American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - B
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A city in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Hermon; the
northernmost point, to which the wars of Joshua reached, Jos 11:17;
12:7; 13:5. It was perhaps the same as Baal-Hermon. Some have supposed
it was Baalbek; but this lay further north.
Where Absalom kept his flocks, 2Sa 13:23, was near Ephraim, a city of
Judah, some eight miles east of Jerusalem.
In Reuben beyond the Jordan, Nu 32:38; called also Bethmeon, Jer
48:23, and Beth-baal-meon, Jos 13:17. Its ruins are found two miles
southeast of Heshbon. Eze 25:9, speaks of it as then a Moabitish town.
Place of breaches, a name given by David to the scene of a battle with
the Philistines, 2Sa 5:20; 1Ch 14:11; Isa 28:21. It was in the valley
of Rephaim, not far southwest of Jerusalem.
A town in Egypt, probably near the modern Suez. Its location is
unknown, as are the details of the route of the Hebrews on leaving
Egypt. They encamped "over against" and "before" Baal-zephon before
crossing the Red Sea. Ex 14:2; Nu 33:7.
1. In the Old Testament denotes an idol of the Phoenicians, and
particularly of the Tyrians, whose worship was also introduced with
great solemnities among the Hebrews, and especially at Samaria, along
with that of Astarte, Jud 6:25-32 2Ki 10:18,28. See ASHTORETH , plural
ASH'TAROTH. The plural, Baalim, signifies images or statues of Baal,
Jud 2:11 10:10. Of the extent to which the worship of this idol was
domesticated among the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, we have an
evidence in the proper names of persons; as, among the former,
Ethbaal, Jerubbaal; and among the latter, Hannibal, Asdrubal, etc.
Among the Babylonians, the same idol was worshipped under the name of
BEL BEL, which is only another form of the word Baal, Isa 46:1 Jer
50:2 51:44. The worship of Baal was established in Babylon in the
famous tower of Babel, the uppermost room of which served at the same
time as an observatory, and as the repository of a collection of
That in the astronomical, or rather, astrological mythology of the
East, we are to look for the origin of this worship in the adoration
of the heavenly bodies, is conceded by all critics. The more common
opinion has been, that Baal, or Bel, is the sun; and that, under this
name, this luminary received divine honors. But the Greek and Roman
writers give to the Babylonian Bel the name of Jupiter Belus, meaning
the planet Jupiter, which was regarded, along with the planet Venus,
as the guardian and giver of all good fortune; and formed, with Venus,
the most fortunate of all constellations, under which alone fortunate
sovereigns could be born. This planet, therefore, many suppose to have
been the object of worship under the name of Baal, as also the planet
Venus under that of Astarte. Not that the sun was not an object of
idolatrous worship among these nations, but in that case he is
represented under his own name; as 2Ki 23:11.
The temples and altars of Ball were generally on eminences. Manasseh
placed in the two courts of the temple at Jerusalem altars to all the
host of heaven, and in particular to Astarte, 2Ki 21:5,7. Jeremiah
threatens the Jews who had sacrificed to Baal on the house-top, Jer
32:29; and Josiah destroyed the altars which Ahaz had erected on the
terrace of his palace, 2Ki 23:12.
Human victims were offered to Baal, as they were also to the sun.
Jeremiah reproaches the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem with
"building the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for
burnt-offerings unto Baal," Jer 19:5; an expression which appears to
be decisive as to the actual slaying by fire of the unhappy victims to
Baal. See MOLOCH.
The children of Israel were prone to serve Baal. See Nu 25:3 Jud 2:14
3:7. Under Samuel they put away their idols, 1Sa 7:4. This continued
under David and Solomon; but under Ahab, whose wife Jezebel was a
daughter of the Zidonian king Ethbaal, the worship of Baal was
restored with great pomp, 1Ki 16:31.
Joined with other words, Baal signifies also other false gods.
Baal-Berith, or the "lord of the covenant," was a god of the
Shechemites, Jud 8:33 9:4. Baal-Peor, or "the lord of Peor," was a
filthy idol of the Moabites, Nu 25:3, 5 Ho 9:10. Baal-Zebub, "lord of
flies," was a god of the Philistines at Ekron. See BEELZEBUB.
2. The word BAAL BAAL also occurs in many compound names of places,
not always having any reference to the idol.
A town in the tribe of Simeon, Jos 15:29; 19:3; called also Bilhah,
1Ch 4:29. The same as Kirjathjearim.
A town in the tribe of God, Jos 19:44. This lay not far from
Bethhoron. It is uncertain whether it is the same as the Baalath
rebuilt by Solomon, 1Ki 9:18 2Ch 8:6.
King of the Ammonites in the time of the captivity. He caused the
assassination of Gedaliah, then governor of Judah, Jer 40:14; 41:1-
BAANAH AND RECHAB
Sons of Rimmon, in the services of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul.
Thinking to obtain a reward from David, they secretly slew their
master while reposing at noon, and carried his head to David at
Hebron. They suffered, however, the punishment suitable for those
whose "feet are swift to shed blood," 2Sa 4:1-12.
Son of Ahijah, and commander of the armies of Nadab, king of Israel.
He killed his master treacherously at the siege of Gibbethon, and
usurped the kingdom, B.C. 953, which he possessed twenty-three years.
He exterminated the whole race of Jeroboam, as had been predicted, 1Ki
14:7-14; but by his bad conduct and idolatry incurred God's
1Ki 15:1-16:7,12. God sent him a warning by the mouth of Jebu the
prophet; which was fulfilled in the extermination of his family two
years after his own death.
Confusion, the name of a lofty tower, begun to be built by the
descendants of Noah among who Nimrod was a leader, about one hundred
and twenty years after the flood; so called because God there
confounded the language of those who were employed in the undertaking,
Ge 10:10 11:9. Their object in building the city and tower, was to
concentrate the population and the dominion at that spot; and as this
was contrary to the divine purpose of replenishing the earth with
inhabitants, and betrayed an ungodly and perhaps idolatrous
disposition, God frustrated their designs by miraculously giving to
different portions of the people different languages, or different
modes of pronunciation and divergent dialects of the original language
of man, thus causing them to disperse over the globe. Compare Ac
2:1-11. The tower was apparently left incomplete, but the foundation
of the city was probably laid, and a portion no doubt of the builders
continued to dwell there. The place became afterwards the celebrated
city of Babylon. It has been supposed that the tower of Babel was
afterwards finished, and called the tower of Belus, within the city of
Babylon. Herodotus visited this tower, and describes it as a square
pyramid, measuring half a mile in circumference at the base; from this
rose eight towers one above another gradually decreasing in the
summit, which was reached by a broad road winding up around the
outside. This tower was used for astronomical purposes, but was
chiefly devoted to the worship of Bel, whose temple contained immense
treasures, including several statues of massive gold, one of which was
forty feet in height. Here were deposited the sacred golden vessels
brought from Jerusalem. 2Ch 36:7 Jer 51:44. Its ruins are supposed to
be the present Birs Nimroud, six miles south-west of Hilleh, the
modern Babylon: an immense mound of coarse sun-dried bricks, laid with
bitumen. It is a ruinous heap, shattered by violence, furrowed by
storms, and strewn with fragments of brick, pottery, etc., fused and
vitrified by some intense heat. It is 190 feet high, and on the top
rises an irregular tower 90 feet in circumference and 35 feet high,
built of the fine brick-with which the whole mound appears to have
been faced. The tower is rent asunder and mutilated at the top, and
scathed as if by lightning-a monument, some have thought, of the just
wrath of God. See NEBUCHADNEZZAR.
1. A celebrated city situated on the Euphrates, the original
foundation of which is described under the word Babel. With this
coincide many ancient traditions, while some speak of Semiramis as the
founder, and others of Nebuchadnezzar. These accounts may all be
reconciled, by supposing that Semiramis rebuilt the ancient city, and
and that Nebuchadnezzar afterwards greatly enlarged and adorned it.
Babylon lay in a vast and fertile plain watered by the Euphrates,
which flowed through the city. Its walls are described as 60 miles in
circumference, 300 feet high, and 75 feet wide, Jer 51:44- 58. A deep
trench ran parallel with the walls. In each of the four sides were 25
brazen gates, from which roads crossed to the opposite gates. On the
squares thus formed countless houses and gardens were made.
Nebuchadnezzar's palace was in an inclosure six miles in
circumference. Within this were also "the hanging gardens," an immense
artificial mound 400 feet high, sustained by archers upon arches,
terraced off for trees and flowers, the water for which was drawn from
the river by machinery concealed in the mound, Da 4:29,30.
Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon reached the summit of her greatness and
splendor. She was renowned for learning especially in astronomy, and
for skill in various arts, as the making of carpets and cloths, of
perfumes, jewelry, etc. Her location gave her to a great extent the
control of the traffic, by the Euphrates and by caravans, between
Central Asia and Arabia and Egypt. She was "a city of merchants," Isa
43:14 Eze 17:4; and into her lap flowed, either through conquest or
commerce, the wealth of almost all known lands. Justly therefore might
the prophets call her "the great," Da 4:20; "the praise of the whole
earth," Jer 51:41; "the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency," Isa
13:19; "the lady of kingdoms," Isa 47:5; but also "the tender and
delicate," and "given to pleasures," Isa 47:1,8. In consequence of the
opulence and luxury of the inhabitants, corruptness and licentiousness
of manners and morals were carried to a frightful extreme. Bel, Nebo,
Nergal, Merodach, Succoth-benoth, and other idols, were there
worshipped with rites in which impurity was made a matter of religion.
Well might we expect Jehovah to bring down vengeance on her crimes.
Indeed, the woes denounced against Babylon by the prophets constitute
some of the most awfully splendid and sublime portions of the whole
Bible, Isa 13:1-22 14:22 21:9 47:1-15 Jer 25:1-38 50:1-46 51:1-64,
The city did not long remain the capital of the world. Under the reign
of Nebuchadnezzar's grandson. Nabonnidus, the Belshazzar of the
Scriptures, it was besieged and taken by Cyrus. The accounts of Greek
historians harmonize here with that of the Bible: that Cyrus made his
successful assault on a night when the whole city, relying on the
strength of the walls, had given themselves up to the riot and
debauchery of a grand public festival, and the king and his nobles
were reveling at a splendid entertainment. Cyrus had previously caused
a canal, which ran west of the city, and carried off the superfluous
water of the Euphrates into the lake of Nitocris, to be cleared out,
in order to turn the river into it; which, by this means, was rendered
so shallow, that his soldiers were able to penetrate along its bed
into the city, Da 5:1-31. 538 B.C. From this time its importance
declined, for Cyrus made Susa the capital of his kingdom. It revolted
against Darius Hystapis, who again subdued it, broke down all its
gates, and reduced its walls to the height of fifty cubits. According
to Strabo, Xerxes destroyed the tower of Belus. Under the Persians,
and under Alexander's successors, Babylon continued to decline,
especially after Seleucus Nicator had founded Selencia, and made it
his residence. A great portion of the inhabitants of Babylon removed
thither; and in Strabo's time, that is, under Augustus Babylon had
become so desolate, that it might be called a vast desert. There was a
town on its site until the fourth century, and many Jews dwelt there,
1Pe 5:13. But from this time onward, Babylon ceases almost to be
mentioned; even its ruins have not been discovered until within the
last two centuries; and it is only within the present century that
these ruins have been traced and described. These consist of numerous
mounds, usually of brick, deeply furrowed and decayed by time, strewn
with fragments of brick, bitumen, pottery, etc. One of these is
described above. See BABEL. Another, four miles northwest of Hilleh,
and called by the natives Kasr, is thought to mark the site of the
hanging gardens. These ruins are 2,400 feet long, and 1,800 broad.
Another near by, called Mujellibah, is of similar dimensions. From
these mounds thousands of bricks have been dug, bearing arrow-headed
inscriptions as ancient as the time of Nebuchadnezzar, whose name
often occurs. The aspect of the whole region is dreary and forlorn. It
is infested by noxious animals, and perhaps in no place under heaven
is the contrast between ancient magnificence and present desolation
greater than here. The awful prophecy of Isaiah, uttered more than a
century before, has been most literally fulfilled, Isa 13:14.
The name of Babylon is used symbolically in Re 14:8 16:1-21 17:1-18
18:1-24, to mark the idolatry, superstition, lewdness luxury, and
persecution of the people of God, which characterized heathen Rome and
modern Antichrist. Some thus interpret 1Pe 5:13 2. There was also a
Babylon in Egypt, a city not far from Heliopolis. Some suppose this to
be the Babylon mentioned 1Pe 5:13; but this is not probable.
The province of which Babylon was the capital; now the Babylonian or
Arabian Irak, which constitutes the pashalic of Bagdad. This
celebrated province included the track of country lying on the river
Euphrates, bounded north by Mesopotamia and Assyria and south by the
Persian Gulf. This gulf was indeed its only definite and natural
boundary; for towards the north, towards the east or Persia, and
towards the west or desert Arabia, its limits were quite indefinite.
Bot in ancient and modern times, Important tracts on the eastern bank
of the Tigris, and on the western ban of the Euphrates, and still more
on both banks of their united streams, were reckoned to Babylonia, or
The most ancient name of the country is Shimar, Ge 10:10 Da 1:2.
Afterwards Babel, Babylon, and Babylonia became its common appellation
with which at a later period, Chaldea, or the land of the Chaldeans,
was used as synonymous, after this people had got the whole into their
Babylonia is an extensive plain, interrupted by no hill or mountain,
consisting of a fatty, brownish soil, and subject to the annual
inundations of the Tigris and Euphrates, more especially of the
latter, whose banks are lower than those of the Tigris. The Euphrates
commonly rises about twelve feet above its ordinary level, and
continues at this height from the end of April tell June. These
inundations of course compelled the earliest tillers of the soil to
provide means for drawing off the superabundant water, and so
distributing it over the whole surface, that those tracts which were
in themselves less watered might receive the requisite irrigation.
From this cause, the whole of Babylonia came to be divided up by a
multitude of larger and smaller canals; in part passing entirely
through from one river to the other; in part also losing themselves in
the interior, and serving only the purposes of irrigation. These
canals seem to be the "rivers of Babylon" spoken of in Ps 137:1.
Besides this multitude of canals, which have long since vanished
without trace, Babylonia contained several large lakes, partly the
work of art and partly formed by the inundations of the two rivers.
Babylonia, therefore, was a land abounding in water; and Jeremiah
might therefore well say of it, that it "dwelt upon many waters," Jer
The Babylonians belonged to the Shemitic branch of the descendants of
Noah, and their language had an affinity with the Arabic and Hebrew,
nearly resembling what is now called Chaldee. The Babylonian empire
was founded by Nimrod twenty centuries before Christ, and then
embraced the cities Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, Ge 10:10. After
the building of Nineveh by Ninus, 1237 B.C., that city became the seat
of power and continued so until about 606 B.C., when the Assyrian
empire gave way to the Chaldean, and Babylon reached its highest point
in fame and power. Upon the return of the Jews from captivity, many
still remained in Babylonia, and to their posterity the gospel was
early conveyed. Peter is supposed by many to have written his first
epistle there, 1Pe 5:13. The Jews had thriving synagogues in
Babylonia, and one of their Talmuds was there composed. See CHALDEANS.
Tears, or weeping, Ps 84:6. It is not necessary to understand here
that there was really a valley so called. The psalmist, at a distance
from Jerusalem, is speaking of the happiness of those who are
permitted to make the usual pilgrimages to that city in order to
worship Jehovah in the temple: they love the ways which lead thither;
yea, though they must pass through rough and dreary paths, even a vale
of tears, yet such are their hope and joy of heart, that all this is
to them as a well-watered country, a land crowned with the blessings
of early rain.
A small inoffensive animal, of the bear genus, which remains torpid
all winter. It is an inhabitant of cold countries, and is not found in
Palestine. Hence many think the "badgers' skins" mentioned Ex 25:5;
26:14; Eze 16:10, and elsewhere, as being used for covering the
tabernacle and for shoes, were the skins not of this animal, but of a
species of seal found in the Red Sea. Burckhardt remarks that he "saw
parts of the skin of a large fish, killed on the coast, which was an
inch in thickness, and is employed by the Arabs instead of leather for
sandals." Others think it was an animal of the antelope species, the
skins of which the Jews had obtained in Egypt.
De 25:13 Lu 12:33. Eastern money was often sealed up in bags
containing a certain sum, for which they passed current while the seal
remained unbroken, 2Ki 12:10.
A town of Benjamin, near Jerusalem, on the road to the Jordan. It is
several times mentioned in the history of David, 2Sa 3:16; 16:5;
The site of a temple in Moab, where the king offered vain
supplications against the Assyrians, Isa 15:2.
A celebrated diviner, of the city Pethor, on the Euphrates, Nu 22:5.
Balak, king of Moab, having seen the multitudes of Israel, and fearing
they would attack his country, sent for Balaam, who was famous for his
supposed supernatural powers, to come and curse them. Balaam, though
eager for gain, was led to ask counsel of God, who forbade his going.
Balak afterwards sent other deputies, whom Balaam finally accompanied
without the approval of God, who sent an angel to meet and warn him in
the way. Here occurred the miracle of Balaam's ass, Nu 22:22,35. But
instead of cursing, he was constrained by the Spirit of God to bless
the children of Israel. This he did a second and a third time, to the
extreme mortification of Balak, who dismissed him in great anger.
Balaam subsequently foretold what Israel should in future times do to
the nations round about; and after having advised Balak to engage
Israel in idolatry and whoredom, that they might offend God and be
forsaken by him, quitted his territories for his own land. This bad
counsel was pursued; the young women of Moab inveigled the Hebrews to
the impure and idolatrous worship of Baal-Peor, for which 24,000
Israelites were slain, Nu 25:1-9 31:16 2Pe 2:15 Jude 1:11 Re 2:14.
Balaam was probably a descendant of Shem, and possessed many just
ideas of the true God. He calls Him "the Lord my God," Nu 22:18; and
yet he seems to have been only an enchanter and false prophet, like
many in the times of the kings of Israel, until he came in collision
with the people of God. In this transaction he was made a bearer,
against his own will, of the sublime messages of Jehovah; yet his
heart remained unchanged, and he did not "the death of the righteous,"
Nu 31:8 Jos 13:22.
King of Moab, when the Israelites were drawing near the promised land.
He was filled with terror lest they should attack and destroy him, as
they had Sihon and Og, and implored the soothsayer Balaam to come and
curse them. His fears and his devices were both in vain, De 2:9. See
BALAAM. He found he had nothing to fear from Israel if at peace with
them, and nothing to hope if at war with them.
BALDNESS (NATURAL OR ARTIFICIAL)
It was customary among eastern nations to cut off the hair of the
head, or to shave the head, as a token of mourning, on the death of a
relative, Job 1:20 Jer 16:6. This was forbidden to the Israelites, in
consequence of its being a heathen custom, De 14:1. Natural baldness
was treated with contempt, because it exposed a man to the suspicion
of leprosy. The children at Bethel cried after Elisha, "Go up, thou
bald head," 2Ki 2:23. While they indicated by this epithet great
contempt for him as a prophet of the Lord, they probably scoffed at
the same time at the miracle of Elijah's ascension.
BALM OR MORE PROPERLY, BALSAM
The gum or inspissated juice which exudes from the balsam-tree, the
Opobalsamum, which was anciently frequent in Judea, and particularly
in Gilead, Jer 8:22; 46:11. It was reckoned very valuable in the cure
of external wounds. The true balsam-tree is an evergreen, a native of
Southern Arabia and Abyssinia, and is about fourteen feet high. It
yields its gum in very small quantities. At the present day, this is
collected chiefly in Arabia, between Mecca and Medina, and is
therefore sometimes called the balm of Mecca. Its odor is exquisitely
fragrant and pungent. It is very costly, and is still in the highest
esteem among the Turks and other oriental nations, both as a medicine
and as a cosmetic for beautifying the complexion, Ge 37:25; Jer 51:8;
BAMAH, PLURAL BAMOTH
High places, Eze 20:29. Bamoth-baal was a station of the Hebrews, in
the border of Moab, Nu 21:20 22:41; afterwards assigned to the tribe
of Reuben, Jos 13:17. Baal was worshipped there, and it was perhaps
the "high places" referred to in Isa 15:2. See HIGH PLACES.
BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY GHOST AND WITH FIRE
Mt 3:11; Lu 3:16. Christ is speaking in these places of the wheat and
the chaff-the men who receive him and those who reject him. The former
class shall be abundantly endued with the teachings and consolations
of the Holy Spirit, but "the chaff-he will burn with fire
unquenchable." Many here understand "fire" in the widest sense of
purification: the purification of Christ's people by the destruction
of the ungodly from among them, and their purification from sin by the
discipline to which he subjects them. "He shall sit as a refiner's
The holy ordinance by which persons are admitted as members of the
Christian community. It is administered in the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost; and is a visible and public profession of
faith in Christ and his salvation, of vital union with him, of the
obligation to live a new life according to his precepts and in his
service, and of the expectation of sharing in his glorious and
heavenly immortality. It is not by any means to be regarded as a
regenerating ordinance, though significant of regeneration. It was
established in the Christian church by Christ and his apostles, and is
binding on his followers to the end of time. The use of water in this
ordinance is grounded in part on its qualities as the great element of
purification, and on the rites of the ancient dispensation, in which
"water and blood: were the divinely appointed symbols of moral
renovation and atonement.
A noted robber in Christ's time, who was imprisoned and awaiting death
for the crimes of sedition and murder. It was a custom of the Roman
government, for the sake of conciliating the Jews, to release one
Jewish prisoner, whom they might choose, at the yearly Passover.
Pilate desired thus to release Jesus, but the Jews demanded Barabbas,
The son of Abinoam, of Kedesh in the tribe of Naphtali. God summoned
him, by means of Deborah the prophetess, to release Israel from the
yoke of Jabin king of Canaan. Having first secured the attendance of
the prophetess, he gathered 10,000 men, and stationed them on Mount
Tabor, perhaps to avoid the enemies' 900 chariots of iron, Jud 4:3.
God fought for Israel in the battle, which ensued, and the song of
Deborah and Barak, Jud 5:1-31 chronicles their victory. The name of
Barak is enrolled among those illustrious for faith, He 12:29.
According to the Greek idiom, all other nations, however learned and
polite they might be, were "barbarians." Hence Paul comprehends all
mankind under the names of "Greeks and barbarians," Ro 1:14. Luke
calls the inhabitants of the island of Malta, "barbarians," Ac 28:2,4.
Indeed, "barbarian" is used in Scripture for every stranger or
foreigner who does not speak the native language of the writer, Ps
114:1, and includes no implication whatever of savage nature or
manners in those respecting whom it is used.
Sown in Palestine in autumn, and reaped in the spring, that is, at the
Passover. The Hebrews frequently used barley bread, 2Sa 1:27; 2Ki
4:42; Joh 6:9. Barley also was much used as food for cattle, 1Ki 4:28.
Son of consolation, or JOSES, a disciple of Jesus, and a companion of
the apostle Paul. He was a Levite, and a native of the isle of Cyprus,
and is said to have sold all his property, and laid the price of it at
the apostles' feet, Ac 4:36,37. When Paul came to Jerusalem, three
years after his conversion, about A. D. 38, Barnabas introduced him to
the other apostles, Ac 9:26,27. Five years afterwards, the church at
Jerusalem, being informed of the progress of the gospel at Antioch,
sent Barnabas thither, who beheld with great joy the wonders of the
grace of God, Ac 11:20-24. He afterwards went to Tarsus, to seek Paul
and bring him to Antioch, where they dwelt together two years, and
great numbers were converted. They left Antioch A. D. 45, to convey
alms from this church to that at Jerusalem, and soon returned,
bringing with them John Mark, Ac 11:28-30 12:25. While they were at
Antioch, the holy Ghost directed that they should be set apart for
those labors to which he had appointed them, the planting of new
churches among the Gentiles. They visited Cyprus and some cities of
Asia Minor, Ac 13:2-14, and after three years returned to Antioch. In
A. D. 50, he and Paul were appointed delegates from the Syrian
churches to consult the apostles and elders at Jerusalem respecting
certain questions raised by Jewish zealots; and having obtained the
judgment of the brethren at Jerusalem, they returned with it,
accompanied by Silas and Barnabas. At Antioch he was led into
dissimulation by Peter, and was, in consequence, reproved by Paul.
While preparing for a second missionary tour, Paul and Barnabas having
a dispute relative to Mark, Barnabas' nephew, they separated, Paul
going to Asia, and Barnabas with Mark to Cyprus, Ac 13:1-15 Ga 2:13.
Nothing is known of his subsequent history. There is a spurious
gospel, but evidently written by some other hand. The name of Barnabas
stands high in the annals of the early church. When he gave all his
estates to Christ, he gave himself also, as his life of generous
self-devotion and missionary toil clearly shows. He was a beloved
fellow-laborer with Paul, somewhat as Melancthon was with Luther, and
a true "son of consolation" to the church.
An affliction peculiarly lamented throughout the East, Ge 16:1 30:1-23
1Sa 1:6,19 Isa 47:9 49:21 Lu 1:25, especially by the Jewish women, who
remembered the promised Messiah, Ge 3:15, and hoped for the honor of
his parentage. The strength of this feeling is evinced by the
extraordinary and often unjustifiable measures it led them to adopt,
Ge 16:2 19:31 38:14 De 25:5-10. Professed Christians are charged with
barrenness, if they are destitute of the fruits of the Spirit, and do
not abound in good works, Lu 13:6-9 2Pe 1:8.
1. Joseph Barsabas, surnamed The Just, was one of Christ's early
disciples, and probably among the seventy. He was on of the two
candidates nominated to fill the vacancy left by Judas Iscariot in the
apostleship, Ac 1:1-26.
2. Judas Barsabas was "a prophet" and a distinguished member of the
Jerusalem church. He was deputed, with Silas, to accompany Paul and
Barnabas in a mission of importance to the Gentile converts in the
Syrian churches, Ac 15:22-23.
One of the twelve apostles, Mt 10:3 Mr 3:18 Lu 6:14 Ac 1:13. He is
named in connection with Philip, and seems to have been the same
person, whom John calls Nathanael, Joh 1:45-51, and mentions among the
other apostles, Joh 21:2. Nathanael may have been his real name, and
Bar-tholomew, that is, son of Tolmai, his patronymic and best-known
name. See APOSTLE and NATHANAEL.
Son of Timeus, a blind man, to whom Christ gave sight, by the wayside
near Jericho, Mt 20.29-34; Mr 10.46-52; Lu 18.35-43. There were two
healed, according to Matthew; but Mark and Luke only mention
Bartimeus, who bore his father's name, as though of a well known
family. There is an apparent disagreement as to the time of the
occurrence, which has led some to suppose there were two causes at
different times, one as Christ entered Jericho and the other as he
left it. We may rather suppose that Bartimeus heard the approach of
Christ, Lu 18:35, and learned who he was on the first day; and
encouraged by the mercy of the Savior to Zaccheus, and being joined by
another blind man, called to him for help as he again passed by on his
way to Jerusalem. The touching narrative of his steadfast faith, and
Christ's ready compassion, should encourage all to go boldly unto
1. The son of Neriah, of a distinguished family in the tribe of Judah.
He was the faithful friend of Jeremiah. About 605 B. C. he wrote down,
from the lips of Jeremiah, all the divine messages to that prophet,
and subsequently read them to the people, and again to certain
princes. These last took the book, and soon made known its contents to
king Jehoiakim, who impiously destroyed it. Baruch wrote it down a
second time as before, with some additions, Jer 36:1- 32.
He is supposed by some to have accompanied his brother Seraiah to
Babylon, with the predictions of Jeremiah respecting that city, Jer
51:59-64. He afterwards shared the persecution of the prophet, was
imprisoned with him, and forced to go to Egypt with the rebellious
Jews, Jer 43:1-13. After the death of Jeremiah, the rabbins say, he
returned to Babylon. An apocryphal book is ascribed to him.
2. Another Baruch is mentioned among the friends of Nehemiah, Ne 3:20
1. Of Meholah in Simeon; father of Adriel, who married Merab, the
daughter of Saul, 1Sa 18:19 2Sa 21:8
2. An aged and wealthy Gileadite, a friend of David when he was in
exile during Absalom's rebellion. He sent a liberal supply of
provisions, beds, and other conveniences for the use of the king's
followers, 2Sa 17:27 19:32. On David's return, Barzillai accompanied
him as far as Jordan, but declined, in consequence of his great age,
to proceed to Jerusalem, and receive the favors the king had intended
for him. David, in his final charge to Solomon, enjoined upon him to
show kindness to Barzillai's family, and to make them members of the
royal household, 1Ki 2:7
3. A priest who married a daughter of the above, Ezr 2:61 Ne 7:63.
Fat, fruitful, Nu 21:33, a rich hilly district lying east of the
Jordan, and between the mountains of Hermon on the north, and those of
Gilead and Ammon on the south. The country takes its name from its
soft and sandy soil. It is celebrated in Scripture for its rich
pasturage: "Rams, of the breed of Bashan," De 32:14; "Rams, bulls,
goats, all of them fatlings of Bashan," Eze 39:18. The oaks of Bashan
are mentioned in connection with the cedars of Lebanon, Isa 2:13.
Modern travelers describe the country as still abounding with verdant
and fertile meadows, valleys traversed by refreshing streams, hills
crowned with forests, and pastures offering an abundance to the flocks
that wander through them. In the time of Joshua, Argob, one of its
chief districts, contained sixty walled towns, De 4:43 Jos 20:8 21:27.
Bashan was assigned, after the conquest of Og and his people, Jos
12:4, to the half tribe of Manasseh. David drew supplies from this
region, 1Ki 4:13. It was conquered by Hazael, but Joash recovered it,
2Ki 10:33 13:25. From Bashan came the Greek name Batanaea, in modern
Arabic El-Bottein. But this latter only included its southern part.
The ancient Bashan covered the Roman provinces named Gaulonitis,
trachonitis, Auranitis, Batanaea, and Ituraea.
BATH OR EPHAH
A Hebrew measure, containing seven gallons, four pints, liquid
measure; or three pecks, three pecks, three pints, dry measure.
The wife of Uriah, and probably granddaughter of Atithophel which see.
David first committed adultery with her, then caused her husband to be
slain, and afterwards took her to wife. These sins displeased Jehovah,
who sent the prophet Nathan to David, with the parable of the ewe
lamb, 2Sa 12:1. David bitterly repented, but was yet punished, 2Sa
11:12. Bath-sheba was the mother of Solomon, whose succession to the
throne she took pains to secure, 1Ki 1:15. She is afterwards mentioned
in the history of Adonijah, 1Ki 2:13, in the title of Ps 51:1, and
among the ancestors of Christ, Mt 1:6.
A military engine for battering walls. A long and solid beam, armed at
one end with a metallic ram's-head, was suspended by the middle, and
swung violently and repeatedly against the walls of a city or castle,
till a breach was made. It was sometimes in the lower part of a wooden
tower built upon wheels, and was worked by more than a hundred men;
while the upper part of the tower was filled with archers and
slingers, Eze 4:2; 21:22.
A balustrade around the roofs of ancient houses, which were flat, and
were much, resorted to for fresh air, amusement, or retirement by day
and for sleep at night. The Mosaic law required a battlement for each
house, De 22:8.
The bay tree is the Laurel of North America and the south of Europe;
an evergreen tree, a wreath from which has been from time immemorial
the symbolical crown of poets and warriors. The word rendered "bay-
tree" in Ps 37:35, seems to mean simply a native, green and vigorous.
Commonly supposed to mean the aromatic gum of a tree growing near the
Persian gulf, etc. It is transparent, and bitter to the taste, yet
very fragrant while burning. But the substance so called, whatever is
was, is mentioned in connection with gold and gems; while gum is
certainly not so remarkable a gift of nature as to deserve this
classification, or as that the production of it should confer on
Havilah a peculiar celebrity, Ge 2:12. Hence the opinion of the Jewish
writers is not to be contemned, namely, that pearls are to be here
understood, of which great quantities are found on the shores of the
Persian gulf and in India, and which might not inaptly be compared
with manna, as in Nu 11:7.
That bears were common in Palestine appears from several passages in
the Old Testament, 1Sa 17:34,36,37; 2Sa 17:8; 2Ki 2:24. The species
known in Syria resembles the common brown bear; it is sill met in the
recesses of Lebanon. To a sullen and ferocious disposition, the bear
joins immense strength, considerable sagacity, and the power of
climbing trees. Her ferocity, especially when her young are injured,
is proverbial. See 2Sa 17:8; Pr 17:12; Isa 11:7; Ho 13:8.
The Hebrews regarded a thin, scanty beard as a great deformity; while
a long, full, flowing beard was esteemed the noblest ornament of
personal beauty and dignity. A man's honor was lodged, as it were, his
beard. To insult it by word or act was the grossest indignity; to take
it respectfully in the right hand and kiss it, was a mode of
expressing high esteem and love permitted only to the nearest friends.
It was cherished with great care, Ps 133:2 Da 10:3. To neglect, tear,
or cut it, indicated the deepest grief, Ezr 9:3 Isa 15:2 Jer 41:5
48:37; while to be deprived of it was a mark of servility and infamy.
Many would prefer death to such a mutilation. These facts explain many
passages of Scripture: as the gross insult offered to David's
ambassadors, 2Sa 10:4-14; the zealous indignation of Nehemiah, Ne
13:25; the mode in which the feigned insanity of David was expressed,
1Sa 21:12, and the grief of Mephibosheth, 1Sa 19:24; the treachery of
Judas; also several passages in the prophets, Isa 7:20 50:6 Eze 5:1-5.
This word, used in contradistinction to man, denotes all animals
besides, Ps 36:6, sometimes it means quadrupeds, and not creeping
things, Le 11:2-7; and sometimes domestic cattle, in distinction from
wild creatures, Ge 1:25. They were all brought to Adam to be named.
Few are mentioned in the Bible but such as lived in Palestine and the
countries adjacent. Beasts suffer with man under the penalties of the
fall, Ge 3:14 Ex 9:6 3:15 Eze 38:20 Ho 4:3. Yet various merciful
provision for them were made in the Jewish law, Ex 20:10 23:11,12 Le
22:28 25:7. Animals were classed in the law as clean or unclean, with
a primary reference to animal sacrifices, Ge 7:2 Le 11:1-47 The word
beasts is figuratively used to symbolize various kings and nations, Ps
74:14 Isa 27:1 Eze 29:3 Da 7:1-28,8 Re 12:13. It also describes the
character of violent and brutal men, Ps 22:12,16 1Co 15:32 2Pe 2:12.
The Hebrew word commonly rendered beast signifies living creatures. In
Ezekiel's vision, Eze 1:1-28, this is applied to human beings or their
symbols. In the book of Revelation two distinct words are employed
symbolically, both rendered "beast" in our version. One is applied to
persecuting earthly powers, Re 11:7 13:1, etc.; the other to
superhuman beings or their symbols, Re 4:6, etc. this latter might be
appropriately rendered, "living creature," as the corresponding Hebrew
word is in Ezekiel.
In the East, is, and was anciently, a divan, or broad low step around
the sides of a room, like a sofa, which answered to purpose of a sofa
by day for reclining, and of a bed by night for sleeping, Ex 8:3 2Sa
4:5-7. Sometimes it was raised several steps above the floor, 2Ki 1:4
Ps 132:4. It was covered very differently, and with more or less
ornament, according to the rank of owner of the house. The poor had
but a simple mattress or sheepskin; or a cloak or blanked, which also
answered to wrap themselves in by day, Ex 22:2 De 24:13. Hence it was
easy for the persons whom Jesus healed, to take up their beads and
walk, Mr 4:21. Bedsteads, however, were not unknown, though unlike
those of modern times. See De 3:11 1Sa 19:15 Am 6:4. The Jews only
laid off their sandals and outer garments at night.
Wells, a city of Benjamin, near Gibeon, Jos 9:17. It is now El- Bireh,
a village of 700 inhabitants, on a ridge seven miles north of
"the prince of the devils," Mt 12:24. This name is derived from
Baal-zebub, an idol deity among the Ekronites, signifying lord of
flies, fly-baal, fly-god, whose office was to protect his worshippers
from the torment of the gnats and flies with which that region was
infested, 2Ki 1:2,3,16. It is also sometimes written Beel- sebul,
which signifies probably the dung-god. The Jews seem to have applied
this appellation to Satan, as being the author of all the pollutions
and abominations of idol-worship.
Wells of him living, and seeing me, on the southwest border of Canaan,
where Hagar was visited by an angel, Ge 16:14.
The well of the oath, Ge 21:31; 26:31,33, a city twenty-eight miles
southwest of Hebron, at the southern extremity of the Holy Land. Dan
lay at the northern extremity; so that the phrase, "from Dan to
Beersheba," means, the whole length of the land, Jud 20:1. At
Beersheba, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob often dwelt, Ge 21:31; 22:19;
26:33; 28:10; 46:1. The town that afterwards rose here was first
assigned to Judah, and then to Simeon, Jos 15:28; 19:2. Here Samuel
established his sons as judges, 1Sa 8:2. Elijah rested here on his way
to Horeb, 1Ki 19:3. It was a seat of idolatry in the time of Uzziah,
Am 5:5; 8:14. After the captivity, it was repeopled by the Jews, Ne
11:27,30, and continued a large village many centuries after the
coming of Christ. Dr. Robinson found its site at Bir-es-Seba, on the
border of the great desert south of Canaan-the ruins of a small
straggling city, and two deep stone wells of excellent water,
surrounded by stone troughs, and bearing the marks of great antiquity.
1. A station of the Hebrews in Moab, where God gave them water, Nu
21:16-18; Isa 15:8.
2. A town in Judah, according to Eusebius and Jerome a few miles west
of Jerusalem, near Beth-shemesh. Jotham took refuge there from his
brother Abimelech, Jud 9:21.
A Levitical city, in Manasseh beyond the Jordan, Jos 21:27. It is also
called Ashtaroth, 1Ch 6:71, and is perhaps a contraction of
In Le 11:22, a species of locust.
Cattle, including the larger antelopes, Le 22:19. It is the old plural
A huge amphibious animal, described in Job 40:15-24. Commentators are
now generally agreed that it is the hippopotamus, or river horse,
which is found only in the Nile and other great rivers of Africa. This
is a very large, powerful, and unwieldy animal, which lives in the
water, but comes out upon the banks to feed on grass, grain, green
herbs, and branches of trees. The appearance of the hippopotamus when
on land is altogether uncouth, the body being extremely large, flat,
and round, the head enormously large in proportion, and the legs as
disproportionately short. Then length of a male has been known to be
seventeen feet, the height seven feet, and the circumference fifteen;
the head three feet; the mouth in width about two feet. The general
color of the animal is brownish; the ears small and pointed; the eyes
small and black; the lips very thick and broad; the nostrils small.
The armament of teeth is its mouth is truly formidable; more
particularly the tusks of the lower jaw, which are of a curved form,
somewhat cylindrical; these are so strong and hard that they will
strike fire with steel, are sometimes more that two feet in length,
and weigh upwards of six pounds each. The other teeth are much
smaller. The tail is short and thick; and the whole body is protected
by a thick and tough hide, which swords and arrows cannot penetrate,
thickly covered with short hair.
Mr. Ruppell gives the following graphical account of a combat on the
"One of the hippopotami which we killed was a very old male, and
seemed to have reached his utmost growth. He measured, from the snout
to the end of the tail, about fifteen feet; and his tusks, from the
root to the point, along the external curve, twenty-eight inches. We
had a battle with him four hours long, and that too in the night.
Indeed, he came very near destroying our large bark; and with it,
perhaps, all our lives. The moment he saw the hunters in the small
canoe, as they were about to fasten the long rope to the buoy in order
to draw him in, he threw himself with on rush upon it, dragged it with
him under water, and shattered it to pieces. Out of twenty- five
musket ball, which were fired into the monster's head at the distance
of five feet, only on penetrated the hind and the bones near the nose;
so that, every time he breathed, he snorted a stream of blood upon the
bark. All the other balls remained sticking in the thickness of the
hide. We had at last to employ a small cannon; but it was only after
five of its balls, fired at the distance of a few feet, had mangled
most shockingly the head and body of the monster, that he died. This
gigantic hippopotamus dragged our large bark at his will in every
direction of the stream."
A half-shekel; in weight, five pennyweights; in money, about twenty-
five cents. This sum each Israelite over twenty years old was to pay
as a poll tax for the temple service, Ex 30:13.
The chief idol of the Babylonians.
The king of Bela, who along with the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah
and Zeboim, were in servitude to Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, until
the time of their rebellion against the same, Ge 14:2. [Definition
added by the WordWeaver].
Worthlessness, always so used in a moral sense. A man or son of Belial
is a wicked, worthless man; one resolved to endure no subjection; a
rebel; a disobedient, uncontrollable fellow, Jud 19:22 1Sa 2:12. In
later writings, Belial is put for the power or lord of evil, Satan,
Prince of Bel, the Chaldean name given to Daniel at the court of
Nebuchadnezzar, Da 1:7 4:8.
1. A king of Dama scene Syria, hired by Asa king of Judah to make war
upon Baasha king of Israel, 1Ki 15:18-22. He ravaged a large part of
2. Son and successor of the preceding. In two successive years he
raised large armies, and made war upon Ahab king of Israel. He was
utterly routed by the aid of Jehovah, God of the hills and the plains
also, 1Ki 20:1-43. Ahab spared him, contrary to the command of God and
gave him conditions of peace. These do not seem to have been
fulfilled, for three years after, Ahab renewed the war and was slain,
1Ki 22:1-53 After about nine years, Ben-hadad again invaded Israel,
and the prophet Elisha was instrumental in frustrating his plans, 2Ki
6:8-23. But once more renewing the war, he laid siege to Samaria, and
reduced it to extremities by famine. God sent a sudden panic upon his
army by night, and they fled precipitately, 2Ki 6:17 7:6 Pr 28:1.
Shortly before his death, Ben-hadad, being sick, sent Hazael to ask
the prophet Elisha, then at Damascus, what the issue would be. The
prophet answered that the disease was not mortal, and yet he would
surely die; a paradox which Hazael soon after solved by stifling his
master in bed, 2Ki 8:7-15
3. Son of the Hazael just named. His father had greatly afflicted and
oppressed Israel; but he lost all that his father had gained, being
thrice defeated by king Jehoash, 2Ki 13:1-25.
Son of Jehoiada, and commander of David's bodyguards. Several
instances of his rare bravery are recorded, 2Sa 8:18 2Sa 23:20-23. He
adhered to Solomon when some favored the pretensions of Adonijah, slew
Joab at the command of Solomon, and was made general of the army in
his stead, 1Ki 1:36 2:29-35.
The youngest son of Jacob and Rachel, Ge 35:16-18. Rachel died
immediately after he was born, and with her last breath named him
Ben-oni, the son of my sorrow; but Jacob called him Benjamin, son of
my right hand. He was a great comfort to his father, who saw in him
the beloved wife he had buried, and Joseph whose loss he mourned. He
could hardly be persuaded to let him go with his brethren to Egypt, Ge
42:38. The tribe of Benjamin was small at first and was almost
exterminated in the days of the Judges, Jud 20:1-48, but afterwards
greatly increased, 2Ch 14:8 17:17. It was valiant, Ge 49:27, and
"beloved of the Lord," dwelling safely by him, De 33:12; for its
territory adjoined Judah and the Holy City on the north. At the revolt
of the ten tribes, Benjamin adhered to the cause of Judah; and the two
tribes were ever afterwards closely united, 1Ki 11:13 12:20 Ezr 4:1
10:9. King Saul and Saul of Tarsus were both Benjamites, Php 3:5.
King of Sodom in the days of Abraham, Ge 14:1-24.
Blessing, a beautiful valley between Tekoa and Etham, where
Jehoshaphat and all Judah held a thanksgiving for their miraculous
victory over the Moabites and Ammonites, 2Ch 20:26.
A city of Macedonia, not far from Pella towards the southwest, and
near Mount Bermius. It was afterwards called Irenopolis, and is now
called by the Turks, Boor; by others, Cara Veria. Paul preached the
gospel here with success; the ingenuous Bereans examined his doctrine
by the Old Testament scriptures, and many believed, Ac 17:10,14; 20:4.
BERNICE OR BERENICE
Eldest daughter of king Herod Agrippa I, and sister to the younger
Agrippa, Ac 25:13,23; 26:30. She was first married to her uncle Herod,
king of Chalcis; and after his death, in order to avoid the merited
suspicion of incest with her brother Agrippa, she became the wife of
Polemon, king of Cilicia. This connection being soon dissolved, she
returned to her brother, and afterwards became mistress of Vespasian
A Syrian town, conquered by David, 2Sa 8:8; 1Ch 18:8; Eze 47:16. Some
find it in the modern Beyrout; but aside from the similarity of the
name, the indications point to an inland site, nearer Hamath or
The name of a precious stone of a sea-green color, found principally
in India, Da 10:6 Re 21:20.
A broom or brush for sweeping. Before "the besom of destruction," the
hosts of God's enemies are like the dust of the floor, Isa 14:23.
A brook flowing into the Mediterranean five miles south of Gaza. A
part of David's troops in pursuit of Amalekites halted there, 1Sa
30:9-21. The stream dries up in spring.
BETAH OR TIBHATH
A city of Syria-Zobath, taken by David, 2Sa 8:8; 1Ch 18:8; perhaps the
modern Taibeh, between Aleppo and Tadmor.
Place of the ford, a town on the east bank of the Jordan, where John
baptized, Joh 1:28. It was perhaps the same as Beth-barah, Jud 7:24;
but the true site is unknown. Many of the best Greek manuscripts and
recent editions have Bethany, also unknown, instead of Beth-abara.
Probably Arbela, now Irbid. One place of this name lay twenty-five
miles southeast of the sea of Galilee. Another was in Galilee, near
Magdala. Here were some large and almost inaccessible fortified
caverns, in the sides of precipices, Ho 10:14.
A place and desert near Bethel on the east, Jos 7:2; 18:12; 1Sa 13:5;
14:23. It seems to be reproachfully used at times for Bethel itself,
after the golden calves were there set up, Ho 4:15; 10:5: Beth-el
meaning the house of God; and Beth-aven, the house of sin, or of an
In Dan, near Mizpeh; noted for the defeat of the Philistines, and the
Eben-Ezer set up by Samuel, 1Sa 7:11.
Conjectured to be the Frank mountain, between Tekoa and Bethlehem, Ne
3:14; Jer 6:1. This is a solitary conical hill, on which the crusaders
had a strong fortress.
A town of Benjamin, on the border of Judah, Jos 15:6; 18:19,21.
Robinson traced this name at a place three miles from the mouth of the
Jordan, on the way to Jericho; here was a fine grove, watered by a
sweet and limpid fountain the best in the valley of the Jordan.
Now Beit-ur, the name common to two neighboring towns in the northwest
corner of Benjamin, still distinguished as the Upper and the Lower.
These lay on two ridges, with valleys on each side; Beth-horon the
Nether being separated from the Upper by a small valley, and a rocky
and rough pass up the ridge on which Upper Beth-horon stood. The
latter was nearest to Jerusalem about twelve miles from it; and both
were on the usual routed to the seacoast. Down this pass Joshua drove
the Amorites, and here Paul passed by night on his way to Antipatris,
Jos 10:1-11 Ac 23:31,32.
A city of Reuben, taken from the Moabites, Nu 33:49 Jos 12:3 13:20;
but retaken by them after the captivity, Eze 25:9. It lay not far east
of the mouth of the Jordan.
Nu 32:3,36; Jos 13:27, and Nimrim, Isa 15:6; Jer 48:34; a town in Gad,
a little east of the Jordan, on a watercourse leading, from near
Ramoth-Gilead, southwest into that river.
A town of Moab, in the limits assigned to Reuben, and conquered from
the Amorites, Jos 13:20. It was infamous for the worship of Baal-peor.
In the adjacent valley Moses rehearsed the law to Israel, and was
buried, De 4:44-46 34:6.
BETHSHEAN OR BETHSHAN
More generally known by the name of Scythopolis, was situated two
miles west of the Jordan, at the extremity of the valley of Jezreel,
and arm of the great plain of Esdraelon, running down from it to the
valley of the Jordan in a southeasterly direction. It stood on the
brow, just where the former valley drops down by a rather steep
descent to the level of the latter. Bethshean was assigned to
Manasseh, though not at once subdued,
Jos 17:11,16; Jud 1:27. The dead body of Saul was fastened to its
walls, 1Sa 31:10,12; 2Sa 21:12; 1Ki 4:12. The place is now called
Beisan, and is about twenty-four miles south of Tiberias. The present
village contains seventy of eighty houses, the inhabitants of which
are in a miserable condition, owing to the depredations of the
Bedaween. The ruins of the ancient city are of considerable extent,
along the banks of the rivulet which ran by it, and on the side of the
valley; and bespeak to it have been nearly three miles in circuit.
House of the sun,
1. A city of Judah given to the priests, Jos 21:16 1Ch 6:59 1Sa 6:15.
It lay fifteen miles west of Jerusalem, near the border of Dan and of
the Philistines, Jos 15:10 1Sa 6:12. Probably the same as Irshemesh,
Jos 19:41. It is memorable for a battle between Judah and Israel, in
which Amaziah was defeated, 2Ki 14:12-14; and for the return of the
ark from among the Philistines, and the punishment of those who then
profaned it, 1Sa 6:1-21. There is reason to suppose the numbers in 1Sa
6:19 should be translated "threescore and ten men, even fifty out of
one thousand," or one in two hundred of the men of the city.
2. A celebrated city in Egypt, Jer 43:13.
House, forms a part of many compounds names of places, and sometimes
means the place or dwelling; and at others the temple. This word
becomes Beit in modern Arabic.
A village on the eastern slope of the Mount Olivet, about two miles
east-south-east of Jerusalem, and on the road to Jericho. It was often
visited by Christ, Mt 21:17; Mr 11:1,12; Lu 19:29. Here Martha and
Mary dwelt, and Lazarus was raised from the dead, Joh 11:1-57 Here
Mary anointed the Lord against the day of his burying, Joh 12:1-50;
and from the midst of his disciples near this village which he loved,
he ascended to heaven, Mt 24:50. Its modern name, Aziriyeh , is
derived from Lazarus. It is a poor village of some twenty families.
House of God, the name of a city west of Hai, on the confines of the
tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin, Ge 12:8 28:10-22, and occupying the
spot where Jacob slept and had his memorable dream, the name he then
gave it superseding the old name Luz, Jud 1:23. Thirty years after, he
again pitched his tent there, Ge 35:1-15. It was captured by Joshua,
and given to Benjamin, Jos 12:9 18:22. The Ephraimites, however,
expelled the Canaanites, Jud 1:22-26. Here the ark of the covenant,
and probably the tabernacle, long remained, Jud 20:26 1Sa 10:3. Samuel
held his court here in turn, 1Sa 7:16. After Solomon, it became a seat
of gross idolatry; Jeroboam choosing it as the place for one of his
golden calves, from the sacredness previously attached to it, 1Ki
12:29. The prophets were charged with messages against Bethel, 1Ki
13:1,2 Jer 48:13 Am 3:14 7:10. The first of these was fulfilled by
Josiah, 2Ki 23:13; and the others in the later desolation of Bethel,
where nothing but ruins can now be found. Its site was identified by
Dr. Robinson, in the place now called Beitin. It is twelve miles from
Jerusalem towards Shechem, on the southern side of a hill, with a
narrow and fertile valley on the east, and the long-traveled road on
the west. At the bottom of the hill are the remains of a vast stone
reservoir, of an ancient Hebrew age.
House of mercy, the name of a pool or fountain near the temple in
Jerusalem, with an open building over or near it, for the
accommodation of the sick who came to try the healing efficacy of the
water, Joh 5:2. Tradition locates this pool in what is now a large dry
reservoir, along the outside of he north wall of the temple area.
Robinson, however, shows the probability that this is but a portion of
the trench, which separated Mount Moriah from the adjacent hill on the
north. He suggests that the true Bethesda may perhaps be "The Fountain
of the Virgin," so called, in the lower part of the valley of
Jehoshaphat, eight hundred and fifty feet south of the temple area.
This pool is of great antiquity, and seems to be fed from ancient
reservoirs under the temple. Two flights of steps, sixteen and
thirteen in number, with a platform of twelve feet between them, lead
down to the pool; this is fifteen feet long, and five or six feet
wide. Its waters rise and fall at irregular intervals, and flow down
by a subterraneous channel to the pool of Siloam. It is supposed to be
the "king's pool" of Ne 2:14. Bethesda, even if known and accessible
to us, has lost its healing power; but the fountain Christ has opened
for sin, guilt, and death, is nigh to all and of never failing virtue.
House of bread,
1. A celebrated city, the birthplace of David and of Christ. It was in
the tribe of Judah, six miles south by west of Jerusalem, and probably
received its appellation from the fertility of the circumjacent
country. This also gave it its ancient name Ephrath, fruitful, Ge 48:7
Mic 5:2. It was beautifully situated on an oblong ridge, twenty-seven
hundred feet above the level of the sea, and affording a fine view in
every direction. The hills around it were terraced, and clothed with
vines, fig trees, and almonds; and the valleys around it bore rich
crops of grain. It was fortified by Rehoboam, 2Ch 11:6, but was
comparatively an unimportant place, Mic 5:1, and is not mentioned by
Joshua or Nehemiah among the cities of Judah. Its memory is
delightfully associated with the names of Boaz and Ruth; it is
celebrated as the birthplace and city of David, 1Sa 17:12,15 20:6 2Sa
23:14-17 but above all, it is hallowed as the place where the Redeemer
was born. Over that lovely spot the guiding star hovered; there the
eastern sages worshipped the King of kings, and there where David
watched his flock and praised God, were heard the songs of the angelic
host at the Savior's birth, Lu 2:8. Bethlehem is now called Beit-lahm,
and contains about three thousand inhabitants, almost exclusively
nominal Christians. Half a mile north is the spot pointed out by
traditional as Rachel's tomb, Ge 35:16-20; and about two miles
south-west are the great reservoirs described under Solomon's Pools.
2. An unknown place in Zebulun, Jos 19:15 Jud 12:10, in distinction
from which the city of David was often called Bethlehem-Judah.
Place of figs, a little village at the eastern foot of the Mount of
Olives, near to Bethany, Mt 21:1; Mr 11:1; Lu 19:29.
Place of fishing, 1. A city in Galilee, on the western shore of the
lake of Gennesareth, a little north of Capernaum; it was the
birthplace of the apostles Philip, Andrew, and Peter, and was often
visited by our Lord, Mt 11:21; Mr 6:45; 8:22.
2. A city in Gaulonitis, north of the same lake, and east of the
Jordan. Near this place Christ fed the five thousand. It lay on a
gentle hill near the Jordan separated from the sea of Galilee by a
plain three miles wide, of surpassing fertility, Lu 9:10. Compare Mt
14:13-22; Mr 6:31-45. This town was enlarged by Philip, tetrarch of
that region, Lu 3:1, and called Julias in honor of Julia, the daughter
of Augustus. It is now little but ruins.
Son of Abraham's uncle Nahor, and father of Rebekah, Ge 22:22,23
A city in the hill country of Judah, near Hebron, Jos 15:58. It was
fortified by Rehoboam, 2Ch 11:7, and assisted in rebuilding Jerusalem,
Ne 3:16. Josephus calls it one of the strongest fortresses in Judea;
but its site has not yet been identified.
The engagement of a man and woman to marry each other at a future
time. Parents anciently often betrothed their daughters without their
consent, and even while very young, as is still the case in oriental
countries. Sometimes a regular written contract was made, in which the
bridegroom bound himself to give a certain sum as a portion to his
bride. The marriage was not complete until the bride was at least
twelve years old; yet the betrothal could be dissolved only by divorce
or death, Mt 1:18-25 Lu 2:27. God speaks of betrothing his people to
himself, in bonds of tender affection, and pledging his word that all
his gracious promised will be fulfilled to them, Jer 2:2 Ho 2:19,20.
Of this, ministers are the instruments, through the preaching of the
gospel, 2Co 11:2. Hence the word BEULAH.
Married, a term applied to the Israel of God, in Isa 62:4, to signify
his intimate and vital union with them.
An artificer, endued by God with special skill for constructing and
adorning the tabernacle, Ex 31:2; 35:30.
A city of the Canaanites, of which Adoni-zedek was king. The account
of its capture by Judah is in Jud 1:1-8. Here Saul reviewed his forces
before going to raise the siege of Jabesh-gilead, 1Sa 11:8.
A city of refuge, in the plain country of Reuben beyond Jordan. Its
exact site is not known, De 4:43 Jos 20:8 21:36.
This word signifies the Book, by way of distinction, the Book of all
books. It is also called Scripture, or the Scriptures, that is, the
writings. It comprises the Old and New Testaments, or more properly,
Covenants, Ex 24:7; Mt 26:28. The former was written mostly in Hebrew,
and was the Bible of the ancient Jewish church; a few chapters of
Daniel and Ezra only were written in Chaldee. The latter was wholly
written in Greek, which was the language most generally understood in
Judea and the adjacent countries first visited by the gospel. The
entire Bible is the rule of faith to all Christians, and not the New
Testament alone; though this is of especial value as unfolding the
history and doctrines of our divine Redeemer and of his holy
institutions. The fact that God gave the inspired writings to men in
the languages most familiar to the mass of the people who received
them, proves that he intended they should be read not by the learned
alone, but by all the people, and in their own spoken language.
The Old Testament contains thirty-nine books. Josephus and the church
fathers mention a division into twenty-two books, corresponding with
the twenty-two letter of the Hebrew alphabet. But we have no
sufficient evidence that such a division obtained among the Jews
themselves. They arranged the books of the Old Testament in three
divisions, called, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, that is,
the Holy Writings. The Law embraces the five books of Moses. These are
divided into convenient sections to be read through once a year in
their synagogues. The second division, the Prophets, is subdivided
into the former prophets, namely, the historical books of Joshua,
Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and the later, that is, the prophets
proper, with the exception of the book of Daniel. The later prophets
are once more distributed into the greater-Isaiah, Jeremiah, (not
including Lamentations), and Ezekiel; and the less-the twelve minor
prophets. Selection from both the earlier and the later prophets are
read in the synagogues along with the sections of the Law; but these
don not embrace the whole of the prophets, and the arrangement of them
differs among different divisions of the Jews. The Holy Writings
(Hagiographa) embrace all the remaining books of the Old Testament,
namely, (according to the Masorectic arrangement), Psalms, Proverbs,
Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel,
Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles. In the arrangement of the Old Testament
books now prevalent, the historical books come first, then the
devotional and didactic, and lastly the prophetical. The Jews ascribe
to Ezra the honor of arranging and completing the canon of the Old
Testament books, being inspired for this work by the Spirit of God,
and aided by the learned and pious Jews of his day. The New Testament
writings were received each one by itself from the hands of the
apostles, and were, as their inspired works, gradually collected into
one volume to the exclusion of all others.
The division into chapters and verses was not made until comparatively
modern time, though there appears to have been a more ancient
separation into short sections or paragraphs. The chapters now used
were arranged probably by Cardinal Hugo, above the year 1240. The
division into verses was made in the Old Testament in 1450, and
recognized in the Hebrew Concordance of Rabbi Nathan. The arrangement
of the verses of the New Testament as we now have them was perfected
in the Latin Vulgate, an edition of which with verses was published by
Robert Stephens, a learned French printer, in 1551. He also modified
and completed the division of the Old Testament into verses, in an
edition of the whole Bible, the Vulgate, in 1555. This division into
verses, and even into chapters, having regard more to convenience of
reference than to the meaning must often be disregarded in reading in
order to get the true sense.
The genuineness, authenticity, and divine origin of the Scriptures
cannot be here discussed. The reader is referred to the treatises of
Bogue, Gregory, Keith, McIlvaine, Nelson, Spring, etc., published by
the American Tract Society, and numerous other valuable and standard
The first well-know English translation of the New Testament was that
of Wicliffe, made about 1370, before the invention of printing; though
others had been made, one as early as king Alfred, of parts of the
Bible into Saxon. In the time of Edward I, 1250, it required the
earnings of a day laborer for fifteen years to purchase a manuscript
copy of the entire Bible. Now, a printed copy may be had for the
earning of a few hours. The first printed English Testament was that
of Tyndal, in 1526, which was afterwards followed by his translation
of the Pentalteuch. The first complete English Bible is that of Myles
Coverdale, in 1535. Matthew's Bible appeared in 1537. Coverdale and
some other prelates, who resided at Geneva during the bloody reign of
Mary, published there another edition in 1560, hence called the Geneva
Bible. At the accession of queen Elizabeth a new revision was made,
which appeared in 1568, and is called the Bishop's Bible. This
continued in use till our present English version, made by order of
James I, was published in 1611. The first copy of this was made by
forty-seven of the most learned men in England, divided into six
companies. This first copy was then revised by a committee of twelve,
or two from each of the six companies; and then again by two others.
The work of translation and revision occupied between four and five
years; and the faithful, clear, and vigorous standard Bible thus
secured, is an enduring monument of the learning, wisdom, and fidelity
of the translators.
One of the most remarkable movements of modern time, and that which
holds out the greatest promise of good for the coming triumphs of the
Redeemer's kingdom, and the temporal as well as spiritual welfare of
future generations, is the mighty effort which is making to circulate
the holy Scriptures, not only in Christian, but also in heathen lands.
In the year 1804, the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed;
and the success which has attended this glorious object has by far
exceeded the most sanguine expectations of its founders and
supporters. "Their voice has gone out through all the earth of the
world." During the first fifty years of this society, it printed or
assisted in printing the Scriptures in 148 languages, in about sixty
of which they had never before been printed, and issued upwards of
29,000,000 copies of the sacred writings. The Scriptures have now been
published in about 220 different languages and dialects. Other similar
association have followed nobly this glorious example; and of these
none had labored with more effect than the American Bible Society,
which was formed in 1816, and has now, 1859, issued thirteen millions
of Bibles and Testaments.
A eunuch at the court of Ahasuerus, whose conspiracy against that king
was frustrated by the vigilance of Mordecai, Es 2:21.
A descendant of Abraham by Keturah, Ge 25:1,2. Shuah and his brethren
were located in Arabia Petraea; and thus Bildad the Shuhite was a
neighbor and friend of Job, and came to condole with him in his
affliction, Job 2:11; 8:1-22; 18:1-21; 25:1-6. His chief topics are
the suddenness, swiftness, and terribleness of God's wrath upon
hypocrites and oppressors.
The handmaid of Rachel, given by her to her husband Jacob when herself
childless, that she might become a mother through her handmaid. Bilhah
was the mother of Dan and Naphtali, Ge 30:1- 8.
Birds, like other animals, were divided by Moses into clean and
unclean; the former might be eaten, the latter not. The general ground
of distinction is, that those which feed on grain or seeds are clean;
while those which devour flesh, fish, or carrion, are unclean.
Turtledoves, young pigeons, and perhaps some other kinds of birds,
were prescribed in the Mosaic law as offerings, Le 5:7-10 14:4-7 Lu
There is great difficulty in accurately determining the different
species of birds prohibited in Le 11:13-19 De 14:11-20, and the proper
version of the Hebrew names. The information we have respecting them
may be found under the names by which they are translated in our
Moses, to inculcate humanity on the Israelites, ordered them, if they
found a bird's nest, not to take the dam with the young, but to suffer
the old one to fly away, and to take the young only, De 22:6,7.
Cages for singing birds are alluded to in Jer 5:27; and snares in Pr
7:23 Ec 9:12. Birds of prey are emblems of destroying hosts, Isa 46:11
Jer 12:9 Eze 32:4 Re 19:17-19; and the Lord comes to the defense of
his people with the swiftness of the eagle, Isa 31:5.
The privilege of the firstborn son. Among the Hebrews, as indeed among
most other nations, the firstborn enjoyed particular privileges; and
wherever polygamy was tolerated, it was highly necessary to fix them,
De 21:15-17. Besides the father's chief blessing, Ge 27:1-46, and
various minor advantages, the firstborn son was, first, specially
consecrated to the Lord,
Ex 13:11-16 22:29; and the firstborn son of a priest succeeded his
father in the priestly office. Among the sons of Jacob, Reuben the
firstborn forfeited the right of the firstborn, Ge 35:22 49:3,4, and
God gave it to Levi, Nu 3:12,13 8:18. Secondly, the firstborn was
entitled to a share of his father's estate twice as large as any of
the other brethren received, De 21:17. Thirdly, he succeeded to the
official dignities and rights of his father, 2Ch 21:3. In some of
these privileges there is an allusion to Him, who is "the firstborn
among many brethren," Ro 8:29 Col 1:18 Heb 1:2-6. Universal dominion
is his, and an everlasting priesthood.
An overseer, one who has the charge and direction of any thing. The
most common acceptation of the word in the New Testament, is that
which occurs Ac 20:28 Php 1:1, where it signifies Christ "the Shepherd
and Bishop of your souls," 1Pe 2:25. Paul describes the qualities
requisite in bishops, 1Ti 3:2 Tit 1:7, etc.; Christ himself is their
1Pe 1:1, a providence in the northern part of Asia Minor, on the shore
of the Black sea, having Paphlagonia on the east, Phrygia and Galatia
on the south, and Mysia on the southwest. It was directly opposite to
Constantinople. It is famous as being one of the provinces to which
the apostle Peter addressed his first epistle; also as having been
under the government of Pliny, who, in a letter to the emperor Trajan,
makes honorable mention of the number, character, and customs of the
persecuted Christians there, about A. D. 106; also for the holding of
the most celebrated council of the Christian church in the city of
Nice, its metropolis, about A. D. 325. It may be, with some justice,
considered as a province taught by Peter; and we read that when Paul
attempted to go into Bithynia, the Spirit suffered him not, Ac 16:7.
A fowl about the size of a heron, and of the same genus. Nineveh and
Babylon became a possession for "the bittern" and other wild birds,
Isa 14:23 34:11 Zep 2:14. According to some critics, the more probable
meaning of the Hebrew word is hedge-hog, or porcupine; and Mr. Rich
says he found "great quantities" of porcupine quills among the ruins
of Babylon; but others think this inconsistent with Zep 2:14, and
understand the word is referring to the common night-heron, a bird
like the bittern found among the marshes of Western Asia, resorting to
ruined buildings, and uttering a peculiar harsh cry before and after
its evening flight.
Ex 9:8-10, burning ulcerous eruptions, miraculously caused by the
ashes which Moses threw up among the Egyptians. If these ashes came
from the brick-kilns where the Hebrews had toiled, the pains which the
Egyptians suffered would naturally remind them of those which they had
BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST
Mt 12:31,32 Mr 3:28 Lu 12:10 This sin was committed by the Pharisees
when they, in violation of their own convictions, willfully and
maliciously ascribed the miracles of the Son of God and the work of
the Holy Spirit to the evil one. It is often inquired whether this was
the "sin unto death" spoken of 1Jo 5:16, and whether it is committed
in these days. However these questions may be answered, certain it is
that when one can ridicule religion and its ordinances, when he can
make sport with the work of the Holy Ghost in the human heart, when he
can persist in a willful disbelief of the Gospel, and cast contempt
upon Christianity and "the ministration of the Spirit," he is going to
a fearful extremity of guilt, and provoking the final withdrawment of
divine grace. While on the other hand the vilest blasphemer, who feels
the relenting of godly sorrow for his sins, and the desire to confess
them at the Savior's feet, may be sure of realizing the truth of
Christ's word. "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."
A man is guilty of blasphemy, when he speaks of God, or his
attributes, injuriously; when he calumniously ascribe such qualities
to him as do not belong to him, or robs him of those which do. The law
sentenced blasphemers to death, Le 24:12-16. In a lower sense, men are
said to be blasphemed when abused by calumnious and reviling words,
1Ki 21:10; Ac 6:11.
A chamberlain of Herod Agrippa, bribed to favor the men of Tyre and
Sidon, Ac 12:20.
Imperfections or deformities which unfitted men for the priesthood,
and animals for sacrifice. Of theses we have a particular enumeration
in Le 21:18-20; 22:20-24. In this provision of the law there was an
allusion to the great High priest of our profession, who offered
himself without spot to God.
Referring both to God and to man. When God blesses, he bestows that
efficacy which renders his blessing effectual. His blessings are
either temporal or spiritual, bodily or mental; but in every thing
they really convey the good which they import, Nu 6:23-27. The
blessings of men to other men, unless they be inspired prophecies, as
in Ge 32:32 De 33:1 1:1-29, are only good wishes, personal or
official, and as it were a peculiar kind of prayer to the Author of
all good for the welfare of the subject of them. Blessing, on the part
of man towards God, is an act of thanks-giving for his mercies, Ps
103:1; or rather, for that special mercy which at the time occasions
the act of blessing: as for food, for which thanks are rendered to
God, or for any other good, Ps 116:13 1Co 10:16.
This distressing malady is very prevalent in the East. Many physical
causes in those countries unite to injure the organs of vision. The
sun is hot, and in the atmosphere floats a very fine dust, which
enters and frets the eye. The armies of France and England, which were
so long in Egypt during the French was, suffered severely from
ophthalmic disease. In the cities of Egypt, blindness is perpetuated
as a contagious disease by the filthy habits of the natives. It is of
frequent occurrence also on the coast of Syria. In ancient times the
eyes of person hated or feared were often torn out, Jud 16:21 1Sa 11:2
2Ki 25:7. Blindness was sometimes inflicted as a punishment, Ge 19:11
Ac 13:6; and it was often threatened as a penalty, De 28:28. The Jews
were enjoined by the humane laws of Moses to show all kindness and
consideration to the blind, Le 19:14 De 27:18. No one affected with
this infirmity could officiate as priest, Le 21:18.
Our Savior miraculously cured many cases of blindness, both that which
was caused by disease and that which had existed from birth. In these
cases there was a double miracle; for not only was the organ of sight
restored, but also the faculty of using it which is usually gained
only by long experience, Mr 8:22-25. The touching of the eyes of the
blind, and anointing them with clay, Mt 9:29 Joh 9:6, can not have had
any medicinal or healing effect. The healing was miraculous, by the
power of God.
"Blindness" is often used for ignorance and error, especially our
sinful want of discernment as to spiritual things, Mt 15:14 2Co 4:4.
The abuse of God's mercy increases this blindness, Joh 12:40. Blessed
are the eyes that fix their adoring gaze first of all on the Redeemer.
The sacredness of human life, and the justice of punishing a murderer
by death, are grounded on the fact that man was made in the image of
God, Ge 9:6. With justice, the passion for revenge often conspired to
secure the death of the criminal. Among the Arabs, the nearest male
relative of a murdered person was to pursue the homicide until by
force or craft he put him to death. The law of Moses expressly forbade
the acceptance of any ransom for a life thus forfeited, Nu 35:31; but
it interfered between an accused person and his pursuer, by providing
a sanctuary-at the altar of God and in the cities of refuge-where the
accused might be safe until it was proved that he had committed the
act, willfully or accidentally, Jos 20:6,9. In the former case, he was
at once given up to his pursuer for death, Ex 1:14; 1Ki 2:29,34. In
the latter case, he might dwell with safety in the city of refuge; but
should he go elsewhere before the death of the high priest, he was
liable to be slain by the avenger of blood, Nu 35:25-28.
The life of all animals was regarded as especially in the blood, which
was a sacred and essential part of the sacrifices offered to God, Heb
9:22. It was solemnly sprinkled upon the altar and the mercy seat,
"for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul," Le 17:1-16
the life of the victim for the life of the sinner. It was therefore
most sacredly associated with the blood of the Lamb of God which
"cleanseth us from all sin," Eph 1:7 1Jo 1:7. Hence the strict
prohibition renewed in Ac 15:29. In direct opposition to this are the
heathen customs of drinking the blood of animals and even of men- of
eating raw flesh, with the blood, and even fresh cut from the living
animal, 1Sa 14:32 Ps 16:4 Eze 33:25.
Besides the ordinary meaning of the word blood, it often signifies the
guilt of murder, 2Sa 3:28 Ac 27:25; also relationship or
consanguinity. "Flesh and blood" are placed in contrast with a
spiritual nature, Mt 16:17, the glorified body, 1Co 15:50, and evil
spirits, Eph 6:12. The cause "between blood and blood," De 17:8, was
one where life was depending on the judgment rendered.
Sons of thunder, a name given by our Savior to James and John the sons
of Zebedee, Mr 3:17; perhaps on account of their power as preachers.
Some suppose it was given on the occasion of their request that Christ
would call for fire from heaven, and destroy a village of the
Samaritans, which had refused to entertain them, Lu 9:53,54.
The wild boar is considered as the parent stock of the common hog. He
is a furious and formidable animal. The tusks are larger and stronger
than in the tame herds, the color is iron-grey, inclining to black.
His snout is long, and his ears are short. At present wild boars
frequent the marshes around the upper Jordan, and have been found on
Mount Carmel, and in large herds near the sea of Tiberias. They were
frequent in the time of the Crusades. Richard Coeur de Lion
encountered one, ran him through with a lace, and while the animal was
still endeavoring to gore his horse, leaped over him, and slew him
with his sword. The destructive ravages of the animal are referred to
in Ps 80:13.
Ru 2:1, a wealthy Bethlehemite, a descendant of Judah, through whom is
traced the regular succession of Jewish kings, Mt 1:5. His conduct in
the case of Ruth proves him to have been a man of fine spirit and of
strict integrity. He admitted the claim which Ruth had upon him as a
near kinsman: under the obligations of the Levitical law, he married
the poor gleaner, and thus became one of the ancestors of David, and
also of David's Son and Lord. He was the father of Obed, Obed was the
father of Jesse, and Jesse of David. The whole narrative is a
beautiful picture of the simplicity of the age, when artificial
courtesies had not usurped the place of natural and sincere
expressions of love.
Boaz was also the name of one of the two brazen pillars which Solomon
erected in the porch of the temple, the other being called JACHIN.
These columns were about thirty-five feet high, 1Ki 7:15,16,21.
Weepings, a place near Gilgal, where the angel of the Lord reproved
Israel for their remissness, Jud 2:1-5.
Several sorts of materials were anciently used in making books. Plates
of lead or copper, the bark of trees, brick, stone, and wood, were
originally employed to engrave such things and documents upon as men
desired to transmit to posterity, De 27:2,3 Job 19:23,24. God's laws
were written on stone tablets. Inscriptions were also made on tiles
and bricks, which were afterwards hardened by fire. Many of these are
found in the ruins of Babylon. Tablets of wood, box, and ivory were
common among the ancients: when they were of wood only, they were
oftentimes coated over with wax, which received the writing inscribed
on them with the point of a style, or iron pen, Jer 17:13; and what
was written might be effaced by the broad end of a style, Lu 1:63.
Afterwards, the leaves of the palm-tree were used instead of wooden
tablets, and also the finest and thinnest bark of trees, such as the
lime, the ash, the maple, the elm: hence the word liber, which denotes
the inner bark of trees, signifies also a book. As these barks were
rolled up, to be more readily carried about, the united rolls were
called volumen, a volume; a name given likewise to rolls of paper or
of parchment. The ancients wrote like-wise on linen. But the oldest
material commonly employed for writing upon, appears to have been the
papyrus, a reed very common in Egypt and other places, and still found
in Sicily and Chaldea. From this comes our word paper. At a later
period, parchment from skins was invented in Pergamos, and was there
used for rolls or volumes. The pen for writing on these soft materials
was a small brush, or a reed split at the end, Jer 36:23. The ink was
prepared with lampblack coal of ivory, various gums, etc., and the
writing was sometimes permanently fixed by fire. Scribes carried their
inkhorns hanging to their girdles, Eze 9:2. The making of paper from
linen in its modern form was first known in Europe about A. D. 1300.
The art of printing was introduced about one hundred and fifty years
An ancient book therefore had the appearance of a thick roll of some
paper-like substance, written usually in parallel columns on one side
only, and read by gradually unrolling it by means of two small
rollers, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the volume.
A roll was sometimes sealed, being first tied or wrapped about with a
cord, on which the wax was dropped, and stamped by a signet, Isa 29:11
The writing was practiced very early, may be inferred from allusions
to the art in Ge 5:1 Ex 17:14 Job 9:25 19:23 31:5. The Egyptians were
accustomed to it from the earliest ages.
Ancient writers, instead of writing their books, etc., with their own
hand, often employed amanuenses. St. Paul notes it as a particular
circumstance, in the epistle to the Galatians, that he had written it
with his own hand, Ga 6:11. To other letters he only affixed his
salutation with his own hand, 1Co 16:21 Col 4:18 2Th 3:17. The
amanuensis who wrote the epistle to the Romans, has mentioned himself
at the close, Ro 16:22. See LETTER.
Book of the Generation, is used in Ge 5:1 Mt 1:1, in the sense of a
genealogical record. See GENERATION.
Book of the Wars of the Lord, Nu 21:14, was probably a sort of
military journal, formed of detached odes.
The Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel were
apparently public journals, 1Ki 14:19,29.
The Book of Jasher, 2Sa 1:18, may perhaps have been a collection of
national ballads, one of the forms most used for perpetuating the
history of ancient times.
The Books of the Chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel were
apparently public journals, 1Ki 14:19,29.
Book of Life, or of the Living, Ps 69:28. It is probable that these
descriptive phrases are taken from the custom observed in the courts
of princes, of keeping a list of persons who are in their service, of
the provinces which they govern, of the officers of their armies, of
the number of their troops, and sometimes even of the names of their
soldiers. In the figurative style of oriental poetry, God is
represented as inscribing the names, acts, and destinies of men in
volumes; and the volume in which are thus entered the names of those
who are chosen to salvation, is "the book of life," Php 4:3.
A shelter, made usually of poles fixed upright in the ground, and
covered over with green boughs, Ge 33:17. The great feast of
tabernacles, or booths, had its name from the circumstance that the
Jews were directed by their law to dwell in booths during the seen
days of this feast, Le 23:40-42; Ne 8:14.
Spoils taken in war were to be shared equally by those who fought and
those who guarded the camp, Nu 31:27-32. The Lord's portion was first
deducted from the whole; and in after-times the king appropriated a
large part to himself.
The front of the upper part of the body, the breast. The orientals
generally wore long wide, and loose garments; and when about to carry
any thing away that their hands would not contain, they used for the
purpose a fold in the bosom of their robe above the girdle, Lu 6:38.
Our Savior is said to carry his lambs in his bosom, which beautifully
represents his tender care and watchfulness over them, Isa 40:11.
The thickest and strongest parts, the projecting points, of a shield.
The accompanying engraving shows the form and nature of an ancient
goatskin bottle, out of which a water-carrier is offering to sell a
draught of water. After the skin has been stripped off from an animal,
and properly dressed, the places where the legs had been are closed
up; and where the neck was, is the opening left for receiving and
discharging the contents of the bottle. These were readily borne upon
the shoulder, Ge 21:14. See also Jos 9:4,13 Ps 119:83 Jer 13:12.
By receiving the liquor poured into it, a skin bottle must be greatly
swelled and distended; and still more, if the liquor be wine, by its
fermentation while advancing to ripeness; so that if no vent be given
to it, the liquor may overpower the strength of the bottle, or if it
find any defect, it may ooze out by that. Hence the propriety of
putting new wine into new bottles, which being in the prime of their
strength, may resist the expansion of their contents, and preserve the
wine to maturity; while old bottles may, without danger, contain old
wine, whose fermentation is already past, Mt 9:17 Lu 5:38 Job 32:19.
Such bottles, or skins, are still universally employed in travelling
in the East, as well as by the public water-carriers, and for domestic
uses. They were made, for storage in wine cellars, of the hides of
oxen or camels. But the smaller ones of goatskins were more generally
used for water as well as wine. The ancients, however, were acquainted
with the art of making earthenware, and had a variety of elegant small
bottles and vases for toilet purposes, made of the precious metals, of
stone, glass, porcelain, and alabaster, Jer 19:1,10,11. See CRUSE,
A weapon much used in ancient times, both for hunting and for war. It
was made of wood, horn, or steel, Ge 27:3 Ps 18:34; and the foot was
sometimes used in bending it. It was carried in a case, when not used,
Hab 3:19. The Benjamites were celebrated for their skill in the use of
this weapon, 1Ch 12:2 2Ch 14:8 17:17. See ARMS. The phrase, "a
deceitful bow," to which the people of Israel are compared, Ps 78:57
Ho 7:16, means an ill-made or twisted bow, which does not shoot the
arrow as it is aimed. In 2Sa 1:18, we read. "Also he bade them teach
the children of Judah the use of the bow." Here the words, "the use
of," are not in the Hebrew. The use of the bow in war had long been
common among the Jews, Ge 48:22; and to "teach them the bow," is by
some supposed to mean, teach them by some supposed to mean, teach them
the song of THE BOW THE BOW, the lamentation over Saul and Jonathan,
which follows; so called from the mention of the weapon in Ge 48:22,
as the first four books in the Bible take their title in Hebrew from
the first word in each. See ARROW ARROW.
Are often put by the Hebrew writers for the internal parts generally,
the inner man, just as we often use the word heart. Hence the bowels
are often represented as the seat of mercy, tenderness, compassion,
etc., 1Ki 3:26 Isa 63:15 Jer 31:20 Col 3:12 1Jo 3:17.
A well-known beautiful evergreen, growing in many parts of Europe and
Asia. Its wood is highly prized by engravers. The word employed in Isa
60:13, is thought by many to have been a species of cedar. It is used
as an emblem of the abiding grace and prosperity of the church of God.
Ge 36:33, a city of Edom, Isa 34:6 63:1, and the region around it, Jer
49:13,22. It is associated with Terman, and with the Red sea, Jer
49:20-22 Am 1:12. Its site is found in the modern El-Busaireh, midway
between Kir Moab and Mount Hor, south by east of the Dead sea. This is
a village of about fifty houses, on a hill crowned by a small castle.
The ruins are those of a considerable city. Bozrah of Moab, Jer 48:24,
may be the same place with this, or perhaps with Bezer.
Properly an ornament for the wrist, or for the arm above or below the
elbow; but sometimes used also in the Bible to signify an ornament
worn of the leg, Nu 31:50 Isa 3:19. Armlets were worn by men,
sometimes as a badge of royalty, 2Sa 1:10. Bracelets were of great
variety of materials and forms; were usually large, and often of great
value, Ge 24:22.
The woman of Syria and Arabia at this day wear rings round their legs,
to which are fastened many other lesser rings, with make a tinkling
noise, like little bells, when they walk. These rings are fixed above
the ankle, and are of gold, silver, copper, glass, or even of
varnished earth, according to the condition of the wearer. The
princesses wear large hollow rings of gold, within which are enclosed
little pebbles, that tinkle. See RINGS.
As trees denote, in figurative language, great men and princes, so
branches, boughs, and plants denote their offspring. Christ is called
"the Branch," the "rod out of the stem of Jesse," and "branch out of
his roots," Isa 11:1; 53:2; Zec 3:8; 6:12; being a royal descendant of
the princely house of David, Jer 23:5; 33:15. The word branch also
illustrates the union of believers with Christ, Joh 15:5,6. It is used
in Eze 8:17 as a symbol of idolatrous worship, probably in allusion to
the carrying of fragrant boughs in honor of idols.
Is frequently mentioned in the English Bible, Ge 4:22 De 8:9; but
there is little doubt that copper is intended, brass being a mixed
metal-two-thirds copper and one-third zinc-for the manufacture of
which we are indebted to the Germans. The ancients knew nothing of
that particular compound, though well acquainted with bronze, of which
arms, mirrors, and ornaments were made. Copper was used for many
purposes about the temple, Le 6:28 Nu 16:39 2Ch 4:16; for filters, Jud
16:21 2Ki 25:7; for armor, 1Sa 17:5,6,38; for musical instruments, 1Ch
15:19; and for money, Mt 10:9. "Brass" is used to describe drought,
insensibility, baseness, and obstinacy in sin, Le 26:19 De 28:23 Isa
48:4 Jer 6:28 Eze 22:18. It is also a symbol of strength, Ps 107:16 Da
2:39 Zec 6:1. See COPPER.
An image in brass prepared by Moses, resembling the fiery serpents so
destructive to Israel in the desert, and set up in the midst of the
camp in the view of all, that whosoever would evince penitence, faith,
and obedience by looking to it, might live, Nu 21:6-9. Our Savior has
shown us that this was typical of himself and of salvation through
him- a gratuitous salvation, free to all, on the easy terms of faith
and obedience, Joh 3:14,15. The brazen serpent was long preserved, as
a memorial of the gracious miracle wrought in connection with it; but
being regarded as an object of worship, it was broken to pieces by
king Hezekiah, as Nehushtan, a mere piece of brass, 2Ki 18:4.
A word which in Scripture is often put for food in general, Ge 3:19
18:5 28:20 Ex 2:20 Le 11:3. Manna is called bread from heaven, Ex
16:4. Bread, in the proper and literal sense, usually means cakes made
of wheaten flour; barely being used chiefly by the poor and for
feeding horses. The wheat was ground daily, in small stone mills; the
flour was made into dough in a wooden trough, and subsequently
leavened, Ex 12:34 Ho 7:4. It was then made into cakes, and baked.
The ancient Hebrews had several ways of baking bread: of baking bread:
they often baked it under the ashes upon the earth, upon round copper
or iron plates, or in pans or stoves made on purpose. The Arabians and
other oriental nations, among whom wood is scarce, often bake their
bread between two fires made of cow-dung, which burns slowly. The
bread is good, if eaten the same day, but the crust is black and
burnt, and retains a smell of the fuel used in baking it. This
explains Eze 4:9,15.
The Hebrews, in common with other eastern people, had a kind of oven,
(tannoor), which is like a large pitcher, open at top, in which they
made a fire. When it was well heated, they mingled flour in water, and
this paste they applied to the outside of the pitcher. Such bread is
baked in an instant, and is taken off in thin, fine pieces, like our
wafers, Le 2:1-16. Bread was also baked in cavities sunk in the
ground, or the floor of the tent, and well lined with compost or
cement. A tire was built on the floor of this oven; and the sides
being sufficiently heated, thin cakes were adroitly stuck upon towns
there were public ovens, and bakers by trade, Jer 37:21 Ho 7:4.
As the Hebrews generally made their bread thin, and in the form of
flat cakes, or wafers, they did not cut it with a knife, but broke it,
La 4:4, which gave rise to that expression so usual in Scripture, of
"breaking bread," to signify eating, sitting down to table, taking a
repast. In the institution of the Lord's supper, our Savior broke the
bread which he had consecrated; whence "to break bread," and "breaking
of bread," in the New Testament are used for celebrating the Lord's
supper. See under EATING.
SHOWBREAD, Heb. Bread of presence, was bread offered every Sabbath-day
to God on the golden table which stood in the holy place, Ex 25:30;
twelve cakes of unleavened bread, offered with salt and frankincense,
Le 2:13 24:5-9. The show-bread could be lawfully eaten by none but the
priests; nevertheless, David having received some of these loaves from
the high-priest Abimelech, ate of them without scruple in his
necessity, 1Sa 21:1-6; and our Savior quotes his example to justify
the disciples, who had bruised ears of corn, and were eating them on
the Sabbath-day. Mt 12:1- 4.
A piece of embroidery, about ten inches square, Ex 28:15-30, of very
rich work, which the high priest wore on his breast. It was made of
two pieces of the same rich embroidered stuff of which the ephod was
made, having a front and a lining, and forming a kind of purse or bag,
in which, according to the rabbins, the Urim and Thummim were
enclosed. The front of it was set with twelve precious stones, on each
of which was engraved the name of one of the tribes. They were placed
in four rows, and divided from each other by the little golden squares
or partitions in which they were set. At each corner was a gold ring
answering to a ring upon the ephod, these four pairs of rings serving
to hold the breastplate in its place on the front of the ephod, by
means of four blue ribands, one at each corner.
Were usually made of clay, dried and hardened in the sun, Ge 11:3,
though brick-kilns were sometimes used, 2Sa 12:31 Na 3:14. The tower
of Babel was constructed of brick, cemented with bitumen. The bricks
used were often a foot square; and great numbers of them are found,
both in Babylon and Egypt, impressed with some royal or priestly
stamp. The principal subject of interest connected with brick making
is the fact that it was the labor in which the Hebrews in Egypt were
most oppressed. On the monuments of Egypt, all the parts of this hard
and ancient task-work are painted-the carrying, tempering, and molding
of the clay, and the drying and pilling of the bricks-all done by
foreigners under the orders of taskmasters. The straw was probably
mixed with the clay to compact it. See Wilkinson's "Ancient
BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM
See MARRIAGE and SOLOMON'S SONG.
A coat of mail, Jer 46:4; 51:3.
A mineral substance, highly inflammable, and burning with a
suffocating smell. Sodom and the other cities of the plain were
destroyed "by brimstone and fire," Ge 19:24; and this awful
catastrophe is often used in Scripture, as an emblem of temporal and
eternal judgments of God upon the wicked, Job 18:15; Ps 11:6; Isa
30:33; 34:9; Re 21:8.
Signifies in Scripture the son of the same parent or parents, Mt 1:2
Lu 6:14; a cousin or near kinsman, Ge 13:8 14:16 Joh 7:3 Ac 1:14; one
of the same stock or country, Mt 5:47 Ac 3:22 Heb 7:5; a fellow-man,
and equal, Mt 5:23 7:3; one beloved, 2Sa 1:26; Christians, as sons of
God, Ac 9:30 11:29. In Mt 12:46-50 13:55,56 Mr 3:31-35, the brothers
of Christ are so mentioned, in connection with his mother and sisters,
as almost to require us to believe they were children of Joseph and
Mary, younger than Jesus. Yet this is not quite certain, as it may be
that the James, Joses, and Judas in Mt 13:55, are the nephews of
Christ alluded to in Mt 27:56 Lu 6:15,16 Joh 19:25; Cleophas and
Alphaeus being probably the same.
Rumor or report, Jer 10:22 Na 3:19.
Occurring only in 1Ki 6:38, applied to the eighth month, usually
called Marchesvan, which see. Solomon's temple was finished in Bul.
Of Bashan, pasturing in a fertile region and with but few keepers,
became strong and fierce, and might "compass about" and intruder, and
trample him under foot. They are symbols of powerful, fierce, and
numerous foes, Ps 22:12 68:30 Isa 34:7. See OX.
Or papyrus, a reed growing on the banks of the Nile, in marshy ground,
Job 8:11, to the height of twelve or fifteen feet, Isa 35:7. The
stalks are pliable, and capable of being interwoven very closely, as
is evident from their being used in the construction of arks, Ex
2:3,5; and also vessels of larger dimensions, Isa 18:2. Boats of this
material were very common in Egypt. Being exceedingly light and small,
they sailed with great velocity, and might easily be borne on the
shoulders around rapids and falls. The inner bark of this plant,
platted and cemented together, furnished a writing material; and the
pith was sometimes used for food. See BOOK.
A weight or load, on body or soul; often used figuratively, to denote
afflictions, failings, sins, Ps 38:4 55:22 Ga 6:2; services under law,
Mt 23:4; official responsibilities, Ex 18:22 De 1:12; and especially
prophetic messages, not always of a threatening character, Isa 19:1.
In this last sense the Hebrew word may be rendered "oracle," "divine
declaration," or "prophecy," as in Pr 31:31,1.
The Hebrews were at all times very careful in the burial of their
dead, Ge 25:9 35:29. To be deprived of burial was thought one of the
greatest marks of dishonor, or cause of unhappiness, Ec 6:3 Jer
22:18,19; it being denied to none, not even to enemies. Good men made
it a part of their piety to inter the dead. Indeed, how shocking must
the sight of unburied corpses have been to the Jews, when their land
was thought to be polluted if the dead were in any manner exposed to
view, 2Sa 21:14; and when the very touch of a dead body, or of any
thing that had touched a dead body, was esteemed a defilement, and
required a ceremonial ablution, Nu 19.11-22.
Only two cases of burning the bodies of the dead occur in Scripture:
the mangled remains of Saul and his sons, 1Sa 31:12, and the victims
of some plague, Am 6:10. It was customary for the nearest relatives to
close the eyes of the dying and give them the parting kiss, and then
to commence the wailing for the dead, Jer 46:4 50:1; in this wailing,
which continued at intervals until after the burial, they were joined
by other relatives and friends, Joh 11:19, whose loud and shrill
lamentations are referred to in Mr 5:38. It is also a custom still
prevailing in the East to hire wailing women, Jer 9:17 Am 5:16, who
praised the deceased, Ac 9:39, and by doleful cries and frantic
gestures, aided at times by melancholy tones of music, Mt 9:23, strove
to express the deepest grief, Eze 24:17,18.
Immediately after death the body was washed, and laid out in a
convenient room, Ac 9:39; it was wrapped in many folds of linen, with
spices, and the head bound about with a napkin, Mt 27:59 Joh 11:44.
Unless the body was to be embalmed, the burial took place very soon,
both on account of the heat of the climate and the ceremonial
uncleanness incurred. Rarely did twenty-four hours elapse between
death and burial, Ac 5:6,10. The body being shrouded, was placed upon
a bier-a board resting on a simple handbarrow, borne by men-to be
conveyed to the tomb, 2Sa 3:31 Lu 7:14. Sometimes a more costly bier
or bed was used, 2Ch 16:14: and the bodies of kings and some others
may have been laid in coffins of wood, or stone sarcophagi. The
relatives attended the bier to the tomb, which was usually without the
city. A banquet sometimes followed the funeral, Jer 16:7,8; and during
subsequent days the bereaved friends were wont to go to the grave from
time to time, to weep and to adorn the place with fresh flowers, Joh
11:31, a custom observed even at this day. See EMBALMING, SEPULCHRE.
Used in the New Testament to express the Greek modius, which was about
a peck by our measure.
The Hebrew word usually rendered butter denotes, properly, sour or
curdled milk, Ge 18:8; Jud 5:25; Job 20:17. This last is a favorite
beverage in the East to the present day. Burckhardt, when crossing the
desert from the country south of the Dead sea to Egypt, says, "Besides
flour, I carried some butter and dried leben, (sour milk), which, when
dissolved in water, not only forms a refreshing beverage, but is much
to be recommended as a preservative of health when travelling in
summer." Yet butter may have been known to the Hebrews. It is much
used by the Arabs and Syrians at the present day, and is made by
pouring the milk into the common goatskin bottle, suspending this from
the tent-poles, and swinging it to and fro with a jerk, until the
process is completed. Still it is not certain that the Hebrew word
rendered butter ever denotes that article. Even in Pr 30:33 we may
render, "The pressing of milk bringeth forth cheese;" and everywhere
else the rendering "curd," or "curdled milk," would be appropriate.
Son of Nahor and Milcah, and ancestor of the Buzites, who lived in
Mesopotamia or Ram, and afterwards perhaps in Arabia Deserta, Ge
22:21; Job 32:2; Jer 25:23.
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