na'-am (na`am): A son of Caleb (1Ch 4:15)


na'-a-ma. (na`amah, "pleasant"; Noema):

(1) Daughter of Lamech and Zillah, and sister of Tubal-cain (Ge 4:22; compare Josephus, Ant, I, ii, 2).

(2) An Ammonitish woman whom Solomon married, and who became the mother of Rehoboam (1Ki 14:21; 2Ch 12:13). According to an addition in the Septuagint following 1Ki 12:24, "her name was Naaman, the daughter of Ana (Hanun) son of Nahash, king of the sons of Ammon" (see Benzinger, Konige, in the place cited.).


(1) One of a group of 16 lowland (Shephelah) cities forming part of Judah's inheritance (Jos 15:41).

(2) The home of Zophar, one of Job's friends (Job 2:11, etc.).



na'-a-man (na`aman, "pleasantness"; Septuagint; Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus Naiman; so Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek in the New Testament; Textus Receptus of the New Testament, Neeman) :

(1) A successful Syrian general, high in the confidence and esteem of the king of Syria, and honored by his fellow-countrymen as their deliverer (2Ki 5:1-27). Afflicted with leprosy, he heard from a Hebrew slave-maid in his household of the wonder-working powers of an Israelite prophet. Sent by his master with a letter couched in somewhat peremptory terms to the king of Israel, he came to Samaria for healing. The king of Israel was filled with suspicion and alarm by the demands of the letter, and rent his clothes; but Elisha the prophet intervened, and sent word to Naaman that he must bathe himself seven times in the Jordan. He at first haughtily resented the humiliation and declined the cure; but on the remonstrance of his attendants he yielded and obtained cleansing. At once he returned to Samaria, testified his gratitude by the offer of large gifts to the prophet, confessed his faith in Elisha's God, and sought leave to take home with him enough of the soil of Canaan for the erection of an altar to Yahweh.

The narrative is throughout consistent and natural, admirably and accurately depicting the condition of the two kingdoms at the time. The character of Naaman is at once attractive and manly. His impulsive patriotic preference for the streams of his own land does not lessen the reader's esteem for him, and the favorable impression is deepened by his hearty gratitude and kindness.

The Israelite king is most probably Jehoram, son of Ahab, and the Syrian monarch Ben-hadad II. Josephus (Ant., VIII, xv, 5) identifies Naaman with the man who drew his bow at a venture, and gave Ahab his death wound (1Ki 22:34). There is one reference to Naaman in the New Testament. In Lu 4:27, Jesus, rebuking Jewish exclusiveness, mentions "Naaman the Syrian."

(2) A son of Benjamin (Ge 46:21,6). Fuller and more precise is the description of Nu 26:38,40, where he is said to be a son of Bela and grandson of Benjamin (see also 1Ch 8:3 f).

John A. Lees


na'-a-ma-thit, na-am'-a-thit (na`amdthi, "a dweller in Naaman"; ho M(e)inaion basileus): The description of Zophar, one of Job's friends (Job 2:11; 11:1; 20:1, etc.). Naamah is too common a place-name to permit of the identification of Zophar's home; the Septuagint renders it as "king of the Minaeans."


na'-a-mit (ha-na`ami, "the Naamite"): A family which traced its descent from Naaman (Nu 26:40).

See NAAMAN, (2).


na'-a-ra (na`arah, "a girl"): One of the two wives of Ashhur, father of Tekoa (1Ch 4:5).


na`arah; Codex Vaticanus hai komai auton; Codex Alexandrinus Naaratha; the King James Version Naarath): A town in the territory of Ephraim (Jos 16:7). It appears as "Naaran" in 1Ch 7:28 (Codex Vaticanus Naarnan; Codex Alexandrinus Naaran). Eusebius, Onomasticon (s.v. "Noorath") places it 5 Roman miles from Jericho. The name has not been recovered, and no identification is certain. The position would agree with that of el-`Aujeh, about 5 miles Northeast of Jericho.


na'-a-ri (na`aray): Son of Ezbai, one of David's heroes (1Ch 11:37). In the parallel passage (2Sa 23:35), he is called "Paarai the Arbite." The true forms of the name and description are uncertain (see Budde, Richter u. Samuel, and Curtis, Chronicles).


na'-a-ran, na'-a-rath (na`aran, na`arath). see NAARAH.


na'-a-shon, na-ash'-on, na'-a-son, na-as'-on (Naasson): the King James Version Greek form of "Nahshon" (thus, the Revised Version (British and American)) (Mt 1:4; Lu 3:32).


na'-a-thus (Naathos): One of the sons of Addi who put away his foreign wife (1 Esdras 9:31). It apparently corresponds to "Adna" of Ezr 10:30, of which it is a transposition. Codex Vaticanus reads Lathos, probably confusing a capital Alpha and a capital Lambda.


na'-bal (nabhal, "foolish" or "wicked"; Nabal): A wealthy man of Maon in the highlands of Judah, not far from Hebron, owner of many sheep and goats which he pastured around Carmel in the same district. He was a churlish and wicked man (1Sa 25:2 ). When David was a fugitive from Saul, he and his followers sought refuge in the wilderness of Paran, near the possessions of Nabal, and protected the latter's flocks and herds from the marauding Bedouin. David felt that some compensation was due him for such services (1Sa 25:15, 25), so, at the time of sheep-shearing--an occasion of great festivities among sheep masters--he sent 10 of his young men to Nabal to solicit gifts of food for himself and his small band of warriors. Nabal not only refused any assistance or presents, but sent back insulting words to David, whereupon the latter, becoming very angry, determined upon the extermination of Nabal and his household and dispatched 400 men to execute his purpose. Abigail, Nabal's wife, a woman of wonderful sagacity and prudence as well as of great beauty, having learned of her husband's conduct and of David's intentions, hurriedly proceeded, with a large supply of provisions, dainties and wine, to meet David and to apologize for her husband's unkind words and niggardliness, and thus succeeded in thwarting the bloody and revengeful plans of Israel's future king. Upon her return home she found her husband in the midst of a great celebration ("like the feast of a king"), drunken with wine, too intoxicated to realize his narrow escape from the sword of David. On the following morning, when sober, having heard the report of his wife, he was so overcome with fear that he never recovered from the shock, but died 10 days later (1Sa 25:36-38). When David heard about his death, he sent for Abigail, who soon afterward became one of his wives.y Paul) make use of expressions and analogies derived from the mystery-religions; but, so far as our present evidence goes, we cannot agree that the pagan cults exercised a central or formative influence on them.

W. W. Davies


nab-a-ri'-as (Nabarias B, Nabareias): One of those who stood upon Ezra's left hand as he expounded the Law (1 Esdras 9:44). Esdras (loc. cit.) gives only 6 names, whereas Nehemiah (8:4) gives 7. It is probable that the last (Meshullam) of Nehemiah's list is simply dropped and that Nabarias equals Hashbaddanah; or it may possibly be a corruption of Zechariah in Nehemiah's list.


nab-a-te'-anz, nab-a-the'-anz (Nabataioi; in 1 Macc 5:25 Codex Sinaiticus reads anabatais hoi, V, Anabattaiois; the King James Version Nabathites, more correctly "Nabataeans"):

1. Locality and Early History:

A Semitic (Arabian rather than Syrian) tribe whose home in early Hellenistic times was Southeast of Palestine, where they had either supplanted or mingled with the Edomites (compare Mal 1:1-5). In Josephus' day they were so numerous that the territory between the Red Sea and the Euphrates was called Nabatene (Ant., I, xii, 4). They extended themselves along the East of the Jordan with Petra as their capital (Strabo xvi.779; Josephus, Ant, XIV, i, 4; XVII, iii, 2; BJ, I, vi, 2, etc.). Their earlier history is shrouded in obscurity. Jerome, Quaeat in Ge 25:13, following the hint of Josephus (Ant., I, xii, 4), asserts they were identical with the Ishmaelite tribe of Nebaioth, which is possible, though Nebaioth is spelled with the Hebrew letter taw ("t") and Nabateans is spelled with the Hebrew letter teth ("t). They were apparently the first allies of the Assyrians in their invasions of Edom (compare Mal 1:1 ff). They were later subdued by Sennacherib (Sayce, New Light from the Ancient Monuments, II, 430), but before long regained their independence and resisted Ashurbanipal (Rawlinson, note, at the place). According to Alexander Polyhistor (Fr. 18), they were included in the nomadic tribes reduced by David. Their history is more detailed from 312 BC (Diod. Sic. xix), when Antigonus I (Cyclops) sent his general Athenaeus with a force against them in Petra. After an initial advantage, the army of Athenaeus was almost annihilated. Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, was sent against them a few years later, with little success, though he arranged a friendship with them. The first prince mentioned is Aretas I, to whom the high priest Jason fled in 169 BC. They were friendly to the early Maccabees in the anti-Hellenistic struggle, to Judas in 164 BC (1 Macc 5:25) and to Jonathan in 160 BC (1 Macc 9:35).

2. A Strong Kingdom:

Toward the end of the 2nd century BC on the fall of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid Dynasties, the Nabateans under King Erotimus founded a strong kingdom extending East of the Jordan (in 110 BC). Conscious now of their own strength, they resented the ambition of the Hasmonean Dynasty--their former allies--and opposed Alexander Janneus (96 BC) at the siege of Gaza (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 3). A few years later (90 BC) Alexander retaliated by attacking Obedas I, king of the Nabateans, but suffered a severe defeat East of the Jordan (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xiii, 5; BJ, I, iv, 4). Antiochus XII of Coele-Syria next led an expedition against the Nabateans, but was defeated and slain in the battle of Kana (Josephus, Ant, XIII, xv, 1-2; BJ, I, iv, 7-8). Consequently, Aretas III seized Coele-Syria and Damascus and gained another victory over Alexander Janneus at Adida (in 85 BC).

3. Conflicts:

The Nabateans, led by Aretas (III (?)), espoused the cause of Hyrcanus against Aristobulus, besieged the latter in Jerusalem and provoked the interference of the Romans, by whom under Scaurus they were defeated (Josephus, Ant, XIV, i, 4 f; BJ, I, vi, 2 f). After the capture of Jerusalem, Pompey attacked Aretas, but was satisfied with a payment (Josephus, ibid.), and Damascus was added to Syria, though later it appears to have again passed into the hands of Aretas (2Co 11:32). In 55 BC Gabinius led another force against the Nabateans (Josephus, ibid.). In 47 BC Malchus I assisted Caesar, but in 40 BC refused to assist Herod against the Parthians, thus provoking both the Idumean Dynasty and the Romans. Antony made a present of part of Malchus' territory to Cleopatra, and the Nabatean kingdom was further humiliated by disastrous defeat in the war against Herod (31 BC).

4. End of the Nation:

Under Aretas IV (9 BC-40 AD) the kingdom was recognized by Augustus. This king sided with the Romans against the Jews, and further gained a great victory over Herod Antipas, who had divorced his daughter to marry Herodias. Under King Abias an expedition against Adiabene came to grief. Malchus II (48-71 AD) assisted the Romans in the conquest of Jerusalem (Josephus, BJ, III, iv, 2). Rabel (71-106 AD) was the last king of the Nabateans as a nation. In 106 AD their nationality was broken up by the unwise policy of Trajan, and Arabia, of which Petra was the capital, was made a Roman province by Cornelius Palma, governor of Syria. Otherwise they might have at least contributed to protecting the West against the East. Diodorus (loc. cit.) represents the Nabateans as a wild nomadic folk, with no agriculture, but with flocks and herds and engaged in considerable trading. Later, however, they seem to have imbibed considerable Aramean culture, and Aramaic became at least the language of their commerce and diplomacy. They were also known as pirates on the Red Sea; they secured the harbor of Elah and the Gulf of `Akaba. They traded between Egypt and Mesopotamia and carried on a lucrative commerce in myrrh, frankincense and costly wares (KGF, 4th edition (1901), I, 726-44, with full bibliography).

S. Angus


nab'-a-thits: the King James Version equals the Revised Version (British and American) "Nabathaeans."


na'-both, na'-both (nabhoth, from nubh, "a sprout"; Nabouthai): The owner of a vineyard contiguous to the palace of King Ahab. The king desired, by purchase or exchange, to add the vineyard to his own grounds. Naboth, however, refused to part on any terms with his paternal inheritance. This refusal made Ahab "heavy and displeased" (1Ki 21:4). Jezebel, the king's wife, then took the matter in hand, and by false accusation on an irrelevant charge procured the death of Naboth by stoning (1Ki 21:7-14). As Ahab was on his way to take possession of the vineyard he met Elijah the prophet, who denounced his vile act and pronounced judgment on king and royal house. A temporary respite was given to Ahab because of a repentant mood (1Ki 21:27-29); but later the blow fell, first upon himself in a conflict with Syria (1Ki 22:34-40); then upon his house through a conspiracy of Jehu, in which Jehoram, Ahab's son, and Jezebel, his wife, were slain (2Ki 9:25-26,30 ). In both cases the circumstances recalled the foul treatment of Naboth.

Henry Wallace


nab-u-ko-don'-o-sor (Nabouchodonosor): Septuagint and Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) form of "Nebuchadnezzar" ("Nebuchadrezzar") found in the King James Version of the Apocrypha in 1 Esdras 1:40,41,45,48; 2:10; 5:7; 6:26; Additions to Esther 11:4; Baruch 1:9,11,12. It is the form used in the King James Version of the Apocrypha throughout. In the Revised Version (British and American) of Judith and Tobit 14:15, the form "Nebuchadnezzar" is given.


na'-kor (Nachor) the King James Version; Greek form of "Nahor" (thus the Revised Version (British and American)). Grandfather of Abraham (Lu 3:34).


na'-kon, (nakhon; the King James Version Nachon): The place where Uzzah was smitten for putting forth his hand to steady the ark, hence, called afterward "Perezuzzah" (2Sa 6:8); in the parallel passage (1Ch 13:9) we have kidhon, and in Josephus (Ant., VII, iv, 2) Cheidon. In 1Sa 23:23 the word nakhon occurs, and is translated "of a certainty," margin "with the certainty" or "to a set place"; also in 1Sa 26:4 it is translated "of a certainty," margin "to a set place." It is uncertain whether in 1Sa 6:6 it is a place-name at all; and no successful attempt has been made to identify either Nacon or Chidon; possibly they are both personal names.

E. W. G. Masterman


na'-dab (nadhabh, "noble"; Nadab):

(1) Aaron's first-born son (Ex 6:23; Nu 3:2; 26:60; 1Ch 6:3 (Hebrew 5:29); 24:1). He was permitted with Moses, Aaron, the 70 elders, and his brother Abihu to ascend Mt. Sinai and behold the God of Israel (Ex 24:1,9). He was associated with his father and brothers in the priestly office (Ex 28:1). Along with Abihu he was guilty of offering "strange fire," and both "died before Yahweh" (Le 10:1,2; Nu 3:4; 26:61). The nature of their offense is far from clear. The word rendered "strange" seems in this connection to mean no more than "unauthorized by the Law" (see zur, in BDB, and compare Ex 30:9). The proximity of the prohibition of wine to officiating priests (Le 10:8,9) has given rise to the erroneous suggestion of the Midrash that the offense of the brothers was drunkenness.

(2) A descendant of Jerahmeel (1Ch 2:28,30).

(3) A Gibeonite (1Ch 8:30).

(4) Son of Jeroboam I and after him for two years king of Israel (1Ki 14:20; 15:25). While Nadab was investing Gibbethon, a Philistine stronghold, Baasha, who probably was an officer in the army, as throne-robbers usually were, conspired against him, slew him and seized the throne (1Ki 15:27-31). With the assassination of Nadab the dynasty of Jeroboam was extirpated, as foretold by the prophet Ahijah (1Ki 14). This event is typical of the entire history of the Northern Kingdom, characterized by revolutions and counter-revolutions.

John A. Lees


na'-da-bath (Nadabath; the King James Version Nadabatha, na-dab'-a-tha): A city East of the Jordan from which the wedding party of Jambri were coming when Jonathan and Simon attacked them and slew very many, designing to avenge the murder of their brother John (1 Macc 9:37 ff). Nebo and Nabathaea have been suggested as identical with Nadabath. Clermont-Ganneau would read rhabatha, and identify it with Rabbath-ammon. There is no certainty.


nag'-i, nag'-a-i (Naggai; the King James Version Nagge): In Lu 3:25, the Greek form of the Hebrew name NOGAH (which see).


na'-hal-al (nachalal; Codex Vaticanus, Baithman; Codex Alexandrinus Naalol, and other forms): A city in the territory of Zebulun assigned with its suburbs to the Merarite Levites, out of which the Canaanite inhabitants were not driven (Jos 19:15, the King James Version (incorrectly) "Nahallal"; Jos 21:35; Jud 1:30, "Nahalol"). In the Talmud Jerusalem (Meg., i.1) it is identified with Mahlul. This name might correspond either with `Ain Mahil, or with Ma`lul. The former lies about 3 1/2 miles Northeast of Nazareth on a hill near the eastern boundary of Zebulun. The latter is situated about 3 1/2 miles West of Nazareth, near the southern border of Zebulun. The change of "n" to "m" is not unusual.

W. Ewing


na-ha'-li-el, na-hal'-i-el (nachali'el, "torrent valley of God"; Codex Vaticanus Manael; Codex Alexandrinus Naaliel): A place where Israel encamped on the way from Arnon to Jericho, named with Mattanah and Bamoth (Nu 21:19). Eusebius, Onomasticon places it near to the Arnon. It is natural to seek for this "torrent valley" in one of the tributaries of the Arnon. It may be Wady Waleh, which drains a wide area to the Northeast of the Arnon; or perhaps Wady Zerqa Ma`in farther to the North.


na-hal'-al, na'-ha-lol.



na'-ham (nacham, "comfort"): A Judahite chieftain, father of Keilah the Garmite (1Ch 4:19); the passage is obscure.


na-ha-ma'-ni, na-ham'-a-ni (nachamani "compassionate"): One of the twelve heads who returned with Zerubbabel (Ne 7:7). The name is wanting in the parallel list (Ezr 2:2). In 1 Esdras 5:8 he is called "Eneneus" (the Revised Version margin "Enenis").


na'-ha-ri, (nacharay), na'-ha-ri (nachray): One of David's heroes, Joab's armor-bearer (2Sa 23:37, the King James Version "Nahari"; 1Ch 11:39).


na'-hash (nachash, "serpent"; Naas):

(1) The father of Abigail and Zeruiah, the sisters of David (2Sa 17:25; compare 1Ch 2:16). The text in 2 S, where this reference is made, is hopelessly corrupt; for that reason there are various explanations. The rabbis maintain that Nahash is another name for Jesse, David's father. Others think that Nahash was the name of Jesse's wife; but it is not probable that Nahash could have been the name of a woman. Others explain the passage by making Nahash the first husband of Jesse's wife, so that Abigail and Zeruiah were half-sisters to King David.

(2) A king of Ammon, who, at the very beginning of Saul's reign, attacked Jabesh-gilead so successfully, that the inhabitants sued for peace at almost any cost, for they were willing to pay tribute and serve the Ammonites (1Sa 11:1 ). The harsh king, not satisfied with tribute and slavery, demanded in addition that the right eye of every man should be put out, as "a reproach upon Israel." They were given seven days to comply with these cruel terms. Before the expiration of this time, Saul, the newly anointed king, appeared on the scene with an army which utterly routed the Ammonites (1Sa 11:1 ), and, according to Josephus, killed King Nahash (Ant., VI, v, 3).

If the Nahash of 2Sa 10:2 be the same as the king mentioned in 1Sa 11, this statement of Josephus cannot be true, for he lived till the early part of David's reign, 40 or more years later. It is, of course, possible that Nahash, the father of Hanun, was a son or grandson of the king defeated at Jabesh-gilead by Saul. There is but little agreement among commentators in regard to this matter. Some writers go so far as to claim that "all passages in which this name (Nahash) is found refer to the same individual."

(3) A resident of Rabbath-ammon, the capital of Ammon (2Sa 17:27). Perhaps the same as Nahash (2), which see. His son Shobi, with other trans-Jordanic chieftains, welcomed David at Mahanaim with sympathy and substantial gifts when the old king was fleeing before his rebel son Absalom. Some believe that Shobi was a brother of Hanun, king of Ammon (2Sa 10:1).

W. W. Davies


na'-hath (nachath):

(1) A grandson of Esau (Ge 36:13; 1Ch 1:37).

(2) A descendant of Levi and ancestor of Samuel (1Ch 6:26); also called "Toah" (1Ch 6:34) and "Tohu" (1Sa 1:1).

(3) A Levite who, in the time of Hezekiah, assisted in the oversight of "the oblations and the tithes and the dedicated things" (2Ch 31:13).


na'-bi (nachbi): The representative of Naphtali among the 12 spies (Nu 13:14).


na'-hor (nachor; in the New Testament Nachor):e representative of Naphtali among the 12 spies (Nu 13:14).

(1) Son of Serug and grandfather of Abraham (Ge 11:22-25; 1Ch 1:26).

(2) Son of Terah and brother of Abraham (Ge 11:26,27,29; 22:20,23; 24:15,24,47; 29:5; Jos 24:2).

A city of Nahor is mentioned in Ge 24:10; the God of Nahor in Ge 31:53. In the King James Version Jos 24:2; Lu 3:34, the name is spelled "Nachor."


na'-shon (nachshon; Septuagint and New Testament, Naasson): A descendant of Judah; brother-in-law of Aaron and ancestor of David and of Jesus Christ (Ex 6:23; Nu 1:7; 1Ch 2:10,11; Ru 4:20; Mt 1:4; Lu 3:32).


na'-hum (Naoum; the King James Version Naum): An ancestor of Jesus in Luke's genealogy, the 9th before Joseph, the husband of Mary (Lu 3:25).




1. The Name

2. Life and Home of Nahum

The Four Traditions

3. Date, as Related to Assyrian History

(1) The Revolt of Shamash-shumukin

(2) The Invasion of 625 BC

(3) The Final Attack

(4) Probable Date


1. Contents (Nahum 1-3)

2. Style

3. Integrity


1. The Character of Yahweh

2. Nahum's Glee over the Ruin of Nineveh

3. Universality of Yahweh's Rule

4. The Messianic Outlook


I. Authorship and Date.

1. The Name:

The name Nahum (nachum; Septuagint and New Testament Naoum; Josephus, Naoumos) occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament; in the New Testament it is found in Lu 3:25. It is not uncommon in the Mishna, and it has been discovered in Phoenician inscriptions. It means "consolation," or "consoler," and is therefore, in a sense, symbolical of the message of the book, which is intended to comfort the oppressed and afflicted people of Judah.

2. Life and Home of Nahum:

Of the personal life of Nahum, practically nothing is known. In Na 1:1 he is called "the Elkoshite," that is, an inhabitant of Elkosh. Unfortunately, the location of this place is not known.

The Four Traditions

One tradition, which cannot be traced beyond the 16th century AD, identifies the home of Nahum with a modern village Elkush, or Alkosh, not far from the left bank of the Tigris, two days' journey North of the site of ancient Nineveh. A second tradition, which is at least as old as the days of Jerome, the latter part of the 4th century, locates Elkosh in Galilee, at a place identified by many with the modern El-Kauze, near Ramieh. Others identify the home of the prophet with Capernaum, the name of which means "Village of Nahum." A fourth tradition, which is first found in a collection of traditions entitled "Lives of the Prophets," says "Nahum was from Elkosh, beyond Bet Gabre, of the tribe of Simeon." A place in the South is more in harmony with the interest the prophet takes in the Southern Kingdom, so that the last-mentioned tradition seems to have much in its favor, but absolute certainty is not attainable.

3. Date, as Related to Assyrian History:

The Book of Nahum centers around the fall and destruction of Nineveh. Since the capture of the city is represented as still in the future, it seems evident that the prophecies were delivered some time before 607-606 BC, the year in which the city was destroyed. Thus the latest possible date of Nahum's activity is fixed. The earliest possible date also is indicated by internal evidence. In 3:8 ff the prophet speaks of the capture and destruction of No-amon, the Egyptian Thebes, as an accomplished fact. The expedition of Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, against Egypt, which resulted in the fall of Thebes, occurred about 663 BC. Hence, the activity of Nahum must be placed somewhere between 663 and 607.

As to the exact period between the two dates there is disagreement among scholars. One thing is made quite clear by the prophecy itself, namely, that at the time the words were spoken or written, Nineveh was passing through some grave crisis. Now we know that during the second half of the 7th century BC Assyria was threatened three times:

(1) The Revolt of Shamash-shumukin:

The revolt of Shamash-shumukin of Babylon against his brother, the king of Assyria, 650-648 BC.

(2) The Invasion of 625 BC:

The invasion of Assyria and threatened attack upon Nineveh by some unknown foe, perhaps the Scythians, about 625 BC.

(3) The Final Attack:

The final attack, which resulted in the fall and destruction of Nineveh in 607-606 BC. (4) Probable Date:

The first crisis does not offer a suitable occasion for Nahum's prophecy, because at that time the city of Nineveh was not in any danger. Little is known concerning the second crisis, and it is not possible either to prove or to disprove that it gave rise to the book. On the other hand, the years immediately preceding the downfall of Nineveh offer a most suitable occasion. The struggle continued for about 2 years. The united forces of the Chaldeans and Scythians met determined resistance; at last a breach was made in the northeast corner of the wall, the city was taken, pillaged and burned. Judah had suffered much from the proud Assyrian, and it is not difficult to understand how, with the doom of the cruel oppressor imminent, a prophet-patriot might burst into shouts of exultation and triumph over the distress of the cruel foe. "If," says A.B. Davidson, "the distress of Nineveh referred to were the final one, the descriptions of the prophecy would acquire a reality and naturalness which they otherwise want, and the general characteristics of Hebrew prophecy would be more truly conserved." There seems to be good reason, therefore, for assigning Nahum's activity to a date between 610 and 607 BC.

II. The Book.

1. Contents (Nahum 1-3):

Nahum is the prophet of Nineveh's doom. Nahum 1 (plus 2:2) contains the decree of Nineveh's destruction. Yahweh is a God of vengeance and of mercy (1:2,3); though He may at times appear slack in punishing iniquity, He will surely punish the sinner. No one can stand before Him in the day of judgment (1:4-6). Yahweh, faithful to those who rely upon Him (1:7), will be terrible toward His enemies and toward the enemies of His people (1:8). Judah need not fear: the present enemy is doomed (1:9-14), which will mean the exaltation of Judah (1:15; 2:2). The army appointed to execute the decree is approaching, ready for battle (2:1-4). All efforts to save the city are in vain; it falls (2:5,6), the queen and her attendants are captured (2:7), the inhabitants flee (2:8), the city is sacked and left a desolation (2:9-13). The destruction of the bloody city is imminent (3:1-3); the fate is well deserved and no one will bemoan her (3:4-7); natural strength and resources will avail nothing (3:8-11); the soldiers turn cowards and the city will be utterly cut off (3:12-18); the whole earth will rejoice over the downfall of the cruel oppressor (3:19).

2. Style:

Opinions concerning the religious significance of the Book of Nahum may differ, but from the stand-point of language and style all students assign to Nahum an exalted place among the prophet-poets of the ancient Hebrews; for all are impressed with the intense force and picturesqueness of his language and style. "Each prophet," says Kirkpatrick, "has his special gift for his particular work. Nahum bears the palm for poetic power. His short book is a Pindaric ode of triumph over the oppressor's fall." So also G.A. Smith: "His language is strong and brilliant; his rhythm rumbles and rolls, leaps and flashes, like the horsemen and chariots he describes."

3. Integrity:

Until recently no doubts were expressed concerning the integrity of the book, but within recent years scholars have, with growing unanimity, denied the originality of Na 1:2-2:2 (Hebrew 2:3), with the exception of 2:1, which is considered the beginning of Nahum's utterances. This change of opinion is closely bound up with the alleged discovery of distorted remnants of an old alphabetic poem in Nahum 1 (HDB, article "Nahum"; The Expositor, 1898, 207 ff; ZATW, 1901, 225 ff; Eiselen, Minor Prophets, 422 ff). Now, it is true that in 1:2-7 traces of alphabetic arrangement may be found, but even here the artistic arrangement is not carried through consistently; in the rest of the chapter the evidence is slight.

The artificial character of acrostic poetry is generally supposed to point to a late date. Hence, those who believe that Nahum 1 was originally an alphabetic poem consider it an exilic or post-exilic production, which was at a still later date prefixed to the genuine prophecies of Nahum. In support of this view it is pointed out further that the prophecy in Nahum 1 is vague, while the utterances in Nahum 2 and 3 are definite and to the point. Some derive support for a late date also from the language and style of the poem.

That difficulties exist in Nahum 1, that in some respects it differs from Nahum 2 and 3, even the students of the English text can see; and that the Hebrew text has suffered in transmission is very probable. On the other hand, the presence of an acrostic poem in Nahum 1 is not beyond doubt. The apparent vagueness is removed, if Nahum 1 is interpreted as a general introduction to the more specific denunciation in Nahum 2 and 3. And a detailed examination shows that in this, as in other cases, the linguistic and stylistic data are indecisive. In view of these facts it may safely be asserted that no convincing argument has been presented against the genuineness of 1:2-2:2. "Therefore," says G.A. Smith, "while it is possible that a later poem has been prefixed to the genuine prophecies of Nahum, and the first chapter supplies many provocations to belief in such a theory, this has not been proved, and the able essays of proof have much against them. The question is open."

III. Teaching.

1. The Character of Yahweh:

The utterances of Nahum center around a single theme, the destruction of Nineveh. His purpose is to point out the hand of God in the impending fall of the city, and the significance of this catastrophe for the oppressed Hebrews. As a result they contain little direct religious teaching; and what there is of it is confined very largely to the opening verses of Nahum 1. These verses emphasize the twofold manifestation of the Divine holiness, the Divine vengeance and the Divine mercy (1:2,3). The manifestation of the one results in the destruction of the wicked (1:2), the other in the salvation of the oppressed (1:15; 2:2). Faith in Yahweh will secure the Divine favor and protection (1:7).

2. Nahum's Glee over the Ruin of Nineveh:

The fierceness of Nahum, and his glee at the thought of Nineveh's ruin, may not be in accord with the injunction, "Love thine enemy"; but it should be borne in mind that it is not personal hatred that prompts the prophet; he is stirred by a righteous indignation over the outrages committed by Assyria. He considers the sin and overthrow of Nineveh, not merely in their bearing upon the fortunes of Judah, but in their relation to the moral government of the whole world; hence, his voice gives utterance to the outraged conscience of humanity.

3. Universality of Yahweh's Rule:

While Nahum's message, in its direct teaching, appears to be less spiritual and ethical than that of his predecessors, it sets in a clear light Yahweh's sway over the whole universe, and emphasizes the duty of nations as well as of individuals to own His sway and obey His will. This attitude alone will assure permanent peace and prosperity; on the other hand, disobedience to His purpose and disregard of His rule will surely bring calamity and distress. The emphasis of these ethical principles gives to the message of Nahum a unique significance for the present day and generation. "Assyria in his hands," says Kennedy, "becomes an object-lesson to the empires of the modern world, teaching, as an eternal principle of the Divine government of the world, the absolute necessity, for a nation's continued vitality, of that righteousness, personal, civic, and national, which alone exalteth a nation."

4. The Messianic Outlook:

In a broad sense, Na 1:15 is of Messianic import. The downfall of Nineveh and Assyria prepares the way for the permanent redemption and exaltation of Zion: "the wicked one shall no more pass through thee."


Comms. on the Minor Prophets by Ewald, Pusey, Keil, Orelli; G.A. Smith (Expositor's Bible); Driver (New Century); B.A. Davidson, commentary on "Nahum," "Habakkuk," "Zephaniah" (Cambridge Bible); A.F. Kirkpatrick, Doctrine of the Prophets; Eiselen, Prophecy and the Prophets; F.W. Farrar, Minor Prophets ("Men of the Bible" series); Driver, Introduction to the Lit. of the Old Testament; HDB, article "Nahum"; EB, article "Nahum."

F. C. Eiselen


na'-i-dus (Codex Alexandrinus Naeidos; Codex Vaticanus Naaidos): One of those who had taken "strange wives" (1 Esdras 9:31), apparently equals "Benaiah" of Ezr 10:30, of which it is probably a corruption or the latter part.


nal: (1) As denoting the finger-nail, the Hebrew word is tsipporen (De 21:12), the captive woman "shall shave her head, and pare her nails." The latter was probably intended to prevent her from marring her beauty by scratching her face, an act of self-mutilation oriental women are repeatedly reported to have committed in the agony of their grief. Aramaic Tephar (Da 4:33, "his nails like birds' claws"). (2) As pin or peg (for tents, or driven into the wall) the word is yathedh (in Jud 4:21 the Revised Version (British and American), "tent-pin"); in Isa 22:23, "a nail in a sure place" is a peg firmly driven into the wall on which something is to be hung (22:24); compare Ec 12:11, where the word is masmeroth, cognate with macmer below. (3) For nails of iron (1Ch 22:3) and gold (2Ch 3:9), and in Isa 41:7 and Jer 10:4, the word is macmer. (4) In the New Testament the word is helos, used of the nails in Christ's hands (Joh 20:25), and "to nail" in Col 2:14 ("nailing it to the cross") is proseloo.

In a figurative sense the word is used of the hard point of a stylus or engraving tool: "The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point (literally, "claw," "nail") of a diamond: it is graven upon the tablet of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars" (Jer 17:1).

James Orr


na'-in (Navi): This town is mentioned in Scripture only in connection with the visit of Jesus and the miracle of raising the widow's son from the dead (Lu 7:11). The name persists to this day, and in the form of Nein clings to a small village on the northwestern slope of Jebel ed-Duchy ("Hill of Moreh"), the mountain which, since the Middle Ages, has been known as Little Hermon. The modern name of the mountain is derived from Neby Duchy whose wely crowns the height above the village. There are many ancient remains, proving that the place was once of considerable size. It was never enclosed by a wall, as some have thought from the mention of "the gate." This was probably the opening between the houses by which the road entered the town. Tristram thought he had found traces of an ancient city wall, but this proved to be incorrect. The ancient town perhaps stood somewhat higher on the hill than the present village. In the rocks to the East are many tombs of antiquity. The site commands a beautiful and extensive view across the plain to Carmel, over the Nazareth hills, and away past Tabor to where the white peak of Hermon glistens in the sun. To the South are the heights of Gilboa and the uplands of Samaria. The village, once prosperous, has fallen on evil days. It is said that the villagers received such good prices for simsum that they cultivated it on a large scale. A sudden drop in the price brought them to ruin, from which, after many years, they have not yet fully recovered.

W. Ewing


na'-yoth, ni'-oth (nayoth; Codex Vaticanus Auath; Codex Alexandrinus Nauioth): This is the name given to a place in Ramah to which David went with Samuel when he fled and escaped from Saul (1Sa 19:18, etc.). The term has often been taken as meaning "houses" or "habitations"; but this cannot be justified. There is no certainty as to exactly what the word signified. Clearly, however, it attached to a particular locality in Ramah; and whatever its etymological significance, it denoted a place where the prophets dwelt together. On approaching it in pursuit of David, Saul was overcome by the Spirit of God, and conducted himself like one "possessed," giving rise to the proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"

W. Ewing


na'-ked, na'-ked-nes: "Naked" in the Old Testament represents various derivatives of `ur and `arah chiefly, `arom (adj.) and `erwah (noun); in the New Testament the adjective is gumnos, the noun gumnotes, with verb gumneteuo, in 1Co 4:11. In Ex 32:25; 2Ch 28:19, the King James Version adds para`, "break loose," "cast away restraint." Both the Greek and Hebrew forms mean "without clothing," but in both languages they, are used frequently in the sense of "lightly clad" or, simply, "without an outer garment." So, probably, is the meaning in Joh 21:7--Peter was wearing only the chiton (see DRESS); and so perhaps in Mr 14:51,52 and Mic 1:8. In Isa 20:2-4, however, the meaning is literally (for the "three years" of Isa 20:3 see the commentaries). So in Ge 2:25; 3:7, where the act of sin is immediately followed by the sense of shame (see Delitzsch, Biblical Psychology, and Gunkel, at the place). A very common use of "naked" is also "without proper clothing" (Job 22:6; 1Co 4:11, etc.), whence, of course, the expression "clothe naked." "Nakedness," in addition, is used as an euphemism in 1Sa 20:30. A slightly different euphemistic usage is that of Le 18:19, which in Eze 16:36,37 is played off against the literal sense (compare Eze 22:10; 23:18,29). The point of Ge 9:22,23 is a little hard to grasp, but apparently there is here again an euphemism--this time for a particularly horrible act (see the commentaries and compare Hab 2:15). Possibly some of these euphemisms are due to the Massoretes (see TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT). The Jews objected vigorously to exposure of the body (even athletes insisting on a loin-cloth (compare 2 Macc 4:12,13)), and compulsory nudity was the extreme of shame and humiliation (Isa 20:2-4; La 1:8; Ho 2:3; Na 3:5, etc.). The relation of this attitude to Israel's high sexual morality needs no explanation.

Buroton Scott Easton


nam (shem; onoma; Latin nomen (2 Esdras 4:1); verbs onomazo; Latin nomino (2 Esdras 5:26)): A "name" is that by which a person, place or thing is marked and known. In Scripture, names were generally descriptive of the person, of his position, of some circumstance affecting him, hope entertained concerning him, etc., so that "the name" often came to stand for the person. In Ac 1:15; Re 3:4, onoma stands for "persons"; compare Nu 26:53,55.

I. Old Testament Word and Use.

1. General:

The word for "name" in the Old Testament is shem (also the name of one of the sons of Noah). The etymology is uncertain, although it may be from shamah (obs.), "to set a mark"; shum is the Aramaic form. For the name as descriptive of the person see NAMES. Besides designating persons, the name also stands for fame, renown, reputation, character gained or expressed, etc. (Ge 6:4; 2Sa 7:9,23, etc.); it might be an "evil name" (De 22:14,19); the "name" is also equivalent to a "people" or "nation" (which might be "blotted out," i.e. destroyed (De 7:24, etc.)); to speak or write "in the name" signified authority (Ex 5:23; 1Ki 21:8, etc.); to "call one's name" over a place or people indicated possession or ownership (2Sa 12:28; Am 9:12, etc.); to act "in the name" was to represent (De 25:6); to be called or known "by name" indicated special individual notice (Ex 31:2; Isa 43:1; 45:3,4). Ge 2:19,20 even displays a conception of identity between the name and the thing.

"To name" is sometimes 'amar, "to say" (1Sa 16:3); dabhar, "to speak" (Ge 23:16); naqabh, "to mark out" (Nu 1:17); qara', "to call" (Ge 48:16; Isa 61:6).

2. The Divine Name:

Of special interest is the usage with respect to the name of God. (For the various Divine names and their significance see GOD, NAMES OF.) He revealed Himself to Israel through Moses by a new name (which was at the same time that of the God of their fathers)--JEHOVAH (which see) (Yahweh)--the nature of which should be shown by His manifestations on their behalf (Ex 3:13-16; 15:2,3). The "name of God was therefore not a mere word, but the whole of" the Divine manifestation, the character of God as revealed in His relations to His people and in His dealings with them (Ex 9:16; Jos 7:9; 9:9, etc.). The "name of Yahweh" was proclaimed to Moses on Mt. Sinai, "Yah, Yahweh, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth," etc. (Ex 34:6); the name Yahweh (so revealed) was (Ex 3:15) His "memorial Name" (so, often, in the American Standard Revised Version; see MEMORIAL). His sole Deity was such an important element in His name that De 6:4 f was termed the "Shema" (from shema`, "hear," the first word in 6:4), the first article of Israelite faith, taught to all the children, written on the phylacteries, and still recited as the first act in public and private worship "twice a day by every adult male Jew." Where Yahweh is said to record His name, or to put His name in a place (or person), some special Divine manifestation is implied, making the place or person sacred to Him (Ex 20:24; 1Ki 8:16). His "name" was in the angel of His Presence (Ex 23:21); what He does is "for his great name's sake," in fidelity to and vindication of His revealed character and covenant relationship (2Ch 6:32; Ps 25:11); the great things He should do would be "for a name" (Isa 55:13); He would give His people a new name, "an everlasting name" (Isa 56:5); to be "called by" the name of Yahweh is "to be his people" (2Ch 7:14; Isa 43:7); it implies "protection," etc. (Isa 63:19; Jer 14:8,9); to "call upon" the name of Yahweh was "to worship him" as God (Ge 21:33; 26:25, etc.); "to confess" His name, to "acknowledge him" (1Ki 8:33,35); to love, trust, act in, etc., "the name," was to love, trust, etc., Yahweh Himself (Ps 5:11; 7:17). Very frequently, especially in the Psalms and prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, "the name" of God stands for "God himself"; to "forget his name" was "to depart from him" (Jer 23:27); "to minister, prophesy, or speak" in His name signified Divine appointment, inspiration, authority (Jer 11:21; 14:14,15, etc.); we have "swearing by" or "in" the name of Yahweh (De 6:13); to take His name "in vain" was to swear falsely (Ex 20:7; Le 19:12); we have "blessing" in His name (De 10:8); "cursing" (2Ki 2:24). In Le 24:11, we have the case of one who "blasphemed the Name, and cursed," the penalty for which was death by stoning (24:13-16). In later Jewish usage (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 14:21) the sacred name Yahweh was not pronounced in reading the Scriptures, 'Adhonay ("my Lord") being substituted for it (the vowels belonging to 'Adhonay were written with the consonants of the Divine name), hence, the frequent term "the Lord" in the King James Version, for which the American Standard Revised Version substitutes "Yahweh."

II. New Testament Word and Use.

1. Character and Work of the Person:

In the New Testament onoma has frequently also the significance of denoting the "character," or "work" of the person, e.g. Mt 1:21, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save," etc. (Lu 1:31; 2:21; 1:63, "His name is John"; compare the new names given to Simon, James and John; Saul's new name of "Paul"). The "name" of God has the same relation to the character of God as in the Old Testament (Mt 6:9; "Father, glorify thy name," Joh 12:28); it is manifested by Christ (Joh 17:26; compare Joh 17:3); the name of Jesus, as manifesting God, takes the place of the name of Yahweh in the Old Testament (compare Jas 2:7 with Jer 14:9, and see below); to Him is given "the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow .... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," Php 2:9,10 (compare Isa 45:23); "It is not the name Jesus, but the name of Jesus" (Lightfoot), i.e. the name ("Lord,") received by Jesus; we have with reference to Jesus simply "the Name" (Ac 5:41, "worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name"; Jas 5:14 (probable text, Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek), "in the Name"; 3 Joh 1:7, "for the sake of the Name"); the "name of Christ" is equivalent to "Christ himself" (Mt 10:22; 19:29); it is the same thing as "his manifestation" (Joh 20:31); therefore "to believe on his name" is to believe in Him as manifested in His life and work (Joh 1:12; 2:23); "in the name of God" means sent by God, as representing Him, with Divine authority (Mt 21:9; 23:39); in like manner, we have "prophesying" or "preaching" in the name of Jesus (Ac 4:18; 5:28). The "name of Jesus" represented His "authority" and "power," e.g. working miracles in His name (Mt 7:22; Mr 9:39; Ac 4:7, `by what name (or "power") have ye done this?'), and it is contrasted with casting out evil spirits by some other name or power (Ac 16:18; 19:17). The gospel, of salvation was to be preached "in his name," by His authority and as making it effectual (Lu 24:47); sinners were justified "through his name" (Ac 10:43; 1Co 6:11); sins were forgiven "for his name's sake" (1 Joh 2:12); men "called upon the name" of Jesus, as they had done on that of Yahweh (Ac 9:14,21 (compare Ac 7:59); Ro 10:13,14).

"To name the name" of Christ was to belong to Him (2Ti 2:19); the calling of His name on the Gentiles signified their acceptance as God's people (Ac 15:17 (quoted from Am 9:12); compare Ro 1:5); to "hold fast his name" is to be true to Him as made known (Re 2:13; 3:8); to be "gathered together in his name," to "do all'' things in his name," is as "acknowledging him" (Mt 18:20; Col 3:17); "to baptize in" or "into the name" of Jesus Christ (Ac 2:38; 22:16, "calling on his name," contrasted with baptizing into one's own name in 1Co 13, eis) is "to call over them his name" (in the rite), as claiming them for Christ and as their acknowledgment of Him or of faith in Him--becoming His disciples; similarly, to baptize "into (eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," represents "dedication to" God as He has been revealed in Christ.

"In the name of" means "as representing" (or as being), e.g. "in the name of a prophet," of "a righteous man," or of "a disciple" (Mt 10:41,42); to receive a little child "in Christ's name," i.e. as belonging to Him, is to receive Himself (Mt 18:5; Mr 9:37; 9:41 to disciples, the Revised Version (British and American) "because ye are Christ's," margin "Greek: in name that ye are (Christ's)"; Lu 9:48; compare Mt 18:20; Mr 13:6, "Many shall come in my name"; Lu 21:8).

2. In Relation to Prayer:

The significance of the name of Jesus in relation to prayer deserves special notice. To pray in the name of Jesus, to ask anything in His name, according to His promises, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do" (Joh 14:13; compare Joh 14:14; 15:16; 16:23); "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask .... that your joy may be made full" (Joh 16:24), is not merely to add to our prayers (as is so often unthinkingly done): "we ask all in the name of Jesus," or "through Jesus Christ our Lord," etc., but to pray or ask as His representatives on earth, in His mission and stead, in His spirit and with His aim; it implies union with Christ and abiding in Him, He in us and we in Him. The meaning of the phrase is, "as being one with me even as I am revealed to you." Its two correlatives are "in me" (Joh 6:56; 14:20; 15:4 ff; 16:33; compare 1Joh 5:20), and the Pauline "in Christ" (Westcott, The Gospel according to John).

W. L. Walker





1. Various Types

2. Vocalization

3. Transposition of Parts

4. Methods of Abbreviation


1. Personal Names

(1) Not Exclusively Descriptive

(2) Drawn from a Wide Field

(3) Influences Leading to Choice

(4) Popularity of Names: Hard to Determine

2. Geographical Names


1. Derivation of Names Manifest

2. The Narrator's Only Concern

3. Allusions Linked with Names

I. The Form of Hebrew Names.

1. Various Types:

The Hebrew proper name consists of a single word, a phrase, or a sentence.

(1) Where the name is a single word, other than a verb, it may be

(a) a common noun, concrete, as Barak, "lightning," Tola, "crimson worm," Elon, "oak," Achsah, "anklet," Deborah, "bee" or abstract, as Uzzah, "strength," Manoah, "rest," Hannah, "grace"; or either abstract or concrete, as Zebul, "habitation";

(b) a participle, as Saul, "asked," Zeruiah, "cleft";

(c) an adjective, as Ikkesh, "perverse," Maharai, "impetuous," Shimei, "famous"; or

(d) a word that may be either an adjective or an abstract noun according to circumstances. Such are formations after the norm of qaTTul, as shammua`, which are generally adjectives; and formations by means of the ending -am or -on, as Adullam, Zalmon, Gideon, or, with the rejection of the final -n, Shilo(h) and Solomo(n).

(2) The name may be a phrase, consisting of

(a) two nouns, as Penuel, "face of God," Samuel, "name of God," Ish-bosheth, "man of shame"; or

(b) an adjective and a noun, as Jedidiah, "beloved of Yahweh" ; or

(c) a preposition and one or more nouns, as Besodeiah, "in the intimacy of Yahweh" (Ne 3:6).

When the name is a sentence, the predicate may be

(a) a noun, the copula being implied, as Abijah, "Yah is a father," Eliab, "God is a father," Elimelech, "God is king"; or

(b) an adjective, as Tobijah, "Yah is good" (Zec 6:10); or

(c) a participle, as Obed-edom, "Edom is serving"; or

(d) a finite verb. This last type exhibits five or six varieties: the subject stands before a perfect, as Jonathan, "Yahweh hath given," Jehoshaphat, "Yahweh hath judged," Eleazar, "God hath helped," Elkanah, "God hath formed"; or before an imperfect, as Eliahba, "God hideth Himself"; or the subject comes after a perfect, as Benaiah, "Yahweh hath built," Shephatiah, "Yahweh hath judged," Asahel, "God hath made; or after an imperfect, as Jezreel, "God doth sow." Very often the subject is the pronoun included or implied in the verbal form, as Nathan, "he hath given," Hillel, "he hath praised," Jair, "he enlighteneth," Jephthah, "he openeth." Occasionally the predicate contains an object of the verb, as Shealtiel, "I have asked God" (Ezr 3:2), or a prepositional phrase, as Hephzibah, "my delight is in her" (2Ki 21:1). The sentence-name is usually a declaration, but it may be an exhortation or a prayer, as Jerub-baal, "let Baal strive," and Hoshea, "save!" (Nu 13:16), or it may be a question, as Micaiah, "who is like Yahweh?" All of the foregoing illustrations have been taken from the Books of Judges and Samuel, unless otherwise noted.

2. Vocalization:

The proper name is treated as one word, whether on analysis it consists of a single word, a phrase, or a sentence; and as such it is subject to the laws of accent and quantity which govern the Hebrew word.

(1) A common noun used as a name undergoes the variations of pronunciation due to the custom of lengthening a short vowel in pause and to the laws which control the aspiration of certain labials, linguals, and palatals. Thus, the name Perez, "breach," which appears also as Pharez in the King James Version of the Old Testament, occurs in the Hebrew text in the four forms perets, parets, pherets and pharets (Ru 4:18; Ne 11:4,6).

(2) In a name consisting of a phrase the normal advance of the accent as usual causes the loss of a pretonic vowel, as is indicated by the suspended letter in Jedidiah, "beloved of Yahweh"; requires a short vowel in a closed unaccented syllable, as in Mahalal'el, "praise of God"; allows contraction, as in Beth-el, "house of God"; and occasions the return of a segholate noun to its primitive form, as in Abdiel, "servant of God," where the vowel i is an archaism which has lingered in compound names, but has generally disappeared elsewhere in speech.

(3) Names which consist of a sentence are also accented as one word, and the pronunciation is modified accordingly. The synonyms Eliam and Ammiel, "God is a kinsman," not only exhibit the common archaism in the retention of the vowel i, but the name Eliam also shows the characteristic lengthening of the vowel in the final accented syllable, so common in nouns. The four forms Eliphelet, Eliphalet, Elpelet and Elpalet, meaning "God is deliverance," represent the variations of the Hebrew due to the causes already mentioned (1Ch 3:8; 14:5,7; see the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)). The requirements regarding the ellsion and the quantity and quality of vowels, on the shifting of the accent, are also regularly met by the various types of sentence-names in which the predicate is a verb Thus, the personal names 'elishama` and 'elnathan (subject followed by verb in the perfect); 'elyaqim, 'elyahba', and yehoyakhin (subject and imperfect); gedhalyah, yekholyahu, barakh'el, in which the first vowel is protected by the implied reduplication of the Piel species, benayah, `asah'el, and `asah-'el, `asi'el, chazah'el and chaza'-el and pedhah'el (perfect and subject); yigdalyahu, yibhneyah, ya`asi'el, yachdi'el, yehallel'el, yesimi'el (imperfect and subject); yerubba`al and yashobh`am (jussive and subject; u in sharpened, and o in closed, syllable; in Jashobeam the first long vowel is retained by a secondary accent, marked by metheg); nathan and yiphtach, i.e. Jephthah. Ibneiah shows the customary apocopation of the imperfect of Lamedh-he verbs; and the names Benaiah to Pedahel show the methods of combining the perfect of such verbs with a following element. The short vowel of the final closed syllable of the imperfect is elided, if the final consonant is permitted to begin the syllable of the next element of the name, as in Jezreel, Jekabzeel, Jerahmeel, Ezekiel, Jehizkiah (see the Hebrew form of these names); but it is not elided in Ishmael, although the consonant is attached to the following syllable; and elision is avoided, as in Jiphthah-el, by keeping the ultimate and penultimate syllables distinct. Jehucal, a Hophal imperfect, is peculiar in not lengthening the vowel in the accented final syllable, when the verb is used as a personal name.

3. Transposition of Parts:

When the name was a sentence in Hebrew, its constituent parts could be transposed without changing the meaning. Thus the father of Bathsheba was called Ammiel, "a kinsman is God," and Eliam, "God is a kinsman" (2Sa 11:3; 1Ch 3:5); and similarly, in letters written from Palestine to the king of Egypt in the 14th century BC, Ilimilki is also called Milkili, the name in either form signifying "God is king." Ahaziah, king of Judah, is called Jehoahaz (compare 2Ch 21:17 with 22:1), a legitimate transposition of the verb and subject, and meaning in each case, "Yahweh hath laid hold."

Not only did transposition take place, but the substitution of a cognate root and even the use of a different part of the verb also occurred. Thus King Jehoiachin (2Ki 24:6; Jer 52:31) was known also as Jeconiah (Jer 24:1; 28:4) and Coniah (Jer 22:24,28; 37:1). The two names Jehoiachin and Jeconiah have exactly the same meaning, "Yahweh doth establish"; and Coniah is a synonym, "the establishing of Yahweh." The Divine name which begins Jehoiachin is transferred to the end in Jeconiah and Coniah; and the Hiphil imperfect of the verb kun, which is seen in Jehoiachin, has been replaced by the Qal imperfect of the verb kanan in Jeconiah, and by the construct infinitive of the same species in Coniah. Parallel cases occur in Assyrian and Babylonian literature, among which the two forms of the king's name, Zamama-shum-iddina and Zamama-nadin-shum, exhibit both the transposition of constituent parts and an interchange of preterite and participle.

4. Methods of Abbreviation:

Twin forms like Abiner and Abner, Abishalom and Absalom, Elizaphan and Elzaphan, are not the full name and its abbreviation by syncopation, but are merely two variant, equally legitimate, modes of combining the constituent parts. The common methods of shortening were:

(1) contraction by the rejection of a weak consonant or the apocopation of a final unaccented vowel, notably illustrated by the divine name (c)~yeho-] at the beginning and -yahu at the end of proper names: hence, Jehoash became Joash (2Ki 12:1,19), and Amaziahu became Amaziah (2Ki 14:1, 8 Hebrew text, and 8);

(2) abbreviation of composite geographical names by the omission of the generic noun or its equivalent: Jerusalem, which to the Hebrews meant "foundation of peace," was shortened to Salem, "peace" (Ps 76:2); Kiriath-baal, "city of Baal" (Jos 15:60), to Baal or Baalah (Jos 15:9,10; compare 2Sa 6:2); Beeshterah, "house or temple of Astarte," to Ashtaroth; Beth-lebaoth, "house of lionesses," to Lebaoth; Beth-azmaveth to Azmaveth; Beth-rehob to Rehob; Beth-bamoth to Bamoth (M S, l. 27, with Nu 21:19); Beth-baal-meon to Baal-meon (Nu 32:38; Jos 13:17); the same custom existed among the Moabites who spoke of this town indifferently as Beth-baal-meon and Baal-meon (M S, ll.9, 30);

(3) abbreviation by the omission of the divine name: thus the name of the idolater Micaiah, which means, "who is like Yahweh?" (Jud 17:1,4 (Hebrew)), was shortened to Micah, "who is like?" (Jud 17:5,8); and similarly in the case of three other men, namely the prophet (Micaiah, Jer 26:18 the English Revised Version, and Micah, Mic 1:1), the Levite musician (Ne 12:35 with Ne 11:17,22), and the father of Abdon (2Ki 22:12 with 2Ch 34:20).

The king of Judah, Yauhazi, as he was known to the Assyrians, i.e. Jehoahaz, "Yahweh hath laid hold," is called simply Ahaz, "he hath laid hold," in the Hebrew records. The town of Jabneel, "God doth cause to be built," was shortened to Jabneh, "he doth cause to be built" (Jos 15:11; 2Ch 26:6; compare /RAPC 1Ma 4:15); Paltiel, "deliverance of God," was curtailed to Palti, "deliverance" (1Sa 25:44; 2Sa 3:15); Abijah, "Yahweh is father," to Abi (2Ch 29:1 with 2Ki 18:2); and Bamoth-baal, "high places of Baal," to Bamoth (Jos 13:17 with Nu 21:19). Abdi, Othni, Uzzi, and not a few other similar names, probably represent curtailment of this sort. The omission of the Divine title has parallels in Assyrian and Babylonian literature: thus Nabu-nadin-ziri and Nabu-shum-ukin were called Nadinu and Shum-ukin respectively (Dynastic Tablet number 2, col. iv, 4, 5, with Babylonian Chron., col. i, 13, 16).

(4) Abbreviation by the elision of the initial consonant, yet so that the remainder is a synonymous name of complete grammatical form. The name of King Hezekiah was written by the Hebrews both yechizchiyah, "Yahweh doth strengthen," and chizchiyah, "Yahweh is strength." The two forms interchange many times in 2Ch 29$, 30$, 31$, 32$, 33$. Similarly, Jeconiah was shortened to Coniah, as has already been noticed; the name of the town Jekabzeel, "God bringeth together," to Kabzeel, "God's bringing together" (Ne 11:25 with Jos 15:21; 2Sa 23:20); Meshelemiah, "Yahweh is recompensing," to Shelemiah, "Yahweh's recompensing" (1Ch 26:1,2 with 1Ch 26:14); Meshullam, "recompensed," to Shallum, "recompensed" (1Ch 9:11; Ne 11:11 with 1Ch 6:12; Ezr 7:2).

II. The Range of Proper Names.

1. Personal Names:

(1) Not Exclusively Descriptive.

Simonis in his Onomasticum, published in 1741, and Gesenius in his Thesaurus, issued during the years from 1835 to 1853, endeavored to interpret the proper names as though they were ordinarily intended to characterize the person who bore them. Embarrassed by theory, Gesenius translated Malchiel by "rex Dei, h. e. a Deo constitutus"; and Simonis translated Malchi-shua by "regis auxilium, i.e. auxilium s. salus regi patri praestita"; Ammizabad was rendered by Gesenius "famulus largitoris, h.e. Jehovae," and by Simonis "populum (i.e. copiosissimam liberorum turbam) donavit"; Gesenius translated Gedaliah "quem Jehova educavit vel roboravit," Zerahiah "cui Jehova ortum dedit," Jehozadak "quem Jehova justum fecit," and Joe "cui Jehova est deus, i.e. cultor Jehovae"; but Simonis rendered Joe by "Jehoua (eat) Deus .... vel (cui) Jehoua Deus (eat)." Now Malchiel means "God is king," Malchi-shua "the king, i.e. God, is salvation" (compare Joshua), Ammizabad "the Kinsman hath endowed," Gedaliah "Yah is great," Zerahiah "Yahweh hath risen in splendor," Jehozadak "Yahweh is righteous," and Joel, if a compound name, "Yah is God." A moment's reflection makes clear that these names do not describe the persons who bear them, but in every case speak of God. They emphasize the important facts that personal names might be, and often were, memorial and doctrinal, and that personal names were a part of the ordinary speech of the people, full of meaning and intelligible to all, subject to the phonetic laws of the Hebrews, and obedient to the rules of grammar.

(2) Drawn from a Wide Field.

Parents named their children, and contemporaries dubbed people, from physical and spiritual traits, whether a beauty or a blemish; thus Hophni, "pertaining to the fist," Japhia, "gleaming," Ikkesh, "perverse," Ira, "watchful," Gareb, "rough-skinned," and Hiddai, "joyful." Children were called by the names of natural objects, as Peninnah, "coral," Rimmon, "pomegranate," Tamar, "palm tree," Nahash, "serpent," Eglah, "heifer," Aiah, "bird of prey," and Laish, "lion"; or after kinsfolk or remoter members of the clan, as Absalom's daughter Tamar bore the name of her father's beautiful sister, and as the priest Phinehas took his strange name from the noted Phinehas, who belonged to the same father's house in earlier days. Or the name given to the child furnished a memorial of events in the national history, like Ichabod, "the glory is not" (1Sa 4:21), and probably Obed-edom, "Edom is serving" (compare 1Sa 14:47; 21:7); or it told of circumstances attending the child's birth, as Saul, "asked," and Elishama, "God hath heard"; or it embodied an article of the parent's creed, as Joab and Abijah, "Yah is a father," Joel, "Yah is God"; or it expressed a hope concerning the child or bore witness to a prophecy, as Jedidiah, "beloved of Yahweh," and Solomon, "peaceable" (2Sa 12:25; 1Ch 22:9). Sometimes the name of the tribe or race to which a man belonged became his popular designation, as Cushi, "Cushite." All of these examples have been cited from the records of one period of Israel's history, the times of Samuel and David.

(3) Influences Leading to Choice.

The people in general gathered names for their children freely from all parts of this wide field, but in certain circles influences were at work which tended to restrict the choice to a smaller area. These influences were religious:

(a) In homes of piety conscious nearness to God on the part of the parents naturally prompted them to bestow religious names upon their children. The name may be without distinct religious mark in its form and meaning, as Ephraim, "double fruitfulness," Manasseh, "making to forget," and yet have been given in acknowledgment of God's grace and be a constant reminder of His goodness (Ge 41:51,52); or the name may be religious in form, as Shemaiah, "Yah hath heard," and publicly testify to the parents' gratitude to God.

(b) The covenant relation, which Yahweh entered into with Israel, made the name Yahweh, and that aspect of God's character which is denoted by this name, peculiarly precious to the people of God, and thenceforth the word Yahweh became a favorite element in the personal names of the Israelites, though not, of course, to the exclusion of the great name El, "God."

(c) Among the kings in the line of David, the consciousness of their formal adoption by Yahweh to be His vicegerents on the throne of Israel (2Sa 7; Ps 2) found expression in the royal names. Yahweh, the God of Israel, was acknowledged in the personal name Abijah, borne by the son and successor of Rehoboam. But his was an isolated case, unless the name Asa is an abbreviated form. But with Jehoshaphat, Abijah's grandson, early in the 9th century, the custom became established. Henceforth it was conventional for the king of Judah to have for his name a sentence with Yahweh as its subject. The only exceptions among the 16 successors of Asa on the throne were Manasseh and his son Amon, both of whom were notoriously apostate from Yahweh. The full name of Ahaz was Jehoahaz. Josiah's son Shallum as king was known as Jehoahaz; and his brother Eliakim, when placed on the throne by Pharaoh-necoh, was given the name Jehoiakim.

(d) Akin to the influence exerted by the relation of the kings to the God of Israel, and manifesting almost equal power contemporaneously with it, was the influence of official connection with the sanctuary, either as priests or as subordinate ministers, and it frequently led to the choice of an ecclesiastical name containing the word God or Yahweh. During the five centuries and a half, beginning near the close of Solomon's reign and extending to the end of Nehemiah's administration, 22 high priests held office, so far as their names have been preserved in the records. Of these pontiffs 17 bear names which are sentences with Yahweh as subject, and another is a sentence with El as subject. The materials for investigation along this line are not complete, as they are in the case of the kings, and ratios derived from them are apt to be erroneous; but evidently the priests of Yahweh's temple at Jerusalem not only recognized the appropriateness for themselves and their families of names possessing a general religious character, but came to favor such as expressly mentioned God, especially those which mentioned God by His name of Yahweh.

(4) Popularity of Names: Hard to Determine.

Until abundant data come to light for all periods of the history, it is precarious to attempt to determine the relative popularity of the various kinds and types of names in any one generation, or to compare period with period with respect to the use or neglect of a particular class of names. For, first, in no period are the names which have been transmitted by the Hebrew records many as compared with the thousands in use at the time; and, secondly, the records deal with the historical event which was conspicuous at the moment, and rarely mention persons other than the actors in this event.

At one time men and women from the middle class of society are asserting themselves in the national life, and the personal names current in the families of farmers, shopkeepers and soldiers obtain place in the annals; at another time, when the activities of the court are of paramount importance, it is mainly names that were current in official circles which are chronicled; at yet another period, when matters of the national worship engaged the attention of the state, ecclesiastics and laymen from pious families, whose names were quite likely to have a religious meaning, receive mention. Very few names outside of the particular circle concerned are preserved in the records. It is unwarranted, therefore, to draw inferences regarding the relative use of particular names, secular names, for instance, at different periods of the history of Israel, by comparing the number of these names found in a record of political uprisings in the army with the number of similar names in the narrative of an episode which occurred at a later date and in which only priests took part. It is comparing things that differ. It is comparing the number of certain names current in military circles with the number of the same names among ecclesiastics, in order to learn whether these names were more common among the people as a whole in the one period than in the other.

2. Geographical Names:

The brine of its waters led the ancient Hebrews to call the Dead Sea the Salt Sea. Bethesda, "house of mercy," received its name from the belief in the healing virtue of its waters; Lebanon, "white," from the snows that cover its crest; Sidon on the Mediterranean Sea and Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, from their fisheries; Tyre, from the great rock in the sea on which it was built; the valley of Elah, from the terebinth tree; Luz, from the almond tree; Shittim, from the acacia groves on the eastern terrace of the Jordan valley; and Jericho, from the fragrance of its palms and balsams. The "crags of the wild goats" and En-gedi, "kid spring" (1Sa 24:1,2), were in a desolate, rocky region where the wild goats had their home; Aijalon signifies "place of harts," and Etam denotes a "place of beasts and birds of prey." The hopes of a people and pride in their town were expressed in names like Joppa, "beauty," Tirzah, "pleasantness," Janoah, "rest," Shiloh, "tranquillity," and Salem, "peace." The resemblance of the Sea of Galilee in shape to a harp secured for it its ancient name of Chinnereth. Poetic imagination saw in majestic Mt. Hermon likeness to a soldier's breastplate, and forthwith the mountain was called Serion and Senir. The sanctuary of a deity might give name to a town, hence, Beth-dagon, Beth-anath, and Ashtaroth. Sometimes the name of a place commemorated a victory, as rock Oreb, rock Zeeb, and Eben-ezer (Jud 7:25; 1Sa 7:12); or enshrined a religious transaction or experience, Beth-el and Beracah (Ge 28:17-19; 2Ch 20:26); or told of a migration, as when colonists gave the name of their native town to their new settlement (Jud 1:23-26). Often the name of the founder or other famous inhabitant became attached to a town, and that for various reasons. It was often necessary to distinguish places of the same name from each other by this method; thus certain of the towns called Gibeah became Gibeath-saul and Gibeath-phinehas. The Jebusite stronghold captured by David was named by him the city of David, and was known by this name, as a quarter of Jerusalem, for many generations (2Sa 5:9; 2Ki 16:20). The practice was common among the Semitic contemporaries of Israel, as is illustrated by Dur-sharruken, "Sargonsburg," and Kar-shalmanasharidu, "Shalmaneser's fortress." A town might also be named after the tribe which inhabited it or after the ancestor of the tribe, as Da (Jud 18:29), and possibly under not a few geographical designations a tribal name is hidden, even when the fact has escaped record and is not revealed by the form of the name. In an inquiry after the origin of a geographical designation the first consideration is due to the causes known to be ordinarily at work in giving rise to names of the same aspect as the one under scrutiny; and only when they fail to yield a suitable explanation are less obvious causes worthy of serious attention.

III. Characteristics of Biblical References.

1. Derivation of Names Manifest:

As a rule, Semitic words clearly reveal their origin and structure. The Semite might, indeed, err with respect to the particular meaning intended, where a word was current in several significations. Thus, the vale of bakha', mentioned in Ps 84:7 (Eng. 6), is open to two interpretations: namely, "valley of Baca," so called from the balsam trees in it, and "valley of weeping," as the versions render the unusual form, regarding it as equivalent to a similar word meaning "weeping." The plural bekha'im, "mulberry or balsam trees" (2Sa 5:23,14), was understood by Josephus to denote a grove known by the name Weepers (Ant., VII, iv, 1; compare Septuagint). In those rare cases where several derivations were possible, the Israelite may not always have known which thought was intended to be embodied in the name which he heard. But he discerned the alternative possibilities; and a parent, in bestowing a name ambiguous in its derivation, might be deliberately taking advantage of its power to be the vehicle for the suggestion and expression of two thoughts (Ge 30:23,24; Joseph being derivable from both yacaph and 'acaph).

2. The Narrator's Only Concern:

That the object of the Biblical writer was not to make known the derivation of the proper names is clear from cases like Esek, Rehoboth and Ishmael (Ge 16:11; 26:20,22): Isaac called the name of the well, Contention, because the herdsmen of Gerar "contended" with him; another well he called Broad Places (roomy places), because Yahweh had "made room" for him; and Hagar was directed to name the son that she was about to bear "God doth hear," because Yahweh had "heard" her affliction. The narrator's purpose was not to declare that the Hebrew word for contention, 'eceq, is derived from the Hebrew verb for "contend," 'acaq, and that the name "God doth hear," yishma`'el, signifies God doth hear, yishma` 'el. These derivations and meanings were plain. The purpose was to state the circumstances which led to the choice of the name. There are instances also where no part of the name reappears in the words that state the reason for the use of the name. For example, the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz is not explained by citing the words which compose it. One noun of the composite name appears, indeed, in the exposition of the meaning, but accidentally as it were, and without prominence or significance of position (Isa 8:3,4). Samuel is a notable example of this method. Hannah called his name Samuel, saying, `Because of Yahweh, I asked him' (1Sa 1:20). Simonis, Ewald and Nestle derive the name from shemua`'el, "heard of God." This etymology would fully satisfy the reason given for the mother's choice of the name; but the suggested derivation is far-fetched, for it is not customary for a Hebrew word to lose the strong guttural `ayin (`). The guttural was not lost, but was distinctly heard, in Ishmael, where there is the same concurrence of sounds as in shemua`'el. Qimchi, on the other hand, suggested that Samuel is a contraction of sha'ul me'el, "asked of God"; and Ewald asserts that this origin is theory of the narrator (Lehrbuch der hebraischen Sprache, 275, note 3). This is incredible. Such a contraction is "alien to the genius of the Hebrew language'' (Driver, Text of Samuel, 13), and the absence of the two Hebrew consonants 'aleph (') and lamedh (l) before the letter "m" in the midst of the name Samuel would of itself prevent the Semite from imagining such an etymology. The derivation and meaning of Samuel were not obscure. The type was common, and was especially familiar by reason of the name Peniel, "face of God" (Ge 32:30 f). Samuel means "name of God" (Gesenius). As Jacob, upon his return from Paddan-aram, in fulfillment of his vow erected an altar at Beth-el as a memorial of God's bestowal of the promised blessings and named the place thus consecrated "The God of Beth-el" (Ge 35:1,3,7), so Hannah having by vow dedicated to Yahweh the son for whose birth she was praying, now that her prayer has been answered and the son given, calls him "The name of God" in commemoration of the Giver. The Biblical narrator states the motive which led the mother to choose the name Samuel for her child. In this explanation no part of the name is used. Moreover, the slight assonance between shemu'el and she'iltiw in 1Sa 1:20 was unsought, for these words are separated in the Hebrew text, and the emphasis is placed on the gift's being "from Yahweh." The history of the discussion concerning this name shows how far astray criticism has been led by the false theory that the purpose of the narrator was to analyze the name and declare its derivation.

Reuben affords evidence to the same effect. The name was known to the early Hebrews in this form exclusively. It is attested by their most ancient literature (Ge 29:32; 30:14; Jud 5:15,16), by the entire Old Testament, by the Greek translation (Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus, and Lucian), by the Targums, and by the New Testament (Re 7:5). Yet in the 1st century Josephus, adding a Greek termination, wrote Roubelos; and later the Syriac version gave the name as Rubil, and the Ethiopic version as Robel and Rubel. The late variation is reasonably explained as a softening of the pronunciation, which had come into vogue in certain circles. The liquids, or, to speak particularly regarding Reuben, the liquids n and l, sometimes interchanged, giving rise to two forms for a word in the same language or in kindred languages (Gesenius, Thesaurus, 727; Wright, Comp. Grammar, 67; Zimmern,. Vergleichende Grammatik, section 11a). Notwithstanding the evidence furnished by the literature, preference has been given to Reubel as the original form on the ground that "the only plausible explanation of the etymology" given in Ge 29:32 "is that it is based on the form" Re'ubel equals Re'u ba`al (Skinner, Genesis, 386). An exhibition of the etymology was needless, however, and was not the end which the writer had in view. His purpose was to state the occasion for bestowing this particular name upon the child; and in stating it he does full justice to the clear meaning of the good, simple Hebrew of the name Reuben. The name signifies either "vision of a son" or "Behold ye, a son!" In either case the emphatic word is "son." As Hannah, taunted on account of her barrenness, besought God to look on her affliction and give her a man-child (1Sa 1:11), so Leah, using the same words, speaking of the same mercy already shown her, and with the same thought in mind, exclaimed: "Yahweh hath looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me," and she called the name of her son "Look ye! It's a son" (or, "vision of a son "). A male child was to her a proof of God's regard for her misery, and a guaranty of the future love of her husband for her. Moreover, the name kept the thought constantly before the mind of her husband. Gesenius remarks that Reuben means "properly, `See ye, a son!' but the sacred writer in Ge 29:32 explains it as for ra'-ah (ra'uy) be`onyi, `provided in my affliction' " (Lexicon, Thesaurus). This curious specimen of criticism may be regarded as the reductio ad absurdum of the hypothesis that the Hebrew writers intend to give the derivation of the proper names. The result of endeavoring to force the words of the explanation into an intentional etymology compels the assumption that the Hebrew writer misunderstood one of the simplest phrases of his own language and proposed a contraction impossible in itself and utterly foreign to the principles which underlie Hebrew speech.

3. Allusions Linked with Names:

Allusions to proper names are made for the purpose of stating the reason for the bestowal of the name, of pointing out a coincidence between the name and the character or experience of its bearer, or of attaching a prophecy; and it is common to link the allusion with the name by employing the root that underlies the name, or a cognate

root, or some other word that resembles the name in sound:

(1) Statement of the reason for the choice of the name: In the case of Simeon, the root of the name is used (Ge 29:33). Words of this type (with the termination on) are formed from nouns and verbs, and have the force of adjectives, diminutives, or abstract nouns, and are sometimes used as concrete nouns (Stade, Lehrbuch der hebraischen Grammatik, section 296). The Israelite at once recognized the root and formation of the name Simeon, which was a favorite with the Hebrews, and he knew that it could express the abstract idea of hearing. In Ge 29:33 the narrator is not seeking to impart etymological information; but it is clear that he discerned the derivation when he gave the reason for the choice of this particular name for Leah's second son: "(Leah) said, Because Yahweh hath heard that I am hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon." The root of the name is used as a verb in the statement of the motive. It was convenient and natural to do so, since the verb shama` was the proper word to express the idea and was one of the most common words in the language. There would be no reason to suppose that identity with the root of the name was intentional, except that care is taken by the narrator in the case of the other sons of Jacob to maintain a similar correspondence. Accordingly, that form of paronomasia is employed where a word is used that is one with the name in derivation, but differs from the name in form and grammatically is a different part of speech.

In the case of Cain a cognate root is used. The name is a segholate noun from the root qun, which means "to form," and then specifically to form at the anvil. Cain may accordingly be an abstract noun and denote formation, or a concrete noun denoting a forged weapon, or the agent in the work, namely a smith. In stating the reason for giving this name to the child, it was not feasible to use the verb qun, because of the technical meaning which had become attached to it. To avoid misunderstanding the cognate verb qanah is employed, which has radically the same significance, but is without the technical implications (Ge 4:1). The result is that kind of paronomasia which exists between words of similar sound and cognate origin, but difference of meaning.

In the case of Noah a root unrelated to the name in origin, but containing a similar sound, is used. The Biblical narrator does not state whether the name Noah is the transliteration of a foreign word or is its translation into Hebrew; he merely declares that as given it expressed the father's hope that through this child men were to have relief from the ancient curse upon the ground. If the name is Hebrew, its root may be nuach, "rest." At any rate it promptly suggested to the ear of the Hebrew the idea of rest. But the verb nuach, is used in Hebrew, as is the corresponding verb "rest" in English, to express the two ideas of relief and cessation. Lamech did not mean that his son would cause men to cease from work, but that he would secure for them restful relief from toil due to God's curse on account of sin (Ge 5:29, with a reference to Ge 3:17-19). The writer does not use the ambiguous word. To avoid ambiguity, yet with a view to preserving assonance with Noah, he employs the verb nacham, which has as one of its meanings the sense of comfort and relief.

(2) The indication of a coincidence between the character or experience of a person and his name: Naomi, returning to her home bereaved and in poverty, saw the contrast between her present condition and her name; and she played upon her name by using a word of opposite meaning, saying: `Call me not Pleasant, call me Bitter; for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me' (Ru 1:20). In whatever sense Nabal's name may have been bestowed upon him originally, at any rate his wife saw the correspondence between his name in its ordinary meaning and his conduct toward David, and she played upon it, saying: `Fool is his name, and folly is with him' (1Sa 25:25). Likewise the agreement between Jacob's character and a meaning that his name has in Hebrew was seen, and called forth the bitter word-play: `Is he not rightly named "He supplants"? for he hath supplanted me these two times' (Ge 27:36). Isaac, so far as the formation is concerned, may be an abstract noun meaning "laughter," or a concrete noun, "laughing one," or a verb in the imperfect, "he laughs" or "one laughs" (compare Stade, Lehrbuch der hebraischen Grammatik, section 259a). Whichever specific meaning may have been in the mind of Abraham when he gave the name to his son, yet by reason of its ever speaking of laughter the name was a constant reminder to the parents of the laughter of unbelief with which they had listened to the promise of his birth (Ge 17:17; 18:12). But in due time the child of promise has been born. His name, as determined upon, is Isaac. This Sarah knows (Ge 17:19; 21:3). Accordingly, theme with which she greets his advent is laid in her mouth. She plays (puns) upon the name Isaac, using the root of the word in various forms, first as a noun and then as a verb, and giving to the verb a new subject and to the thought a new turn. Instead of the laughter of unbelief, with which the promise was received, `God,' she says, `hath prepared for me laughter (of joy), everyone that heareth (of the event) will laugh (with joy) for me' (Ge 21:6; compare Ps 126:2).

(3) Attachment of a prophecy to a name: Paronomasia in all of its forms is used for this purpose. A meaning of the name, or a sound heard in it, or a contrast suggested by it may be played upon. In these several ways the prophet Micah plays upon successive names in one paragraph (Mic 1:10-15). In answer to Abraham's prayer in behalf of Ishmael, a promise is given concerning the lad, which is introduced by a play upon his name: `As for the boy (named) "God heareth," I have heard thee' (Ge 17:18,20). To Gad a prophecy is attached in Ge 49:19. Two cognate roots are employed: gadhadh, which underlies the word rendered troop or marauding band, and gudh, which means "to press." In the use not only of the root of the name Gad, but of a different root also that is similar in sound, it is evident that the purpose is simply to play upon the name. The brief oracle is uttered almost exclusively by means of variations in the vocalization of the two roots, producing one of the most successful word-plays in Hebrew literature.

Judah is a noun corresponding to the Hophal imperfect, and means "thing being praised," "object of praise." In bestowing this name upon her child the mother signified that Yahweh was the object of her praise; for she said: "Now will I praise Yahweh" (Ge 29:35). In Ge 49:8 a prophecy is spoken concerning Judah. The same etymology and meaning are recognized as before, but the application is different. The birth of Judah had made God an object of praise, the great deeds of the tribe of Judah were destined to make that tribe an object of praise. To quote the oracle: `"Object of praise," thee shall thy brothers praise.' In this difference of reference and in the repetition of the significant word consists the play upon the name.

Da is played upon in much the same way. The name may be a participle, used as a noun, and be rendered "judge"; but it probably belongs to that numerous class in which the names are verbs in the perfect, and signifies, "he hath judged." His adoptive mother had called his name Dan, because God had heard her complaint and decided the cause in her favor (Ge 30:6). In attaching the prophecy, the name is played upon by changing the subject, and, in order to refer to the future, by substituting the imperfect for the perfect of the verb.: `"He hath judged" shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel' (Ge 49:16).


John D. Davis


na-ne'-a (Nanaia; the King James Version Nanea): A female deity worshipped by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians and other Asiatic peoples, the Nana or Nanai of the Babylonians, known as "the lady of Babylon." The name means "the undefiled," and probably represented originally the productive powers of Nature (genetrix), and as such was the companion of the sun-god. She was identified with Ishtar in Assyria and Ashtoreth in Phoenicia, by the Greeks as Aphrodite (Clement of Alexandria Protr., 19), but sometimes as Artemis the huntress (Paus. iii.16,8; Plut. Artax. xxvii). Strabo (xv. 733) identifies her with Anaitis (equalsAnahita), the Asian Artemis. She was the Venus, but sometimes the Diana, of the Romans. There are many variants of the name: Anaea (Strabo xvi.738), Aneitis (Plut. Artax. xxvii), Tanais (Clement of Alexandria, loc. cit.), also Tanath, sometimes in Phoenician inscriptions, Tanata, Anta (Egyptian). In 2 Macc 1:13 ff, a fictitious account is given of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, in a temple of Nanaea in Persia, by the treachery of Nanaea's priests. The public treasury was often placed in Nanaea's temple; this, Epiphanes was anxious to secure under the pretext of marrying the goddess and receiving the money as dowry. The priests threw down great stones "like thunderbolts" from above, killed the king and his state and then cut off their heads. But 1 Macc 1 ff, which is more reliable, gives a different account of the death of Epiphanes after an attempt to rob a rich temple in Elymais. The account of 2 Macc 1:13 ff must be mere legend, as far as Epiphanes is concerned, but may have been suggested or colored by the story of the death of Antiochus the Great, who met his death while plundering a temple of Belus near Elymais (Strabo xvi.l.18; Diod. Sic. 573; Justin, xxxii.2). The temple of Nanaea referred to in 2 Macc 1:13 ff may be identified with that of Artemis (Polyb. xxxi.11; Josephus, Ant, XII, ix, 1) or Aphrodite (Appian, Syriac. 66; Rawlinson, Speaker's Comm.).

S. Angus


na'-o-mi, na-o'-mi, na-o'-mi (no`omi, probably equals "pleasantness"; Septuagint. Codex Vaticanus Noemein; Codex Alexandrinus Noemmei(n)): Wife of Elimelech and mother-in-law of Ru (Ru 1:2-4:17). She went with her husband to the land of Moab, and after his death returned to Bethlehem. When greeted on her return, she told the women of the town to call her, not no`omi ("pleasantness"), but marah ("bitterness"), "for," she said, "the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me." She advised Ru in her dealings with Boaz, and afterward nursed their child.ith Anaitis (equalsAnahita), the Asian Artemis. She was the Venus, but sometimes the Diana, of the Romans. There are many variants of the name: Anaea (Strabo xvi.738), Aneitis (Plut. Artax. xxvii), Tanais (Clement of Alexandria, loc. cit.), also Tanath, sometimes in Phoenician inscriptions, Tanata, Anta (Egyptian). In 2 Macc 1:13 ff, a fictitious account is given of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, in a temple of Nanaea in Persia, by the treachery of Nanaea's priests. The public treasury was often placed in Nanaea's temple; this, Epiphanes was anxious to secure under the pretext of marrying the goddess and receiving the money as dowry. The priests threw down great stones "like thunderbolts" from above, killed the king and his state and then cut off their heads. But 1 Macc 1 ff, which is more reliable, gives a different account of the death of Epiphanes after an attempt to rob a rich temple in Elymais. The account of 2 Macc 1:13 ff must be mere legend, as far as Epiphanes is concerned, but may have been suggested or colored by the story of the death of Antiochus the Great, who met his death while plundering a temple of Belus near Elymais (Strabo xvi.l.18; Diod. Sic. 573; Justin, xxxii.2). The temple of Nanaea referred to in 2 Macc 1:13 ff may be identified with that of Artemis (Polyb. xxxi.11; Josephus, Ant, XII, ix, 1) or Aphrodite (Appian, Syriac. 66; Rawlinson, Speaker's Comm.).

The name may mean "my joy," "my bliss," but is perhaps better explained according to the traditional interpretation as "the pleasant one."

David Francis Roberts


na'-fath-dor (Jos 12:23 the Revised Version margin).

See DOR.


na'-fish (naphish; Naphes, D, Napheth): A son of Ishmael (Ge 25:15; 1Ch 1:31). Naphish, along with other Hagrite clans, was overwhelmingly defeated by the Israelite tribes on the East of the Jordan (1Ch 5:19, the King James Version "Nephish"). Their descendants are mentioned among the Nethinim by the name "Nephisim," the King James Version and the Revised Version margin "Nephusim" (Ezr 2:50); "Nephushesim," the King James Version and the Revised Version margin "Nephishesim" (Ne 7:52); "Naphisi" (1 Esdras 5:31).


naf'-i-si (Naphisi, Codex Vaticanus Napheisei): The name of one of the families which went up out of captivity with Zerubbabel (1 Esdras 5:31) equals "Nephushesim" of Ne 7:52; "Nephisim" of Ezr 2:50.



na'-foth-dor (Jos 11:2 the Revised Version margin).

See DOR.


naf'-ta-li (naphtali; Nephthaleim):


1. Name

2. Circumstances of His Birth

3. Historical and Traditional Details


1. Its Relative Position

2. Its Location in Palestine

3. Physical Features

4. Distinction of the Tribe

5. Sites and Inhabitants

6. Labors of Jesus in This District

I. The Patriarch.

1. Name:

The 5th son of Jacob, and the 2nd born to him by Rachel's handmaid, Bilhah. He was full brother of Da (Ge 30:7 ).

At his birth Rachel is said to have exclaimed, naphtule 'Elohim niphtalti, "wrestlings of God"--i.e. "mighty wrestlings"--"have I wrestled."

2. Circumstances of His Birth:

Her sister's fruitfulness was a sore trial to the barren Rachel. By her artifice she had obtained children, the offspring of her maid ranking as her own; and thus her reproach of childlessness was removed. The name Naphtali given to this son was a monument of her victory. She had won the favor and blessing of God as made manifest in the way yearned for by the oriental heart, the birth of sons.

3. Historical and Traditional Details:

Personal details regarding the patriarch North are entirely wanting in Scripture; and the traditions have not much to say about him. According to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, he was a swift runner. It also tells us that he was one of the 5 brethren whom Joseph chose to represent the family of Jacob in the presence of Pharaoh. He is said to have been 132 years old at his death (Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, viii, 1, 1). When Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, Naphtali had 4 sons (Ge 46:24). In Egypt, he died and was buried.

II. Tribe of Naphtali.

1. Its Relative Position:

When the first census was taken in the wilderness, the tribe numbered 53,400 fighting men (Nu 1:43; 2:30). At the second census, the numbers had shrunk to 45,400 (Nu 26:48 ); but see NUMBERS. The position of Naphtali in the desert was on the North of the tabernacle with the standard of the camp of Dan, along with the tribe of Asher (Nu 2:25 ). The standard, according to Jewish tradition, was a serpent, or basilisk, with the legend, "Return of Yahweh to the many thousands of Israel" (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Nu 2:25). When the host was on the march, this camp came in the rear (Nu 2:31). The prince of the tribe at Sinai was Ahira ben Enan (Nu 2:29). Among the spies the tribe was represented by Nahbi ben Vophsi (Nu 13:14). Prince Pedahel ben Ammihud was chosen from Naphtali to assist in the division of the land (Nu 34:28). Toward the end of David's reign the ruler of the tribe was Jeremoth ben Azriel (1Ch 27:19). Hiram the Tyrian artificer is described as "the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali" (1Ki 7:14). But in 2Ch 2:14 he is called "the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan." Jud 5:15 does not definitely associate Barak with the tribe of Issachar; his residence was at Kedesh (Jud 4:6); it is therefore possible that he belonged to the tribe of Naphtali.

2. Its Location in Palestine:

In the allocation of the land, the lot of Naphtali was the last but one to be drawn (Jos 19:32-39). The boundaries are stated with great fullness. While it is yet impossible to trace them with certainty, the identification of sites in recent years, for which we are mainly indebted to the late Col. Conder, makes possible an approximation. The territory was bounded on the East by the Sea of Galilee and the upper reaches of the Jordan. Josephus makes it extend to Damascus (Ant., V, i, 22); but there is nothing to support this. The southern boundary probably ran from the point where Wady el-Bireh enters the Jordan, westward along the northern side of the valley to Mt. Tabor. The western border may have gone up by way of Chattin (Ziddim) and Yaquq (Hukkok) to Kerr `Anan (Hannathon), bending there to the West, including the land of er-Rameh (Ramah) until it reached the territory of Asher. Running northward again until nearly opposite Tyre, it bent eastward, and once more northward to the LiTany (Leontes), taking in the larger part of what is called by the Arabs Belad Beshdrah and Belad es-Shukif. Nineteen cities in Naphtali are named in Jos 19:32 ff. Among them was the famous city of refuge, KEDESH-NAPHTALI (which see), on the heights to the West of the Waters of Merom, where extensive ruins are still to be seen (20:7). It, along with Hammoth-dor and Kartan, was assigned to the Gershonite Levites (21:23; 1Ch 6:76).

The land lying around the springs of the Jordan was included in the lot of Naphtali. It is clear that from this part, as well as from the cities named in Jud 1:33, Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites. These the Danites found in possession at the time of their raid. There is no indication that Naphtali resented in any way this incursion of their kindred tribe into their territory (Jud 18).

3. Physical Features:

The district thus indicated includes much excellent land, both pastoral and arable. There are the broad, rich terraces that rise away to the North and Northwest of the Sea of Galilee, with the fertile plain of Gennesaret on the seashore. The mountains immediately North of the sea are rocky and barren; but when this tract is passed, we enter the lofty and spacious lands of upper Galilee, which from time immemorial have been the joy of the peasant farmer. Great breadths there are which in season yield golden harvests. The richly diversified scenery, mountain, hill and valley, is marked by a finer growth of trees than is common in Palestine. The terebinth and pine, the olive, mulberry, apricot, fig, pomegranate, orange, lemon and vine are cultivated to good purpose. Water is comparatively plentiful, supplied by many copious springs. It was one of the districts from which Solomon drew provisions, the officer in charge being the king's son-in-law, Ahimaaz (1Ki 4:15).

4. Distinction of the Tribe:

The free life of these spacious uplands, which yielded so liberally to the touch of the hand of industry, developed a robust manhood and a wholesome spirit of independence among its inhabitants. According to Josephus, who knew them well (BJ, III, iii, 2), the country never lacked multitudes of men of courage ready to give a good account of themselves on all occasions of war. Its history, as far as we know it, afforded ample opportunity for the development of warlike qualities. In the struggle with Sisera, Naphtali was found on the high places of the field (Jud 5:18). To David's forces at Hebron, Naphtali contributed a thousand captains "and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand" (1Ch 12:34). Their position exposed them to the first brunt of attack by enemies from the North; and in the wars of the kings they bore an important part (1Ki 15:20; 2Ki 12:18; 13:22); and they were the first on the West of the Jordan to be carried away captive (2Ki 15:29).


5. Sites and Inhabitants:

The largest town in Mt. Naphtali today (in 1915) is Safed, on the heights due North of the Sea of Galilee, often spoken of as the "city set on a hill." It is built in the form of a horseshoe, open to the North, round the Castle Hill, on which are the ruins of the old fortress of the Templars. This is a position of great strength, which could hardly fail to be occupied in ancient times, although, so far, it cannot be identified with any ancient city. It contains between 20,000 and 30,000 inhabitants. Over against it to the Northwest, beyond the deep gorge of Wady Leimun, rises Jebel Jermuk, the highest mountain in Palestine proper (circa 4,000 feet) which may be the scene of the TRANSFIGURATION (which see). The inhabitants of Safed were massacred by Sultan Bibars in 1266. The city suffered severely from earthquake in 1759; and it shared with Tibefias, also a city of Naphtali., the disaster wrought by the earthquake of 1837. It is one of the holy cities of the Jews.

6. Labors of Jesus in This District:

In the land of Naphtali Jesus spent a great part of his public life, the land of Gennesaret, Bethsaida, Capernaum and Chorazin all lying within its boundaries (compare Mt 4:15).

W. Ewing


(har naphtali; en to orei to Nephthalei): This was the most northerly of the three divisions of the Western Range, which derived their names from those of the tribes holding chief sway over them--Mt. Judah, Mt. Ephraim, and, Mt. Naphtali (Jos 20:7 the King James Version, the Revised Version (British and American) replaces Mount" by the hill country of").


naf'-thar (the King James Version): the Revised Version (British and American) "Nephthar."


naf-tu'-him (naphtuchim; Septuagint Nephthaleim): A son of Mizraim (Ge 10:13; 1Ch 1:11); but, according to most modern authorities, a district or a dependency of Egypt. Among the many efforts at identification the following deserve notice: Naphtuhim equals (1) Nephthys (Nephthus) in the Northeast of Egypt; (2) Na-ptah, i.e. the people of Ptah, the dwellers in the neighborhood of Memphis; (3) Nathu (according to Herodotus, Natho), which occurs in Assurbanipal's Annals as the name of a part of Lower Egypt; (4) Erman (ZATW, X, 118), by the change of a letter, reads Petemhim, which signifies "The Northland"; (5) Spiegelberg sees in the word an old designation of the Delta, and would therefore render the name, "the people of the Delta" (compare Johns, HDB; Skinner and Holzinger on Genesis).

John A. Lees


nap'-kin (soudarion; Latin sudarium): In Lu 19:20, the cloth in which the "unprofitable servant" wrapped the money of his lord; compare Joh 11:44; 20:7; see DRESS, sec. 7; HANDKERCHIEF.


nar-sis'-us (Narkissos): In Ro 16:11 Paul sends greetings to "them of the household of Narcissus, that are in the Lord." "The last words may suggest that, though only the Christians in this household have a greeting sent to them, there were other members of it with whom the church had relations" (Denney).

Narcissus is a common name, especially among freedmen and slaves. But, as in the case of Aristobulus, some famous person of this name must be meant. Conybeare and Howson mention two, one the wellknown favorite of Claudius, the other a favorite of Nero. The latter, who was put to death by Galba (Dio Cass. lxiv.3), they think to be the Narcissus meant here (Paul, chapter xix). On the other hand, Bishop Lightfoot (Phil, 175) holds that "the powerful freedman Narcissus, whose wealth was proverbial (Juv. Sat. xiv.329), whose influence with Claudius was unbounded, and who bore a chief part in the intrigues of this reign, alone satisfies this condition." Shortly after the accession of Nero, he had been put to death by Agrippina (Tac. Ann. xiii.1;. Dio Cass. lx.34) in 54 AD. As this occurred three or four years before the Epistle to the Romans was written, some think another Narcissus is meant. However, as was usual in such cases, his property would be confiscated, and his slaves, becoming the property of the emperor, would swell "Caesar's household" as Narcissiani.

S. F. Hunter





nas'-bas (Nasbas, Codex Sinaiticus Nabad, read by Fritzsche): A name otherwise unknown. It occurs only in Tobit 11:18, "And Achiacharus, and Nasbas his brother's son," came to Tobit's wedding. Opinions are divided as to whether he was "brother's son" of Tobit or Achiacharus. the King James Version margin gives the suggestion of Junius, "Achiacharus who is also called Nasbas," thus identifying Nasbas with Achiacharus, which might gain support from Tobit 1:22 where Achiacharus is mentioned as "brother's son" of Tobit. See ACHIACHARUS; AMAN. Codex Sinaiticus reads "Achiacharus and Nabad his brother's sons," which is corrected by another hand to "brother's son" (exadelphos). The Itala gives "Nabal avunculus ("maternal uncle") illius"; the, Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) "Nabath consobrini ("cousins") Tobiae"; Syriac "Laban his sister's son." This person is probably identical with the "Aman" of Tobit 14:10 (see variety of readings under AMAN) and the nephew in Harris' Story of Achiqar and His Nephew.

S. Angus


na'-se (Codex Vaticanus Nasei; Codex Alexandrinus Nasith; the King James Version, Nasith): The head of one of the families which went up with Zerubbabel (1 Esdras 5:32) equals "Neziah" of Ezr 2:54; Ne 7:56.





na'-than (nathan, "gift"; Nathan): A court prophet in David's reign and a supporter of Solomon at his accession. There are three main incidents in his career as depicted in the Old Testament.

1. Nathan and David's Temple-Plans:

The two parallel narratives, 2Sa 7:1-17 equals 1Ch 17:1-15, of which the former is the original, relate how David confided to Nathan his intention to build a house for Yahweh's ark. Nathan at first blesses the project, but that same night is given a Divine message, and returns to tell the king that instead of David building a house for Yahweh, Yahweh will build a house for David: "I will set up thy seed after thee, .... and I will establish his kingdom. .... I will be his father, and he shall be my son: if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men" (2Sa 7:12-14). 2Sa 7:13 says that "He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever," but this disturbs the one great thought of the passage,. which is that God will build a house for David, and which is also the thought in David's prayer (7:18-29).

The word "seed" in 2Sa 7:12 is collective and so throughout the passage, so that the prophecy does not refer to any individual, but, like De 17:14-20; 18:15-22, belongs to the group of generic prophecies. Nor is it Messianic, for 2Sa 7:14 could not be reconciled with the sinlessness of Jesus. The message is rather a promise of the ever-merciful providence of God in dealing with David's family. (See, however, C.A. Briggs, Messianic Prophecy, 126 ff.) Budde, who says that the section belongs to the 7th century and is certainly pre-exilic in the leading thought of the passage, sees in the prophecy something of the idealism of Amos and Hosea, for the prophet teaches that Yahweh dwells, not in "a holy place made with hands" (Heb 9:11,24), but rather in the life of the nation as represented by the direct succession of Davidic kings. This presents an extension of the teaching of Paul that the very body itself is a sanctuary unto God (1Co 6:19).

2. Nathan and David's Sin:

2Sa 12:1-25 narrates Nathan's rebuke of David for his adultery, and for causing the death of Uriah; and then comes an account of the death of Bathsheba's child. In 12:1-15a, we have Nathan's parable of the rich man and the poor man's ewe lamb, and the application of it to David's conduct. But several difficulties arise when we ask exactly what Nathan's message to David was: 12:13 f represent the prophet as saying that God has forgiven David but that the child will die, while 12:10-12 speak of a heavy punishment that is to come upon David and his family, and 12:16 does not show any indication of a prophecy as to the child's death. Commentators regard 12:1-15a as later in origin than 2Sa 11; 12 in the main, and hold 12:10-12 to be still later than the rest of 12:1-15a. Budde omits 12:9a,10ab,11,12, but regards even the rest of the story as interrupting the connection between 11:27b and 12:15b, and therefore of later date.

3. Nathan and Solomon's Accession:

1 Kings 1 is a part of "one of the best pieces of Hebrew narrative in our possession" (H.P. Smith, Old Testament History, 153, note 2). It narrates the part that Nathan played in the events that led to Solomon's accession. David was getting old and feeble, and the succession had not been settled. When Adonijah, who was probably the eldest son living, gave a banquet to some of his father's state officials, Nathan, who was one of those that had not been invited, incited Bathsheba, Solomon's mother, to remind David of his promise to her that Solomon should succeed to the throne. This she did, and in the middle of her audience with David, Nathan appears with the news of Adonijah's feast and proclamation as king. Solomon is then anointed king by David's command, Nathan being one of his chief supporters. It has been suggested that it is only Nathan who interprets Adonijah's feast as a claim to the throne, but this contradicts 1Ki 1:5. Yet, whereas in the two sections treated above Nathan is the prophet of Yahweh , he is represented in 1 Kings as an intriguing court politician, planning very cleverly an opportune entrance into David's presence at the very time that Bathsheba has an audience with the king. The parallel narrative of 1Ch 28 makes no mention of Nathan, Solomon being there represented as Divinely elected to succeed David.

1Ki 4:5 mentions a Nathan as father of Azariah and Zabud, two of the chief officers of Solomon. He is probably the prophet.

1Ch 29:29; 2Ch 9:29 refer to "the words" or rather "the acts of Nathan the prophet" as well as those of Samuel and Gad. "There can be no doubt that these are nothing more than references to the narratives in which Samuel, Nathan and Gad are mentioned in our Books of Samuel" (Curtis on 1Ch 29:29). In 2Ch 29:25, sanction is claimed for Levitical temple-music as being commanded by God through Nathan and Gad.

Curtis (on 1Ch 29:29) observes that Nathan is always called nabhi' ("prophet") in Samuel and Kings and not ro'eh or chozeh, "seer."

David Francis Roberts


(1) A prophet (2Sa 7$; Ps 51$, title). See preceding article.

(2) A son of King David (2Sa 5:14; 1Ch 3:5; 14:4).

(3) Father of Igal, one of David's heroes (2Sa 23:36). In 1Ch 11:38, we have "Joe the brother of Nathan"; the Septuagint's Codex Vaticanus has "son" in this verse, but it is impossible to say whether Igal or Joe is the correct name.

(4) A Jerahmeelite (1Ch 2:36), whose son is called Zabad, whom some suppose to be the same as Zabud (1Ki 4:5). On this view this Nathan is the same as the prophet (see 1, above).

(5) A companion of Ezra from Babylon (Ezr 8:16 and /RAPC 1Es 8:44).

(6) Nathanias (1 Esdras 9:34), one of those who had married foreign wives (Ezr 10:39).

(7) Name of a family (Zec 12:12).

David Francis Roberts


na'-than-mel'-ek (nethan-melekh, "king's gift"): A Judean official, to whose chamber King Josiah removed "the horses of the sun" (2Ki 23:11). The Septuagint calls him "Nathan, the king's eunuch" (Nathan basileos tou eunouchou).


na-than'-a-el (Nathanael):

(1) One of the "captains over thousands" who furnished the Levites with much cattle for Josiah's Passover (1 Esdras 1:9) equals "Nethanel" of 2Ch 35:9.

(2) (Nathanaelos, Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus omit): One of the priests who had married a "strange wife" (1 Esdras 9:22) equals "Nethanel" of Ezr 10:22.

(3) An ancestor of Judith (Judith 8:1).

(4) One of the Twelve Apostles. See next article.


(nethan'el, "God has given"; Nathanael): Nathanael, who was probably a fisherman, belonged to Cana in Galilee (Joh 21:2). According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), Nathanael was the same as Simon, the son of Cleopas, and was one of the Twelve. He was among those who met and conversed with Jesus during the preaching of John the Baptist at Bethany beyond Jordan (compare Joh 1:28). From the manner of the invitation extended to him by Philip (Joh 1:45), it is evident that Nathanael was well versed in ancient Scripture, and that in him also the preaching of John had aroused a certain expectancy. His reply to Philip, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? (Joh 1:46), was prompted, not by any ill repute of the place, but by its petty insignificance and familiarity in Nathanael's eyes. To this question Philip made no direct answer, but replied, "Come and see." It was the answer best fitted to the man and the occasion; it appealed to Nathanael's fair-mindedness and sincerity of purpose. He responded nobly to the call, and on approaching Jesus was received with the words: "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (Joh 1:47). It was a tribute to that singleness of heart which enabled him to overcome his initial prejudice. The same candor and openness distinguished the after-interview of Nathanael with Jesus, as is evident by his question, "Whence knowest thou me?" (Joh 1:48). The reply of Jesus was not what he expected. It concerned the time he had spent under the fig tree, kneeling, no doubt, in silent prayer and communion with God, and brought to mind all the sacred hopes and aspirations of that hour. It taught him that here was One who read on the instant the inmost secrets of his heart, and was Himself the ideal for whom he was seeking; and it drew from him the confession, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel" (Joh 1:49).

Although Nathanael is mentioned by name only once again in the New Testament, where he is one of the seven who witnessed the appearance of the risen Jesus at the Sea of Tiberias (Joh 21:2), it is evident that the connection and companionship of Nathanael with Jesus must have been much closer than those two incidents would lead us to suppose. Accordingly, attempts have been made to identify him with other New Testament characters, the most commonly accepted being Bartholomew (compare BARTHOLOMEW). The principal arguments in support of this identification are:

(1) Nathanael is never mentioned by the synoptists, and Bartholomew is never mentioned by John, who further implies that Nathanael was one of the twelve disciples (compare Joh 20:24-26; 21:2);

(2) in the Synoptists, Philip is closely connected with Bartholomew (compare lists of the apostles), and in John with Nathaniel (compare Joh 1:45 ff);

(3) the fact that most of the other apostles bear two names. Arguments are also adduced to identify him wit h Simon the Cananean (compare SIMON). Nathanael has also been identified with Matthew and Mattbias (based on the similarity of name-meanings), with John the son of Zebedee, with Stephen, and even with Paul.

C. M. Kerr


nath-a-ni'-as (Nathanias): One of those who put away their foreign wives (1 Esdras 9:34) equals "Nathan" of Ezr 10:39.








fe'-turz: As has been pointed out by various authors (compare HGHL), the principal physical features of Palestine run in North and South lines, or rather about from South-Southwest to North-Northeast.

The lowland or Shephelah (the King James Version "vale, valley, plain, or low country") includes the maritime plain and the western foothills.

The hill country consists of the mountains of Judea, and its features are continued northward to the plain of Esdraelon and southward to the Sinaitic peninsula. It is rocky and has very little water. Except for the few fountains, the scanty population depends upon rain water collected during the winter months.

The Arabah (Revised Version) includes the Jordan valley from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, as well as the depression running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Akabah. It is to the latter depression that the name Wady-ul-`Arabah] is now applied by the Arabs. It is bounded on the East by Mr. Seir or Edom, and on the West by the mountains of the Sinaitic peninsula. Its highest point, about halfway between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akabah, is a few hundred ft. higher than the level of the Mediterranean, but nearly 2,000 ft. above the level of the Dead Sea. From this point the valley slopes southward to the Gulf of Akabah, and northward to the Dead Sea. The lower Jordan valley slopes from about 600 ft. below ocean-level at the Sea of Galilee to about 1,300 ft. below ocean-level at the Dead Sea.

To the East are the highlands of Gilead and Moab rising abruptly from the valley, as does the hill country of Judea on the West. The country to the East of the Jordan-Dead Sea-Arabah depression, to the whole of which the name Ghaur (Ghor) is applied by the Arabs, is a great table-land sloping gradually to the East from the sharp edge which overlooks the Ghaur. It has no conspicuous peaks. What appear to be peaks when viewed from the Ghaur are irregularities of its western contour, which are invisible or appear as slight mounds to the observer who looks westward from any point some miles to the East Mt. Nebo, for instance, when seen from Medeba is not readily distinguishable. This is because it really does not rise above the general level of the table-land. The small annual rainfall on the heights near the Ghaur diminishes eastward, and the desert begins within from 20 to 40 miles.

Another term much used by Old Testament writers is South or Negeb, which embraces the southernmost portion of the promised land, and was never effectively occupied by the Israelites. Its uttermost boundary was the "river of Egypt" (al-`Arish), and coincides roughly with the present boundary between the Ottoman territory on the East and the Anglo-Egyptian territory of Sinai on the West.

The term slopes, 'ashedhoth, the King James Version "springs," occurs in Jos 10:40, "So Joshua smote all the land, the hill country .... and the lowland, and the slopes, and all their kings"; and again in Jos 12:7,8, "And Joshua gave it .... for a possession according to their divisions; in the hill-country, and in the lowland, and in the Arabah, and in the slopes, and in the wilderness, and in the South." In the former passage, it seems to refer to the foothills which form the eastern or higher part of the lowland or Shephelah. In the latter passage, it might mean the same, or it might mean the descent from the Judean hills to the Ghaur. In De 3:17; 4:49; Jos 12:3; 13:20, we have "the slopes of Pisgah" ('ashdoth-ha-pisgah, "springs of Pisgah"), which denotes the descent from the heights of Moab to the Ghaur. The same word occurs in the sing in Nu 21:15, referring to the descent to the Arnon. "Slopes," therefore, does not seem to be a term applied to any particular region.

The wilderness is usually the desert of the wandering, including the central part of the Sinaitic peninsula, but it is by no means always used in this sense,. e.g. Jos 8:15,20,24, where it clearly refers to a region near Ai. "The wilderness" of Mt 4:1 is thought to be the barren portion of Judea between Jerusalem and the Jordan.


Alfred Ely Day







nat'-u-ral, na'-tur (leach; psuchikos, phusikos, phusis) :

1. As Used in the Old Testament:

"Natural" is the translation of leach, "freshness or vigor" (De 34:7). Of Moses it is said, "His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated."

"Nature" in the sense of a system or constitution does not occur in the Old Testament. The world and men, each individual, were conceived as being the direct creation of a supra-mundane God, and conserved by His power and Spirit. The later conception of "nature" came in through Greek influences.

In the Apocrypha, we find "nature" in the sense of innate character or constitution (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:20, "the natures (phuseis) of living creatures"; The Wisdom of Solomon 13:1, "Surely vain are all men by nature" (phusei), 3 Macc 3:29, "mortal nature" (phusis)).

2. As Used in the New Testament:

In the New Testament "nature" (phusis) is frequently found in the latter sense (Ro 1:26, "against nature"; Ro 2:14, "by nature"; Ro 2:27; 11:24, also "contrary to nature"; 1Co 11:14, "Doth not even nature itself teach you?"; Ga 2:15; 4:8; Eph 2:3; in 2Pe 1:4, we have "that ye might be partakers of the divine nature," the Revised Version margin "or, a") ; phusis occurs also in Jas 3:7, "every kind of beasts," the Revised Version margin "Greek: nature," also "mankind" (3:7), the Revised Version margin "Greek: the human nature." "Natural" (Ro 11:21,24) is the translation of kata phusin, "according to nature." Paul in 1 Corinthians speaks of "the natural man" (2:14, the American Revised Version margin "or unspiritual, Greek: physical") and of a "natural body" (1Co 15:44 twice), the Greek word being psuchikos, "of the soul" (psuche), the animal, natural, principle, as contrasted with what pertains to the higher principle of the spirit (pneuma). In 1Co 15:46 the contrast is expressed, "Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural," the American Revised Version margin "Greek: physical." The "natural man" is the man in whom the spirit is unquickened, the "natural body" is that corresponding to the psychical or soul-nature, the "spiritual body" that corresponding to the Spirit as the dominant principle of the life. In Jude 1:10, we have phusikos, "naturally" "naturally, as brute beasts," the Revised Version (British and American) "naturally, like the creatures without reason"; genesis, "origin," "birth," is translated "natural" (Jas 1:23, "his natural face," the Revised Version margin "Greek: the face of his birth"); and "nature" (Jas 3:6, "the course of nature" the Revised Version (British and American) "the wheel of nature" margin "or birth") ("wheel" probably means "circle of nature" (the whole creation; see COURSE)); gnesios, "genuine" ("true to right nature") "legitimate," "sincere," is translated "naturally" (Php 2:20, "who will naturally care for your state," the Revised Version (British and American) "truly," margin "Greek: genuinely").

W. L. Walker




not, no'-ti, nes: In the sense of bad, worthless, worthlessness, the words in the King James Version represent the Hebrew ra`, changed in the Revised Version (British and American) to "bad" (2Ki 2:19; Pr 20:14; Jer 24:2), roa`, retained in the Revised Version (British and American) "naughtiness" (1Sa 17:28), hawwah, rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) in Pr 11:6 "iniquity," and in 17:4 "mischievous." In Pr 6:12, "naughty person," literally, "man of Belial," is in the Revised Version (British and American) "worthless person." In the New Testament, "superfluity of naughtiness" in Jas 1:21 (for kakia) becomes margin the Revised Version (British and American) overflowing of wickedness," margin "malice," and in The Wisdom of Solomon 12:10, the King James Version's "naughty generation" (poneros) is made into "by birth .... evil."

James Orr


na'-um: the King James Version form, NAHUM (which see), the name of an ancestor of Jesus (Lu 3:25).

NAVE (1)

nav (1Ki 7:33).


NAVE (2)

na'-ve (Naue): Greek form of the Hebrew proper name "Nun" (so the Revised Version (British and American)), found only in the King James Version of Sirach 46:1.


na'-v'l (shor. The Septuagint in Pr 3:8 suggests a different reading, namely, instead of shorrekha, sherekha equals she'erkha, "thy flesh")): The King James Version translates the Hebrew sharir in the description of Behemoth (Job 40:16) by "navel," where modern translators have substituted "muscles"; similarly in the translation of shorer (So 7:2) it has been replaced by "body.", There remain two passages of the Revised Version (British and American) where "navel" is retained as the translation of shor. Thus we find the word used, pars pro toto, for the whole being: "It (the fear of Yahweh) will be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones" (Pr 3:8). The uttermost neglect which a new-born babe can experience is expressed by Ezekiel: "In the day thou wast born thy navel (i.e. umbilical cord) was not cut neither wast thou washed in water to cleanse thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all" (Eze 16:4).

H. L. E. Luering



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


naz-a-ren; naz'-a-ren Nazarenos; Nazaraios in Matthew, John, Ac and Luke): A derivative of Nazareth, the birthplace of Christ. In the New Testament it has a double meaning: it may be friendly and it may be inimical.

1. An Honourable Title:

On the lips of Christ's friends and followers, it is an honorable name. Thus Matthew sees in it a fulfillment of the old Isaiah prophecy (Isa 11:1 (Hebrew)): "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene (Mt 2:23). According to an overwhelming array of testimony (see Meyer, Commentary, in loc.), the name Nazareth is derived from the same natsar, found in the text quoted from Isa. We have here undoubtedly to do with a permissible accommodation.

It is not quite certain that Matthew did not intend, by the use of this word, to refer to the picture of the Messiah, as drawn in Isa 53, on account of the low estimate in which this place was held (Joh 1:46). Nor is permissible, as has been done by Tertullian and Jerome, to substitute the word "Nazarite" for "Nazarene," which in every view of the case is contrary to the patent facts of the life of the Saviour.

Says Meyer, "In giving this prophetic title to the Messiah he entirely disregards the historical meaning of the same Septuagint reading in Isa 11:1, anthos), keeps by the relationship of the name Nazareth to the word natsar, and recognizes by virtue of the same, in that prophetic Messianic name netser, the typical reference to this--that Jesus through His settlement in Nazareth was to become a Nazoraios, a `Nazarene.'" This name clung to Jesus throughout His entire life. It became His name among the masses: "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by" (Mr 10:47; Lu 24:19). Perhaps Matthew, who wrote after the event, may have been influenced in his application of the Isaian prophecy by the very fact that Jesus was popularly thus known. Even in the realm of spirits He was known by this appellation. Evil spirits knew and feared Him, under this name (Mr 1:24; Lu 4:34), and the angels of the resurrection morning called Him thus (Mr 16:6), while Jesus applied the title to Himself (Ac 22:8). In the light of these facts we do not wonder that the disciples, in their later lives and work, persistently used it (Ac 2:22; 3:6; 10:38).

2. A Title of Scorn:

If His friends knew Him by this name, much more His enemies, and to them it was a title of scorn and derision. Their whole attitude was compressed in that one word of Nathanael, by which he voiced his doubt, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Joh 1:46). In the name "Nazarene," the Jews, who opposed and rejected Christ, poured out all the vials of their antagonism, and the word became a Jewish heritage of bitterness. It is hard to tell whether the appellation, on the lips of evil spirits, signifies dread or hatred (Mr 1:24; Lu 4:34). With the gatekeepers of the house of the high priest the case is clear. There it signifies unadulterated scorn (Mt 26:71; Mr 14:67). Even in His death the bitter hatred of the priests caused this name to accompany Jesus, for it was at their dictation written above His cross by Pilate (Joh 19:19). The entire Christian community was called by the leaders of the Jewish people at Jerusalem, "the sect of the Nazarenes" (Ac 24:5). If, on the one hand, therefore, the name stands for devotion and love, it is equally certain that on the other side it represented the bitter and undying hatred of His enemies.

Henry E. Dosker


naz'-a-reth (Nazaret, Nazareth, and other forms):

1. Notice Confined to the New Testament:

A town in Galilee, the home of Joseph. and the Virgin Mary, and for about 30 years the scene of the Saviour's life (Mt 2:23; Mr 1:9; Lu 2:39,51; 4:16, etc.). He was therefore called Jesus of Nazareth, although His birthplace was Bethlehem; and those who became His disciples were known as Nazarenes. This is the name, with slight modification, used to this day by Moslems for Christians, Nacara--the singular being Nacrany.

The town is not named in the Old Testament, although the presence of a spring and the convenience of the site make it probable that the place was occupied in old times. Quaresimus learned that the ancient name was Medina Abiat, in which we may recognize the Arabic el-Medinat el-baidtah, "the white town." Built of the white stone supplied by the limestone rocks around, the description is quite accurate. There is a reference in Mishna (Menachoth viii.6) to the "white house of the hill" whence wine for the drink offering was brought. An elegy for the 9th of Abib speaks of a "course" of priests settled in Nazareth. This, however, is based upon an ancient midhrash now lost (Neubauer, Geogr. du Talmud, 82, 85, 190; Delitzsch, Ein Tag in Capernaum, 142). But all this leaves us still in a state of uncertainty.

2. Position and Physical Features:

The ancient town is represented by the modern en-Nacirah, which is built mainly on the western and northwestern slopes of a hollow among the lower hills of Galilee, just before they sink into the plain of Esdraelon. It lies about midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean at Haifa. The road to the plain and the coast goes over the southwestern lip of the hollow; that to Tiberias and Damascus over the heights to the Northeast. A rocky gorge breaks down southward, issuing on the plain between two craggy hills. That to the West is the traditional Hill of Precipitation (Lu 4:29). This, however, is too far from the city as it must have been in the days of Christ. It is probable that the present town occupies pretty nearly the ancient site; and the scene of that attempt on Jesus' life may have been the cliff, many feet in height, not far from the old synagogue, traces of which are still seen in the western part of the town. There is a good spring under the Greek Orthodox church at the foot of the hill on the North. The water is led in a conduit to the fountain, whither the women and their children go as in old times, to carry home in their jars supplies for domestic use. There is also a tiny spring in the face of the western hill. To the Northwest rises the height on which stands the sanctuary, now in ruins, of Neby Sa`in. From this point a most beautiful and extensive view is obtained, ranging on a clear day from the Mediterranean on the West to the Mountain of Bashan on the East; from Upper Galilee and Mt. Hermon on the North to the uplands of Gilead and Samaria on the South The whole extent of Esdraelon is seen, that great battlefield, associated with so many heroic exploits in Israel's history, from Carmel and Megiddo to Tabor and Mt. Gilboa.

3. Present Inhabitants:

There are now some 7,000 inhabitants, mainly Christian, of whom the Greek Orthodox church claims about 3,000. Moslems number about 1,600. There are no Jews. It is the chief market town for the pastoral and agricultural district that lies around it.

4. Labors of Jesus:

In Nazareth, Jesus preached His first recorded sermon (Lu 4:16 ), when His plainness of speech aroused the homicidal fury of His hearers. "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Mt 13:58). Finding no rest or security in Nazareth, He made His home in Capernaum. The reproach implied in Nathanael's question, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Joh 1:46), has led to much speculation. By ingenious emendation of the text Cheyne would read, "Can the Holy One proceed from Nazareth?" (EB, under the word). Perhaps, however, we should see no more in this than the acquiescence of Nathanael's humble spirit in the lowly estimate of his native province entertained by the leaders of his people in Judea.

5. Later History:

Christians are said to have first settled here in the time of Constantine (Epiphanius), whose mother Helena built the Church of the Annunciation. In crusading times it was the seat of the bishop of Bethscan. It passed into Moslem hands after the disaster to the Crusaders at Chattin] (1183). It was destroyed by Sultan Bibars in 1263. In 1620 the Franciscans rebuilt the Church of the Annunciation, and the town rose again from its ruins. Here in 1799 the French general Junot was assailed by the Turks. After his brilliant victory over the Turks at Tabor, Napoleon visited Nazareth. The place suffered some damage in the earthquake of 1837.

Protestant Missions are now represented in Nazareth by agents of the Church Missionary Society, and of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society.

W. Ewing


naz'-i-rit (nazir, connected with nadhar, "to vow"; nazeir, nazeiraios, as also various words indicating "holiness" or "devotion"; the King James Version, Nazarite):

1. Antiquity and Origin

2. Conditions of the Vow

3. Initiation

4. Restoration

5. Completion and Release

6. Semi-sacerdotal Character

7. Nazirites for Life

8. Samson's Case

9. Samuel's Case

10. Token of Divine Favor

11. Did Not Form Communities

12. Among Early Christians

13. Parallels among Other Peoples

The root-meaning of the word in Hebrew as well as the various Greek translations indicates the Nazirite as "a consecrated one" or "a devotee." In the circumstances of an ordinary vow, men consecrated some material possession, but the Nazirite consecrated himself or herself, and took a vow of separation and self-imposed discipline for the purpose of some special service, and the fact of the vow was indicated by special signs of abstinence. The chief Old Testament passages are Jud 13:5-7; 16:17; Nu 6; Am 2:11,12; compare Sirach 46:13 (Hebrew); 1 Macc 3:49-52.

1. Antiquity and Origin:

The question has been raised as to whether the Nazirite vow was of native or foreign origin in Israel.The idea of special separation, however, seems in all ages to have appealed to men of a particular temperament, and we find something of the kind in many countries and always linked with special abstinence of some kind; and from all that is said in the Pentateuch we should infer that the custom was already ancient in Israel and that Mosaism regulated it, bringing it into line with the general system of religious observance and under the cognizance of the Aaronic priests. The critics assign the section dealing with this matter (Nu 6:1-21) to the Priestly Code (P), and give it a late date, but there cannot be the least doubt that the institution itself was early. It seems not unlikely that on the settlement in Canaan, when the Israelites, having failed to overcome the native population, began to mix freely with them, the local worship, full of tempting Dionysiac elements, brought forth this religious protest in favor of Israel's ancient and simpler way of living, and as a protection against luxury in settling nomads. It is worthy of note that among the Semites vine-growing and wine-drinking have ever been considered foreign to their traditional nomadic mode of life. It was in this same protest that the Rechabites, who were at least akin to the Nazirites, went still farther in refusing even in Canaan to abandon the nomadic state.


2. Conditions of the Vow:

The Pentateuch, then, makes provision for the Nazirite vow being taken by either men or women, though the Old Testament does not record a single instance of a female Nazirite. Further, it provides only for the taking of the vow for a limited time, that is, for the case of the "Nazirite of days." No period of duration is mentioned in the Old Testament, but the Mishna, in dealing with the subject, prescribes a period of 30 days, while a double period of 60 or even a triple one of 100 days might be entered on. The conditions of Naziritism entailed:

(1) the strictest abstinence from wine and from every product of the vine;

(2) the keeping of the hair uncut and the beard untouched by a razor;

(3) the prohibition to touch a dead body; and

(4) prohibition of unclean food (Jud 13:5-7; Nu 6).

3. Initiation:

The ceremonial of initiation is not recorded, the Pentateuch treating it as well known. The Talmud tells us that it was only necessary for one to express the wish that he might be a Nazirite. A formal vow was, however, taken; and from the form of renewal of the vow, when by any means it was accidentally broken, we may judge that the head was also shorn on initiation and the hair allowed to grow during the whole period of the vow.

4. Restoration:

The accidental violation of the vow just mentioned entailed upon the devotee the beginning of the whole matter anew and the serving of the whole period. This was entered on by the ceremonial of restoration, in the undergoing of which the Nazirite shaved his head, presented two turtle-doves or two young pigeons for sin and burnt offerings, and re-consecrated himself before the priest, further presenting a lamb for a trespass offering (Nu 6:9-12).

5. Completion and Release:

When the period of separation was complete, the ceremonial of release had to be gone through. It consisted of the presentation of burnt, sin and peace offerings with their accompaniments as detailed in Nu 6:13-21, the shaving of the head and the burning of the hair of the head of separation, after which the Nazirite returned to ordinary life.

6. Semi-sacerdotal Character:

The consecration of the Nazirite in some ways resembled that of the priests, and similar words are used of both in Le 21:12 and Nu 6:17, the priest's vow being even designated nezer. It opened up the way for any Israelite to do special service on something like semi-sacerdotal lines. The priest, like the Nazirite, dared not come into contact with the dead (Le 21:1), dared not touch wine during the period of service (Le 10:9), and, further, long hair was an ancient priestly custom (Eze 44:20).

7. Nazirites for Life:

The only "Nazirites for life" that we know by name are Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist, but to these Jewish tradition adds Absalom in virtue of his long hair. We know of no one voluntarily taking the vow for life, all the cases recorded being those of parents dedicating their children. In rabbinical times, the father but not the mother might vow for the child, and an interesting case of this kind is mentioned in the dedication of Rabbi Chanena by his father in the presence of Rabban Gamaliel (Nazir, 29b).

8. Samson's Case:

Samson is distinctly named a Nazirite in Jud 13:7 and 16:17, but it has been objected that his case does not conform to the regulations in the Pentateuch. It is said that he must have partaken of wine when he made a feast for his friends, but that does not follow and would not be so understood, say, in a Moslem country today. It is further urged that in connection with his fighting he must have come into contact with many dead men, and that he took honey from the carcass of the lion. To us these objections seem hypercritical. Fighting was specially implied in his vow (Jud 13:5), and the remains of the lion would be buy a dry skeleton and not even so defiling as the ass's jawbone, to which the critics do not object.

9. Samuel's Case:

Samuel is nowhere in the Old Testament called a Nazirite, the name being first applied to him in Sirach 46:13 (Hebrew), but the restrictions of his dedication seem to imply that he was. Wellhausen denies that it is implied in 1Sa 1:11 that he was either a Nathin ("a gift, (one) `given' unto Yahweh"; compare Nu 3:9; 18:6) or a Nazirite. In the Hebrew text the mother's vow mentions only the uncut hair, and first in Septuagint is there added that he should not drink wine or strong drink, but this is one of the cases where we should not regard silence as final evidence. Rather it is to be regarded that the visible sign only is mentioned, the whole contents of the vow being implied.

10. Token of Divine Favor:

It is very likely that Nazirites became numerous in Israel in periods of great religious or political excitement, and in Jud 5:2 we may paraphrase, `For the long-haired champions in Israel.' That they should be raised up was considered a special token of God's favor to Israel, and the tempting of them to break their vow by drinking wine was considered an aggravated sin (Am 2:11,12). At the time of the captivity they were looked upon as a vanished glory in Israel (La 4:7 margin), but they reappeared in later history.

11. Did Not Form Communities:

So far as we can discover, there is no indication that they formed guilds or settled communities like the "Sons of the Prophets." In some sense the Essenes may have continued the tradition, and James, the Lord's brother (Euseb., HE, II, xxiii, 3, following Hegesippus), and also Banns, tutor of Josephus (Vita, 2), who is probably the same as the Buni mentioned as a disciple of Jesus in Sanhedrin 43a, were devotees of a kind resembling Nazirites. Berenice's vow was also manifestly that of the Nazirite (Josephus, B J, II, xv, 1).

12. Among Early Christians:

The case of John the Baptist is quite certain, and it was probably the means of introducing the custom among the early Christians. It was clearly a Nazirite's vow which Paul took, "having shorn his head in Cenchrea" (Ac 18:18), and which he completed at Jerusalem with other Christians similarly placed (Ac 21:23).

As the expenses of release were heavy for poor men, such were at times aided in this matter by their richer brethren. Thus, Agrippa, on his return from Rome, assisted many Nazirites (Josephus, Ant., XIX, vi, 1), and Paul was also at charges with others (Ac 21:23).

We come across something of the same kind in many countries, and we find special abstinence always emphasized. Thus we meet with a class of "votaries" as early as the days of Hammurabi, and his code devotes quite a number of sections to them. Among other restrictions they were prohibited from even entering a wineshop (Sect, 110).

13. Parallels among Other Peoples:

Then we are familiar with the hierodouloi of the Greeks, and the Vestal Virgins of the Romans. The word nezir also appears in Syriac and was applied to the maidens devoted to the service of Belthis. In the East, too, there have always been individuals and societies of ascetics who were practically Nazirites, and the modern dervish in nearly every way resembles him, while it is worthy of record in this connection that the Moslem (an abstainer by creed) while under the vow of pilgrimage neither cuts his hair nor pares his nails till the completion of his vow in Mecca.

W. M. Christie


ne'-a (ha-ne`ah, "the neah"; Annoua): A town in the lot of Zebulun (Jos 19:13), mentioned along with Gath-hepher and Rimmon. It is possibly identical with "Neiel" (Jos 19:27). No name resembling either of these has yet been recovered, although the district in which the place must be sought is pretty definitely indicated. It may probably have lain to the North of Rimmon (Rummaneh), about 4 miles Northeast of Seffuriyeh.


ne-ap'-o-lis (Neapolis; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, Nea Polis): A town on the northern shore the Aegean, originally belonging to Thrace but later falling within the Roman province of Macedonia. It was the seaport of Philippi, and was the first point in Europe at which Paul and his companions landed; from Troas they had sailed direct to Samothrace, and on the next day reached Neapolis (Ac 16:11). Paul probably passed through the town again on his second visit to Macedonia (Ac 20:1), and he certainly must have embarked there on his last journey from Philippi to Troas, which occupied 5 days (Ac 20:6). The position of Neapolis is a matter of dispute. Some writers have maintained that it lay on the site known as Eski (i.e. "Old") Kavalla (Cousinery, Macedoine, II, 109 ff), and that upon its destruction in the 6th or 7th century AD the inhabitants migrated to the place, about 10 miles to the East, called Christopolis in medieval and Kavalla in modern times. But the general view, and that which is most consonant with the evidence, both literary and archaeological, places Neapolis at Kavalla, which lies on a rocky headland with a spacious harbor on its western side, in which the fleet of Brutus and Cassius was moored at the time of the battle of Philippi (42 BC; Appian Bell. Civ. iv.106). The town lay some 10 Roman miles from Philippi, with which it was connected by a road leading over the mountain ridge named Symbolum, which separates the plain of Philippi from the sea.

The date of its foundation is uncertain, but it seems to have been a colony from the island of Thasos, which lay opposite to it (Dio Cassius xlvii.35). It appears (under the name Neopolis, which is also borne on its coins) as member both of the first and of the second Athenian confederacy, and was highly commended by the Athenians in an extant decree for its loyalty during the Thasian revolt of 411-408 BC (Inser. Graec., I, Suppl. 51). The chief cult of the city was that of "The Virgin," usually identified with the Greek Artemis. (See Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, III, 180; Cousinery, Voyage dans la Macedoine, II, 69 ff, 109 ff; Heuzey and Daumet, Mission archeol. de Macedoine, 11 ff.)

M. N. Tod


ner, ni (chiefly qarobh, "to draw near," qarabh; eggus): Used of proximity in place (Ge 19:20; 45:10; Ex 13:17; Ps 22:11; Joh 3:23, etc.), time (Jer 48:16; Eze 7:7; 30:3; Mr 13:28), or kinship (Le 21:2; Ru 3:12), but also employed of moral nearness. Yahweh is "nigh" to them that are of a broken heart (Ps 34:18). God draws nigh to His people, and they to Him (Jas 4:8). The antithesis is God's "farness" from the wicked.


ne-a-ri'-a (ne`aryah):

(1) A descendant of David (1Ch 3:22 f).

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

In both instances the Septuagint reads "Noadiah."


ne'-bi, ne-ba'-i, neb'-a-i (nebhay).



ne-ba'-yoth, ne-bi'-oth (nabhayoth; Septuagint Nabaioth): Firstborn of Ishmael (Ge 25:13; 28:9; 36:3; 1Ch 1:29). Isa 60:7 mentions the tribe Nebaioth with Kedar, with an allusion to its pastoral nature: "the rams of Nebaioth" are to serve the ideal Zion as sacrificial victims. Again associated with Kedar, the name occurs frequently in Assyrian inscriptions. The tribe must have had a conspicuous place among the northern Arabs. Josephus, followed by Jerome, regarded Nebaioth as identical with the Nabateans, the great trading community and ally of Rome, whose capital and stronghold was Petra. This view is widely accepted, but the name "Nabatean" is spelled with a "T" (teth), and the interchange of "T" (teth) and "t" (taw), although not unparalleled, is unusual. If the name is Arabic, it is probably a feminine plural, and in that ease could have no connection with the Nabateans.

A. S. Fulton


ne-bal'-at (nebhallaT; Naballat): A town occupied by the Benjamites after the exile, named along with Lod and Ono (Ne 11:34). It is represented by the modern Belt Nebala, 4 miles Northeast of Lydda.


ne'-bat (nebhaT): Father of Jeroboam I (1Ki 11:26, and frequently elsewhere). The name occurs only in the phrase "Jeroboam the son of Nebat," and is evidently intended to distinguish Jeroboam I from the later son of Joash.


NEBO (1)

ne'-bo (nebho; Assyrian Nabu): The Babylonian god of literature and science. In the Babylonian mythology he is represented as the son and interpreter of Bel-merodach (compare Isa 46:1; Bel and Nebo there represent Babylon). His own special shrine was at Borsippo. His planet was Mercury. His name enters into Biblical names, as "Nebuchadnezzar," and perhaps "Abed-nego" (Da 1:7, for "Abed-nebo, servant of Nebo").


NEBO (2)

(nebho; Nabau):

(1) This town is named in Nu 32:3 between Sebam and Beon (which latter evidently represents Baal-meon of 32:38), after Heshbon and Elealeh, as among the cities assigned by Moses to Reuben. It was occupied by the Reubenite clan Bela (1Ch 5:8). Here it is named between Aroer and Baalmeon. In their denunciations of wrath against Moab, Isaiah names it along with Medeba (Isa 15:2) and Jeremiah with Kiriathaim (Jer 48:1), and again (Jer 48:22) between Dibon and Beth-diblathaim. Mesha (M S) says that by command of Chemosh he went by night against the city, captured it after an assault that lasted from dawn till noon, and put all the inhabitants to death. He dedicated the place to Ashtar-chemosh. Jerome (Commentary on Isa 15:2) tells us that at Nebo was the idol of Chemosh. The site which seems best to meet the requirements of the passages indicated is on the ridge of Jebel Neba to the Southwest of Hesban, where ruins of an ancient town bearing the name of en-Neba are found (Buhl, GAP, 266).

(2) (nebho; B, Nabou A, Nabo, and other forms): Fifty-two descendants of the inhabitants of Nebo returned from exile with Zerubbabel (Ezr 2:29; Ne 7:33). The place was in Judah and is named after Bethel and Ai. There is nothing, however, to guide us as to its exact position. It may be represented by either Belt Nuba, 12 miles Northwest of Jerusalem, or Nuba, which lies about 4 miles South-Southeast of `Id el-Ma' (Adullam).

W. Ewing


(har nebho; Nabau): A mountain in the land of Moab which Moses ascended at the command of God in order that he might see the Land of Promise which he was never to enter. There also he was to die. From the following passages (namely, Nu 33:47; De 32:49; 34:1), we gather that it was not far from the plain of Moab in which Israel was encamped; that it was a height standing out to the West of the mountains of Abarim; that it lay to the East of Jericho; and that it was a spot from which a wide and comprehensive view of Palestine could be obtained. None of these conditions are met by Jebel `Attarus, which is too far to the East, and is fully 15 miles South of a line drawn eastward from Jericho. Jebel 'Osha, again, in Mt. Gilead, commands, indeed, an extensive view; but it lies too far to the North, being at least 15 miles North of a line drawn eastward from Jericho. Both of these sites have had their advocates as claimants for the honor of representing the Biblical Nebo.

The "head" or "top" of Pisgah is evidently identical with Mt. Nebo (De 34:1). After Moses' death he was buried "in the valley in the land of Moab," over against Beth-peor.

The name Neba is found on a ridge which, some 5 miles Southwest of Hesban and opposite the northern end of the Dead Sea, runs out to the West from the plateau of Moab, "sinking gradually: at first a broad brown field of arable land, then a flat top crowned by a ruined cairn, then a narrower ridge ending in the summit called Siagbah, whence the slopes fall steeply on all sides. The name Nebo or Neba (the "knob" or "tumulus") applies to the flat top with the cairn, and the name Tal`at es-Sufa to the ascent leading up to the ridge from the North. Thus we have three names which seem to connect the ridge with that whence Moses is related to have viewed the Promised Land, namely, first, Nebo, which is identically the same word as the modern Neba; secondly, Siaghah, which is radically identical with the Aramaic Se`ath, the word standing instead of Nebo in the Targum of Onkelos (Nu 32:3), where it is called the burial place of Moses; thirdly, Tal`at es-Sufa, which is radically identical with the Hebrew Zuph (tsuph), whence Mizpah (mitspah) and Zophim (tsophim. .... The name Pisgah is not now known, but the discovery of Zophim (compare Nu 23:14) confirms the view now generally held, that it is but another title of the Nebo range."

Neither Mt. Hermon nor Da (Tell el-Qady) is visible from this point; nor can Zoar be seen; and if the Mediterranean is the hinder sea, it also is invisible. But, as Driver says ("Dt," ICC, 419), the terms in De 34:1,3 are hyperbolical, and must be taken as including points filled in by the imagination as well as those actually visible to the eye. Mr. Birch argues in favor of Tal`at el-Benat, whence he believes Da and Zoar to be visible, while he identifies "the hinder sea" with the Dead Sea (PEFS, 1898, 110 ff).

W. Ewing


neb-u-kad-nez'-ar, -rez'-ar: Nebuchadnezzar, the second king of Babylon of that name, is best known as the king who conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem, and carried the people of the Jews captive to Babylon. Of all the heathen monarchs mentioned by name in the Scriptures, Nebuchadnezzar is the most prominent and the most important. The prophecies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, and the last chapters of Kings and Chronicles centered about his life, and he stands preeminent, along with the Pharaohs of the oppression and the exodus, among the foes of the kingdom of God. The documents which have been discovered in Babylon and elsewhere within the last 75 years have added much to our knowledge of this monarch, and have in general confirmed the Biblical accounts concerning him.

1. His Name:

His name is found in two forms in the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadrezzar. In the Septuagint he is called Nabouchodonosor, and in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Nabuchodonosor. This latter form is found also in the King James Version Apocrypha throughout and in the Revised Version (British and American) 1 Esdras, Ad Esther and Baruch, but not Judith or Tobit. This change from "r" to "n" which is found in the two writings of the name in the Hebrew and the Aramaic of the Scriptures is a not uncommon one in the Semitic languages, as in Burnaburiyash and Burraburiyash, Ben-hadad and Bar-hadad (see Brockelmann's Comparative Grammar, 136, 173, 220). It is possible, however, that the form Nebuchadnezzar is the Aramaic translation of the Babylonian Nebuchadrezzar. If we take the name to be compounded of Nabu-kudurri-usur in the sense "O Nebo, protect thy servant," then Nabu-kedina-usur would be the best translation possible in Aramaic. Such translations of proper names are common in the old versions of the Scriptures and elsewhere. For example, in WAI, V, 44, we find 4 columns of proper names of persons giving the Sumerian originals and the Semitic translations of the same; compare Bar-hadad in Aramaic for Hebrew Ben-hadad. In early Aramaic the "S" had not yet become "T" (see Cooke, Text-Book of North-Sem Inscriptions, 188 f); so that for anyone who thought that kudurru meant "servant," Nebuchadnezzar would be a perfect translation into Aramaic of Nebuchadrezzar.

2. Family:

The father of Nebuchadnezzar was Nabopolassar, probably a Chaldean prince. His mother is not known by name. The classical historians mention two wives: Amytis, the daughter of Astyages, and Nitocris, the mother of Nabunaid. The monuments mention three sons: Evil-merodach who succeeded him, Marduk-shum-utsur, and Marduk-nadin-achi. A younger brother of Nebuchadnezzar, called Nabu-shum-lishir, is mentioned on a building-inscription tablet from the time of Nabopolassar.

3. Sources of Information:

The sources of our information as to the life of Nebuchadnezzar are about 500 contract tablets dated according to the days, months and years of his reign of 43 years; about 30 building and honorific inscriptions; one historical inscription; and in the books of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Kings. Later sources are Chronicles, Ezra, and the fragments of Berosus, Menander, Megasthenes, Abydenus, and Alexander Polyhistor, largely as cited by Josephus and Eusebius.

4. Political History:

From these sources we learn that Nebuchadnezzar succeeded his father on the throne of Babylon in 604 BC, and reigned till 561 BC. He probably commanded the armies of Babylon from 609. BC. At any rate, he was at the head of the army which defeated Pharaoh-necoh at Carchemish on the Euphrates in 605 BC (see 2Ki 23:31; 2Ch 35:20 ff). After having driven Necoh out of Asia and settled the affairs of Syria and Palestine, he was suddenly recalled to Babylon by the death of his father. There he seems quietly to have ascended the throne. In the 4th year of Jehoiakim (or 3rd according to the Babylonian manner of reckoning (Da 1:1)), he came up first against Jerusalem and carried away part of the vessels of the temple and a few captives of noble lineage. Again, in Jehoiakim's 11th year, he captured Jerusalem, put Jehoiakim, its king, into chains, and probably killed him. His successor, Jehoiachin, after a three months' reign, was besieged in Jerusalem, captured, deposed, and carried captive to Babylon, where he remained in captivity 37 years until he was set free by Evil-merodach. In the 9th year of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar made a 4th expedition against Jerusalem which he besieged, captured, and destroyed (see Jer 52). In addition to these wars with Judah, Nebuchadnezzar carried on a long siege of Tyre, lasting 13 years, from his 7th to his 20th year. He had at least three wars with Egypt. The first culminated in the defeat of Necoh at Carchemish; the second in the withdrawal of Hophra (Apries) from Palestine in the 1st year of the siege of Jerusalem under Zedekiah; and the third saw the armies of Nebuchadnezzar entering Egypt in triumph and defeating Amasis in Nebuchadnezzar's 37th year. In the numerous building and honorific inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar he makes no mention by name of his foes or of his battles; but he frequently speaks of foes that he had conquered and of many peoples whom he ruled. Of these peoples he mentions by name the Hittites and others (see Langdon, 148-51). In the Wady-Brissa inscription, he speaks of a special conquest of Lebanon from some foreign foe who had seized it; but the name of the enemy is not given.

5. Buildings, etc.:

The monuments justify the boast of Nebuchadnezzar "Is not this great Babylon that I have built?" (Da 4:30). Among these buildings special emphasis is placed by Nebuchadnezzar upon his temples and shrines to the gods, particularly to Marduk, Nebo and Zarpinat, but also to Shamash, Sin, Gula, Ramman, Mah, and others. He constructed, also, a great new palace and rebuilt an old one of his father's. Besides, he laid out and paved with bricks a great street for the procession of Marduk, and built a number of great walls with moats and moat-walls and gates. He dug several broad, deep canals, and made dams for flooding the country to the North and South of Babylon, so as to protect it against the attack of its enemies. He made, also, great bronze bulls and serpents, and adorned his temples and palaces with cedars and gold. Not merely in Babylon itself, but in many of the cities of Babylonia as well, his building operations were carried on, especially in the line of temples to the gods.

6. Religion, etc.:

The inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar show that he was a very religious man, probably excelling all who had preceded him in the building of temples, in the institution of offerings, and the observance of all the ceremonies connected with the worship of the gods. His larger inscriptions usually contain two hymns and always close with a prayer. Mention is frequently made of the offerings of precious metals, stones and woods, of game, fish, wine, fruit, grain, and other objects acceptable to the gods. It is worthy of note that these offerings differ in character and apparently in purpose from those in use among the Jews. For example, no mention is made in any one of Nebuchadnezzar's inscriptions of the pouring out or sprinkling of blood, nor is any reference made to atonement, or to sin.

7. Madness:

No reference is made in any of these inscriptions to Nebuchadnezzar's insanity. But aside from the fact that we could scarcely expect a man to publish his own calamity, especially madness, it should be noted that according to Langdon we have but three inscriptions of his written in the period from 580 to 561 BC. If his madness lasted for 7 years, it may have occurred between 580 and 567 BC, or it may have occurred between the Egyptian campaign of 567 BC and his death in 561 BC. But, as it is more likely that the "7 times" mentioned in Da may have been months, the illness may have been in any year after 580 BC, or even before that for all we know.

8. Miracles, etc.:

No mention is made on the monuments

(1) of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in Da 2, or

(2) of the image of gold that he set up, or

(3) of the fiery furnace from which the three children were delivered (Da 3).

As to (1), it may be said, however, that a belief in dreams was so universal among all the ancient peoples, that a single instance of this kind may not have been considered as worthy of special mention. The annals of Ashur-banipal and Nubu-naid and Xerxes give a number of instances of the importance attached to dreams and their interpretation. It is almost certain that Nebuchadnezzar also believed in them. That the dream recorded in Da is not mentioned on the monuments seems less remarkable than that no dream of his is recorded.

As to (2) we know that Nebuchadnezzar made an image of his royal person (salam sharrutiya, Langdon, XIX, B, col. x, 6; compare the image of the royal person of Nabopolassar, id, p. 51), and it is certain that the images of the gods were made of wood (id, p. 155), that the images of Nebo and Marduk were conveyed in a bark in the New Year's procession (id, pp. 157, 159, 163, 165) and that there were images of the gods in all the temples (id, passim); and that Nebuchadnezzar worshipped before these images. That Nebuchadnezzar should have made an image of gold and put it up in the Plain of Dura is entirely in harmony with what we know of his other "pious deeds."

(3) As to "the fiery furnace," it is known that Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, says that his own brother, Shamash-shumukin, was burned in a similar furnace.

The failure of Nebuchadnezzar to mention any of the particular persons or events recorded in Da does not disprove their historicity, any more than his failure to mention the battle of Carchemish, or the siege of Tyre and Jerusalem, disproves them. The fact is, we have no real historical inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, except one fragment of a few broken lines found in Egypt.


T.G. Pinches, The New Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia; Stephen Langdon, Building Inscriptions of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. See also, Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria; and McCurdy, History, Prophecy and the Monuments, III.

R. Dick Wilson


neb-u-shaz'-ban (nebhushazebhan equals Assyrian Nabusezib-anni, "Nebo delivers me"; the King James Version Nebushasban): An important officer (the Rab-saris, chief captain or "chief eunuch") of the Babylonian army, who with Nergal-sharezer and others was appointed to see to the safety of Jeremiah after the taking of Jerusalem (Jer 39:13).


neb-u-zar-a'-dan, -zar'-a-dan (nebhuzar'adhan equals Assyrian Nabu-zara-iddina, "Nebo has given seed"; Nebouzardan): Nebuchadnezzar's general at the siege of Jerusalem (2Ki 25:8,11,20; Jer 52:12,15,26; 39:9,10,11,13). Under the title of "captain of the guard," he commanded the army, and, after the fall of the city, carried out his master's policy with regard to the safety of Jeremiah, the transport of the exiles, and the government of those who were left in the land.





nek (tsawwar, tsawwa'r, tsawwaron, tsawwa'rah, Aramaic tsawwar (Da 5:7,16,29), `oreph, miphreqeth (1Sa 4:18); nostos, "back" (Baruch 2:33); occasionally the words garon (Isa 3:16; Eze 16:11), and gargeroth, plural of gargarah, literally, "throat" (Pr 1:9; 3:3,12; 6:21), are translated "neck"): The neck is compared with a tower for beauty (So 4:4; 7:4) and is decorated with necklaces and chains (Pr 1:9; 3:3,12; 6:21, Hebrew gargeroth; Eze 16:11, Hebrew garon, "throat"; Da 5:7,16,29, Hebrew tsawwar). It is also the part of the body where the yoke, emblem of labor and hardship, dependence and subjection, is borne (De 28:48; Jer 27:8,11,12; 28:14; Ac 15:10). "To shake off the yoke," "to break the yoke," or "to take it off" is expressive of the regaining of independence and liberty, either by one's own endeavors or through help from outside (Ge 27:40; Isa 10:27; Jer 28:11; 30:8). Certain animals which were not allowed as food (like the firstborn which were not redeemed) were to be killed by having their necks (`oreph) broken (Ex 13:13; 34:20); the turtle-doves and young pigeons, which were sacrificed as sin offerings or as burnt offerings, had their heads wrung or pinched off from their necks (Le 5:8). In 1Sa 4:18 the Hebrew word miphreqeth signifies a fracture of the upper part of the spinal column caused by a fall.

It was a military custom of antiquity for the conqueror to place his foot upon the vanquished. This custom, frequently represented in sculpture on many an Egyptian temple wall, is referred to in Jos 10:24; Baruch 4:25 and probably in Ro 16:20 and Ps 110:1. Paul praises the devotion of Aquila and Priscilla, "who for my life laid down their own necks" (Ro 16:4).


To "fall on the neck" of a person is a very usual mode of salutation in the East (Ge 33:4; 45:14; 46:29; /RAPC Tob 11:9,13; Lu 15:20; Ac 20:37). In moments of great emotion such salutation is apt to end in weeping on each other's neck.

Readiness for work is expressed by "putting one's neck to the work" (Ne 3:5). Severe punishment and calamity are said to "reach to the neck" (Isa 8:8; 30:28).

The Lord Jesus speaks of certain persons for whom it were better to have had a millstone put around the neck and to have been drowned in the sea. The meaning is that even the most disgraceful death is still preferable to a life of evil influence upon even the little ones of God's household (Mt 18:6; Mr 9:42; Lu 17:2).

To "make the neck stiff," to "harden the neck" indicates obstinacy often mingled with rebellion (Ex 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9; 2Ch 30:8; 36:13; Ne 9:16,17,29; Ps 75:5 (the Revised Version margin "insolently with a haughty neck"); Pr 29:1; Jer 7:26). Compare sklerotracholes, "stiffnecked" (Ac 7:51). Similarly Isaiah (48:4) speaks of the neck of the obstinate sinner as resembling an iron sinew.

H. L. E. Luering


nek'-las (rabhidh, "chain"): A neck-chain ornament, worn either separately (Eze 16:11), or with pendants (Isa 3:19), such as crescents (Isa 3:18) or rings (Ge 38:25); sometimes made of gold (Ge 41:42; Da 5:29), or of strings of jewels (So 1:10). Even beasts of burden were sometimes so adorned by royalty (Jud 8:26). It was considered suggestive of pride (Ps 73:6) or of filial loyalty (Pr 1:9). The word does not occur in the King James Version, but such adornments have always been popular in all the Bible lands.


ne'-ko (nekho (2Ch 35:22; 36:4))., "chain"): A neck-chain ornament, worn either separately (Eze 16:11), or with pendants (Isa 3:19), such as crescents (Isa 3:18) or rings (Ge 38:25); sometimes made of gold (Ge 41:42; Da 5:29), or of strings of jewels (So 1:10). Even beasts of burden were sometimes so adorned by royalty (Jud 8:26). It was considered suggestive of pride (Ps 73:6) or of filial loyalty (Pr 1:9). The word does not occur in the King James Version, but such adornments have always been popular in all the Bible lands.









ned-a-bi'-a (nedhabhyah): A descendant of David (1Ch 3:18).


ne'-d'-l (rhaphis): The word "needle" occurs only 3 times, namely, in the reference to Christ's use of the proverb: "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Mt 19:24; Mr 10:25; Lu 18:25). This saying ought to be accepted in the same sense as Mt 23:24, "Ye blind guides, that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel!" Christ used them to illustrate absurdities. A rabbinical parallel is cited, "an elephant through a needle's eye." Some writers have attempted to show that rhaphis referred to a small gate of a walled oriental city. No evidence of such a use of the word exists in the terms applied today in Biblical lands to this opening. "Rich man" here has the connotation of a man bound up in his riches. If a man continues to trust in his earthly possessions to save him, it would be absurd for him to expect to share in the spiritual kingdom where dependence upon the King is a first requisite.

The fact that needles are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible should not be taken to indicate that this instrument was not used. Specimens of bone and metal needles of ancient origin show that they were common household objects.


James A. Patch





ned'-i ('ebhyon).



ne'-zing (Job 41:18, the King James Version, the English Revised Version "by his neesings a light doth shine," the American Standard Revised Version "sneezings"): "Neese" in Elizabethan English (through two distinct derivations) could mean either "sneeze" or "snort," and it is impossible to say which force was intended by the King James Version editors. The Hebrew is `aTishah, a word found only here, but connected with a Semitic root meaning "sneeze," or, perhaps, "snort." Job 41:18 is part of the description of the "leviathan" or crocodile. This animal has a habit of inflating himself, and after this he discharges through his nostrils the moist, heated vapor, which sparkles in the sunlight. The act is neither a "sneeze" nor a "snort," but the latter word is sufficiently descriptive. There is no allusion to legendary "fire-spouting" monsters. Compare Job 39:20; Jer 8:16.

In the older editions of the King James Version "neesed" is found in 2Ki 4:35: "and the child neesed seven times" (later editions and the Revised Version (British and American) "sneezed").

Burton Scott Easton


neg'-eb (ha-neghebh, "the negeb" or simply, neghebh, from a root meaning "to be dry," and therefore in the first instance implying the "dry" or "parched regions," hence, in the Septuagint it is usually translated eremos, "desert," also nageb):

1. Meaning:

As the Negeb lay to the South of Judah, the word came to be used in the sense of "the South," and is so used in a few passages (e.g. Ge 13:14) and in such is translated lips (see GEOGRAPHY). The English translation is unsuitable in several passages, and likely to lead to confusion. For example, in Ge 13:1 Abram is represented as going "into the South" when journeying northward from Egypt toward Bethel; in Nu 13:22 the spies coming from the "wilderness of Zin" toward Hebron are described as coming "by the South," although they were going north. The difficulty in these and many other passages is at once obviated if it is recognized that the Negeb was a geographical term for a definite geographical region, just as Shephelah, literally, "lowland," was the name of another district of Palestine. In the Revised Version (British and American) "Negeb" is given in margin, but it would make for clearness if it were restored to the text.

2. Description:

This "parched" land is generally considered as beginning South of edition Dahariyeb--the probable site of DEBIR (which see)--and as stretching South in a series of rolling hills running in a general direction of East to West until the actual wilderness begins, a distance of perhaps 70 miles (see NATURAL FEATURES). To the East it is bounded by the Dead Sea and the southern Ghor, and to the West there is no defined boundary before the Mediterranean. It is a land of sparse and scanty springs and small rainfall; in the character of its soil it is a transition from the fertility of Canaan to the wilderness of the desert; it is essentially a pastoral land, where grazing is plentiful in the early months and where camels and goats can sustain life, even through the long summer drought. Today, as through most periods of history, it is a land for the nomad rather than the settled inhabitant, although abundant ruins in many spots testify to better physical conditions at some periods (see I, 5, below). The direction of the valleys East or West, the general dryness, and the character of the inhabitants have always made it a more or less isolated region without thoroughfare. The great routes pass along the coast to the West or up the Arabah to the East. It formed an additional barrier to the wilderness beyond it; against all who would lead an army from the South, this southern frontier of Judah was always secure. Israel could not reach the promised land by this route, through the land of the Amalekites (Nu 13:29; 14:43-45).

3. Old Testament References:

The Negeb was the scene of much of Abram's wanderings (Ge 12:9; 13:1,3; 20:1); it was in this district that Hagar met with the angel (Ge 16:7,14); Isaac (Ge 24:62) and Jacob (Ge 37:1; 46:5) both dwelt there. Moses sent the spies through this district to the hill country (Nu 13:17,22); the Amalekites then dwelt there (Nu 13:29) and apparently, too, in some parts of it, the Avvim (Jos 13:3,4). The inheritance of the children of Simeon, as given in Jos 19:1-9, was in the Negeb, but in Jos 15:21-32 these cities are credited to Judah (see SIMEON). Achish allotted to David, in response to his request, the city of ZIKLAG (q.v) in the Negeb (1Sa 27:5 f); the exploits of David were against various parts of this district described as the Negeb of Judah, the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites, and the Negeb of the Kenites, while in 1Sa 30:14 we have mention of the Negeb of the Cherethites and the Negeb of Caleb. To this we may add the Negeb of Arad (Jud 1:16). It is impossible to define the districts of these various clans (see separate articles under these names). The, Negeb, together with the "hill-country" and the "Shephelah," was according to Jeremiah (17:26; 32:44; 33:13) to have renewed prosperity after the captivity of Judah was ended.

4. Later History:

When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem the Edomites sided with the Babylonians (compare La 4:21 f; Eze 35:3-15; Ob 1:10-16), and during the absence of the Jews they advanced north and occupied all the Negeb and Southern Judea as far as Hebron (see JUDAEA). Here they annoyed the Jews in Maccabean times until Judas expelled them from Southern Judea (164 BC) and John Hyrcanus conquered their country and compelled them to become Jews (109 BC). It was to one of the cities here--Malatha--that Herod Agrippa withdrew himself (Josephus, Ant, XVIII, vi, 2).

The palmy days of this district appear to have been during the Byzantine period: the existing ruins, so far as they can be dated at all, belong to this time. Beersheba was an important city with a bishop, and Elusa (mentioned by Ptolemy in the 2nd century) was the seat of a bishop in the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries. After the rise of Mohammedanism the land appears to have lapsed into primitive conditions. Although lawlessness and want of any central control may account for much of the retrogression, yet it is probable that Professor Ellsworth Huntington (loc. cit.) is right in his contention that a change of climate has had much to do with the rise and fall of civilization and settled habitation in this district. The district has long been given over to the nomads, and it is only quite recently that the Turkish policy of planting an official with a small garrison at Beersheba and at `Aujeh has produced some slight change in the direction of a settled population and agricultural pursuits.

5. Its Ancient Prosperity:

It is clear that in at least two historic periods the Negeb enjoyed a very considerable prosperity. What it may have been in the days of the Patriarchs it is difficult to judge; all we read of them suggests a purely nomadic life similar to the Bedouin of today but with better pasturage. In the division of the land among the tribes mention is made of many cities--the Hebrew mentions 29 (Jos 15:21-32; 19:1-9; 1Ch 4:28-33)--and the wealth of cattle evidently was great (compare 1Sa 15:9; 27:9; 30:16; 2Ch 14:14 f). The condition of things must have been far different from that of recent times.

The extensive ruins at Bir es Seba` (Beersheba) Khalasa (Elusa), Ruheibeh (REHOBOTH, which see), `Aujeh and other cities, together with the signs of orchards, vineyards and gardens scattered widely around these and other sites, show how comparatively well populated this area was in Byzantine times in particular. Professor Huntington (loc. cit.) concludes from these ruins that the population of the large towns of the Negeb alone at this period must have amounted to between 45,000 and 50,000. The whole district does not support 1,000 souls today.


Robinson, BR (1838); Wilton, The Negeb, or "South Country" of Scripture (1863); E.H. Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus, II (1871); Trumbull, Kadesh-Barnea (1884); G. A. Smith, HGHL, chapter xiii (1894); E. Huntington, Palestine and Its Transformation, chapter vi, etc.

E. W. G. Masterman


ne-ge'-na (Ps 61$ the King James Version, title), ne-ge'-noth, neg'-i-noth (Ps 4 the King James Version, title).



ne-hel'-a-mit, (ha-necheldmi): The designation of Shemaiah, a false prophet who opposed Jeremiah (Jer 29:24,31,32). The word means "dweller of Nehelam," but no such place-name is found in the Old Testament. Its etymology, however, suggests a connection with the Hebrew chalam, "to dream," and this has given rise to the rendering of the King James Version margin "dreamer."


ne-he-mi'-a, ne-hem-i'-a (nechemyah, "comforted of Yah"):

1. Family

2. Youth

3. King's Cupbearer

4. Governor of Judea

5. Death


Nehemiah, the son of Hacaliah, is the Jewish patriot whose life is recorded in the Biblical work named after him. All that we know about him from contemporary sources is found in this book; and so the readers of this article are referred to the Book of Nehemiah for the best and fullest account of his words and deeds.


1. Family:

All that is known of his family is that he was the son of Hacaliah (Ne 1:1) and that one of his brothers was called Hanani (Ne 1:2; 7:2); the latter a man of sufficient character and importance to have been made a ruler of Jerusalem.

From Ne 10:1-8 some have inferred that he was a priest, since Nehemiah comes first in the list of names ending with the phrase, "these were the priests." This view is supported by the Syriac and Arabic versions of 10:1, which read: "Nehemiah the elder, the son of Hananiah the chief of the priests"; and by the Latin Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of 2 Macc 1:21, where he is called "Nehemiah the priest," and possibly by 2 Macc 1:18, where it is said that Nehemiah "offered sacrifices, after that he had builded the temple and the altar."

The argument based upon Ne 10:1-8 will fall to the ground, if we change the pointing of the "Seraiah" of the 3rd verse and read "its princes," referring back to the princes of 10:1. In this case, Nehemiah and Zedekiah would be the princes; then would come the priests and then the Levites.

Some have thought that he was of the royal line of Judah, inasmuch as he refers to his "fathers' sepulchres" at Jerusalem (Ne 2:3). This would be a good argument only if it could be shown that none but kings had sepulchers at Jerusalem.

It has been argued again that he was of noble lineage because of his position as cupbearer to the king of Persia. To substantiate this argument, it would need to be shown that none but persons of noble birth could serve in this position; but this has not been shown, and cannot be shown.

2. Youth:

From the fact that Nehemiah was so grieved at the desolation of the city and sepulchers of his fathers and that he was so jealous for the laws of the God of Judah, we can justly infer that he was brought up by pious parents, who instructed him in the history and law of the Jewish people.

3. King's Cupbearer:

Doubtless because of his probity and ability, he was apparently at an early age appointed by Artaxerxes, king of Persia, to the responsible position of cupbearer to the king. There is now no possible doubt that this King his king was Artaxerxes, the first of that name, commonly called Longimanus, who ruled over Persia from 464 to 424 BC. The mention of the sons of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, in a letter written to the priests of Jerusalem in 407 BC, among whom Johanan is especially named, proves that Sanballat must have ruled in the time of Artaxerxes I rather than in that of Artaxerxes II.

The office of cupbearer was "one of no trifling honor" (Herod. iii.34). It was one of his chief duties to taste the wine for the king to see that it was not poisoned, and he was even admitted to the king while the queen was present (Ne 2:6). It was on account of this position of close intimacy with the king that Nehemiah was able to obtain his commission as governor of Judea and the letters and edicts which enabled him to restore the walls of Jerusalem.

4. Governor of Judea:

The occasion of this commission was as follows: Hanani, the brother of Nehemiah, and other men of Judah came to visit Nehemiah while he was in Susa in the 9th month of the 20th year of Artaxerxes. They reported that the Jews in Jerusalem were in great affliction and that the wall thereof was broken down and its gates burned with fire. Thereupon he grieved and fasted and prayed to God that he might be granted favor by the king. Having appeared before the latter in the 1st month of the 21st year of Artaxerxes, 444 BC, he was granted permission to go to Jerusalem to build the city of his fathers' sepulchers, and was given letters to the governors of Syria and Palestine and especially to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, ordering him to supply timber for the wall, the fortress, and the temple. He was also appointed governor of the province of which Jerusalem was the capital.

Armed with these credentials and powers he repaired to Jerusalem and immediately set about the restoration of the walls, a work in which he was hindered and harassed by Sanballat, the governor of Samaria, and others, some of them Jews dwelling in Jerusalem. Notwithstanding, he succeeded in his attempt and eventually also in providing gates for the various entrances to the city.

Having accomplished these external renovations, he instituted a number of social reforms. He appointed the officers necessary for better government, caused the people to be instructed in the Law by public readings, and expositions; celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles; and observed a national fast, at which the sins of the people were confessed and a new covenant with Yahweh was solemnly confirmed. The people agreed to avoid marriages with the heathen, to keep the Sabbath, and to contribute to the support of the temple. To provide for the safety and prosperity of the city, one out of every ten of the people living outside Jerusalem was compelled to settle in the city. In all of these reforms he was assisted by Ezra, who had gone up to Jerusalem in the 7th year of Artaxerxes.

5. Death:

Once, or perhaps oftener, during his governorship Nehemiah returned to the king. Nothing is known as to when or where he died. It is certain, however, that he was no longer governor in 407 BC; for at that time according to the Aramaic letter written from Elephantine to the priests of Jerusalem, Bagohi was occupying the position of governor over Judea. One of the last acts of Nehemiah's government was the chasing away of one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib, because he had become the son-in-law to Sanballat, the governor of Samaria. As this Joiada was the father of Johanan (Ne 12:22) who, according to the Aramaic papyrus, was high priest in 407 BC, and according to Josephus (Ant., XI, viii.1) was high priest while Bagohi (Bogoas) was general of Artaxerxes' army, it is certain that Nehemiah was at this time no longer in power. From the 3rd of the Sachau papyri, it seems that Bagohi was already governor in 410 BC; and, that at the same time, Dalayah, the son of Sanballat, was governor in Samaria. More definite information on these points is not to be had at present.


The only early extra-Biblical data with regard to Nehemiah and the Judea of his times are to be found:

(1) in the Egyptian papyri of Elephantine ("Aramaische Papyri und Ostraka aus einer judischen Militar-Kolonie zu Elephantine," Altorientalische Sprachdenkmaler des 5. Jahrhunderts vor Chr., Bearbeitet von Eduard Sachau. Leipzig, 1911);

(2)in Josephus, Ant, XI, vi, 6-8; vii, 1, 2;

(3) in Ecclesiasticus 49:13, where it is said: "The renown of Nehemiah is glorious; of him who established our waste places and restored our ruins, and set up the gates and bars"; (4) and lastly in 2 Macc 1:18-36 and 2:13; in the latter of these passages it speaks of `the writings and commentaries of Nehemiah; and how he, founding a library, gathered together the acts of the kings and the prophets and of David and the epistles of the kings concerning the holy gifts.'

R. Dick Wilson




ne-he-mi'-as: Greek form of the Hebrew Nehemiah.

(1) Neemias, one of the leaders of the return under Zerubbabel (1 Esdras 5:8) equals "Nehemiah" of Ezr 2:2; Ne 7:7.

(2) Neemias, Codex Vaticanus Naimias, the prophet Nehemiah (1 Esdras 5:40 where the King James Version margin reads "Nehemias who also is Atharias"). Neither Nehemias nor Attharias is found in the parallel Ezr 2:63; Ne 7:65, but ha-tirshatha' equals Tirshatha, "the governor," by whom Zerubbabel must be intended. Thus, the Hebrew word for "governor" has been converted into a proper name and by some blunder the name Nehemiah inserted, perhaps because he also was known by the title of "governor."

S. Angus


ne-hil'-oth, ne'-hi-loth (Ps 5, title). See MUSIC.


ne'-hum (nechum): One of the twelve heads of the people who returned with Zerubbabel (Ne 7:7). In the parallel passage (Ezr 2:2), the name appears as REHUM (which see), and in 1 Esdras 5:8 as "Roimus."


ne-hush'-ta (nechushta'): Mother of King Jehoiachin (2Ki 24:8). She was the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. After the fall of the city she was exiled with her son and his court (2Ki 24:12; Jer 29:2).


ne-hush'-tan (nechushtan; compare nechosheth, "brass," and nachash, "serpent"):

1. Traditional Interpretation:

The word occurs but once, namely, in 2Ki 18:4. In the account there given of the reforms carried out by Hezekiah, it is said that "he brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan." According to the Revised Version margin the word means "a piece of brass." If this be correct, the sense of the passage is that Hezekiah not only breaks the brazen serpent in pieces but, suiting the word to the act, scornfully calls it "a (mere) piece of brass." Hezekiah thus takes his place as a true reformer, and as a champion of the purification of the religion of Israel. This is the traditional interpretation of the passage, and fairly represents the Hebrew text as it now stands.

2. Derivation: A Proper Noun:

There are at least three considerations, however, which throw doubt upon this interpretation. In the first place, the word Nehushtan is not a common noun, and cannot mean simply "a piece of brass." The point of the Biblical statement is entirely lost by such a construction. It is emphatically a proper noun, and is the special name given to this particular brazen serpent. As such it would be sacred to all worshippers of the brazen serpent, and familiar to all who frequented the Temple. In the second place, it is probable that Nehushtan is to be derived from nachash, "serpent," rather than from nechosheth, "brass,"

(1) because the Greek VSS, representing a form of the Hebrew text earlier than Massoretic Text, suggest this in their transliteration of Nehushtan (Codex Vaticanus Nesthalei; Codex Alexandrinus Nesthan);

(2) because the Hebrew offers a natural derivation of Nehushtan from nachash, "serpent"; and

(3) because the name of the image would more probably be based on its form than on the material out of which it was made. In the third place, the reading, "and it was called," which appears in the Revised Version margin, is decidedly preferable to that in the text. It not only represents the best reading of the Hebrew, but is confirmed by the similar reading, "and they called it," which appears in the Greek version referred to above. These readings agree in their indication that Nehushtan was the name by which the serpent-image was generally known during the years it was worshipped, rather than an expression used for the first time by Hezekiah on the occasion of its destruction.

Whichever derivation be adopted, however, the word must be construed as a proper name. If it be derived from "brass," then the translation must be, not "a piece of brass," but "The (great) Brass," giving the word a special sense by which it refers unequivocally to the well-known image made of brass. If it be derived from "serpent," then the translation must be, "The (great) Serpent," the word in this case referring in a special sense to the well-known image in serpent form. But the significance of the word probably lies far back of any etymological explanation of it that can now be given. It is not a term that can be adequately explained by reference to verbal roots, but is rather an epitome of the reverence of those who, however mistakenly, looked upon the brazen serpent as a proper object of worship.

In view of the foregoing it may be concluded,

(1) that Nehushtan was the (sacred) name by which the brazen serpent was known during the years "the children of Israel did burn incense to it";

(2) that the word is derived from nachash, "serpent"; and

(3) that it was used in the sense of "The Serpent," paragraph excellence.


Lindsay B. Longacre


ne`i'-el (ne`i'el; Codex Vaticanus Inael; Codex Alexandrinus Aniel): A town on the boundary between Zebulun and Asher mentioned between Jiftah-el and Cabul (Jos 19:27). It may be the same as Neah (Jos 19:13), but the place is not identified.


na (tsahal, "to cry aloud," "neigh"): Figuratively used to indicate lustful desire (Jer 5:8; compare Jer 13:29).


na'-ber (rea`, `amith, "friend," qarobh, shakhen; ho plesion, "near" geiton, (compare 2 Macc 6:8; 9:25), "inhabitant"; Latin proximus (2 Esdras 15:19), civis (2 Esdras 9:45; 10:2, the Revised Version margin "townman")):

1. As Described in the Old Testament:

In the Old Testament, the relationship of neighborhood involves moral and social obligations which are frequently emphasized. These are in the main described in negative rather than positive terms; e.g. there are special injunctions not to bear false witness against a neighbor (Ex 20:16; De 5:20; Pr 25:18), or in any way to deal falsely with him, defraud him, frame malicious devices or harbor evil thoughts against him (Ex 20:17; Le 6:2; 19:13; De 23:24 f; Ps 15:3; 101:5; Pr 24:28; Jer 22:13; Zec 8:17), or to lead him into shameful conduct (Hab 2:15), or to wrong him by lying carnally with his wife (Le 18:20). But the supreme law that underlies these negative injunctions is stated positively. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Le 19:18). In this verse the term "neighbor"is defined by the expression, "the children of my people." Here, and generally in the Old Testament, the term implies more than mere proximity; it means one related by the bond of nationality, a fellow-countryman, compatriot. Yahweh being regarded as a national God, there was no religious bond regulating the conduct of the Hebrews with other nations. Conduct which was prohibited between fellow-Jews was permitted toward a foreigner, e.g. the exaction of interest (De 23:19,20).

2. As Described in the New Testament:

In the New Testament, this limitation of moral obligation to fellow-countrymen is abolished. Christ gives a wider interpretation of the commandment in Le 19:18, so as to include in it those outside the tie of nation or kindred. This is definitely done in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lu 10:25-37), where, in answer to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus shows that the relationship is a moral, not a physical one, based not on kinship but on the opportunity and capacity for mutual help. The word represents, not so much a rigid fact, but an ideal which one may or may not realize (Lu 10:36, "Which of these three, thinkest thou, proved (literally, became, not was) neighbor," etc.). This larger connotation follows naturally as a corollary to the doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God. The commandment to love one's neighbor as one's self must not be interpreted as if it implied that we are to hate our enemy (an inference which the jews were apt to make); human love should be like the Divine, impartial, having all men for its object (Mt 5:43 ). Love to one's fellow-men in this broad sense to be placed side by side with love to God as the essence and sum of human duty (Mt 22:35-40 parallel Mr 12:28-31). Christ's apostles follow His example in giving a central position to the injunction to love one's neighbor as one's self (Jas 2:8, where is is called the "royal law" i.e. the supreme or governing law; Ro 13:9; Ga 5:14).

D. Miall Edwards


ne'-keb: This name occurs only in combination with "Adami" ('adhami ha-neqebh, "Adami of the pass"); Septuagint reads the names of two places: kai Arme kai Nabok (B); kai Armai kai Nakeb (Jos 19:33), so we should possibly read "Adami and Nekeb." Neubauer says (Geog. du Talmud, 225) that later the name of Nekeb was Ciyadathah. It may therefore be represented by the modern Seiyadeh, not far from ed-Damieh to the East of Tabor, about 4 miles Southwest of Tiberias. The name of Nekeb, a town in Galilee, appears in the list of Thothmes III.


ne-ko'-da (neqodha'):

(1) Head of a family of Nethinim (Ezr 2:48; Ne 7:50; compare /RAPC 1Es 5:31).

(2) Head of a family which failed to prove its Israelite descent (Ezr 2:60; Ne 7:62; compare /RAPC 1Es 5:31,37). In the parallel verses of 1 Esdras the names are given thus: NOEBA and NEKODAN (which see).


ne-ko'-dan (Nekodan; the Revised Version margin "Nekoda"; the King James Version Necodan):

(1) Head of a family which returned from exile, but "could not show their families nor their stock" (1 Esdras 5:37) equals "Nekoda" of Ezr 2:60; Ne 7:62.

(2) See NOEBA.


nem'-u-el, ne-mu'-el (nemu'el):ould not show their families nor their stock" (1 Esdras 5:37) equals "Nekoda" of Ezr 2:60; Ne 7:62.

(1) A Reubenite, brother of Dathan and Abiram (Nu 26:9).

(2) A son of Simeon (Nu 26:12; 1Ch 4:24). The name occurs also in the form "Jemuel" (Ge 46:10; Ex 6:15). According to Gray (Studies in Hebrew Proper Names), either form is etymologically obscure; but Nemuel is probably correct, for it is easier to account for its corruption into Jemuel than vice versa. The patronymic Nemuelites occurs once (Nu 26:12).


nem'-u-el-its, ne-mu'-el-its (ha-nemu'eli).

See NEMUEL, (2).





ne'-feg (nephegh, "sprout," "shoot"):

(1) Son of Izhar, and brother of Korah of the famous trio, Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Ex 6:21).

(2) A son of David (2Sa 5:15; 1Ch 3:7; 14:6).


nef'-u, nev'-u.






nef'-i-lim (nephilim): This word, translated "giants" in the King James Version, but retained in the Revised Version (British and American), is found in two passages of the Old Testament--one in Ge 6:4, relating to the antediluvians; the other in Nu 13:33, relating to the sons of Anak in Canaan. In the former place the Nephilim are not necessarily to be identified with the children said to be borne "the daughters of men" to "the sons of God" (Ge 6:2,4); indeed, they seem to be distinguished from the latter as upon the earth before this unholy commingling took place (see SONS OF GOD). But it is not easy to be certain as to the interpretation of this strange passage. In the second case they clearly represent men of gigantic stature, in comparison with whom the Israelites felt as if they were "grasshopers." This agrees with Ge 6:4, "the mighty men that were of old, the men of renow." Septuagint, therefore, was warranted in translating by gigantes.

James Orr





ne'-fish, ne-fi'-sim, ne-fish'-e-sim, ne-fusim (nephicim, nephucim): The former is the Kethibh (Hebrew: "written") form of the name adopted in the Revised Version (British and American); the latter the Qere (Hebrew "read") form, adopted in the King James Version and the Revised Version margin (Ezr 2:50).



nef'-thi, nef'-tha-i.



nef'-tha-lim (Mt 4:13): The Greek form of NAPHTALI (which see).


nef'-thar (Nephthar; Codex Alexandrinus and Swete, Nephthar, the King James Version and Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) Naphthar), (Nephthai, al. Nephthaei, Fritzsche, Nepha, the King James Version and Vulgate, following Old Latin, Nephi; Swete, following Codex Alexandrinus, gives Nephthar twice): According to 2 Macc 1:19-36, at the time of the captivity the godly priests took of the altar fire of the temple and concealed it "privily in the hollow of a well that was without water," unknown to all. "After many years" (upon Return), before offering the sacrifices, Nehemiah sent the descendants of the godly priests to fetch the hidden fire. They reported they could find no fire but only "thick water" hudor pachu), which he commanded them to draw up and sprinkle upon the wood and the sacrifices. After an interval the sun shone forth from behind a cloud and the liquid ignited and consumed the sacrifices. Nehemiah then commanded them to pour (katachein, al. katechein, and kataschein) the rest of the liquid upon great stones. Another flame sprang up which soon spent itself, "whereas the light from the altar shone still" (Revised Version margin, the exact meaning being doubtful). When the king of Persia investigated it, he enclosed the spot as sacred. Nehemiah and his friends called the thick liquid "Nephthar," "which is by interpretation `cleansing' " (katharismos), "but most men call it Nephthai."

No satisfactory explanation is to hand of either name; one of which is probably a corruption of the other. And no word exists in the Hebrew like either of them with the meaning of "cleansing," "purification." The Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) applies the name to the spot (hunc locum), not the thing. The story probably originated in Persia, where naphtha was abundant. The ignition of the liquid by the hot rays of the sun and the appearance of the words render it highly probable that it was the inflammable rockoil naphtha, the combustible properties of which were quite familiar to the ancients (Pliny, NH, ii. 109; Plutarch, Alexander 35; Diosc., i.101; Strabo, Geogr. xvi.1, 15); the words then are probably corruptions of what the Greeks termed naphtha. Ewald (History, V, 163) says: "This is but one of the many stories which sought in later times to enhance the very high sanctity of the Temple, with reference even to its origin."

S. Angus


nef-to'-a, nef'-to-a (nephtoach, occurs only in the expression ma`yan me nephtoach, "the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah"; Septuagint pege hudatos Naphtho): This spring was on the border line between Judah and Benjamin (Jos 15:9; 18:15). The place is usually identified with Lifta, a village about 2 miles Northwest of Jerusalem, on the east bank of the Wady beit Hanina]. It is a village very conspicuous to the traveler along the high road from Jaffa as he nears Jerusalem. There are ancient rock-cut tombs and a copious spring which empties itself into a large masonry reservoir. The situation of Lifta seems to agree well with the most probable line of boundary between the two tribes; the spring as it is today does not appear to be so abundant as to warrant such an expression as "spring of the waters," but it was, like many such sources, probably considerably more abundant in Old Testament times.

Conder would identify Lifta with the ancient ELEPH (which see) of Benjamin, and, on the ground that the Talmud (see Talmud Babylonian, Yom' 31a) identifies Nephtoah with ETAM (which see), he would find the site of Nephtoah at `Ain `Atan, South of Bethlehem. The Talmud is not a sufficiently trustworthy guide when unsupported by other evidence, and the identification creates great difficulty with the boundary line. See Palestine Exploration Fund, III, 18, 43, Sh XVII.

E. W. G. Mastermin


ne-fush'-e-sim, ne-fish'-e-sim (nephushecim, nephishecim): The former is the Kethibh (Hebrew "written") form of the name adopted in the Revised Version (British and American); the latter the Qere (Hebrew "read") form adopted in the King James Version and the Revised Version margin (Ne 7:52).



ner (ner, "lamp"): Father of Abner (1Sa 14:50 f; 26:5,14, etc.); grandfather of Saul (1Ch 8:33). Other references, though adding no further information are 2Sa 2:8,12; 3:23,25; 28; 37; 1Ki 2:5,32, etc.


ne'-rus, ne'-re-us (Nereus): The name of a Roman Christian to whom with his sister Paul sent greetings (Ro 16:15). Nereus and the others saluted with him (Ro 16:15) formed small community or "house church." The name of the sister is not given, but the name Nereis is found on an inscription of this date containing names of the emperor's servants (Lightfoot, Phil, 176). Among the Acta Sanctorum connected with the early church in Rome are the "Ac of Nereus and Achilleus" which call them chamberlains of Domitilla, the niece of Vespasian, and relate their influence over her in persuading her to remain a virgin.

S. F. Hunter


nar'-gal (nereghal): A Babylonian deity, identified with the planet Mars, and worshipped at Cutha (compare 2Ki 17:30).



nur-gal-sha-re'-zar (nereghal-shar'etser, Hebrew form of Assyrian Nergal-sar-usur, "O Nergal, defend the prince"): A Babylonian officer, the "Rab-mag," associated with Nebushazban in the care of Jeremiah after the fall of Jerusalem (Jer 39:3,13). According to Hommel (article "Babylon," Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes)) and Sayce (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, under the word), Nergal-sharezer is to be identified with Neriglissar who succeeded Evil-merodach on the throne of Babylon (compare Cheyne and Johns, Encyclopedia Biblica, under the word).


ne'-ri ((@Nerei (Tisch., Treg., Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek), Textus Receptus of the New Testament, Neri; for Hebrew neriyah): The name of an ancestor of Jesus, the grandfather of Zerubbabel (Lu 3:27).



ne-ri'-a (neriyah, "whose lamp is Yah"): The father of Seraiah and of Baruch, Jeremiah's friend and secretary (Jer 32:12,16; 36:4,8,32; 43:3). In Baruch 1:1 the Greek form of the name, Ner(e)ias, is given, and this shortened, Neri, occurs in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.


ne-ri'-as (Ner(e)ias): The Greek form of Hebrew Neriah found only in Baruch 1:1 as the father of Baruch equals "Neriah" of Jer 32:12; 36:4 ff; 43:3. To Baruch's brother, Seraiah, the same genealogy is ascribed in Jer 51:59.




Her Nine Measures for Bringing Him to the Throne


1. Quinquennium Nerohis

2. Poppea Sabina (58 AD)

3. Poppea and Tigellinus

4. Great Fire (July, 64)

5. Persecution of Christians

6. Conspiracy of Piso (65 AD)

7. Nero in Greece (66 AD)

8. Death of Nero


1. Seven Causes of Downfall

2. Character



1. Nero and the New Testament

2. Neronian Policy and Christianity


The fifth Roman emperor, born at Antium December 15, 37 AD, began to reign October 13, 54, died June 9, 68.

I. Name, Parentage and Early Training.

His name was originally Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus but after his adoption into the Claudian gens by the emperor Claudius, he became Nero Claudius Caesar Germanicus. His father was Enaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus ("Brazen-beard"), a man sprung from an illustrious family and of vicious character. His mother was Agrippina the younger, the daughter of Germanicus and the elder Agrippina, sister of the emperor Caius (Caligula) and niece of the emperor Claudius. On the birth of the child, his father predicted, amid the congratulations of his friends, that any offspring of himself and Agrippina could only prove abominable and disastrous for the public (Suet. Nero vi: detestabile et malo publico). At the age of three the young Domitius lost his father and was robbed of his estates by the rapacity of Caius. In 39 his mother was banished for supposed complicity in a plot against Caius. Nero was thus deprived of his mother and at the same time left almost penniless. His aunt, Domitia Lepida, now undertook the care of the boy and placed him with two tutors, a dancer and a barber (Suetonius vi). On the accession of Claudius, Agrippina was recalled, and Nero was restored to his mother and his patrimony (41 AD).

II. Agrippina's Ambition for Nero.

She cared little for her son's moral education, but began immediately to train him for high position. She aimed at nothing less than securing the empire for Nero. With a view to this she must gain influence over her uncle, the emperor Clandius, who was very susceptible to female charms. At first the path was by no means easy, while the licentious empress, Messalina, was in power. But on the fall and death of Messalina (48 AD)--for which Agrippina may have intrigued--the way seemed opened. With the assistance of the emperor's freedman, Pallas, Agrippina proved the successful candidate for Claudius' affections. She how felt secure to carry out the plans for the elevation of her son:

Her Nine Measures for Bringing Him to the Throne

(1) She secured his betrothal to Octavia, the daughter of Claudius, having previously, by the villainy of Vitellius, broken off the engagement between Octavia and Lucius Silanus (ibid., xlviii). Later, Nero married this unfortunate lady.

(2) Vitellius again obliged by securing a modification of Roman law so as to permit a marriage with a brother's (not sister's) daughter, and in 49 Agrippina became empress.

(3) In the meantime she had caused Seneca to be recalled from banishment and had entrusted to him the education of Nero for imperial purposes.

(4) The adoption of her son by Claudius (50 AD).

(5) She next secured early honors and titles for Nero in order to mark him out as Clandins' successor.

(6) She caused Britannicus, Claudius' son, to be kept in the background and treated as a mere child, removing by exile or death suspected supporters of Britannicus.

(7) Agrippina was farsighted and anticipated a later secret of Roman imperialism--the influence of the armies in the nomination of emperors. For this cause she took an active interest in military affairs and gave her name to a new colony on the Rhine (modern Cologne). But she did not forget the importance of securing the praetorian guard and Burrus the prefect.

(8) She persuaded Clandins to make a will in favor of her son. All was now ready. But Claudius did not like the idea of excluding his son Britannicus from power, and murmurs were heard among the senate and people. Delay might prove fatal to Agrippina's plans, so

(9) Claudius must die. The notorious Locusta administered poison in a dish of mushrooms, and Xenophon, Agrippina's physician, thrust a poisoned feather down Claudius' throat on the pretense of helping him to vomit. Burrus then took Nero forth and caused him to be proclaimed imperator by the praetorians.

III. Nero's Reign.

1. Quinquennium Neronis:

Nero's reign falls into three periods, the first of which is the celebrated quinquennium, or first 5 years, characterized by good government at home and in the provinces and popularity with both senate and people. Agrippina, having seated her son on the throne, did not purpose to relinquish power herself; she intended to rule along with him. And at first Nero was very devoted to her and had given as watchword to the guard, "the best of mothers" (Tacitus, Annals xiii.2; Suetonius ix). This caused a sharp conflict with Seneca and Burrus, who could not tolerate Agrippina's arrogance and unbounded influence over her son. In order to detach him from his mother they encouraged him in an amour with a Greek freedwoman, Acre (Tac. Ann. xiii.12). This first blow to Agrippina's influence was soon followed by the dismissal from court of her chief protector Pallas. She now threatened to bring forth Britannicus and present him as the rightful heir to the throne. This cost Britannicus his life, for Nero, feeling insecure while a son of Claudius lived, compassed his death at a banquet. A hot wine cup was offered Britannicus, and to cool it to taste, cold water was added which had been adulterated with a virulent poison. The victim succumbed immediately. All eyes fastened on Nero in suspicion, but he boldly asserted that the death was due to a fit of epilepsy--a disease to which Britannicus had been subject from childhood. Such was the fate of Agrippina's first protege. She next took up the cause of the despised and ill-treated Octavia, which so incensed her son that he deprived her of her guards and caused her to remove from the palace. Agrippina now disappears for the next few years to come into brief and tragic prominence later. Seneca and Burrus undertook the management of affairs, with results that justified the favorable impression which the first 5 years of Nero's reign made upon the Roman people. Many reforms were initiated, financial, social and legislative. These ministers treated Nero to counsels of moderation and justice, dictating a policy which left considerable activity to the senate. But perceiving the bent of his evil nature, they allowed him to indulge in low pleasures and excesses with the most profligate companions, thinking, perhaps, either that the young ruler would in this way prove less harmful to the public, or that, after sowing his wild oats, he would return to the serious business of government. But in both ways they were sorely disappointed, for Nero, having surrendered himself to the basest appetites, continued to go from excess to excess. He surrounded himself with the most dissolute companions, conspicuous among whom were Salvius Otho and Claudius Senecio.

2. Poppea Sabina (58 AD):

The former had a wife as ambitious as she was unprincipled, and endowed, according to Tacitus, with every gift of nature except an "honorable mind." Already divorced before marrying Otho, she was minded to employ Otho merely as a tool to enable her to become Nero's consort. With the appearance of Poppea Sabina, for such was her name, opens the second period of Nero's reign. She proved his evil star. Under her influence he shook off all restraints, turned a deaf ear to is best advisers and plunged deeper into immorality and crime. She allowed, if not persuaded, Nero to give her husband a commission in the distant province of Lusitania. Her jealousy could tolerate no possible rival. She plotted the death of Agrippina to which she easily persuaded Nero to consent. This foul crime was planned and carried out with the greatest cunning. Anicetus, admiral of the fleet, undertook to construct a vessel that would sink to order. Nero invited his mother to his villa at Baiae at the Quinquatrus celebration. After the banquet she was persuaded to return to Bauli by the vessel prepared. But the plan did not succeed, and Agrippina saved herself by swimming ashore. She pretended to treat the matter as an accident, sending a freedman to Nero to inform him of her escape. Anicetus, however, relieved Nero of the awkward position by pretending that Agrippina's freedman had dropped a dagger which was considered proof enough of her guilt. Deserted by her friends and slaves except one freedman, she was quickly dispatched by her murderers. Nero gave out that she died by suicide (Suetonius xxxiv; Tacitus, Annals cxli-cxlviii).

3. Poppea and Tigellinus:

Nero no longer made any secret of taking Poppea as his mistress, and, under her influence, bid defiance to the best Roman traditions and plunged deeper into dissipation. In 62 AD matters grew much worse by the death of the praetorian prefect, Burrus. Seneca lost in him a powerful ally, and Poppea gained in one of the new prefects, Sofonius Tigellinus, a powerful ally. She succeeded in causing Seneca to retire from the court. Next she determined to remove Octavia. A charge of adultery was first tried, but as the evidence proved too leaky, Nero simply divorced her because of barrenness. Then Anicetus was persuaded to confess adultery with her, and the innocent Octavia was banished to the island of Pandateria, where a little later she was executed at Poppea's orders and her head brought to her rival (62 AD). Poppea was now empress, and the next year bore a daughter to Nero, but the child died when only three months old. Two years later Poppea herself died during pregnancy, of a cruel kick inflicted by Nero in a fit of rage (65 AD). He pronounced an eulogy over her and took a third wife, Statilia Messalina, of whom he had no issue.

Nero, having by his extravagance exhausted the well-filled treasury of Claudius (as Caius did that of Tiberius), was driven to fill his coffers by confiscations of the estates of rich nobles against whom his creature Tigellinus could trump the slightest plausible charge. But even this did not prevent a financial crisis--the beginning of the bankruptcy of the later Rein empire. The provinces which at first enjoyed good government were now plundered; new and heavy taxes were imposed. Worst of all, the gold and silver coinage was depreciated, and the senate was deprived of the right of copper coinage.

4. Great Fire (July, 64):

This difficulty was much increased by the great fire which was not only destructive to both private and state property, but also necessitated the providing thousands of homeless with shelter, and lowering the price of corn. On July 18, 64, this great conflagration broke out in Circus Maximus. A high wind caused it to spread rapidly over a large portion of the city, sweeping before it ill-built streets of wooden houses. At the end of six days it seemed to be exhausted for lack of material, when another conflagration started in a different quarter of the city. Various exaggerated accounts of the destruction are found in Roman historians: of the 14 city regions 7 were said to have been totally destroyed and 4 partially. Nero was at Antium at the time. He hastened back to the city and apparently took every means of arresting the spread of the flames. He superintended in person the work of the fire brigades, often exposing himself to danger. After the fire he threw open his own gardens to the homeless. The catastrophe caused great consternation, and, for whatever reasons, suspicion seemed to fix upon Nerio. Rumor had it that on hearing the Greek verse, "When I am dead let the earth be wrapped in fire," he interrupted, "Nay rather, while I live" (Suetonius xxxviii); that he had often deplored the ugliness of the city and wished an opportunity to rebuild it; that he purposely set it on fire in order to find room for his magnificent Domus Aurea ("Golden House"); that when the city was burning he gazed upon it from the tower of Maecenas delighted with what he termed "the beauty of the conflagration"; that he recited in actor's costume the sack of Troy (Suetonius xxxviii; Tacitus, Annals xv.38 ff). In spite of all these reports Nero must be absolved of the guilt of incendiarism.

5. Persecution of Christians:

Such public calamities were generally attributed to the wrath of the gods. In the present case everything was done to appease the offended deity. Yet, in spite of all, suspicion still clung to Nero "Wherefore in order to allay the rumor he put forward as guilty (subdidit reos), and afflicted with the most exquisite punishments those who were hated for their abominations (flagitia) and called `Christians' by the populace. Christus, from whom the name was derived, was punished by the procurator Pontius Pilatus in the reign of Tiberius. This noxious form of religion (exitiabilis superstitio), checked for a time, broke out again not only in Judea its original home, but also throughout the city (Rome) where all abominations meet and find devotees. Therefore first of all those who confessed (i.e. to being Christians) were arrested, and then as a result of their information a large number (multitude ingens) were implicated (reading coniuncti, not convicti), not so much on the charge of incendiarism as for hatred of the human race. They died by methods of mockery; some were covered with the skins of wild beasts and then torn by dogs, some were crucified, some were burned as torches to give light at night .... whence (after scenes of extreme cruelty) commiseration was stirred for them, although guilty and deserving the worst penalties, for men felt that their destruction was not on account of the public welfare but to gratify the cruelty of one (Nero)" (Tacitus, Annals xv.44). Such is the earliest account of the first heathen persecution (as well as the first record of the crucifixion by a heathen writer). Tacitus here clearly implies that the Christians were innocent (subdidit reos), and that Nero employed them simply as scapegoats. Some regard the conclusion of the paragraph as a contradiction to this--"though guilty and deserving the severest punishment" (adversus sontes et novissima exempla meritos). But Tacitus means by sontes that the Christians were "guilty" from the point of view of the populace, and that they merited extreme punishment also from his own standpoint for other causes, but not for arson. Fatebantur does not mean that they confessed to incendiarism, but to being Christians, and qui fatebantur means there were some who boldly confessed, while others tried to conceal or perhaps even denied their faith.

But why were the Christians selected as scapegoats? Why not the Jews, who were both numerous and had already offended the Roman government and had been banished in great numbers? Or why not the many followers of the oriental religions, which had proved more than once obnoxious?

(1) Poppea was favorable to Judaism and had certainly enough influence over Nero to protect the Jews; she was regarded by them as a proselyte and is termed by Josephus (Ant., XX, viii, 11) theosebes, "god-fearing." When the populace and Nero were seeking victims for revenge, the Jews may have been glad of the opportunity of putting forward the Christians and may have been encouraged in this by Poppea. Farrar (Early Days of Christianity, I, chapter iv) sees "in the proselytism of Poppea, guided by Jewish malice, the only adequate explanation of the first Christian persecution."

(2) Closely connected with this was doubtless the observation by the Roman government that Christianity was an independent faith from Judaism. This may first have been brought home to the authorities by the trial of Paul before Nero, as suggested by Ramsay (Expositor, July, 1893). Judaism was a recognized and tolerated religion, a religio licita, and Christianity when divorced from Judaism became a religio illicita and punishable by the state, for Christianity first rose "under the shadow of licensed Judaism" (sub umbraculo licitae Judeorum religionis: Tertullian, Apol., xxi).

(3) As Christianity formed a society apart from Roman society, all kinds of crimes were attributed to its followers, Thyestean feasts, nightly orgies, hostility to temples and images. These flagitia seemed summed up in odium humani generis, "hatred for the human race."

(4) They were easily selected as being so numerous and making most progress in a line opposed to Roman spirit; compare ingens multitudo (Tacitus, Annals xv.44; Clemens Rom., Cor 1:6, polu plethos; compare also "great multitude" of Re 7:9; 19:1).

(5) No doubt, too, early Christian enthusiasm was unequivocal in its expressions, especially in its belief of a final conflagration of the world and its serene faith amid the despair of others.

6. Conspiracy of Piso (65 AD):

In the meantime Tigellinus' tyranny and confiscations to meet Nero's expenses caused deep discontent among the nobles, which culminated in the famous conspiracy at the head of which was C. Calpurnius Piso. The plot was prematurely betrayed by Milichus. An inquisition followed in which the most illustrious victims who perished were Seneca the philosopher, Lucan the poet, Lucan's mother, and later Annaeus Mela, brother of Seneca and father of Lucan, T. Petronius Arbiter, "the glass of fashion." Finally, "Nero having butchered so many illustrious men, at last desired to exterminate virtue itself by the death of Thrasea Paetus and Barea Soranus" (Tacitus, Annals xvi.21 f).

7. Visit to Greece (66 AD):

Having cleared every suspected person out of the way, he abandoned the government in Rome to a freedman Helius, and started on a long visit to Greece (66-68 AD), where he took part in musical contests and games, himself winning prizes from the obsequious Greeks, in return for which Nero bestowed upon them "freedom." Nero was so un-Roman that he was perfectly at home in Greece, where alone he said he was appreciated by cultured people. In the meantime the revolt of Vindex in Gaul commenced (68 AD), but it was soon quelled by Verginius Rufus on account of its national Gaulic character. Galba of Hither Spain next declared himself legatus of the senate and the Roman people. Nero was persuaded to return to Rome by Helius; he confiscated Galba's property, but his weakness and hesitancy greatly helped the cause of the latter.

8. Death of Nero:

Nymphidius Sabinus, one of the prefects, won over the guard for Galba, by persuading the irresolute emperor to withdraw from Rome and then told the praetorians that Nero had deserted them. Nero was a coward, both in life and in death. While he had the means of easily crushing Galba, he was revolving plans of despair in his Servilian gardens, whether he should surrender himself to the mercies of the Parthians or to those of Galba; whether Galba would allow him the province of Egypt; whether the public would forgive his past if he showed penitence enough. In his distraction a comforter asked him in the words of Virgil, "Is it then so wretched to die?" He could not summon the courage for suicide, nor could he find one to inflict the blow for him: "Have I then neither friend nor foe?" Phaon a freedman offered him the shelter of his villa a few miles from Rome. Here he prepared for suicide, but with great cowardice. He kept exclaiming, "What an artist I am to perish!" (Qualis artifex pereo, Suet. xlix). On learning that he was condemned to a cruel death by the senate, he put the weapon to his throat and was assisted in the fatal blow by Epaphroditus his secretary. A centurion entered pretending he had come to help: "Too late--this is fidelity," were Nero's last words. His remains were laid in the family vault of the Domitii by his two nurses Ecloge and Alexandria and his concubine Acte (Suetonius L). Thus perished on July 9, 68 AD the last of the line of Julius Caesar in his 31st year and in the 14th of his reign.

IV. Downfall and Character.

1. Seven Causes of Downfall:

The causes of his downfall were briefly:

(1) his lavish expenditure leading to burdensome taxation and financial insecurity;

(2) tyranny and cruelty of his favorites;

(3) the great fire which brought dissatisfaction to fasten suspicion on Nero and the consequent enlargement of his private abode at the expense of the city--especially the Golden House;

(4) the unpopular measure of the extension of Roman franchise to Greece and favored foreigners;

(5) the security engendered by the success with which the conspiracy of Piso was crushed;

(6) the discovery of another "secret of empire," that an emperor could be created elsewhere than at Rome, that the succession of emperors was not hereditary but rested with the great armies, and

(7) the cowardice and weakness which Nero displayed in the revolt which led to his death.

His reign is memorable for the activity of Seneca, the great fire, the persecution of Christians, the beginning of the bankruptcy of the later Roman empire, the Armenian disaster of Paetus (62 AD) retrieved by Corbulo and the humiliation of Parthia, the outbreak of the insurrection in Judea (66 AD), which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem.

2. Character:

Nero ranks with Gaius for folly and vice, while his cruelties recall the worst years of Tiberius. Very effeminate in his tastes, particular about the arrangement of his hair and proud of his voice, his greatest fault was inordinate vanity which courted applause for performances on non-Roman lines. He neglected his high office and degraded Roman gravitas by zeal for secondary pursuits. Nero, like his three predecessors, was very susceptible to female charms. He was licentious in the extreme, even to guilt of that nameless vice of antiquity--love of a male favorite. His cruelty, both directly and through his instruments, made the latter part of his reign as detestable as the quinquennium had been golden. He loved the extravagant and luxurious in every exaggerated form. He was a weakling and a coward in his life, and especially in his death. Of his personal appearance we are told his features were regular and good; the expression of his countenance, however, was somewhat repelling. His frame was ill proportioned--slender legs and big stomach. In later years his face was covered with pimples.

V. "Nero Redivivus."

It seems as if there was something lovable even about this monster, which led a freedman to remain faithful to the last, and his two old nurses and cast-off concubine to care affectionately for his remains, and for a long time there were not wanting hands to strew his grave with spring and autumn flowers and to display his effigy (Suet. lvii). But, whether from the strange circumstances of his death, or the subsequent terrible confusion in the Roman world, or from whatever cause, there soon arose a belief that Nero had not really died, but was living somewhere in retirement or had fled among the Parthians, and that he was destined in a short time to return and bring great calamity upon his enemies or the world (quasi viventis et brevi magno inimicorum malo reversuri: Suetonius lvii). This belief was a force among the Parthians who were ready to take up arms at the report of a pseudo-Nero (Tacitus, History i.2). In the confusion of the year of the four emperors, Greece and Asia were disturbed by the report of the advent of Nero (Tac. Hist. ii.8), and the historian promises to mention the fortune and attempts of other pseudo-Neros. This belief was taken up by the Jews and amalgamated with their legend of Antichrist. In Ascension of Isaiah 4 (1st century AD), the Antichrist is clearly identified with Nero: "Belial shall appear in the shape of a man, the king of wickedness, the matricide." It occurs again and again in both the Jewish and Christian sections of the Sib Or (3:66 ff; 4:117 f,135 ff; 5:100 f,136 f,216 f). How far Nero was regarded by the Christians as the historical personage of Antichrist is a disputed point. That the common belief of the revival or advent of Nero should influence contemporary Christian thought in days of social and political turmoil is highly probable. Bousset (Commentary) regards the beast of Re 13 as Rome, and the smitten head whose "deathstroke was healed" as Nero, and some scholars take Re 17:10 f as referring to Nero. The "scarlet-colored beast" of 17:3 may be intended either for the Roman government in general or for Nero in particular. That the number 666 (Re 13:18) represents in Hebrew letters the numerical equivalent of Neron Kesar is significant, for the Jewish Christians would be familiar with gemaTriya' (the numerical equivalent of names). See NUMBER. Compare Farrar, Early Days, chapter xxviii,. section 5. In later times the idea of a twofold Antichrist seems to have arisen--one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles; compare especially Commodian, Carm. Apol. (926): "to us Nero became Antichrist, to the Jews the other" (nobis Nero factus Antichristus, ille Judaeis). There was an alternate theory that Nero had really been killed, but that he would rise again (Sib Or 5:216 f; Augustine, De Civ. Dei, xx.19: unde nonnulli ipsum resurrecturum et futurum Antichristum suspicantur).

VI. Nero and Christianity.

1. Nero and the New Testament:

The name Nero does not occur in the New Testament, but he was the Caesar to whom Paul appealed (Ac 25:11) and at whose tribunal Paul was tried after his first imprisonment. It is quite likely that Nero heard Paul's case in person, for the emperor showed much interest in provincial cases. It was during the earlier "golden quinquennium" of Nero's reign that Paul addressed his epistle to the Christians at Rome, and probably in the last year of Nero's reign (68 AD) Paul suffered death near the city, though Harnack (Chronologie) places his death in the first Neronian persecution of 64. Although the New Testament gives no hint of a possible visit or sojourn of Peter in Rome, such a sojourn and subsequent martyrdom are highly probable and almost certain from the early persistent tradition, especially in Clement of Rome, Ignatius and Papias, and later in Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and the Liber Pontificalis (catalogue of popes). His execution at Rome under Nero is practically certain.

2. Neronian Policy and Christianity:

The first persecution to which Christianity was subjected came from the Jews: the first heathen persecution took place under Nero. Up to this time the Roman government had been on friendly terms with Christianity, as Christianity was either not prominent enough to cause any disturbance of society or was confounded by the Romans with Judaism (sub umbraculo licitae Judeorum religionis: Tertullian, Apol., xxi). Paul, writing to the Christians of the capital, urged them to "be in subjection to the higher powers" as "ordained of God" (Ro 13:1 ), and his high estimation of the Roman government as power for the good of society was probably enhanced by his mild captivity at Rome which permitted him to carry on the work of preaching and was terminated by an acquittal on the first trial (accepting the view of a first acquittal and subsequent activity before condemnation at a second trial). But soon, whether because of the trial of Paul, a Roman citizen, at Rome (about 63), or the growing hostility of the Jews, or the increasing numbers and alarming progress of the new religion, the distinction between Christianity and Judaism became apparent to the Roman authorities. If it had not yet been proscribed as a religio illicita ("'unlicensed religion"), neither had it been admitted as a religio licita. Christianity was not in itself as yet a crime; its adherents were not liable to persecution "for the name." According to one view the Neronian persecution was a spasmodic act and an isolated incident in imperial policy: the Christians were on this occasion put forward merely to remove suspicion from Nero. They were not persecuted either as Christians or as incendiaries, but on account of flagitia and odium humani generis, i.e. Thyestean feasts, Oedipodean incest and nightly orgies were attributed to them, and their withdrawal from society and exclusive manners caused the charge of "hatred for society." The evidence of Tacitus (Ann. xv.44) would bear out this view of the Neronian persecution as accidental, isolated, to satisfy the revenge of the mob, confined to Rome and of brief duration. The other view is, however, preferable, as represented by Ramsay (Church in the Roman Empire, chapter xi) and E. G. Hardy (Studies in Roman History, chapter iv). Suetonius speaks of the persecution of Christians as a permanent police regulation in a list of other seemingly permanent measures (Nero xvi: afflicti suppliciis Christiani genus hominum superstitionis novae ac maleficae), which is not inconsistent with the account of Tacitus--who gives the initial step and Suetonius the permanent result. The Christians by these trials, though not convicted of incendiarism, were brought into considerable prominence; their unsocial and exclusive manners, their withdrawal from the duties of state, their active proselytism, together with the charges of immorality, established them in Roman eyes as the enemies of society. Christianity thus became a crime and was banned by the police authorities. Suetonius gives a "brief statement of the permanent administrative principle into which Nero's action ultimately resolved itself" (Ramsay, op. cit., 232). No formal law needed to be passed, the matter could be left with the prefect of the city. A trial must be held and the flagitia proved before an order for execution, according to Ramsay, but Hardy holds that henceforth the name itself--nomen ipsum--was proscribed. A precedent was now established of great importance in the policy of the imperial government toward Christianity (see, further, ROMAN EMPIRE AND CHRISTIANITY). There ls no reason to suppose that the Neronian persecution of 64 AD extended beyond Rome to the provinces, though no doubt the attitude of the home government must have had considerable influence with provincial officers. Paul seems to have gone undisturbed, or at least with no unusual obstacles, in his evangelization after his acquittal. The authorities for a general Neronian persecution and formal Neronian laws against Christianity are late; compare Orosius (History vii.7, "(Nero) was the first to put to death Christians at Rome and gave orders that they should be subjected to the same persecution throughout all the provinces").


(a) Ancient:

Tacitus Annals xii-xvi; Suetonius Nero; Dio Cassius in Epit. of Xiphilinus 61 ff; Zonaras xi.

(b) Modern:

Hermann Schiller, Geschichte des rom. Kaiserreichs unter der Regierung des Neron (Berlin, 1872); Merivale, Hist of the Romans under the Empire; Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire and The Expositor, 1893; E.G. Hardy, Christianity and the Roman Government and Studies in Roman History; Mommsen, "Der Religionsfrevel nach rom. Recht," Histor. Zeitschr., 1890; C. F. Arnold, Die Neronische Christenverfolgung; Farrar, Early Days of Christianity; Baring-Gould, Tragedy of the Caesars: G.H. Lewes, "Was Nero a Monster?" in Cornhill Magazine, July, 1863; B.W. Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero, with important bibliography of ancient and modern authorities (London, 1903); Lehmann, Claudius u. Nero.

S. Angus


(qen; neossia, nossia; in the New Testament kataskenosis; Latin nidus): A receptacle prepared by a bird for receiving its eggs and young. Nests differ with species. Eagles use a large heap of coarse sticks and twigs on the cleft of a mountain (Job 39:27 ff; Jer 49:16; Ob 1:4); hawks prefer trees; vultures, hollow trees or the earth; ravens, big trees; doves and pigeons, trees or rocky crevices (Jer 48:28); hoopoes, hollow trees; swallows, mud nests under a roof, on cliffs or deserted temples; owls, hollow trees, dark places in ruins or sand burrows (on the qippoz of Isa 34:15 see OWL); cranes, storks and herons, either trees (Ps 104:17) or rushes beside water (storks often choose housetops, as well).

Each nest so follows the building laws of its owner's species that any expert ornithologist can tell from a nest which bird builded it. Early in incubation a bird deserts a nest readily because it hopes to build another in a place not so easily discoverable and where it can deposit more eggs. When the young have progressed until their quickening is perceptible through the thin shells pressed against the breast of the mother, she develops a boldness called by scientists the "brooding fever." In this state the wildest of birds frequently will suffer your touch before deserting the nest. Especially is this the case if the young are just on the point of emerging. The first Biblical reference to the nest of a bird will be found in Balaam's fourth prophecy in Nu 24:21: "And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his parable and said, Strong is thy dwelling-place, and thy nest is set in the rock." Here Balaam was thinking of the nest of an eagle, hawk or vulture, placed on solid rock among impregnable crags of mountain tops. The next reference is among the laws for personal conduct in De 22:6: "If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young." Beyond question this is the earliest law on record for the protection of a brooding bird. It is probable that it was made permissible to take the young, as the law demanded their use, at least in the case of pigeons and doves, for sacrifice. In Job 29:18, Job cries,

"Then I said, I shall die in my nest,

And I shall multiply my days as the sand:"

that is, he hoped in his days of prosperity to die in the home he had builded for his wife and children. In Ps 84:3 David sings,

"Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house,

And the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may lay her young,

Even thine altars, O Yahweh of hosts,

My King, and my God."

These lines are rich and ripe with meaning, for in those days all the world protected a temple nest, even to the infliction of the death penalty on anyone interfering with it. This was because the bird was supposed to be claiming the protection of the gods. Hebrew, Arab and Egyptian guarded all nests on places of worship. Pagan Rome executed the shoemaker who killed a raven that built on a temple, and Athens took the same revenge on the man who destroyed the nest of a swallow. Isaiah compared the destruction of Assyria to the robbing of a bird's nest: "And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathereth eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped" (Isa 10:14; compare Isa 16:2). Matthew quotes Jesus as having said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Mt 8:20 equals Lu 9:58). Gene Stratton-Porter




na'-ta-im, ne'-ta-im, ne-ta'-im neTa`im; Codex Vaticanus Azaeim; Codex Alexandrinus Ataeim): In 1Ch 4:23 the King James Version reads "those that dwell among plants and hedges," the Revised Version (British and American) "the inhabitants of Netaim and Gederah." The latter may be taken as correct. Gederah was in the Judean Shephelah. Here also we should seek for Netaim; but no likely identification has yet been suggested.


ne-than'-el, neth'-a-nel (nethan'el, "God has given"; Nathanael; the King James Version Nethaneel, ne-than'-e-el):

(1) A chief or prince of Issachar (Nu 1:8; 2:5; 7:18,23; 10:15).

(2) The 4th son of Jesse (1Ch 2:14).

(3) One of the trumpet-blowers before the ark when it was brought up from the house of Obededom (1Ch 15:24).

(4) A Levite scribe, the father of Shemaiah (1Ch 24:6).

(5) The 5th son of Obed-edom (1Ch 26:4).

(6) One of the princes whom Jehoshaphat sent to teach in the cities of Judah (2Ch 17:7).

(7) A Levite who gave cattle for Josiah's Passover (2Ch 35:9).

(8) One of the priests who had married foreign wives (Ezr 10:22; compare /RAPC 1Es 9:22).

(9) A priest registered under the high priest Joiakim (Ne 12:21).

(10) A Levite musician who assisted at the dedication of the walls (Ne 12:36).

John A. Lees


neth-a-ni'-a (nethanyahu, "Yah has given"; Nathanias):

(1) An Asaphite musician (1Ch 25:2,12).

(2) A Levite who accompanied the princes sent by Jehoshaphat to teach in the cities of Judah (2Ch 17:8).

(3) The father of Jehudi (Jer 36:14).

(4) The father of Ishmael, the murderer of Gedaliah (Jer 40:8,14,15; 41:11; 2Ki 25:23,25). Some manuscripts of Septuagint read here Maththanias.


neth'-i-nim (nethinim, "given"; Natheineim; the King James Version Nethinims):

1. Meaning:

A group of temple-servants (1Ch 9:2 and 16 times in Ezra and Nehemiah). The word has always the article, and does not occur in the singular. The Septuagint translators usually transliterate, but in one passage (1Ch 9:2) they render, "the given ones" (hoi dedomenoi). The Syriac (Peshitta) also, in Ezra, Nehemiah, transliterates the word, but in 1Ch 9:2 renders it by a word meaning "sojourners." The meaning "given" is suggestive of a state of servitude, and Josephus seems to confirm the suggestion by calling the Nethinim "temple-slaves" (hierodouloi) (Ant., XI, v, 1). It should, however, be noted that another form of this word is employed in the directions regarding the Levites: "Thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him on behalf of the children of Israel" (Nu 3:9; compare also Nu 8:16,19).

2. History:

Of the history of the Nethinim in earlier times there are but few and uncertain traces. When Joshua discovered that he had been beguiled by the Gibeonites into a covenant to let them live, he reduced their tribe to servitude, and declared, "Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall never fail to be of you bondsmen, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (Jos 9:23,27). It is no doubt tempting to see in the Gibeonites the earliest Nethinim, but another tradition traces their origin to a gift of David and the princes for the service of the Levites (Ezr 8:20). Their names, too, indicate diversity of origin; for besides being mostly un-Hebrew in aspect, some of them are found elsewhere in the Old Testament as names of non-Israelitish tribes. The Meunim, for example (Ezr 2:50 equals Ne 7:52), are in all likelihood descended from the Meonites or Maonites who are mentioned as harassing Israel (Jud 10:12), as in conflict with the Simeonites (1Ch 4:41), and as finally overcome by Uzziah (2Ch 26:7). The next name in the lists is that of the children of Nephisim. These may be traced to the Hagrite clan of Naphish (Ge 25:15; 1Ch 5:19). In both Ezra and Nehemiah, the list is immediately followed by that of the servants of Solomon, whose duties were similar to, it may be even humbler than, those of the Nethinim. These servants of Solomon appear to be descendants of the Canaanites whom Solomon employed in the building of his temple (1Ki 5:15). All these indications are perhaps slight; but they point in the same direction, and warrant the assumption that the Nethinim were originally foreign slaves, mostly prisoners of war, who had from time to time been given to the temple by the kings and princes of the nation, and that to them were assigned the lower menial duties of the house of God.

3. Post-exilic History:

At the time of the return from the exile the Nethinim had come to be regarded as important. Their number was considerable: 392 accompanied Zerubbabel at the first Return in 538 BC (Ezr 2:58 equals Ne 7:60). When Ezra, some 80 years later, organized the second Return, he secured a contingent of Nethinim numbering 220 (Ezr 8:20). In Jerusalem they enjoyed the same privileges and immunities as the other religious orders, being included by Artaxerxes' letter to Ezra among those who should be exempt from toll, custom and tribute (Ezr 7:24). A part of the city in Ophel, opposite the Water-gate, was assigned them as an official residence (Ne 3:26,31), and the situation is certainly appropriate if their duties at all resembled those of the Gibeonites (see Ryle, "Ezra and Nehemiah," in Cambridge Bible, Intro, 57). They were also organized into a kind of guild under their own leaders or presidents (Ne 11:21).

The Nethinim are not again mentioned in Scripture. It is probable that they, with the singers and porters, became gradually incorporated in the general body of Levites; their name passed ere long into a tradition, and became at a later time a butt for the scorn and bitterness of the Talmudic writers against everything that they regarded as un-Jewish.

John A. Lees


ne-to'-fa (neTophah; Septuagint Netopha, Nephota, and other variants): The birthplace of two of David's heroes, Maharai and Heleb (2Sa 23:28,29), also of Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, one of the captains who came to offer allegiance to Gedaliah (2Ki 25:23; Jer 40:8). "The villages of the Netophathites" are mentioned (1Ch 9:16) as the dwellings of certain Levites and (Ne 12:28, the King James Version "Netophathi") of certain "sons of the singers."

The first mention of the place itself is in Ezr 2:22; Ne 7:26; /RAPC 1Es 5:18 (the Revised Version (British and American) "Netophas"), where we have parallel lists of the exiles returning from Babylon under Zerubbabel; the place is mentioned between Bethlehem and Anathoth and in literary association with other cities in the mountains of Judah, e.g. Gibeon, Kiriath-jearim, Chephereh and Beeroth. In this respect it is most plausible to identify it with NEPHTOAH (which see), although the disappearance of the terminal guttural in the latter creates a difficulty. Conder has suggested a site known as Khirbet UmmToba, Northeast of Bethlehem, an ancient site, but not apparently of great importance. Beit Nettif, an important village on a lofty site in the Shephelah near the "Vale of Elah," also appears to have an echo of the name, and indeed may well be the Beth Netophah of the Mishna (Shebhu`oth, ix.5; Neubauer, Geogr., 128), but the position does not seem to agree at all with that of the Old Testament Netophah. For Khirbet Umm-Toba see Palestine Exploration Fund, III, 128; for Beit Nettif, Palestine Exploration Fund, III, 24; RBR, II, 17 f; both Sh XVII.

E. W. G. Masterman


ne-to'-fas (Codex Vaticanus Netebas; Codex Alexandrinus Netophae): A town named in 1 Esdras 5:18, identical with "Netophah" of Ezr 2:22; Ne 7:26.


ne-tof'-a-thi, ne-tof'-a-thits.



net'-'lz: (1) charul, (Job 30:7; Pr 24:31; Ze 2:9 margin, in all, "wild vetches"); the translation "nettles" is due to the supposed derivations of charul from an (obsolete) charal, meaning "to be sharp" or "stinging," but a translation "thorns" (as in Vulgate) would in that case do as well. Septuagint has phrugana agria, "wild brushwood," in Job, and certainly the association with the "saltwort" and the retm, "broom," in the passage would best be met by the supposition that it means the low thorny bushes plentiful in association with these plants. "Vetch" is suggested by the Aramaic, but is very uncertain. (2) qimmosh (Isa 34:13; Ho 9:6), and plural qimmeshonim (Pr 24:31), translated (English Versions of the Bible) "thorns," because of the translation of charul as "nettles" in the same verse From Isa 34:13 qimmosh is apparently distinct from thorns, and the translation "nettle" is very probable, as such neglected or deserted places as described in the three references readily become overgrown with nettles in Palestine The common and characteristic Palestine nettle is the Urtica pilulifera, so called from the globular heads of its flowers.

E. W. G. Masterman


net'-wurk (sebhakhah): the Revised Version (British and American) in 2Ki 25:17; 2Ch 4:13 (also in the plural, 4:12,13), for "wreathen work" and "wreath" in the King James Version (of the adornment of the capitals of the pillars of Solomon's temple; see JACHIN AND BOAZ). "Networks" in Isa 19:9 is in the Revised Version (British and American) correctly rendered "white cloth." In the American Standard Revised Version "network" is substituted for "pictures" in the King James Version (Pr 25:11), "baskets" in the English Revised Version margin "filigree work."














See MAN.














nu, nu'-nes (chadhash; kainos, neos):

1. In the Old Testament:

The word commonly translated "new" in the Old Testament is chadhash, "bright," "fresh," "new" (special interest was shown in, and importance attached to, fresh and new things and events); Ex 1:8; De 20:5; 22:8; 24:5; 1Sa 6:7; 2Sa 21:16; Ps 33:3, "a new song"; Jer 31:31, "new covenant"; Eze 11:19, "a new spirit"; 18:31 "new heart"; 36:26, etc.; chodhesh is "the new moon," "the new-moon day," the first of the lunar month, a festival, then "month" (Ge 29:14, "a month of days"); it occurs frequently, often translated "month"; we have "new moon" (1Sa 20:5,18,24, etc.); tirosh is "new (sweet) wine" (Ne 10:39; Joe 1:5; 3:18, it is `asis, the Revised Version (British and American) "sweet wine" ); in Ac 2:13, "new wine" is gleukos.

Other words in the Old Testament for "new" are chadhath, Aramaic (Ezr 6:4); Tari, "fresh" (Jud 15:15, the Revised Version (British and American) "a fresh jawbone of an ass"); beri'ah, a "creation" (Nu 16:30, "if Yahweh make a new thing," the Revised Version margin "create a creation"); bakhar, "to be first-fruits" (Eze 47:12; so the Revised Version margin); qum, "setting," is translated "newly" (Jud 7:19); also miqqarobh, "recently" (De 32:17, the Revised Version (British and American) "of late "); news is shermu`ah, "report," "tidings"; Pr 25:25, "good news from a far country."

2. In the New Testament:

In the New Testament "new" (mostly kainos, "new," "fresh," "newly made") is an important word. We have the title of the "New Testament" itself, rightly given by the American Standard Revised Version as "New Covenant," the designation of "the new dispensation" ushered in through Christ, the writings relating to which the volume contains. We have "new covenant" (kainos) in Lu 22:20, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" (the English Revised Version margin "testament"; in Mt 26:28; Mr 14:24, "new" is omitted in the Revised Version (British and American), but in Matthew the margin "many ancient authorities insert new," and in Mark "some ancient authorities"); 1Co 11:25, the English Revised Version margin "or testament"; 2Co 3:6, the English Revised Version margin "or testament"; Heb 8:8, the English Revised Version margin "or testament"; in 8:13, "covenant" is supplied (compare Heb 12:24, neos).

Corresponding to this, we have (2Co 5:17, the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)), "The old things have passed away; behold, they are become new": ibid., "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature," the Revised Version margin "there is a new creation"; Ga 6:15, margin "or creation," "new man" (Eph 2:15; 4:24; Col 3:10 (neos)); "new commandment" (Joh 13:34); "new doctrine" (Ac 17:19); "new thing" (Ac 17:21); "newness of life" (kainotes) (Ro 6:4); "newness of the spirit" (Ro 7:6; compare 2Co 5:17); "a new name," (Re 2:17; 3:12), "new heavens and a new earth" (2Pe 3:13); "new Jerusalem" (Re 3:12; 21:2); "new song" (Re 5:9); compare "new friend" and "new wine" (Sirach 9:10b,c); artigennetos, "newborn" (1Pe 2:2); prosphatos, "newly slain," "new" (Heb 10:20, the Revised Version (British and American) "a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh"; compare Sirach 9:10a; Judith 4:3); "new" is the translation of neos, "new," "young" (1Co 5:7; Col 3:10; "new man"; Heb 12:24, "new covenant").

The difference in meaning between kainos and neos, is, in the main, that kainos denotes new in respect of quality, "the new as set over against that which has seen service, the outworn, the effete, or marred through age"; neos, "new (in respect of time), that which has recently come into existence," e.g. kainon mnemeion, the "new tomb" in which Jesus was laid, was not one recently made, but one in which no other dead had ever lain; the "new covenant," the "new man," etc., may be contemplated under both aspects of quality and of time (Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, 209 f).

In Mt 9:16; Mr 2:21, agnaphos, "unsmoothed," "unfinished," is translated "new," "new cloth," the Revised Version (British and American) "undressed." For "new bottles" (Lu 5:38 and parallels), the Revised Version (British and American) has "fresh wine-skins."

W. L. Walker


ne-zi'-a (netsiach): The head of a family of Nethinim (Ezr 2:54; Ne 7:56), called in 1 Esdras 5:32, "Nasi" (the King James Version and the Revised Version margin "Nasith").


ne'-zib (netsibh; Codex Vaticanus Naseib; Codex Alexandrinus Nesib): A town in the Judean Shephelah, mentioned along with Keilah and Mareshah (Jos 15:43). Eusebius, Onomasticon, places it 7 miles from Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin), on the road to Hebron. It is represented today by Beit Nasib, a village with ancient remains some 2 miles Southwest of Khirbet Kila (Keilah).


nib'-haz (nibhchaz): Given as the name of an idol of the Avvites, introduced by them into Samaria (2Ki 17:31), but otherwise unknown. The text is supposed to be corrupt.


nib'-shan (ha-nibhshan; Codex Vaticanus Naphlazon; Codex Alexandrinus Nebsan): A city in the Judean wilderness named between Secacah and the City of Salt (Jos 15:62). Eusebius, Onomasticon, knows the place but gives no clue to its identification. The site has not been recovered. Wellhausen suggests the emendation of nibhshan to kibhshan, "furnace" (Proleg. 2, 344).


ni-ka'-nor, ni'-ka-nor (Nikanor): The son of Patroclus and one of the king's "chief friends" (2 Macc 8:9), a Syrian general under Antiochus Epiphanes and Demetrius Soter. After the defeat of Seron by Judas, Epiphanes entrusted his chancellor Lysias with the reduction of Judea (1 Macc 3:34 ff). Nicanor was one of the three generals commissioned by Lysias--the others being Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, and Gorgias (1 Macc 3:38). The campaign began in 166 BC; the Syrians were defeated at Emmaus (1 Macc 3:57 ff), while Gorgias at a later stage gained a victory at Jamnia over a body of Jews who disobeyed Judas (1 Macc 5:58). The account given in 2 Macc differs considerably, both in omissions and in additions (2 Macc 8:9 ff). There Nicanor, not Gorgias, is the chief in command. The battle of Emmaus is not mentioned, but "the thrice-accursed Nicanor," having in overweening pride invited a thousand slavedealers to accompany him to buy the Jewish captives, was humiliated, and his host was destroyed, he himself escaping "like a fugitive slave" to Antioch (2 Macc 8:34 f). After the death of Epiphanes, Eupator and Lysias (the last two at the hands of Demetrius (1 Macc 7:2)), Nicanor appears again under King Demetrius in the struggle between Alcimus and Judas. Alcimus, having been seated in the priesthood by Demetrius' officer Bacchides, could not hold it against Judas and the patriots. He appealed again to Demetrius, who this time selected Nicanor, now governor of Cyprus (2 Macc 12:2) and known for his deadly hatred of the Jews, to settle the dispute and slay Judas (2 Macc 14:12 ff; 1 Macc 7:26 ff). Nicanor was appointed governor of Judea on this occasion. Again 1 and 2 Maccabees differ. According to 1 Maccabees, Nicanor sought in vain to seize Judas by treachery. Then followed the battle of Capharsalama ("village of peace"), in which the Syrians were defeated, though Josephus (Ant., XII, x, 5) says Judas was defeated. Nicanor retired to Jerusalem, insulted the priests and threatened the destruction of the temple unless they delivered up Judas. He then retired to Beth-horon to find Judas posted opposite him at Adasa (1 Macc 7:39 ff) 3 1/2 miles distant. Here on the 13th of the 12th month Adar (March), 161 BC, the Syrians sustained a crushing defeat, Nicanor himself being the first to fall. The Jews cut off his head and proud right hand and hanged them up beside Jerusalem. For a little while Adasa gave the land of Judah rest. The people ordained to keep this "day of great gladness" year by year--the 13th of Adar, "the day before the day of Mordecai" (Feast of Purim). 2 Maccabees mentions that Simon, Judas' brother, was worsted in a first engagement (14:17), omits the battle of Capharsalama, and represents Nicanor, struck with the manliness of the Jews, as entering into friendly relations with Judas, urging him to marry and lead a quiet life, forgetful of the king's command until Alcimus accused him to Demetrius. The latter peremptorily ordered Nicanor to bring Judas in all haste as prisoner to Antioch (14:27). The scene of the final conflict (Adasa) is given only as "in the region of Samaria" (15:1). According to this account, it was Judas who ordered the mutilation of Nicanor and in a more gruesome fashion (15:30 ff). It is possible that the Nicanor, the Cypriarch or governor of Cyprus of 2 Macc 12:2, is a different person from Nicanor, the son of Patroclus--a view not accepted in the above account.

S. Angus


(Nikanor): One of "the seven" chosen to superintend "the daily ministration" of the poor of the Christian community at Jerusalem (Ac 6:5). The name is Greek.eral under Antiochus Epiphanes and Demetrius Soter. After the defeat of Seron by Judas, Epiphanes entrusted his chancellor Lysias with the reduction of Judea (1 Macc 3:34 ff). Nicanor was one of the three generals commissioned by Lysias--the others being Ptolemy, son of Dorymenes, and Gorgias (1 Macc 3:38). The campaign began in 166 BC; the Syrians were defeated at Emmaus (1 Macc 3:57 ff), while Gorgias at a later stage gained a victory at Jamnia over a body of Jews who disobeyed Judas (1 Macc 5:58). The account given in 2 Macc differs considerably, both in omissions and in additions (2 Macc 8:9 ff). There Nicanor, not Gorgias, is the chief in command. The battle of Emmaus is not mentioned, but "the thrice-accursed Nicanor," having in overweening pride invited a thousand slavedealers to accompany him to buy the Jewish captives, was humiliated, and his host was destroyed, he himself escaping "like a fugitive slave" to Antioch (2 Macc 8:34 f). After the death of Epiphanes, Eupator and Lysias (the last two at the hands of Demetrius (1 Macc 7:2)), Nicanor appears again under King Demetrius in the struggle between Alcimus and Judas. Alcimus, having been seated in the priesthood by Demetrius' officer Bacchides, could not hold it against Judas and the patriots. He appealed again to Demetrius, who this time selected Nicanor, now governor of Cyprus (2 Macc 12:2) and known for his deadly hatred of the Jews, to settle the dispute and slay Judas (2 Macc 14:12 ff; 1 Macc 7:26 ff). Nicanor was appointed governor of Judea on this occasion. Again 1 and 2 Maccabees differ. According to 1 Maccabees, Nicanor sought in vain to seize Judas by treachery. Then followed the battle of Capharsalama ("village of peace"), in which the Syrians were defeated, though Josephus (Ant., XII, x, 5) says Judas was defeated. Nicanor retired to Jerusalem, insulted the priests and threatened the destruction of the temple unless they delivered up Judas. He then retired to Beth-horon to find Judas posted opposite him at Adasa (1 Macc 7:39 ff) 3 1/2 miles distant. Here on the 13th of the 12th month Adar (March), 161 BC, the Syrians sustained a crushing defeat, Nicanor himself being the first to fall. The Jews cut off his head and proud right hand and hanged them up beside Jerusalem. For a little while Adasa gave the land of Judah rest. The people ordained to keep this "day of great gladness" year by year--the 13th of Adar, "the day before the day of Mordecai" (Feast of Purim). 2 Maccabees mentions that Simon, Judas' brother, was worsted in a first engagement (14:17), omits the battle of Capharsalama, and represents Nicanor, struck with the manliness of the Jews, as entering into friendly relations with Judas, urging him to marry and lead a quiet life, forgetful of the king's command until Alcimus accused him to Demetrius. The latter peremptorily ordered Nicanor to bring Judas in all haste as prisoner to Antioch (14:27). The scene of the final conflict (Adasa) is given only as "in the region of Samaria" (15:1). According to this account, it was Judas who ordered the mutilation of Nicanor and in a more gruesome fashion (15:30 ff). It is possible that the Nicanor, the Cypriarch or governor of Cyprus of 2 Macc 12:2, is a different person from Nicanor, the son of Patroclus--a view not accepted in the above account.


nik-o-de'-mus (Nikodemos): A Pharisee and a "ruler of the Jews," mentioned only by John. He

(1) interviewed Christ at Jerusalem and was taught by Him the doctrine of the New Birth (Joh 3:1-15),

(2) defended Him before the Sanhedrin (Joh 7:50-52), and

(3) assisted at His burial (Joh 19:39-42).

1. The Interview:

This meeting, which it has been surmised took place in the house of John (Joh 3:1-15), was one of the results of our Lord's ministry at Jerusalem during the first Passover (compare Joh 3:2 with Joh 2:23). Although Nicodemus had been thus won to believe in the divine nature of Christ's mission, his faith was yet very incomplete in that he believed Him to be inspired only after the fashion of the Old Testament prophets. To this faint-hearted faith corresponded his timidity of action, which displayed itself in his coming "by night," lest he should offend his colleagues in the Sanhedrin and the other hostile Jews (Joh 3:2). In answer to the veiled question which the words of Nicodemus implied, and to convince him of the inadequacy of mere intellectual belief, Christ proclaimed to him the necessity for a spiritual regeneration: "Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (Joh 3:3). This was interpreted by Nicodemus only in its materialistic sense, and therefore caused him bewilderment and confusion (Joh 3:4). But Christ, as on another occasion when dealing with His questioners on a similar point of doctrine (compare Joh 6:52,53), answered his perplexity only by repeating His previous statement (Joh 3:5). He then proceeded to give further explanation. The re-birth is not outward but inward, it is not of the body but of the soul (Joh 3:6). Just as God is the real agent in the birth of the body, so also is He the Creator of the New Spirit; and just as no one knoweth whence cometh the wind, or "whither it goeth," yet all can feel its effects who come under its influence, so is it with the rebirth. Only those who have experienced it as a change in themselves, wrought by the Divine Power, are qualified to judge either of its reality or of its effects (Joh 3:7,8). But Nicodemus, since such experience had not yet been his, remained still unenlightened (Joh 3:9). Christ therefore condemned such blindness in one who yet professed to be a teacher of spiritual things (Joh 3:10), and emphasized the reality in His own life of those truths which He had been expounding (Joh 3:11). With this, Christ returned to the problem underlying the first statement of Nicodemus. If Nicodemus cannot believe in "earthly things," i.e. in the New Birth, which, though coming from above, is yet realized in this world, how can he hope to understand "heavenly things," i.e. the deeper mysteries of God's purpose in sending Christ into the world (Joh 3:12), of Christ's Divine sonship (Joh 3:13), of His relationship to the atonement and the salvation of man (Joh 3:14), and of how a living acceptance of and feeding upon Him is in itself Divine life (Joh 3:15; compare Joh 6:25-65)?

2. The Defense:

The above interview, though apparently fruitless at the time, was not without its effect upon Nicodemus. At the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Sanhedrin was enraged at Christ's proclamation of Himself as the "living water" (Joh 7:37,38), Nicodemus was emboldened to stand up in His defense. Yet here also he showed his natural timidity. He made no personal testimony of his faith in Christ, but sought rather to defend Him on a point of Jewish law (Joh 7:50-52; compare Ex 23:1; De 1:16,17; 17:6; 19:15).

3. The Burial:

By this open act of reverence Nicodemus at last made public profession of his being of the following of Christ. His wealth enabled him to provide the "mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds," with which the body of Jesus was embalmed (Joh 19:39 ).

The Gospel of Nicodemus and other apocryphal works narrate that Nicodemus gave evidence in favor of Christ at the trial before Pilate, that he was deprived of office and banished from Jerusalem by the hostile Jews, and that he was baptized by Peter and John. His remains were said to have been found in a common grave along with those of Gamaliel and Stephen.

Nicodemus is a type of the "well-instructed and thoughtful Jew who looked for the consummation of national hope to follow in the line along which he had himself gone, as being a continuation and not a new beginning" (Westcott). The manner in which the Gospel narrative traces the overcoming of his natural timidity and reluctant faith is in itself a beautiful illustration of the working of the Spirit, of how belief in the Son of Man is in truth a new birth, and the entrance into eternal life.

C. M. Kerr




nik-o-la'-i-tanz Nikolaitai):

1. The Sect:

A sect or party of evil influence in early Christianity, especially in the 7 churches of Asia. Their doctrine was similar to that of Balaam, "who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication" (Re 2:14,15). Their practices were strongly condemned by John, who praised the church in Ephesus for "hating their works" (Re 2:6), and blamed the church in Pergamum for accepting in some measure their teaching (Re 2:15). Except that reference is probably made to their influence in the church at Thyatira also, where their leader was "the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess" (Re 2:20; compare Re 2:14), no further direct information regarding them is given in Scripture.

2. References:

Reference to them is frequent in post-apostolic literature. According to Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., i.26,3; iii.10,7), followed by Hippolytus (Philos., vii.36), they were founded by Nicolaus, the proselyte of Antioch, who was one of the seven chosen to serve at the tables (Ac 6:5). Irenaeus, as also Clement of Alexandria (Strom., ii.20), Tertullian and others, unite in condemning their practices in terms similar to those of John; and reference is also made to their Gnostic tendencies. In explanation of the apparent incongruity of such an immoral sect being founded by one of "good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (compare Ac 6:3), Simcox argues that their lapse may have been due to reaction from original principles of a too rigid asceticism. A theory, started in comparatively modern times, and based in part on the similarity of meaning of the Greek "Nikolaus," and the Hebrew "Balaam," puts forward the view that the two sects referred to under these names were in reality identical. Yet if this were so, it would not have been necessary for John to designate them separately.

3. Nicolaitan Controversy:

The problem underlying the Nicolaitan controversy, though so little direct mention is made of it in Scripture, was in reality most important, and concerned the whole relation of Christianity to paganism and its usages. The Nicolaitans disobeyed the command issued to the Gentilechurches, by the apostolic council held at Jerusalem in 49-50 AD, that they should refrain from the eating of "things sacrificed to idols" (Ac 15:29). Such a restriction, though seemingly hard, in that it prevented the Christian communities from joining in public festivals, and so brought upon them suspicion and dislike, was yet necessary to prevent a return to a pagan laxity of morals. To this danger the Nicolaitans were themselves a glaring witness, and therefore John was justified in condemning them. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul gives warning against the same evil practices, basing his arguments on consideration for the weaker brethren (compare 1Co 8).


Simcox, "Revelation" in the Cambridge Bible; H. Cowan in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), article "Nicolaitans"; H.B. Swete, The Apocalypse of John, lxx ff, 27, 28, 37.

C. M. Kerr


nik-o-la'-us (English Versions of the Bible), nik'-o-las (Nikolaos): One of "the seven" chosen to have the oversight of "the daily ministration" to the poor of the church in Jerusalem (Ac 6:5). He is called "a proselyte of Antioch"; the other 6 were therefore probably Jews by birth. This is the first recorded case of the admission of a proselyte into office in the Christian church. Some of the church Fathers (Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Pseudo-Tertullian) state that he was the founder of the sect called NICOLAITANS (which see) (Re 2:15). Other Fathers seem to suggest that this was a vain claim made by this sect in seeking apostolic authority for their opinions. It may be that the opinions of this sect were an antinomian exaggeration of the preaching of Nicolaus.

S. F. Hunter


ni-kop'-o-lis (Nikopolis): A city in Palestine, half-way between Jaffa and Jerusalem, now called Ammas, mentioned in 1 Macc 3:40,57 and 9:50. The earlier city (Emmaus) was burnt by Quintilius Varus, but was rebuilt in 223 AD as Nicopolis.

The Nicopolis, however, to which Paul urges Titus to come (pros me eis Nikopolin, ekei gar kekrika paracheimasai (Tit 3:12)) is probably the city of that name situated on the southwest promontory of Epirus. If this view is correct, the statement made by some writers that from Eastern Greece (Athens, Thessalonica, Philippi, Corinth) Paul's labors extended to Italy, that he never visited Western Greece, requires modification. It is true that we do not hear of his preaching at Patras, Zacynthus, Cephallenia, Corcyra (the modern Corfu), which, as a way-station to and from Sicily, always held preeminence among the Ionian islands; but there can be little doubt that, if his plan of going to Nicopolis was carried out, he desired to evangelize the province of Epirus (as well Acarnania) in Western Greece. Indeed, it was in this very city of Nicopolis, probably, that he was arrested and taken to Rome for trial--during one of the winters between 64-67 AD.

Nicopolis was situated only a few miles North of the modern Prevesa, the chief city of Epirus today, the city which the Greeks bombarded in 1912 in the hope of wresting it from the Turks. The ancient city was founded by Augustus, whose camp happened to be pitched there the night before the famous fight with Antony (31 BC). The gulf, called Ambracia in ancient times, is now known as Arta. On the south side was Actium, where the battle was fought. Directly across, only half mile distant, on the northern promontory, was the encampment of Augustus. To commemorate the victory over his antagonist, the Roman emperor built a city on the exact spot where his army had encamped ("Victory City"). On the hill now called Michalitzi, on the site of his own tent, he built a temple to Neptune and instituted games in honor of Apollo, who was supposed to have helped him in the sea-fight. Nicopolis soon became the metropolis of Epirus, with an autonomous constitution, according to Greek custom. But in the time of the emperor Julian (362) the city had fallen into decay, at least in part. It was plundered by the Goths, restored by Justinian, and finally disappeared entirely in the Middle Ages, so far as the records of history show. One document has Nikopolis he nun Prebeza, "Nicopolis], which is now Prebeza." In the time of Augustus, however, Nicopolis was a flourishing town. The emperor concentrated here the population of Aetolia and Acarnania, and made the city a leading member of the Amphictyonic Council. There are considerable ruins of the ancient city, including two theaters, a stadium, an aqueduct, etc.


Kuhn, Ueber die Entstehung der staate der Alten.

J. E. Harry


ni'-jer (Niger).

See SIMEON, (5).






See DAY AND NIGHT for the natural usage and the various terms.

1. In the Old Testament:

Figurative uses: The word "night" (laylah or layil is sometimes used figuratively in the Old Testament. Thus, Moses compares the brevity of time, the lapse of a thousand years, to "a watch in the night" (Ps 90:4). Adversity is depicted by it in such places as Job 35:10; compare Isa 8:20; Jer 15:9. Disappointment and despair are apparently depicted by it in the "burden of Dumah" (Isa 21:11,12); and spiritual blindness, coming upon the false prophets (Mic 3:6); again sudden and overwhelming confusion (Am 5:8; Isa 59:10 the King James Version, nesheph, "twilight" as in the Revised Version (British and American)).

2. In the New Testament:

On the lips of Jesus (Joh 9:4) it signifies the end of opportunity to labor; repeated in that touching little allegory spoken to His disciples when He was called to the grave of Lazarus (Joh 11:9,10). Paul also uses the figure in reference to the Parousia (Ro 13:12), where "night" seems to refer to the present aeon and "day" to the aeon to come. He also uses it in 1Th 5:5,7 where the status of the redeemed is depicted by "day," that of the unregenerate by "night," again, as the context shows, in reference to the Parousia. In Re 21:25 and 22:5, the passing of the "night" indicates the realization of that to which the Parousia looked forward, the establishment of the kingdom of God forever. See also Delitzsch, Iris, 35.

Henry E. Dosker


nit'-hok (tachmac, "tachmas"; glaux, but sometimes strouthos, and seirenos; Latin camprimulgus): The Hebrew tachmac means "to tear and scratch the face," so that it is very difficult to select the bird intended by its use. Any member of the eagle, vulture, owl or hawk families driven to desperation would "tear and scratch" with the claws and bite in self-defence. The bird is mentioned only in the lists of abominations (see Le 11:16; De 14:15). There are three good reasons why the night-hawk or night-jar, more properly, was intended. The lists were sweeping and included almost every common bird unfit for food. Because of its peculiar characteristics it had been made the object of fable and superstition. It fed on wing at night and constantly uttered weird cries. Lastly, it was a fierce fighter when disturbed in brooding or raising its young. Its habit was to lie on its back and fight with beak and claw with such ferocity that it seemed very possible that it would "tear and scratch the face." Some commentators insist that the bird intended was an owl, but for the above reasons the night-jar seems most probable; also several members of the owl family were clearly indicated in the list.


Gene Stratton-Porter


nit'-mon-ster (lilith; Septuagint onokentauros; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) lamia):


1. Professor Rogers' Statement

2. Exception to the Statement


1. Paucity of References

2. References in Highly Poetical Passages

3. The References Allusive

4. Possibility of Non-mythological Interpretation

5. The Term Lilith.

I. The Accepted Translation.

The term "night-monster"' is a hypothetical translation of the Hebrew term lilith, used once only, in Isa 34:14. The word is translated in the King James Version "screech-owl," margin "night monster," the Revised Version (British and American) "night-monster," margin "Lilith." The term "night-monster" is also an interpretation, inasmuch as it implies that the Hebrew word is a Babylonian loan-word, and that the reference indicates a survival of primitive folklore.

1. Professor Rogers' Statement:

Concerning this weird superstition, and its strange, single appearance in the Book of Isaiah, Professor Rogers has this to say: "The lil, or ghost, was a night-demon of terrible and baleful influence upon men, and only to be cast out with many incantations. The lil was attended by a serving maid, the ardat lili ("maid of night"), which in the Semitic development was transferred into the feminine lilitu. It is most curious and interesting to observe that this ghost-demon lived on through the history of the Babylonian religion, and was carried out into the Hebrew religion, there to find one single mention in the words of one of the Hebrew prophets" (Religions of Assyria and Babylonia, 76, 77).

2. Exception to the Statement:

Exception is to be taken to this statement, admitting the etymological assumption upon which it rests, that "lilith" is a word in mythology, on the ground that the conception of a night-demon has no place in the religion of the Hebrews as exhibited in the Scriptures. It is certainly worthy of more than passing notice that a conception which is very prominent in the Babylonian mythology, and is worked out with great fullness of doctrinal and ritualistic detail, has, among the Hebrews, so far receded into the background as to receive but one mention in the Bible, and that a bald citation without detail in a highly poetic passage.

The most that can possibly be said, with safety, is that if the passage in Isa is to be taken as a survival of folklore, it is analogous to those survivals of obsolete ideas still to be found in current speech, and in the literature of the modern world (see LUNATIC). There is no evidence of active participation in this belief, or even of interest in it as such, on the part of the prophetical writer. On the contrary, the nature of the reference implies that the word was used simply to add a picturesque detail to a vivid, imaginative description. All positive evidence of Hebrew participation in this belief belongs to a later date (see Buxtorf's Lexicon, under the word "Talmud").

II. Folklore in the Old Testament.

Attention has been called elsewhere to the meagerness, in the matter of detail, of Old Testament demonology (see DEMON, DEMONOLOGY; COMMUNION WITH DEMONS). A kindred fact of great importance should be briefly noticed here, namely, that the traces of mythology and popular folklore in the Bible are surprisingly faint and indistinct. We have the following set of items in which such traces have been discovered: "Rahab" (rachabh), mentioned in Job 9:13; 26:12; Isa 51:9; "Tanin" (tannin), Isa 27:1; "Leviathan" (liwyathan), Job 3:8; Ps 74:14; Isa 27:1; Eze 29:3; Job 41 passim; the "serpent in the sea," in Am 9:3; "Seirim" (se`irim), 2Ch 11:15; Le 17:7; 2Ki 23:8; Isa 13:21; 34:14; "Alukah" (`aluqah), Pr 30:15; "Azazel (`aza'zel) Le 16:8,10,26 "Lilith" (ut sup.), Isa 34:14,15.when disturbed in brooding or raising its young. Its habit was to lie on its back and fight with beak and claw with such ferocity that it seemed very possible that it would "tear and scratch the face." Some commentators insist that the bird intended was an owl, but for the above reasons the night-jar seems most probable; also several members of the owl family were clearly indicated in the list.

A review of these passages brings certain very interesting facts to light.

1. Paucity of References:

The references are few in number. Rahab is mentioned 3 times; Tannin (in this connection), once; Leviathan, 5 times; the serpent in the sea, once; Seirim, 5 times (twice with references to idols); Alukah, once; Azazel, 3 times in one chapter and in the same connection; Lilith, once.

2. References in Highly Poetical Passages:

These references, with the single exception of Azazel to which we shall return a little later, are all in highly poetical passages. On general grounds of common-sense we should not ascribe conscious and deliberate mythology to writers or speakers of the Bible in passages marked by imaginative description and poetic imagery, any more than we should ascribe such beliefs to modern writers under like circumstances. Poetry is the realm of truth and not of matter of fact. In passages of this tenor, mythology may explain the word itself and justify its appropriateness, it does not explain the use of the term or disclose the personal view of the writer. 3. The References Allusive:

All these references are in the highest degree allusive. They exhibit no exercise of the mythological fancy and have received no embroidery with details. This is most significant. So far as our specific references are concerned, we are dealing with petrified mythology, useful as literary embellishment, but no longer interesting in itself.

4. Possibility of Non-mythological Interpretation:

Every one of these words is sufficiently obscure in origin and uncertain in meaning to admit the possibility of a non-mythological interpretation; indeed, in several of the parallels a non-mythological use is evident. Bible-Dict. writers are apt to say (e.g. concerning lilith) that there is no doubt concerning the mythological reference. The reader may discover for himself that the lexicographers are more cautious (see Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, in the place cited.). The use of "Rahab" in Job 26:12 is not mythological for the simple reason that it is figurative; the use of "Leviathan" in Isa 27:1 and Eze 29:3 comes under the same category. In Job 40 and 41, if the identification of behemoth and leviathan with hippopotamus and crocodile be allowed to stand and the mythological significance of the two be admitted, we have the stage where mythology has become a fixed and universal symbolism which can be used to convey truth apart from the belief in it as reality (see LEVIATHAN; "Job," New Century Bible, p. 335; Meth. Rev., May, 1913, 429 ff). The sea serpent of Am 9:3 is not necessarily the dragon or Tiamat, and the use of the term is merely suggestive. The term se`ir is in literal use for "he-goat" (Nu 15:24, et al.) and is doubtful throughout. Ewald translates it "he-goat" in Isa 34:14 and "Satyr" in 13:21. It means literally "shaggy monster" (Vulgate, pilosus). We do not hesitate on the basis of the evidence to erase "Alukah" (Pr 30:15, the Revised Version (British and American) "horse-leech," by some translated "vampire") and "Azazel" (Le 16:8, etc.), interpreted as a "demon of the desert," from the list of mythological words altogether. As ripe a scholar as Perowne ("Proverbs," Cambridge Bible) combats the idea of vampire, and Kellogg ("Leviticus," Expositor's Bible, in the place cited.) has simply put to rout the mythological-demonic interpretation of Azazel. Even in the case of lilith the derivation is obscure, and the objections urged against the demonic idea by Alexander have not altogether lost their force (see Commentary on Isaiah, in the place cited.). There is a close balance of probabilities in one direction or the other.

5. The Term Lilith:

One further fact with regard to lilith must be considered. The term occurs in a list of creatures, the greater part of which are matter-of-fact animals or birds. A comparative glance at a half-dozen translates of the passage Isa 34:11-14 will convince any reader that there are a great many obscure and difficult words to be found in the list. Following Delitzsch's translation we have: "pelican," "hedge-hog," "horned-owl," "raven," "wild-dog," "ostrich," "forest-demon" (se`ir), "night-monster." This is a curious mixture of real and imaginary creatures. Alexander acutely observes that there is too much or too little mythology in the passage. One of two conclusions would seem to follow from a list so constructed: Either all these creatures are looked upon as more or less demonic (see Whitehouse, Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), article "Demon," with which compare West M. Alexander, Demonic Possession in the New Testament, 16), or, as seems to the present writer far more probable, none in the list is considered otherwise than as supposed literal inhabitants of the wilderness. The writer of Isa 34:14, who was not constructing a scientific treatise, but using his imagination, has constructed a list in which are combined real and imaginary creatures popularly supposed to inhabit unpeopled solitudes. There still remains a by no means untenable supposition that none of the terms necessarily are mythological in this particular passage.

Louis Matthews Sweet


nit'-woch 'ashmurah ba-laylah, "watch in the night"): One of the three or four divisions of the night.



nil (Neilos, meaning not certainly known; perhaps refers to the color of the water, as black or blue. This name does not occur in the Hebrew of the Old Testament or in the English translation):


1. Description

2. Geological Origin

3. The Making of Egypt

4. The Inundation

5. The Infiltration


1. The Location of Temples

2. The Location of Cemeteries

3. The Damming of the Nile

4. Egyptian Famines


1. The Nile as a God

2. The Nile in the Osirian Myth

3. The Celestial Nile

A river of North Africa, the great river of Egypt. The name employed in the Old Testament to designate the Nile is in the Hebrew ye'or, Egyptian aur, earlier, atur, usually translated "river," also occasionally "canals" (Ps 78:44; Eze 29:3 ). In a general way it means all the water of Egypt. The Nile is also the principal river included in the phrase nahare kush, "rivers of Ethiopia" (Isa 18:1). Poetically the Nile is called yam, "sea" (Job 41:31; Na 3:8; probably Isa 18:2), but this is not a name of the river. shichor, not always written fully, has also been interpreted in a mistaken way of the Nile (see SHIHOR). Likewise nahar mitsrayim, "brook of Egypt," a border stream in no way connected with the Nile, has sometimes been mistaken for that river.


I. The Nile in Physical Geography.

1. Description:

The Nile is formed by the junction of the White Nile and the Blue Nile in latitude 15 degree 45' North and longitude 32 degree 45' East. The Blue Nile rises in the highlands of Abyssinia, latitude 12 degree 30' North, long. 35 degree East, and flows Northwest 850 miles to its junction with the White North. The White Nile, the principal branch of the North, rises in Victoria Nyanza, a great lake in Central Africa, a few miles North of the equator, long. 33 degree East (more exactly the Nile may be said to rise at the headwaters of the Ragera River, a small stream on the other side of the lake, 3 degree South of the equator), and flows North in a tortuous channel, 1,400 miles to its junction with the Blue Nile. From this junction-point the Niles flows North through Nubia and Egypt 1,900 miles and empties into the Mediterranean Sea, in latitude 32 degree North, through 2 mouths, the Rosetta, East of Alexandria, and the Damietta, West of Port Said. There were formerly 7 mouths scattered along a coast-line of 140 miles.

2. Geological Origin:

The Nile originated in the Tertiary period and has continued from that time to this, though by the subsidence of the land 220 ft. along the Mediterranean shore in the Pluvial times, the river was very much shortened. Later in the Pluvial times the land rose again and is still rising slowly.

3. The Making of Egypt:

Cultivable Egypt is altogether the product of the Nile, every particle of the soil having been brought down by the river from the heart of the continent and deposited along the banks and especially in the delta at the mouth of the river. The banks have risen higher and higher and extended farther and farther back by the deposit of the sediment, until the valley of arable land varies in width in most parts from 3 or 4 miles to 9 or 10 miles. The mouth of the river, after the last elevation of the land in Pluvial times, was at first not far from the latitude of Cairo. From this point northward the river has built up a delta of 140 miles on each side, over which it spreads itself and empties into the sea through its many mouths.

4. The Inundation:

The, watering of Egypt by the inundation from the Nile is the most striking feature of the physical character of that land, and one of the most interesting and remarkable physical phenomena in the world. The inundation is produced by the combination of an indirect and a direct cause. The indirect cause is the rain and melting snow on the equatorial mountains in Central Africa, which maintains steadily a great volume of water in the White Nile. The direct cause is torrential rains in the highlands of Abyssinia which send down the Blue Nile a sudden great increase in the volume of water. The inundation has two periods each year. The first begins about July 15 and continues until near the end of September. After a slight recession, the river again rises early in October in the great inundation. High Nile is in October, 25 to 30 ft., low Nile in June, about 12 1/2 ft. The Nilometer for recording the height of the water of inundation dates from very early times. Old Nilometers are found still in situ at Edfu and Assuan. The watering and fertilizing of the land is the immediate effect of the inundation; its ultimate result is that making of Egypt which is still in progress. The settling of the sediment from the water upon the land has raised the surface of the valley about 1 ft. in 300 to 400 years, about 9 to 10 ft. near Cairo since the beginning of the early great temples. The deposit varies greatly at other places. As the deposit of sediment has been upon the bottom of the river, as well as upon the surface of the land, though more slowly, on account of the swiftness of the current, the river also has been lifted up, and thus the inundation has extended farther and farther to the East, and the West, as the level of the valley would permit, depositing the sediment and thus making the cultivable land wider, as well as the soil deeper, year by year. At Heliopolis, a little North of Cairo, this extension to the East has been 3 to 4 miles since the building of the great temple there.

At Luxor, about 350 miles farther up the river, where the approach toward the mountains is much steeper, the extension of the good soil to the East and the West is inconsiderable.

5. The Infiltration:

The ancient Egyptians were right in calling all the waters of Egypt the Nile, for wherever water is obtained by digging it is simply the Nile percolating through the porous soil. This percolation is called the infiltration of the Nile. It always extends as far on either side of the Nile as the level of the water in the river at the time will permit. This infiltration, next to the inundation, is the most important physical phenomenon in Egypt. By means of it much of the irrigation of the land during the dry season is carried on from wells. It has had its influence also in the political and religious changes of the country (compare below).

II. The Nile in History.

1. The Location of Temples:

Some of the early temples were located near the Nile, probably because of the deification of the river. The rising of the surface of the land, and at the same time of the bed of the river, from the inundation lifted both Egypt and its great river, but left the temples down at the old level. In time the infiltration of the river from its new higher level reached farther and farther and rose to a higher level until the floor of these old temples was under water even at the time of lowest Nile, and then gods and goddesses, priests and ceremonial all were driven out. At least two of the greatest temples and most sacred places, Heliopolis and Memphis, had to be abandoned. Probably this fact had as much to do with the downfall of Egypt's religion, as its political disasters and the actual destruction of its temples by eastern invaders. Nature's God had driven out the gods of Nature.

2. The Location of Cemeteries:

Some prehistoric burials are found on the higher ground, as at Kefr `Amar. A thousand years of history would be quite sufficient to teach Egyptians that the Nile was still making Egypt. Thenceforth, cemeteries were located at the mountains on the eastern and the western boundaries of the valley. Here they continue to this day, for the most part still entirely above the waters of the inundation--and usually above the reach of the infiltration.

3. The Damming of the Nile:

The widening of the cultivable land by means of long canals which carried the water from far up the river to levels higher than that of the inundation, farther down the river was practiced from very early times. The substitution of dams for long canals was reserved for modern engineering skill. Three great dams have been made: the first a little Nile of Cairo, the greatest at Assuan, and the last near Asyut.

4. Egyptian Famines:

Famines in Egypt are always due to failure in the quantity of the waters of inundation. Great famines have not been frequent. The cause of the failure in the water of inundation is now believed to be not so much a lack of the water of inundation from the Blue Nile as the choking of the channel of the White Nile in the great marsh land of the Sudan by the sud, a kind of sedge, sometimes becoming such a tangled mass as to close the channel and impede the flow of the regular volume of water so that the freshet in the Blue Nile causes but little inundation at the usual time, and during the rest of the year the Nile is so low from the same cause that good irrigation by canals and wells is impossible. A channel through the sud is now kept open by the Egyptian government.

III. The Nile in Religion.

One of the gods of the Egyptian pantheon was Hapi, the Nile. In early times it divided the honors with Ra, the sun-god. No wonder it was so.

1. The Nile as a God:

If the Egyptians set out to worship Nature-gods at all, surely then the sun and the Nile first.

2. The Nile in Osirian Myth:

The origin of the Osirian myth is still much discussed. Very much evidence, perhaps conclusive evidence, can be adduced to prove that it rose originally from the Nile; that Osiris was first of all the Nile, then the water of the Nile, then the soil, the product of the waters of the Nile, and then Egypt, the Nile and all that it produced.

3. The Celestial Nile:

Egypt was the Egyptian's little world, and Egypt was the Nile. It was thus quite natural for the Egyptians in considering the celestial world to image it in likeness of their own world with a celestial Nile flowing through it. It is so represented in the mythology, but the conception of the heavens is vague.

M. G. Kyle


nim'-ra (nimrah; Codex Vaticanus Nambra; Codex Alexandrinus Ambram), or (beth nimrah; Codex Vaticanus Namram; Codex Alexandria Ambran (Nu 32:36); Codex Vaticanus Baithanabra; Codex Alexandrinus Bethamna (Jos 13:27)): These two names evidently refer to the same place; but there is no reason to think, as some have done, from the similarity of the names, that it is identical with NIMRIM (which see). On the contrary, the indications of the passages cited point to a site East of the Jordan valley and Nimrah of the Dead Sea. About 11 miles Northeast of the mouth of the Jordan, where Wady Nimrin, coming down from the eastern up-lands, enters the plain, stands a hill called Tell Nimrin, with tombs and certain traces of ancient building. This may be certainly identified with Nimrah and Beth-nimrah; and it corresponds to Bethnambris of Eusebius, Onomasticon, which lay 5 Roman miles Nimrah of Livias.

W. Ewing


nim'-rim (me nimrim; Codex Vaticanus Nebrein; Codex Alexandrinus Ebrim (Jer 48:34); to hudor tes Nimreim (Isa 15:6)): The meaning appears to be "pure" or "wholesome water." The name occurs only in Isa 15:6 and Jer 48:34 in oracles against Moab. In each case it is mentioned in association with Zoar and Horonaim. It is therefore probably to be sought to the Southeast of the Dead Sea. Eusebius, Onomasticon, places a town, Bennamareim, to the Nimrim of Zoar, and identifies it with the Old Testament "Nimrim," as it seems, correctly. The name is still found in Wady Numeireh, opening on the sea at Burj Numeirah, Nimrim of Ghor es-Safiyeh. The waters of Nimrim may be sought either in Moiyet Numeirah or in the spring higher up, where lie the ruins of a town in a well-watered and fruitful district (Buhl, GAP, 272).

W. Ewing


nim'-rod (nimrodh; Nebrod): A descendant of Ham, mentioned in "the generations of the sons of Noah" (Ge 10; compare 1Ch 1:10) as a son of Cush. He established his kingdom "in the land of Shinar," including the cities "Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh" (Ge 10:10), of which only Babel, or Babylon, and Erech, or Uruk, have been identified with certainty. "The land of Shinar" is the old name for Southern Babylonia, afterward called Chaldea ('erets kasdim), and was probably more extensive in territory than the Sumer of the inscriptions in the ancient royal title, "King of Shumer and Accad," since Accad is included here in Shinar. Nimrod, like other great kings of Mesopotamian lands, was a mighty hunter, possibly the mightiest and the prototype of them all, since to his name had attached itself the proverb: "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh" (Ge 10:9). In the primitive days of Mesopotamia, as also in Palestine, wild animals were so numerous that they became a menace to life and property (Ex 23:29; Le 26:22); therefore the king as benefactor and protector of his people hunted these wild beasts. The early conquest of the cities of Babylonia, or their federation into one great kingdom, is here ascribed to Nimrod. Whether the founding and colonization of Assyria (Ge 10:11) are to be ascribed to Nimrod will be determined by the exegesis of the text. English Versions of the Bible reads: "Out of that land he (i.e. Nimrod) went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh," etc., this translation assigning the rise of Assyria to Nimrod, and apparently being sustained by Mic 5:5,6 (compare J. M. P. Smith, "Micah," ICC, in the place cited.); but American Revised Version, margin renders: "Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh," which translation is more accurate exegetically and not in conflict with Mic 5:6, if in the latter "land of Nimrod" be understood, not as parallel with, but as supplemental to, Assyria, and therefore as Babylon (compare commentaries of Cheyne, Pusey, S. Clark, in the place cited.).

Nimrod has not been identified with any mythical hero or historic king of the inscriptions. Some have sought identification with Gilgamesh, the flood hero of Babylonia (Skinner, Driver, Delitzsch); others with a later Kassite king (Haupt, Hilprecht), which is quite unlikely; but the most admissible correspondence is with Marduk, chief god of Babylon, probably its historic founder, just as Asshur, the god of Assyria, appears in verse 11 as the founder of the Assyrian empire (Wellhausen, Price, Sayce). Lack of identification, however, does not necessarily indicate mythical origin of the name.


Edward Mack


nim'-shi (nimshi): The grandfather of Jehu (2Ki 9:2,14). Jehu's usual designation is "son of Nimshi" (1Ki 19:16).


nin'-e-ve (nineweh; Nineue, Nineui; Greek and Roman writers, Ninos): I. BEGINNINGS, NAME, POSITION

1. First Biblical Mention

2. Etymology of the Name

3. Position on the Tigris


1. Its Walls

2. Principal Mounds and Gateways

3. Extent and Population within the Walls

4. Extent outside the Walls

5. Calah, Resen and Rehoboth-Ir

6. Khorsabad

7. Sherif Khan and Selamieh

8. Nimroud


1. The Palace of Sennacherib

2. The Palace of Assur-bani-apli


1. The Walls

2. The Gates--Northwest

3. The Gates--South and East

4. The Gates--West

5. The Outer Wall: the Plantations

6. The Water-Supply, etc.

7. How the Bas-Reliefs Illustrate the King's Description

8. Nineveh the Later Capital



I. Beginnings, Name, Position.

1. First Biblical Mention:

The first Biblical mention of Nineveh is in Ge 10:11, where it is stated that NIMROD (which see) or Asshur went out into Assyria, and builded Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, with the addition, "the same is the great city." Everything indicates that these statements are correct, for Nineveh was certainly at one time under Babylonian rule, and was at first not governed by Assyrian kings, but by issake or viceroys of Assur, the old capital. To all appearance Nineveh took its name from the Babylonian Nina near Lagas in South Babylonia, on the Euphrates, from which early foundation it was probably colonized. The native name appears as Ninua or Nina (Ninaa), written with the character for "water enclosure" with that for "fish" inside, implying a connection between Nina and the Semitic nun, "fish."

2. Etymology of the Name:

The Babylonian Nina was a place where fish were very abundant, and Ishtar or Nina, the goddess of the city, was associated with Nin-mah, Merodach's spouse, as goddess of reproduction. Fish are also plentiful in the Tigris at Mosul, the modern town on the other side of the river, and this may have influenced the choice of the site by the Babylonian settlers, and the foundation there of the great temple of Ishtar or Nina. The date of this foundation is unknown, but it may have taken place about 3OOO BC.

3. Position on the Tigris:

Nineveh lay on the eastern bank of the Tigris, at the point where the Khosr falls into that stream. The outline of the wall is rectangular on the West, but of an irregular shape on the East. The western fortifications run from Northwest to Southeast, following, roughly, the course of the river, which now flows about 1,500 yards from the walls, instead of close to them, as in ancient times.

II. Nineveh and Its Surroundings.

According to the late G. Smith, the southwestern wall has a length of about 2 1/2 miles, and is joined at its western corner by the northwestern wall, which runs in a northeasterly direction for about 1 1/3 miles.

1. Its Walls:

The northeastern wall, starting here, runs at first in a southeasterly direction, but turns southward, gradually approaching the southwestern wall, to which, at the end of about 3 1/4 miles, it is joined by a short wall, facing nearly South, rather more than half a mile long.

2. Principal Mounds and Gateways:

The principal mounds are Kouyunjik, a little Northeast of the village of `Amusiyeh, and Nebi-Yunas, about 1,500 yards to the Southeast. Both of these lie just within the Southwest wall. Extensive remains of buildings occupy the fortified area. Numerous openings occur in the walls, many of them ancient, though some seem to have been made after the abandonment of the site. The principal gate on the Northwest was guarded by winged bulls (see Layard, Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd series, plural 3; Nineveh and Babylon, 120). Other gates gave access to the various commercial roads of the country, those on the East passing through the curved outworks and the double line of fortifications which protected the northeastern wall from attack on that side, where the Ninevites evidently considered that they had most to fear.

3. Extent and Population within the Walls:

According to G. Smith, the circuit of the inner wall is about 8 miles, and Captain Jones, who made a trigonometrical survey in 1854, estimated that, allotting to each inhabitant 50 square yards, the city may have contained 174,000 inhabitants. If the statement in Jon 4:11, that the city contained 120,000 persons who could not discern between their right hand and their left, be intended to give the number of the city's children only, then the population must have numbered about 600,000, and more than three cities of the same extent would have been needed to contain them.

4. Extent outside the Walls:

It has therefore been supposed--and that with great probability--that there was a large extension of the city outside its walls. This is not only indicated by Jon 3:3, where it is described as "an exceeding great city of three days' journey" to traverse, but also by the extant ruins, which stretch Southeast along the banks of the Tigris as far as Nimroud (Calah) while its northern extension may have been regarded as including Khorsabad.

5. Calah, Resen and Rehoboth-Ir:

Concerning the positions of two of the cities mentioned with Nineveh, namely, Calah and Resen, there can be no doubt, notwithstanding that Resen has not yet been identified--Calah is the modern Nimroud, and Resen lay between that site and Nineveh.

The name Rehoboth-Ir has not yet been found in the inscriptions, but Fried. Delitzsch has suggested that it may be the rebit Ninua of the inscriptions, Northeast of Nineveh. If this be the case, the Nineveh of Jonah contained within it all the places in Ge 10:11,12, and Khorsabad besides.

6. Khorsabad:

Taking the outlying ruins from North to South, we begin with Khorsabad (Dur-Sarru-kin or Dur-Sargina), 12 miles Northeast of Kouyunjik, the great palace mound of Nineveh proper. Khorsabad is a great enclosure about 2,000 yards square, with the remains of towers and gateways. The palace mound lies on its northwest face, and consists of an extensive platform with the remains of Sargon's palace and its temple, with a ziqqurat or temple-tower similar to those at Babylon, Borsippa, Calah and elsewhere. This last still shows traces of the tints symbolical of the 7 planets of which its stages were, seemingly, emblematic. The palace ruins show numerous halls, rooms and passages, many of which were faced with slabs of coarse alabaster, sculptured in relief with military operations, hunting-scenes, mythological figures, etc., while the principal entrances were flanked with the finest winged human-headed bulls which Assyrian art has so far revealed. The palace was built about 712 BC, and was probably destroyed by fire when Nineveh fell in 606 BC, sharing the same fate. Some of the slabs and winged bulls are in the Louvre and the British Museum, but most of the antiquarian spoils were lost in the Tigris by the sinking of the rafts upon which they were loaded after being discovered.

7. Sherif Khan and Selamieh:

Another outlying suburb was probably Tarbicu, now represented by the ruins at Sherif Khan, about 3 miles North of Kouyunjik. In this lay a temple--"palace" Sennacherib calls it--dedicated to Nergal. In ancient times it must have been a place of some importance, as Esarhaddon seems to have built a palace there, as well as a "seat" for his eldest son, Assur-bani-apli. The site of Resen, "between Nineveh and Calah," is thought to be the modern Selamieh, 12 miles South of Nineveh, and 3 miles North of Nimroud (Calah). It is in the form of an irregular enclosure on a high mound overlooking the Tigris, with a surface of about 400 acres. No remains of buildings, sculptures or inscriptions have, however, been found there.

8. Nimroud:

After Nineveh. itself (Kouyunjik), the ruins known as Nimroud, 14 or 15 miles Southeast, are the most important. They mark the site of the ancient Calah, and have already been described under that heading (see p. 539). As there stated, the stone-faced temple-tower seems to be referred to by Ovid, and is apparently also mentioned by Xenophon (see RESEN). The general tendency of the accumulated references to these sites supports theory that they were regarded as belonging to Nineveh, if not by the Assyrians themselves (who knew well the various municipal districts), at least by the foreigners who had either visited the city or had heard or read descriptions of it.

III. Palaces at Nineveh Proper.

The palaces at Nineveh were built upon extensive artificial platforms between 30 and 50 ft. high, either of sundried brick, as at Nimroud, or of earth and rubbish, as at Kouyunjik. It is thought that they were faced with masonry, and that access was gained to them by means of flights of deep steps, or sloping pathways. Naturally it is the plan of the basement floor alone that can at present be traced, any upper stories that may have existed having long since disappeared. The halls and rooms discovered were faced with slabs of alabaster or other stone, often sculptured with bas-reliefs depicting warlike expeditions, the chase, religious ceremonies and divine figures. The depth of the accumulations over these varies from a few inches to about 30 ft., and if the amount in some cases would seem to be excessive, it is thought that this may have been due either to the existence of upper chambers, or to the extra height of the room. The chambers, which are grouped around courtyards, are long and narrow, with small square rooms at the ends. The partition walls vary from 6 to 15 ft. in thickness, and are of sun-dried brick, against which the stone paneling was fixed. As in the case of the Babylonian temples and palaces, the rooms and halls open into each other, so that, to gain access to those farthest from the courtyard entrance, one or more halls or chambers had to be traversed. No traces of windows have been discovered, and little can therefore be said as to the method of lighting, but the windows were either high up, or light was admitted through openings in the roof.

1. The Palace of Sennacherib:

The palace of Sennacherib lay in the southeast corner of the platform, and consisted of a courtyard surrounded on all four sides by numerous long halls, and rooms, of which the innermost were capable of being rendered private. It was in this palace that were found the reliefs depicting the siege of Lachish, with the representation of Sennacherib seated on his "standing" throne, while the captives and the spoil of the city passed before him. The grand entrance was flanked by winged bulls facing toward the spectator as he entered. They were in couples, back to back, on each side of the doorway, and between each pair the ancient Babylonian hero-giant, carrying in one hand the "boomerang," and holding tightly with his left arm a struggling lion (Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, 137) was represented, just as at his father Sargon's palace at Khorsabad. The upper part of these imposing figures had been destroyed, but they were so massive, that the distinguished explorer attributed their overthrow not to the act of man, but to some convulsion of Nature.

2. The Palace of Assur-bani-apli:

In the north of the mound are the ruins of the palace of Assur-bani-apli or Assur-bani-pal, discovered by Hormuzd Rassam. His latest plan (Asshur and the Land of Nimrod, Cincinnati and New York, 1897, plate facing p. 36) does not give the whole of the structure, much of the building having been destroyed; but the general arrangement of the rooms was upon the traditional lines. The slabs with which they were paneled showed bas-reliefs illustrating the Assyrian campaigns against Babylonia, certain Arab tribes, and Elam. As far as they are preserved, the sculptures are wonderfully good, and the whole decorative scheme of the paneled walls, of which, probably, the greater part is forever lost, may be characterized, notwithstanding their defects of perspective and their mannerisms, as nothing less than magnificent. The lion-hunts of the great king, despite the curious treatment of the animals' manes (due to the sculptors' ignorance of the right way to represent hair) are admirable. It would be difficult to improve upon the expressions of fear, rage and suffering on the part of the animals there delineated. The small sculptures showing Assur-bani-apli hunting the goat and the wild ass are not less noteworthy, and are executed with great delicacy.

IV. Sennacherib's Description of Nineveh.

1. The Walls:

In all probability the best description of the city is that given by Sennacherib on the cylinder recording his expedition to Tarsus in Cilicia. From ancient times, he says, the circuit of the city had measured 9,300 cubits, and he makes the rather surprising statement that his predecessors had not built either the inner or the outer wall, which, if true, shows how confident they were of their security from attack. He claims to have enlarged the city by 12,515 (cubits). The great defensive wall which he built was called by the Sumerian name of Bad-imgallabi-lu-susu, which he translates as "the wall whose glory overthrows the enemy." He made the brickwork 40 (cubits) thick, which would probably not greatly exceed the estimate of G. Smith, who reckoned it to have measured about 50 ft. The height of the wall he raised to 180 tipki, which, admitting the estimate of Diodorus, should amount to about 100 ft.

2. The Gates--Northwest:

In this enclosing wall were 15 gates, which he enumerates in full. Three of these were situated in the short northwest wall--the gate of Hadad; the gate of Uru or Hadad of Tarbisu (Sherif Khan), and the gate of the moon-god Nannar, Sennacherib's own deity. The plans show five openings in the wall on this side, any of which may have been the gate used when going to Tarbicu, but that adorned with winged bulls probably furnished the shortest route.

3. The Gates--South and East:

The gates looking toward the South and the East were the Assur-gate (leading to the old capital); Sennacherib's Halzi-gate; the gate of Samas of Gagal, the gate of the god Enlil of Kar-Ninlil, and the "covered gate," which seems to have had the reputation of letting forth the fever-demon. After this are mentioned the Sibaniba-gate, and the gate of Halah in Mesopotamia. This last must have been the extreme northeastern opening, now communicating with the road to Khorsabad, implying that Halah lay in that direction.

4. The Gates--West:

The gates on the west or river-side of the city were "the gate of Ea, director of my watersprings"; the quay-gate, "bringer of the tribute of my peoples"; the gate of the land of Bari, within which the presents of the Sumilites entered (brought down by the Tigris from Babylonia, in all probability); the gate of the tribute-palace or armory; and the gate of the god Sar-ur--"altogether 5 gates in the direction of the West." There are about 9 wide openings in the wall on this side, 2 being on each side of the Kouyunjik mound, and 2 on each side of that called Nebi-Yunus. As openings at these points would have endangered the city's safety, these 4 have probably to be eliminated, leaving 2 only North of Nebi-Yunus, 2 between that and Kouyunjik, and one North of Kouyunjik. Minor means of exit probably existed at all points where they were regarded as needful.

5. The Outer Wall: the Plantations:

To the outer wall of the city Sennacherib gave a Sumerian name meaning, "the wall which terrifies the enemy." At a depth of 54 gar, the underground water-level, its foundations were laid upon blocks of stone, the object of this great depth being to frustrate undermining. The wall was made "high like a mountain." Above and below the city he laid out plantations, wherein all the sweet-smelling herbs of Heth (Palestine and Phoenicia) grew, fruitful beyond those of their homeland. Among them were to be found every kind of mountain-vine, and the plants of all the nations around.

6. The Water-Supply, etc.:

In connection with this, in all probability, he arranged the water-supply, conducting a distant water-course to Nineveh by means of conduits. Being a successful venture, he seems to have watered therewith all the people's orchards, and in winter 1,000 corn fields above and below the city. The force of the increased current in the river Khosr was retarded by the creation of a swamp, and among the reeds which grew there were placed wild fowl, wild swine, and deer(?). Here he repeated his exotic plantations, including trees for wood, cotton (apparently) and seemingly the olive.

7. How the Bas-Reliefs Illustrate the King's Description:

Sennacherib's bas-reliefs show some of the phases of the work which his cylinder inscriptions describe. We see the winged bulls, which are of colossal dimensions, sometimes lying on their sledges (shaped like boats or Assyrian ships), and sometimes standing and supported by scaffolding. The sledges rest upon rollers, and are dragged by armies of captives urged to action by taskmasters with whips. Others force the sledges forward from behind by means of enormous levers whose upper ends are held in position by guy-ropes. Each side has to pull with equal force, for if the higher end of the great lever fell, the side which had pulled too hard suffered in killed and crushed, or at least in bruised, workmen of their number. In the background are the soldiers of the guard, and behind them extensive wooded hills. In other bas-reliefs it is apparently the pleasure grounds of the palace which are seen. In these the background is an avenue of trees, alternately tall and short, on the banks of a river, whereon are boats, and men riding astride inflated skins, which were much used in those days, as now. On another slab, the great king himself, in his hand-chariot drawn by eunuchs, superintends the work.

8. Nineveh the Later Capital:

How long Nineveh had been the capital of Assyria is unknown. The original capital was Assur, about 50 miles to the South, and probably this continued to be regarded as the religious and official capital of the country. Assur-nacir-Apli seems to have had a greater liking for Calah (Nimroud), and Sargon for Khorsabad, where he had founded a splendid palace. These latter, however, probably never had the importance of Nineveh, and attained their position merely on account of the reigning king building a palace and residing there. The period of Nineveh's supremacy seems to have been from the beginning of the reign of Sennacherib to the end of that of Assur-bani-apli, including, probably, the reigns of his successors likewise--a period of about 98 years (704-606 BC).

V. Last Days and Fall of Nineveh.

Nineveh, during the centuries of her existence, must have seen many stirring historical events; but the most noteworthy were probably Sennacherib's triumphal entries, including that following the capture of Lachish, the murder of that great conqueror by his sons (the recent theory that he was killed at Babylon needs confirmation); and the ceremonial triumphs of Assur-bani-apli--the great and noble Osnappar (Ezr 4:10). After the reign of Assur-bani-apli came his son Assur-etil-ilani, who was succeeded by Sin-sarra-iskun (Saracos), but the history of the country, and also of the city, is practically non-existent during these last two reigns. The Assyrian and Babylonian records are silent with regard to the fall of the city, but Alexander Polyhistor, Abydenus and Syncellus all speak of it. The best account, however, is that of Diodorus Siculus, who refers to a legend that the city could not be taken until the river became its enemy. Arbaces, the Scythian, besieged it, but could not make any impression on it for 2 years. In the 3rd year, however, the river (according to Commander Jones, not the Tigris, but the Khosr), being swollen by rains, and very rapid in its current, carried away a portion of the wall, and by this opening the besiegers gained an entrance. The king, recognizing in this the fulfillment of the oracle, gathered together his concubines and eunuchs, and, mounting a funeral pyre which he had caused to be constructed, perished in the flames. This catastrophe is supposed to be referred to in Na 1:8: "With an over-running flood he (the Lord) will make a full end of her place (i.e. of Nineveh)," and Na 2:6: "The gates of the rivers are opened, and the palace is dissolved." The destruction of the city by fire is probably referred to in 3:13,15. The picture of the scenes in her streets--the noise of the whip, the rattling wheels, the prancing horses, the bounding chariots (3:2 ff), followed by a vivid description of the carnage of the battlefield--is exceedingly striking, and true to their records and their sculptures.


The standard books on the discovery and exploration of Nineveh are Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains (two volumes, 1849); Nineveh and Babylon (1853); Monuments of Nineveh, 1st and 2nd series (plates) (1849 and 1853); and Hormuzd Hassam, Asshur and the Land of Nimrod (Cincinnati and New York, 1897).

T. G. Pinches






1. Philology

2. Astronomy and Astrology

3. Religious Texts

4. Law

5. Science

6. Literature

7. History and Chronology

8. Commerce

9. Letters

I. The Discovery.

In the spring of 1850, the workmen of Sir A.H. Layard at Nineveh made an important discovery. In the ruins of the palace of Assur-bani-pal they found a passage which opened into two small chambers leading one into the other. The doorway was guarded on either side by figures of Ea, the god of culture and the inventor of letters, in his robe of fishskin. The walls of the chambers had once been paneled with bas-reliefs, one of which represented a city standing on the shore of a sea that was covered with galleys. Up to the height of a foot or more the floor was piled with clay tablets that had fallen from the shelves on which they had been arranged in order, and the larger number of them was consequently broken. Similar tablets, but in lesser number, were found in the adjoining chambers. After Layard's departure, other tablets were discovered by Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, and then the excavations ceased for many years. The discovery of the Babylonian version of the account of the Deluge, however, by Mr. George Smith in 1873 led the proprietors of the Daily Telegraph to send him to Nineveh in the hope that the missing portions of the story might be found. He had not been excavating there long before he came across a fragment of another version of the story, and then once more the excavations came to an end. Since then expeditions have been sent by the British Museum which have resulted in the recovery of further remains of the ancient library of Nineveh.

II. The Library.

The tablets formed a library in the true sense of the word. Libraries had existed in the cities of Babylonia from a remote date, and the Assyrian kings, whose civilization was derived from Babylonia, imitated the example of Babylonia in this as in other respects. The only true booklover among them, however, was Assur-bani-pal. He was one of the most munificent royal patrons of learning the world has ever seen, and it was to him that the great library of Nineveh owed its existence. New editions were made of older works, and the public and private libraries of Babylonia were ransacked in search of literary treasures.

III. Writing-Materials.

Fortunately for us the ordinary writing-material of the Babylonians and Assyrians was clay. It was more easily procurable than papyrus or parchment, and was specially adapted for the reception of the cuneiform characters. Hence, while the greater part of the old Egyptian literature, which was upon papyrus, has perished that of Babylonia and Assyria has been preserved. In Babylonia the tablets after being inscribed were often merely dried in the sun; in the damper climate of Assyria they were baked in a kiln. As a large amount of text had frequently to be compressed into a small space, the writing is sometimes so minute as to need the assistance of a magnifying glass before it can be read. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the library-chambers of Nineveh Layard found a magnifying lens of crystal, which had been turned on the lathe.

IV. Contents.

1. Philology:

The subject-matter of the tablets included all the known branches of knowledge. Foremost among them are the philological works. The inventors of the cuneiform system of writing had spoken an agglutinative language, called Sumerian, similar to that of the Turks or Finns today; and a considerable part of the early literature had been written in this language, which to the later Semitic Babylonians and Assyrians was what Latin was to the European nations in the Middle Ages. The student was therefore provided with grammars and dictionaries of the two languages, as well as with reading-books and interlinear translates into Assyrian of the chief Sumerian texts. Besides this, long lists of the cuneiform characters were drawn up with their phonetic and ideographic values, together with lists of Assyrian synonyms, in which, for example,, all the equivalents are given of the word "to go." The Assyrian lexicographers at times attempted etymologies which are as wide of the mark as similar etymologies given by English lexicographers of a past generation. Sabattu, "Sabbath," for instance, is derived from the two Sumerian words sa "heart" and bat, "to end," and so is explained to mean "day of rest for the heart." It is obvious that all this implies an advanced literary culture. People do not begin to compile grammars and dictionaries or to speculate on the origin of words until books and libraries abound and education is widespread.

2. Astronomy and Astrology:

Astronomy occupied a prominent place in Assyrian literature, but it was largely mingled with astrology. The Babylonians were the founders of scientific astronomy; they were the first to calculate the dates of lunar and solar eclipses, and to give names to the signs of the Zodiac. Among the contents of the library of Nineveh are reports from the Royal Observatory, relating to the observation of eclipses and the like.

3. Religious Texts:

A knowledge of astronomy was needed for the regulation of the calendar, and the calendar was the special care of the priests, as the festivals of the gods and the payment of tithes were dependent upon it. Most of the religious texts went back to the Sumerian period and were accordingly provided with Assyrian translations. Some of them were hymns to the gods, others were the rituals used in different temples. There was, moreover, a collection of psalms, as well as numerous mythological texts.

4. Law:

The legal literature was considerable. The earliest law books were in Sumerian, but the great code compiled by Hammurabi, the contemporary of Abraham, was in Semitic Babylonian (see HAMMURABI). Like English law, Assyro-Babylonian law was case-made, and records of the cases decided from time to time by the judges are numerous.

5. Science:

Among scientific works we may class the long lists of animals, birds, fishes, plants and stones, together with geographical treatises, and the pseudo-science of omens. Starting from the belief that where two events followed one another, the first was the cause of the second, an elaborate pseudo-science of augury had been built up, and an enormous literature arose on the interpretation of dreams, the observation of the liver of animals, etc. Unfortunately Assur-bani-pal had a special predilection for the subject, and the consequence is that his library was filled with works which the Assyriologist would gladly exchange for documents of a more valuable character. Among the scientific works we may also include those on medicine, as well as numerous mathematical tables.

6. Literature:

Literature was largely represented, mainly in the form of poems on mythological, religious or historical subjects. Among these the most famous is the epic of the hero Gilgames in twelve books, the Babylonian account of the Deluge being introduced as an episode in the eleventh book. Another epic was the story of the great battle between the god Merodach and Tiamat, the dragon of chaos and evil, which includes the story of the creation.

7. History and Chronology:

Historical records are very numerous, the Assyrians being distinguished among the nations of antiquity by their historical sense. In Assyria the royal palace took the place of the Bah or Egyptian temple; and where the Babylonian or the Egyptian would have left behind him a religious record, the Assyrian adorned his walls with accounts of campaigns and the victories of their royal builders. The dates which are attached to each portion of the narrative, and the care with which the names of petty princes and states are transcribed, give a high idea of the historical precision at which the Assyrians aimed. The Assyrian monuments are alone sufficient to show that the historical sense was by no means unknown to the ancient peoples of the East, and when we remember how closely related the Assyrians were to the Hebrews in both race and language, the fact becomes important to the Biblical student. Besides historical texts the library contained also chronological tables and long lists of kings and dynasties with the number of years they reigned. In Babylonia time was marked by officially naming each year after some event that had occurred in the course of it; the more historically-minded Assyrian named the year after a particular official, called limmu, who was appointed on each New Year's Day. In Babylonia the chronological system went back to a very remote date. The Babylonians were a commercial people, and for commercial purposes it was necessary to have an exact register of the time.

8. Commerce:

The library contained trading documents of various sorts, more especially contracts, deeds of sale of property and the like. Now and then we meet with the plan of a building. There were also fiscal documents relating to the taxes paid by the cities and provinces of the empire to the imperial treasury.

9. Letters:

One department of the library consisted of letters, some of them private, others addressed to the king or to the high officials. Nearly a thousand of these have already been published by Professor Harper.

The clay books, it need hardly be added, were all carefully numbered and catalogued, the Assyrian system of docketing and arranging the tablets being at once ingenious and simple. The librarians, consequently, had no difficulty in finding any tablet or series of tablets that might be asked for. We may gather from the inscription attached to the larger works copied from Babylonian originals as well as to other collections of tablets that the library was open to all "readers."

A. H. Sayce


nin'-e-vits (Nineu(e)itai): Only in Lu 11:30. The parallel passage (Mt 12:41), with Lu 11:32, has the fuller form, "men of Nineveh," which gives the meaning.


ni'-fis (Neipheis, Codex Alexandrinus Phineis; the King James Version Nephis): Given in 1 Esdras 5:21 margin as equals "Magbish" of Ezr 2:30, whose sons are the same in number (156) as those of Niphis, but it would seem rather to be the equivalent of Nebo in 2:29.


ni'-san (nican): The first month of the Jewish year in which occurred the Passover and which corresponds to April. The month is the same as Abib, which occurs in the Pentateuch. Nisan occurs in Ne 2:1 and Es 3:7. It denotes "the month of flowers."



nis'-rok, niz'-rok (nicrokh): The Assyrian god in whose temple Sennacherib was worshipping when put to death by his sons (2Ki 19:37; Isa 37:38). The name is not found elsewhere. Some identify him with Asshur, the national deity.



ni'-ter (nether; nitron): Nitre as used in the King James Version does not correspond to the present use of that term. Nitre or niter is now applied to sodium or potassium nitrate. The writer has in his collection a specimen of sodium carbonate, called in Arabic naTrun, which was taken from the extensive deposits in Lower Egypt where it is found as a deposit underneath a layer of common salt. Similar deposits are found in Syria and Asia Minor. This is probably the "nitre" of the Bible. the American Standard Revised Version has rendered niter "lye" in Jer 2:22, and "soda" in Pr 25:20. Soda or lye has been used as a cleansing agent from earliest times. It effervesces energetically, when treated with an acid; hence, the comparison in Pr 25:20 of the heavy-hearted man roiled by the sound of singing to the sizzling of soda on which vinegar has been poured.


James A. Patch





no-a'-mon (no' 'amon, Egyptian nut, "a city," with the feminine ending t, and Amon, proper name of a god, City Amon, i.e. the "City," paragraph excellence, of the god Amon; translated in the King James Version "populous No," following the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) in a misunderstanding of the word 'amon; the Revised Version (British and American) "No-amon"): Occurs in this form only in Na 3:8, but 'amon minno', "Amon of No," occurs in Jer 46:25. Compare also Eze 30:14-16, where no', is undoubtedly the same city.

The description of No-amon in Na 3:8 seems to be that of a delta city, but yam, "sea" in that passage is used poetically for the Nile, as in Job 41:31 and in Isa 18:2. With this difficulty removed, the Egyptian etymology of the name leaves no doubt as to the correct identification of the place. The "City Amon" in the days of Nahum, Jeremiah and Ezekiel was Thebes (compare the article "Thebes" in any general encyclopedia).

M. G. Kyle


no-a-di'-a (no`adhyah, "tryst of Yah"; Noadei):

(1) Son of Binnui, one of the Levites to whom Ezra entrusted the gold and silver and sacred vessels which he brought up from Babylon (Ezr 8:33); also called MOETH (which see), son of Sabannus (1 Esdras 8:63).

(2) A prophetess associated with Tobiah and Sanballat in opposition to Nehemiah (Ne 6:14).

NOAH (1)

no'-a (noach, "rest"; Septuagint Noe; Josephus, Nochos): The 10th in descent from Adam in the line of Seth (Ge 5:28,29). Lamech here seems to derive the word from the nacham, "to comfort," but this is probably a mere play upon the name by Noah's father. The times in which Noah was born were degenerate, and this finds pathetic expression in Lamech's saying at the birth of Noah, "This same shall comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, which cometh because of the ground which Yahweh hath cursed." Concerning theory that Noah is the name of a dynasty, like Pharaoh or Caesar, rather than of a single individual, see ANTEDILUVIANS. In his 600th year the degenerate races of mankind were cut off by the Deluge. But 120 years previously (Ge 6:3) he had been warned of the catastrophe, and according to 1Pe 3:20 had been preparing for the event by building the ark (see ARK; DELUGE OF NOAH). In the cuneiform inscriptions Noah corresponds to "Hasisadra" (Xisuthrus). After the flood Noah celebrated his deliverance by building an altar and offering sacrifices to Yahweh (Ge 8:20), and was sent forth with God's blessing to be "fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Ge 9:1), as Adam had been sent forth at the beginning (Ge 1:28). In token of the certainty of God's covenant not to destroy the race again by flood, a rainbow spanned the sky whose reappearance was ever after to be a token of peace. But Noah was not above temptation. In the prosperity which followed, he became drunken from the fruit of the vineyard he had planted. His son Ham irreverently exposed the nakedness of his father, while Shem and Japheth covered it from view (Ge 9:22,23). The curse upon Canaan the son of Ham was literally fulfilled in subsequent history when Israel took possession of Palestine, when Tyre fell before the arms of Alexander, and Carthage surrendered to Rome.

George Frederick Wright

NOAH (2)

(no`ah, "movement"): One of the daughters of Zelophehad (Nu 26:33; 27:1; 36:11; Jos 17:3 ).




nob (nobh; Codex Vaticanus Nomba; Codex Alexandrinus Noba, and other forms): An ancient priestly town to which David came on his way South when he fled from Saul at Gibeah (1Sa 21:1). Here he found refuge and succor with Ahimelech. This was observed by Doeg the Edomite, who informed the king, and afterward became the instrument of Saul's savage vengeance on the priests, and on all the inhabitants of the city (1Sa 22). The name occurs in Ne 11:32 in a list of cities, immediately after Anathoth. In Isaiah's ideal account of the Assyrians' march against Jerusalem, Nob is clearly placed South of Anathoth. Here, says the prophet, the Assyrian shall shake his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. It was a place, therefore, from which the Holy City and the temple were clearly visible.

The district in which the site must be sought is thus very definitely indicated; but within this district no name at all resembling Nob has been discovered, and so no sure identification is yet possible. `Anata (Anathoth) is 2 1/2 miles Northeast of Jerusalem. Nob therefore lay between that and the city, at a point where the city could be seen, apparently on the great road from the Nob. Rather more than a mile North of Jerusalem rises the ridge Ras el-Mesharif (2,665 ft.), over which the road from the Nob passes; and here the traveler approaching from that direction obtains his first sight of the city. It is fittingly named "the look-out." Col. Conder states the case for identifying this height with Mt. Scopus where Titus established his camp at the siege of Jerusalem (PEFS, 1874, 111 ff). Immediately South of the ridge, to the East of the road, there is a small plateau, South of which there is a lower ridge, whence the slopes dip into Wady el-Joz. This plateau, on which Titus may have sat, is a very probable site for Nob. It quite suits the requirements of Isaiah's narrative, and not less those of David's flight. Gibeah lay not far to the North, and this lay in the most likely path to the South.

W. Ewing


no'-ba (nobhah; Codex Vaticanus Naboth, Nabai; Codex Alexandrinus Naboth, Nabeth):

(1) Nobah the Manassite, we are told, "went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name" (Nu 32:42). There can be little doubt that the ancient Kenath is represented by the modern Qanawat, on the western slope of Jebel ed-Druze, the ancient name having survived that of Nobah.

(2) A city which marked-the course of Gideon's pursuit of the Midianites (Jud 8:11). It is possible that this may be identical with (1). Cheyne argues in favor of this (Encyclopaedia Biblica, under the word "Gideon"). But its mention along with Jogbehah points to a more southerly location. This may have been the original home of the clan Nobah. Some would read, following the Syriac in Nu 21:30, "Nobah which is on the desert," instead of "Nophah which reacheth unto Medeba." No site with a name resembling this has yet been recovered. If it is to be distinguished from Kenath, then probably it will have to be sought somewhere to the Northeast of Rabbath-Ammon (`Amman).

W. Ewing


no'-bi, nob'-a-i (nobhay, or nebhay): One of those who took part in sealing the covenant (Ne 10:19).


no'-b'-l, no'-b'-lz, no'-b'-l-man (chorim, 'addir; eugenes, Kratistos, basilikos): "Nobles" is the translation of the Hebrew chorim (occurring only in the plural), "free-born," "noble" (1Ki 21:8,11; Ne 2:16; 6:17, etc.); of 'addir, "begirded," "mighty," "illustrious" or "noble" (Jud 5:13; 2Ch 23:20, etc.); of nadhibh, "liberal," "a noble" (Nu 21:18; Pr 8:16, etc.).

Other words are gadhol, "great" (Jon 3:7); yaqqir, Aramaic "precious" (Ezr 4:10); naghidh, "a leader" (Job 29:10); partemim, "foremost ones" (Es 1:3; 6:9); atsilim, "those near," "nobles" (Ex 24:11); bariah, "fugitive" (Isa 43:14); kabhedh, "weighty," "honored" (Ps 149:8); eugenes, "wellborn" (Ac 17:11; 1Co 1:26); kratistos, "strongest," "most powerful" (Ac 24:3; 26:25).

The Apocrypha, the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), still further enlarges the list. In the Revised Version (British and American) we have megistanes, "great ones" (1 Esdras 1:38; 8:26, with entimos, "in honor"; The Wisdom of Solomon 18:12). Otherwise the Revised Version's uses of "noble," and "nobleness" are for words containing the root genitive and referring to birth (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 8:3; 2 Macc 6:27,31; 12:42; 14:42 twice). The King James Version's uses are wider (Judith 2:2, etc.).

Nobleman is, in Lu 19:12, the translation of eugenes anthropos, "a man well born," and in Joh 4:46,49 of basilikos, "kingly," "belonging to a king," a designation extended to the officers, courtiers, etc., of a king, the Revised Version margin "king's officer"; he was probably an official, civil or military, of Herod Antipas, who was styled "king" (basileus).

For "nobles" (Isa 43:14), the King James Version "have brought down all their nobles," the Revised Version (British and American) has "I will bring down all of them as fugitives," margin "or, as otherwise read, all their nobles even," etc.; for "nobles" (Jer 30:21), "prince"; the English Revised Version has "worthies" for "nobles" (Na 3:18); the Revised Version (British and American) has "the noble" for "princes" (Pr 17:26): "nobles" for "princes" (Job 34:18; Da 1:3), for "Nazarites" (La 4:7, margin "Nazirites"); "her nobles" for "his fugitives," margin "or, as other otherwise read, fugitives" (Isa 15:5); the American Standard Revised Version has "noble" for "liberal" (Isa 32:5); for "The nobles held their peace," the King James Version margin "The voice of the nobles was hid" (Job 29:10), the Revised Version (British and American) has "The voice of the nobles was hushed," margin "Hebrew: hid"; for "most noble" (Ac 24:3; 26:25), "most excellent."

W. L. Walker


nod (nodh): The land of Eden, to which Cain migrated after the murder of his brother and his banishment by Yahweh (Ge 4:16). Conjecture is useless as to the region intended. The ideas of China, India, etc., which some have entertained, are groundless. The territory was evidently at some distance, but where is now undiscoverable.


no'-dab (nodhabh; Nadabaioi): A Hagrite clan which, along with Jetur and Naphish, suffered complete defeat at the hands of the trans-Jordanic Israelites (1Ch 5:19). It has been suggested that Nodab is a corruption of Kedemah or of Nebaioth, names which are associated with Jetur and Naphish in the lists of Ishmael's sons (Ge 25:15; 1Ch 1:31), but it is difficult to see how even the most careless copyist could so blunder. There is a possible reminiscence of the name in Nudebe, a village in the Chauran.


no'-e (Noe): the King James Version of Mt 24:37,38; Lu 3:36; 17:26,27; Tobit 4:12. Greek form of NOAH (which see) (thus the Revised Version (British and American)).


no'-e-ba (Noeba): Head of one of the families of temple-servants (1 Esdras 5:31) equals "Nekoda" of Ezr 2:48.


no'-ga (noghah, "splendor"): A son of David born at Jerusalem (1Ch 3:7; 14:6). In the parallel list (2Sa 5:14,15) this name is wanting. In its Greek form (Naggai) it occurs in the genealogy of Jesus (Lu 3:25).


no'-ha (nochah, "rest"): The fourth son of Benjamin (1Ch 8:2). It is probable that in Jud 20:43, instead of "a resting-place" we should read "Nohah," which may have been the settlement of the family.


noiz (qol, hamon, sha'on; phone): "Noise" is most frequently the translation of qol, "voice," "sound," in the King James Version (Ex 20:18, "the noise of the trumpet," the Revised Version (British and American) "voice"; Ex 32:17 twice,18; Jud 5:11, "(they that are delivered) from the noise of the archers," the Revised Version (British and American) "far from the noise," etc., margin "because of the voice of"; 1Sa 4:6, etc.); hamon, "noise," "sound" (1Sa 14:19); roghez, "anger," "rage" (Job 37:2); rea`, "outcry" (Job 36:33); sha'on, "desolation," "noise" (Isa 24:8; 25:5); teshu'oth "cry," "crying" (Job 36:29); patsah, "to break forth" (Ps 98:4); shamea, "to hear," etc. (Jos 6:10; 1Ch 15:28); phone, "sound," "voice," is translated "noise" (Re 6:1, "I heard as it were the noise of thunder," the Revised Version (British and American) "saying as with a voice of thunder"); rhoizedon, "with a hissing or rushing sound" (2Pe 3:10, "with a great noise"); ginetai phone (Ac 2:6, the King James Version "when this was noised abroad," margin "when this voice was made," the Revised Version (British and American) "when this sound was heard") ; akouo, "to hear" ; dialaleo, "to talk or speak" throughout, are also translated "noised" (Mr 2:1; Lu 1:65). So the Revised Version (British and American) (compare Judith 10:18, "noised among the tents"). Otherwise in the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha, throos "confused noise" (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:10); boe, "outcry" (Judith 14:19); echos,"sound" (The Wisdom of Solomon 17:18; compare Sirach 40:13); Latin vox, "voice" (2 Esdras 5:7).

For "noise" (Ps 65:7 twice), the Revised Version (British and American) has "roaring"; for "make a noise like the noise of the seas" (Isa 17:12), "the uproar (margin "multitude") of many peoples, that roar like the roaring of the seas"; for "a voice of noise from the city" (Isa 66:6), "a voice of tumult from the city"; for "noise" (Jer 10:22), "voice"; for "a noise" (1Ch 15:28), "sounding aloud," "voice" (Eze 43:2); for "every battle of the warrior is with confused noise" (Isa 9:5), "all the armor of the armed man in the tumult," margin "every boot of the booted warrior" ; for "make a noise," "moan" (Ps 55:2), "roar" (Isa 17:12); for "make a loud noise" (Ps 98:4), "break forth"; for "maketh a noise" (Jer 4:19), "is disquieted"; for "the noise of his tabernacle" (Job 36:29), "the thunderings of his pavilion"; for "make any noise with your voice (Jos 6:10), "let your voice be heard"; "joyful noise," for "shouting" (Isa 16:10); for "The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea" (Ps 93:4), "Above the voices of many waters, the mighty breakers of the sea, Yahweh on high is mighty."

W. L. Walker


noi'-sum (hawwah, ra`; kakos): "Noisome" from "annoy" (annoysome) has in Bible English the meaning of "evil," "hurtful," not of "offensive" or "loathsome." It is the translation of hawwah, "mischief," "calamity" (Ps 91:3, "noisome pestilence," the Revised Version (British and American) "deadly"); of ra`, a common word for "evil" (Eze 14:15,21), "noisome beasts" (the Revised Version (British and American) "evil"). It occurs also in Job 31:40 the King James Version margin as the translation of bo'shah, "noisome weeds," the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "cockle," as in the King James Version margin; of kakos, "evil," "bad" (Re 16:2), "a noisome and grievous sore." "Noisome" also occurs in Apocrypha (2 Macc 9:9) as the translation of baruno, "to make heavy," "oppress," where it seems to have the meaning of "loathsome."

W. L. Walker


non (non): 1Ch 7:27 the King James Version and the Revised Version margin.

See NUN.


no'-o-ma (Nooma, Codex Vaticanus Ooma; the King James Version Ethma): 1 Esdras 9:35 equals "Nebo" of Ezr 10:43, of which it is a corruption.


noon, noon'-da (tsohorayim; mesembria): The word means light, splendor, brightness, and hence, the brightest part of the day (Ge 43:16,25; Ac 22:6).



nof (noph; in Ho 9:6 moph): A name for the Egyptian city Memphis (so the Septuagint), hence, thus rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) (Isa 19:13; Jer 2:16; 44:1; Eze 30:13,16).



no'-fa (nophach; the Septuagint does not transliterate): A city mentioned only in Nu 21:30 (see NOBAH). Septuagint reads: kai hai gunaikes eti prosexekausan pur epi Moab, "and the women besides (yet) kindled a fire at (against) Moab." The text has evidently suffered corruption.


north, (tsaphon, from tsaphan, "to hide," i.e. "the hidden," "the dark" (Gesenius); borrhas, boreas (Judith 16:4); septentrio (2 Esdras 15:43)): In addition to the many places where "north" occurs merely as a point of the compass, there are several passages in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah, where it refers to a particular country, usually Assyria or Babylonia: Jer 3:18, "They shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I gave for an inheritance unto your fathers"; Jer 46:6, "In the north by the river Euphrates have they stumbled and fallen"; Eze 26:7, "I will bring upon Tyre Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, from the north"; Ze 2:13, "He will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria, and will make Nineveh a desolation."

While the site of Nineveh was Northeast of Jerusalem, and that of Babylon almost due East, it was not unnatural for them to be referred to as "the north," because the direct desert routes were impracticable, and the roads led first into Northern Syria and then eastward (compare however Ge 29:1, "Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the children of the east").

In Eze 38:6, we have, "Gomer, and all his hordes; the house of Togarmah in the uttermost parts of the north." It is uncertain what country is here referred to. Some have supposed Armenia (compare Ge 10:3; 1Ch 1:6; Eze 27:14).

The north border of the promised land, as outlined in Nu 34:7-9 and Eze 47:15-17, cannot be determined with certainty, because some of the towns named cannot be identified, but it was approximately the latitude of Mt. Hermon, not including Lebanon or Damascus. For North (mezarim) see ASTRONOMY.

Alfred Ely Day


These words occur in Ac 27:12, "if by any means they could reach Phoenix, and winter there; which is a haven of Crete, looking north-east and south-east." the Revised Version margin has, "Greek, down the south-west wind and down the north-west wind," which is a literal translation of the Greek: eis Phoinika .... limena tes Kretes bleponta (looking) kata liba (the southwest wind) kai kata choron (the northwest wind). Choros does not appear to occur except here, but the corresponding Latin caurus or corus is found in Caesar, Vergil, and other classical authors. the King James Version has "lieth toward the south west and north west." kata, with a wind or stream, means, "down the wind or stream," i.e. in the direction that it is blowing or flowing, and this interpretation would indicate a harbor open to the East. If lips, and choros, are used here as names of directions rather than of winds, we should expect a harbor open to the West. There is good reason for identifying Phoenix (the King James Version "Phenice") with Loutro on the south shore of Crete (EB, under the word "Phenice"), whose harbor is open to the East. See PHOENIX.

Alfred Ely Day


noz-ju'-elz, -joo'-elz (nezem (probably from nazam, "muzzle") a "nose-ring," or "nose-jewel," so rendered in Isa 3:21; "jewel in a swine's snout," Pr 11:22, the King James Version margin "ring"; "jewel on thy forehead," Eze 16:12, "ring upon thy nose"): In Ge 24:22, the King James Version rendered incorrectly "earring"; compare Ge 24:47. Indeed, the word had also a more generic meaning of "ring" or "jewelry," whether worn in the nose or not. See Ge 35:4; Ex 32:2, where the ornament was worn in the ear. There are several cases without specification, uniformly rendered, without good reason, however, "earring" in the King James Version (Ex 35:22; Jud 8:24,25; Job 42:11 ("ring"); Pr 25:12; Ho 2:13 (15)).

The nose-jewel was made of gold or of silver, usually, and worn by many women of the East. It was a ring of from an inch to about three inches (in extreme cases) in diameter, and was passed through the right nostril. Usually there were pendant from the metal ring jewels, beads or coral. Such ornaments are still worn in some parts of the East.


Edward Bagby Pollard


noz, nos'-trilz ('aph, "nose," nechirayim, dual of nechir, "nostrils"): The former expression ('aph from 'anph, like Arabic 'anf) is often translated "face" (which see under the word) in the English Versions of the Bible. It is frequently referred to as the organ of breathing, in other words, as the receptacle of the breath or spirit of God: "Yahweh .... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Ge 2:7; compare Ge 7:22); "My life is yet whole in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils" (Job 27:3). Therefore a life which depends on so slight a thing as a breath is considered as utterly frail and of no great consequence: "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Isa 2:22; compare /RAPC Wis 2:2).

In poetical language such a breath of life is ascribed even to God, especially with regard to the mighty storm which is thought to proceed from His nostrils (Ex 15:8; 2Sa 22:9; Ps 18:8,15).

The phrase, "a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day" (Isa 65:5), is equivalent to a perpetual annoyance and cause of irritation. A cruel custom of war, in which the vanquished had their noses and ears cut off by their remorseless conquerors, is alluded to in Eze 23:25. As a wild animal is held in check by having his nose pierced and a hook or ring inserted in it (Job 40:24; 41:2 (Hebrew 40:26)), so this expression is used to indicate the humbling and taming of an obstinate person (2Ki 19:28; Isa 37:29; compare Eze 29:4; 38:4). But men, and especially women, had their noses pierced for the wearing of jewelry (Ge 24:47; Isa 3:21; Eze 16:12). In one passage the meaning is not quite clear, namely, in the enumeration of blemishes which disable a "son of Aaron" from the execution of the priest's office (Le 21:18), where English Versions of the Bible translates "flat (margin "slit") nose." The Hebrew word is charum, which is a hapax legomenon. It corresponds, however, to the Arabic charam, charman (kharam, kharman), which means "to open," "to pierce the nose," especially the bridge of the nose. We may accept this meaning as the one intended in the passage.

Another dark and much discussed passage must still be referred to: "And, lo, they put the branch to their nose" (Eze 8:17). The usual explanation (whereof the context gives some valuable hints) is that a rite connected with the worship of Baal (the sun) is here alluded to (see Smend and A.B. Davidson's commentaries on the passage). A similar custom is known from Persian sun-worship, where a bunch (baretsma) of dates, pomegranates or tamarisks was held to the nose by the worshipper, probably as an attempt to keep the Holy One (sun) from being contaminated by sinful breath (Spiegel, Eranische Altertamer, III, 571). Among modern Jews posies of myrtle and other fragrant herbs are held to the nose by the persons attending on the ceremony of circumcision, for the alleged reason of making the sight and smell of blood bearable. Another interpretation of the above passage would understand zemorah, in the sense of "male sexual member" (see Gesenius-Buhl, under the word; Levy, Nhb. Worterbuch, I, 544), and the whole passage as a reference to a sensuous Canaanite rite, such as is perhaps alluded to in Isa 57:8. In that case the 'appam, "their nose "of the Massoretic Text would have to be considered as tiqqun copherim (a correction of the scribes) for 'appi, "my face." Or read "They cause their stench (zemoratham) to come up to my face" (Kraetzschmar, at the place).


H. L. E. Luering


no'-ta-b'-l (chazuth; gnostos): "Notable" is the translation of chazuth, "conspicuous" (chazah, "to see"), e.g. Da 8:5, "a notable horn," i.e. "conspicuous," the King James Version margin "a horn of sight"; Da 8:8, "notable (horns)"; of gnostos, "known" "knowledge" (Ac 4:16); of episemos, "noted," "notable" (Mt 27:16; in Ro 16:7 "of note" of epiphanes, "very manifest," "illustrious" (compare "Antiochus Epiphanes"); Ac 2:20, "that great and notable day," quoted from Joe 2:31; Septuagint for yare', "to be feared," the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "terrible" (compare Mal 4:5); "notable" occurs also in 2 Macc 3:26 (ekprepes); 2 Macc 14:33, the Revised Version (British and American) "for all to see"; 2 Macc 6:28 (gennaios), "a notable example," the Revised Version (British and American) "noble"; notably, only in 2 Macc 14:31 (gennaios), "notably prevented," the Revised Version (British and American) "bravely," margin "nobly."

W. L. Walker


not (chaqaq, rasham; semeioo, episemos): "Note" (verb) is the translation of chaqaq, "to grave," "to inscribe," etc. (Isa 30:8, "note it in a book," the Revised Version (British and American) "inscribe"); of rasham, "to note down," etc. (Da 10:21, the Revised Version (British and American) "inscribed"); of semeioo, "to put a sign on" (2Th 3:14, "note that man").

"Note" (noun) is the translation of episemos, "marked upon," "distinguished" (Ro 16:7, "who are of note among the apostles").

"Notes" (musical) occurs in The Wisdom of Solomon 19:18, "notes of a psaltery" (phthoggos).

W. L. Walker


nuth'-ing (lo', lo' @me'umah, etc.; medeis, oudeis): "Nothing" is represented by various words and phrases, often with lo', which is properly a substantive with the meaning of "nothing." Most frequently we have lo' me'umah, "not anything" (Ge 40:15; Jud 14:6).

Other forms are lo' dhabhar, "not anything"; (Ge 19:8); lo'khol, "not any(thing)" (Ge 11:6; Pr 13:7); la' (Aramaic), "no," "nothing" (Da 4:35, "as nothing"); 'ephec, "end," "cessation" (Isa 34:12); bilti, "without," "save," "not" (Isa 44:10; Am 3:4); 'ayin, "there is not" (Isa 41:24); once, tohu, "emptiness" (Job 6:18); bal mah, "not anything" (Pr 9:13); chinnam, "free," "gratis" (2Sa 24:24); ma`at, "to make small," "bring to nothing" (Jer 10:24); raq, "only" (Ge 26:29); le'al, "for nothing" (Job 24:25).

In 2 Macc 7:12, we have "nothing," adverbially (en oudeni), "he nothing regarded the pains" (compare 1Ki 15:21); 2 Macc 9:7 (oudamos), the Revised Version (British and American) "in no wise"; The Wisdom of Solomon 2:11, "nothing worth" (achrestos), the Revised Version (British and American) "of no service"; Baruch 6:17,26.

For "nothing" the Revised Version (British and American) has "none" (Ex 23:26; Joe 2:3), "never" (Ne 5:8), "not wherewith" (Pr 22:27), "vanity and nought" (Isa 41:29); for "answered nothing" (Mr 15:5), "no more answered anything"; "answered nothing" in Mr 15:3 is omitted; "anything" for "nothing" (1Ti 6:7), "not anything" (Ac 20:20), "not" (1Co 8:2), "no word" (Lu 1:37), "not wherewith" (Lu 7:42); for "to nothing" (Job 6:18), "up into the waste"; for "it is nothing with" (2Ch 14:11), "there is none besides," margin "like"; for "lacked nothing" (1Ki 4:27), "let nothing be lacking," for "nothing doubting" (Ac 11:12), "making no distinction"; for "hoping for nothing again" (Lu 5:35), "never despairing"; for "are nothing" (Ac 21:24), "no truth in"; for "nothing shall offend them" (Ps 119:165), "no occasion of stumbling"; for "bring to nothing" (1Co 1:19), the English Revised Version "reject," the American Standard Revised Version "bring to nought"; "nothing better" for "no good" (Ec 3:12), for "not" (Mt 13:34, different text), for "no man" (Ac 9:8), "for nothing," for "free" (Ex 21:11); "miss nothing" for "not sin" (Job 5:24), margin "shalt not err"; "and shall have nothing" for "and not for himself" (Da 9:26, margin "there shall be none belonging to him").

W. L. Walker


not (chinnam; katargeo) "Nought" is to be distinguished from "naught" implying "badness" (see NAUGHT). "Nought" in the sense of "nothing," etc., is the translation of chinnam, "gratis" (Ge 29:15), and of various other words occurring once only, e.g. 'awen, "vanity" (Am 5:5); tohu, "vacancy," "ruin" (Isa 49:4); 'epha`, "nothing" (Isa 41:24); nabhel, "to fade" (Job 14:18, margin "fadeth away"); pur, "to make void" (Ps 33:10); katargeo, "to make without effect" (1Co 1:28; 2:6); oudeis, "not even one" (Ac 5:36); apelegmos, "refutation" (Ac 19:27, the Revised Version (British and American) "come into disrepute"); dorean, "without payment" (2Th 3:8, the Revised Version (British and American) "for nought"); eremoo, "to desolate" (Re 18:17, the Revised Version (British and American) "made desolate"); kataluo, "to loose down" (Ac 5:38, the Revised Version (British and American) "be overthrown"). In Apocrypha we have "set at nought" and "come to nought," etc. (1 Esdras 1:56; 2 Esdras 2:33; 8:59).

For "nought" the Revised Version (British and American) has "perish" (De 28:63); for "come to nought" (Job 8:22), "be no more"; "nought" for "not ought" (Ex 5:11), for "no might" (De 28:32); for "brought to silence," twice (Isa 15:1), "brought to nought"; the American Standard Revised Version "bring to nought" (1Co 1:19) for "bring to nothing" (the English Revised Version "reject"); "nought but terror" (Isa 28:19) for "a vexation only"; "brought to nought" (Isa 16:4) for "is at an end"; "come to nought" for "taken none effect" (Ro 9:6); "set at nought" for "despise" (Ro 14:3).

W. L. Walker


nur'-ish (giddel, chiyyah, kilkel, ribbah; trepho, anatrepho, ektrepho, entrepho): While the word "nourish" was ordinarily an appropriate rendering in the time of the King James Version, the word has since become much less frequent, and some senses have largely passed out of ordinary use, so that the meaning would now in most cases be better expressed by some other word. Giddel means "to bring up," "rear (children)" (Isa 1:2, margin "made great"; Isa 23:4; Da 1:5); "cause (a tree) to grow" (Isa 44:14). Chiyyah means "to preserve alive" (with some implication of care) (2Sa 12:3; Isa 7:21, the American Standard Revised Version "keep alive"). Kilkal means "to support," "maintain" "provide for" (especially with food) (Ge 45:11; 47:12; 50:21). Ribbah means "to bring up," "rear (whelps)," in a figurative use Eze 19:2). Trepho means "to feed" (transitively) (Ac 12:20, the Revised Version (British and American) "feed"; Re 12:14); "to fatten" (Jas 5:5, the context indicating an unfavorable meaning). Anatrepho is "to bring up," "rear," like giddel (Ac 7:20,21); ektrepho is "to take care of" (Eph 5:29); entrepho means "to bring up in," "train in" (1Ti 4:6).

George Ricker Berry


nov'-is (neophutos, "newly planted"): In this sense it is found in Septuagint of Job 14:9 and Isa 5:7. In the New Testament it occurs once only (1Ti 3:6), where it means a person newly planted in the Christian faith, a neophyte, a new convert, one who has recently become a Christian. This term occurs in the list which Paul gives of the qualifications which a Christian bishop must possess. The apostle instructs Timothy, that if any man desires the office of a bishop, he must not be "novice," must not be newly converted, or recently brought to the faith of Christ "lest he be lifted up with pride, and fall into the condemnation of the devil."

This means that a recent convert runs the very serious risk of being wise in his own eyes, of despising those who are still on the level from which, by his conversion, he has been lifted; and so he becomes puffed up with high ideas of his own importance. He has not yet had time to discover his limitations, he is newly planted, he does not fully understand his true position in the Christian community, he overestimates himself. For these reasons he is peculiarly liable to instability, and to the other weaknesses and sins connected with an inflated opinion of his own powers. His pride is a sure indication of a coming fall. A novice, therefore, must on no account be appointed to the office in question, for he would be sure to bring disgrace upon it.

John Rutherfurd





1. By Words

2. By Signs

3. By Letters




1. Seven and Its Multiples

(1) Ritual Use of Seven

(2) Historical Use of Seven

(3) Didactic or Literary Use of Seven

(4) Apocalyptic Use of Seven

2. The Number Three

3. The Number Four

4. The Number Ten

5. The Number Twelve

6. Other Significant Numbers



I. Number and Arithmetic.

The system of counting followed by the Hebrews and the Semites generally was the decimal system, which seems to have been suggested by the use of the ten fingers. Hebrew had separate words only for the first nine units and for ten and its multiples. Of the sexagesimal system, which seems to have been introduced into Babylonia by the Sumerians and which, through its development there, has influenced the measurement of time and space in the western civilized world even to the present day; there is no direct trace in the Bible, although, as will be shown later, there are some possible echoes. The highest number in the Bible described by a single word is 10,000 (ribbo or ribbo', murias). The Egyptians, on the other hand, had separate words for 100,000, 1,000,000, 10,000,000. The highest numbers referred to in any way in the Bible are: "a thousand thousand" (1Ch 22:14; 2Ch 14:9); "thousands of thousands" (Da 7:10; Re 5:11); "thousands of ten thousands" (Ge 24:60); "ten thousand times ten thousand" (Da 7:10; Re 5:11); and twice that figure (Re 9:16). The excessively high numbers met with in some oriental systems (compare Lubbock, The Decimal System, 17 ff) have no parallels in Hebrew. Fractions were not unknown. We find 1/3 (2Sa 18:2, etc.); 1/2 (Ex 25:10,17, etc.); 1/4 (1Sa 9:8); 1/5 (Ge 47:24); 1/6 (Eze 46:14); 1/10 (Ex 16:36); 2/10 (Le 23:13); 3/10 (Le 14:10), and 1/100 (Ne 5:11). Three other fractions are less definitely expressed: 2/3 by "a double portion," literally, "a double mouthful" by (De 21:17; 2Ki 2:9; Zec 13:8); 4/5 by "four parts" (Ge 47:24), and 9/10 by "nine parts" (Ne 11:1). Only the simplest rules of arithmetic can be illustrated from the Old Testament. There are examples of addition (Ge 5:3-31; Nu 1:20-46); subtraction (Ge 18:28 ); multiplication (Le 25:8; Nu 3:46 ), and division (Nu 31:27 ). In Le 25:50 ff is what has been said to imply a kind of rule-of-three sum. The old Babylonians had tables of squares and cubes intended no doubt to facilitate the measurement of land (Sayce, Assyria, Its Princes, Priests, and People, 118; Bezold, Ninive und Babylon, 90, 92); and it can scarcely be doubted that the same need led to similar results among the Israelites, but at present there is no evidence. Old Hebrew arithmetic and mathematics as known to us are of the most elementary kind (Nowack, HA, I, 298).

II. Notation of Numbers.

1. By Words:

No special signs for the expression of numbers in writing can be proved to have been in use among the Hebrews before the exile. The Siloam Inscription, which is probably the oldest specimen of Hebrew writing extant (with the exception of the ostraca of Samaria, and perhaps a seal or two and the obscure Gezer tablet), has the numbers written in full. The words used there for 3,200, 1,000 are written as words without any abbreviation. The earlier text of the Moabite Stone which practically illustrates Hebrew usage has the numbers 30, 40, 50, 100, 200, 7,000 written out in the same way.

2. By Signs:

After the exile some of the Jews at any rate employed signs such as were current among the Egyptians, the Arameans, and the Phoenicians--an upright line for 1, two such lines for 2, three for 3, and so on, and special signs for 10, 20, 100. It had been conjectured that these or similar signs were known to the Jews, but actual proof was not forthcoming until the discovery of Jewish papyri at Assuan and Elephantine in 1904 and 1907. In these texts, ranging from 494 to circa 400 BC, the dates are stated, not in words, but in figures of the kind described. We have therefore clear evidence that numerical signs were used by members of a Jewish colony in Upper Egypt in the 5th century BC. Now, as the existence of this colony can be traced before 525 BC, it is probable that they used this method of notation also in the preceding century. Conjecture indeed may go as far as its beginning, for it is known that there were Jews in Pathros, that is Upper Egypt, in the last days of Jeremiah (Jer 44:1,15). Some of the first Jewish settlers in Elephantine may have known the prophet and some of them may have come from Jerusalem, bringing these signs with them. At present, however, that is pure hypothesis.

3. By Letters:

In the notation of the chapters and verses of the Hebrew Bible and in the expression of dates in Hebrew books the consonants of the Hebrew alphabet are employed for figures, i.e. the first ten for 1-10, combinations of these for 11-19, the following eight for 20-90, and the remainder for 100, 200, 300, 400. The letters of the Greek alphabet were used in the same way. The antiquity of this kind of numerical notation cannot at present be ascertained. It is found on Jewish coins which have been dated in the reign of the Maccabean Simon (143-135 BC), but some scholars refer them to a much later period. All students of the Talmud are familiar with this way of numbering the pages, or rather the leaves, but its use there is no proof of early date. The numerical use of the Greek letters can be abundantly illustrated. It is met with in many Greek papyri, some of them from the 3rd century BC (Hibeh Papyri, numbers 40-43, etc.); on several coins of Herod the Great, and in some manuscripts of the New Testament, for instance, a papyrus fragment of Mt (Oxyrhynchus Pap., 2) where 14 is three times represented by iota-delta (I-D) with a line above the letters, and some codices of Re 13:18 where 666 is given by the three letters "chi" "xi" "vau" (or digaroma). It is possible that two of these methods may have been employed side by side in some cases, as in the Punic Sacrificial Tablet of Marseilles, where (l. 6) 150 is expressed first in words, and then by figures.

III. Numbers in Old Testament History.

Students of the historical books of the Old Testament have long been perplexed by the high numbers which are met with in many passages, for example, the number ascribed to the Israelites at the exodus (Ex 12:37; Nu 11:21), and on two occasions during the sojourn in the wilderness (Nu 1; 26)--more than 600,000 adult males, which means a total of two or three millions; the result of David's census 1,300,000 men (2Sa 24:9) or 1,570,000 (1Ch 21:5), and the slaughter of half a million in a battle between Judah and Israel (2Ch 13:17). There are many other illustrations in the Books of Chronicles and elsewhere. That some of these high figures are incorrect is beyond reasonable doubt, and is not in the least surprising, for there is ample evidence that the numbers in ancient documents were exceptionally liable to corruption. One of the best known instances is the variation of 1,466 years between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint (text of Codex Vaticanus) as to the interval from the creation of Adam to the birth of Abram. Other striking cases are 1Sa 6:19, where 50,070 ought probably to be 70 (Josephus, Ant., VI, i, 4); 2Sa 15:7, where 40 years ought to be 4 years; the confusion of 76 and 276 in the manuscripts of Ac 27:37, and of 616 and 666 in those of Re 13:18. Hebrew manuscripts furnish some instructive variations. One of them, number 109 of Kennicott, reads (Nu 1:23) 1,050 for 50,000; 50 for 50,000 (Nu 2:6), and 100 for 100,000 (Nu 2:16). It is easy to see how mistakes may have originated in many cases. The Hebrew numerals for 30, etc., are the plurals of the units, so that the former, as written, differ from the latter only by the addition of the two Hebrew letters yodh ("y") and mem ("m") composing the syllable -im. Now as the mem was often omitted, 3 and 30, 4 and 40, etc., could readily be confused. If signs or letters of the alphabet were made use of, instead of abbreviated words, there would be quite as much room for misunderstanding and error on the part of copyists. The high numbers above referred to as found in Ex and Nu have been ingeniously accounted for by Professor Flinders Petrie (Researches in Sinai) in a wholly different way. By understanding 'eleph not as "thousand," but as "family" or "tent," he reduces the number to 5,550 for the first census, and 5,730 for the second. This figure, however, seems too low, and the method of interpretation, though not impossible, is open to criticism. It is generally admitted that the number as usually read is too high, but the original number has not yet been certainly discovered. When, however, full allowance has been made for the intrusion of numerical errors into the Hebrew text, it is difficult to resist the belief that, in the Books of Chronicles, at any rate, there is a marked tendency to exaggeration in this respect. The huge armies again and again ascribed to the little kingdoms of Judah and Israel cannot be reconciled with some of the facts revealed by recent research; with the following, for instance: The army which met the Assyrians at Karkar in 854 BC and which represented 11 states and tribes inclusive of Israel and the kingdom of Damascus, cannot have numbered at the most more than about 75,000 or 80,000 men (HDB, 1909, 65b), and the Assyrian king who reports the battle reckons the whole levy of his country at only 102,000 (Der alte Orient, XI, i, 14, note). In view of these figures it is not conceivable that the armies of Israel or Judah could number a million, or even half a million. The contingent from the larger kingdom contributed on the occasion mentioned above consisted of only 10,000 men and 2,000 chariots (HDB, ib). The safest conclusion, therefore, seems to be that, while many of the questionable numbers in the present text of the Old Testament are due to copyists, there is a residuum which cannot be so accounted for.

IV. Round Numbers.

The use of definite numerical expressions in an indefinite sense, that is, as round numbers, which is met with in many languages, seems to have been very prevalent in Western Asia from early times to the present day. Sir W. Ramsay (Thousand and One Churches, 6) remarks that the modern Turks have 4 typical numbers which are often used in proper names with little or no reference to their exact numerical force--3, 7, 40, 1,001. The Lycaonian district which gives the book its name is called Bin Bir Kilisse, "The Thousand and One Churches," although the actual number in the valley is only 28. The modern Persians use 40 in just the same way. "Forty years" with them often means "many years" (Brugsch, cited by Konig, Stilistik, 55). This lax use of numbers, as we think, was probably very frequent among the Israelites and their neighbors. The inscription on the Moabite Stone supplies a very instructive example. The Israelite occupation of Medeba by Omri and his son for half the reign of the latter is there reckoned (II.7 f) at 40 years. As, according to 1Ki 16:23,29, the period extended to only 23 years at the most, the number 40 must have been used very freely by Mesha's scribe as a round number. It is probably often used in that way in the Bible where it is remarkably frequent, especially in reference to periods of days or years. The 40 days of the Flood (Ge 7:4,17), the arrangement of the life of Moses in three periods of 40 years each (Ac 7:23; Ex 7:7; De 34:7), the 40 years' rule or reign of Eli (1Sa 4:18), of Saul (Ac 13:21; compare Josephus, Ant, VI, xiv, 9), of David (1Ki 2:11), of Solomon (1Ki 11:42) and of Jehoash (2Ki 12:1), the 40 or 80 years of rest (Jud 3:11,30; 5:31; 8:28), the 40 years of Philistine oppression (Jud 13:1), the 40 days' challenge of Goliath (1Sa 17:16), the 40 days' fast of Moses (Ex 34:28), Elijah (1Ki 19:8), and Jesus (Mt 4:2 and parallel), the 40 days before the destruction of Nineveh (Jon 3:4), and the 40 days before the Ascension (Ac 1:3), all suggest conventional use, or the influence of that use, for it can hardly be supposed that the number in each of these cases, and in others which might be mentioned, was exactly 40. How it came to be so used is not quite certain, but it may have originated, partly at any rate, in the idea that 40 years constituted a generation or the period at the end of which a man attains maturity, an idea common, it would seem, to the Greeks, the Israelites, and the Arabs. The period of 40 years in the wilderness in the course of which the old Israel died out and a new Israel took its place was a generation (Nu 32:13, etc.). The rabbis long afterward regarded 40 years as the age of understanding, the age when a man reaches his intellectual prime (Ab, v, addendum). In the Koran (Sura 46) a man is said to attain his strength when he attains to 40 years, and it was at that age, according to tradition, that Muhammad came forward as a prophet. In this way perhaps 40 came to be used as a round number for an indefinite period with a suggestion of completeness, and then was extended in course of time to things as well as Seasons.

Other round numbers are:

(1) some of the higher numbers;

(2) several numerical phrases.

Under (1) come the following numbers. One hundred, often of course to be understood literally, but evidently a round number in Ge 26:12; Le 26:8; 2Sa 24:3; Ec 8:12; Mt 19:29 and parallel. A thousand (thousands), very often a literal number, but in not a few cases indefinite, e.g. Ex 20:6 parallel De 5:10; 7:9; 1Sa 18:7; Ps 50:10; 90:4; 105:8; Isa 60:22, etc. Ten thousand (Hebrew ribbo, ribboth, rebhabhah; Greek murids, murioi) is also used as a round number as in Le 26:8; De 32:30; So 5:10; Mic 6:7. The yet higher figures, thousands of thousands, etc., are, in almost all cases, distinctly hyperbolical round numbers, the most remarkable examples occurring in the apocalyptic books (Da 7:10; Re 5:11; 9:16; Ethiopic Enoch 40:1).

(2) The second group, numerical phrases, consists of a number of expressions in which numbers are used roundly, in some cases to express the idea of fewness. One or two, etc.: "a day or two" (Ex 21:21), "a heap, two heaps" (Jud 15:16 the Revised Version margin), "one of a city, and two of a family" (Jer 3:14), "not once, nor twice," that is "several times" (2Ki 6:10). Two or three: "Two or three berries in the (topmost) bough" (Isa 17:6; compare Ho 6:2), "Where two or three are gathered together in my name," etc. (Mt 18:20). Konig refers to Assyrian, Syrian, and Arabic parallels. Three or four: the most noteworthy example is the formula which occurs 8 times in Am 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6, "for three transgressions .... yea for four." That the numbers here are round numbers is evident from the fact that the sins enumerated are in most cases neither 3 nor 4. In Pr 30:15,18,21,29, on the other hand, where we have the same rhetorical device, climax ad majus, 4 is followed by four statements and is therefore to be taken literally. Again, Konig (same place) points to classical and Arabic parallels. Four or five: "Four or five in the outmost branches of a fruitful tree" (Isa 17:6). Five or six: "Thou shouldest have smitten (Syria) five or six times" (2Ki 13:19), an idiom met with also in Tell el-Amarna Letters (Konig, ib). Six and seven: "He will deliver thee in six troubles; yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee" (Job 5:19). Seven and eight: "Seven shepherds, and eight principal men" (Mic 5:5), that is, "enough and more than enough" (Cheyne); "Give a portion to seven, yea, even unto eight" (Ec 11:2). In one remarkable phrase which occurs (with slight variations of form) 24 times in the Old Testament, two Hebrew words, meaning respectively "yesterday" and "third," are mostly used so as together to express the idea of vague reference to the past. the Revised Version (British and American) renders in a variety of ways: "beforetime" (Ge 31:2, etc.), "aforetime" (Jos 4:18), "heretofore" (Ex 4:10, etc.), "in time (or "times") past" (De 19:4,6; 2Sa 3:17, etc.).

V. Significant Numbers.

Numerical symbolism, that is, the use of numbers not merely, if at all, with their literal numerical value, or as round numbers, but with symbolic significance, sacred or otherwise, was widespread in the ancient East, especially in Babylonia and regions more or less influenced by Babylonian culture which, to a certain extent, included Canaan. It must also be remembered that the ancestors of the Israelites are said to have been of Babylonian origin and may therefore have transmitted to their descendants the germs at least of numerical symbolism as developed in Babylonia in the age of Hammurabi. Be that as it may, the presence of this use of numbers in the Bible, and that on a large scale, cannot reasonably be doubted, although some writers have gone too far in their speculations on the subject. The numbers which are unmistakably used with more or less symbolic meaning are 7 and its multiples, and 3, 4, 10 and 12.

1. Seven and Its Multiples:

By far the most prominent of these is the number 7, which is referred to in one way or another in nearly 600 passages in the Bible, as well as in many passages in the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha, and later Jewish literature. Of course the number has its usual numerical force in many of these places, but even there not seldom with a glance at its symbolic significance. For the determination of the latter we are not assigned to conjecture. There is clear evidence in the cuneiform texts, which are our earliest authorities, that the Babylonians regarded 7 as the number of totality, of completeness. The Sumerians, from whom the Semitic Babylonians seem to have borrowed the idea, equated 7 and "all." The 7-storied towers of Babylonia represented the universe. Seven was the expression of the highest power, the greatest conceivable fullness of force, and therefore was early pressed into the service of religion. It is found in reference to ritual in the age of Gudea, that is perhaps about the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. "Seven gods" at the end of an enumeration meant "all the gods" (for these facts and the cuneiform evidence compare Hehn, Siebenzahl und Sabbath bei den Babyloniern und im Altes Testament, 4 ff). How 7 came to be used in this way can only be glanced at here. The view connecting it with the gods of the 7 planets, which used to be in great favor and still has its advocates, seems to lack ancient proof. Hehn (op. cit., 44 ff) has shown that the number acquired its symbolic meaning long before the earliest time for which that reference can be demonstrated. As this sacred or symbolic use of 7 was not peculiar to the Babylonians and their teachers and neighbors, but was more or less known also in India and China, in classical lands, and among the Celts and the Germans, it probably originated in some fact of common observation, perhaps in the four lunar phases each of which comprises 7 days and a fraction. Conspicuous groups of stars may have helped to deepen the impression, and the fact that 7 is made up of two significant numbers, each, as will be shown, also suggestive of completeness--3 and 4--may have been early noticed and taken into account. The Biblical use of 7 may be conveniently considered under 4 heads:

(1) ritual use;

(2) historical use;

(3) didactic or literary use;

(4) apocalyptic use.

(1) Ritual Use of Seven.

The number 7 plays a conspicuous part in a multitude of passages giving rules for worship or purification, or recording ritual actions. The 7th day of the week was holy (see SABBATH). There were 7 days of unleavened bread (Ex 34:18, etc.), and 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Le 23:34). The 7th year was the sabbatical year (Ex 21:2, etc.). The Moabite Balak built Balaam on three occasions 7 altars and provided in each case 7 bullocks and 7 rams (Nu 23:1,14,29). The Mosaic law prescribed 7 he-lambs for several festal offerings (Nu 28:11,19,27, etc.). The 7-fold sprinkling of blood is enjoined in the ritual of the Day of Atonement (Le 16:14,19), and elsewhere. Seven-fold sprinkling is also repeatedly mentioned in the rules for the purification of the leper and the leprous house (Le 14:7,16,27,51). The leprous Naaman was ordered to bathe 7 times in the Jordan (2Ki 5:10). In cases of real or suspected uncleanness through leprosy, or the presence of a corpse, or for other reasons, 7 days' seclusion was necessary (Le 12:2, etc.). Circumcision took place after 7 days (Le 12:3). An animal must be 7 days old before it could be offered in sacrifice (Ex 22:30). Three periods of 7 days each are mentioned in the rules for the consecration of priests (Ex 29:30,35,37). An oath seems to have been in the first instance by 7 holy things (Ge 21:29 and the Hebrew word for "swear"). The number 7 also entered into the structure of sacred objects, for instance the candlestick or lamp-stand in the tabernacle and the second temple each of which had 7 lights (Nu 8:2; Zec 4:2). Many other instances of the ritual use of 7 in the Old Testament and many instructive parallels from Babylonian texts could be given.

(2) Historical Use of Seven.

The number 7 also figures prominently in a large number of passages which occur in historical narrative, in a way which reminds us of its symbolic significance. The following are some of the most remarkable: Jacob's 7 years' service for Rachel (Ge 29:20; compare Ge 29:27 f), and his bowing down 7 times to Esau (Ge 33:3); the 7 years of plenty, and the 7 years of famine (Ge 41:53 f); Samson's 7 days' marriage feast (Jud 14:12 ; compare Ge 29:27), 7 locks of hair (Jud 16:19), and the 7 withes with which he was bound (Jud 16:7 f); the 7 daughters of Jethro (Ex 2:16), the 7 sons of Jesse (1Sa 16:10), the 7 sons of Saul (2Sa 21:6), and the 7 sons of Job (Job 1:2; compare Job 42:13); the 7 days' march of the 7 priests blowing 7 trumpets round the walls of Jericho, and the 7-fold march on the 7th day (Jos 6:8 ); the 7 ascents of Elijah's servant to the top of Carmel (1Ki 18:43 f); the 7 sneezes of the Shunammitish woman's son (2Ki 4:35); the heating of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace 7 times more than it was wont to be heated (Da 8:19), and the king's madness for 7 times or years (Da 4:16,23,25,32); Anna's 7 years of wedded life (Lu 2:36); the 7 loaves of the 4,000 (Mt 15:34-36 parallel) and the 7 baskets full of fragments (Mt 15:37 parallel); the 7 brothers in the conundrum of the Sadducees (Mt 22:25 parallel); the 7 demons cast out of Mary Magdalene (Mr 16:9 parallel Lu 8:2); the 7 ministers in the church at Jerusalem (Ac 6:3 ), and the 7 sons of Sceva (Ac 19:14, but the Western text represents them as only 2). The number must no doubt be understood literally in many of these passages, but even then its symbolic meaning is probably hinted at by the historian. When a man was said to have had 7 sons or daughters, or an action was reported as done or to be done 7 times, whether by design or accident, the number was noted, and its symbolic force remembered. It cannot indeed be regarded in all these cases as a sacred number, but its association with sacred matters which was kept alive among the Jews by the institution of the Sabbath, was seldom, if ever, entirely overlooked.

(3) Didactic or Literary Use of Seven.

The symbolic use of 7 naturally led to its employment by poets and teachers for the vivid expression of multitude or intensity. This use is sometimes evident, and sometimes latent. (a) Evident examples are the 7-fold curse predicted for the murderer of Cain (Ge 4:15); fleeing 7 ways (De 28:7,25); deliverance from 7 troubles (Job 5:19); praise of God 7 times a day (Ps 119:164); 7 abominations (Pr 26:25; compare Pr 6:16); silver purified 7 times, that is, thoroughly purified (Ps 12:6); 7-fold sin; 7-fold repentance, and 7-fold forgiveness (Lu 17:4; compare Mt 18:21); 7 evil spirits (Mt 12:45 parallel Lu 11:26). The last of these, as well as the previous reference to the 7 demons cast out of Mary Magdalene reminds us of the 7 spirits of Beliar (Testament to the Twelve Patriarchs, Reuben chapters 2 and 3) and of the 7 evil spirits so often referred to in Babylonian exorcisms (compare Hehn, op. cit., 26 ff), but it is not safe to connect our Lord's words with either. The Babylonian belief may indeed have influenced popular ideas to some extent, but there is no need to find a trace of it in the Gospels. The 7 demons of the latter are sufficiently accounted for by the common symbolic use of 7. For other passages which come under this head compare De 28:7,25; Ru 4:15; 1Sa 2:5; Ps 79:12. (b) Examples of latent use of the number 7, of what Zockler (RE3, "Sieben") calls "latent heptads," are not infrequent. The 7-fold use of the expression "the voice of Yahweh" in Ps 29, which has caused it to be named "The Psalm of the Seven Thunders," and the 7 epithets of the Divine Spirit in Isa 11:2, cannot be accidental. In both cases the number is intended to point at full-summed completeness. In the New Testament we have the 7 beatitudes of character (Mt 5:3-9); the 7 petitions of the Paternoster (Mt 6:9 f); the 7 parables of the Kingdom in Mt 13; the 7 woes pronounced on the Pharisees (Mt 23:13,15,16,23,25,27,29), perhaps the 7 sayings of Jesus, beginning with "I am" (ego eimi) in the Fourth Gospel (Joh 6:35; 8:12; 10:7,11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1), and the 7 disciples at the Lake after the Resurrection (Joh 21:2). Several groups of 7 are found in the Epistles and in Revelation: 7 forms of suffering (Ro 8:35); 7 gifts or charismata (Ro 12:6-9); 7 attributes of the wisdom that is from above (Jas 3:17); 7 graces to be added to faith (2Pe 1:5 ); two doxologies each containing 7 words of praise (Re 5:12; 7:12), and 7 classes of men (Re 6:15). Other supposed instances of 7-fold grouping in the Fourth Gospel are pointed out by E.A. Abbott (Johannine Grammar, 2624 ff), but are of uncertain value.

(4) Apocalyptic Use of Seven.

As might be expected, 7 figures greatly in apocalyptic literature, although it is singularly absent from the apocalyptic portion of Daniel. Later works of this kind, however--the writings bearing the name of Enoch, the Testaments of Reuben and Levi, 2 Esd, etc.--supply many illustrations. The doctrine of the 7 heavens which is developed in the Slavonic Enoch and elsewhere and may have been in the first instance of Babylonian origin is not directly alluded to in the Bible, but probably underlies the apostle's reference to the third heaven (2Co 12:2). In the one apocalyptic writing in the New Testament, 7 is employed with amazing frequency. We read of 7 churches (Re 1:4, etc.); 7 golden candlesticks (Re 1:12, etc.); 7 stars (Re 1:16); 7 angels of the churches (Re 1:20); 7 lamps of fire (Re 4:5); 7 spirits of God (Re 1:4; 3:1; 4:5); a book with 7 seals (Re 5:1); a lamb with 7 horns and 7 eyes (Re 5:6); 7 angels with 7 trumpets (Re 8:2); 7 thunders (Re 10:3); a dragon with 7 heads and 7 diadems (Re 13:3); a beast with 7 heads (Re 18:1); 7 angels having the 7 last plagues (Re 15:1); and 7 golden bowls of the wrath of God (Re 15:7) and a scarlet-colored beast with 7 heads (Re 17:3) which are 7 mountains (Re 17:9) and 7 kings (Re 17:10). The writer, whoever he was, must have had his imagination saturated with the numerical symbolism which had been cultivated in Western Asia for millenniums. There cannot be a shadow of doubt that 7 for him expressed fullness, completeness. As this inquiry will have shown, the significance of the number is practically the same throughout the Bible. Although a little of it may have been rubbed off in the course of ages, the main idea suggested by 7 was never quite lost sight of in Biblical times, and the number is still used in the life and song of the Holy Land and Arabia with at least an echo of its ancient meaning.

The significance of 7 extends to its multiples. Fourteen, or twice 7, is possibly symbolic in some cases. The stress laid in the Old Testament on the 14th of the month as the day of the Passover (Ex 12:6 and 16 other places), and the regulation that 14 lambs were to be offered on each of the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Nu 29:13,15) hint at design in the selection of the number, especially in view of the fact that 7 and 7 occur repeatedly in cuneiform literature--in magical and liturgical texts, and in the formula so often used in the Am Tab: "7 and 7 times at the feet of the king my lord .... I prostrate myself." The arrangement of the generations from Abraham to Christ in three groups of 14 each (Mt 1:17) is probably intentional, so far as the number in each group is concerned. It is doubtful whether the number has any symbolic force in Ac 27:27; 2Co 12:2; Ga 2:1. Of course it must be remembered that both the Hebrew and Greek words for 14 ('arba'ah asar; dekatessares) suggest that it is made up of 10 and 4, but constant use of 7 in the sense above defined will have influenced the application of its double, at least in some cases.

Forty-nine, or 7 X 7, occurs in two regulations of the Law. The second of the three great festivals took place on the 50th day after one of the days of unleavened bread (Le 23:15 ), that is, after an interval of 7 X 7 days; and two years of Jubilee were separated by 7 X 7 years (Le 25:8 ). The combination is met with also in one of the so-called Penitential Psalms of Babylonia: "Although my sins are 7 times 7, forgive me my sins."

Seven multiplied by ten, or 70, was a very strong expression of multitude which is met with in a large number of passages in the Old Testament. It occurs of persons: the 70 descendants of Jacob (Ex 15; De 10:22); the 70 elders of Israel (Ex 24:1,9; Nu 11:16,24 f); the 70 kings ill treated by Adoni-bezek (Jud 1:7); the 70 sons of Gideon (Jud 8:30; 9:2); the 70 descendants of Abdon who rode on 70 asscolts (Jud 12:14); the 70 sons of Ahab (2Ki 10:1,6 f); and the 70 idolatrous elders seen by Ezekiel (Eze 8:11). It is also used of periods: 70 days of Egyptian mourning for Jacob (Ge 50:3); 70 years of trial (Isa 23:15,17; Jer 25:11 f; Da 9:2; Zec 1:12; 7:5); the 70 weeks of Daniel (Da 9:24); and the 70 years of human life (Ps 90:10). Other noticeable uses of 70 are the 70 palm trees of Elim (Ex 15:27 parallel Nu 33:9); the offering of 70 bullocks in the time of Hezekiah (2Ch 29:32), and the offering by the heads of the tribes of 12 silver bowls each of 70 shekels (Nu 7:13 ). In the New Testament we have the 70 apostles (Lu 10:1,17), but the number is uncertain with Codices Vaticanus and Bezae and some versions reading 72, which is the product, not of 7 and 10, but of 6 and 12. Significant seventies are also met with outside of the Bible. The most noteworthy are the Jewish belief that there were 70 nations outside Israel, with 70 languages, under the care of 70 angels, based perhaps on the list in Ge 10; the Sanhedrin of about 70 members; the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek by Septuagint (more exactly 72), and the 70 members of a family in one of the Aramaic texts of Sendschirli. This abundant use of 70 must have been largely due to the fact that it was regarded as an intensified 7.

Seventy and seven, or 77, a combination found in the words of Lamech (Ge 4:24); the number of the princes and elders of Succoth (Jud 8:14); and the number of lambs in a memorable sacrifice (Ezr 8:35), would appeal in the same way to the oriental fancy.

The product of seven and seventy (Greek hebdomekontakis hepta) is met with once in the New Testament (Mt 18:22), and in the Septuagint of the above-quoted Ge 4:24. Moulton, however (Grammar of Greek New Testament Prolegomena, 98), renders in both passages 70 plus 7; contra, Allen, "Mt," ICC, 199. The number is clearly a forceful equivalent of "always."

Seven thousand in 1Ki 19:18 parallel Ro 11:4 may be a round number chosen on account of its embodiment of the number 7. In the Moabite Stone the number of Israelites slain at the capture of the city of Nebo by the Moabites is reckoned at 7,000.

The half of seven seems sometimes to have been regarded as significant. In Da 7:25; 9:27; 12:7; Lu 4:25 parallel 5:17; Re 11:2; 13:5 a period of distress is calculated at 3 1/2 years, that is, half the period of sacred completeness.

2. The Number Three:

The number three seems early to have attracted attention as the number in which beginning, middle and end are most distinctly marked, and to have been therefore regarded as symbolic of a complete and ordered whole. Abundant illustration of its use in this way in Babylonian theology, ritual and magic is given from the cuneiform texts by Hehn (op. cit., 63 ff), and the hundreds of passages in the Bible in which the number occurs include many where this special significance either lies on the surface or not far beneath it. This is owing in some degree perhaps to Babylonian influence, but will have been largely due to independent observation of common phenomena--the arithmetical fact mentioned above and familiar trios, such as heaven, earth, and sea (or "the abyss"); morning, noon and night; right, middle, and left, etc. In other words, 3 readily suggested completeness, and was often used with a glance at that meaning in daily life and daily speech. Only a selection from the great mass of Biblical examples can be given here.

(1) Three is often found of persons and things sacred or secular, e.g. Noah's 3 sons (Ge 6:10); Job's 3 daughters (Job 1:2; 42:13) and 3 friends (Job 2:11); Abraham's 3 guests (Ge 18:2); and Sarah's 3 measures of meal (Ge 18:6; compare Mt 13:33 parallel); 3 in military tactics (Jud 7:16,20; 9:43; 1Sa 11:11; 13:17; Job 1:17); 3 great feasts (Ex 23:14); the 3 daily prayers (Ps 55:17; Da 6:10,13); the 3 night watches (Jud 7:19); God's 3-fold call of Samuel (1Sa 3:8); the 3 keepers of the temple threshold (Jer 52:24); the 3 presidents appointed by Darius (Da 6:2); the 3 temptations (Mt 4:3,5 f,8 f parallel); the 3 prayers in Gethsemane (Mt 26:39,42,44 parallel); Peter's 3 denials (Mt 26:34,75 parallel); the Lord's 3-fold question and 3-fold charge (Joh 21:15 ); and the 3-fold vision of the sheet (Ac 10:16).

(2) In a very large number of passages 3 is used of periods of time: 3 days; 3 weeks; 3 months and 3 years. So in Ge 40:12,13,18; Ex 2:2; 10:22 f; 2Sa 24:13; Isa 20:3; Jon 1:17; Mt 15:32; Lu 2:46; 13:7; Ac 9:9; 2Co 12:8. The frequent reference to the resurrection "on the 3rd day" or "after 3 days" (Mt 16:21; 27:63, etc.) may at the same time have glanced at the symbolic use of the number and at the belief common perhaps to the Jews and the Zoroastrians that a corpse was not recognizable after 3 days (for Jewish testimony compare Joh 11:39; Yebamoth xvi.3; Midrash, Genesis, chapter c; Semachoth viii; for Persian ideas compare The Expository Times, XVIII, 536).

(3) The number 3 is also used in a literary way, sometimes appearing only in the structure. Note as examples the 3-fold benediction of Israel (Nu 6:24 ); the Thrice Holy of the seraphim (Isa 6:3); the 3-fold overturn (Eze 21:27 (Hebrew 32)); the 3-fold refrain of Psalms 42--43 regarded as one psalm (Ps 42:5,11; 43:5); the 3 names of God (the Mighty One, God, Yahweh, Jos 22:22; compare Ps 50:1); the 3 graces of 1Co 13; the 3 witnesses (1 Joh 5:8); the frequent use of 3 and 3rd in Revelation; the description of God as "who is and who was and who is to come" (Re 1:4); and `the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit' (Mt 28:19). In some of these cases 3-fold repetition is a mode of expressing the superlative, and others remind us of the remarkable association of 3 with deity alluded to by Plato and Philo, and illustrated by the triads of Egypt and Babylonia and the Far East. It cannot, however, be proved, or even made probable, that there is any direct connection between any of these triads and the Christian Trinity. All that can be said is, that the same numerical symbolism may have been operative in both cases.

3. The Number Four:

The 4 points of the compass and the 4 phases of the moon will have been early noticed, and the former at any rate will have suggested before Biblical times the use of 4 as a symbol of completeness of range, of comprehensive extent. As early as the middle of the 3rd millennium BC Bah rulers (followed long afterward by the Assyrians) assumed the title "king of the 4 quarters" meaning that their rule reached in all directions, and an early conqueror claimed to have subdued the 4 quarters. There are not a few illustrations of the use of 4 in some such way in the Bible. The 4 winds (referred to also in the cuneiform texts and the Book of the Dead) are mentioned again and again (Jer 49:36; Eze 37:9), and the 4 quarters or corners (Isa 11:12; Eze 7:2; Re 20:8). We read also of the 4 heads of the river of Eden (Ge 2:10 ), of 4 horns, 4 smiths, 4 chariots, and horses of 4 colors in the visions of Zechariah (1:8, Septuagint; 1:18 ff; 6:1 ff), the chariots being directly connected with the 4 winds; 4 punishments (Jer 15:3; Eze 14:21, the latter with a remarkable Assyrian parallel), the 4 kingdoms in Nebuchadnezzar's dream as interpreted (Da 2:37 ) and Daniel's vision (Da 7:3 ); the 4 living creatures in Eze (1:5 ff; compare 1:10), each with 4 faces and 4 wings, and the 4 modeled after them (Re 4:6, etc.). In most of these cases 4 is clearly symbolical, as in a number of passages in Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Whether the frequent use of it in the structure of the tabernacle, Solomon's temple, and Ezekiel's temple has anything to do with the symbolic meaning is not clear, but the latter can probably be traced in proverbial and prophetic speech (Pr 30:15,18,21,24,29; Am 1:3,6, etc.). The 4 transgressions of the latter represent full-summed iniquity, and the 4-fold grouping in the former suggested the wide sweep of the classification. Perhaps it is not fanciful to find the idea in the 4 sets of hearers of the gospel in the parable of the Sewer (Mt 13:19-23 parallel). The rabbis almost certainly had it in mind in their 4-fold grouping of characters in six successive paragraphs (Ab v.16-21) which, however, is of considerably later date.

4. The Number Ten:

As the basis of the decimal system, which probably originated in counting with the fingers, 10 has been a significant number in all historical ages. The 10 antediluvian patriarchs (Ge 5; compare the 10 Babylonian kings of Berosus, and 10 in early Iranian and far-Eastern myths); the 10 righteous men who would have saved Sodom (Ge 18:32); the 10 plagues of Egypt; the 10 commandments (Ex 20:2-17 parallel De 5:6-21; the 10 commandments found by some in Ex 34:14-26 are not clearly made out); the 10 servants of Gideon (Jud 6:27); the 10 elders who accompanied Boaz (Ru 4:2); the 10 virgins of the parable (Mt 25:1); the 10 pieces of silver (Lu 15:8); the 10 servants entrusted with 10 pounds (Lu 19:13 ), the most capable of whom was placed over 10 cities (Lu 19:17); the 10 days' tribulation predicted for the church of Smyrna (Re 2:10); the use of "10 times" in the sense of "many times" (Ge 31:7; Ne 4:12; Da 1:20, etc., an idiom met with repeatedly in Tell el-Amarna Letters); and the use of 10 in sacred measurements and in the widely diffused custom of tithe, and many other examples show plainly that 10 was a favorite symbolic number suggestive of a rounded total, large or small, according to circumstances. The number played a prominent part in later Jewish life and thought. Ten times was the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) uttered by the high priest on the Day of Atonement; 10 persons must be present at a nuptial benediction; 10 constituted a congregation in the synagogue; 10 was the usual number of a company at the paschal meal, and of a row of comforters of the bereaved. The world was created, said the rabbis, by ten words, and Abraham was visited with 10 temptations (Ab v.1 and 4; several other illustrations are found in the context).

5. The Number Twelve:

The 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac probably suggested to the old Babylonians the use of 12 as a symbolic or semi-sacred number, but its frequent employment by the Israelites with special meaning cannot at present be proved to have originated in that way, although the idea was favored by both Josephus and Philo. So far as we know, Israelite predilection for 12 was entirely due to the traditional belief that the nation consisted of 12 tribes, a belief, it is true, entertained also by the Arabs or some of them, but with much less intensity and persistence. In Israel the belief was universal and ineradicable. Hence, the 12 pillars set up by Moses (Ex 24:4); the 12 jewels in the high priest's breast-plate (Ex 28:21); the 12 cakes of showbread (Le 24:5); the 12 rods (Nu 17:2); the 12 spies (Nu 13); the 12 stones placed by Joshua in the bed of Jordan (Jos 4:9); the 12 officers of Solomon (1Ki 4:7); the 12 stones of Elijah's altar (1Ki 18:31); the 12 disciples or apostles (26 t), and several details of apocalyptic imagery (Re 7:5 ff; 12:1; 21:12,14,16,21; 22:2; compare also Mt 14:20 parallel Mt 19:28 parallel Mt 26:53; Ac 26:7). The number pointed in the first instance at unity and completeness which had been sanctioned by Divine election, and it retained this significance when applied to the spiritual Israel. Philo indeed calls it a perfect number. Its double in Re 4:4, etc., is probably also significant.

6. Other Significant Numbers:

Five came readily into the mind as the half of 10. Hence, perhaps its use in the parable of the Virgins (Mt 25:2). It was often employed in literary division, e.g. in the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the part of the Hagiographa known as the Meghilljth, the Ethiopic Enoch and Matthew (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1; compare Sir J. Hawkins, Horae Synopticae(2), 163 ff). It seems to have been occasionally suggestive of relative smallness, as in Le 26:8, the 5 loaves (Mt 14:17 parallel), 1Co 14:19, and perhaps in Tell el-Amarna Letters. It has been remarked (Skinner, "Gen," ICC, 483) that the number occurs repeatedly in reference to matters Egyptian (Ge 41:34; 45:22; 47:2; Isa 19:18), but there seems to be no satisfactory explanation. Sixty: Although, as was before observed, there is no direct trace in the Bible of the numerical system based on 60, there are a few passages where there may be a distant echo. The 60 cities of Argob (De 3:4; Jos 13:30; 1Ki 4:13); the 60 mighty men and the 60 queens of So 3:7; 6:8, the double use of 60 of Rehoboam's harem and family (2Ch 11:21), the 3 sacrifices of 60 victims each (Nu 7:88), and the length of Solomon's temple, 60 cubits (1Ki 6:2 parallel 2Ch 3:3), may perhaps have a remote connection with the Babylonian use. It must be remembered that the latter was current in Israel and the neighboring regions in the division of the talent into 60 minas. A few passages in the Pseudepigrapha may be similarly interpreted, and the Babylonian Talmud contains, as might be expected, many clear allusions. In the Bible, however, the special use of the number is relatively rare and indirect. One hundred and ten, the age attained by Joseph (Ge 50:22), is significant as the Egyptian ideal of longevity (Smith, DB2, 1804 f; Skinner, "Gen," ICC, 539 f). One hundred and fifty-three: The Greek poet Oppian (circa 171 AD) and others are said to have reckoned the number of fishes in the world at this figure (compare Jerome on Eze 47), and some scholars find a reference to that belief in Joh 21:11 in which case the number would be symbolic of comprehensiveness. That is not quite impossible, but the suggestion cannot be safely pressed. Throughout this discussion of significant numbers it must be borne in mind that writers and teachers may often have been influenced by the desire to aid the memory of those they addressed, and may to that end have arranged thoughts and facts in groups of 3, or 4, or 7, or 10, and so on (Sir John Hawkins, Horae Synopticae2, 166 f). They will at the same time have remembered the symbolic force of these numbers, and in some cases, at least, will have used them as round numbers. There are many places in which the round and the symbolic uses of a number cannot be sharply distinguished.

VI. Gematria.

(GemaTriya'). A peculiar application of numbers which was in great favor with the later Jews and some of the early Christians and is not absolutely unknown to the Bible, is Gematria, that is the use of the letters of a word so as by means of their combined numerical value to express a name, or a witty association of ideas. The term is usually explained as an adaptation of the Greek word geometria, that is, "geometry," but Dalman (Worterbuch, under the word) connects it in this application of it with grammateia. There is only one clear example in Scripture, the number of the beast which is the number of a man, six hundred sixty and six (Re 13:18). If, as most scholars are inclined to believe, a name is intended, the numerical value of the letters composing which adds up to 666, and if it is assumed that the writer thought in Hebrew or Aramaic. Nero Caesar written with the consonants nun (n) equals 50, resh (r) equals 200, waw (w) equals 6, nun (n) equals 50, qoph (q) equals 100, camekh (c) equals 60, resh (r) equals 200: total equals 666, seems to be the best solution. Perhaps the idea suggested by Dr. Milligan that the 3-fold use of 6 which just falls short of 7, the number of sacred completeness, and is therefore a note of imperfection, may have been also in the writer's mind. Some modern scholars find a second instance in Ge 14:14 and 15:2. As the numerical value of the consonants which compose Eliezer in Hebrew add up to 318, it has been maintained that the number is not historical, but has been fancifully constructed by means of gematria out of the name. This strange idea is not new, for it is found in the Midrash on Ge 43 in the name of a rabbi who lived circa 200 AD, but its antiquity is its greatest merit.


In addition to other books referred to in the course of the article: Hehn, Siebenzahl und Sabbath bei den Babyloniern und im Altes Testament; Konig, Stilistik, Rhetorik, Poetik, etc., 51-57, and the same writer's article "Number" in HDB; Sir J. Hawkins,. Horae Synopticae2, 163-67; Wiener, Essays in Pentateuchal Criticism, 155-69; "Number" in HDB (1-vol); EB; Jewish Encyclopedia;Smith, DB; "Numbers" in DCG; "Zahlen" in the Dicts. of Wiener, Riehm2, Guthe; "Zahlen" and "Sieben" in RE3.

William Taylor Smith








1. Title

2. Contents


1. Alleged Grounds of Distribution

2. Objections to Same

(1) Hypothesis Unproved

(2) Written Record Not Impossible

(3) No Book Ever Thus Constructed

(4) Inherent Difficulties of Analysis

(a) The Story of the Spies

(b) Rebellion of Korah

(c) Story of Balaam


1. Seeming Chronological Inaccuracies

(1) The Second Passover (Numbers 9:1-5)

(2) The Thirty-seven Years' Chasm

(3) Fortieth Year

2. So-called Statistical Errors

(1) Number of the Fighting Men

(2) Size of the Congregation

(a) Multiplication of People

(b) Exodus in One Day

(c) Support in Wilderness

(d) Room at Mt. Sinai

(e) Slow Conquest of Canaan

(3) Number of the Firstborn

3. Alleged Physical Impossibilities

(1) Duties of the Priests

(2) Assembling of the Congregation

(3) Marching of the Host

(4) Victory over Midian


1. Against the Mosaic Authorship

(1) Alternating Use of Divine Names

(2) Traces of Late Authorship

2. For the Mosaic Authorship

(1) Certain Passages Have the Appearance of Having Been Written by Moses

(2) Acquaintance on the Part of the Author with Egyptian Manners and Customs


I. Title and Contents.

1. Title:

Styled in the Hebrew Bible bemidhbar, "in the wilderness," from the 5th word in Nu 1:1, probably because of recording the fortunes of Israel in the Sinaitic desert. The 4th book of the Pentateuch (or of the Hexateuch, according to criticism) was designated Arithmoi in the Septuagint, and Numeri in the Vulgate, and from this last received its name "Numbers" in the King James Version, in all 3 evidently because of its reporting the 2 censuses which were taken, the one at Sinai at the beginning and the other on the plains of Moab at the close of the wanderings.

2. Contents:

Of the contents the following arrangement will be sufficiently detailed:

(1) Before leaving Sinai, Nu 1:1-10:10 (a period of 19 days, from the 1st to the 20th of the 2nd month after the exodus), describing:

(a) The numbering and ordering of the people, Numbers 1-4.

(b) The cleansing and blessing of the congregation, Numbers 5; 6.

(c) The princes' offerings and the dedication of the altar, Numbers 7; 8.

(d) The observance of a second Passover, Nu 9:1-14.

(e) The cloud and the trumpets for the march, Nu 9:15-10:10.

(2) From Sinai to Kadesh, Nu 10:11-14:45 (a period of 10 days, from the 20th to the 30th of the 2nd month), narrating:

(a) The departure from Sinai, Nu 10:11-35.

(b) The events at Taberah and Kibroth-hattaavah, Numbers 11.

(c) The rebellion of Miriam and Aaron, Numbers 12.

(d) The mission of the spies, Numbers 13; 14.

(3) The wanderings in the desert, Numbers 15-19 (a period of 37 years, from the end of the 2nd to the beginning of the 40th year), recording:

(a) Sundry laws and the punishment of a Sabbath breaker, Numbers 15.

(b) The rebellion of Korah, Numbers 16.

(c) The budding of Aaron's rod, Numbers 17.

(d) The duties and revenues of the priests and Levites, Numbers 18.

(e) The water of separation for the unclean, Numbers 19.

(4) From Kadesh to Moab, Numbers 20; 21 (a period of 10 months, from the beginning of the 40th year), reciting:

(a) The story of Balaam, Nu 22:2-24:25.

(b) The zeal of Phinehas, Numbers 25.

(c) The second census, Nu 26:1-51.

(d) Directions for dividing the land, Nu 26:52-27:11.

(e) Appointment of Moses' successor, Nu 27:12-23.

(f) Concerning offerings and vows, Numbers 28-30.

(g) War with Midian, Numbers 31.

(h) Settlement of Reuben and Gad, Numbers 32.

(i) List of camping stations, Nu 33:1-49.

(j) Canaan to be cleared of its inhabitants and divided, Nu 33:50-34:29.

(k) Cities of refuge to be appointed, Numbers 35.

(l) The marriage of heiresses, Numbers 36.

II. Literary Structure.

According to modern criticism, the text of Numbers, like that of the other books of the Pentateuch (or Hexateuch), instead of being regarded as substantially the work of one writer (whatever may have been his sources of information and whoever may have been its first or latest editor), should be distributed--not always in solid blocks of composition, but frequently in fragments, in sentences, clauses or words, so mysteriously put together that they cannot now with certainty be separated--among three writers, J, E and P with another D (at least in one part)--these writers, individuals and not schools (Gunkel), belonging, respectively: J to the 9th century BC (circa 830), E to the 8th century BC (circa 750), P to the 5th century BC (circa 444), and D to the 7th century BC (circa 621).

1. Alleged Grounds of Distribution:

The grounds upon which this distribution is made are principally these:

(1) the supposed preferential use of the Divine names, of Yahweh (Yahweh, "Lord") by J, and of Elohim ("God") by E and P--a theory, however, which hopelessly breaks down in its application, as Orr (POT, chapter vii), Eerdmans (St, 33 ff) and Wiener (EPC, I) have conclusively shown, and as will afterward appear;

(2) distinctions in style of composition, which are not always obvious and which, even if they were, would not necessarily imply diversity of authorship unless every author's writing must be uniform and monotonous, whatever his subject may be; and

(3) perhaps chiefly a preconceived theory of religious development in Israel, according to which the people in pre-Mosaic times were animists, totemists and polytheists; in Mosaic times and after, henotheists or worshippers of one God, while recognizing the existence of other gods; and latterly, in exilic and post-exilic times, monotheists or worshippers of the one living and true God--which theory, in order to vindicate its plausibility, required the reconstruction of Israel's religious documents in the way above described, but which is now rejected by archaeologists (Delitzsch and A. Jeremias) and by theologians (Orr, Baentsch (though accepting the analysis on other grounds) and Konig) as not supported by facts.

2. Objections to Same:

Without denying that the text-analysis of criticism is on the first blush of it both plausible and attractive and has brought to light valuable information relative to Scripture, or without overlooking the fact that it has behind it the names of eminent scholars and is supported by not a few considerations of weight, one may fairly urge against it the following objections.

(1) Hypothesis Unproved.

At the best, theory is an unproved and largely imaginary hypothesis, or series of hypotheses--"hypothesis built on hypothesis" (Orr); and nothing more strikingly reveals this than

(a) the frequency with which in the text-analysis conjecture ("perhaps" and "probably") takes the place of reasoned proof

(b) the arbitrary manner in which the supposed documents are constructed by the critics who, without reason given, and often in violation of their own rules and principles, lift out of J (for instance) every word or clause they consider should belong to E or the Priestly Code (P), and vice versa every word or clause out of E or P that might suggest that the passage should be assigned to J, at the same time explaining the presence of the inconvenient word or clause in a document to which it did not belong by the careless or deliberate action of a redactor; and

(c) the failure even thus to construct the documents successfully, most critics admitting that J and E cannot with confidence be separated from each other--Kuenen himself saying that "the attempt to make out a Jehovistic and an Elohistic writer or school of writers by means of the Divine names has led criticism on a wrong way"; and some even denying that P ever existed as a separate document at all, Eerdmans (St, 33, 82), in particular, maintaining, as the result of elaborate exegesis, that P could not have been constructed in either exilic or post-exilic times "as an introduction to a legal work."

(2) Written Record Not Impossible.

It is impossible to demonstrate that the story of Israel's "wanderings" was not committed to writing by Moses, who certainly was not unacquainted with the art of writing, who had the ability, if any man had, to prepare such a writing, whose interest it was, as the leader of his people, to see that such writing, whether done by himself or by others under his supervision, was accurate, and who besides had been commanded by God to write the journeyings of Israel (Nu 33:2). To suppose that for 500 years no reliable record of the fortunes of Israel existed, when during these years writing was practiced in Egypt and Babylon; and that what was then fixed in written characters was only the tradition that had floated down for 5 centuries from mouth to mouth, is simply to say that little or no dependence can be placed upon the narrative, that while there may be at the bottom of it some grains of fact, the main body of it is fiction. This conclusion will not be readily admitted.

(3) No Book Ever Thus Constructed.

No reliable evidence exists that any book either ancient or modern was ever constructed as, according to criticism, the Pentateuch, and in particular Numbers, was. Volumes have indeed been composed by two or more authors, acting in concert, but their contributions have never been intermixed as those of J, E, D and P are declared to have been; nor, when joint authorship has been acknowledged on the title-page, has it been possible for readers confidently to assign to each author his own contribution. And yet, modern criticism, dealing with documents more than 2,000 years old and in a language foreign to the critics--which documents, moreover, exist only in manuscripts not older than the 10th century AD (Buhl, Canon and Text of the Old Testament, 28), and the text of which has been fixed not infallibly either as to consonant or vowel--claims that it can tell exactly (or nearly so) what parts, whether paragraphs, sentences, clauses or words, were supplied by J, E, P and D respectively. Credat Judaeus Apella!

(4) Inherent Difficulties of Analysis.

The critical theory, besides making of the text of Numbers, as of the other books of the Pentateuch, such a patchwork as is unthinkable in any document with ordinary pretension to historical veracity, is burdened with inherent difficulties which make it hard to credit, as the following examples taken from Numbers, will show.

(a) The Story of the Spies:

Numbers 13 and 14 are thus distributed by Cornill, Driver, Strack and E B:

JE, Nu 13:17 b-20,22-24,26b-31,32b,33; 14:3,4,8,9,11-25,39-45.

P, Nu 13:1-17 a,21,25,26a (to Paran),32a; 14:1,2 (in the main),5-7,10,26-38 (in the main).

Kautzsch generally agrees; and Hartford-Battersby in HDB professes ability to divide between J and E.

(i) According to this analysis, however, up to the middle of the 5th century BC, either JE began at Nu 13:17 b, in which case it wanted both the instruction to search the land and the names of the searchers, both of which were subsequently added from P (assuming it to have been a separate document, which is doubtful); or, if JE contained both the instruction and the names, these were supplanted by 13:1-17a from P. As the former of these alternatives is hardly likely, one naturally asks why the opening verses of JE were removed and those of P substituted? And if they were removed, what has become of them? Does not the occurrence of Yahweh in 13:1-17a, on the critical principles of some, suggest that this section is the missing paragraph of JE?

(ii) If the JE passages furnish a nearly complete narrative (Driver), why should the late compiler or editor have deemed it necessary to insert two whole verses, 13:21 and 25, and two halves, 13:26a and 32a, if not because without these the original JE narrative would have been incomplete? Nu 13:21 states in general terms that the spies searched the whole land, proceeding as far North as Hamath, after which 13:22 mentions that they entered the country from the South and went up to Hebron and Eshcol, without at all stating an incongruity (Gray) or implying (Driver) that they traveled no farther North--the reason for specifying the visit to Eshcol being the interesting fact that there the extraordinary cluster of grapes was obtained. Nu 13:25,26 a relate quite naturally that the spies returned to Kadesh after 40 days and reported what they had found to Moses and Aaron as well as to all the congregation. Without these verses the narrative would have stated neither how long the land had been searched nor whether Moses and Aaron had received any report from their messengers, although 13:26b implies that a report was given to some person or persons unnamed. That Moses and Aaron should not have been named in JE is exceedingly improbable. Nu 13:32 a is in no way inconsistent with 13:26b-31, which state that the land was flowing with milk and honey. What 13:32a adds is an expression of the exaggerated fears of the spies, whose language could not mean that the land was so barren that they would die of starvation, a statement which would have expressly contradicted 13:27 (JE)--in which case why should it have been inserted?--but that, notwithstanding its fruitfulness, the population was continually being wasted by internecine wars and the incursions of surrounding tribes. The starvation theory, moreover, is not supported by the texts (Le 26:38; Eze 36:13) usually quoted in its behalf.

(iii) To argue (Driver) for two documents because Joshua is not always mentioned along with Caleb is not strikingly convincing; while if Joshua is not included among the spies in JE, that is obviously because the passages containing his name have been assigned beforehand to P. But if Joshua's name did not occur in JE, why would it have been inserted in the story by a post-exilic writer, when even in De 1:36 Joshua is not expressly named as one of the spies, though again the language in De 1:38 tacitly suggests that both Caleb and Joshua were among the searchers of the land, and that any partition of the text which conveys the impression that Joshua was not among the spies is wrong?

(iv) If the text-analysis is as the critics arrange, how comes it that in JE the name Yahweh does not once occur, while all the verses containing it are allocated to P?

(b) Rebellion of Korah:

Numbers 16 and 17 are supposed to be the work of "two, if not three," contributors (Driver, Kautzsch)--the whole story being assigned to P (enlarged by additions about which the text analysts are not unanimous), with the exception of 16:1b,2a,12-15,25,26,27b-34, which are given to JE, though variations here also are not unknown.

It is admitted that the JE verses, if read continuously, make out a story of Dathan and Abiram as distinguished from Korah and his company; that the motives of Dathan and Abiram probably differed from those of Korah and his company, and that Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up by an earthquake, while the 250 incense-offerers were destroyed by fire. To conclude from this, however, that three or even two narratives have been intermixed is traveling beyond the premises.

(i) If JE contained more about the conspiracy of the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, than has been preserved in the verses assigned to it, what has become of the excised verses, if they are not those ascribed to P; and, if they are not, what evidence exists that P's verses are better than the lost verses of JE? And how comes it that in P the Divine name used throughout, with one exception, 16:22, is Yahweh, while in JE it occurs only 6 t? (ii) If JE contained only the parts assigned to it and nothing more happened than the Reubenite emeute, why should the Korahite rebellion have been added to it 4 centuries later, if that rebellion never happened? (iii) If the Korahite conspiracy did happen, why should it have been omitted in JE, and nothing whispered about it till after the exile? (iv) If the two conspiracies, ecclesiastical (among the princes) and civil (among the laymen), arose contemporaneously, and the conspirators made common cause with one another, in that there was nothing unusual or contrary to experience. (v) If Moses addressed himself now to Korah and again to Dathan and Abiram, why should not the same document say so? (vi) If Dathan and Abiram were engulfed by an earthquake, and the 250 princes were consumed by fire from the tabernacle, even that does not necessitate two documents, since both events might have occurred together. (vii) It is not certain that P (16:35-43) represents Korah as having been consumed by fire, while JE (16:31-33) declares he was swallowed up by the earth. At least P (26:10) distinctly states that Korah was swallowed up by the earth, and that only the 250 were consumed by fire.

Wherefore, in the face of these considerations, it is not too much to say that the evidence for more documents than one in this story is not convincing.

(c) Story of Balaam:

Numbers 22-24 fare more leniently at the hands of analysis, being all left with JE, except 22:1, which is generously handed over to P. Uncertainty, however, exists as to how to partition chapter 22 between J and E. Whether all should be given to E because of the almost uniform use of Elohim rather than of Yahweh, with the exception of 22:22-35a, which are the property of J because of the use of Yahweh (Driver, Kautzsch); or whether some additional verses should not be assigned to J (Cornill, HDB), critics are not agreed. As to Numbers 23 and 24, authorities hesitate whether to give both to J or to E, or chapter 23 to E and chapter 24 to J, or both to a late redactor who had access to the two sources--surely an unsatisfactory demonstration in this case at least of the documentary hypothesis. Comment on the use of the Divine names in this story is reserved till later.

Yet, while declining to accept this hypothesis as proved, it is not contended that the materials in Nu are always arranged in chronological order, or that the style of composition is throughout the same, or that the book as it stands has never been revised or edited, but is in every jot and tittle the same as when first constructed. In Numbers 7, e.g., the narrative goes back to the 1st day of the 1st month of the 2nd year, and in chapter 9 to the 1st month of the 2nd year, though chapter 1 begins with the 1st day of the 2nd month of the 2nd year. There are also legislative passages interspersed among the historical, and poetical among the prosaic, but diversity of authorship, as already suggested, cannot be inferred from either of these facts unless it is impossible for a writer to be sometimes disorderly in the arrangement of his materials; and for a lawgiver to be also a historian, and for a prose writer occasionally to burst into song. Assertions like these, however, cannot be entertained. Hence, any argument for plurality of documents rounded on them must be set aside. Nor is it a fair conclusion against the literary unity of the book that its contents are varied in substance and form and have been subjected, as is probable, to revision and even to interpolations, provided always these revisions and interpolations have not changed the meaning of the book. Whether, therefore, the Book of Nu has or has not been compiled from preexisting documents, it cannot be justly maintained that the text-analysis suggested by the critics has been established, or that the literary unity of Nu has been disproved.

III. Historical Credibility.

Were the narrative in this book written down immediately or soon after the events it records, no reason would exist for challenging its authenticity, unless it could be shown either from the narrative itself or from extraneous sources that the events chronicled were internally improbable, incredible or falsified. Even should it be proved that the text consists of two or more preexisting documents interwoven with one another, this would not necessarily invalidate its truthfulness, if these documents were practically contemporaneous with the incidents they report, and were not combined in such a way as to distort and misrepresent the occurrences they related. If, however, these pre-existing documents were prepared 500 (JE) or 1,000 (P) years after the incidents they narrate, and were merely a fixing in written characters of traditions previously handed down (JE), or of legislation newly invented and largely imaginary (P), it will not be easy to establish their historical validity. The credibility of this portion of the Pentateuch has been assailed on the alleged ground that it contains chronological inaccuracies, statistical errors and physical impossibilities.

1. Seeming Chronological Inaccuracies:

(1) The Second Passover (Numbers 9:1-5)

The critical argument is that a contemporary historian would naturally have placed this paragraph before Nu 1:1. The answer is that possibly he would have done so had his object been to observe strict chronological order, which it manifestly was not (see Numbers 7 and 9), and had he when commencing the book deemed it necessary to state that the Israelites had celebrated a second Passover on the legally appointed day, the 14th of the 1st month of the 2nd year. This, however, he possibly at first assumed would be understood, and only afterward, when giving the reason for the supplementary Passover, realized that in after years readers might erroneously conclude that this was all the Passover that had been kept in the 2nd year. So to obviate any such mistaken inference, he prefixed to his account of the Little Passover, as it is sometimes called, a statement to the effect that the statutory ordinance, the Great Passover, had been observed at the usual time, in the usual way, and that, too, in obedience to the express commandment of Yahweh.

(2) The Thirty-seven Years' Chasm.

Whether Nu 20:1 be considered the beginning of the 3rd or of the 40th year, in either case a period of 37 years is passed over--in the one case in almost unbroken silence; in the other with scarcely anything of moment recorded save Korah's rebellion and the publication of a few laws concerning offerings to be made when the people reached the land of their habitation. To pronounce the whole book unhistorical because of this long interval of absolute or comparative silence (Bleek) is unreasonable. Most histories on this principle would be cast into the wastebasket. Besides, a historian might have as good reason for passing over as for recording the incidents of any particular period. And this might have been the case with the author of Numbers. From the moment sentence of death was passed upon the old generation at Kadesh, till the hour when the new generation started out for Canaan, he may have counted that Israel had practically ceased to be the people of Yahweh, or at least that their fortunes formed no part of the history of Yahweh's kingdom; and it is noticeable that scarcely had the tribes reassembled at Kadesh in preparation for their onward march than Miriam and Aaron, probably the last of the doomed generation, died. Accordingly, from this point on, the narrative is occupied with the fortunes of the new generation. Whether correct or not, this solution of the 37 years' silence (Kurtz) is preferable to that which suggests (Ewald) that the late compiler, having found it impossible to locate all the traditions he had collected into the closing years of the wanderings, placed the rest of them in the first 2 years, and left the interval a blank--a solution which has not even the merit of being clever and explains nothing. It does not explain why, if the narrator was not writing history, there should have been an interval at all. A romancer would not have missed so splendid an opportunity for exercising his art, would not have left a gap of 37 years unfilled, but like the writers of the apocryphal Gospels would have crowded it with manufactured tales.

On the better theory, not only is the silence explained, but the items inserted are accounted for as well. Though the unbelieving generation had ceased to be the people of Yahweh, Aaron had not yet been sentenced to exclusion from the promised land, He was still one of the representatives of the kingdom of Yahweh, and Korah's rebellion practically struck a blow at that kingdom. As such it was punished, and the story of its breaking out and suppression was recorded, as a matter that vitally concerned the stability of the kingdom. For a like reason, the legislative sections were included in the narrative. They were Yahweh's acts and not the people's. They were statutes and ordinances for the new generation in the new land.

(3) Fortieth Year.

The events recorded as having taken place between the 1st of the 5th month (the date of Aaron's death) and the 1st of the 11th month (the date of Moses' address) are so numerous and important as to render it impossible, it is said, to maintain the credibility of this portion of the narrative. But

(a) it is not certain that all the events in this section were finished before Moses began his oration; neither

(b) is it necessary to hold that they all occurred in succession; while

(c) until the rapidity with which events followed one another is ascertained, it will not be possible to decide whether or not they could all have been begun and finished within the space of 6 months.

2. So-called Statistical Errors:

(1) Number of the Fighting Men.

This, which may be set down roughly at 600,000, has been challenged on two grounds:

(a) that the number is too large, and

(b) that the censuses at Sinai and in Moab are too nearly equal.

The first of these objections will be considered in the following section when treating of the size of the congregation. The second will not appear formidable if it be remembered

(a) that it is neither impossible nor unusual for the population of a country to remain stationary for a long series of years;

(b) that there was a special fitness in Israel's ease that the doomed generation should be replaced by one as nearly as possible equal to that which had perished;

(c) that had the narrative been invented, it is more than likely that the numbers would have been made either exactly equal or more widely divergent; and

(d) that so many variations occurring in the strength of the tribes as numbered at Sinai and again in Moab, while the totals so nearly correspond, constitutes a watermark of truthfulness which should not be overlooked.

(2) Size of the Congregation.

Taking the fighting men at 600,000 and the whole community at 4 1/2 times that number, or about 2 1/2 millions, several difficulties emerge which have led to the suggestion (Eerdmans, Conder, Wiener) that the 600,000 should be reduced (to, say, 6,000), and the entire population to less than 30,000. The following alleged impossibilities are believed to justify this reduction:

(a) that of 70 families increasing to 2 1/2 millions between the descent into, and the departure from, Egypt;

(b) that of 2 1/2 millions being led out of Egypt in one day;

(c) that of obtaining support for so large a multitude with their flocks in the Sinaitic desert;

(d) that of finding room for them either before the Mount at Sinai, or in the limited territory of Palestine; and

(e) that of the long time it took to conquer Palestine if the army was 600,000 strong.

(a) Multiplication of People:

As to the possibility of 70 souls multiplying in the course of 215 years or 7 generations (to take the shorter interval rather than the longer of 430 years) into 2 1/2 millions of persons giving 600,000 fighting men, that need not be regarded as incredible till the rate of increase in each family is exactly known. Allowing to each of Jacob's grandsons who were married (say 51 out of 53), 4 male descendants (Colenso allows 4 1/2), these would in 7 generations--not in 4 (Colenso)--amount to 835,584, and with surviving fathers and grandfathers added might well reach 900,000, of whom 600,000 might be above 20 years of age. But in point of fact, without definite data about the number of generations, the rates of birth and of mortality in each generation, all calculations are at the best problematical. The most that can be done is to consider whether the narrative mentions any circumstances fitted to explain this large number of fighting men and the great size of the congregation, and then whether the customary objections to the Biblical statement can be satisfactorily set aside.

As for corroborative circumstances, the Bible expressly states that during the years of the oppression the Hebrews were extraordinarily fruitful, and that this was the reason why Pharaoh became alarmed and issued his edict for the destruction of the male children. The fruitfulness of the Hebrews, however, has been challenged (Eerdmans, Verger schichte Israels, 78) on the ground that were the births so numerous as this presupposes, two midwives (Ex 1:15) would not have sufficed for the necessary offices. But if the two to whom Pharaoh spake were the superintendents of the midwives throughout Goshen, to whom the king would hardly address himself individually, or if they were the two officiating in Hellopolls, the statement in Ex 1:15 will appear natural enough, and not opposed to the statement in Ex 1:10 that Pharaoh was alarmed at the multiplication of the Hebrews in his land. And, indeed, if the Hebrews were only 30,000 strong, it is not easy to see why the whole might of Egypt could not have kept them in subjection. Then as to the congregation being 2 1/2 millions if the 2 fighting men were 600,000, that corresponds with the proportion which existed among the Helvetii, who had 92,000 men capable of bearing arms out of a population, including children, old men and women, of 368,000 souls (Caesar, BG, i, 20). This seems to answer the objection (Eerdmans, Vorgeschichte Israels, 78) that the unschooled Oriental is commonly addicted to exaggeration where numbers are concerned.

(b) Exodus in One Day:

The second difficulty would be serious were it necessary to suppose that the Israelites had never heard about their projected journey till the 14th of the 1st month. But the idea of going forth from Egypt must have been before them since the day Moses went to Pharaoh to demand their liberation; and at least 4 days before the 14th they had begun to prepare for departure. In circumstances such as these, with a people thirsting for liberty and only waiting the signal to move, aware also of the hour at which that signal would be given, namely, at midnight, it does not appear so formidable a task as is imagined to get them all assembled in one day at a fore-appointed rendezvous, more especially as they were not likely to delay or linger in their movements. But how could there have been 2 1/2 millions of fugitives, it is asked (Eerdmans, Wiener), if Pharaoh deemed 600 chariots sufficient for pursuit? The answer is that Pharaoh did not reckon 600 chariots sufficient, but in addition to these, which were "chosen chariots," he took all the chariots of Egypt, his horsemen and his army (Ex 14:7,9), which were surely adequate to overcome a weaponless crowd, however big it might be. And that it was big, a vast horde indeed, Pharaoh's host implies.

(c) Support in Wilderness:

The supposed difficulty of obtaining support for 2 1/2 millions of people with the flocks and herds in the Sinaitic desert takes for granted that the desert was then as barren a region as it is now, which cannot be proved, and is as little likely to be correct as it would be to argue that Egypt, which was then the granary of the world, was no more fertile than it was 10 years ago, or that the regions in which Babylon and Assyria were situated were as desolate then as they are now. This supposition disregards the fact that Moses fed the flocks of Jethro for 40 years in that same region of Sinai; that when the Israelites passed through it, it was inhabited by several powerful tribes. It overlooks, too, the fact that the flocks and herds of Israel were not necessarily all cooped up in one spot, but were most likely spread abroad in districts where water and vegetation could be found. And it ignores the statement in the narrative that the Israelites were not supplied exclusively by the produce of the desert, but had manna from heaven from the 1st day of the 2nd month after leaving Egypt till they reached Canaan. Rationalistic expositors may relegate this statement to the limbo of fable, but unless the supernatural is to be eliminated altogether from the story, this statement must be accorded its full weight. So must the two miraculous supplies of water at Horeb (Ex 17) and at Kadesh (Nu 20) be treated. It is sometimes argued that these supplies were quite insufficient for 2 1/2 millions of people with their flocks and herds; and that therefore the congregation could not have been so large. But the narrative in Nu states, and presumably it was the same in Exodus, that the smitten rock poured forth its water so copiously and so continuously that `the people drank abundantly with their flocks.' Wherefore no conclusion can be drawn from this against the reported size of the congregation.

(d) Room at Mt. Sinai:

As to the impossibility of finding room for 2 1/2 millions of people either before the Mount at Sinai or within the land of Canaan (Conder), few will regard this as self-evident. If the site of their encampment was the Er-Rahab plain (Robinson, Stanley)--though the plain of Sebayeh, admittedly not so roomy, has been mentioned (Ritter, Kurtz, Knobel)--estimates differ as to the sufficiency of accommodation to be found there. Conder gives the dimensions of the plain as 4 square miles, which he deems insufficient, forgetting, perhaps, that "its extent is farther increased by lateral valleys receding from the plain itself" (Forty Days in the Desert, 73; compare Keil on Ex 19:1,2). Kalisch, though putting the size of the plain at a smaller figure, adds that "it thus furnished ample tenting ground for the hosts of Israel"--a conclusion accepted by Ebers, Riehm and others. In any case it seems driving literal interpretation to extreme lengths to hold that camping before the Mount necessarily meant that every member of the host required to be in full view of Sinai. As to not finding room in Canaan, it is doubtful if, after the conquest, the remnants of both peoples at any time numbered as many persons as dwelt in Palestine during the most flourishing years of the kingdom. It may well be that the whole population of Palestine today amounts to only about 600,000 souls; but Palestine today under Turkish rule is no proper gauge for judging of Palestine under David or even under Joshua.

(e) Slow Conquest of Canaan:

The long time it took to conquer Palestine (Eerdmans, Vorgeschichte Israels, 78) is no solid argument to prove the unreliable character of the statement about the size of the army, and therefore of the congregation. Every person knows that in actual warfare, victory does not always go with the big battalions; and in this instance the desert-trained warriors allowed themselves to be seduced by the idolatries and immoralities of the Canaanites and forgot to execute the commission with which they had been entrusted, namely, to drive out the Canaanites from the land which had been promised to their fathers. Had they been faithful to Yahweh, they would not have taken so long completely to possess the land (Ps 81:13,14). But if instead of having 600,000 stalwart soldiers they had only possessed 6,000, it is not difficult to see how they could not drive out the Canaanites. The difficulty is to perceive how they could have achieved as much as they did.

(3) Number of the Firstborn.

That the 22,273 firstborn males from 1 month old and upward (Nu 3:43) is out of all proportion to the 603,550 men of 20 years old and upward, being much too few, has frequently (Bleek, Bohlen, Colenso and others) been felt as a difficulty, since it practically involves the conclusion that for every firstborn there must have been 40 or 45 males in each family. Various solutions of this difficulty have been offered. The prevalence of polygamy has been suggested (Michaelis, Havernick). The exclusion of firstborn sons who were married, the inclusion only of the mother's firstborn, and the great fruitfulness of Hebrew mothers have been called in to surmount the difficulty (Kurtz). But perhaps the best explanation is that only those were counted who were born after the Law was given on the night of the departure from Egypt (Ex 13:2; Nu 3:13; 8:17) (Keil, Delitzsch, Gerlach). It may be urged, of course, that this would require an exceptionally large number of births in the 13 months; but in the exceptionally joyous circumstances of the emancipation this might not have been impossible. In any case, it does not seem reasonable on account of this difficulty, which might vanish were all the facts known, to impeach the historical accuracy of the narrative, even in this particular.

(NOTE.--In Scotland, with a population of nearly double that of the Israelites, namely, 4,877,648, the marriages in 1909 were 30,092, the lowest on record for 55 years. At this rate the births in Israel during the first 12 months after the exodus might have been 15,046, assuming each marriage to have had issue. As this marriage rate, however, is excessively low for Scotland in normal years, the number of marriages and therefore of births in Israel in the first year after the exodus may well have been twice, if not 3 times, 15,046, i.e. 30,092, or 45,138. Reckoning the half of these as males, namely, 15,046 or 22,569, it does not appear as if the number of the firstborn in the text were quite impossible, on the supposition made.)

3. Alleged Physical Impossibilities:

(1) Duties of the Priests.

These are supposed to have been so onerous that Aaron and his sons could not possibly have performed them. But

(a) the Levitical laws, though published in the desert, were not necessarily intended to receive full and minute observance there, but only in Canaan.

(b) In point of fact, as Moses afterward testified (De 12:8), the Levitical laws were not scrupulously kept in the wilderness.

(c) There is no reason to suppose that the Passover of the 2nd year was celebrated otherwise than it had been in Egypt before the exodus, the slaughtering of the lambs being performed by the heads of families. And

(d) as the Levites were set apart to minister to the tabernacle (Nu 1:50), they would be able in many ways to assist the priests.

(2) Assembling of the Congregation.

The assembling of the congregation at the door of the tabernacle (Nu 10:3,4) has been adduced as another physical impossibility; and no doubt it was if every man, woman and child, or even only every man was expected to be there; but not if the congregation was ordinarily represented by its "renowned" or "called" men, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands of Israel (Nu 1:16). To suppose that anything else was meant is surely not required. When Moses called all Israel and spake unto them (De 5:1; 29:2), no intelligent person understands that he personally addressed every individual, or spoke so as to be heard by every individual, though what he said was intended for all. An additional difficulty in the way of assembling the congregation, and by implication an argument against the size of the congregation, has been discovered in the two silver trumpets which, it is contended, were too few for summoning so vast a host as 2 1/2 millions of people. But it is not stated in the narrative either

(a) that it was absolutely necessary that every individual in the camp should hear the sound of the trumpets any more than it was indispensable that Balaam's curse should re-echo to the utmost bounds of Israel (Nu 23:13), or that a public proclamation by a modern state, though prefaced by means of an "Oyez," should be heard by all within the state or even within its capital; or

(b) if it was necessary that everyone should hear, that the trumpeters could not move about through the camp but must remain stationary at the tabernacle door; or

(c) that in the clear air of the desert the sound of the trumpets would not travel farther than in the noisy and murky atmosphere of modern cities; or

(d) that should occasion arise for more trumpets than two, Moses and his successors were forbidden to make them.

(3) Marching of the Host.

The marching of the host in four main divisions of about half a million each (Nu 2; 10:14-20) has also been pronounced a stumbling-block (Colenso, Eerdmans, Doughty), inasmuch as the procession formed (i.e. if no division began to fall into line till its predecessor had completed its evolutions) would require the whole day for its completion, and would make a column of unprecedented length--of 22 miles (Colenzo), of 600 miles (Doughty)--and would even on the most favorable hypothesis travel only a few miles, when the whole line would again need to reconstruct the camp. The simple statement of this shows its absurdity as an explanation of what actually took place on the march, and indirectly suggests that the narrative may be historical after all, as no romancer of a late age would have risked his reputation by laying down such directions for the march, if they were susceptible of no other explanation than the above. How precisely the march was conducted may be difficult or even impossible to describe in such a way as to obviate all objections. But some considerations may be advanced to show that the march through the desert was neither impossible nor incredible.

(a) The deploying of the four main divisions into line may have gone on simultaneously, as they were widely apart from each other, on the East (Judah), on the South (Reuben), on the West (Ephraim) and on the North (Dan).

(b) There is no ground for thinking that the march would be conducted, at least at first, with the precision of a modern army, or that each division would extend itself to the length of 22 miles. It is more than likely that they would follow their standards as best they could or with such order as could be arranged by their captains.

(c) If the camps of Judah and Reuben started their preparations together, say at 6 o'clock in the morning (which might be possible), and occupied 4 hours in completing these, they might begin to advance at 10 o'clock and cover 10 miles in another 4 hours, thus bringing them on to 2 PM, after which 4 hours more would enable them to encamp themselves for the night, if that was necessary. The other two divisions falling into line, say at 2 o'clock, would arrive at 6 PM, and by 10 PM would be settled for the night.

(d) It does not seem certain that every night upon the march they would arrange themselves into a regularly constructed camp; rather it is reasonable to conclude that this would be done only when they had reached a spot where a halt was to be made for some time.

(e) In any case, in the absence of more details as to how the march was conducted, arithmetical calculations are of little value and are not entitled to discredit the truthfulness of the narrative.

(4) Victory over Midian.

This has been objected to on moral grounds which are not now referred to. It is the supposed impossibility of 12,000 Israelites slaying all the male Midianites, capturing all their women and children, including 32,000 virgins, seizing all their cattle and flocks, with all their goods, and burning all their cities and castles without the loss of a single man (Nu 31:49), which occasions perplexity. Yet Scripture relates several victories of a similar description, as e.g. that of Abraham over the kings of the East (Ge 14:15), in which, so far as the record goes, no loss was incurred by the patriarch's army; that of Gideon's 300 over the Midianites at a later date (Jud 7:22); that of Samson single-handed over 1,000 Philistines (Jud 15:15); and that of Jehoshaphat at the battle of Tekoa (2Ch 20:24), which was won without a blow--all more or less miraculous, no doubt. But in profane history, Tacitus (Ann. xiii.39) relates an instance in which the Romans slaughtered all their foes without losing a single man; and Strabo (xvi.1128) mentions a battle in which 1,000 Arabs were slain by only 2 Romans; while the life of Saladin contains a like statement concerning the issue of a battle (Havernick, Intro, 330). Hence, Israel's victory over Midian does not afford sufficient ground for challenging its historic credibility.

IV. Authorship.

Restricting attention to evidence from Nu itself, it may be remarked in a general way that the question of authorship is practically settled by what has been advanced on its literary structure and historical credibility. For, if the materials of the book were substantially the work of one pen (whoever may have been their first collector or last redactor), and if these materials are upon the whole trustworthy, there will be little room to doubt that the original pen was in the hand of a contemporary and eyewitness of the incidents narrated, and that the contemporary and eyewitness was Moses, who need not, however, have set down everything with his own hand, all that is necessary to justify the ascription of the writing to him being that it should have been composed by his authority and under his supervision. In this sense it is believed that indications are not wanting in the book both against and for the Mosaic authorship; and these may now be considered.

1. Against the Mosaic Authorship:

(1) Alternating Use of Divine Names. This usage, after forming so characteristic a feature in Ge and largely disappearing in Exodus and Leviticus, reasserts itself in Numbers, and more particularly in the story of Balaam. If Numbers 23 and 24 can be explained only as late documents pieced together, because of the use of "God" in chapter 23 and of "Lord" in chapter 24, then Moses was not their author. But if the varying use of the divine names is susceptible of explanation on the assumption that the two chapters originally formed one document, then most distinctly the claim of Moses to authorship is not debarred. Now whether Balaam was a false or a true prophet, it is clear that he could hope to please Balak only by cursing Israel in the name of Yahweh, the God 'Elohim of Israel; and so it is always Yahweh he consults or pretends to consult before replying to the messengers of Balak. Four times he did so (22:8,19; 23:3,15); and 3 times it was Elohim who met him (22:9,20; 23:14), while every time it was Yahweh who put the word in his mouth. Can any conclusion be fairer than that the historian regarded 'Elohim and Yahweh as the same Divine Being, and represented this as it were by a double emphasis, which showed

(a) that the Yahweh whom Balaam consulted was Elohim or the supreme God, and

(b) that the God who met Balaam and supplied him with oracles was Israel's Lord? Thus explained, the alternate use of the Divine names does not require the hypothesis of two single documents rolled into one; and indeed the argument from the use of the divine names is now generally abandoned.

(2) Traces of Late Authorship.

Traces of late authorship are believed to exist in several passages:

(a) Nu 15:32-36 seems to imply that the writer was no longer in the wilderness, which may well have been the case, if already he was in the land of Moab.

(b) 20:5 suggests, it is said, that the people were then in Canaan. But the language rather conveys the impression that they were not yet come to Canaan; and in point of fact the people were at Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.

(c) In 21:14,15,17,18,27-30, certain archaic songs are cited as if the people were familiar with them, and the Arnon is mentioned as the border of Moab long before Israel reached the river. But that poets were among the people at the time of the exodus and probably long before, the song of Moses (Ex 15) shows, and that a Book of the Wars of the Lord was begun to be composed soon after the defeat of Amalek is not an unreasonable hypothesis (Ex 17:14). As for the statement that "Arnon leaneth upon the borders of Moab," that may have been superfluous as a matter of information to the contemporaries of Moses when they were about to cross the stream (Strack, Einl, 25), but it was quite in place in an old prophetic song, as showing that their present position had been long before anticipated and foretold.

(d) 24:7, according to criticism, could not have been composed before the rise of the monarchy; and certainly it could not, if prediction of future events is impossible. But if reference to a coming king in Israel was put into Balaam's mouth by the Spirit of God, as the narrator says, then it could easily have been made before the monarchy; and so could

(e) 24:17,18 have been written before the reign of David, though the conquest of the Edomites only then began (2Sa 8:14; 1Ki 11:1; 1Ch 18:12,13).

Examples such as these show that many, if not most, of the like objections against the Mosaic authorship of this book are capable of at least possible solution; and that Kuenen's caution should not be forgotten: "He who relies upon the impression made by the whole, without interrogation of the parts one by one, repudiates the first principles of all scientific research, and pays homage to superficiality" (Religion of Israel, I, 11).

2. For the Mosaic Authorship:

(1) Certain Passages Have the Appearance of Having Been Written by Moses.

These are:

(a) those which bear evidence of having been intended for a people not settled in cities but dwelling in tents and camps, as e.g. Numbers 1-4, describing the arrangements for the census and the formation of the camp; 6:24-26, the high-priestly benediction; 10:35,36, the orders for the marching and the halting of the host; 10:1-9, the directions about the silver trumpets; Numbers 19, the legislation which obviously presupposes the wilderness as the place for its observance (19:3,7,9,14). If criticism allows that these and other passages have descended from the Mosaic age, why should it be necessary to seek another author for them than Moses? And if Moses could have composed these passages, a presumption at least is created that the whole book has proceeded from his pen.

(b) The patriotic songs taken from the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21), which some critics (Cornill, Kautzsch and others) hold cannot be later than 750 BC, are by equally competent scholars (Bleek, De Wette, E. Meyer, Konig and others) recognized as parts of Israel's inheritance from the Mosaic age, whenever they were incorporated in Numbers.

(c) The list of camping stations (Numbers 33) is expressly assigned to him. Whether "by the commandment of the Lord" should be connected with the "journeys" (Konig) or the "writing" makes no difference as to the authorship of this chapter, at least in the sense that it is based on a Mosaic document (Strack). It is true that even if this chapter as it stands was prepared by Moses, that does not amount to conclusive evidence of the Mosaic authorship of the whole book. Yet it creates a presumption in its favor (Drechsler, Keil, Zahn). For why should Moses have been specially enjoined to write so comparatively uninteresting and unprofitable a document as a list of names, many of which are now incapable of identification, if that was all? But if Moses was already writing up a journal or history of the wanderings, whether by his own hand or by means of amanuenses, and whether by express command or without it (not an unreasonable supposition), there was no particular need to record that this was so. If, however, Moses was not thinking of preserving an itinerary, and God for reasons of His own desired that he should do so, then there was need for a special commandment to be given; and need that it should be recorded to explain why Moses incorporated in his book a list of names that in most people's judgment might have been omitted without imperiling the value of the book. Looked at in this way, the order to prepare this itinerary rather strengthens the idea of the Mosaic authorship of the whole book.

(2) Acquaintance on the Part of the Author with Egyptian Manners and Customs.

This points in the direction of Moses.

(a) The trial by jealousy (Nu 5:11-31) may be compared with the tale of Setnau, belonging probably to the 3rd century BC, but relating to the times of Rameses II, in which Ptahnefer-ka, having found the book which the god Thoth wrote with his own hand, copied it on a piece of papyrus, dissolved the copy in water and drank the solution, with the result that he knew all the book contained (RP, IV, 138). (b) The consecration of the Levites (Nu 8:7) resembled the ablutions of the Egyptian priests who shaved their heads and bodies every 3rd day, bathed twice during the day and twice during the night, and performed a grand ceremony of purification, preparatory to their seasons of fasting, which sometimes lasted from 7 to 40 days and even more (WAE, I, 181).

(c) Uncleanness from contact with the dead (Nu 19:11) was not unknown to the Egyptians, who required their priests to avoid graves, funerals and funeral feasts (Porphyry, De Abst. ii.50, quoted in Speaker's Comm.).

(d) The fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic referred to in Nu 11:5 were articles of diet in Egypt (Herodotus ii.93):

(e) The antiquarian statement about Hebron (13:22) fits in well with a writer in Mosaic times. "A later writer could have had no authority for making the statement and no possible reason for inventing it" (Pulpit Commentary on Numbers). On a candid review of all the arguments pro and con, it is not too much to say that the preponderance of evidence lies on the side of the substantial Mosaicity of the Book of Numbers.


Comms. on Nu by Bertheau (ET), Knobel, Keil (ET), Dillmann, Strack, Lange (English translation); in Speaker's Comm., Pulpit Comm., ICC (Gray); Biblical Intros of De Wette, Hengstenberg, Havernick, Bleek, Konig, Strack, Cornill, Driver; in encs, etc., RE, HDB, EB, Sch-Herz; critical comms.: Reuss, Die Geschichte der heiligen Schriften AT; Kuenen, The Religion of Israel (English translation); Wellhausen, Geschichte Israels and Prolegomena (English translation); Klostermann, Der Pentateuch; Eerdmans, Alttest. Studien; Addis, Documents of Hexateuch; Olford Hexateuch; EPC.

T. Whitelaw


nu-me'-ni-us (Noumenios): The son of Antiochus, and Antipater were the two ambassadors whom Jonathan sent to the Romans, "to the Spartans, and to other places," after his victory in the plain of Hazor (Galilee) over the princes of Demetrius (1 Macc 12:1 ff) about 144 BC. Their mission was to confirm and renew the friendship and treaty which had existed from the days of Judas (1 Macc 8:17 ff). They were well received and successful, both at Rome (1 Macc 12:3 f) and at Sparta (1 Macc 12:19 ff; 14:22 f). After the death of Jonathan, the victories of Simon and the establishment of peace, Simon sent Numenius on a second embassy to Rome (1 Macc 14:24), again to confirm the treaty and present a golden shield weighing 1,000 minae--apparently just before the popular decree by which Simon was created high priest, leader and captain "for ever" (1 Macc 14:27 ff), September, 141 BC. The embassy returned in 139 BC, bearing letters from the senate to the kings of Egypt, Syria and "all the countries," confirming the integrity of Jewish territory, and forbidding these kings to disturb the Jews, and requiring them also to surrender any deserters (1 Macc 14:15 ff). See also LUCIUS; Schurer, Gesch. des judischen Volkes (3rd and 4th editions), I, 236, 250 f.

S. Angus

NUN (1)

noon ("n"): The 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet; transliterated in this Encyclopedia as "n". It came also to be used for the number 50.

See ALPHABET, for name, etc.

NUN (2)

nun (nun "fish," derivative meaning "fecundity"): Father of Joshua (referred to thus 29 t) (Ex 33:11; Nu 11:28, etc.; 1Ch 7:27, margin "Non"; Sirach 46:1, margin "Nave").


nurs, nurs'-ing: "Nurse" in the King James Version represents two different Hebrew words: In 8 passages (Ge 24:59; 35:8; Ex 2:7,9; 2Ki 11:2; 2Ch 22:11; Isa 49:23) the word--noun or verb--renders some form of the verb yanaq, "to suck." The feminine causative part. of this verb is commonly used to denote nurse or foster-mother. According to Ex 2:7 Moses' mother--"a nurse of the Hebrew women"--became, at Pharaoh's daughter's request, the foster-mother of the foundling. Joash, the son of Ahaziah, was in charge of a nurse until he was 7 years old (2Ki 11:2; 2Ch 22:11). But it is obvious that the term was used in a more general way, e.g. of a lady's maid or tire-woman. Rebekah was accompanied by her nurse when she left home to be married (Ge 24:59; 35:8). In 5 passages (Nu 11:12; Ru 4:16; 2Sa 4:4; Isa 49:23; 60:4 the King James Version) "nurse" represents the Hebrew word, 'aman, "to support," "be faithful," "nourish." The participle of this verb denoted a person who had charge of young children--a guardian or governess. Naomi took charge of Ruth's child "and became nurse unto it" (Ru 4:16). In Nu 11:12 Moses asks whether he has to take charge of the Israelites "as a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child." The same word is found in 2Ki 10:15 (the King James Version "them that brought up," i.e. "guardians of the sons of Ahab) and in Es 2:7 (the King James Version "and he brought up," i.e. he (Mordecai) adopted, his niece). Deutero-Isa uses both terms together (Isa 49:23) to describe the exalted position of Israel in the future when foreign kings and queens will offer their services and wait upon the chosen people.

In the solitary passage in the New Testament where "nurse" occurs, it renders the Greek word trophos. In this case the word does not mean a hired nurse, but a mother who nurses her own children (1Th 2:7).

T. Lewis


nur'-tur: The word occurs in the King James Version in Eph 6:4 as the translation of paideia, but the Revised Version (British and American) changes to "chastening," and uses "nurture" (verb) for the King James Version "bring up" (ektrepho) in the first part of the verse. Paideia has the idea of training and correction; in the Revised Version (British and American) 2 Esdras 8:12 for Latin erudio; and compare the King James Version The Wisdom of Solomon 3:11; Sirach 18:13 (paideuo), etc.



(1) ('eghoz; karua; Arabic jauz, "the walnut" (So 6:11)): This is certainly the walnut tree, Juglans regia, a native of Persia and the Himalayas which flourishes under favorable conditions in all parts of Palestine; particularly in the mountains. In such situations it attains the height of from 60 to 90 ft. A grove of such trees affords the most delightful shade.

(2) (boTnim; terebinthoi (Ge 43:11, margin "pistachio nuts")): The Hebrew is perhaps allied to the Arabic buTm, the "terebinth," which is closely allied to the Pistacia vera, Natural Order Anacardiaceae, which produces pistachio nuts. These nuts, known in Arabic as fistuq, are prime favorites with the people of Palestine. They are oblong, 3/4 inches long, with green, oily cotyledons. They are eaten raw and are also made into various sweets and confectionery. They are a product of Palestine, very likely to be sent as a present to Egypt (Ge 43:11).

E. W. G. Masterman


nim'-fas (Numphas; Lachmann, Tregelles (margin), Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek read Numpha, the name of a woman (Col 4:15)):

1. A Christian in Laodicea:

A Christian resident in Laodicea, to whom Paul sends salutations in the epistle which he wrote from Rome to the church in Colosse, the latter city being only a very few miles distant from Laodicea. Indeed, so near were they, that Paul directs that the Epistle to the Colossians be read also in Laodicea. Nymphas--or if Nympha be read, then it is a Christian lady who is meant--was a person of outstanding worth and importance in the church of Laodicea, for he had granted the use of his dwelling-house for the ordinary weekly meetings of the church. The apostle's salutation is a 3-fold one--to the brethren that are in Laodicea, that is to the whole of the Christian community in that city, and to Nymphas, and to the church in his house.

2. The Church in His House:

This fact, that the church met there, also shows that Nymphas was a person of some means, for a very small house could not have accommodated the Christian men and women who gathered together on the first day of every week for the purposes of Christian worship. The church in Laodicea--judging not only from the Epistle to the Ephesians, which is really Paul's Epistle to the Laodiceans, and which indicates that the church in Laodicea had a numerous membership, but also from what is said of it in Re 3:17 the King James Version--must have been large and influential: "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." The house of Nymphas, therefore, must have possessed a large room or saloon sufficiently commodious to allow the meeting of a numerous company. Nymphas would he a person both of Christian character and of generous feeling, and of some amount of wealth. Nothing more is known regarding him, as this is the only passage in which he is named.

John Rutherfurd