaic times writing was in use, and Moses himself was trained in the learning of the Egyptians (Ex 2:10; Ac 7:22). In no place is the composition of the whole Pentateuch (as traditionally believed) ascribed to Moses, but no inconsiderable amount of written matter is directly attributed to him, creating the presumption that there was more, even when the fact is not stated. Moses wrote "all the words of Yahweh" in the "book of the covenant" (Ex 21,22,23; 24:4,7). He wrote "the words of this law" of Deuteronomy at Moab, "in a book, until they were finished" (De 31:9,24,26). This was given to the priests to be put by the side of the ark for preservation (De 31:25,26). Other notices occur of the writing of Moses (Ex 17:14; Nu 33:2; De 31:19,22; compare Nu 11:26). The song of Miriam, and the snatches of song in Nu 21, the first (perhaps all) quoted from the "book of the Wars of Yahweh" (Nu 21:14 ff), plainly belong to Mosaic times. In this connection it should be noticed that the discourses and law of De imply the history and legislation of the critical JE histories (see below). The priestly laws (Leviticus, Numbers) bear so entirely the stamp of the wilderness that they can hardly have originated anywhere else, and were probably then, or soon after, written down. Joshua, too, is presumed to be familiar with writing (Jos 8:30-35; compare De 27:8), and is stated to have written his farewell address "in the book of the law of God" (Jos 24:26; compare Jos 1:7,8). These statements already imply the beginning of a sacred literature.

(c) Judges:

The song of Deborah (Jud 5) is an indubitably authentic monument of the age of the Judges, and the older parts of Jgs, at least, must have been nearly contemporary with the events which they record. A knowledge of writing among the common people seems implied in Jud 8:14 (American Revised Version, margin). Samuel, like Joshua, wrote "in a book" (1Sa 10:25), and laid it up, evidently among other writings, "before Yahweh."

(d) Monarchy:

The age of David and Solomon was one of high development in poetical and historical composition: witness the elegies of David (2Sa 1:17 ff; 3:33,34), and the finely-finished narrative of David’s reign (2Sa 9-20), the so-called "Jerusalem-Source," admitted to date "from a period very little later than that of the events related" (Driver, LOT, 183). There were court scribes and chroniclers. David and the Monarchy: David, as befits his piety and poetical and musical gifts (compare on this POT, 440 ff), is credited with laying the foundations of a sacred psalmody (2Sa 23:1 ff; see PSALMS), and a whole collection of psalms (Pss 1-72, with exclusion of the distinct collection, (Psalm 42-50)), once forming a separate book (compare Ps 72:20), are, with others, ascribed to him by their titles (Psalms 1, 2, 10 are untitled). It is hardly credible that a tradition like this can be wholly wrong, and a Davidic basis of the Psalter may safely be Assumed. Numerous psalms, by their mention of the "king" (as Psalms 2; 18; 20; 21; 28; 33; 45; 61; 63; 72; 101; 110), are naturally referred to the period of the monarchy (some, as Ps 18 certainly, Davidic). Other groups of psalms are referred to the temple guilds (Sons of Korah, Asaph).

(e) Wisdom Literature—History:

Solomon is renowned as founder of the Wisdom literature and the author of Proverbs (1Ki 4:32; Pr 1:1; 10:1; Ec 12:9; Ec itself appears to be late), and of the So (So 1:1). The "men of Hezekiah" are said to have copied put a collection of his proverbs (Pr 25:1; see PROVERBS). Here also may be placed the Book of Job. Hezekiah’s reign appears to have been one of literary activity: to it, probably, are to be referred certain of the Psalms (e.g. Psalms 46, 48; compare Perowne, Delitzsch). In history, during the monarchy, the prophets would seem to have acted as the "sacred historiographers" of the nation. From their memoirs of the successive reigns, as the later books testify (1Ch 29:29; 2Ch 9:29; 12:15, etc.), are compiled most of the narratives in our canonical writings (hence the name "former prophets"). The latest date in 2Ki is 562 BC, and the body of the book is probably earlier.

(f) Prophecy:

(i) Assyrian Age:

With the rise of written prophecy a new form of literature enters, called forth by, and vividly mirroring, the religious and political conditions of the closing periods of the monarchy in Israel and Judah (see PROPHECY). On the older view, Obadiah and Joe stood at the head of the series in the pre-Assyrian period (9th century), and this seems the preferable view still. On the newer view, these prophets are late, and written prophecy begins in the Assyrian period with Amos (Jeroboam II, circa 750 BC) and Hosea (circa 745-735). When the latter prophet wrote, Samaria was tottering to its fall (721 BC). A little later, in Judah, come Isaiah (circa 740-690) and Micah (circa 720-708). Isaiah, in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, is the greatest of the prophets in the Assyrian age, and his ministry reaches its climax in the deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib (2Ki 18; 19; Isa 36; Isa 37). It is a question whether some oracles of an Isaianic school are not mingled with the prophet’s ow n writings, and most scholars now regard the 2nd part of the book (Isa 40-66) as exilian or (in part) post-exilian in date. The standpoint of much in these chapters is certainly in the Exile; whether the composition of the whole can be placed there is extremely doubtful (see ISAIAH). Nahum, who prophesies against Nineveh, belongs to the very close of this period (circa 660).

(ii) Chaldean Age:

The prophets Zephaniah (under Josiah, circa 630 BC) and Habakkuk (circa 606) may be regarded as forming the transition to the next—the Chaldean—period. The Chaldeans (unnamed in Zephaniah) are advancing but are not yet come (Hab 1:6). The great prophetic figure here, however, is Jeremiah, whose sorrowful ministry, beginning in the 13th year of Josiah (626 BC), extended through the succeeding reigns till after the fall of Jerusalem (586 BC). The prophet elected to remain with the remnant in the land, and shortly after, troubles having arisen, was forcibly carried into Egypt (Jer 43). Here also he prophesied (Jer 43; Jer 44). From the reign of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah consistently declared the success of the Chaldean arms, and foretold the 70 years’ captivity (Jer 25:12-14). Baruch acted as his secretary in writing out and editing his prophecies (Jer 36; Jer 45).

(g) Josiah’s Reformation:

A highly important event in this period was Josiah’s reformation in his 18th year (621 BC), and the discovery, during repairs of the temple, of "the book of the law," called also "the book of the covenant" and "the law of Moses" (2Ki 22:8; 23:2,24,25). The finding of this book, identified by most authorities with the Book of Deuteronomy, produced an extraordinary sensation. On no side was there the least question that it was a genuine ancient work. Jeremiah, strangely, makes no allusion to this discovery, but his prophecies are deeply saturated with the ideas and style of Deuteronomy.

(h) Exilian and Post-Exilian:

The bulk of Isa 40-66 belongs, at least in spirit, to the Exile, but the one prophet of the Exile known to us by name is the priestly Ezekiel. Carried captive under Jehoiachin (597 BC), Ezekiel labored among his fellow-exiles for at least 22 years (Eze 1:2; 29:17). A man of the strongest moral courage, his symbolic visions on the banks of the Chebar alternated with the most direct expostulation, exhortation, warning and promise. In the description of an ideal temple and its worship with which his book closes (chapters 40-48), critics think they discern the suggestion of the Levitical code.

(i) Daniel, etc.:

After Ezekiel the voice of prophecy is silent till it revives in Daniel, in Babylon, under Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. Deported in 605 BC, Daniel rose to power, and "continued" until the 1st year of Cyrus (536 BC; Da 1:21). Criticism will have it that his prophecies are product of the Maccabean age, but powerful considerations on the other side are ignored (see DANIEL). Jonah may have been written about this time, though the prophet’s mission itself was pre- Assyrian (9th century). The rebuilding of the temple after the return, under Zerubbabel, furnished the occasion for the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah (520 BC). Scholars are disposed to regard only Zec 1-8 as belonging to this period—the remainder being placed earlier or later. Malachi, nearly century after (circa 430), brings up the rear of prophecy, rebuking unfaithfulness, and predicting the advent of the "messenger of the covenant" (Mal 3:1,2). To this period, or later, belong, besides post-exilian psalms (e.g. Psalms 124; 126), the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronciles, Esther and apparently Ecclesiastes.

(j) Preexilic Bible:

If, in this rapid sketch, the facts are correctly represented, it will be apparent that, in opposition to prevalent views, large body of sacred literature existed (laws, histories, psalms, wisdom-books, prophecies), and was recognized long before the Exile. God’s ancient people had "Scriptures"—had a Bible—if not yet in collected form. This is strikingly borne out by the numerous Old Testament passages referring to what appears to be a code of sacred writings in the hands of the pious in Israel. Such are the references to, and praises of, the "law" and "word" of God in many of the Psalms (e.g. Psalm 1; 19; 119; 12:6; 17:4; 18:21,22), with the references to God’s known "words," "ways," "commandments," "statutes," in other books of the Old Testament (Job 8:8; Ho 8:12; Da 9:2). In brief, Scriptures, which must have contained records of God’s dealings with His people, a knowledge of which is constantly presupposed, "laws" of God for the regulation of the heart and conduct, "statutes," "ordinances, "" words" of God, are postulate of a great part of the Old Testament.

(2) Critical views.

The account of the origin and growth of the Old Testament above presented is in marked contrast with that given in the textbooks of the newer critical schools. The main features of these critical views are sketched in the article CRITICISM (which see); here a brief indication will suffice. Generally, the books of the Old Testament are brought down to late dates; are regarded as highly composite; the earlier books, from their distance from the events recorded, are deprived of historical worth. Neither histories nor laws in the Pentateuch belong to the Mosaic age: Joshua is a "romance"; Judges may embody ancient fragments, but in bulk is unhistorical. The earliest fragments of Israelite literature are lyric pieces like those preserved in Ge 4:23,24; 9:25-27; Nu 21; the So of Deborah (Jud 5) is probably genuine. Historical writing begins about the age of David or soon thereafter. The folklore of the Hebrews and traditions of the Mosaic age began to be reduced to writing about the 9th century BC.

(a) The Pentateuch:

Our present Pentateuch (enlarged to a "Hexateuch," including Josh) consists of 4 main strands (themselves composite), the oldest of which (called Jahwist (Jahwist), from its use of the name Yahweh) goes back to about 850 BC. This was Judean. A parallel history book (called E, from its use of the name Elohim, God) was produced in the Northern kingdom about a century later (circa 750). Later still these two were united (JE). These histories, "prophetic" in spirit, were originally attributed to individual authors, distinguished by minute criteria of style: the more recent fashion is to regard them as the work of "schools." Hitherto the only laws known were those of the (post-Mosaic) Book of the Covenant (Ex 20-23). Later, in Josiah’s reign, the desire for centralization of worship led to the composition of the Book of Deuteronomy. This, secreted in the temple, was found by Hilkiah (2Ki 22), and brought about the reformation of Josiah formerly mentioned. Deuteronomy (D), thus produced, is the third stra nd in the Pentateuchal compilation. With the destruction of the city and temple, under the impulse of Ezekiel, began a new period of law-construction, now priestly in spirit. Old laws and usages were codified; new laws were invented; the history of institutions was recast; finally, the extensive complex of Levitical legislation was brought into being, clothed with a wilderness dress, and ascribed to Moses. This elaborate Priestly Code (PC), with its accompanying history, was brought from Babylon by Ezra, and, united with the already existing JE and D, was given forth by him to the restored community at Jerusalem (444 BC; Ne 8) as "the law of Moses." Their acceptance of it was the inauguration of "Judaism."

(b) Histories:

In its theory of the Pentateuch the newer criticism lays down the determinative positions for its criticism of all the remaining books of the Old Testament. The historical books show but a continuation of the processes of literary construction exemplified in the books ascribed to Moses. The Deuteronomic element, e.g. in Josh, Jgs, 1, 2 Sam, 1, 2 Ki, proves them, in these parts, to be later than Josiah, and historically untrustworthy. The Levitical element in 1, 2Ch demonstrates its pictures of David and his successors to be distorted and false. The same canon applies to the prophets. Joel, e.g. must be post-exilian, because it presupposes the priestly law. The patriarchal and Mosaic histories being subverted, it is not permitted to assume any high religious ideas in early Israel. David, therefore, could not have written the Psalms. Most, if not practically all, of these are post-exilian.

(c) Psalms and Prophets:

Monotheism came in—at least first obtained recognition—through Amos and Hosea. The prophets could not have the foresight and far-reaching hopes seen in their writings: these passages, therefore, must be removed. Generally the tendency is to put dates as low as possible and very many books, regarded before as preexilian, are carried down in whole or part, to exilian, post-exilian, and even late Greek times (Priestly Code, Psalter, Job, Proverbs, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Second Isaiah, Joel, Lamentations). Daniel is Maccabean and unhistorical (circa 168-167 BC).

It is not proposed here to discuss this theory, which is not accepted in the present article, and is considered elsewhere (see CRITICISM; PENTATEUCH). The few points calling for remark relate to canonical acceptance.

(3) Formation of the Canon.

The general lines of the completed Jewish canon have already been sketched, and some light has now been thrown on the process by which the several books obtained a sacred authority. As to the actual stages in the formation of the canon opinions again widely diverge (see CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT).

(a) Critical Theory:

On theory at present in favor, no collections of sacred books were made prior to the return from Babylon. The only books that had authority before the Exile were, perhaps, the old Book of the Covenant, and, from Josiah’s time, the Book of Deuteronomy. Both, after the return, were, on this theory, embodied, with the JE histories, and the Priestly Code, in Ezra’s completed Book of the Law (with Joshua(?)), in which, accordingly, the foundation of a canon was laid. The fivefold division of the law was later. Subsequently, answering to the 2nd division of the Jewish canon, a collection was made of the prophetic writings. As this includes books which, on the critical view, go down to Greek times (Jon; Zec 9-14), its completion cannot be earlier than well down in the 3rd century BC. Latest of all came the collection of the "Hagiographa"—a division of the canon, on theory, kept open to receive additions certainly till the 2nd century, some think after. Into it were received such late writings as Ecclesiastes, the Maccabean Psalms, Daniel. Even then one or two books (Ecclesiastes, Esther) remained subjects of dispute.

(b) More Positive View:

It will appear from the foregoing that this theory is not here accepted without considerable modification. If the question be asked, What constituted a right to a place in the canon? the answer can hardly be other than that suggested by Josephus in the passage formerly quoted—a real or supposed inspiration in the author of the book. Books were received if men had the prophetic spirit (in higher or lower degree: that, e.g. of wisdom); they ceased to be received when the succession of prophets was thought to fail (after Malachi). In any case the writings of truly inspired men (Moses, the prophets, psalmists) were accepted as of authority. It was sought, however, to be shown above, that such books, many of them, already existed from Moses down, long before the Exile (the law, collections of psalms, of proverbs, written prophecies: to what end did the prophets write, if they did not mean their prophecies to be circulated and preserved?); and such writings, to the godly who knew and used them, had the full value of Scripture. A canon began with the first laying up of the "book of the law" before Yahweh (De 31:25,26; Jos 24:26). The age of Ezra and Nehemiah, therefore, is not that of the beginning, but, as Jewish tradition rightly held (Josephus; 2 Macc 2:13; Talmud), rather that of the completion, systematic delimitation, acknowledgment and formal close of the canon. The divisions of "law, prophets, and holy writings" would thus have their place from the beginning, and be nearly contemporaneous. The Samaritans accepted only the 5 books of the law, with apparently Joshua (see SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH).

(c) Close of Canon:

There is no need for dogmatism as to an absolute date for the close of the canon. If inspired voices continued to be heard, their utterances were entitled to recognition. Books duly authenticated might be added, but the non-inclusion of such as a book as Sirach (Ecclesiasticus: in Hebrew, circa 200 BC) shows that the limits of the canon were jealously guarded, and the onus of proof rests on those who affirm that there were such books. Calvin, e.g. held that there were Maccabean Psalms. Many modern scholars do the same, but it is doubtful if they are right. Ecclesiastes is thought on linguistic grounds to be late, but it and other books need not be so late as critics make them. Daniel is confidently declared to be Maccabean, but there are weighty reasons for maintaining a Persian date (see DANIEL). As formerly noticed, the threefold division into "the law, the prophets, and the rest (ta loipa, a definite number) of the books" is already attested in the Prologue to Sirach.

2. The New Testament:

Critical controversy, long occupied with the Old Testament, has again keenly attached itself to the New Testament, with similar disturbing results (see CRITICISM). Extremer opinions may be here neglected, and account be taken only of those that can claim reasonable support. The New Testament writings are conveniently grouped into the historical books (Gospels and Acts); Epistles (Pauline and other); and a Prophetic book (Rev). In order of writing, the Epistles, generally, are earlier than the Gospels, but in order of subject, the Gospels naturally claim attention first.

(1) Historical Books:

The main facts about the origin of the Gospels can perhaps be distinguished from the complicated literary theories which scholars are still discussing (see GOSPELS). The first three Gospels, known as the Synoptics, evidently embody a common tradition, and draw from common sources. The Fourth Gospel—that of John—presents problems by itself.

(a) The Synoptics:

The former—the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke)—fall in date well within the apostolic age, and are, in the 2nd century, uniformly connected with the authors whose names they bear, Mark is spoken of as "the interpreter of Peter" (Papias, in HE iii.39); Luke is the well-known companion of Paul. A difficulty arises about Matthew, whose Gospel is stated to have been written in Aramaic (Papias, ut supra, etc.), while the gospel bearing his name is in Greek. The Greek gospel seems at least to have been sufficiently identified with the apostle to admit of the early church always treating it as his.

The older theory of origin assumed an oral basis for all 3 Gospels. The tendency in recent criticism is to distinguish two main sources:

(1) Mk, the earliest gospel, a record of the preaching of Peter;

(2) a collection of the sayings and discourses of Jesus, attributed to Matthew (the Eusebian Logia, now called Q); with

(3) a source used by Luke in the sections peculiar to himself—the result of his own investigations (Lu 1:1-4).

Mt and Lu are supposed to be based on Mr and the Logia (Q); in Luke’s case with the addition of his special material. Oral tradition furnished what remains. A simpler theory may be to substitute for (1) a Petrine tradition already firmly fixed while yet the apostles were working together in Jerusalem. Peter, as foremost spokesman, would naturally stamp his own type upon the oral narratives of Christ’s sayings and doings (the Mark type), while Matthew’s stories, in part written, would be the chief source for the longer discourses. The instruction imparted by the apostles and those taught by them would everywhere be made the basis of careful catechetical teaching, and records of all this, more or less fragmentary, would be early in circulation (Lu 1:1-4). This would explain the Petrine type of narrative, and the seeming dependence of Matthew and Luke, without the necessity of supposing a direct use of Mark. So important a gospel could hardly be included in the "attempts" of Lu 1:1.

(b) Fourth Gospel:

The Fourth Gospel (Jn), the genuineness of which is assumed (see JOHN, GOSPEL OF), differs entirely in character and style. It is less a narrative than a didactic work, written to convince its readers that Jesus is "the Son of God" (Joh 20:31). The gospel may be presumed to have been composed at Ephesus, in the last years of the apostle’s residence there. With this its character corresponds. The other gospels had long been known; John does not therefore traverse the ground already covered by them. He confines himself chiefly to matters drawn from his personal recollections: the Judean ministry, the visits of Christ to Jerusalem, His last private discourses to His disciples. John had so often retold, and so long brooded over, the thoughts and words of Jesus, that they had become, in a manner, part of his own thought, and, in reproducing them, he necessarily did so with a subjective tinge, and in a partially paraphrastic and interpretative manner. Yet it is truly the words, thoughts and deeds of his beloved Lord that he narrates. His gospel is the needful complement to the others—the "spiritual" gospel.

(c) Acts:

The Ac narrates the origin and early fortunes of the church, with, as its special motive (compare Ac 1:8), the extension of the gospel to the Gentiles through the labors of Paul. Its author is Luke, Paul’s companion, whose gospel it continues (Ac 1:1). Certain sections—the so-called "we-sections" (Ac 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16)—are transcribed directly from Luke’s journal of Paul’s travels. The book closes abruptly with Paul’s 2 years’ imprisonment at Rome (Ac 28:30,31; 60-61 AD), and not a hint is given of the issue of the imprisonment—trial, liberation or death. Does this mean that a 3rd "treatise" was contemplated? Or that the book was written while the imprisonment still continued? (thus now Harnack). If the latter, the Third Gospel must be very early.

(2) The Epistles.

(a) Pauline:

Doubt never rested in the early church on the 13 epistles of Paul. Following upon the rejection by the "Tubingen" school of all the epistles but 4 (Rom, 1, 2 Cor, Gal), the tide of opinion has again turned strongly in favor of their genuineness. An exception is the Pastoral epistles (1, 2 Tim, Tit), still questioned by some on insufficient grounds (see PASTORAL EPISTLES). The epistles, called forth by actual needs of the churches, are a living outpouring of the thoughts and feelings of the mind and heart of the apostle in relation to his converts. Most are letters to churches he himself had founded (1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians(?), Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonains): two are to churches he had not himself visited, but with which he stood in affectionate relations (Romans, Colossians); one is purely personal (Philemon); three are addressed to individuals, but with official responsibilities (1 Timonty, 2 Timothy, Titus). The larger number were written during his missionary labors, and reflect his personal situation, anxieties and companionships at the places of their composition; four are epistles of the 1st Roman imprisonment (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon): 2 Timothy is a voice from the dungeon, in his 2nd imprisonment, shortly before his martyrdom. Doctrine, counsel, rebuke, admonition, tender solicitude, ethical instruction, prayer, thanksgiving, blend in living fusion in their contents. So marvelous a collection of letters, on such magnificent themes, was never before given to the world.

The earliest epistles, in point of date, are generally held to be those to the Thessalonians, written from Corinth (52, 53 AD). The church, newly-founded, had passed through much affliction (1Th 1:6; 2:14; 3:3,4, etc.), and Paul writes to comfort and exhort it. His words about the Second Coming (1Th 4:13 ff) led to mistaken expectations and some disorders. His second epistle was written to correct these problems (2Th 2:1-3; 3:6, etc.).

Corinth itself received the next epistles—the 1st called forth by reports received at Ephesus of grave divisions and irregularities 1Co (1Co 1:11; 3:3; 11:18 ff, etc.), joined with pride of knowledge, doctrinal heresy (1Co 15:12 ff), and at least one case of gross immorality (chapter 5) in the church; the 2nd, written at Philippi, expressing joy at the repentance of the offender, and removing the severe sentence that had been passed upon him (2Co 2:1-10; compare 1Co 5:3,4), likewise vindicating Paul’s own apostleship 2Co (chapters 10-13). The date of both is 57 AD. 1Co contains the beautiful hymn on love (chapter 13), and the noble chapter on resurrection (chapter 15).

In the following year (58 BC) Paul penned from Corinth the Epistle to the Romans—the greatest of his doctrinal epistles. In it he develops his great theme of the impossibility of justification before God through works of law (Ro 1-3), and of the Divine provision for human salvation in a "righteousness of God" in Christ Jesus, received through faith. He exhibits first the objective side of this redemption in the deliverance from condemnation effected through Christ’s reconciling death (Ro 3-5); then the subjective side, in the new life imparted by the spirit, giving deliverance from the power of sin (Ro 6-8). A discussion follows of the Divine sovereignty in God’s dealings with Israel, and of the end of these dealings (Ro 9-11), and the epistle concludes with practical exhortations, counsels to forbearance and greetings (Ro 12-16).

Closely connected with the Epistle to the Romans is that to the Galatians, in which the same truths are handled, but now with a polemical intent in expostulation and reproach. The Galatian churches had apostatized from the gospel of faith to Jewish legalism, and the apostle, sorely grieved, writes this powerful letter to rebuke their faithlessness, and recall them to their allegiance to the truth. It is reasonable to suppose that the two epistles are nearly related in place and time. The question is complicated, however, by the dispute which has arisen as to whether the churches intended are those of Northern Galatia (the older view; compare Conybeare and Howson, Lightfoot) or those of Southern Galatia (Sir Wm. Ramsay), i.e. the churches of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, in Paul’s time embraced in the Roman province of Galatia (see GALATIA; GALATIANS). If the latter view is adopted, date and place are uncertain; if the former, the epistle may have been written from Ephesus (circa 57 AD).

The 4 epistles of the imprisonment all fall within the years 60, 61 AD. That to the Philipplans, warmly praising the church, and exhorting to unity, possibly the latest of the group, was sent by the hand of Epaphroditus, who had come to Rome with a present from the Philippian church, and had there been overtaken by a serious illness (Php 2:25-30; 4:15-18). The remaining 3 epistles (Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon) were written at one time, and were carried to their destinations by Epaphras. Ephesians and Colossians are twin epistles, similar in thought and style, extolling the preeminence of Christ, but it is doubtful whether the former was not really a "circular" epistle, or even, perhaps, the lost Epistle to the Laodiceans (Col 4:16; see LAODICEANS, EPISTLE TO THE). The Colossian epistle has in view an early form of Gnostic heresy (compare Lightfoot, Gal). Philemon is a personal letter to a friend of the apostle’s at Colosse, whose runaway slave, Onesimus, now a Christian, is being sent back to him with warm commendation s.


Latest from Paul’s pen are the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus), implying his liberation from his first imprisonment, and a new period of missionary labor in Ephesus, Macedonia and Crete (see PASTORAL EPISTLES). Timothy was left at Ephesus (1Ti 1:3), Titus at Crete (Tit 1:5), for the regulation and superintendence of the churches. The epistles, the altered style of which shows the deep impress of advancing years and changed conditions, contain admonitions to pastoral duty, with warnings as to perils that had arisen or would arise. 1 Timothy and Titus were written while the apostle was still at liberty (63 AD); 2 Timothy is from his Roman prison, when his case had been partly heard, and the end was impending (2Ti 4:6,7).

(b) Epistle to the Hebrews:

These are the Pauline Epistles proper. The Epistle to the Hebrews, though ascribed to Paul in the title of the King James Version, is not really his. It is an early writing (probably before the destruction of Jerusalem, 70 AD) of some friend of the apostle’s (in Italy, Heb 13:23,24), designed, by a reasoned exhibition of the superiority of Jesus to Moses and the Levitical priesthood, and of the fulfillment of Old Testament types and institutions in His person and sacrifice, to remove the difficulties of Jewish Christians, who clung with natural affection to their temple and divinely appointed ritual. It was included by Eusebius, with others in the East (not, however, by Origen), among the epistles of Paul: in the West the Pauline authorship was not admitted. Many, nevertheless, with Origen, upheld a connection with Paul ("the thoughts are Paul’s"). Ideas and style suggest an Alexandrian training: hence Luther’s conjecture of Apollos as the writer. There can be no certainty on the subject. The value of the Epistle is unimpaired, whoever was the author.

(c) Catholic Epistles:

Of the seven so-called "Catholic" Epistles, James and Jude are by "brethren" of the Lord (James, "the Lord’s brother," was head of the church at Jerusalem, Ac 15:13; 21:18; Ga 1:19, etc.); Peter and John, to whom the others were ascribed, were apostles. James and 1 Peter are addressed to the Jews of the Dispersion (1Pe 1:1; Jas 1:1). The doubts respecting certain of these writings have already been mentioned. The early date and acceptance of Jas is attested by numerous allusions (Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Didache). Many regard it as the earliest of the epistles—before Paul’s. Its tone is throughout practical. The seeming conflict with Paul on faith and works, which led Luther to speak slightingly of it, is only verbal. Paul, too, held that a dead faith avails nothing (1Co 13:2; Ga 5:6). 1 John, like 1 Peter, was undisputed (if the Fourth Gospel is genuine, 1 John is), and, on internal grounds, the shorter epistles (2 John, 3 John) need not be doubted (see JOHN, THE EPISTLES OF). Jude, rugged in style, with allusions to Jewish Apocalypses (1:9,24), is well attested, and 2 Peter seems to found on it. The last-named epistle must rely for acceptance on its own claim (2Pe 1:1,8), and on internal evidence of sincerity. It is to be observed that, though late in being noticed, it never appears to have been treated as spurious. The style certainly differs from 1 Peter; this may be due to the use of an amanuensis. If accepted, it must be placed late in Peter’s life (before 65 AD). 1 Peter and Jude, in that case, must be earlier (see CATHOLIC EPISTLES).

(3) Prophecy.

The Book of Revelation:

The one prophetic book of the New Testament—the apocalyptic counterpart of Daniel in the Old Testament—is the Book of Revelation. The external evidence for the Johannine authorship is strong (see APOCALYPSE). Tradition and internal evidence ascribe it to the reign of Domitian (circa 95 AD). Its contents were given in vision in the isle of Patmos (Re 1:9). The theory which connects it with the reign of Nero through the supposed fitness of this name to express the mystic number 666 is entirely precarious (compare Salmon, Introduction to New Testament, 245-54). The main intent is to exhibit in symbolic form the approaching conflicts of Christ and His church with anti-Christian powers—with secular world-power (Beast), with intellectual anti-Christianism (False Prophet), with ecclesiastical anti-Christianism (Woman)—these conflicts issuing in victory and a period of triumph, preluding, after a sharp, final struggle, the last scenes (resurrection, judgment), and the eternal state. When the visions are taken, not as poetic imaginings, but as true apocalyptic unveilings, the change in style from the gospel, which may be regarded as already written, can readily be understood. These mighty revelations in Patmos brought about, as by volcanic force, a tremendous upheaval in the seer’s soul, breaking through all previous strata of thought and feeling, and throwing everything into a new perspective. On the resultant high keynote: "Amen: Come, Lord Jesus" (Re 22:20), the New Testament closes.

(4) New Testament Canon.

The principal steps by which the books now enumerated were gradually formed into a New Testament "Canon," have been indicated in previous sections. The test of canonicity here, as in the Old Testament, is the presence of inspiration. Some would prefer the word "apostolic," which comes to the same thing. All the writings above reckoned were held to be the works of apostles or of apostolic men, and on this ground were admitted into the list of books having authority in the church. Barnabas (circa 100-120 AD) already quotes Mt 20:16 with the formula "it is written." Paul quotes as "scripture" (1Ti 5:18) a passage found only in Lu (Lu 10:7). Paul’s Epistles are classed with "other scriptures" in 2Pe 3:16. Post-apostolic Fathers draw a clear distinction between their own writings and those of apostles like Paul and Peter (Polycarp, Ignatius, Barnabas). The Fathers of the close of the 2nd century treat the New Testament writings as in the fullest degree inspired (compare Westcott, Introduction to Study of Gospels, Appendix B). An important impulse to the formation of a definite canon came from the Gnostic Marcion (circa 140 AD), who made a canon for himself in 2 parts, "Gospel" and "Apostolicon," consisting of one gospel (a mutilated Lk) and 10 epistles of Paul (excluding Pastorals). A challenge of this kind had to be taken up, and lists of New Testament writings began to be made (Melito, Muratorian Fragment, etc.), with the results previously described. By the commencement of the 4th century unanimity had practically been attained as regards even the Antilegomena. At the Council of Nicea (325 AD), Westcott says, "the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were silently admitted on all sides to have a final authority" (Bible in Church, 155).


BIBLE, THE, V INSPIRATION V. Unity and Spiritual Purpose—Inspiration.

1. Scripture a Unity:

Holy Scripture is not simply a collection of religious books: still less does it consist of mere fragments of Jewish and Christian literature. It belongs to the conception of Scripture that, though originating "by divers portions and in divers manners" (Heb 1:1), it should yet, in its completeness, constitute a unity, evincing, in the spirit and purpose that bind its parts together, the Divine source from which its revelation comes. The Bible is the record of God’s revelations of Himself to men in successive ages and dispensations (Eph 1:8-10; 3:5-9; Col 1:25,26), till the revelation culminates in the advent and work of the Son, and the mission of the Spirit. It is this aspect of the Bible which constitutes its grand distinction from all collections of sacred writings—the so-called "Bibles" of heathen religions—in the world. These, as the slightest inspection of them shows, have no unity. They are accumulations of heterogeneous materials, presenting, in their collocation, no order, progress, or plan. The reason is, that they embody no historical revelation working out a purpose in consecutive stages from germinal beginnings to perfect close. The Bible, by contrast, is a single book because it embodies such a revelation, and exhibits such a purpose. The unity of the book, made up of so many parts, is the attestation of the reality of the revelation it contains.

2. The Purpose of Grace:

This feature of spiritual purpose in the Bible is one of the most obvious things about it (compare POT, 30 ff). It gives to the Bible what is sometimes termed its "organic unity." The Bible has a beginning, middle and end. The opening chapters of Ge have their counterpart in the "new heaven and new earth" and paradise restored of the closing chapters of Revelation (21; 22). Man’s sin is made the starting-point for disclosures of God’s grace. The patriarchal history, with its covenants and promises, is continued in the story of the Exodus and the events that follow, in fulfillment of these promises. De recapitulates the lawgiving at Sinai. Jos sees the people put in possession of the promised land. Backsliding, rebellion, failure, do not defeat God’s purpose, but are overruled to carry it on to a surer completion. The monarchy is made the occasion of new promises to the house of David (2Sa 7). The prophets root themselves in the past, but, at the very hour when the nation seems sinking in ruin; hold out bright hopes of a greater future in the extension of God’s kingdom to the Gentiles, under Messiah’s rule. A critical writer, Kautzsch, has justly said: "The abiding value of the Old Testament lies above all in this, that it guarantees to us with absolute certainty the fact and the process of a Divine plan and way of salvation, which found its conclusion and fulfillment in the new covenant, in the person and work of Jesus Christ" (Bleibende Bedeutung des Altes Testament, 22, 24, 28-29, 30-31).

Fulfilment in Christ.

How truly all that was imperfect, transitional, temporary, in the Old Testament was brought to realization and completion in the redemption and spiritual kingdom of Christ need not here be dwelt upon. Christ is the prophet, priest and king of the New Covenant. His perfect sacrifice, "once for all," supersedes and abolishes the typical sacrifices of the old economy (Heb 9-10). His gift of the Spirit realizes what the prophets had foretold of God’s law being written in men’s hearts (Jer 31:31-34; 32:39,40; Eze 11:19,20, etc.). His kingdom is established on moveless foundations, and can have no end (Php 2:9-11; Heb 12:28; Re 5:13, etc.). In tracing the lines of this redeeming purpose of God, brought to light in Christ, we gain the key which unlocks the inmost meaning of the whole Bible. It is the revelation of a "gospel."

3. Inspiration:

"Inspiration" is a word round which many debates have gathered. If, however, what has been said is true of the Bible as the record of a progressive revelation, of its contents as the discovery of the will of God for man’s salvation, of the prophetic and apostolic standing of its writers, of the unity of spirit and purpose that pervades it, it will be difficult to deny that a quite peculiar presence, operation, and guidance of the Spirit of God are manifest in its production. The belief in inspiration, it has been seen, is implied in the formation of these books into a sacred canon. The full discussion of the subject belongs to a special article. (see INSPIRATION). Biblical Claim.

Here it need only be said that the claim for inspiration in the Bible is one made in fullest measure by the Bible itself. It is not denied by any that Jesus and His apostles regarded the Old Testament Scriptures as in the fullest sense inspired. The appeal of Jesus was always to the Scriptures, and the word of Scripture was final with Him. "Have ye not read?" (Mt 19:4). "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God" (Mt 22:29). This because "God" speaks in them (Mt 19:4). Prophecies and psalms were fulfilled in Him (Lu 18:31; 22:37; 24:27,44). Paul esteemed the Scriptures "the oracles of God" (Ro 3:2). They are "God-inspired" (2Ti 3:16). That New Testament prophets and apostles were not placed on any lower level than those of the Old Testament is manifest from Paul’s explicit words regarding himself and his fellow-apostles. Paul never faltered in his claim to be "an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God" (Eph 1:1, etc.)—"separated unto the gospel of God "( Ro 1:1)—who had received his message, not from man, but by "revelation" from heaven (Ga 1:11,22). The "mystery of Christ" had "now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit," in consequence of which the church is declared to be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph 2:20; 3:5).

Marks of Inspiration.

It might be shown that these claims made by New Testament writers for the Old Testament and for themselves are borne out by what the Old Testament itself teaches of prophetic inspiration, of wisdom as the gift of God’s spirit, and of the light, holiness, saving virtue and sanctifying power continually ascribed to God’s "law," "words," "statutes," "commandments," "judgments" (see above). This is the ultimate test of "inspiration"—that to which Paul likewise appeals—its power to "make wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2Ti 3:15)—its profitableness "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness" (2Ti 3:16)—all to the end "that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2Ti 3:17). Nothing is here determined as to "inerrancy" in minor historical, geographical, chronological details, in which some would wrongly put the essence of inspiration; but it seems implied that at least there is no error which can interfere with or nullify the utility of Scripture for the ends specified. Who that brings Scripture to its own tests of inspiration, will deny that, judged as a whole, it fulfils them?

4. Historical Influence of the Bible:

The claim of the Bible to a Divine origin is justified by its historical influence. Regarded even as literature, the Bible has an unexampled place in history. Ten or fifteen manuscripts are thought a goodly number for an ancient classic; the manuscripts of whole or parts of the New Testament are reckoned by thousands, the oldest going back to the 4th or 5th century. Another test is translation. The books of the New Testament had hardly begun to be put together before we find translations being made of them in Latin, Syriac, Egyptian, later into Gothic and other barbarous tongues (see VERSIONS). In the Middle Ages, before the invention of printing, translations were made into the vernacular of most of the countries of Europe. Today there is not a language in the civilized world, hardly a language among uncivilized tribes, wherever missions have gone, into which this word of God has not been rendered. Thanks to the labors of Bible Societies, the circulation of the Bible in the different countries of the world in recent years outstrips all previous records. No book has ever been so minutely studied, has had so many books written on it, has founded so vast a literature of hymns, liturgies, devotional writings, sermons, has been so keenly assailed, has evoked such splendid defenses, as the Bible. Its spiritual influence cannot be estimated. To tell all the Bible has been and done for the world would be to rewrite in large part the history of modern civilization. Without it, in heathen lands, the arm and tongue of the missionary would be paralyzed. With it, even in the absence of the missionary, wondrous results are often effected. In national life the Bible is the source of our highest social and national aspirations. Professor Huxley, though an agnostic, argued for the reading of the Bible in the schools on this very ground. "By the study of what other book," he asked, "could children be so much humanized, and made to feel that each figure in that vast historical procession fills, like themselves, but a momentary space in the interval between two eternities, and earns the blessings or the curses of all times, according to its effort to do good and to hate evil, even as they are also earning their payment for their work?" (Critiques and Addresses, 61).

VI. Addenda.

A few notes may be added, in closing, on special points not touched in the preceding sections.

1. Chapters and Verses:

Already in pre-Talmudic times, for purposes of reading in the synagogues, the Jews had larger divisions of the law into sections called Para-shahs, and of the prophets into similar sections called HaphTarahs. They had also smaller divisions into Pecuqim, corresponding nearly with our verses. The division into chapters is much later (13th century). It is ascribed to Cardinal Hugo de St Caro (died 1248); by others to Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury (died 1227). It was adopted into the Vulgate, and from this was transferred by R. Nathan (circa 1440) to the Hebrew Bible (Bleek, Keil). Verses are marked in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) as early as 1558. They first appear in the New Testament in Robert Stephens’ edition of the Greek Testament in 1551. Henry Stephens, Robert’s son, reports that they were devised by his father during a journey on horseback from Paris to Lyons.

2. The King James Version and Revised Version:

The King James Version of 1611, based in part on earlier English Versions, especially Tyndale’s, justly holds rank as one of the noblest monuments of the English language of its own, or any, age. Necessarily, however, the Greek text used by the translators ("Textus Receptus"), resting on a few late manuscripts, was very imperfect. With the discovery of more ancient manuscripts, and multiplication of appliances for criticism, the need and call for a revised text and translation became urgent. Finally, at the instance of the Convocation of the Province of Canterbury, the task of revision was undertaken by Committees representing the best English and American scholarship. Their labors resulted in the publication, in 1881, of the Revised New Testament, and in 1885, of the Revised Old Testament (a revised edition of the Apocrypha was published in 1896). The preferencest of the American Revisers were printed in an appendix, a pledge being given that no further changes should be made for 14 years. The English Companies were disbanded shortly after 1885, but the American Committee, adhering to its own renderings, and believing that further improvements on the English the Revised Version (British and American) were possible, continued its organization and work. This issued, in 1901, in the production of the American Standard Revised Version, which aims at greater consistency and accuracy in a number of important respects, and is supplied, also, with carefully selected marginal references (see AMERICAN REVISED VERSION). Little could be done, in either the English Revised V ersion or the American Standard Revised Version, in the absence of reliable data for comparison, with the text of the Old Testament, but certain obvious corrections have been made, or noted in the margin.

3. Helps to Study:

In recent years abundant helps have been furnished, apart from Commentaries and Dictionaries, for the intelligent study of the English Bible. Among such works may be mentioned the Oxford Helps to the Study of the Bible; the valuable Aids to Bible Students (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1898); Dr. Angus’ Bible Handbook (revised by Green); A. S. Peake’s Guide to Biblical Study (1897); W. F. Adeney’s How to Read the Bible (1896); R. C. Moulton’s The Modern Reader’s Bible (1907); The Sunday School Teachers’ Bible (1875); The Variorum Reference Bible and Variorum Teachers’ Bible (1880); Weymouth’s New Testament in Modern Speech (1909); The Twentieth Century New Testament (Westcott and Hort’s text, 1904); S. Lloyd’s The Corrected English New Testament (Bagster, 1905).


Compare articles in the Bible Dicts., specially Sanday on "Bible," and Dobschutz on "The Bible in the Church," in Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, II; Westcott, The Bible in the Church (1875); W. H. Bennett, A Primer of the Bible (1897); A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament (1896); J. Eadie, The English Bible; works on Introduction (Driver, etc.); books mentioned above under "Helps"; B. B. Warfield in Princeton Theological Review (October, 1910); C. A. Briggs, General Introduction to the Study of Holy Scripture (Scribners, 1899); W. H. Green, General Introduction to the Old Testament (Scribners, 1899); E. C. Bissell, The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Structure (Scribners, 1885); Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament.

James Orr




bib’-li-kal diskrep’-an-siz.



bib’-li-kal the-ol’-o-ji:


1. Definition

2. Relation to Dogmatics

3. Place and Method of Biblical Theology

4. Relation to Scientific Exegesis


1. Its Rise in Scientific Form

2. Patristic and Scholastic Periods

3. Biblical Efforts in 17th and 18th Centuries

4. Old Testament Theology in First Half of 19th Century

5. New Testament Theology in the 19th Century

6. Old Testament Theology in Second Half of 19th Century

7. Bearings of Criticism on Old Testament Theology


1. Divergent Views of Old Testament Divisions

2. Law and Prophecy

3. Primal Prophetism and Final Judaism

4. Place of Mosaism

5. Nature of Israel’s Religious Development


I. Biblical Theology As a Science.

1. Definition:

Biblical theology seems best defined as the doctrine of Biblical religion. As such it works up the material contained in the Old Testament and the New Testament as the product of exegetical study. This is the modern technical sense of the term, whereby it signifies a systematic representation of Biblical religion in its primitive form.

Biblical theology has sometimes been taken to signify not alone this science of the doctrinal declarations of the Scriptures, but the whole group of sciences Concerned with the interpretation and exposition of the Scriptures. In that wider view of Biblical theology, the term exegetical theology has been used to define and include the group of sciences already referred to. But the whole weight of preference seems, in our view, to belong to the narrower use of the term Biblical theology, as more strictly scientific.

2. Relation to Dogmatics:

This is not to confound the science of Biblical theology with that of dogmatics, for their characters are sharply distinguished. The science of dogmatics is a historico-philosophical one; that of Biblical theology is purely historic. Dogmatics declares what, for religious faith, must be regarded as truth; Biblical theology only discovers what the writers of the Old Testament and the New Testament adduce as truth. This latter merely ascertains the contents of the ideas put forward by the sacred writers, but is not concerned with their correctness or verification. It is the what of truth, in these documentary authorities, Biblical theology seeks to attain. The why, or with what right, it is so put forward as truth, belongs to the other science, that of dogmatics.

3. Place and Method of Biblical Theology:

Biblical theology is thus the more objective science; it has no need of dogmatics; dogmatics, on the other hand, cannot be without the aid of Biblical theology. The Biblical theologian should be a Christian philosopher, an exegete, and, above all, a historian. For it is in a manner purely historical that Biblical theology seeks to investigate the teaching, in whole, of each of the sacred writers. Each writing it studies in itself, in its relation to the others, and in its place in history taken as a whole. Its method is historical-genetic. The proper place of Biblical theology is at the head of historical theology, where it shines as a center of light. Its ideal as a science is to present a clear, complete and comprehensive survey of the Biblical teachings.

4. Relation to Scientific Exegesis:

In pursuance of this end, Biblical theology is served by scientific exegesis, whose results it presents in ordered form so as to exhibit the organic unity and completeness of Biblical religion. The importance of Biblical theology lies in the way it directs, corrects and fructifies all moral and dogmatic theology by bringing it to the original founts of truth. Its spirit is one of impartial historical inquiry.

II. History of Biblical Theology.

1. Its Rise in Scientific Form:

Biblical theology, in any truly scientific form, dates only from the 18th century. Offspring as it was of German rationalism, it has yet been found deserving of cultivation and scientific study by the most orthodox theology. Indeed, Pietism, too, urged its claims as Biblical dogma, over against the too scholastic dogma of orthodoxy.

2. Patristic and Scholastic Periods:

The Patristic theology, no doubt, was Biblical, and the Alexandrian School deserves special praise. The scholastic theology of the Middle Ages leaned on the Fathers rather than on the Bible. Biblical theology, in spirit, though not in form, found a revival at the Reformation. But this was early followed by a 17th century type of scholasticism, polemical and confessional.

3. Biblical Efforts in 17th and 18th Centuries:

Even in that century, however, efforts of a more purely Biblical character were not wanting, as witness those of Schmidt, Witsius and Vitringa. But throughout the entire 18th century there were manifest endeavors to throw off the scholastic yoke and return to Biblical simplicity. Haymann (1708), Busching (1756), Zachariae (1772) and Storr (1793), are examples of the efforts referred to. But it was from the rationalistic side that the first vindication of Biblical theology as a science of independent rank was made. This merit belonged to Gabler (1787), who urged a purely historical treatment of the Bible, and was, later, shared by his colleague, G. L. Bauer, who issued a Biblical Theology of the New Testament (Ger) in four parts (1800-1802). More independent still was the standpoint assumed by C. F. Ammon in his Biblische Theologie (2nd edition, 1801- 2). Ammon does not fail to apprehend the historical character of our science, saying that Biblical theology should deal only with the "materials, fundamental ideas, and results of Biblical teaching, without troubling itself about the connection of the same, or weaving them into an artificial system."

4. Old Testament Theology in First Half of 19th Century:

The influence of Schleiermacher was hardly a fortunate one, the Old Testament being sundered from the New Testament, and attention centered on the latter. Kayser (1813) and, still more, DeWette, who died in 1850, pursued the perfecting of our science, particularly in matters of method. Continuators of the work were Baumgarten-Crusius (1828), Cramer (1830) and Colln, whose work was posthumously presented by D. Schulz in 1836. It was in the second quarter of the 19th century that the Biblical theology of the Old Testament began to receive the full attention it deserved. It has been declared the merit of Hegel’s philosophy to have taught men to see, in the various Biblical systems of doctrine, a complete development, and Hegel did, no doubt, exert a fertilizing influence on historical inquiry. But it must also be said that the Hegelian philosophy affected Biblical theology in a prejudicial manner, as may be seen in Vatke’s a priori construction of history and doctrine in his work, Die bib. Theologie (1835), and in Bruno Bauer’s Die Religion des AT (1838-39), which disputed but did not improve upon Vatke. Steudel (1840), Oehler (1845) and Havernick (1848) are worthy of particularly honorable mention in this Old Testament connection. In his Theology of the Old Testament (3rd edition, 1891; American edition, 1883) G. F. Oehler excellently maintained the close connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament, which Hengstenberg had already emphasized in 1829.

5. New Testament Theology in the 19th Century:

The Biblical theology of the New Testament was furthered by the memorable Neander. In 1832, he first issued his Planting and Training of the Christian Church, while his Life of Jesus first appeared in 1837. In this latter work, he summarized the doctrine of the Redeemer, while the former presented the doctrinal teaching of the apostolic writers in such wise as to show the different shades of thought peculiar to each of them, pointing out, at the same time, "how, notwithstanding all difference, there was an essential unity beneath, unless one is deceived by the form, and how the form in its diversity is easily explained." C. F. Schmid improved in some respects upon Neander’s work in his excellent Biblical Theology of the New Testament, issued (1853) after his death by Weizsacker (new edition, 1864). In Schmid’s work, the Biblical theology of the New Testament is presented with objectivity, clearness and penetrating sympathy.

Hahn’s Theology of the New Testament (1854) came short of doing justice to the diverse types of doctrinal development in the New Testament. The work of G. V. Lechler on the apostolic and post-apostolic age, was, in its improved form of 1857, much more important. E. Reuss, in 1852, issued his valuable History of the Christian Theology of the Apostolic Age, a complete and critical work, but not sufficiently objective in its treatment. The Prelections on New Testament Theology of F. C. Baur, head of the Tubingen school, exemplify both the merits and the defects of the school. They are critical, independent and suggestive, but lacking in impartiality. They were published by his son after his death (1864). A new edition of these lectures on New Testament theology was issued by Pfleiderer in 1893.

Having first dealt with the teachings of Jesus, Baur then set out the materials of the New Testament theology in three periods, making Paul well-nigh the founder of Christianity. For him only four epistles of Paul were genuine products of the apostolic age, namely, Romans, the two Corinthians, Galatians, together with the Revelation. To the growth and history of the New Testament Baur applied the method of the Hegelian dialectic, and, though powerful and profound, displayed a lack of sane, well-balanced judgment. Yet so conservative a scholar as Weiss gave Baur the credit of having "first made it the problem of criticism to assign to each book of the New Testament its place in the history of the development of primitive Christianity, to determine the relations to which it owes its origin, the object at which it aims, and the views it represents." Among Baur’s followers may be noted Pfleiderer, in his Paulinism (1873).

The Theology of the New Testament, by J. J. Van Oosterzee (English edition, 1870), is a serviceable book for students, and the New Testament Theology of A. Immer (1878), already famous for his hermeneutical studies, is noteworthy. Chief among subsequent cultivators of the Biblical theology of the New Testament must be reckoned B. Weiss, whose work in two volumes (English edition, 1882-83) constitutes a most critical and complete, thorough and accurate treatment of the subject in all its details: W. Beyschlag, whose New Testament Theology (English edition, in 2 volumes, 1895) is also valuable; H. Holtzmann, whose treatise on New Testament Theology (1897) dealt in a critical fashion with the doctrinal contents of the New Testament. Holtzmann’s learning and ability are great, but his work is marred by naturalistic presuppositions. The French work on Theology of the New Testament, by J. Boron (2 volumes, 1893-94) is marked by great independence, skill and fairness. The Theology of the New Testament, by W. F. Adeney (1894), and the yet more recent, and very attractively written, work with the same title, by G. B. Stevens (1899), bring us pretty well up to the present state of our science in respect of the New Testament.

6. Old Testament Theology in Second Half of the 19th Century:

Coming back to the Biblical theology of the Old Testament in the second half of the 19th century, we find A. Klostermann’s Investigations into the Old Testament Theology, which appeared in 1868. The Old Testament theology, no less than that of the New Testament, was set forth by that great scholar, H. Ewald, in four volumes (1871-75; English edition (first part), 1888). His interest in New Testament theology was due to his strong feeling that the New Testament is really the second part of the record of Israel’s revelation. A. Kuenen dealt with the Religion of Israel in two volumes (English edition, 1874-75), writing nobly but with defective insight into, and comprehension of, the higher religious ideas of Israel. F. Hitzig’s Prelections (1880) deal with theology of the Old Testament, as part of their contents. H. Schultz treated of the Old Testament Theology in two volumes (1st edition, 1869; 5th edition, 1896; English edition, 1892), in a careful, mainly just, and, by comparison, well-balanced handling of the development of its religious ideas.

We have not touched upon writers like Smend, for example, in his History of Old Testament Religion (1893), and J. Robertson, in his Early Religion of Israel (2nd edition, 1892), who treat of the Biblical theology of the Old Testament only in a way subsidiary to the consideration of the historico-critical problems. The Conception of Revelation in the Old Testament was dealt with by F. E. Konig in 1882 in a careful and comprehensive manner, and with regard to the order and relation of the documents, revelation in Israel being taken by him in a supranaturalistic sense. Significant also for the progress of Old Testament Biblical theology was The Theological and the Historical View of the Old Testament, by C. Siegfried (1890), who insisted on the development of the higher religion of Israel being studied from the elder prophets as starting-point, instead of the law.

Mention should be made of Biblical Study: Its Principles, Methods and History, by C. A. Briggs (1883; 4th edition, 1891); of the important Compendium of the Biblical Theology of the Old and the New Testament by K. Schlottmann (1889); of E. Riehm’s valuable Old Testament Theology (1889); and of G. Dalman’s Studies in Biblical Theology—the Divine name and its history—in 1889. Also, of the Old Testament Theology of A. Duff (1891); A. Dillmann’s Handbook of Old Testament Theology, edited by Kittel (189:5); and of Marti’s edition of the Theology of the Old Testament of A. Kayser (3rd edition, 1897).

Of Theology of the Old Testament, by A. B. Davidson (1904), it may be said that it does full justice to the idea of a progressive development of doctrine in the Old Testament, and is certainly divergent from the view of those who, like Cheyne, treat the Old Testament writings as so many fragments, from which no theology can be extracted. Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, by B. Stade (1905), is the work of a distinguished representative of the modern critical views, already famous for his work on the history of Israel (1887). The Theology of the Old Testament by W. H. Bennett (1906) is a clear and useful compendium of the subject.

7. Bearings of Criticism on Old Testament Theology:

Recent works like The Problem of the Old Testament by James Orr (1905), Old Testament Critics by Thomas Whitelaw (1903), and Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism, by Harold M. Wiener (1909), deal with the critical questions, and do not concern us here, save to remark that they are not without bearing, in their results, upon theology of the Old Testament. Such results are, e.g. the insistences, in Orr’s work, on the unity of the Old Testament, the higher than naturalistic view of Israel’s religious development, the discriminate use of Divine names like Elohim and Yahweh, and so forth; and the express contention in Whitelaw’s work, that the critical hypotheses are not such as can yield "a philosophically reasonable theology" (p. 346). Indeed, it must not be supposed that even works, like that of S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (first issued in 1891), axe without resultant influence on Biblical theology.

So far from that, the truth is that there is probably no result of the readjustment of the history and literature of the Old Testament so important as its bearings on the Biblical theology of the Old Testament. For the order and the method of revelation are most surely involved in the order and relation of the books or documents, and the course of the history. The progress of the revelation ran parallel with the work of God in Nature and in the growth of human society. Hence, the reconstruction of the historical theology of the Old Testament will take much time and study, that the full value of the Old Testament may be brought out as that of an independent and permanent revelation, with characteristic truths of its own. Meantime, the reality of that revelation, and the teleological character of the Old Testament, have been brought out, in the most signal manner, by theological scholars like Dorner, Dillmann, Kittel, Kautsch, Schultz and others, who feel the inadequacy of natural development or "human reflection" to account for Old Testament th eology, and the immediacy of God’s contact with man in Old Testament times to be alone sufficient to account for a revelation so weighty, organically connected, dynamically bound together, monotheistic and progressive.

III. Divisions of Biblical Theology.

1. Divergent Views of Old Testament Divisions:

The divisions of Old Testament theology are matters of grave difficulty. For the newer criticism has practically transformed that mode of representing the process of Israel’s religious development, which had been customary or traditional. On this latter view, the Patriarchal Age was succeeded by the Mosaic Age, with its law-giving under Moses, followed, after an intercalated period of Judges and monarchy, by the splendid Age of Prophecy. Then there was the Exile preparing the way, after the Return, for the new theocracy, wherein the Law of Moses was sought with more persistent endeavor, though not without darkly legalistic result. Such were the historic bases for Old Testament theology, but the modifications proposed by the new criticism are sufficiently serious. These it will be necessary to indicate, without going beyond the scope of this article and attempting criticism of either the one view or the other. It is the more necessary to do so, that finality has not been reached by criticism. We are only concerned with the difference which these divergent views make for Old Testament Biblical theology, whose reconstruction is very far from perfected.

2. Law and Prophecy:

That they do mean serious difference has been indicated in the historical part of this article. Most obtrusive of these differences is the proposal to invert the order of law and prophecy, and speak rather of the Prophets and the Law. For the Law is, on the newer view, taken to belong to the post-prophetic period—in short, to the period of the return from the Exile, whereas, in the traditional scheme of the order of revelation, the Law was found in full force both at the Exodus and the Return, with a dead-letter period between. The garment of legalism, the newer criticism asserts, could not have suited the Israelite nation in its early and undeveloped stage, as it does after the teachings of the prophets and the discipline of the Exile. Against this, the older scheme prefers the objection that an external and legalistic system is made the outcome of the lofty spiritual teaching of the prophets; the letter appears super-imposed upon the spirit. Criticism, however, postulates for the ritual codes of the Pentateuch an influence parallel in time with that of prophetism.

3. Primal Prophetism and Final Judaism:

Besides the adjustments of prophecy and law just referred to, the critical views postulate a primal period in which the religion of the prophets, with their view of Israel’s vocation, was inculcated; also, a final period of Judaism, intercalated between the Return and the Maccabees, in which are seen at work the Levitical law, and various anti-legal tendencies. It must be obvious that attempts to integrate the Old Testament theology amid the prevailing uncertainties of criticism must be far from easy or final, even if the need and importance be felt of keeping the religious interest before even the historical in Old Testament study. For the Old Testament writers, religion was primary, history secondary and incidental, we may well believe.

4. Place of Mosaism:

We must be content to know less of the remote beginnings and initial stages of Israel’s religious development, for, as A. B. Davidson remarked, "in matters like this we never can get at the beginning." J. Robertson deems criticism wrong in not allowing "a sufficient starting-point for the development," by which he means that pure prophetic religion needs "a pure pre-prophetic religion" to explain its more than "germinal or elementary character." It may be noted, too, how much greater place and importance are attached to Mosaism or Moses by critics like Reuss, Schultz, Bredenkamp and Strack, than by Wellhausen, who yet allows a certain substratum of actual and historical fact.

5. Nature of Israel’s Religious Development:

It may be observed, further, that no one is under any compulsion to account for such a transformation, as even Wellhausen allows, in the slow growth from very low beginnings of the idea of Yahweh up to pure and perfect monotheism—among a non- metaphysical people—by the simple supposition of naturalistic theory. Evolutionary the critical hypothesis of the religious development of Israel may be, but that development was clearly not so exclusively controlled by human elements or factors as to exclude the presence of supernatural energy or power of revelation. It had God within it—had, in Dorner’s phrase, "teleology as its soul." Thus, as even Gunkel declares, "Israel is, and remains, the people of revelation." This is why Israel was able to make—despite all retrograde tendencies—rectilinear progress toward a predestined goal—the goal of being what Ewald styled a "purely immortal and spiritual Israel." Old Testament theology does not seem to have sufficiently realized that the Old Testament really presents us with theologies rather than a theology—with the progressive development of a religion rather than with theological ideas resting on one historic plane.


I. Old Testament Literature:

B. Stade, Biblische Theologie des A T, 1905; H. Schultz, A T Theologie, 5th edition, 1896; English edition, 1892; H. Ewald, Revelation: Its Nature and Record, English edition, 1884; G F. Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament, English edition, 1874; A. Kuenen, The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the Jewish State, English edition, 1875; E. Riehm, AT Theologie, 1889; S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 1st edition, 1891, A. B. Davidson, Theology the Old Testament, 1904; J. Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament, 1905; A. Duff, Old Testament Theology, 1891; J. Robertson, Early Religion of Israel, 2nd edition, 1892; W. R. Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, new edition, 1892; W. H. Bennett; The Theology of the Old Testament, 1896; T. K. Cheyne, Founders of Old Testament Criticism, 1893; T. Whitelaw, Old Testament Critics, 1903; W. G. Jordan, Biblical Criticism and Modern Thought, 1909; H. M. Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Crit icism, 1909; E. C. Bissell, The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Structure, 1885; D. K. V. Orelli, The Old Testament Prophecy, Amer. edition, 1885, English edition, 1893; B. Duhm, Die Theologogie der Propheten, 1875; E. Richre, Messianic Prophecy, 2nd English edition, 1891; C. I. Bredenkamp, Gesetz und Propheten, 1881; W. R. Smith, The Prophets of Israel, 1882; D. K. Schlottmann, Kompendium der biblischen Theologie des A. u. N. Testaments, 1889; A. T. Kirkpatrick, The Divine Library of the Old Testament, 1891; J. Lindsay, The Significance of the Old Testament for Modern Theology, 1896; R. Kittel, Scientific Study of the Old Testament, English edition, 1910.

II. New Testament Literature:

W. Beyschlag, New Testament Theology, 2nd edition, 1896; English edition, 1895; H. Holtzmann, Lehrbuch der N T Theologie, 1897; B. Weiss, Lehrbuch der biblischen Theologie des New Testament, 7th edition, 1903; English edition, 1883; J. J. V. Oosterzee, Die Theologie des New Testament, 2nd edition, 1886; English edition, 1870; J. Boron, Theologie du Nouveau Testament, 1893-94; C. F. Schmid, Biblische Theologie des New Testament, new edition, 1864; G. B. Stevens, The Theology of the New Testament, 1899; F. C. Baur, Vorlesungen uber New Testament Theologie, 1864; W. F. Adeney, The Theology of the New Testament, 1894; A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, 1897; E. Reuss, History of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age, English edition, 1872; H. H. Wendt, The Teaching of Jesus, English edition, 1892; A. B. Bruce, The Kingdom of God, 1890; J. Moorhouse, The Teaching of Christ, 1891; O. Pfleiderer, Der Paulinismus, 2nd edition, 1890; 2nd English edition, 1891; A. Sabatier, The Apostle Paul, English edition, 1891; G. B. Stevens, The Pauline Theology, 2nd edition, 1897; G. Matheso n, The Spiritual Development of Paul, 1890; E. Riehm, Der Lehrbegriff des Hebraerbriefs, 1867; B. Weiss, Der petrinische Lehrbegriff, 1855; G. B. Stevens, The Johannine Theology, 1894; B. Weiss, Der johanneische Lehrbegriff in seinen Grundzugen untersucht, 1862.

James Lindsay


bik’-ri (bikhri, "first born"; compare HPN, 88, 102): Father of Sheba who rebelled against David. Bichri is of the house of Benjamin and the word probably means a "descendant of Becher" (2Sa 20:1 ff). Compare BECHER 1.


Variously signifying, according to six Hebrew and as many Greek originals:

(1) "to command" (Nu 14:10; Mt 1:24 the King James Version, prostasso);

(2) "to prescribe" or "order" (Joh 2:2);

(3) "to consecrate," and so rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) (Ze 1:7; compare 1Sa 16:5);

(4) eipon, "to say" or "tell" (Mt 16:12);

(5) "to call" i.e. "invite" (kaleo), conspicuously used in this sense in Christ’s parables of the Marriage Feast (Mt 22:3- 9) and of the Great Supper (Lu 14:7-24);

(6) "to take leave of," appotasso (Lu 9:61).


bid’-n: "Called," "invited" (1Sa 9:13).


bid: A variant of "abide" (which see); is the rendering of perimeno, in The Wisdom of Solomon 8:12 (the Revised Version (British and American) "they shall wait for me"). In Ac 1:4 the same word is translated "wait for."


bid’-kar (bidhqar; "son of Deker" (?); compare HPN, 69): A captain in the service of Jehu, formerly his fellow-officer (2Ki 9:25).



(1) Found in the Old Testament only in 2Sa 3:31, "and king David followed the bier"; and in the New Testament in Lu 7:14, "and he (Jesus) came nigh and touched the bier." The Hebrew word rendered "bier" (miTTah) and its Greek equivalent (soros) mean strictly "coffin." The so-called "bier" among the ancient Hebrews was simply an open coffin or a flat wooden frame, on which the body of the dead was carried from the house to the grave.

(2) Closed coffins, so universal now in the West, were unknown to common usage among the Hebrews of olden times, though not unknown to Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

At the burial of Abner the people were commanded to "rend their clothes" and "gird themselves with sackcloth," and the king himself in token of his grief and royal regard, "followed the bier" in the procession to the grave (2Sa 3:31).

(3) Of Jesus, when He met the procession that went out of the gate of the city of Nain, bearing to the grave the only son of the widowed mother, Luke says, "When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her .... and he came nigh and touched the bier," and commanded the young man to arise, etc. We should recall that contact with a dead body was forbidden by the law as a source of defilement (Nu 19:11 f); so Jesus here "came nigh" and "touched the bier" only in raising the young man, thus avoiding any criticism for infraction of the law. In Joh 11:35, as here, we have a miracle of Jesus which clearly pointed to a higher law—the eternal law of compassion which received its first full expression in the life of Jesus and forms one of the distinctive features of the gospel.

George B. Eager


big’-tha (bighetha’; Septuagint Barazi; Codex Vaticanus, Boraze; Codex Alexandrinus, Oareboa): One of the seven eunuchs or chamberlains having charge of the harem of King Xerxes ("Ahasuerus") and commanded to bring Vashti to the king’s banquet (Es 1:10).


big’-than big-tha’-na (bighethan, bighethana’; Septuagint omits name): One of the two chamberlains or eunuchs of Xerxes on ("Ahasuerus") who conspired against the king’s life, the conspiracy being detected by Mordecai and the culprits hanged (Es 2:21). Possibly these men had been partially superseded by the degradation of Vashti and were thus prompted to take revenge Xerxes.


big’-va-i (bighway; Baogei, Bagoua):

(1) The head of one of the families who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7), having a large number of his retainers (2,056, according to Ezr 2:14; 2,067, according to Ne 7:19), besides 72 males later under Ezra (Ezr 8:14).

(2) One of those who subscribed the covenant with Nehemiah (Ne 10:16).


bik-ath-a’-ven (biq‘ath ‘awen, "valley of vanity" (Am 1:5 King James Version, margin)).



bil’-dad (bildadh, "Bel has loved"): The second of the three friends of Job who, coming from distant regions, make an appointment together to condole with and comfort him in his affliction (Job 2:11). He is from Shuah, an unknown place somewhere in the countries East and Southeast of Palestine (or the designation Shuhite may be intended to refer to his ancestor Shuah, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah, Ge 25:2), and from his name (compounded with Bel, the name of a Babylonian deity) would seem to represent the wisdom of the distant East. His three speeches are contained in Job 8; 18; For substance they are largely an echo of what Eliphaz has maintained, but charged with somewhat increased vehemence (compare Job 8:2; 18:3,4) because he deems Job’s words so impious and wrathful. He is the first to attribute Job’s calamity to actual wickedness; but he gets at it indirectly by accusing his children (who were destroyed, Job 1:19) of sin to warrant their punishment (Job 8:4). For his contribution to the discussion he appeals to tradition (Job 8:8-10), and taking Eliphaz’ cue of cause and effect (Job 8:11) he gives, evidently from the literary stores of wisdom, a description of the precarious state of the wicked, to which he contrasts, with whatever implication it involves, the felicitous state of the righteous (Job 8:11-22). His second speech is an intensified description of the wicked man’s woes, made as if to match Job’s description of his own desperate case (compare Job 18:5-21 with Job 16:6-22), thus tacitly identifying Job with the reprobate wicked. His third speech (Job 25), which is the last utterance of the friends, is brief, subdued in tone, and for substance is a kind of Parthian shot, reiterating Eliphaz’ depravity idea, the doctrine that dies hardest. This speech marks the final silencing of the friends.

John Franklin Genung


bil’-e-am (bil‘am; Iblaam): A town in the territory of Manasseh assigned to the Kohathite Levites (1Ch 6:70), probably the same as Ibleam (Jos 17:11, etc.), and identical with the modern Bel‘ameh, half a mile South of Jenin.


bil’-ga bil’-ga-i (bilgah; bilgay, "cheerfulness"): A priest or priestly family in the time of the Return (Ne 12:5), and (under the form of "Bilgai," Ne 10:8) in the time of Nehemiah. According to 1Ch 24:14, Bilgah is the 15th of the 24 divisions of the priests who officiated in the Temple. In the Septuagint, the names read Belgai, Belga and Balgas. The traditional explanation of the name is "rejuvenation"; modern exegetes explain it as "cheerfulness."


bil’-ha (person) (bilhah; Balla): A slave girl whom Laban gave to Rachel (Ge 29:29), and whom the latter gave to Jacob as a concubine (Ge 30:3,4); the mother of Da and Naphtali (Ge 30:4,7; 35:25; 46:25; 1Ch 7:13); guilty of incest with Reuben (Ge 35:22).


bil’-ha (place) (bilhah; Codex Alexandrinus, Balaa; Codex Vaticanus, Abella): A city in Simeon (1Ch 4:29) = Baalah (Jos 15:29), Balah (Jos 19:3), and Baalath (Jos 19:44). Unidentified.


bil’-han (bilhan; Balaan) :

(1) A Horite chief, son of Ezer (Ge 36:27; 1Ch 1:42).

(2) A descendant of Benjamin, son of Jediael, father of seven sons who were heads of houses in their tribes (1Ch 7:10).

BILL, BOND, etc.

(1) In the parable of the Unjust Steward (Lu 16:6 f) "bill," the King James Version, better "bond," the Revised Version (British and American), is used to translate the Greek grammata, which is the equivalent of the contemporary Hebrew legal term sheTar, "writing." This "writing," in the usage of the times, was an acknowledgment of the taking over or receiving of goods or money that had to be written and signed by the debtor himself. (See Babha’ Bathra’ Lu 10:8.) Edersheim’s averment that the Greek word was adopted into the Hebrew (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, 272), is based, according to competent textual critics, upon a false reading. The Greek, according to Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, is ta grammata, not to gramma (Textus Receptus of the New Testament). The word is indefinite, literally "the letter," and determines nothing involved in controversy.

(2) A question much discussed is, Was "the bond" (the Revised Version (British and American)) merely an acknowledgment of debt, or was it an obligation to pay a fixed annual rental from the produce of a farm? Edersheim, for instance, holds the former view, Lightfoot the latter. That the obligation is stated in the parable in kind—wheat and oil—and not in money—seems to bear against the simple debt theory. Edersheim sets down the remissions spoken of as authorized by the steward as amounting in money value to only about 5 British pounds and 25 British pounds respectively, and thinks they represented not a single but an annual payment (compare Kennedy, 1-vol HDB, and Fraser, DCG, article "Bill").

(3) Still another question has arisen: Was the old "bond" simply altered, or was a new one substituted for it? Here again Lightfoot and Edersheim are in the controversy and on opposite sides. The alteration of the old bond is suggested though not demanded by the language here, and, moreover, would be, Edersheim thinks, in accordance with the probabilities of the case. Such bonds were usually written, not on vellum or papyrus, but on wax-covered tablets, and so could be easily erased or altered by the stylus with its fiat, thick "eraser" (mocheq).

(4) It is probably safe to conclude:

(a) that the "bill" or "bond" had to be written and signed by the person assuming the obligation;

(b) that it was the only formal or legal evidence of the debt incurred; and

(c) that the supervision of the whole transaction belonged of right to "the steward." Should "the steward" conspire with the debtor against the master, the latter, it would appear, would have no check against the fraud.


Lightfoot, Hor. Hebrew, edition L. and T., II, 268-73; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, II, 272 ff; crit. commentary in the place cited.

George B. Eager





bil’-o (gal, "a great rolling wave"): Figuratively, of trouble, "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me" (Ps 42:7; compare Jon 2:3).


bil’-shan (bilshan): An Israelite who returned with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:2 = Ne 7:7). The name may be explained as the "inquirer" (new Hebrew and Aramaic), balash, the ("b" being an abbreviation of ben, as in bidhqar, and bimhal. Bilshan would then be a compound of ben, and lashon. J. Halevy (Revue etudes juives, X, 3)) translates the name "pere de la langue," ‘abh lashon. In 1 Esdras 5:8, he is called "Beelsarus," which is akin to the form "Belshar" =" Belshar-uccur" or "O Bel, protect king." Bilshan points to "Belsun," "his lord." The rabbis take Bilshan as a surname to the preceding

Mordecai. H. J. Wolf


bim’-hal (bimhal): A descendant of Asher (1Ch 7:33).


bind (deo): There are a number of Hebrew words used to express this word in its various meanings, ‘alam (Ge 37:7), ‘acar (Ge 42:24), qashar (De 6:8). It sometimes means "to attach," "to fasten" (Ex 28:28; De 14:25). It was used also with reference to an agreement in a judicial sense (Nu 30:2,3), or to make one a prisoner (Jud 16:10; Ps 149:8). It means also "to control" (Job 38:31).

Figurative: In a figurative sense, to bind heavy and burdensome (extra) so-called religious duties on men (Mt 23:4). This figurative use of the word in Mt 16:19 and 18:18 has given special interest to it. Necessarily certain powers for administration must be conferred on this company of men to carry out the purpose of Christ. That this power was not conferred on Peter alone is evident from the fact that in Mt 18:18 it is conferred on all the apostles. The use of the word in the New Testament is to declare a thing to be binding or obligatory (Joh 20:23). In this sense this authority is used by some denominations in the service in preparation for the Lord’s Supper, in which after the confession of sin by the people the ministers say, "I declare to you who have sincerely repented of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ the entire forgiveness of your sins." This statement is followed by the further declaration that if any have not so repented God will not forgive them, but will retain them and call them to account. The claim of the church of Rome that these statements of our Lord confer on the priests and bishops, or primarily on the pope, the power to retain or forgive sins, is without historical validity and does violence to the Scriptures.


Jacob W. Kapp


bin’-e-a (bin‘ah): A name in the genealogy of Benjamin (1Ch 8:37: = 1Ch 9:43).


bin’-u-i (binnuy, a proper name, "a building up"):

(1) A Levite, living in the time of Ezra (Ezr 8:33; Ne 10:9; 12:8).

(2) One of the bene Pachath-mo’abh who had taken foreign wives (Ezr 10:30—Balnuus of 1 Esdras 9:31) and one of the bene Bani (Ezr 10:38) who had also intermarried.

(3) The son of Henadad, who built part of the wall of Jerusalem (Ne 3:24), and sealed the covenant with Nehemiah (Ne 10:9). In all probability he is identical with "Bavvai, the son of Henadad" mentioned in Ne 3:18. "Bavvai" is either a corruption of "Binnui," or is the name of the Levitical house of which Bavvai was the chief representative. Binnui is mentioned in Ne 10:9 as a leading Levite, and, besides, the names in these verses are obviously those of priests and Levites; so the former theory is probably correct. (4) Head of a family who returned with Zerubbabel (Ne 7:15; Ezr 2:10).

H. J. Wolf





burds (‘ayiT; Greek variously ta peteina (Mt 13:4) ta ornea tou ouranou (Re 19:17) ornis (Mt 23:37; Lu 13:34) Latin, avis; Old English "brid"):

I. Meaning of the Word.

All authorities agree that the exact origin of the word bird, as we apply it to feathered creatures, is unknown.

1. In Early Hebrew:

The Hebrew ‘ayiT means to "tear and scratch the face," and in its original form undoubtedly applied to birds of prey. It is probable that no spot of equal size on the face of the globe ever collected such numbers of vultures, eagles and hawks as ancient Palestine. The land was so luxuriant that flocks and herds fed from the face of Nature. In cities, villages, and among tent-dwellers incessant slaughter went on for food, while the heavens must almost have been obscured by the ascending smoke from the burning of sacrificed animals and birds, required by law of every man and woman. From all these slain creatures the offal was thrown to the birds. There were no guns; the arrows of bowmen or "throw sticks" were the only protection against them, and these arms made no noise to frighten feathered creatures, and did small damage. So it easily can be seen that the birds would increase in large numbers and become so bold that men were often in actual conflict with them, and no doubt their faces and hands were torn and scratched.

2. In Later Usage:

Later, as birds of song and those useful for food came into their lives, the word was stretched to cover all feathered creatures. In the King James Version ‘ayiT is translated "fowl," and occurs several times: "And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away" (Ge 15:11). "They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them" (Isa 18:6). "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen" (Job 28:7). The American Standard Revised Version changes these and all other references to feathered creatures to "birds," making a long list. The Hebrew ‘ayiT in its final acceptance was used in Palestine as "bird" is with us.

3. In Old English:

Our earliest known form of the word is the Old English "brid," but they applied the term to the young of any creature. Later its meaning was narrowed to young produced from eggs, and the form changed to "bird."

II. Natural History of Birds.

The first known traces of birds appear in the formation of the Triassic period, and are found in the shape of footprints on the red sandstone of the Connecticut valley.

1. Earliest Traces and Specimens:

This must have been an ancient sea bed over which stalked large birds, leaving deeply imprinted impressions of their feet. These impressions baked in the sun, and were drifted full of fine wind-driven sand before the return of the tide. Thus were preserved to us the traces of 33 species of birds all of which are proven by their footprints to have been much larger than our birds of today. The largest impressions ever found measured 15 inches in length by 10 in width, and were set from 4 to 6 ft. apart. This evidence would form the basis for an estimate of a bird at least four times as large as an ostrich. That a bird of this size ever existed was not given credence until the finding of the remains of the dinornis in New Zealand. The largest specimen of this bird stood 10 1/2 ft. in height. The first complete skeleton of a bird was found in the limestone of the Jurassic period in Solenhofen, Bavaria. This bird had 13 teeth above and 3 below, each set in a separate socket, wings ending in three-fingered claws much longer than the claws of the feet, and a tail of 20 vertebrae, as long as the body, having a row of long feathers down each side of it, the specimen close to the size of a crow. The first preserved likeness of a bird was found frescoed on the inside of a tomb of Maydoon, and is supposed to antedate the time of Moses 3,000 years. It is now carefully preserved in the museum of Cairo. The painting represents six geese, four of which can be recognized readily as the ancestors of two species known today. Scientists now admit that Moses was right in assigning the origin of birds to the water, as their structure is closer reptilian than mammalian, and they reproduce by eggs. To us it seems a long stretch between the reptile with a frame most nearly bird-like and a feathered creature, but there is a possibility that forms making closer connection yet will be found.

2. Structural Formation:

The trunk of a bird is compact and in almost all instances boat-shaped. Without doubt prehistoric man conceived his idea of navigation and fashioned his vessel from the body of a water bird, and then noticed that a soaring bird steered its course with its tail and so added the rudder. The structural formation of a bird is so arranged as to give powerful flight and perfect respiration. In the case of a few birds that do not fly, the wings are beaten to assist in attaining speed in running, as the ostrich, or to help in swimming under the water, as the auk. The skull of a young bird is made up of parts, as is that of man or animal; but with age these parts join so evenly that they appear in a seamless formation. The jaws extend beyond the face, forming a bill that varies in length and shape with species, and it is used in securing food, in defense, feather dressing, nest building—in fact it is a combination of the mouth and hand of man. The spine is practically immovable, because of the ribs attached to the upper half and the bony structure supporting the pelvic joints of the lower. In sharp contrast with this the neck is formed of from 10 to 23 vertebrae, and is so flexible that a bird can turn its head completely around, a thing impossible to man or beast. The breast bone is large, strong, and provided with a ridge in the middle, largest in birds of strong flight, smallest in swimmers, and lacking only in birds that do not fly, as the ostrich. The wings correspond to the arms of man, and are now used in flight and swimming only. Such skeletons as the Archeopteryx prove that the bones now combined in the tip of the wing were once claws. This shows that as birds spread over land and developed wing power in searching longer distances for food or when driven by varying conditions of climate, the wings were used more in flight, and the claws gradually joined in a tip and were given covering that grew feathers, while the bill became the instrument for taking food and for defense. At the same time the long tail proving an encumbrance, it gradually wore away and contracted to the present form. Studied in detail of bony structure, muscle, and complicated arrangement of feathers of differing sizes, the wing of a bird proves one of Nature’s marvels. The legs are used in walking or swimming, the thigh joint being so enveloped in the body that the true leg is often mistaken for it. This makes the knee of a man correspond to the heel of a bird, and in young birds of prey especially, the shank or tarsus is used in walking, until the bones harden and the birds are enabled to bear their weight on the feet and straighten the shank. The toes vary with species. Pliny classified birds by them: "The first and principal difference and distinction in birds is taken from their feet; for they have either hooked talons, as Hawkes, or long round claws as Hens, or else they be broad, flat and whole- footed as Geese." Flight is only possible to a bird when both wings are so nearly full-feathered that it balances perfectly. In sleep almost every bird places its head under its wing and stands on one foot. The arrangement by which this is accomplished, without tiring the bird in the least, is little short of miraculous and can be the result only of slow ages of evolution. In the most finished degree this provision for the comfort of the bird is found among cranes and other long- legged water birds. The bone of one part of the leg fits into the bone of the part above, so that it is practically locked into place with no exertion on the part of the bird. At the same time the muscles that work the claws, cross the joints of the leg so that they are stretched by the weight of the bird, and with no effort, it stands on earth or perches on a branch. This explains the question so frequently asked as to why the feet of a perching bird do not become so cramped and tired that it falls.

3. Birds’ Food, Blood, etc.:

Birds feed according to their nature, some on prey taken alive, some on the carrion of dead bodies, some on fish and vegetable products of the water, some on fruit seed, insects and worms of the land. Almost every bird indulges in a combination of differing foods. Their blood is from 12 degrees to 16 degrees warmer than that of the rest of the animal kingdom, and they exhibit a corresponding exhilaration of spirits. Some indulge in hours of sailing and soaring, some in bubbling notes of song, while others dart near earth in playful dashes of flight. Birds are supposed to be rather deficient in the senses of taste and touch, and to have unusually keen vision. They reproduce by eggs that they deposit in a previously selected and prepared spot, and brood for a length of time varying with the species. The young of birds of prey, song birds, and some water birds, remain in the nests for differing lengths of time and are fed by the old birds; while others of the water birds and most of the game birds leave the nest as soon as the down is dry, and find food as they are taught by their elders, being sheltered at night so long as needful.

III. Birds of the Bible.

The birds of the Bible were the same species and form as exist in Palestine today. Because of their wonderful coloring, powerful flight, joyous song, and their similarity to humanity in home-making and the business of raising their young, birds have been given much attention, and have held conspicuous place since the dawn of history. When the brain of man was young and more credulous than today he saw omens, signs and miracles in the characteristic acts of birds, and attributed to them various marvelous powers: some were considered of good omen and a blessing, and some were bad and a curse.

1. Earliest Mention:

The historians of the Bible frequently used birds in comparison, simile, and metaphor. They are first mentioned in Ge 7:14,15, "They, and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort." This is the enumeration of the feathered creatures taken into the ark to be preserved for the perpetuation of species after the flood abated. They are next found in the description of the sacrifice of Abram, where it was specified that he was to use, with the animals slaughtered, a turtle dove and a young pigeon, the birds not to be divided. It is also recorded that the birds of prey were attracted by the carcasses as described in Ge 15:9-11, "And he said unto him, Take me a heifer three years old, and a she-goat three years old, and a ram three years old, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. And he took him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each half over against the other: but the birds divided he not. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away." Palestine abounded in several varieties of "doves" (which see) and their devotion to each other, and tender, gentle characteristics had marked them as a loved possession of the land; while the clay cotes of pigeons were reckoned in establishing an estimate of a man’s wealth.

2. Used in Sacrifice:

In an abandon of gratitude to God these people offered of their best-loved and most prized possessions as sacrifice; and so it is not surprising to find the history of burnt offerings frequently mentioning these birds which were loved and prized above all others. Their use is first commanded in Le 1:14-17, "And if his oblation to Yahweh be a burnt-offering of birds, then he shall offer his oblation of turtle-doves, or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off its head , and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be drained out on the side of the altar; and he shall take away its crop with the filth thereof, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, in the place of the ashes." Again in Le 5:7-10, we read: "And if his means suffice not for a lamb, then he shall bring his trespass- offering for that wherein he hath sinned, two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, unto Yahweh; one for a sin-offering, and the other for a burnt-offering." Throughout the Bible these birds figure in the history of sacrifice (Le 12:8; 14:4-8; Nu 6:10, etc.).

3. Other References:

The custom of weaving cages of willow wands, in which to confine birds for pets, seems to be referred to when Job asks (Job 41:5): +" Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?" -See Job 12:7: +" But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; And the birds of the heavens, and they shall tell thee." David was thinking of the swift homeward flight of an eagle when he wrote: "In Yahweh do I take refuge: How say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" (Ps 11:1).

His early days guarding the flocks of his father no doubt suggested to him the statement found in Ps 50:11: "I know all the birds of the mountains; And the wild beasts of the field are mine" (the Revised Version margin, "in my mind"). In describing Lebanon, the Psalmist wrote of its waters: "By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation; They sing among the branches" (Ps 104:12). -He mentioned its trees: +" Where the birds make their nests: As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house" (Ps 104:17). -See also Ps 78:27; 148:10.

The origin of the oft-quoted phrase, "A little bird told me," can be found in Ec 10:20: "Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought; and revile not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter." In a poetical description of spring in the So of Solomon, we read: +" The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land" (So 2:12). -In his prophecy concerning Ethiopia, Isaiah wrote, "They shall be left together unto the ravenous birds of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the ravenous birds shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them" (Isa 18:6). In foretelling God’s judgment upon Babylon, Isaiah (Isa 46:11) refers to Cyrus as "a ravenous bird (called) from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country"; "probably in allusion to the fact that the griffon was the emblem of Persia; and embroidered on its standard" (HDB, I, 632); (see EAGLE). Jer 4:25 describes the habit of birds, which invariably seek shelter before an approaching storm. In His denunciation of Israel, Yahweh questions, in Jer 12:9, "Is my heritage unto me as a speckled bird of prey? are the birds of prey against her round about?" When Jeremiah threatened the destruction of Jerusalem, he wrote that Yahweh would "cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies will I give to be food for the birds of the heavens" (Jer 19:7): that is, He would leave them for the carrion eaters. Ezekiel threatens the same fate to the inhabitants of Gog (Eze 39:4,17). Hosea (Ho 9:11) prophesies of Ephraim, "Their glory shall fly away like a bird." In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions the birds, as recorded by Mt 6:26: "Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they?" In the sermon from the boat where He spoke the parable of the Sower He again mentioned the birds: "As he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured them" (Mt 13:4). Mark describes the same sermon in Mr 4:4, and Mr 4:32 quotes the parable of the Mustard Seed: "Yet when it is sown, (it) groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof." In Lu 8:5, Luke gives his version of the parable of the Sower, and in Lu 13:19 of the Mustard Seed. See also Re 19:17,21. These constitute all the important references to birds in the Bible, with the exception of a few that seem to belong properly under such subjects as TRAP; NET; CAGE, etc..

Gene Stratton-Porter




pra: They were undoubtedly the first birds noticed by the compilers of Biblical records. They were camp followers, swarmed over villages and perched on the walls of cities. They were offensive in manner and odor, and of a boldness unknown to us in birds. They flocked in untold numbers, there was small defense against them, and the largest and strongest not only carried away meat prepared for food and sacrifice, but also preyed upon the much-prized house pigeons, newly born of the smaller animals, and even at times attacked young children. See Ge 15:11, "And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away." Because they were attracted from above the clouds by anything suitable for food, people recognized that these were birds of unusual vision. When Job wanted to tell how perfectly the path to the gold mine was concealed, he wrote, "That path no bird of prey knoweth" (Job 28:7). The inference is, that, if it were so perfectly concealed that it escaped the piercing eyes of these birds, it was not probable that man would find it. These birds were so strong, fierce and impudent that everyone feared them, and when the prophets gave warning that people would be left for birds of prey to ravage, they fully understood what was meant, and they were afraid (Isa 18:6). In His complaint against His heritage, Yahweh questions, "Is my heritage unto me as a speckled bird of prey? are the birds of prey against her round about?" (Jer 12:9). And when he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah painted a dreadful picture, but one no doubt often seen in that land of pillage and warfare: "Their dead bodies will I give to be food for the birds of the heavens, and for the beasts of the earth" (Jer 19:7).

Gene Stratton-Porter


un-klen’:The lists of birds forbidden as food are given in Le 11:13-19 and De 14:12-18. The names are almost identical, Deuteronomy containing one more than Leviticus and varying the order slightly. In De 14:13 the first name, ha-ra’ah, is almost certainly a corruption of ha-da’-ah, the first name in Le 11:14. In the American Standard Revised Version it is translated "kite" in Leviticus, while in Deuteronomy it is translated "glede." The additional one in Deuteronomy is ha-dayyah, and is translated "kite." Doubtless the three words, ha-da’ah, ha-’ayyah and ha-dayyah, are generic and refer to different birds of the kite or perhaps falcon family, so it is impossible to give specific meanings to them. There are twenty-one names in all, counting the extra one in Deuteronomy. The translation of many of these words is disputed. The American Standard Revised Version gives them as follows: eagle, gier eagle, osprey, kite, falcon, glede, every raven, ostrich, night-hawk, sea-mew, hawk, little owl, cormorant, great owl, horned owl, pelican, vulture, stork, h eron, hoopoe and bat. It will be observed that all of them are either carrion-eaters, birds of prey, or water fowl. The names of those birds which may be eaten are not given, the principle of classification is that of elimination. No principle of separation is given as is the case with the animals. The reason for the prohibition doubtless lies in the unsanitary and repulsive nature of the flesh of these birds, the Divine command endorsing the instincts which were repelled by such food. For particulars, see separate articles on each of these birds.


James Josiah Reeve


bur’-sha (birsha‘): King of Gomorrah (Ge 14:2), who joined the league against Chedorlaomer. The name is probably corrupt; some have tried to explain it as beresha‘, "with wickedness," a name purposely used by the writer in referring to this king.


burth (genesis):

(1) It was said by the angel beforehand of John the Baptist, "Many shall rejoice at his birth"; and when he was born Elisabeth said, "Thus hath the Lord done unto me .... to take away my reproach among men" (Lu 1:14,25). Among the ancient Hebrews barrenness was a "reproach" and the birth of a child, of a son especially, an occasion for rejoicing.

(2) This, no doubt, was due in part to the Messianic hope inspired and sustained by prophecy (see Ge 3:15, where it was foretold that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head; and subsequent prophecies too numerous to mention). Cases in point worth studying are found in Ge 4:1, where Eve rejoices over the birth of her firstborn and cries, "I have gotten a man with the help of Yahweh"; and 1Sa 1:20, where Hannah exults over her firstborn, calling his name "Samuel," "because," she says, "I have asked him of Yahweh."

(3) The marvelous passage in Isa 7:14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," must have intensified the longing and hope of every devout Jewish maiden to be a mother, if mayhap, under God, she might be the mother of Messiah—Immanuel! (Compare Mt 1:22,23; Lu 1:13 f.)


George B. Eager






burth’-stool: Found only in Ex 1:16, in connection with Hebrew women in Egypt when oppressed by Pharaoh. The Hebrew (’obhnayim) here rendered "birth-stool" is used in Jer 18:3, and is there rendered "potter’s wheel." The word is used in both places in the dual form, which points, no doubt, to the fact that the potter’s wheel was composed of two discs, and suggests that the birth-stool was similarly double.




(1) The custom of observing birthdays of great men, especially of kings, was widespread in ancient times (see Ge 40:20 f, "the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday," etc.; compare 2 Macc 6:7; and Herod. ix.110; in the New Testament, Mt 14:6; Mr 6:21, "Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords," etc., i.e. Herod Antipas). Here we see the ancient custom reflected in two conspicuous instances centuries apart:

(a) Pharaoh, on his birthday "made a feast unto all his servants," etc., and

(b) Herod o n his birthday "made a supper to his lords, and the high captains," etc.

The King James Version (Mt 14:6) has it "when Herod’s birthday was kept," etc. The correct text here (Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort) has a very peculiar construction, but without material difference of meaning. The locative case gives the time of the principal action, "danced on Herod’s birthday, when it occurred." The construction is not unexampled (see Jelf, section 699). This need not be called "a case absolute," though it corresponds to the Latin ablative (locative) absolute; and the Greek genitive absolute is itself not really "absolute," i.e. it is not cut loose from the rest of the construction, but gives some event to which the principal action is referred, for the indication of its circumstances.

(2) The term "birthday" (ta genesia) was applied also to the anniversary of a king’s accession to the throne (Edersheim); but Wieseler’s argument that such is the case here is not conclusive. It is easy to suppose that when Herod’s birthday approached he was sojourning at the castle of Macherus, accompanied by leading military and civil officials of his dominions (Mr 6:21). Petty ruler as he was, not properly "king" at all, he affected kingly ways (compare Es 5:3,6; 7:2).

(3) Genesia, which in Attic Greek means the commemoration of the dead, in later Greek is interchangeable with genethlia =" birthday celebrations"; and there is no good reason why the rendering of the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) here, "birthday," should not be right (See Swete on Mr 6:21, and HDB, under the word) For date of Christ’s birth, etc., see JESUS CHRIST; CALENDAR, etc.

George B. Eager


burth’-rit (bekhorah, from bekhor, "firstborn"; prototokia): Birthright is the right which naturally belonged to the firstborn son. Where there were more wives than one, the firstborn was the son who in point of time was born before the others, apparently whether his mother was a wife or a concubine. Sarah protests against Ishmael being heir along with Isaac, but it is possible that the bestowal of the rights of the firstborn on Isaac was not due to any law, but rather to the influence of a favorite wife (Ge 21:10). The birthright of the firstborn consisted in the first place of a double portion of what his father had to leave. This probably means that he had a double share of such property as could be divided. We have no certain knowledge of the manner in which property was inherited in the patriarchal age, but it seems probable that the lands and flocks which were the possession of the family as a whole, remained so after the death of the father. The firstborn became head of the family and thus succeeded to the charge of the family property, becoming responsible for the maintenance of the younger sons, the widow or widows, and the unmarried daughters. He also, as head, succeeded to a considerable amount of authority over the other members. Further, he generally received the blessing, which placed him in close and favored covenant-relationship with Yahweh. According to the accounts which have come down to us, all these gifts and privileges could be diverted from the firstborn son. This could happen with his own consent, as in the case of Esau, who sold his birthright to Jacob (Ge 25:29-34), or by the decision of the father, as in the case of Reuben (Ge 48:22; 49:3,4; 1Ch 5:1,2) and of Shimri (1Ch 26:10). In the Deuteronomic version of the law, a provision is made, prohibiting the father from making the younger son the possessor of the birthright, just because his mother was specially beloved (De 21:15-17). The blessing also could be diverted from the eldest son. This was done when Jacob blessed the children of Joseph, and deliberately put the younger before the elder (Ge 48:13,14,17-19); even when the blessing was obtained by the younger son in a fraudulent manner, it could not be recalled (Ge 27). Jacob does not appear to have inherited any of the property of his father, although he had obtained both the birthright and the blessing.

In the New Testament "birthright," prototokia, is mentioned only once (Heb 12:16), where the reference is to Esau. In various passages where our Lord is spoken of as the firstborn, as in Col 1:15-19; Heb 1:2, the association of ideas with the Old Testament conception of birthright is easy to trace.


J. Macartney Wilson


bur-za’-ith, bur-za’-vith the King James Version Birzavith, (birzawith or birzayith; Bezaith, or Berzaie): The name of a town in Asher founded by Malchiel (1Ch 7:31). It probably corresponds to the modern Bir ez-Zait, "well of olive oil," near Tyre.


bish’-lam (bishlam, "peaceful" (?)): One of three foreign colonists who wrote a letter of complaint against the Jews to Artaxerxes (Ezr 4:7 = 1 Esdras 2:16). In 1 Esdras the reading is "Belemus." "And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, unto Artaxerxes, king of Persia," etc. (Ezr 4:7). The Septuagint renders Bishlam as en eirene, "in peace," as though it were a phrase rather than a proper name; this is clearly an error.


bish’-up: The word is evidently an abbreviation of the Greek episkopos; Latin, episcopus.


1. Use in the Septuagint and Classic Greek:

The Septuagint gives it the generic meaning of "superintendency, oversight, searching" (Nu 4:16; 31:14) in matters pertaining to the church, the state, and the army (Jud 9:28; 2Ki 12:11; 2Ch 34:12,17; 1 Macc 1:54; The Wisdom of Solomon 1:6). Nor is it unknown to classical Greek. Thus Homer in the Iliad applied it to the gods (xxii.255), also Plutarch, Cam., 5. In Athens the governors of conquered states were called by this name.

2. New Testament Use:

The word is once applied to Christ himself, "unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1Pe 2:25). It abounds in as Pauline literature, and is used as an alternative for presbuteros or elder (Tit 1:5,7; 1Ti 3:1; 4:14; 5:17,19). The earliest ecclesiastical offices instituted in the church were those of elders and deacons, or rather the reverse, inasmuch the latter office grew almost immediately out of the needs of the Christian community at Jerusalem (Ac 6:1-6). The presbyteral constitution of Jerusalem must have been very old (Ac 11:30) and was distinct from the apostolate (Ac 15:2,4,6,22,23; 16:4). As early as 50 AD Paul appointed "elders" in every church, with prayer and fasting (Ac 14:23), referring to the Asiatic churches before established. But in writing to the Philippians (Php 1:1) he speaks of "bishops" and "deacons." In the GentileChristian churches this title evidently had been adopted; and it is only in the Pastoral Epistles that we find the name "presbyters" applied. The name "presbyter" or "elder," familiar to the Jews, signifies their age and place in the church; while the other term "bishop" refers rather to their office. But both evidently have reference to the same persons. Their office is defined as "ruling" (Ro 12:8), "overseeing" (Ac 20:17,28; 1Pe 5:2), caring for the flock of God (Ac 20:28). But the word archein, "to rule," in the hierarchical sense, is never used. Moreover, each church had a college of presbyter-bishops (Ac 20:17,28; Php 1:1; 1Ti 4:14). During Paul’s lifetime the church was evidently still unaware of the distinction between presbyters and bishops.

Of a formal ordination, in the later hierarchical sense, there is no trace as yet. The word "ordained" used in the King James Version (Ac 1:22) is an unwarrantable interpolation, rightly emended in the Revised Version (British and American). Neither the word cheirotonesantes (Ac 14:23, translated "appointed" the American Standard Revised Version) nor katasteses (Tit 1:5, translated "appoint" the American Standard Revised Version) is capable of this translation. In rendering these words invaria bly by "ordain" the King James Version shows a vitium originis. No one doubts that the idea of ordination is extremely old in the history of the church, but the laying on of hands, mentioned in the New Testament (Ac 13:3; 1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; compare Ac 14:26; 15:40) points to the communication of a spiritual gift or to its invocation, rather than to the imparting of an official status.

3. Later Development of the Idea:

According to Rome, as finally expressed by the Council of Trent, and to the episcopal idea in general, the hierarchical organization, which originated in the 3rd century, existed from the beginning in the New Testament church. But besides the New Testament as above quoted, the early testimony of the church maintains the identity of "presbyters" and "bishops." Thus, Clement of Rome (Ep. 1, chapters 42, 44, 57), the Didache, chapter 15; perhaps the Constitutions, II, 33, 34, in the use of the plural form; Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., iii.2, 3), Ambrosiaster (on 1Ti 3:10; Eph 4:11), Chrysostom (Hom 9 in Ep. ad Tim), in an unequivocal statement, the "presbyters of old were called bishops .... and the bishops presbyters," equally unequivocally Jerome (Ad Tit, 1, 7), "the same is the presbyter, who is also the bishop." Augustine and other Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries hold this view, and even Peter Lombard, who preceded Aquinas as the great teacher of the church of the Middle Ages. Hatch of Oxford and Harnack of Berlin, in the face of all t his testimony, maintain a distinction between the presbyters, as having charge of the law and discipline of the church, and the bishops, as being charged with the pastoral care of the church, preaching and worship. This theory is built upon the argument of prevailing social conditions and institutions, as adopted and imitated by the church, rather than on sound textual proof. The distinction between presbyters and bishops can only be maintained by a forced exegesis of the Scriptures. The later and rapid growth of the hierarchical idea arose from the accession of the Ebionite Christian view of the church, as a necessary continuation of the Old Testament dispensation, which has so largely influenced the history of the inner development of the church in the first six centuries of her existence.

Henry E. Dosker


I. Episcopacy Defined.

Episcopacy is the government in the Christian church by bishops. The rule of the Orthodox churches in the East, of the Roman Catholics, and of the Anglicans is that the consecration of other bishops, and the ordination of priests and deacons can only be by a bishop; and with them, a bishop is one who claims historic descent from apostolic or sub-apostolic times.

II. Offices in the Early Church.

In the New Testament, the office of bishop is not clearly defined. Indeed there appear to have been many degrees of ministry in the infant church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, presbyters or elders, bishops or overseers, and deacons.

Due allowance is not generally made for the mental attitude of the apostles and early Christians. They were looking for the speedy return of Christ, and consequently did not organize the church in its infancy, as it was afterward found necessary to do. For this reason, while the different persons who composed the body of Christian ministers did not overlap or infringe on each other’s work, yet the relative rank or priority of each minister was not clearly defined.

1. Apostles:

The apostles were undoubtedly first, and in them rested the whole authority, and they were the depository of the power committed unto them by Christ.

2. Prophets:

Next to the apostles in rank, and first in point of mention (Ac 11:27), came the prophets. So important were these officers in the early church that they were sent from Jerusalem to warn the rapidly growing church at Antioch of an impending famine. Then it appears that there were resident prophets at Antioch, men of considerable importance since their names are recorded, Barnabas, Symeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul (Ac 13:1). These men received a command from the Holy Spirit to "separate me Barnabas and Saul," on whom they laid their hands and sent them forth on their work. The election is conducted on the same lines as the election by the eleven apostles of Matthias, and Barnabas and Paul are hereafter called apostles. It is an ordination to the highest order in the Christian ministry by "prophets and teachers." Whether "prophets and teachers" refers to two distinct ministries, or whether they are terms used for the same one is uncertain. It may be that of the five men mentioned, some were prophets, and others teachers.

In Ac 15:32 we have given us the names of two other prophets, Judas and Silas. Paul tells the Corinthians (1Co 12:28) that God hath set some in his church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, and writing to the Ephesians he places the prophets in the same rank. "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry" (Eph 4:11,12 the King James Version). And again, he says that the mystery of Christ is now "revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit" (Eph 3:5). The same apostle in that wonderful imagery of Christians being built up for a habitation of God, says they are "being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph 2:20).

In the case of the ordination of Timothy, which Paul says distinctly was by his own laying on of hands and that of the presbytery, it is of great consequence to note that Paul says to Timothy that his ordination was "according to the prophecies which went before on thee" (1Ti 1:18 the King James Version). From this it would appear that the prophets, as in the case of Paul himself, guided by the Holy Ghost, chose Timothy for the overseership or bishopric, or it may be, which is just as likely, that Timothy was set apart by the laying on of hands by some prophets, to the rank of elder or presbyter which did not carry with it the "overseership." It is at any rate evident that in the selection of Timothy, Paul is insistent on pointing out that it was through the prophets (compare 1Ti 1:18; 4:14; 2Ti 1:6).

In Revelation, the term prophet constantly occurs as a term denoting rank equivalent to that of apostle: "ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets" (Re 18:20); "blood of prophets and of saints" (Re 16:6; 18:24). The angel calls himself "thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the prophets" (Re 22:9 the King James Version). The words prophesy and prophesying are used in a general sense, and it does not mean that they were in every case the formal utterances of prophets.

3. Elders or Presbyters:

The ministry of the elders of the Christian church was modeled after that of the synagogue in which there were elders and teachers. The Christian elders or presbyters were most likely a council of advice in each local Christian ekklesia. They appear to act conjointly and not separately (Ac 15:4,6,22; 16:4; 20:17; Jas 5:14).

4. Teachers:

Teachers were the equivalent of those teachers or catechists of the synagogue before whom our Lord was found in the temple.

5. Evangelists:

Evangelists were persons who probably had the gift of oratory and whose function it was to preach the glad tidings. Philip was one of them (Ac 21:8). In the instructions to Timothy he is bidden to do the work of an evangelist, that is to say, to preach the gospel. This was to be part of his work in the ministry.

In writing to Timothy, Paul twice says that he himself was ordained preacher, and apostle and teacher. This does not mean that he held three grades of the ministry, but that his duties as an apostle were to preach and to teach. The fact that the apostles called themselves elders does not thereby confirm the view that the bishops mentioned by them were not superior to elders, any more than the fact that the apostles called themselves teachers, or preachers, makes for the view that teachers, or preachers, were the equals of apostles.

6. Bishops:

Bishops or overseers were probably certain elders chosen out of the body of local elders. Under the Jewish dispensation, the elders stayed at home, that is, they did no ministerial visiting, but it was soon found necessary as the Christian church grew to have someone to attend to outside work to win over by persuasion and exposition of the Scriptures those inclined to embrace Christianity. This necessitated visiting families in their own homes. Then, it became necessary to shepherd the sheep. Someone had to oversee or superintend the general work. The Jewish elders always had a head and in a large synagogue the conditions laid down for its head, or legatus, were almost identical with those laid down by Paul to Timothy. He was to be a father of a family, not rich or engaged in business, possessing a good voice, apt to teach, etc.

The term episkopos was one with which the Hellenistic Jews and Gentiles were well acquainted; and it became thus a fitting term by which to designate the men called out of the body of elders to this special work of oversight. Then, again, the term episkopos was endeared to the early Christians as the one applied to our Lord—"the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1Pe 2:25). The duties of elders, or presbyters, are not clearly defined in the New Testament.

In the Acts, the term is found only twice, one in reference to Judas, "his bishopric (or overseership) let another take" (Ac 1:20 the King James Version), and in Paul’s address to the elders of Ephesus, he warns them to feed the church over which they have been made overseers or bishops (Ac 20:28). It is impossible to say whether this "overseership" refers to all the elders addressed, or to such of those elders as had been made "overseers," or "bishops."

In the epistles, we find the church more clearly organized, and in these writings we find more definite allusions to bishops and their duties (Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:1,2; Tit 1:7; 1Pe 2:25).

Paul tells Timothy, "If a man desire the office of a bishop (or overseer) he desireth a good work." "A bishop (or overseer) must be blameless" (1Ti 3:1,2 the King James Version). He tells Titus that "he is to ordain elders in every city" and that a "bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God" (Tit 1:5,7 the King James Version).

On the other hand, there are numerous texts where elders and their duties are mentioned and where there is no reference whatever to bishopric or oversight. The epistles show that of necessity there had grown to be a more distinct organization of the ministry, and that following the custom of the synagogue to some of the elders had been committed a bishopric or oversight. At the same time the rank of a bishop, or overseer, was not yet one of the highest. Paul does not enumerate it in the order of ministry which he gives to the Ephesians—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

That Timothy had an oversight over the elders or presbyters is evident from the fact that Paul enjoins him to rebuke those that sin: "Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses. Them that sin reprove in the sight of all" (1Ti 5:19,20). This, of course, refers to a formal trial by one in authority of persons inferior to him in rank.

It has been asserted that the terms elder and bishop in the New Testament were equivalent and denoted the same office or grade in the ministry. This assertion seems unwarranted. They do not naturally denote the same grade any more than do apostle and teacher, or angel and prophet.

7. Deacons:

The deacons were the seven appointed to take charge of the temporal affairs of the church. Their appointment was perhaps suggested by the alms-collectors of the synagogue. In the New Testament they do not appear as deacons to have had any part in the sacred ministry, except, in the case of Philip the evangelist, if it be assumed that he was a deacon, which is uncertain. Nowhere is it recorded that they laid hands on anyone, or were considered as capable of bestowing any grace. In the epistles they are mentioned with the bishops—"bishops and deacons" (Php 1:1), thus showing the nature of their influence as the helpers of the "bishops" in the management of the growing funds, or properties of the church.

III. Episcopacy according to the New Testament.

The passages where the Greek word occurs which has been translated either as bishops, or overseers, are so few that they are enumerated: Ac 20:17,28: the Ephesian elders are stated to be bishops (or overseers) to feed the church; Php 1:1 the salutation of Paul and Timothy to bishops (or overseers) and deacons at Philippi; 1Ti 3:1,2 and Tit 1:7 give the exhortation to Timothy and Titus as holding the office of a bishop; 1Pe 2:25, where the apostle referring to Christ says, "unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."

IV. The "Didache."

Passing out of the New Testament, we come to the early Christian writing, the so-called Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. Setting aside the question for what class of Christians this document was intended, the clear fact stands out that at the date of its writing the two highest grades in the Christian ministry were still called apostles and prophets. Various dates have been assigned to this document ranging from 80 to 160 AD.

At the end of chapter 10, which deals with the thanksgiving or eucharist, the remark is made, "But permit the prophets to make thanksgiving as much as they desire." Chapters 11 and 13 deal with apostles and prophets. They were to be treated "according to the ordinance of the gospel." An apostle was not to be allowed to stay more than a couple of days at the utmost, and in no case was he to receive any money, else he was to be considered "a false prophet." A prophet could beg on behalf of others, but not for himself; but a prophet could settle among a congregation, and in that case he was to receive the same first-fruits "of money and raiment and of every possession" as the chief priest did under the old dispensation. It is to be noted that in reality the prophets, though placed second in order, were to be treated with the greater respect. If the prophet settles down, he becomes the man of the first rank in that Christian community.

Chapter 15 deals with bishops and deacons, and we are told that if appointed they rendered the ministry of prophets and teachers, but the warning is given, "Despise them not, therefore, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers." This shows that bishops were localized; and that while they could be appointed over a community, they were not considered as of equal rank with the prophets.

V. Clement of Rome.

Clement of Rome in his Epistle to the Corinthians says that the apostles preaching through countries and cities appointed the first-fruits of their labors to be bishops and deacons (chapter 42). It is usually said that Clement meant elders by the term "bishops," but it is much more likely that he meant what he said; that according to the tradition received by him, the apostles appointed bishops, that is, appointed bishops out of the elders—mentioned in the Acts. In chapter 44 Clement warns against the sin of ejecting from the episcopate those who have presented the offerings, and says, "Blessed are those presbyters who have finished their course."

The reason why the terms apostles and prophets fell into desuetude was, as regards the first, not so much out of respect to the original apostles, but because the apostles in the sub-apostolic age became apparently only wandering evangelists of little standing; while the prophets lowered their great office by descending to be soothsayers, as the Shepherd of Hermas plainly intimates. With the fall of the apostles and the prophets, there rose into prominence the bishops and deacons.

VI. Bishops and Deacons.

The deacons acted as secretaries and treasurers to the bishops. They were their right-hand men, representing them in all secular matters. As the numbers of Christians increased, it was found absolutely necessary for the bishops to delegate some of their spiritual authority to a second order.

VII. Bishops and Presbyters (Priests).

Thus very slowly emerged out of the body of elders the official presbyters or priests. To them the bishop delegated the power to teach, to preach, to baptize, to celebrate the Holy Eucharist; but how slowly is evidenced by the fact that so late as 755 AD the Council of Vern forbade priests to baptize, except by distinct permission of their bishop.

VIII. Ignatian Epistles on the Three Orders.

When we come to the Ignatian epistles written between 110-17 AD, we find a distinct threefold order. We have given us the names of Damas, for bishop, Bassus and Apollonius for presbyters, Zotion for deacon. Throughout these epistles there is no question that the bishop is supreme. Apostles and prophets are not even mentioned. The bishop succeeds to all the powers the apostles and prophets had. On the other hand, as with the Jewish elders, so with the Christian presbyters, they form a council with the bishop. Here we see in clear day what we had all along suspected to be the case in apostolic times: a council of presbyters with a ruler at their head and deacons to attend to money matters.

It is quite immaterial as to whether a bishop had ten or a hundred presbyter-elders under him, whether he was bishop in a small town or in a large city. The question of numbers under him would not affect his authority as has been claimed. The greatness of the city in which he exercised this rule would add dignity to his position, but nothing to his inherent authority.

From this time on it is admitted by all that bishops, priests and deacons have been continuously in existence. Their powers and duties have varied, have been curtailed as one order has encroached on the power of the other, but still there the three orders have been. Gradually the presbyters or priests encroached on the power of the bishop, till now, according to Anglican usage, only the power of ordaining, confirming and consecrating churches is left to them.

IX. Views of Reformers.

At the time of the Reformation there was a great outcry against bishops. This was caused by the fact that under feudalism the bishops had come to be great temporal lords immersed in schemes of political and material aggrandizement, and often actually leading their armies in times of war. Many of the bishops were proud and arrogant, forgetful that their duties as fathers of the children of Christ were to look after those committed to them with fatherly kindness and charity or that as pastors they had to tend the erring sheep with Divine patience and infinite love.

The bulk of the adherents to the Reformed religion, looking upon the bishops as they were and as their fathers had known them, recoiled from retaining the office, although their principal men, like Calvin, deplored the loss of bishops, and hoped that bishops of the primitive order would some day be restored. The present modern Anglican bishop seems to sum up in his person and office the requirements laid down by Calvin.


Thus the claim put forth by the Anglicans in the preface to the Ordinal may be considered as sound: "It is evident unto all men, diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles’ time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church—Bishops, Priests, and Deacons."


Teaching of the Twelve Apostles; Clement of Rome; Shepherd of Hermas; Ignatian epistles; Muratorian Fragment; Works of John Lightfoot; Duchesne, Origines du Culte Chretien; Pellicia, Polity of the Christian Church; Bishop MacLean, Ancient Church Orders; Cheetham, Hist of the Christian Church during the First Six Centuries; Salmon, Introduction to New Testament; Elwin, The Minister of Baptism; Cruttwell, Literary History of Early Christianity; Potter, Church Government; Lowndes, Vindication of Anglican Orders; E. Hatch, The Organization of the Early Christian Churches; C. Gore, The Church and the Ministry; Thompson, Historic Episcopate (Presbyterian); Baird, Huguenots.

Arthur Lowndes


1. The New Testament Church a Spiritual Democracy:

As a spiritual and social democracy, Congregationaliam finds no warrant or precedent in the New Testament for the episcopal conception of the words "bishop," "presbyter," and "elder." It interprets epi-skopos, literally as overseer—not an ecclesiastical dignitary but a spiritual minister. It finds the Romanist view of Peter’s primacy, founded alone on Mt 16:18, contradicted by the entire trend of Christ’s teaching, as e.g. when referring to the Gentiles exercising lordship and authority Christ says, "Not so shall it be among you" (Mt 20:26 ff). He set the precedent of official greatness when He said "the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister," and that "whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister (servant)." Paul’s testimony confirms this in suggesting no primacy among the apostles and prophets, but making "Christ .... himself .... the chief corner stone" (Eph 2:20). The organization and history of the early Christian church establish this view of its simplicity and democracy. In Ac 1:20 the Revised Version (British and American) corrects the rendering "bishopric" (given by the King James translators, who were officers in the Episcopal church) to "office," thus, relieving the verse of possible ecclesiastical pretensions.

The church formed on the day of Pentecost was the spontaneous coming together of the original 120 disciples and the 3,000 Christian converts, for fellowship, worship and work, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Its only creed was belief in the risen Christ and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit; its only condition of membership, repentance and baptism.

2. Election of Officers by Popular Vote:

The apostles naturally took leadership but, abrogating all authority, committed to the church as a whole the choice of its officers and the conduct of its temporal and spiritual affairs. Judas’ place in the apostolate was not filled by succession or episcopal appointment (Ac 1:23-26). The seven deacons were elected by popular vote (Ac 6:1-6). One of the seven—Philip—preached and, without protest, administered the rite of baptism (Ac 8:12,13).

The churches in the apostolic era were independent and self-governing, and the absence of anything like a centralized ecclesiastical authority is seen by the fact that the council at Jerusalem, called to consider whether the church at Antioch should receive the uncircumcised into membership, was a delegated body, composed in part of lay members, and having only advisory power (Ac 15:1-29).

3. The Epistles not Official Documents:

The apostolic letters, forming so large a part of the New Testament, are not official documents but letters of loving pastoral instruction and counsel. The terms bishops, elders, pastors and teachers are used synonymously and interchangeably, thus limiting the officers of the early church to two orders: pastors and deacons.


4. Restoration of Primitive Ideals:

Under the spiritual tyrannies of the Church of England, during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, "bloody" Mary and ‘Queen Elizabeth, the Dissenting bodies, chiefly the Congregationalists, returned to the simplicity and spiritual freedom of the primitive church. The issue was forced by two arbitrary acts of Parliament under Elizabeth: the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Uniformity. Emancipation from the intellectual and religious tyranny of these acts was won at the cost of many martyrdoms. These struggles and persecutions wrought into the successors of Robert Browne, the father of modern Congregationalism, a deep-seated and permanent resentment against all forms of autocratic power in church and state. They challenged, at the cost of life, both the Divine Right of kings, and of bishops. They believed that in Christ Jesus all believers are literally and inalienably made "kings and priests unto God" (Re 1:6 the King James Version), actual spiritual sovereigns, independent of all human dictation an d control in matters of belief and worship. The Pilgrims expatriated themselves to secure this spiritual liberty; and to their inherent antagonism to inherited and self-perpetuated power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, must be credited the religious freedom and civil democracy of America.


For further study see Henry M. Dexter, Congregationalism, chapter ii; Dunning’s Congregationalists in America, chapters i, ii: Rainy, The Ancient Catholic Church.

Dwight M. Pratt


bish’-up-rik (episkope; Ac 1:20 the King James Version, quoted from Ps 109:8): the Revised Version (British and American) "office," margin, "overseership."





bri’-d’-l (methegh wa-recen): The two words occur in conjunction (Ps 32:9 the King James Version, "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee"; the Revised Version (British and American)) "else they will not come near unto thee," margin, "that they come not near." Methegh, translated "bit" above, is properly a bridle or halter in which the bit was a loop passed round the under jaw of the animal; recen has a similar meaning. The counsel in the verse is that men should render a willing obedience to God and not be like the animals that man has to bridle and curb in order to get them to do his will. Compare Jas 3:3, where we have "bit" as translation of chalinos, "a bit" or "curb," "We put bits (the Revised Version (British and American) "bridles") in the horses’ mouths that they may obey us." "Bridle" occurs separately as translation of methegh (2Sa 8:1), "David took Metheg-ammah," King James Version margin "the bridle of Ammah," the Revised Version (British and American) "the bridle of the mother city," margin, as the King James Version; the meaning may be that he took the control or dominion of it; "I will put .... my bridle in thy lips" (2Ki 19:28; Isa 37:29); "a bridle for the ass" (Pr 26:3); of recen (Job 30:11), "They have also let loose the bridle before me," the Revised Version (British and American) "and they have cast off the bridle before me" (acted in an unbridled (unrestrained) manner); Job 41:13, said of "leviathan" (the Revised Version (British and American) "the hippopotamus"), "Who can come to him his double bridle?" the American Standard Revised Version "within his jaws?" the English Revised Version "within his double bridle," others, "into the double row of his teeth"; Isa 30:28, "a bridle in the jaws of the people causing them to err," the Revised Version (British and American) "a bridle that causeth to err"; of machcom, which means "a muzzle" (Ps 39:1), "I will keep my mouth with a bridle," King James Version margins "Hebrew, a bridle, or muzzle for my mouth"; so the Revised Version, margin.

To "bridle" occurs (Jas 1:26, "bridleth not his tongue"; Jas 3:2 "able to bridle the whole body"; chalinagogeo, "to lead" or "guide with a bit"). In 1 Esdras 3:6, and 2 Macc 10:29, we have "bridles of gold" (chrusochalinos).

W. L. Walker


bi-thi’-a (bithyah; Beththia; Codex Vaticanus, Gelia, "daughter of Yah"): The daughter of a Pharaoh who married Mered, a descendant of Judah (1Ch 4:18). Whether this Pharaoh was an Egyptian king, or whether it was in this case a Hebrew name, it is difficult to say. The name Bithiah seems to designate one who had become converted to the worship of Yahweh, and this would favor the first supposition. If, as the Revised Version (British and American) reads, the other wife of Mered is distinguished as "the Jewess" (instead of the King James Version "Jehudijah"), this supposition would receive further support.

Frank E. Hirsch


bith’-ron (ha-bithron; holen ten parateinousan, literally "the entire (land) extending"; 2Sa 2:29, "the Bithron," i.e. the gorge or groove): Does not seem to be a proper name; rather it indicates the gorge by which Abner approached Mahanaim. Buhl (GAP, 121) favors identification with Wady ‘Ajlun, along which in later times a Ro road connected ‘Ajlun and Mahanaim. Others (Guthe, Kurz. bib. Worterbuch, under the word) incline to Wady esh Sha‘ib.


bi-thin’-i-a (Bithunia): A coast province in northwestern Asia Minor on the Propontis and the Euxine. Its narrowest compass included the districts on both sides of the Sangarius, its one large river, but in prosperous times its boundaries reached from the Rhyndacus on the west to and beyond the Parthenius on the east. The Mysian Olympus rose in grandeur to a height of 6,400 ft. in the southwest, and in general the face of Nature was wrinkled with rugged mountains and seamed with fertile valleys sloping toward the Black Sea.

Hittites may have occupied Bithynia in the remote past, for Priam of Troy found some of his stoutest enemies among the Amazons on the upper Sangarius in Phrygia, and these may have been Hittite, and may easily have settled along the river to its mouth. The earliest discernible Bithynians, however, were Thracian immigrants from the European side of the Reliespont. The country was overcome by Croesus, and passed with Lydia under Persian control, 546 BC. After Alexander the Great, Bithynia became independent, and Nicomedes I, Prusias I and II, and Nicomedes II and III, ruled from 278 to 74 BC. The last king, weary of the incessant strife among the peoples of Asia Minor, especially as provoked by the aggressive Mithridates, bequeathed his country to Rome. Nicomedia and Prusa, or Brousa, were founded by kings whose names they bear; the other chief cities, Nicea and Chalcedon, had been built by Greek enterprise earlier. There were highways leading from Nicomedia and Nicea to Dorylaeum and to Angora (see Ramsay , Historical Geography of Asia Minor, and The Church in the Roman Empire before A. D. 170). Under Rome the Black Sea littoral as far as Amisus was more or less closely joined with Bithynia in administration.

Paul and Silas essayed to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit suffered them not (Ac 16:7). Other evangelists, however, must have labored there early and with marked success. Bithynia is one of the provinces addressed in 1Pe 1:1.

Internal difficulties and disorders led to the sending of Pliny, the lawyer and literary man, as governor, 111 to 113 AD. He found Christians under his jurisdiction in such numbers that the heathen temples were almost deserted, and the trade in sacrificial animals languished. A memorable correspondence followed between the Roman governor and the emperor Trajan, in which the moral character of the Christians was completely vindicated, and the repressive measures required of officials were interpreted with leniency (see E. G. Hardy, Pliny’s Correspondence with Trajan, and Christianity and the Roman Government). Under this Roman policy Christianity was confirmed in strength and in public position. Subsequently the first Ecumenical Council of the church was held in Nicea, and two later councils convened in Chalcedon, a suburb of what is now Constantinople. The emperor Diocletian had fixed his residence and the seat of government for the eastern Roman Empire in Nicomedia.

Bithynia was for a thousand years part of the Byzantine Empire, and shared the fortunes and misfortunes of that state. On the advent of the Turks its territory was quickly overrun, and Orchan, sultan in 1326, selected Brousa as his capital, since which time this has been one .of the chief Ottoman cities.

G. E. White


hurbs, or urbs (merorim): Originally in the primitive Passover (Ex 12:8; Nu 9:11) these were probably merely salads, the simplest and quickest prepared form of vegetable accompaniment to the roasted lamb. Such salads have always been favorites in the Orient. Cucumbers, lettuce, water-cress, parsley and endive are some of those commonly used. Later on the Passover ritual (as it does today) laid emphasis on the idea of "bitterness" as symbolical of Israel’s lot in Egypt. In modern Palestine the Jews use chiefly lettuce and endive for the "bitter herbs" of their Passover. In La 3:15 the same word is used: "He hath filled me with bitterness merorim, he hath sated me with wormwood." Here the parallelism with "wormwood" suggests some plant more distinctly bitter than the mild salads mentioned above, such, for example, as the colocynth (Citrullus colocynthus) or the violently irritating squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium).

E. W. G. Masterman




bit’-er, bit’-er-nes (mar, or marah =" bitter" (literally or figuratively); also (noun) "bitterness" or (adverb) "bitterly"; "angry," "chafed," "discontented," "heavy" (Ge 27:34; Ex 15:23; Nu 5:18,19,23,24,27; Es 4:1; Job 3:20; Ps 64:3; Pr 5:4; 27:7; Ec 7:26; Isa 5:20; Jer 2:19; 4:18; Eze 27:31; Am 8:10; Hab 1:6); the derivatives marar, meror, and merorah, used with the same significance according to the context, are found in Ex 1:14; 12:8; Nu 9:11; Job 13:26; Isa 24:9. The derivati ves meri and meriri occur in De 32:24; Job 23:2 (margin); and tamrur, is found in Jer 6:26; 31:15. In the New Testament the verb pikraino =" to embitter"; the adjective pikros =" bitter," and the noun pikria, "bitterness," supply the same ideas in Col 3:19; Jas 3:11,14; Re 8:11; 10:9,10): It will be noted that the word is employed with three principal spheres of application:

(1) the physical sense of taste;

(2) a figurative meaning in the objective sense of cruel, biting words; intense misery resulting from forsaking God, from a life of sin and impurity; the misery of servitude; the misfortunes of bereavement;

(3) more subjectively, bitter and bitterness describe emotions of sympathy;’ the sorrow of childlessness and of penitence, of disappointment; the feeling of misery and wretchedness, giving rise to the expression "bitter tears";

(4) the ethical sense, characterizing untruth and immorality as the bitter thing in opposition to the sweetness of truth and the gospel;

(5) Nu 5:18 the Revised Version (British and American) speaks of "the water of bitterness that causeth the curse." Here it is employed as a technical term.

Frank E. Hirsch


bit’-ern (qippodh; Latin Botaurus stellaris; Greek echinos): A nocturnal member of the heron family, frequenting swamps and marshy places. Its Hebrew name means a creature of waste and desert places. The bittern is the most individual branch of the heron (ardeidae) family on account of being partially a bird of night. There are observable differences from the heron in proportion, and it differs widely in coloration. It is one of the birds of most ancient history, and as far back as records extend is known to have inhabited Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America. The African bird that Bible historians were familiar with was 2 1/2 ft. in length. It had a 4-inch bill, bright eyes and plumage of buff and chestnut, mottled with black. It lived around swamps and marshes, hunting mostly at night, and its food was much the same as that of all members of the heron family, frogs being its staple article of diet. Its meat has not the fishy taste of most members of the heron family, and in former times wa s considered a great delicacy of food. In the days of falconry it was protected in England because of the sport afforded in hunting it. Aristotle mentions that previous to his time the bittern was called oknos, which name indicates "an idle disposition." It was probably bestowed by people who found the bird hiding in swamps during the daytime, and saw that it would almost allow itself to be stepped upon before it would fly. They did not understand that it fed and mated at night. Pliny wrote of it as a bird that "bellowed like oxen," for which reason it was called Taurus. Other medieval writers called it botaurus, from which our term "bittern" is derived. There seems to be much confusion as to the early form of the name; but all authorities agree that it was bestowed on the bird on account of its voice. Turner states that in 1544 the British called it "miredromble," and "botley bump," from its voice. Rolland says the French called it, Boeuf d’eau. In later days "bog-bull," "stake-driver" and "thunder-pumper" have attached themselves to it as terms fitly descriptive of its voice. Nuttall says its cry is "like the interrupted bellowing of a bull, but hollower and louder, and is heard at a mile’s distance, as if issuing from some formidable being that resided at the bottom of the waters." Tristram says, "Its strange booming note, disturbing the stillness of night, gives an idea of desolation which nothing but the wail of a hyena can equal." Thoreau thought its voice like the stroke of an ax on the head of a deeply driven stake. In ancient times it was believed the bird thrust its sharp beak into a reed to produce this sound. Later it was supposed to be made by pushing the bill into muck and water while it cried. Now the membrane by which the sound is produced has been located in the lungs of the bird. In all time it has been the voice that attracted attention to the bittern, and it was solely upon the ground of its vocal attainments that it entered the Bible. There are three references, all of which originated in its cry. Isaiah in prophesying the destruction of Babylon (Isa 14:23 in the King James Version) wrote: "I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water"; in other words he would make of it a desolate and lonely swamp. Again in Isa 34:11 in the King James Version, in pronouncing judgment against Idumaea, he wrote, "But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it." In the Revised Version (British and American), "cormorant" and "bittern" are changed to "pelican" and "porcupine." The change from the cormorant to pelican makes less difference, as both are water birds, and the Hebrew shalakh, which means "a plunging bird," would apply equally to either of them. If they were used to bear out the idea that they would fill the ruins with terrifying sound, then it is well to remember that the cormorant had something of a voice, while the pelican is notoriously the most silent of birds. The change from bittern to porcupine is one with which no ornithologist would agree. About 620 BC, the prophet Zephaniah (Zep 2:14) clearly indicates this bird: "And herds shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the pelican and the porcupine shall lodge in the capitals thereof; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he hath laid bare the cedar work." This should forever settle the question raised by some modern commentators as to whether a bird or beast is intended by the word qippodh. In some instances it seems to have been confounded with qunfudh, the hedgehog or porcupine. No natural historian ever would agree to this, because these animals are not at home in the conditions that were known to exist here. Even granting that Nineveh was to be made dry, it must be remembered that the marshes of the Tigris lay very close, and the bird is of night, with a voice easily carrying over a mile. Also it was to "sing" and to "lodge" on the "upper lintels" which were the top timbers of the doors and windows. These formed just the location a bittern would probably perch upon when it left its marshy home and went booming through the night in search of a mate. It was without doubt the love song of the bittern that Isaiah and Zephaniah used in completing prophecies of desolation and horror, because with the exception of mating time it is a very quiet bird. For these reasons the change from bittern to porcupine in the Revised Version (British and American), of the paragraph quoted, is a great mistake, as is also that of cormorant to pelican.

Gene Stratton-Porter










biz-yo-thi’-a, biz-joth’-ja (bizyotheyah; Septuagint hai komai auton, literally "their villages"; the King James Version Bizjothjah, "place of Jah’s olives" (Young), or "contempt of Jah" (Strong)): According to Massoretic Text, a town in the south of Judah, near Beersheba (Jos 15:28). Septuagint reads "and her daughters," only one consonant of Massoretic Text being read differently; and so We, Hollenberg, Di and others The Septuagint has probably preserved the original text (compare Ne 11:27).


biz’-tha (Septuagint Mazan; also Bazan and Bazea): One of the seven eunuchs or chamberlains of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes). It is possible that the name is derived from the Persian besteh, "bound," hence, "eunuch" (Es 1:10).




(kimririm, "obscurations"; qadhruth, "darkness"; gnophos, "darkness" zophos "blackness"): Terms rarely used but of special significance in picturing the fearful gloom and blackness of moral darkness and calamity. Job, cursing, the day of his birth, wishes that it, a dies ater ("dead black day"), might be swallowed up in darkness (Job 3:5). Because of Israel’s spiritual infidelity Yahweh clothes the heavens with the blackness of sackcloth (Isa 50:3), the figure being that of the inky blackness of ominous, terrifying thunder clouds. The fearful judgment against sin under the old dispensation is illustrated by the appalling blackness that enveloped smoking, burning, quaking Sinai at the giving of the law (Heb 12:18; compare Ex 19:16-19; 20:18). The horror of darkness culminates in the impenetrable blackness of the under-world, the eternal abode of fallen angels and riotously immoral and ungodly men (Jude 1:13; see also Jude 1:6 and 2Pe 2:4,17). Human language is here too feeble to picture the m oral gloom and rayless night of the lost: "Pits (the King James Version "chains") of darkness" (compare the ninth plague of Egypt, "darkness which may be felt" (Ex 10:21)). Wicked men are "wandering stars," comets that disappear in "blackness of darkness .... reserved for ever." In art this figurative language has found majestic and awe-inspiring expression in Dore’s illustrations of Dante’s Purgatory and Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Dwight M. Pratt


blanz (abha‘bu‘ah: only in Ex 9:9,10): Pustules containing fluid around a boil or inflamed sore. It is an Old English word "bleyen," used sometimes as a synonym for boil. Wyclif (1382) uses the expression "stinkende bleyne" for Job’s sores. The Hebrew word is from a root which means that which bubbles up.



blas’-fe-mi (blasphemia): In classical Greek meant primarily "defamation" or "evil-speaking" in general; "a word of evil omen," hence, "impious, and irreverent speech against God."

(1) In the Old Testament as substantive and vb.:

(a) (barakh) "Naboth did blaspheme God and the king" (1Ki 21:10,13 the King James Version);

(b) (gadhaph) of Senna-cherib defying Yahweh (2Ki 19:6,22 = Isa 37:6,23; also Ps 44:16; Eze 20:27; compare Nu 15:30), "But the soul that doeth aught with a high hand (i.e. knowingly and defiantly), .... the same blasphemeth (so the Revised Version (British and American), but the King James Version "reproacheth") Yahweh; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people." Blasphemy is always in word or deed, injury, dishonor and defiance offered to God, and its penalty is death by stoning;

(c) (charaph) of idolatry as blasphemy against Yahweh (Isa 65:7);

(d) (naqabh) "And he that blasphemeth the name of Yahweh, he shall surely be put to death" (Le 24:11,16);

(e) (na’ats) David’s sin is an occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme (2Sa 12:14; also Ps 74:10,18; Isa 52:5; compare Eze 35:12; 2Ki 19:3 the King James Version; Isa 37:3).

(2) In the New Testament blasphemy, substantive and vb., may be

(a) of evil-speaking generally, (Ac 13:45; 18:6); The Jews contradicted Paul "and blasphemed," the Revised Version, margin "railed." (So in the King James Version of Mt 15:19 = Mr 7:22; Col 3:8, but in the Revised Version (British and American) "railings"; Re 2:9 the Revised Version, margin "reviling"; so perhaps in 1Ti 1:20; or Hymeneus and Alexander may have blasphemed Christ by professing faith and living unworthily of it.)

(b) Speaking against a heathen goddess: the town clerk of Ephesus repels the charge that Paul and his companions were blasphemers of Diana (Ac 19:37).

(c) Against God: (i) uttering impious words (Re 13:1,5,6; 16:9,11,21; 17:3); (ii) unworthy conduct of Jews (Ro 2:24) and Christians (1Ti 6:1; Tit 2:5, and perhaps 1Ti 1:20); (iii) of Jesus Christ, alleged to be usurping the authority of God (Mt 9:3 = Mr 2:7 = Lu 5:21), claiming to be the Messiah, the son of God (Mt 26:65 = Mr 14:64), or making Himself God (Joh 10:33,36).

(d) Against Jesus Christ: Saul strove to make the Christians he persecuted blaspheme their Lord (Ac 26:11). So was he himself a blasphemer (1Ti 1:13; compare Jas 2:7).

The Unpardonable Sin:

(3) Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

"Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy of Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come" (Mt 12:31,32 = Mr 3:28,29; Lu 12:10). As in the Old Testament "to sin with a high hand" and to blaspheme the name of God incurred the death penalty, so the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit remains the one unpardonable sin. These passages at least imply beyond cavil the personality of the Holy Spirit, for sin and blasphemy can only be committed against persons. In Mt and Mr a particular case of this blasphemy is the allegation of the Pharisees that Jesus Christ casts out devils by Beelzebub. The general idea is that to attribute to an evil source acts which are clearly those of the Holy Spirit, to call good evil, is blasphemy against the Spirit, and sin that will not be pardoned. "A distinction is made between Christ’s other acts and those which manifestly reveal the Holy Spirit in Him, and between slander directed against Him personally as He appears in His ordinary acts, and that which is aimed at those acts in which the Spirit is manifest" (Gould, Mark at the place). Luke does not refer to any particular instance, and seems to connect it with the denial of Christ, although he, too, gives the saying that "who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven." But which of Christ’s acts are not acts the Holy Spirit, and how therefore is a word spoken against Him not also blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? John identifies the Holy Spirit with the exalted Christ (Joh 14:16-18,26,28). The solution generally offered of this most difficult problem is concisely put by Plummer (Luke ad loc.): "Constant and consummate opposition to the influence of the Holy Spirit, because of a deliberate preference of darkness to light, render repentance and therefore forgiveness morally impossible." A similar idea is taught in Heb 6:4-6, and 1Jo 5:16: "A sin unto death." But the natural meaning of Christ’s words implies an inability or unwillingness to forgive on the Divine side rather than inability to repent in man. Anyhow the abandonment of man to eternal condemnation involves the inability and defeat of God. The only alternative seems to be to call the kenotic theory into service, and to put this idea among the human limitations which Christ assumed when He became flesh. It is less difficult to ascribe a limit to Jesus Christ’s knowledge than to God’s saving grace (Mr 13:32; compare Joh 16:12,13). It is also noteworthy that in other respects, at least, Christ acquiesced in the view of the Holy Spirit which He found among His contemporaries.


T. Ress


(neshamah, ruach):

(1) The blowing of the breath of Yahweh, expressive of the manifestation of God’s power in Nature and Providence. "With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were piled up" (Ex 15:8), referring to the east wind (Ex 14:21; compare 2Sa 22:16 and Ps 18:15). "I will send a blast upon him" (2Ki 19:7 the King James Version; the Revised Version (British and American) "put a spirit in him," i.e. "an impulse of fear" (Dummelow in the place cited.); compare Isa 37:7). "By the blast of his anger are they consumed" (Job 4:9; compare Isa 37:36).

(2) The word ruach is used with reference to the tyranny and violence of the wicked (Isa 25:4).

(3) The blowing of a wind instrument: "When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn" (Jos 6:5).

M. O. Evans


blast’-ing (shiddaphon—root, shadhaph, literally "scorching"): This is the effect produced upon grain or other plants by the hot east winds which blow from the desert of Arabia. They usually continue to blow for two or three days at a time. If they occur in the spring near ripening time, the grain is often turned yellow and does not properly mature. The farmers dread this wind. In some localities, if they suspect that the east wind is coming, they set up a great shouting and beating of pans, hoping to drive it off. Sometimes this wind is a double pestilence, when it brings with it a cloud of locusts (2Ch 6:28). The writer, while journeying in the northern part of the Arabian desert, the source of these winds, witnessed such a cloud of locusts on their way toward habitable regions. It did not call for a very vivid imagination on the part of the children of Israel to realize the meaning of the curses and all manner of evil which would befall those who would not hearken to the voice of Yahweh. De 28:22-24 could easily be considered a poetic description of the east winds (Arabic howa sharki’yeh) which visit Palestine and Syria at irregular intervals today. The heat is fiery: it dries up the vegetation and blasts the grain; the sky is hazy and there is a glare as if the sun were reflected from a huge brass tray. Woodwork cracks and warps; the covers of books curl up. Instead of rain, the wind brings dust and sand which penetrate into the innermost corners of the dwellings. This dust fills the eyes and inflames them. The skin becomes hot and dry. To one first experiencing this storm it seems as though some volcano must be belching forth heat and ashes. No other condition of the weather can cause such depression. Such a pestilence, only prolonged beyond endurance, was to be the fate of the disobedient. This word should not be confused with mildew. Since the words blasting and mildew occur together it may be inferred that mildew (literally "a paleness") must mean the sickly color which plants assu me for other causes than the blasting of the east wind, such, as for instance, fungus diseases or parasites (1Ki 8:37; Am 4:9; Hag 2:17).

James A. Patch


blas’-tus (Blastos, "shoot"): The chamberlain of Herod Agrippa I, whose services as an intermediary between them and the king were gained by the people of Tyre and Sidon. These cities were dependent on Palestine for corn and other provisions, and when Herod, on the occasion of some commercial dispute, forbade the export of foodstuffs to Tyre and Sidon, they were at his mercy and were compelled to ask for peace. "Having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend," probably by means of a bribe, the Phoenician embassy was given an opportunity of setting their case before Herod (Ac 12:20 ff).

S. F. Hunter


blaz ("to publish"): Found only in the King James Version of Mr 1:45, for Greek diaphemizein, translated by the Revised Version (British and American) "spread abroad," as in Mt 9:31; 28:15.



(1) mum, me’um; momos: This word signifies no particular skin disease, as has been supposed; but is used generally for any and all disfiguring affections of the skin, such as eczema, herpes, scabies, etc., even for scratches and scars, as in Le 24:19,20; and thence for moral defects, as in Eph 5:27. The existence of a blemish in a person of priestly descent prevented him from the execution of the priestly office; similarly an animal fit for sacrifice was to be without blemish. In the New Testament Christ is presented as the antitype of a pure and ritually acceptable sacrifice "as a lamb without blemish and without spot" (Heb 9:14; 1Pe 1:19), and the disciples are admonished to be blameless, "without blemish" (Eph 5:27). Rarely the word is used to designate a reprobate person (2Pe 2:13).

(2) Blemish in the eye, tebhallul (from a root balal, "to overflow"; Arabic balla, balal, "to moisten"), cataract, white spots in the eye (Le 21:20).

H. L. E. Luering


(barakh): This word is found more frequently in the Old Testament than in the New Testament, and is used in different relations.

(1) It is first met in Ge 1:22 at the introduction of animal life upon the earth, where it is written, "And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply," etc. The context furnishes the key to its meaning, which is the bestowal of good, and in this particular place the pleasure and power of increase in kind. Thus it is generally employed in both Testaments, the context always determining the character of the bestowal; for instance (where man is the recipient), whether the good is temporal or spiritual, or both.

Occasionally, however, a different turn is given to it as in Ge 2:3 the King James Version, where it is written, "And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it." Here the good consists in the setting apart and consecrating of that day for His use.

(2) In the foregoing instances the Creator is regarded as the source of blessing and the creature the recipient, but the order is sometimes reversed, and the creature (man) is the source and the Creator the recipient. In Ge 24:48, for example, Abraham’s servant says, "I bowed my head, and worshipped Yahweh, and blessed Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham," where the word evidently means to worship God, to exalt and praise Him.

(3) There is a third use where men only are considered. In Ge 24:60, her relatives "blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of ten thousands" (the King James Version "millions"), where the word expresses the wish or hope for the bestowal of the good designated. There are also instances where such a blessing of man by man may be taken in the prophetic sense, as when Isaac blessed Jacob (Ge 27:4,27), putting himself as it were in God’s place, and with a sense of the Divine concurrence, pronouncing the good named. Here the word becomes in part a prayer for, and in part a prediction of, the good intended. Balaam’s utterances are simply prophetic of Israel’s destiny (Nu 23:9,10,11,23 margin, Nu 23:24).

Although these illustrations are from the Old Testament the word is used scarcely differently in the New Testament; "The blessing of bread, of which we read in the Gospels, is equivalent to giving thanks for it, the thought being that good received gratefully comes as a blessing"; compare Mt 14:19 and Mt 15:36 with 1Co 11:24 (Adeney, HDB, I, 307).


James M. Gray


bles’-ed (barukh): Where God is referred to, this word has the sense of "praise," as in 1Sa 25:32, "Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel." But where man is in mind it is used in the sense of "happy" or "favored," and most frequently so in the Psalms and the Gospels, as for example, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked" (Ps 1:1); "Blessed art thou among women" (Lu 1:42); "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Mt 5:3).



bles’-ed-nes: This translation of makarismos (a word signifying "beatification" or "the ascription of blessing"), is used but three times, in Ro 4:6,9, and Ga 4:15, in the King James Version only. In the first two instances it refers to the happy state or condition of a man to whom Christ’s righteousness is imputed by faith, and in the last to a man’s experience of that condition.



(berakhah; eulogia): Sometimes means the form of words used in invoking the bestowal of good, as in De 33:1; Jos 8:34; and Jas 3:10. Sometimes it means the good or the benefit itself which has been conferred, as in Ge 27:36, "Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" and Pr 10:22, "The blessing of Yahweh, it maketh rich." "The cup of blessing" (to poterion tes eulogias, a special use of the word in 1Co 10:16), means the cup for which we bless God, or which represents to us so much blessin g from God.

James M. Gray


(to poterion tes eulogias, "the consecrated cup," 1Co 10:16): A technical term from the Jewish liturgy transferred to the Lord’s Supper, and signifying the cup of wine upon which a blessing was pronounced. The suggestion that it carries with it a higher significance, as a cup that brings blessing, is not without force. The succeeding words, "we bless," are equivalent to "for which we give thanks." It was consecrated by thanksgiving and prayer.

See also CUP.




blind’-fold (perikalupto): A sport common among the children of ancient times, in which the blindfolded were struck on the cheek, then asked who had struck them, and not let go until they had correctly guessed. This treatment was accorded Christ by his persecutors (Lu 22:64).





blind’-ness (‘awar, and variants; tuphlos): The word blind is used as a verb, as Joh 12:40, usually in the sense of obscuring spiritual perception. In reference to physical blindness it is used as a noun frequently or else as an adjective with the noun man. There are 54 references to this condition, and there is no reason to believe, as has been surmised, that blindness was any less rife in ancient times than it is now, when defective eyes and bleared, inflamed lids are among the commonest and most disgusting sights in a Palestine crowd. In the Papyrus Ebers (1500 BC) there are enumerated a number of diseases of the eye and a hundred prescriptions are given for their treatment. That the disease occurred in children and caused destruction and atrophy of the eyeball is testified to by the occurrence of a considerable number of mummy heads, in which there is marked diminution in size of one orbit. The commonest disease is a purulent ophthalmia, a highly infectious condition propagated largely by the flies which can be seen infesting the crusts of dried secretion undisturbed even on the eyes of infants. (In Egypt there is a superstition that it is unlucky to disturb them.) This almost always leaves the eyes damaged with bleared lids, opacities of the cornea, and sometimes extensive internal injury as well. Like other plagues, this disease was thought to be a Divine infliction (Ex 4:11). Minor forms of the disease destroy the eyelashes and produce the unsightly tender-eyes (in Ge 29:17 the word rakh may mean simply "weak").

Blindness from birth is the result of a form of this disease known as ophthalmia neonatorum which sets in a few days after birth. I have seen cases of this disease in Palestine. Sometimes ophthalmia accompanies malarial fever (Le 26:16). All these diseases are aggravated by sand, and the sun glare, to which the unprotected inflamed eyes are exposed. Most of the extreme cases which one sees are beyond remedy—and hence, the giving of sight to the blind is generally put in the front of the mighty works of healing by our Lord. The methods used by Him in these miracles varied probably according to the degree of faith in the blind man; all were merely tokens, not intended as remedies. The case of the man in Mr 8:22 whose healing seemed gradual is an instance of the phenomenon met with in cases where, by operation, sight has been given to one congenitally blind, where it takes some time before he can interpret his new sensations.

The blindness of old age, probably from senile cataract, is described in the cases of Eli at 98 years of age (1Sa 3:2; 4:15), Ahijah (1Ki 14:4), and Isaac (Ge 27:1). The smiting of Elymas (Ac 13:11) and the Syrian soldiers (2Ki 6:18) was either a miraculous intervention or more probably a temporary hypnotism; that of Paul (Ac 9:8) was doubtless a temporary paralysis of the retinal cells from the bright light. The "scales" mentioned were not material but in the restoration of his sight it seemed as if scales had fallen from his eyes. It probably left behind a weakness of the eyes (see thORN IN THE FLESH). That blindness of Tobit (Tobit 2:10), from the irritation of sparrows’ dung, may have been some form of conjunctivitis, and the cure by the gall of the fish is paralleled by the account given in Pliny (xxxii.24) where the gall of the fish Callionymus Lyra is recommended as an application in some cases of blindness. The hypothesis that the gall was used as a pigment to obscure the whiteness of an opaque cornea (for which Indian ink tattooing has been recommended, not as a cure but to remove the unsightliness of a white spot) has nothing in its favor for thereby the sight would not be restored. The only other reference to medicaments is the figurative mention of eyesalve in Re 3:18.

Blindness unfitted a man for the priesthood (Le 21:18); but care of the blind was specially enjoined in the Law (Le 19:14), and offenses against them are regarded as breaches of Law (De 27:18).

Figuratively, blindness is used to represent want of mental perception, want of prevision, recklessness, and incapacity to perceive moral distinctions (Isa 42:16,18,19; Mt 23:16 ff; Joh 9:39 ff).

Alex. Macalister


ju-dish’-al, joo-dish’-al: Among the ancient Israelites in the pre-Canaanite period disputes within the family or clan or tribe would be settled by the natural head of the family or clan or tribe. According to Ex 18 Moses, as the leader of the tribes, settled all disputes. But he was compelled to appoint a body of magistrates—heads of families—to act in conjunction with himself, and under his judicial oversight. These magistrates settled ordinary disputes while he reserved for himself the more difficult cases. After the conquest of Canaan, the conditions of life became so complex, and questions of a difficult nature so constantly arose, that steps were taken

(1) to appoint official judges—elders of the city (Jos 8:33; Jud 8:3; 1Ki 21:8);

(2) to codify ancient custom, and

(3) to place the administration of justice on an organized basis.

It is significant that in one of the oldest documents in the Pentateuch—namely, in the Book of the Covenant (Ex 20:20- 23:33)—the miscarriage of justice was of such frequent occurrence as to require special mention (23:1-3,6-8). In fact the Old Testament abounds with allusions to the corruption and venality of the magisterial bench (De 16:19; Le 19:15; Am 5:12; Mic 3:11; 7:3; Isa 1:23; 5:23; Ze 3:3; Ps 15:5; Pr 17:23). According to the Book of the Covenant (Ex 23:8) ‘a bribe blindeth the eyes of the open-eyed.’ This descriptive phrase indicates a prolific cause of the miscarriage of justice—an exceedingly common thing in the East, in the present no less than in the past. The prohibition in Ex 23:3, "Neither shalt thou favor a poor man in his cause," is rather remarkable and many scholars are of opinion that "a great man" should be read for "a poor man" as, according to 23:6 the King James Version, the common fault was "wresting the judgment of the poor." The rich alone could offer a satisfactory bribe. But it should be pointed out that Le 19:15 legislates in view of both tendencies—"respecting the person of the poor:" and "honoring the person of the mighty." Sympathy with the poor no less than a bribe from the well-to-do might affect the judgment of the bench. De 16:19 reproduces the words of the Book of the Covenant with a slight alteration—namely, "eyes of the wise" for "eyes of the open-eyed" ("them that have sight"). Both phrases vividly bring out the baneful effect of bribery—a magistrate otherwise upright and honest—open-eyed and wise—may be unconsciously yet effectively influenced in his judicial decisions