American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - F



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FABLE

An idle, groundless, and worthless story, like the mythological
legends of the heathen and the vain traditions of the Jews. These were
often not only false and weak, but also pernicious, 1Ti 4:7 Tit 1:14
2Pe 1:16.


FACE

Face and presence, expressed by the same word in Hebrew, are often put
for the person himself, Ge 48:11 Ex 33:14 Isa 63:9. No man has seen
the face of God, that is, had a full revelation of his glory, Ex 33:20
Joh 1:18 1Ti 6:16. To see him "face to face," is to enjoy his
presence, Ge 32:30 Nu 14:14 De 5:4, and have a clear manifestation of
his nature and grace, 1Co 13:12.


FAIR HAVENS

A roadstead or small bay, near the town of Lasea, midway on the
southern coast of Crete, where Paul wished to winter when on the
voyage to Rome, Ac 27:8. The sailors preferred Phenice as safer, and
were wrecked in consequence. It still retains nearly its old name.


FAITH

The assent of the understanding to any truth. Religious faith is
assent to the truth of divine revelation and of the events and
doctrines contained in it. This may be merely historical, without
producing any effect on our lives and conversation; and it is then a
dead faith, such as even the devils have. But a living or saving faith
not only believes the great doctrines of religion as true, but
embraces them with the heart and affections; and is thus the source of
sincere obedience to the divine will, exhibited in the life and
conversation. Faith in Christ is a grace wrought in the heart by the
Holy Spirit, whereby we receive Christ as our Savior, our Prophet,
Priest, and King, and love and obey him as such. This living faith in
Christ is the means of salvation-not meritoriously, but
instrumentally. Without it there can be no forgiveness of sins, and no
holiness of life; and they who are justified by faith, live and walk
by faith, Mr 16:16 Joh 3:15,16 Ac 16:31 1Jo 5:10.


True faith is an essential grace, and a mainspring of Christian life.
By it the Christian overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil, and
receives the crown of righteousness, 1Ti 4:7-8. In virtue of it,
worthy men of old wrought great wonders, Heb 11:1-40 Ac 14:9 1Co 13:2,
being sustained by Omnipotence in doing whatever God enjoined, Mt
17:20 Mr 9:23 11:23-24. In Ro 1:8, faith is put for the exhibition of
faith, in the practice of all the duties implied in a profession of
faith.


FAITHFUL

In many passages in the Bible, means "believing." Thus in Ga 3:9,
believers are said to be blessed with Abraham, because of his
preeminent distinction above all man for steadfast faith in God. This
appellation is given in Scripture to true Christians, to indicate not
only their saving faith in Christ, but their trustworthy and
consistent Christian character, Ac 16:15 1Co 4:17 Eph 6:21 Col 4:9 1Pe
5:12. "A faithful saying" is one that cannot prove false, 1Ti 1:15 2Ti
2:11.


FAITHFULNESS

An infinite attribute of Jehovah; adapted to make perfect both the
confidence of those who believe his word and rely on his promises, and
the despair of those who doubt his word and defy his threatenings, De
28:26 Nu 23:19 Ps 89:33-34 Heb 10:23.


FAMINE

Scripture records several famines in Palestine, and the neighboring
countries, Ge 12:10 26:1 Ru 1:1 2Ki 6:25 Ac 11:27. The most remarkable
one was that of seven years in Egypt, while Joseph was governor, Ge
41:1-57. It was distinguished for its duration, extent, and severity;
particularly as Egypt is one of the countries least subject to such a
calamity, by reason of its general fertility. Famine is sometimes a
natural effect, as when the Nile does not overflow in Egypt, or rains
do not fall in Judea, at the customary season; or when caterpillars,
locusts, or other insects, destroy the fruits. But all natural causes
are under the control of God; and he often so directs them as to
chastise the rebellious with want, 2Ki 8:1-2 Eze 6:1 Mt 24:7. The
worst famine is a spiritual one, Am 8:11.


FAN

An instrument used for winnowing grain. In the East, fans are of two
kinds: one a sort of fork, having three or four prongs, and a handle
four feet long; with this they throw up the grain to the wind, that
the chaff may be blown away: the other sort of fan is formed to
produce wind when the air is calm, Isa 30:24. This process illustrates
the complete separation which Christ the Judge will effect between the
righteous and the wicked, Jer 15:7 Mt 3:12. See THRESHING.


FARTHING

Two different Roman brass coins are translated by this word: one of
these, the assarion, Mt 10:29 Lu 12:6, was worth less than a cent; the
other, the kodrantes, Mt 5:26, was probably nearly four mills.


FASTING

In all ages, and among all nations, fasting has been practiced in
times of sorrow, and affliction, Jon 3:5. It may be regarded as a
dictate of nature, which under these circumstances refuses
nourishment, and suspends the cravings of hunger. In the Bible no
example is mentioned of fasting, properly so-called, before Moses. His
forty days' fast, like that of Elijah and of our Lord, was miraculous,
De 9:9 1Ki 19:8 Mt 4:2. The Jews often had recourse to this practice,
when they had occasion to humble themselves before God, to confess
their sins and deprecate his displeasure, Jud 20:26 1Sa 7:6 2Sa 12:16
Ne 9:1 1Ki 19:8 Jer 36:9. Especially in times of public calamity, they
appointed extraordinary fasts, and made even the children at the
breast fast, Joe 2:16 Da 10:2-3. They began the observance of their
fasts, at sunset, and remained without eating until the same hour the
next day. The great day of expiation was probably the only annual and
national fast day among them.


It does not appear by his own practice or by his commands, that our
Lord instituted any particular fast. On one occasion, he intimated
that his disciples would fast after his death, Lu 5:34,35.
Accordingly, the life of the apostles and first believers was a life
of self-denials, sufferings, and fasting, 2Co 5:7 11:27. Our Savior
recognized the custom, and the apostles practiced it as occasion
required, Mt 6:16-18 Ac 13:3 1Co 7:5.


FAT

The fat portions of animals offered in sacrifice were always to be
consumed, as being the choice part and especially sacred to the Lord.
The blood was also sacred, as containing the life of the animal. The
Jews were forbidden to eat either, Le 3:16,17; 7:23-27.


FATHER

Is often synonymous with ancestor, founder, or originator, as Ge
4:20-21 Joh 8:56 Ro 4:16. Joseph was a father to Pharoah, Ge 45:8, as
his counselor and provider. God is the FATHER of men, as their
Creator, De 32:6 Isa 63:16 64:8 Lu 3:38. But as we have forfeited the
rights of children by our sins, it is only through Christ that we can
call God by that endearing name, "our Father," Joh 20:17 Ro 8:15-17.


In patriarchal times, a father was master and judge in his own
household, and exercised and authority almost unlimited over his
family. Filial disobedience or disrespect was a high offence. Under
the law, certain acts of children were capital crimes, Ex 21:15,17 Le
20:9; and the father was required to bring his son to the public
tribunal, De 21:18-21. See MOTHER.


FEASTS

God appointed several festivals, or days of rest and worship, among
the Jews, to perpetuate the memory of great events wrought in favor of
them: the Sabbath commemorated the creation of the world; the
Passover, the departure out of Egypt; the Pentecost, the law given at
Sinai, etc. At the three great feasts of the year, the Passover,
Pentecost, and that of Tabernacles, all the males of the nation were
required to visit the temple, Ex 23:14-17 De 16:16-17; and to protect
their borders from invasion during their absence, the shield of a
special providence was always interposed, Ex 34:23-24. The other
festivals were the Feast of Trumpets, or New Moon, Purim, Dedication,
the Sabbath year, and the year of Jubilee. These are described
elsewhere. The observance of these sacred festivals was adapted not
merely to freshen the remembrance of their early history as a nation,
but to keep alive the influence of religion and the expectation of the
Messiah, to deepen their joy in God, to dispel animosities and
jealousies, and to form new associations between the different tribes
and families. See also Day of EXPIATION.


In the Christian church, we have no festival that clearly appears to
have been instituted by our Savior, or his apostles; but as we
commemorate his death as often as we celebrate his supper, he has
hereby seemed to institute a perpetual feast. Christians have always
celebrated the memory of his resurrection by regarding the Sabbath,
which we see, from Re 1:10, was in John's time commonly called "the
Lord's day." Feasts of love, Jude 1:12, were public banquets of a
frugal kind, instituted by the primitive Christians, and connected by
them with the celebration of the Lord's supper. The provisions were
contributed by the more wealthy, and were common to all Christians,
whether rich or poor, who chose to partake. Portions were also sent to
the sick and absent members. These love-feasts were intended as an
exhibition of mutual Christian affection; but they became subject to
abuses, and were afterwards generally discontinued, 1Co 11:17-34.


The Hebrews were a hospitable people, and were wont to welcome their
guests with a feast, and dismiss them with another, Ge 19:3 31:27 Jud
6:19 2Sa 3:20 2Ki 6:23. The returning prodigal was thus welcomed, Lu
15:23. Many joyful domestic events were observed with feasting:
birthdays, etc., Ge 21:8 40:20 Job 1:4 Mt 14:6; marriages, Ge 29:22
Jud 14:10 Joh 2:1-10; sheep shearing and harvesting, Jud 9:27 1Sa
25:2,36 2Sa 13:23. A feast was also provided at funerals, 2Sa 3:35 Jer
16:7. Those who brought sacrifices and offerings to the temple were
wont to feast upon them there, with joy and praise to God, De 12:6,7
1Sa 16:5 2Sa 6:19. They were taught to invite all the needy to partake
with them, De 16:11; and even to make special feasts for the poor, De
12:17-19 14:28 26:12-15; a custom which the Savior specially
commended, Lu 14:12-14.


The manner of holding a feast was anciently marked with great
simplicity. But at the time of Christ many Roman customs had been
introduced. The feast or "supper" usually took place at five or six in
the afternoon, and often continued to a late hour. The guests were
invited some time in advance; and those who accepted the invitation
were again notified by servants when the hour arrived, Mt 22:4-8 Lu
14:16-24. The door was guarded against uninvited persons; and was at
length closed for the day by the hand of the master of the house, Mt
25:10 Lu 13:24. Sometimes very large numbers were present, Es 1:3,5 Lu
14:16-24; and on such occasions a "governor of the feast" was
appointed, whose social qualities, tact, firmness, and temperance
fitted him to preside, Joh 2:8. The guests were arranged with a
careful regard to their claims to honor, Ge 43:33 1Sa 9:22 Pr 25:6,7
Mt 23:6 Lu 14:7; in which matter the laws of etiquette are still
jealously enforced in the East. Sometimes the host provided light,
rich, loose robes for the company; and if so, the refusing to wear one
was a gross insult, Ec 9:8 Mt 22:11 Re 3:4,5. The guests reclined
around the tables; water and perfumes were served to them, Mr 7:2 Lu
7:44-46; and after eating, the hands were again washed, a servant
pouring water over them. During the repast and after it various
entertainments were provided; enigmas were proposed, Jud 14:12;
eastern tales were told; music and hired dancers, and often excessive
drinking, etc., occupied the time, Isa 5:12 24:7-9 Am 6:5. See EATING,
FOOD.


FELIX

A Roman governor of Judea; originally a slave, but manumitted and
promoted by Claudius Caesar, from whom he received the name of
Claudius. He is described by the historian Tacitus as cruel,
licentious, and base. In Judea he married Drusilla, sister of the
younger Agrippa, having enticed her from her second husband Azizus.
Paul having been sent by Lysias to Caesarea, then the seat of
government, Felix gave him an audience, and was convinced of his
innocence. Nevertheless he kept him a prisoner, though with many
alleviation's, in hopes that his friends would purchase his liberty by
a heavy bribe. Meanwhile his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess, desired
to hear Paul explain the new religion; and the apostle being summoned
before them, discoursed with his usual boldness on justice, chastity,
and the final judgment. Felix trembled, but hastily remanded Paul to
confinement, and stifled his convictions-a melancholy instance of the
power of lust and the danger of delay. Two years after, A. D. 60, he
was recalled to Rome; and left Paul in prison, in order to appease the
Jews. He was brought to trial, however, for maladministration, found
guilty, and barely escaped death through the intercession of his
brother Pallas, another royal favorite, Ac 23:26; 24:1-27.


FERRET

A sort of weasel, Le 11:30. The Hebrew word means rather a species of
lizard, the gecko, which Moses forbids as unclean.


FESTUS, PORTIUS

Succeeded Felix in the government of Judea, A. D. 60. To oblige the
Jews, Felix, when he resigned his government, left Paul in bonds at
Caesarea in Palestine, Ac 24:27; and when Festus arrived, he was
entreated by the principal Jews to condemn the apostle, or to order
him up to Jerusalem-they having conspired to assassinate him in the
way. Festus, however, answered that it was not customary with the
Romans to condemn any man without hearing him; and promised to hear
their accusations at Caesarea. Five days after, on hearing Paul and
learning the nature of the charges against him, he proposed to him to
abide the issue of a trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin. But Paul
appealed to Caesar; and so secured himself from the prosecution of the
Jews, and the intentions of Festus. The governor gave him another
hearing during a congratulatory visit of king Agrippa, in order to
make out a statement to be forwarded with him to Rome. Finding how
greatly robberies abounded in Judea, Festus very diligently pursued
the thieves; and he also suppressed a magician, who drew the people
after him into the desert. Josephus speaks well of his brief
administration. He died in Judea, A. D. 62, and was succeeded by
Albinus.


FIG

The fig tree is common in Palestine and the East, and flourishes with
the greatest luxuriance in those barren and stony situations where
little else will grow. Its large size, and its abundance of five-lobed
leaves, render it a pleasant shade tree; and its fruit furnished a
wholesome food, very much used in all the lands of the Bible. Thus it
was a symbol of peace and plenty, 1Ki 4:25 Mic 4:4 Zec 3:10 Joh
1:49-51. Figs are of two sorts, the "baccore," and the "kermouse." The
black and white boccore, or early fig, is produced in June; thought
the kermouse, the fig properly so called, which is preserved, and made
up into cakes, is rarely ripe before August. There is also a long
dark-colored kermouse, that sometimes hangs upon the trees all winter.


The fruit of the fig tree is one of the delicacies of the East, and is
very often spoken of in Scripture. The early fig was especially
prized, Isa 28:4 Jer 24:2 Na 3:12, though the summer fig is most
abundant, 2Ki 20:7 Isa 38:21. It is a peculiarity of the fig tree that
its fruit begins to appear before the leaves, and without any show of
blossoms. It has, indeed, small and hidden blossoms, but the passage
in Hab 3:17, should read, according to the original Hebrew, "Although
the fig tree should not bear," instead of "blossom." Its leaves come
so late in the spring as to justify the words of Christ, "Ye know that
summer is nigh," Mt 24:32 So 2:13. The fresh fruit is shaped like a
pear. The dried figs of Palestine were probably like those which are
brought to our own country; sometimes, however, they are dried on a
string. We likewise read of "cakes of figs," 1Sa 25:18 2Ki 20:7 1Ch
12:40. These were probably formed by pressing the fruit forcibly into
baskets or other vessels, so as to reduce them to a solid cake or
lump. In this way dates are still prepared in Arabia.


The barren fig tree which was withered at our Savior's word, as an
awful warning to unfruitful professors of religion, seems to have
spent itself in leaves. It stood by the wayside, free to all; and as
the time for stripping the trees of their fruit had not come, Mr
11:14, it was reasonable to expect to find it covered with figs in
various stages of growth. Yet there was "nothing thereon, but leaves
only," Mt 21:19.


FIR

An evergreen tree, of beautiful appearance, whose lofty height and
dense foliage afford a spacious shelter and shade. The Hebrew word
often seems to mean the CYPRESS, which see. It was used for
shipbuilding, Eze 27:5; for musical instruments, 2Sa 6:5; for beams
and rafters of houses, 1Ki 5:8,10 9:11 So 1:17.


FIRE

In Scripture, is often connected with the presence of Jehovah; as in
the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai, Ex 3:2 19:18 Ps 18:1-50 Hab
1:1-3:19. The second coming of Christ will be "in flaming fire," 2Th
1:8. In the New Testament it illustrates the enlightening, cheering,
and purifying agency of the Holy Spirit, Mt 3:11 Ac 2:3. By sending
fire from heaven to consume sacrifices, God often signified his
acceptance of them: as in the case of Abel, Ge 4:4; Abraham, Ge 15:17;
Manoah, Jud 13:19-20; Elijah, 1Ki 18:38; and at the dedication of the
tabernacle and the temple, Le 9:24 2Ch 7:1. This sacred fire was
preserved by the priests with the utmost care, Isa 31:9, in many
ancient religions fire was worshipped; and children were made to pass
through the fire to Moloch, 2Ki 17:17 Jer 7:31 Eze 16:21 23:37. The
Jews had occasion for fires, except for cooking, only during a small
part of the year. Besides their ordinary hearths and ovens, they
warmed their apartments with "a fire of coals" in a brazier, Jer
36:22-23 Lu 22:30. The were forbidden to kindle a fire on the Sabbath,
Ex 35:3- a prohibition perhaps only of cooking on that day, but
understood by many Jews even now in the fullest extent; it is avoided
by employing gentile servants. Another provision of the Mosaic Law was
designed to protect the standing corn, etc., in the dry summer season,
Ex 22:6. The earth is to be destroyed by fire, 2Pe 3:7; of which the
destruction of Sodom, and the volcanoes and earthquakes which so often
indicate the internal commotions of the globe, may serve as warnings.


FIRKIN

Joh 2:6, a Greek measure, equivalent to the Hebrew bath, and
containing seven and a half gallons. The quantity of wine produced by
the miracle at Cana was large: but the assemblage was also large; the
festivities continued, it may be, a whole week, Jud 14:12; and many
would be drawn to the scene by hearing of the miracle.


FIRMAMENT

Ge 1:17, the expanse of the heavens immediately above the earth. The
Hebrews seem to have viewed this as an immense crystalline dome,
studded with stars, resting on the far distant horizon all around the
spectator, and separating the waters above us from those on the earth.
Through its windows the rain descended. It is not necessary to suppose
they thought it was solid, Ps 19:1; Isa 40:22. It is not the aim of
Scripture to give scientific statements of natural phenomena. Teaching
religion, not astronomy of physics, it does not anticipate modern
discoveries, but speaks of natural objects and occurrences in the
common language of men everywhere. Hence, in part, its attractiveness
in all ages as a book for the people.


FIRSTBORN

This phrase is not always to be understood literally; it is sometimes
taken for the prime, most excellent, most distinguished of things, Ps
89:27 Ro 8:29 Heb 1:4-6. Thus Jesus Christ is "the firstborn of every
creature," Col 1:15, inasmuch as he was the "Only begotten" of the
Father before any creature was produced. He is "the firstborn from the
dead," Col 1:18, because he is the beginning, and the author of the
resurrection of all who die in faith.


After the destroying angel had slain the firstborn of the Egyptians,
God ordained that all the Jewish firstborn, both of men and of beasts
for service, should be consecrated to him; but the male children only
were subject to this law. If a man had several wives, he was obliged
to offer the firstborn son by each one of them to the Lord. The
firstborn were offered at the temple, and redeemed for five shekels.
The firstling of a clean beast was offered at the temple, not to be
redeemed, but to be killed; an unclean beast, a horse, an ass, or a
camel, was either redeemed or exchanged; an ass was redeemed by a lamb
or five shekels; if not redeemed, it was killed, Ex 13:2,11, etc. The
firstborn son among the Hebrews, as among all other nations, enjoyed
particular privileges. See BIRTHRIGHT.


FIRSTFRUITS

Presents made to God of part of the fruits of the harvest, to express
the submission, dependence, and thankfulness of the offerers. The
portion given was instead of the whole, in acknowledgement that all
was due to God. They were offered in the temple before the crop was
gathered on the fifteenth of Nisan, in the evening, and threshed in a
court of the temple. After it was well cleaned, about three pints of
it were roasted, and pounded in a mortar. Over this was thrown a
measure of olive oil and a handful of incense; and the priest, taking
the offering, waved it before the Lord towards the four cardinal
points, throwing a handful of it into the fire on the altar, and
keeping the rest. After this, all were at liberty to get in the
harvest. When the wheat harvest was over, on the day of Pentecost they
offered as first fruits of another, in the name of the nation, two
loaves, of about three pints of flour each, made of leavened dough, Le
23:10,17. In addition to these firstfruits, every private person was
obliged to bring his firstfruits to the temple, but Scripture
prescribes neither the time nor the quantity.


There was, besides this, another sort of firstfruits paid to God, Nu
15:19,21 Ne 10:37: when the bread in the family was kneaded, a portion
of it was set apart, and given to the priest or Levite of the place;
if there were no priest or Levite, it was cast into the oven and there
consumed.


Those offerings are also often called firstfruits, which were brought
by the Israelites from devotion, to the temple, for the feast of
thanksgiving, to which they invited their relations and friends, and
the Levites of their cities. The firstfruits and tenths were the most
considerable revenue of the priests and Levites.


Christians have "the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit," Ro 8:23; that
is, more abundant and more excellent gifts than the Jews; these were
also a foretaste of the full harvest. "Christ is risen from the dead,
and become the firstfruits of them that slept," 1Co 15:20, the
forerunner of all those who, because he lives, shall live also, Joh
14:19.


FISH, FISHER

The Hebrews have very few names of particular species of fish. Moses
says in general, that all sorts of river, lake, or sea fish, which
have scales and fins, may be eaten; all others shall be to the Hebrews
an abomination, Le 11:9-12 De 14:9,10. The Nile had an early
celebrity, which it still retains, for the abundance and excellence of
its fish, Ex 7:18-21 Nu 11:5. The Sea of Tiberias also still abounds
in fish, Lu 5:5 Joh 21:6-11. They were a common article of food among
the Jews, Mt 7:10, and were obtained from the Mediterranean, Ne 13:16,
and from the Jordan. They were caught with hooks, Am 4:2, spears, Job
41:7, and nets, Isa 19:8-10. The "great fish," Jon 1:17, which
swallowed Jonah, may have been of the shark genus, as this animal is
common in the Mediterranean. The original word, both in Hebrew and
Greek, Mt 12:40, means a fish, and not specifically a "whale." See
WHALE. Fishermen are often spoken of in the Bible, and a large
proportion of the twelve apostles of our Lord were of that occupation.
Christ made them "fishers of men," Mt 4:18-22.


The early Christians, in times of persecution, used to engrave the
form of a fish on their medals, seals, and tombs, as a tacit
confession of their faith; as the five letters of the Greek word for
fish are the initial letters of five words, signifying "Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, the Savior." This symbol has thus become the subject
of a superstitious regard.


FITCHES OR VETCHES

A species of wild pea. Two Hebrew words are translated "fitches," one
of which probably means spelt, Eze 4:9, and the other gith, a plant
resembling fennel, and very pungent, Isa 28:25. The seed is black, and
aromatic.


FLAGON

The Hebrew word everywhere rendered in the English version flagon, 2Sa
6:19 1Ch 16:3 So 2:5 Ho 3:1, means rather a cake, especially of dried
grapes or raisins, pressed into a particular form. These are mentioned
as delicacies, by which the weary and languid are refreshed; they were
also offered to idols, Ho 3:1. They differed from the dried clusters
of grapes not pressed into any form, 1Sa 25:18, and also from the
"cakes of figs." We may refer, in illustration, to the manner in which
with us cheeses are pressed in various forms, as of pineapples, etc.,
and also the manner in which dates are prepared at the present day by
the Arabs. See FIGS.


FLAX

A well-known plant, upon which the industry of mankind has been
exercised with the greatest success and utility, Jos 2:6 Pr 1:13.


Moses speaks of the flax in Egypt, Ex 9:31, which country has been
celebrated, from time immemorial, for its production and manufacture.
The "fine linen of Egypt," which was manufactured from this article,
is spoken of for its superior excellence, in Scripture, Pr 7:16 Eze
27:7. It is however, probable that fine cotton is sometimes to be
understood when the Byssus is spoken of. Most of the linen found
wrapped around Egyptian mummies will hardly compare with our common
sheetings. But some specimens are found of most remarkable fineness;
one containing 152 threads in the warp, and 71 in the woof, to each
square inch; and another, 270 double threads in the warp, and 110 in
the woof, per inch. See COTTON and LINEN.


The prophet Isaiah, in speaking of the gentleness of the Messiah,
makes use of a proverbial expression, which is also quoted by Matthew
and applied to Jesus: "The bruised reed he shall not break, and the
smoking flax he shall not quench," Isa 42:3 Mt 12:20. Here "flax" is
used for the wick of a lamp or taper, which was usually made of flax.
He will not break a reed already bruised and ready to be broken, nor
extinguish a flickering, dying lamp, just ready to expire; that is, he
will not oppress his humble and penitent followers, but cherish the
feeblest beginnings of true grace.


FLESH

The substance of which the bodies of men and animals are composed. In
the Bible, besides the ordinary sense, Job 33:25, it denotes mankind
as a race, Ge 6:12 Ps 145:21 Isa 40:5-6; and all living creatures on
the earth, Ge 6:17,19. It is often used in opposition to "spirit," as
we use body and soul, Job 14:22; and sometimes means the body as
animated and sensitive, Mt 26:41, and the seat of bodily appetites, Pr
5:11 2Co 7:1. In the New Testament, "flesh" is very often used to
designate the bodily appetites, propensities, and passions, which draw
men away from yielding themselves to the Lord and to the things of the
Spirit. The flesh, or carnal principle, is opposed to the spirit, or
spiritual principle, Ro 8:1-39 Ga 5:17.


FLOCKS

See SHEEP.


FLOOD

See DELUGE.


FLUTE

A soft, sweet-toned wind instrument of music. The word flute is used
only in Da 3:5,7,10,15, and is supposed to mean a pipe with two reeds,
such as are still to be found in the East. It is blown at the end. See
MUSIC, PIPE.


FLY

A genus of insects, of which there are a great many species. Moses
declares them and most other insects to be unclean, Le 11:42. They
abound in Egypt, and are annoying and vexatious in the extreme,
attacking the eyelids, etc., in swarms and with the utmost
pertinacity. How intolerable a plague of flies may be, is evident from
the fact that whole districts in the Levant have been for a time
depopulated by them, the inhabitants being unable to stand against
their incessant attacks, Ex 8:24. The Philistines and Canaanites
adored Beelzebub, the fly-god, probably as a patron to protect them
against these tormenting insects.


In Isa 7:18, the prophet describing the armies of Egypt and Assyria,
each under the symbol of one of the prevalent insects in those
countries, says, "And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord
shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of
Egypt;" (or rather, as the same Hebrew word is rendered in Ex 16:35,
the fly that is in the borders of the streams of Egypt,)" and for the
bee that is in the land of Assyria." It is thought by some that the
fly here spoken of is the zimb, or Ethiopian fly, of which Mr. Bruce
says, "It is, in size, very little larger than a bee, of a thicker
proportion, and has wings which are broader than those of a bee,
placed separate, like those of a fly; they are of pure gauze, without
color or spot upon them; the head is large. As soon as this plague
appears, and their buzzing is heard, all the cattle forsake their
food, and run wildly about the plain till they die, worn out with
fatigue, fright, and hunger. No remedy remains but to leave the black
earth, and hasten down to the sands of the desert; and there they
remain while the rains last, this cruel enemy never daring to pursue
them farther." The camel is also obliged to fly before these insects;
and the elephant and rhinoceros coat themselves with a thick armor of
mud.


FOOD

In ancient the food of a people was more entirely the product of their
own country than in our day. Palestine was favored with an abundance
of animal food, grain, and vegetables. But throughout the East,
vegetable food is more used than animal. Bread was the principal food.
Grain of various kinds, beans, lentils, onions, grapes, together with
olive oil, honey, and the milk of goats and cows were the ordinary
fare. The wandering Arabs live much upon a coarse black bread. A very
common dish in Syria is rice, with shreds of meat, vegetables, olive
oil, etc., intermixed. A similar dish, made with beans, lentils, and
various kinds of pulse, was in frequent use at an earlier age, Ge
25:29-34 2Ki 4:38-1.


Fish was a common article of food, when accessible, and was very much
used in Egypt. This country was also famous for cucumbers, melons,
leeks, onions, and garlics, Nu 11:5. Such is the food of the Egyptians
still. See EATING.


Animal food was always used on festive occasions; and the hospitable
patriarchs lost little time in preparing for their guests a smoking
dish from their flocks of sheep and goats, their herds of cattle, or
their dove cotes, Ge 18:7 Lu 15:23. The rich had animal food more
frequently, and their cattle were stalled and fattened for the table,
1Sa 16:20 Isa 1:11 11:6 Mal 4:2. Among the poor, locusts were a common
means of sustenance, being dried in the sun, or roasted over the fire
on iron plates.


Water was the earliest and common drink. Wine of an intoxicating
quality was early known, Ge 9:20 14:18 40:1. Date wine and similar
beverages were common; and the common people used a kind of sour wine,
called vinegar in Ru 2:14 Mt 27:48.


FOOL

Any person who does not act wisely, that is, does not follow the
warnings and requirements of God, which are founded in infinite
wisdom. Hence "a fool" is put for a wicked man, an enemy or neglecter
of God, Ps 14:1 Pr 19:1. So folly is put for wickedness, 2Sa 13:12,13
Ps 38:5, foolish lusts for wicked lusts, etc. Foolish talking, foolish
questions, are vain, empty, unprofitable conversation, 2Ti 2:23.


FOOT

The expressions in De 32:35, "their foot shall slide in due time," and
in the traveler's song, Ps 121:3, "he will not suffer thy foot to be
moved," Ps 66:9 Jer 13:16, have reference to the dangerous character
of the narrow roads or paths of the East, over rocks and beside
precipices where a sliding foot was often fatal. See also Isa 8:14 Lu
2:34. Nakedness of feet was a sign of mourning. God says to Ezekiel,
"Make no mourning for the dead, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet,"
Eze 24:17. It was likewise a mark of respect. Moses put off his shoes
to approach the burning bush; and most commentators are of opinion
that the priests served in the tabernacle with their feet naked, as
they did afterwards in the temple. The Turks never enter their mosques
till after they have washed their feet and their hands, and have put
off the outward covering of their legs. The Christians of Ethiopia
enter their churches with their shoes off, and the Indian Brahmins and
others have the same respect for their pagodas and temples. Eastern
conquerors used to set their feet on the necks of conquered princes,
Jos 10:22, and action often figured in ancient sculptures, Ps 8:6 Isa
49:23 1Co 15:25 Heb 2:8. See NINEVEH.


The orientals used to wash the feet of strangers who came off a
journey, because they commonly walked with their legs bare, and their
feet defended only by sandals, Ge 24:32 43:24. So Abraham washed the
feet of the three angels, Ge 18:4. This office was usually performed
by servants and slaves; and hence Abigail answers David, who sought
her in marriage, that she should think it an honor to wash the feet of
the king's servants, 1Sa 25:41. Paul would have a widow assisted by
the church, to be one who had hospitably washed the feet of saints,
1Ti 5:10. The practice is still met with in Palestine. Says Dr.
Robinson, at Ramleh, "Our youthful host now proposed, in the genuine
style of ancient oriental hospitality, that a servant should wash our
feet. This took me by surprise; for I was not aware that the custom
still existed here. Nor does it indeed towards foreigners, though it
is quite common among the natives. We gladly accepted the proposal,
both for the sake of the refreshment and of the scriptural
illustration. A female Nubian slave accordingly brought water, which
she poured upon our feet over a large shallow basin of tinned copper,
kneeling before us and rubbing our feet with her hands, and wiping
them with a napkin. It was one of the most gratifying minor incidents
of our whole journey." Our Savior, after his last supper, gave a
striking lesson of humility, by washing his disciples' feet, Joh
13:5-6,8, though the eighth verse shows that he had also a deeper
meaning. See SANDALS.


FOOTMEN OR RUNNERS

Attendants on Eastern princes, trained to run before their chariots,
1Sa 8:11. So Elijah ran before Ahab, 1Ki 18:46. The speed and
endurance of some of these couriers is almost beyond belief, Jer 42:5.


FOREHEAD

Eze 9:1-11; Re 7:3. The devotees of different idols in India receive
at this day different marks on the forehead, distinguishing them one
from another. By a similar method the slaves claimed by different
owners were sometimes designated.


FORNICATION

This word is used in Scripture not only for the sin of impurity
between unmarried persons, but for idolatry, and for all kinds of
infidelity to God. In Eze 16:1-63, the Jewish church is symbolized as
a female infant, growing up to womanhood, and then wedded to Jehovah
by covenant. When she breaks her covenant by going after idols, she is
justly reproached as an adulteress and a harlot, Jer 2:20 3:8-9 Ho
3:1. Adultery and fornication are frequently confounded. Both the Old
and New Testaments condemn all impurity and fornication, corporeal and
spiritual-idolatry, apostasy, heresy, and infidelity. See ADULTERY.


FORTUNATUS

1Co 16:17, came from Corinth to Ephesus, to visit Paul. Paul speaks of
Stephanus. Fortunatus, and Achaicus as the first fruits of Achaia, and
as set for the service of the church and saints. They carried Paul's
first epistle to Corinth.


FOUNTAINS

Perennial springs of good water were of inestimable value in
Palestine, and numerous places took their name from some fountain in
their vicinity. They have furnished to the sacred writers some of
their finest illustrations of spiritual things. Thus, God is the
"Fountain of living waters," Jer 2:13. The atonement is a precious
fountain of cleansing, healing, life-giving power, Joe 3:18 Zec 13:1.
The consolations of the gospel and the felicity of heaven are also
described by this similitude, Ps 36:7-9 Re 7:17. See WELLS.


FOWL

See BIRDS.


FOX

Two words in Hebrew are translated "fox" in the Bible; and it is not
easy in every case to determine what animal is referred to. There were
several varieties of fox in Palestine, all like the common fox in form
and habits. The fox is cunning, voracious, and mischievous, Eze 13:4
Lu 13:32. He is fond of grapes, and does much harm in vineyards, So
2:15. The fable of the fox and the sour grapes is well known. He is
solitary in his habits, and burrows a home for himself in the ground,
Lu 9:58. The jackal, at the present day, is much more numerous in
Palestine, and is probably referred to in many texts where the word
"foxes" occurs. It is like a medium-sized dog, with a head like the
wolves, and a tail like the fox's; of a bright yellow color. To the
fierceness of the wolf it joins the impudent familiarity of the dog.
It differs from the fox in its habit of hunting its prey in large
packs, and in its cry-a mournful howl, mixed with barking, which they
keep up all night, to the annoyance of all within hearing. They live
in holes; prowl around villages; ravage poultry yards; feed upon game,
lizards, insects, grapes, garbage; and when they can find nothing
else, old leather and any thing that has once had animal life. They
follow after caravans and armies, and devour the bodies of the dead,
and even dig them up from their graves, Ps 63:10 La 5:18. The incident
in the life of Samson, where foxes, or perhaps jackals, are referred
to, Jud 15:4-5, has a parallel in the ancient Roman feast of Ceres,
goddess of corn; when torches were bound to the tails of numbers of
foxes, and they ran round the circus till the fire stopped and
consumed them. This was in revenge for their once burning up some
fields of corn.


FRANKINCENSE

See INCENSE.


FRIEND

Abraham is signally honored in being called "the friend of God," Isa
41:8 Jas 2:23. Christ granted a similar honor and blessing to his
disciples, Joh 15:15. It is a different word, however, in Greek, by
which he addressed Judas, Mt 26:50; the word there translated friend,
means simply companion, and appears to have been used as a
conversational term not implying friendship. The same word occurs in
Mt 20:13 22:12.


FROG

A well known amphibious animal, famous in connection with the plagues
in Egypt, Ex 8:1-14. The magicians are said to have brought up frogs
upon the land by their enchantments; but as they could not remove
them, it is clear that they did not actually produce them. They
penetrated everywhere-to the beds of the Egyptians, which were near
the ground; and to their ovens, which were cavities in the ground.


FRONTLETS

Thus described by Leo of Modena: the Jews take four pieces of
parchment, and write with an ink made on purpose, and in square
letters, these four passages, one on each piece: (1.) "Sanctify unto
me all the first born," etc., Ex 13:2-10. (2.) "And when the Lord
shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites," etc., Ex 13:11-16.
(3.) "Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord," etc., De 6:4-9.
(4.) "If you shall hearken diligently unto my commandments," etc., De
6:13-21. This they do in obedience to the words of Moses: "These
commandments shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a
memorial between thine eyes."


These four pieces are fastened together, and a square formed of them,
on which the Hebrew letter Shin is written; then a little square of
hard calf-skin is put at the top, out of which come two leathern
strings. This square is put on the middle of the forehead, and the
strings being girt about the head, are then brought before, and fall
on the breast. It is called the Tephila of the head. The Most devout
Jews put it on both at morning and noonday prayer; but it is generally
worn only at morning prayer. See PHYLACTERIES.


FULFILLED

The ordinary meaning of this word is sufficiently obvious. It will
ultimately be recorded over against all the predictions and promises
of Jehovah, every one having been fully accomplished at the proper
time and place, Jos 23:14; Mt 2:17; 8:17; 12:17. There are in the New
Testament many instances of such an accomplishment, where the purposes
of men were very different, and those who figured in the transaction
did not dream of any thing but some evil project of their own. Thus in
Joh 19:24,28,36, the actual agents in Christ's crucifixion had no
thought that they were fulfilling the purposes of God. Sometimes also
the phrase, "that it might be fulfilled," signifies that the
occurrence to which it is applied is a secondary fulfilment, a
verification, or simply an illustration of the original prophetic
passage-yet foreknown and foreordained of God. Thus the words of Ho
11:1, "I called my son out of Egypt," refer directly to the exodus of
Israel from that land of bondage; but, as we learn from Mt 13:14; Isa
6:9; 61:1-3; Lu 4:18-21; Ac 1:16,20; Ps 109:8.


FULLER

A cleanser of cloth. His process is unknown. Christ's robes at the
transfiguration were white "so as no fuller on earth can white them,"
Mr 9:3. We read also of fullers' soap, Mal 3:2, and of the fullers'
fountain. See EN-ROGEL.


FUNERAL

See BURIAL and SEPULCHRE.


FURLONG

Put, in the New Testament, for the Greek, or rather, Roman stadium,
which contained about 200 yards. The English furlong, one-eighth of a
mile, contains 220 yards; and is thus one-twelfth longer than the
Roman stadium, Lu 24:13.


FURNACES

Often portable, Ge 15:17. They were used for melting the precious
metals, Pr 17:3. The furnace into which Daniel's three friends were
cast was large, and remained open after they were cast in, Da 3:1-30.
The fearful punishment spoken of in Jer 29:22 is still used in the
East. The word furnace is used to illustrate a state of oppression, De
4:20, and of affliction, Isa 48:10.


FURY

Attributed to God metaphorically, or speaking after the manner of men;
that is, God's providential actions are such as would be performed by
a man in a state of anger; so that, when he is said to pour out his
fury on a person, or on a people, it is a figurative expression for
dispensing afflictive providences. But we must be cautious not to
attribute human infirmities, passions, or malevolence to the Deity.


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