Encyclopaedia Biblica/Numbers (Book)-Olamus

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  • Name and contents (1).
  • JE (2-9)
  • P in 28-30 (10).
  • P in 1-27 (11-16).
  • Laws and Institutions (17-20).
  • Redaction (21).
  • Greek version (22).
  • Bibliography (23).

1. Name and contents.[edit]

The name Numbers (Numeri, Apifyol [Arithmoi]) was given to the fourth book 10 of the Pentateuch in the Greek Bible because it begins with the census of the Israelites taken in the second year of the Exodus, giving the fighting strength of each tribe.

The corresponding Hebrew name is D Tipsa B^Dh. 1 Book of Musters, Numbers (lit. 'the mustered men', 1:21, 1:23 etc. , cp 14:29) ; the book is more commonly cited by a catchword from the first sentence, T3Ti or -13-1122. 2

The Book of Numbers covers, in the chronology of the Pentateuch, a period of more than thirty-eight years ; viz. , from the first of the second month in the second year of the Exodus (1:1) to the latter part of the fortieth year (38:38, cp 20:23-29).

  • Chaps 1-10:10 record things that were done and laws that were given in the wilderness of Sinai ;
  • 10:11-20:13, the departure from Sinai and what happened in the way and at Kadesh, the sending out of the spies and the unsuccessful attempt to invade Canaan from the south ;
  • 20:14-27, the departure from Kadesh, the circuit around Edom, the conquest of the Amonte kingdoms E. of the Jordan, and the hostility of Moab, down to the appointment of loshua as the successor of Moses shortly before the death of the latter ;
  • 28-36 contain additional laws and ordinances given in the plains of Moab. .

In contrast to Leviticus, which is entirely legislative, and in its present form belongs as a whole to the priestly stratum of the Hexateuch, Numbers, like Exodus, combines history and law ; JE and P are both represented ; the method of composition and the character of the redaction, also, are similar to those in Exodus. Chaps. 1-10:28 and 25:6-36 (with the exception of a few verses in 32) belong wholly to P ; in 10:29 -25:5 P and JE are united. It will be most convenient to begin our investigation with the latter chapters.


2. Chaps 10:29-12.[edit]

The thread of JE's history of the Exodus, which was dropped in Ex.34, is here resumed. Nu. 10:29-32 is from J ; the sequel, Hobab's consent (cp Judg. 1:16, 4:11), has been omitted. The following verses 33* 35-36 are probably from E; 34 is a late gloss dependent on 9:15+. In J Nu. 10:29-32 probably followed closely upon the command to set out from Sinai for Canaan, Ex. 33:1a ; the Yahwistic legislation, which a redactor has incorporated in Ex. 34, originally stood at an earlier point in the narrative. Nu. 10:33+ may come, in like manner, from E's account of the departure from Horeb which is ordered in Ex. 32:34a; but the original sequence of E has been too much disturbed by additions as well as by redaction to admit of a confident rearticulation. In the following chapter the clamour of the multitude for flesh and the sending of the quails (11:4-13, 11:15, 11:18-24a, 11:31-34) is from J ; but there are indications that the original narrative has been expanded by different hands ; 11:7-9 are not improbably an archaeological gloss ; amplification is suspected in both 11:18+ and 11:31+ ; it has been conjectured that 11:10b-12, 11:15 originally stood in connection with Ex. 33:1. The inspiration of seventy elders, who share with Moses the gift of prophecy that they may assist him thus in bearing the burden of the people (11:16-17, 11:24b-30) has nothing to do with the miracle of the quails ; it follows the representation of E in Ex. 33:7-11 (the tent without the camp), and is perhaps a younger counterpart (E,) to the appointment of judges in Ex. 18:13-26.* The destruction of the murmurers at Taberah (1-3) is also probably from E ; 35 is a fragment of the itinerary, cp 12:16. Chap. 12 is related to 11:16-17, 11:24b-30, and may perhaps be regarded as a caution against erroneous inferences : no matter how many inspired prophets there may be. Moses is the organ of revelation in a unique sense (cp Ex. 33:11 [E], Dt. 34:10 [RD])- What the Cushite woman in 12:1 has to do with it is not clear. 6

1 Origen in Eus. HE 625 Ani/Mtr</>eicwim ; M. Yoma 7:i, M. Menachoth 4:3, Sota 366 etc.

2 Jerome, Prol. Gal., Vayedabber; Massora.

  • Verses 35-36 are included in modern editions between inverted nuns, which serve the purpose of brackets. As early as the second century the verses were marked off in some way to show that they are misplaced ; see R. Simeon b. Gamaliel in

Siphre, Nu. 84. In LXX they stand before v. 34- See Harris, JQR 1:136-137 ; Blau, Masoret. Untersuch. 40 ff.\ Omsburg, Introd. 342 f.

4 Bacon, Exodus, 141+. ,

5 The rare word SsN ( v. 25) seems to connect these elders with the nWn of Ex. 24:11 ; Wellh. CHM, 102 n.

6 The Cushite wife plays a considerable part in Hellenistic midrash. See also MOSES, 4, end.

3. Chaps. 13-14 : the spies.[edit]

In the account of the spies the narratives of P and JE are combined ; to the former belong 13:1-17a, 13:21b, 13:25-26a (to Paran), 13:32, 14:1-2 (in part), 14:5-7 (14:9a), 14:10, 14:26-38 (with additions by RP). The threats of Yahwe and the intercession of Moses, 14:11-24, are a secondary element in JE, probably RJE ; 2 note the resemblance to Ex. 32:7-14 and the quotation of Ex. 34:6-7 in 14:17-18. In the remainder of the chapters (JE) two strands appear 3 (most clearly in 13:17b+), but even with the aid of Dt. 1:19-45 {4} a clean analysis is scarcely possible. In one account (E) twelve men are sent up into the hill-country of the Amorites (cp Dt. 1:20) ; they go as far as the Valley of Eshcol and bring back specimens of the fruit of the land, and report on the population of the different regions of Palestine (13:17c, 13:18 in part, 13:20, 13:23-24, 13:26b*, 13:29, 13:33*) ; in the other (J) men are sent up into the Negeb, penetrate to Hebron, and bring back word that the land is flowing with milk and honey, but the people are strong and dwell in fortified cities (13:17b, 13:18 in part, 13:19, 13:22*, 13:27*-28). Caleb gives his vote for an immediate invasion ; but his companions declare the undertaking impossible (13:30-31 J ). The people are dismayed and propose to return to Egypt (14:1*, 14:3 J, 14:4 E) ; 14:8-9, commonly attributed to J and regarded as part of Caleb's speech (1830), are perhaps originally a remonstrance of Moses (cp Dt. 12:9-31) in E (14:8b RJE)- The transpositions which have been proposed are then unnecessary. The secondary passage 14:11-24 ( cp Dt. 13:4-40 and P in Nu. 14:26+) seems to have supplanted - perhaps in part incorporating - the sentence of Yahwe, only 14:25b (E, cp Dt. 1:40) remaining. The sequel, 14:39b-45, seems to be from E, with some editorial amplification and change; cp J in 21:1-3. [Cp MOSES, NEGEB, 7]

4. Chap. 16 : Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.[edit]

The destruction of Korah and his supporters by fire from heaven (16:1a, 16:1b*, 16:2-11, 16:16-24, 16:26a, 16:27a*, 16:35) is from P, though not all of the same age (see below, 11 ); the uprising of the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram against Moses, and their fate - the earth opening and swallowing them up with all that belonged to them - from JE (cp Dt. 1:16). Doublets in the narrative (see especially 16:32-33) suggest that both J and E have been drawn upon, and many attempts have been made to separate the two strands. 6 Others recognise but one source, more or less amplified by later hands in 16:13-14 and 16:28+ ; the indicia point on the whole to E (Schrader, Kuenen, etc. ). The beginning of the story is not intact ; we do not learn what these men had said or done before Moses summoned them, nor are the antecedents of 15 clear.

1 See Kosters, Historic -l>eschouiving , 37 ff. ; Oort, Th.T 82517?: (1869); Kayser, Vorexilisckes Buck, 81 ff. (1874); E. Meyer, ZATW 1 139(1881); Kue. T/t.Tll ^ff. (\% 77 ); Stein- thai, Zl Ps. 12276^. (1880); We. CHV\ lojff. 336/7: ; WRS, OTJCW 400 ff.; Bacon, Exodus, in ff.; Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, ad loc.

2 Or perhaps a still later hand (Kuenen, E2 ; Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, J2).

3 Kuenen is alone in ascribing the repetitions and discrepancies to interpolations and glosses in a single source (E).

4 Cp also Josh. 14:6-15, Nu. 26:54-55, 32:5-15.

8 Land, Godgeleerde Bijdragen, 1865, pp. 967 yfl ; 1866, pp. 4167?: ; Oort, ili. 1860, pp. 2057?: ; Graf, Gesch. Bucher, 1866, pp. 89 (f. ; Kosters, Historie-heschouiving, 119 ff.; Schrader- De Wctte, EM. 289; Kue. Th. 7 1 12 139 W.\ Hex. 6, n. 37, 16, n. 12; We. C//(2) 105^: 339^; WRS, OTJCM 402 yC; fh.NDJ.loc.; Bacon, Exodus, \<)off.; Baudissin, Priesterthuiit, 34 f. 276 /. ; Kittel, History, 22 ; Carpenter and Harford- Battersby, Hex. See also DATHAN AND ABIRAM, KORAH.

6 See Dillmann, Bacon, and Carpenter and Harford-Battersby.

7 On 20:1-13 see Co. ZATW 11:1+ (1891).

8 So Dt. 33:2 also is rightly emended ; cp <5.

5. Chaps. 20-21.[edit]

{7} With P's account of the drawing of water from the rock in 20:1-13, which is dependent on JE in Ex. 17:1-7, are combined fragments cognate to one of the sources of the narrative in Ex. ; these (20:1b*, 20:3a, 20:5, ?20:8b) are generally attributed to J. The name (Waters of) Meribah attaches to Kadesh (Ezek. 47:19, 48:28, Dt. 32:51); 8 the narrative is, therefore, in place here rather than before the advent at Sinai. 1 The other name, Massah, associated with Meribah (Ex. 17:7, Dt. 33:8), gives rise to difficult questions (see MASSAH AND MERIBAH). From Dt. 9:22 it may be inferred that in JE the provocation at Massah also followed the departure from Horeb. 2 P must once have contained a clearer account of the fault of Moses and Aaron than we now find ; see v. 24, 27:13-14, Dt. 32:51. The negotiations with Edom, 20:14-21, are in the main from E (cp 21:21-23); 20:19-20, which sets in afresh, is probably an expansion, rather than a fragment of J as has been surmised. The conflict with the Canaanites, 21:1-3 (cp Judg. 1:16-17), is from J, acounterpart of 14:41-45 ; the fiery serpents, 21:4b-9, from E, connecting with 20:22a. The following itinerary is derived from JE (cp P in 33) ; it is not complete - a fragment which probably preceded 14:12 is recognised in Dt. 10:6-7 - nor unitary ; the phenomena are attributed to composition (21:18b-20, {3} or the whole of 21:16-20 {4} being ascribed to J) or to extensive interpolation ; 21:18b-20 anticipate, and bring us to the same point we reach in 22 f. The poetical pieces justicatives in 21:14-15, 21:17-18, 21:27+ are noteworthy. The war with Sihon, 21:21-31, is generally assigned to E ; 21:24b-25 seem to be foreign to the source, perhaps containing a fragment of J, 21:26 a later editorial note; 21:32 is connected with 24b (LXX, Jazer), and in diction shows affinity to Judg. 1 (J) ; 21:33-35 are an addition derived from Dt. 3:1-3.

6. Chaps. 22-24 : Balaam.[edit]

{5} Chaps. 22-24 are wholly from JE ; only 22:1 is from P, and the reference to the sheikhs of Midian in 22:47 perhaps RP -others suppose that they were named in J. The story of Balaam was contained in both J and E . 22:22-35 (the speaking ass) is from J, and the antecedents of this version appear in 22:2-21 where many doublets give evidence of the union of two sources (cp 22:3a with 22:3b, 22:2a with 22:4b, etc.), 6 in one of which (E) Balaam is summoned from Pethor in Syria (22:5b, cp 23:7, Dt. 23:4 [23:5]), in the other (J) from among the neighbouring Ammonites (22:5c, Sam. Pesh. Vg. ). God's revelation in the night (22:8+, 22:19-20) has characteristic marks of E ; 22:17-18 (cp 24:11-13) is from J, to which source 22:7 also, with a more or less considerable part of the preceding verses, and probably 22:11, is to be ascribed. The four oracles in the following chapters fall into two groups, distinct in the form of introduction and somewhat different in character, especially when manifest instances of contamination and redactional adjustment are set aside." Those in 24, as is now generally recognised, are from J, the two in 23 from E ; 8 a harmonistic connection imitated from 23:11-14 is made by RJE in 23:27-30 ; in 22:35 also the same hand is seen. Additions have been made to the last oracle, probably in two stages, 24:20-22 and 24:23-24; 9 on the age of these verses see BALAAM, 6.

1 In Ex. 17:6 'Horeb' is premature : cp 19:1-2

2 See EXODUS, 5, EXODUS (BOOK), 3 v.

3 E. Meyer, etc.

  • Bacon, and Carpenter and Harford-Battersby.

5 For the literature see BALAAM, 8 ; add E. Meyer, ZA T\V 1117^(1881); Stadetf. i 4 6^:,<;r/l H5J7V, Del. ^A X9 119

Jf. (1888); Bacon, Exodus, 218 ff. ; Carpenter and Harford- Battersby, Hex. 1 224 ff. ; v. Gall, Zusamtnensetzitng u. Herknnft d. Bileam Pericope, 1900 ; Steuernagel, St. l\r. 1899, p. 340/T, Emmetntitntng d. israel. Stamitie, T*.f. (1901).

6 |On the difficulty here referred to, cp PETHOR.]

7 Kuenen is almost alone in deriving all four from one source (E) ; see also Steuernagel, St. Kr. 72 340 (1899).

8 Di., We. CH( *> 346^, Co.

9 On 24:21-24 see Hommel, Altisrael. Ueberlieferung, 245 (=AHT 245)

10 Kue. Tk. T 18 5277:

7. Chap. 25:1-5 : Baal-peor.[edit]

Chap. 25:1-5, describing the seduction of the people by the Moabite women, is from JE (cp Hos. 9:10); doublets indicate the presence of more than one source, 25:3a, 25:5 may be ascribed to E. The conclusion, the nature of which may be inferred from 25:4-5 (cp also Dt. 4:3-4), was omitted by RP , who put in its place - as an instance of the execution of 25:5 - the story of the sin of an Israelite prince with a Midianite woman and its consequences (25:6-15), sacrificing at the same time the introduction of the latter ; 25:1-5 itself is perhaps not unmutilated.

8. Chap. 32.[edit]

We know from Dt. 3:12+ (see especially 3:18-20) that JE contained the allotment by Moses to Gad and Reuben of the conquered territories E. of the Jordan, on condition that their armed contingent should co-operate with the other tribes in the subjugation of western Palestine. Such an account is found in Nu. 32, but it is not easy to say how much of the deuteronomist's source - presumably E - has been preserved in it ; 32:20-27, which in substance corresponds most nearly to Dt. 3:18-20, can hardly in its present form be ascribed to either E or J. The phenomena seem to indicate that a late author has rewritten the account, following in the main the representation of his source and to some extent employing its phraseology ; 32:28-32 is from P. Verses 32:6-15 belong to an advanced stage in the history of the redaction. a In 32:39, 32:41-42 we have fragments of J, of the same kind as several disconnected notices in Josh, and Judg. 1 ; Budde puts them with Josh. 17:14-18 ; whether other parts of 32:1-5 or 32:34-38 are taken from the older narratives is questionable.

9. Ultimate sources of J and E.[edit]

The sources from which J and E, drew their materials are of various kinds and values. 4 The invitation to Hobab (10:29+) preserves the memory of the historical relation of Israelites and Kenites; the story of the spies (13-14) indistinctly reflects the fact that Caleb alone reached its seats about Hebron from the S. ; the settlements of Machir and Jair (32:39-42) and probably also the cities of Gad and Reuben (34-38) represent tribal movements or territories at a later time. The poems in 21 are ancient ; whether they are rightly interpreted is another question. The traditions of the sanctuary at Kadesh do not yield as much as might be expected - little more indeed than the fact that it was long the religious centre of the tribes, some memories of conflicts with the population of the Negeb, and the legend of the origin of the copious fountains, the Waters of Meribah, which Moses by miracle caused to spring from the rock ; the name ( 'controversy' ), originally perhaps equivalent to the later En mishpat (Gen. 14:7), suggested the 'controversy' of the people with Moses. 5 Other stories are explanations of names; so TABERAH ( 'burning' ) and KIBROTH-HATAAVAH ( 'graves of desire', 11) ; the origin of the bronze serpent (21:4+) is an etiological legend of a different kind. 6 Stories with a distinct purpose are the prophesying elders (11), Miriam's leprosy (12), the fate of Dathan and Abiram, and of Korah (16). A theory of the relations of Israel to the neighbouring peoples finds expression in the embassies to Edom (20:14+) and to Sihon (21:11+) ; cp also the story and prophecies of Balaam (22-24).

1 Dt. 3:12-20 has been somewhat extensively interpolated. Cp also Josh. 1:12+.

  • Kayser, I orexilisches Buck, 94^(1874); Kue. Th.T\\ 478

^559^(1877); Hex. 6, n. 42,8 13, n. 29; We. C//(2) 115,351; Bacon, Exodus, 234^ ; Addis, Hex. , Carpenter and Harford- Battersby, Hex. \ vytff.

  • Kue. Th. T 11 559,^. ; We. C7/(2) 351. Di., Ki., etc., regard

them as ultimately from J (worked over by a redactor) ; Patterson attributes them to a deuteronomistic hand.


5 If Massah be the same place it may signify ordeal waters. See WRS Rel. Sem. (t) 181.


7 See EXODUS (BOOK), 5, LEVITICUS, 2, 32.

P's chaps.[edit]

10. 28+ secondary.[edit]

In Nu. , as in Ex. and Lev. , it is plain that P is not the work of one author nor of one age. 7 In Nu. 27:12-14 we come to the end of Moses' career ; we are, in fact, at the same point which is reached in Dt. 32:48-52 [P]. In the redaction of the Pentateuch these verses could stand only after the promulgation of the law beyond Jordan and the last admonitions of Moses (Dt. ), and they were accordingly transposed to that place, where comparison shows that they are preserved in their primitive form ; their original position in P, however, was in Nu. , immediately preceding the installation of Joshua (27:15-23); after this nothing is in order but the ascent of Abarim and the death of Moses, P's account of which is preserved in Dt. 34. On the other side, the position of the second census, with its close - the generation of the exodus had now all passed away - indicates that the late author (PS) found the command to Moses (27:12+) in this place. It follows that Nu. 28-36 are out of place, and there is a strong presumption that they contain supplementary matter appended by later hands at the end of the book.

An examination of the chapters in detail confirms this presumption. Nu. 28-29:40 [30:1] is a highly elaborated novel to P's calendar of feasts in Lev. 23 (23:3-8 = Ex. 29:38-42).

Chap. 30, on vows by persons who are not sui juris, embodies a restriction the necessity for which can only have grown out of the increasing religious independence of women ; formulation and diction are late.

Chap. 31, the vengeance taken on the Midianites (cp 25:16-18), with precedents for the purification of warriors and the division of the spoil, has all the characteristics of historical midrash, resembling parts of Judg. 20 and numerous chapters in Ch. The author of v.2b felt the inappropriateness of the introduction of this story after 27:12+.

Chap. 32, the assignment of territories E. of the Jordan to Gad and Reuben, has been touched upon above (8). It there seemed probable that the chapter is based upon an older source (E?), but it is in the main the work of a writer of the priestly school not far removed in age from the author of the preceding chapter; 6-15 are not improbably still more recent ; they presuppose 13-14 substantially in their present composite form. 2

Chap. 33:7-40, a list of the marches and encampments of Israel from Rameses to the Plains of Moab, professedly written by Moses (2), is in fact a compilation by a late author not from P alone but from other sources in the Hexateuch (especially Ex. 15:22+, 27, Nu. 11:34-35, 21:10-11, Dt. 10:6-7).* Others suppose that a list originally found in PG has been extensively worked over and interpolated by later editors. 4 In this difference of opinion the position of the list in this appendix is not without weight. Several of the names do not elsewhere occur in the Hexateuch. 5 The compiler has been singularly unfortunate in the place he has given to 36-40.

Chap. 33:50-56: extermination of the Canaanites.6 The hortatory character of the verses is foreign to P ; 33:50-53 shows both in the introductory formula and in contents affinity to H (cp Lev. 26:1 - maskith only in these two passages - 30 194) ; 33:54 has been brought over from 26:53-54 ; 33:55 is to be compared with Josh. 23:13, Judg. 2:3 (for the figure cp also Ezek. 28:24). The verses, with their composite reminiscences, were prefixed by a late redactor to 34.

Chap. 34 : boundaries of Palestine, designation of a commission to divide the land among the tribes. The chapter seems to be supplemental to 26:52-56, itself secondary. In what remains of P's account of the division of the land in Josh, there is no allusion to such a commission (cp Josh. 18:2+ JE, and 14:1+ P), nor are the actual N. and S. boundaries the same; cp also Ezek. 47:13-17, 48:1.

Chap. 35:1-8, forty-eight cities assigned to the Levites including the six cities of refuge first mentioned in v. 11 ; the execution of these directions is found in Josh. 21. The provision conflicts with 18:21-24, 26:62, according to which the Levites were to have no landed inheritance.

Chap. 35:9-34 : cities of asylum and law of homicide (see Josh. 20). The law corresponds in substance and intent to Dt. 19:1-13, cp also Ex. 21:12-14. The casuistic formulation is foreign to P, and resembles Ex. 21 or Lev. 25; nor is the phraseology consistently that of the priestly legislation. The phenomena suggest that the present law is founded upon a law of homicide and asylum derived from H, or one of the collections which served as the sources of H. The older toroth are in part preserved with little change (see, e.g. , 35:16+) ; two strata of editorial additions may be recognised, one akin to RH (see especially 35:33-34, and observe the introductory formula, 35:9-10), the other a late representative of P's school, to whom is to be ascribed the making of the congregation judges (cp Dt. 19:12) and perhaps the substitution of the amnesty at the death of the high priest for an older general pardon by a new king.

Chap. 36, heiresses must not marry out of their own tribe, is a novel to 27:1-11 (see also Josh. 17:3-4), like the latter, in the form of a case decided by Moses. It is dependent also on Lev. 25:10+ (reversion in the Jubilee year), though the bearing of this provision is not altogether clear.

Thus Nu. 28-36 appears to belong entirely to the younger strata of the priestly law and history.

1 See Klo. St. Kr. 44 256 /T (1871) = Pentateuch, 229^, see also ii s/, cp We. C//<2) 115.

2 See especially Kue. Th. T\\ 559^ (1877) ; We. Cli

3 Demonstrated by Kayser, / orexilisches Buck, 97-99 ; cp We. Cffftl 184 ; Kue. Hex. 6, n. 43.

  • Dillmann, Kittel, Kautzsch.


6 Cp Ex. 34:12-13, 23:24, Dt. 7:1-6, Josh. 23:4-13, Judg. 2:1-5.

11. P in chaps 1-27 : the Levites.[edit]

By no means all of P in Nu. 1-27 was contained in the History of the Sacred Institutions, or belongs to the oldest stratum of priestly legislation. The lack of unity is conspicuous in the several passages which have for their subject the setting apart of the Levites for the service of the tabernacle; viz., 1:4, 1:7-53, (cp 2:33) 3:5+, 4, 8:5-26, l7 [17:16+], 18:1-7. The three passages in 1, 3, and 4 have to do with the numbering of the Levites, their substitution for the firstborn of Israel, and the assignment of specific duties in the removal of the tabernacle to the three Levite clans, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. At least three strata can be distinguished ; 2 the oldest is 3:5-10, 3:11-13, later than this is 1:4-39, 1:40-44, youngest of all 4 ; the simple and general commandment of the first is successively amplified and heightened ; 4:16-20 seems to be later than 4:1-15, 4:21-49. Chap. 3:5-26 is younger than 4 ; note the lower age of entering the service (3:24, cp 4:1 ; see also 1 Ch. 23:24-26), the extravagant purifications (3:6, cp Lev. 14:8-9 ; 3:17, cp 3:19), and the symbolical 'waving' (3:11, 3:13); 3:15b-22, 3:23-26 are probably a supplement to 3:5-15a. In Nu. 18:1-7 there is no allusion to a previous choice and consecration of the Levites ; the definition of their duties and careful discrimination of their office from the priesthood are superfluous after 3:14+, 4. 3:5-26 and even after 3:5-13 ; 18:1-7 must therefore be ascribed to a different source. The relation of 18:1+ to 16-16 (contention about the priestly prerogative) seems to indicate that it was at this point that PG (see col. 2081, n. 3) introduced the assignment of the Levites to the service of the sanctuary. The older representation of P in 16 is that Korah (a Judaean) at the head of two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation opposes the exclusive claims of Moses and Aaron to the priesthood ; all the congregation is holy. In the attempt to vindicate their claims they perish (16:1a, 16:2 [except the first words], 16:3-7a, 16:19-24 [except the words 'of Korah', etc. ], 16:27a, 16:35). A later redactor transformed Korah and his companions into Levites who aspired to specifically priestly functions, and otherwise worked over the story (especially in 16:8-11, 16:16-18), adding 16:36-40 [17:1-5].

The story of the plague (16:41-50 [17:6-15]) and the miracle of the rod that budded (17:1-11 [17:16-26]) have the same purpose ; they prove that Yahwe has chosen the family of Moses and Aaron to minister to him. The latter is perhaps a later addition; 17:12-13, [17:27-28] connect better with 16:41-50 [17:6-15], and on the other side contain the premises of 18:1-7. Chap. 18:1-7 exhibits some duplication in part contamination from 3, 4-5 - and other evidence of retouching by late hands. 3

The rest of 18 deals with the support of the clergy ; the dues of the priests (18:8-20), the people s tithes to the Levites (18:21-24), and the tithe of the Levites to the priests (18:25-32). The long catalogue of priestly perquisites (cp Lev. 10:12-15) presents extreme claims; 4 it is natural to suspect that an older and more modest tariff has been enlarged, but in its present form the passage appears to be homogeneous, unless we might regard 18:19-20 as the original nucleus. 5 The tithe to the Levites (18:21-24) is connected by 18:22 with 18:1-7, 17:12-13 [17:27-28] and the older form of P in 16 (Korah and his companions not Levites); the verses show dependence on Ezek. 44:10, 44:13. The tithe of the Levites to the priests (18:25-32) exhibits some features which suggest that an older torah underlies 18:25-28 at least.

1 See We. C//(2| 178^; Kue. Hex. 6, n. 35. For the general literature see LEVITES.

2 See We. CffM 179.^

3 Dependence on Ezek. 44 is also apparent.

4 See Wellh. ProlM 150 ff.

5 cp 5:9-10:

6 The use of wagons is not contemplated even in the late chap. 4, nor in 10:17.

12. Chap. 7 : the gifts of the princes.[edit]

The gifts of the princes (ch. 7) were made on the day that Moses made an end of setting up the tabernacle (7:1, 7:10, 7:84, 7:88); the place for the chapter, therefore, is immediately after Ex. 40. On the other hand the reference to the census (7:2), the names of the princes (7:12, 7:18, 7:24, etc.), the wagons for the transport of the tabernacle given to the Gershonites and Merarites but not to the Kohathites (7:3-9), 6 presuppose Nu. 14. The whole character of the chapter stamps it as one of the latest products of the school to which the amplification of Ex. 35-40 is due; six whole verses are repeated verbatim twelve times with only the change of the donors names.

13. Chap. 1-2: the census; order of the camp and march.[edit]

Chap. 1-2 are in great part a mechanical enlargement of an older and much briefer text, reminding us in this respect of Ex.35-40, Lev. 8 ; more than one stage in the expansion may be observed. The order of the tribes in 1 and 2 presents curious variations ; 2, which brings Judah to the head of the list, is the younger ; the parenthetical introduction of the results of the census in the general orders of Yahwe to Moses concerning the encampment is singularly inept ; the circumstantiality of the whole is characteristic of the epigoni of the priestly school (cp, esp. , 47). The order of march is given also in 10:13-28, at the moment of departure from Sinai (10:11-12), 2 and that is the place at which, according to the usual method of PG, we should expect to find it ; but 10:13-28 exhibit syntactical peculiarities which indicate a very late date ; it has been surmised (by Dillmann) that these verses have supplanted an older text. The details of the census in 1 also appear to be elaborated by later hands ; the order of the tribes in 1:17-47 differs from that in 1:5-15, and agrees with 2 in the peculiar position of Gad (but cp LXX) ; observe also the relation of 1:44-47 to 2:33-34. The oldest stratum of P in these chapters may have contained no more than the command to number Israel, and brief statistics of the several tribes with their totals. 3 The relation of this to the census of 26 will be considered below ( 15).

14. Chap. 9-10: the postponed passover, etc.[edit]

The rule regarding the passover is given in the form of a precedent, the decision by Moses of a case brought before him at the passover of the second year. The date in 9:1 conflicts with 1:1 where we are already two weeks beyond the Paschal season. An old torah, in a formulation akin to H, is incorporated - with much expansion - in 9:10b-14, and traces of phraseology kindred to H rather than to P are easily discerned in 9:2+ under that of P's .

Verses 9:15-23 : the cloud over the tabernacle gave the signal to march or to encamp. The passage has no connection with the preceding ; 9:15a sets in at precisely the point we have reached in Ex. 40:34-35, and the following verses are parallel to Ex. 40:36-38. It is not unsuitably placed before the breaking-up of the encampment at Sinai (10:11-12), 4 but in its present form it can hardly be assigned to the oldest stratum of P.

Chap. 10:1-10 : the silver trumpets. The making of the signal trumpets seems to be part of the preparations for the departure 10:11-12, but precisely the verses which establish this connection (10:5-7) are proved by the abrupt change of person and the incompleteness of the enumeration to be an interpolation in dependence upon 2; ab/3 is harmonistic. There remains a law for the convocation of the congregation and of the princes respectively (10:1-2a, 10:3-4, 10:8), the age and original position of which are uncertain ; it may perhaps be put in the same class with 8:1-4. Verses 10:9-10, use of trumpets in war and at festivals, are plainly older than 10:1-8, and apparently kindred to H (so Horst and others) or its sources ; cp Lev. 23:24 (H under PS?).

P's account of the departure from Sinai is found in 10:11-12 (10:13-28 are secondary - or tertiary; see above, 13); this was followed by P's version of the story of the spies and the sentence upon the generation of the wilderness (see above, 3, begin. ) ; the narrative was continued by the story of Korah and his abettors (in its older form) in 16:1a, 16:2*, 16:3-7a, 16:19-24, 16:27a, 16:35 (see above, 11) ; the plague (16:41-50 [17:6-15]) ; the miracle of the rod that budded (17:1-11 [17:16-26]) perhaps secondary; the designation of the Levites, 18:1-7 (see above, 11); P's part of the story of the water from the rock (20:1*, 20:2, 20:3b, 20:6, 20:8a*, 20:10, 20:12 altered by RP to obliterate the sin of Moses and Aaron) ; the death of Aaron (20:22b-29, 21:10-11a, 22:1, 25:6-8 [25:9], 25:14-15 [25:10-13, 25:16-18 later expansion]). Of the narrative little more than this can be vindicated to PG .

1 Cp also 7, 10, 13-28 (both agreeing with 2). Ex. 1:2-4, Gen. 46:8+

2 Chap. 10:5-6 is a gloss ; see below, 14.

3 The two references to the census in Ex. 30:11-16 and 38:24-26 are both in late contexts.

4 Compare the position of 10:35+. in E.

15. Chap. 26: the census in Moab.[edit]

The census in Moab (ch. 26) is not expressly said to be the second, though this is implied in v. 64 (R). 1 The chapter is formally connected by v. i with 25:8-9 (the plague). The numbering of tne census the tribes is the basis of the Division of the land (26:52-56), and is therefore in place here, while the census in 1 has no manifest end. In contrast to 1 the clans of the several tribes are named ; cp Gen. 46 (PS). A striking discrepancy is noted between Nu. 26:58 and Ex. 5:16+, Nu. 3:17-20 (cp also 16:1a) ; the priority seems to be on the side of 26 (Wellh. CHM 184-185. There is some plausibility in the hypothesis that 26 is the oldest of the census lists. Verses 26:9-11, based on Nu. 16 in its composite form, are a late interpolation; 26:59 is probably glossed from Ex. 21 and otherwise; 26:64-65 is redactional, cp 1429 34.

16. Chap. 27:1-11 : the inheritance of women.[edit]

As in several other instances in PS , the law regarding the inheritance of women is given in the form of a decision by Moses establishing a precedent and rule. It is not unnaturally p]aced after the census in 26; cp, especially, 26:33 ; 27:3 refers to the story of Korah, apparently in the older form of 16:2-7, in which his supporters were members of the secular tribes. 2 An old law in formulation resembling the toroth in H is incorporated in 8:3-11 ; the case is similar to the deferred passover in 9 and the Story of the blasphemer in Lev. 24:10+

Laws and institutions in Chaps. 1-27.[edit]

Many of the laws and institutions in chaps. 1-27 have already been discussed. 3 Of the rest it is doubtful whether any were contained in the original History of the Sacred Institutions.

17. Chap. 5.[edit]

Chap. 5:1-4: lepers and all other persons suffering from uncleanness excluded from the camp. The latter prescription goes beyond anything elsewhere in the legislation in the stringency with which it draws the consequence of the theory of the holiness of the camp in the midst of which Yahwe dwells ; the law for the purity of warriors, Dt. 23:9-14, is quite a different thing.

Vv. 5-8 are a novel to Lev. 6:1-7 [5:20-26], to which a general rule about the priest's dues (5:9-10) is annexed from an older source (cp 18:19-20).

Vv. 11-31: the ordeal of jealousy. The formulation of the torah corresponds to that of laws in Leviticus which we have found to be comparatively old ; the beginning (5:11-12a) and close (29) suggest that it was taken from the same old collection which was the principal source of H ; it has been expanded and glossed by later hands in a way similar to Lev. 17 or 23:9+, and it is difficult to separate the old law from the later accretions. In the ceremony of the bitter water itself it may be suspected that two forms of the ordeal have been combined. 4

18. Chap. 6:1-21 : the Nazirite vow.[edit]

Chap. 6:1-8 contain a torah kindred to Lev. 13-14, and not improbably, like the law of the leper, derived from the chief source of H ; in 6:7 contamination from Lev. 21:11-12 may be suspected; 6:9-12 are a novel to 6:1-8. Verses 13-21 prescribe a ritual similar to those in Lev. 6-7 ; cp Lev. 2 ; 6:19-20 resembles 5:25-26. Old customs in part underlie the law (the shaving of the head, 6:18, the boiled shoulder, 6:19), but in general the more elaborated rite has superseded the older rule.

Vv. 22-27 : the priest's benediction ; misplaced here its natural position (in PG ) would be in proximity to Lev. 9:22.

Chap. 8:1-4 : the candelabrum and care of the lamps; cp Ex. 27:20-21, Lev. 24:1-4. l All three of these passages are astray; only Ex. 25:31-40 stands in its proper place. The natural connection for the directions in Nu. 8:1-3 is in the immediate sequel of Lev. 9, but there is nothing to show that they ever stood there ; probably the verses are secondary ; v. 4 is a gloss from Ex. 25:31+.

1 The allusion in v. 4 is a gloss.

2 Possibly, however, to the present composite text of P.

3 For those in 1-2 see 13 ; 3-4, 11 ; 8:5-26, 11; 9-10, 14 ; 18, 11.

4 * See Stade, Z^7"/K15 166-178(1895); Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, Hex. \ T.t)\ff. See JEALOUSY, ORDEAL OF.

19. Chap. 15.[edit]

Chap. 15:1-16: the prescribed quantities of flour, oil, and wine (minhah) to accompany various sacrifices. Noteworthy agreement in formulation and diction connects the law with H ; compare the introduction with Lev. 23:9-10 (cp Lev. 19:23, 25:2); 15:13-16 with Lev. 17:10, 17:13, 17:15. The phenomena seem to indicate that an old torah touching voluntary offerings, which perhaps once stood in proximity to Lev. 23 (H's feasts), has been used as the basis for a paragraph regulating the minhah ; the expansion seems to have been made by a writer of the same school as the priestly reviser of Lev. 23:9+; the awkward form of 15:14-16 suggests the hand of a late editor or scribe.

The torah 15:17-21, introduced as in 15:1-2 (see above), is assumed in Ezek. 44:30 to be familiar ; cp also Neh. 1:37. An old law requiring first-fruits of barley grits has here been modified ; the word hallah in 15:20 is a gloss, as appears from its syntactical isolation and its absence from 15:21 as well as from Ezek.

Vv. 22-31 are attached to the preceding without introduction, though upon an entirely unrelated subject the sin-offerings of the congregation (15:22-26) and of the individual (15:27-31) respectively. The law is a partial parallel to Lev. 4 (cp 5:1-13), but both the formulation and the prescribed sacrifices are different; cp Lev. 4:14 with Nu. 15:24, Lev. 4:28 with Nu. 15:27. 2 The two belong to different strata of the priestly legislation or the practice of different times. Lev. 4 is undoubtedly late ; 3 Kuenen regards Nu. 15:22-31 as later still. There are, at least in 15:22-26, traces of an older torah having some resemblance to those in H, but the evidence is not so clear as in the previous cases. In its actual form the law seems to be younger than Lev. 5:1-13, but probably older than Lev. 4.

Verses 32-36 : the fate of the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath, inserted here probably as an instance of sin with a high hand ; character and language show that the story is a bit of late midrash, similar to Lev. 24:10+ (the blasphemer).

Vv. 37-41, the tassels (sisith}: an old torah set in the distinctive motives and phrases of H (see LEVITICUS, 24); 15:40 is perhaps an addition, and in 15:38 the persons of the verbs have been changed.

20. Chap. 19 : the red heifer.[edit]

Chap. 19 deals with the red heifer a means of purification for those who have contracted defilement from contact with a dead body (see CLEAN, 17). The old law-book from which Lev. 12, 15 are taken must have contained provisions for purification in such cases ; but the missing torah can hardly be discovered in Nu. 19. The chapter consists of two parts, 19:1-13, 19:14-22. In the former we miss explicit directions for either the making or the application of the purifying mixture ; in the latter we find both (19:17, 19:18+), but without any allusion to the red heifer. Verses 19:14-22 are not the sequel of 19:1-13, but seem rather to be a parallel to it ; note the new beginning (19:14), the more particular definition of the causes of uncleanness (19:14-16), the preparation of the water - apparently from the ashes of an ordinary sin-offering (19:17), * and the method of application (19:18+). Though the rite is crude, the law in both its parts seems to belong to a very late stratum of P ; the only reference to it is Nu. 31:23, cp 19:19.


2 The harmonistic explanation that Lev. applies to sins of commission, Nu. to sins of omission, is not warranted by the text.


4 The last words of 9 are perhaps a harmonistic gloss.

21. Redaction.[edit]

Our examination of the Book of Numbers shows that the process by which it reached its present form was long and complicated. As in Exodus, J and E were united by a redactor, RJE , who harmonised them where it was necessary (e.g. , 23:27, 23:29), and sometimes introduced speeches of his own composition (14:11-24 - unless this be from a later hand). E, at least, has a secondary stratum represented by such passages as 11:16-17, 11:24b-30, 12. The narrative of JE was subsequently united with the parallel history of P ; sometimes closely interwoven with it, as in 13-14, 16, 20. But the simple hypothesis of composition JE combined with a priests code containing the history of P and the mass of priestly laws nowhere proves more inadequate to explain the actual phenomena than in Numbers. Very little of the legislation or legal precedent in the book was included in the History of the Sacred Institutions ; much of it was introduced after the union of JE and P, at various times, by many different hands, and from diverse sources. The same thing is true of considerable parts of the narrative, such as the secondary stratum of 16, the election of the Levites, census, order of encampment, etc. The additions found their place in part in the framework of PG , or at least within its limits ; in part in an appendix ( 28+ , see above, 10). Sometimes they are introduced in an appropriate place, frequently otherwise (e.g. , 19) ; of systematic codification there is no trace. 1

The modifications of the ritual are chiefly in the direction of more numerous sacrifices and larger revenues for the priesthood ; these correspond in part, no doubt, to actual changes in the practice ; in part they manifestly represent the theories of scribes rather than any more tangible reality. In the history, likewise, the later additions, such as the war of vengeance upon Midian, are properly described as midrash ; the fiction has a purpose and embodies a theory.

22. Greek version.[edit]

Frankel describes the Greek translation of Numbers as poor and scrappy, as though by different hands.- Comparison of Nu. 1 with 4 strongly suggests that LXX in these chapters is the work of two independent translators : thus E I nx Ntr:, Xci/3eTe apx^v : Xd/3e rb Ketpa. Xat.ov ; cninErnS /caret avyyeveias : Kara STJ/XOUJ, etc. An exhaustive examination of the several strata of the book such as would be necessary to determine whether here, as in Exodus 35+, LXX witnesses to the diaskeue of the Hebrew text, has never been made. There are, at least, no such considerable variations in the order as in Exodus.

23. Literature.[edit]

(a) Commentaries. Vater (1805); A. Knobel (1861); C. F. Keil (i86a,(2) 1870, ET 1867); F. C. Cooke (1871); J. P. Lange (1874, ET 1879) ; E. Reuss, La Bible, 82(1879), Das Alte Testament,?, (1893); A. Dillmann (1886); H. Strack (1894).

(b) Criticism. Bertheau, Graf, Noldeke, Kayser, Kosters, Colenso, Wellhausen, Kuenen, etc. (for titles see EXODUS, 7, and DEUTERONOMV, 33); Bacon, Trip. Trad. Ex. (1894); Addis, Documents of the Hexatench, 1 (1893), 2 (1898); Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, Hex. 2 vols. (1900). In vestigations of particular chapters are cited in the footnotes to the respective paragraphs. G. F. M.

1 The relation of these additions to the secondary stratum of Ex. is frequently close.

2 Einfl-uss der paliist. Exegese auf die alex. Hermeneutik, J 6? $ , see also Popper, Stiftshiitte, 165/1 171 177^!


(NOYMHNIOC [ANY], 72), son of Antiochus, sent by Jonathan (about 144 B.C.) as high priest and by the senate of the Jews on an embassy to Rome (1 Macc. 12:16+) and to Sparta (ib. 12:17, cp 14:22 ; see SPARTA). He was afterwards sent on an other embassy to Rome - this time by Simon (about 141 B.C.) - bearing as a present a large golden shield, weighing a thousand minas, to confirm the treaty be tween the Romans and the Jews (1 Macc. 14:24, cp 15:15+) Cp the decree of the Roman senate given by Jos. Ant. 14:8:5, which Josephus, however, assigns to the time of Hyrcanus II. See Schur. Hist. 1:1:266+


(j-13 ; as if 'fish' [Aram., Ass.] ; but once f lJ, Non, 1 Ch. 7:27 ; N&YH- an old corruption of N&YN [H for N], cp Ges. Thes. 864; but in Nu. 13:9 [13:8] N<\YN<\ [F], in Ch. NOYM [BA], NOYN [L], NAYHKOC and -XOC [Jos.]), father of JOSHUA (q.v. ), Ex. 33:11, Nu. 11:28, Josh. 1:1, and often. No doubt a clan name, and probably shortened or corrupted from NAHSHON (q.v. }.

The name is of much interest, for it takes us into the heart of the question, Did the Israelites have names derived from animal-totems? Does 'Nahash' (lit. 'serpent' ), the name of an Ammonite king, justify us in supposing an Ammonite serpent-clan (cp WRS Kin. 221, 304)? If so, a fish-clan is not inconceivable, the 1 'fish' being perhaps the mythic serpent, such as the Babylonian deity Ea (Cannes), the god of the subterranean deep which is coiled round the earth like a serpent, and the source of wisdom and culture. 1 Wellhausen has even suggested that AMNON, or Aminon, a name in David's family, means 'my mother is the serpent' (IJG 2 , 24, n. 2 ; cp Heid.^i, 152, n. 7). There is, however, an increasing body of evidence, the force of which is cumulative, to show that the theory of totemistic family names must be applied, if at all, with the greatest caution, many of the names quoted (see Gray, HPN, 88 ff. ) being strongly suspected of corruptness. NAHASH, for instance, is very possibly a corruption of Achish (see also IR-NAHASH), and Amnon, or Aminon, of jiys, or ^ye. 'a man of Maon' (for an analogy see SHEPHATIAH) ; Maon was probably in the district of Jezreel to which Amnon's mother Ahinoam belonged. The theory, therefore, that Joshua's father was named 'Fish' or 'Serpent', or (we may add) that Levi is connected with 'Leviathan' (Skipwith), is still more improbable than the theory that the name of the Assyrian capital really means 'fish-dwelling' (see NINEVEH, i). On this ground, and on that of the wide prevalence of corruption in clan-names, we are justified in assuming pj (MT Nun) to be corrupt. What then is most probably the true name of Joshua's clan ? The present writer has already presumed to give a new answer to this new question (see JOSHUA). Joshua was the closest of the friends of Moses, and must have belonged to the same clan, if we should not rather treat both Moses and Joshua as the eponyms of kindred clans. Now Joshua should be another form of Abishua = Abi-sheba, which is an Aaronite name, and closely resembles Eli-sheba, the name of a Juclahite clan with which 'Aaron' intermarried. That Abi-sheba and Eli-sheba are really names of the same clan can hardly be doubted. Now Eli-sheba is introduced to us as daughter of Amminadab, sister of Nahshon. It is very probable that according to another representation Jo-sheba, or Abi-sheba, or Eli-sheba was the son of Nahshon, and that pw-ru was sometimes written in the abbreviated form pj. NAHSHON (q.v.) probably has arisen out of jcha ; Joshua, like Moses, was probably connected in legend with the N. Arabian Cush. Cp MOSES, 6.

According to Toh. 1 i [A] one of Tobit's ancestors was named vauT). See ADUEL. T. K. C.

1 On the fish of Ea (Nun-Ia; cp the Bab. name Nunia, (Hommel, AHT 300), see Jensen, Kosmol. ^T-ff. Cp the theory of Nold. and Wellh. that njn (Eve) properly means 'serpent', the primeval serpent. See ADAM AND EVE, 3, n. 3.


The nurse or foster-parent occupied among the Israelites as dignified a position as in ancient Greece or Rome. Families were sometimes put under the cane of male servants : cp 2 K. 10:5, who 'brought up' (^, 2 K. 10:6 ; cp Is. 1:2, Hos. 9:12 etc. ) their charges. Such a servant was JEHIEL (3). See FAMILY, 13. Nurse is the rendering of two Hebrew words : -

1. rUCN, omeneth (lit. 'one who supports', TtSi^os [tithenos]), used of Naomi (Ruth 4:16) who was nurse to Ruth's child, and of the woman who had charge of Mephibosheth (2 S. 4:4).

2. nj7:rc, meneketh (lit. 'one who suckles' ); of DEBORAH q.v.) the nurse of Rebekah (Gen. 35:8, Tpo<f>6i [trophos]) ; cp also 2 K. 11:2 (=2 Ch. 22:11) and Ex. 2:7 (rpo^evouaa). The pi. nip 3 p occurs Is. 49:23 ( 'nursing mothers' EV), together with Q 32N ( 'nursing fathers', or foster-fathers, n6r)voi), which in the sing. is found only in Nu. 11:12 (Ti6T)t>6t). Cp FAMILY, 10.


i. TiJK, igos (KARYA Ct. enf), 1 denotes, according to the ancient versions and almost unanimous tradition, the walnut-tree, Juglans regia, L. This is the proper meaning not only of xapva [karya] by which LXX renders egoz, but also of the words akin to the latter in Aram, and Arab, (gausa and gaus); these Semitic forms have their origin in Persian. The walnut is native in all the regions from E. temperate Europe to Japan, its S. limit coinciding roughly with that of the vine. Though found in the mountains of Greece, the walnut was not much regarded by the Greeks until they obtained a superior sort (named by them Kapvov fia<Ti\iKbv [karyon basilikon] or wfpffiKov [persikon]) from Persia ; the Romans also regarded it as of Persian origin (de C. Orig. 342/1).

2. 3B3, botnim (Tfptfj.iv Bos [tereminthos] or Tcptfiivdos [terebinthos] ; Gen. 43:11+). are almost certainly 'pistachio nuts' as in RVmg. The word is akin to Syr. betmetha 'terebinth' ; cp Ar. butm (cp Ass. butnu], said to be borrowed from the Syr. word (Frankel, 139). The nuts are the fruit of Pistacia vera, L. , a shrub whose native country is Palestine, extending into Mesopotamia ; elsewhere it is an importation.

These nuts would form a natural component in a present carried from Palestine to Egypt ; in the latter country they are still often placed along with sweet meats and the like in presents of courtesy. See FRUIT. 13. N. M. W. T. T. -D.


(EV, with Tisch., Treg., Lightf. , Zahn), or (RV m - with Lachm., \VH) Nympha may be either NyM(J><\N- i.e., the masc. , or i.e. , the fem ; see below), with 'the church that is in his house' (so AV ; but RV 'their house' ), is saluted in Col. 4:15. It is not quite clear whether the 'house' referred to was in Laodicea or in Hierapolis - most probably in the latter (cp Col. 4:13), as the 'brethren' in Laodicea are mentioned separately. Nymphas (masc.) is enumerated in the Chronicon Paschale among the seventy disciples of the Lord ; cp Holland, Acta Sanctorum, Feb. 28. The name would be a contraction from Nymphodorus or Nymphodotus.

The rare occurrence of the name (CIA 3 1105 n>/j. , mv ; cp CJG 1290; CIL 2 57, Nyphas?) might lead to the alteration of avrov (DEFGKL, etc.), in TT)V KCLT olKov avr. <tAr)cria , into aifTrj? (B 67*), whilst ainnv (NACP), though adopted by RV, Tisch., and Treg., is surely a mere reminiscence of 1 Cor. 16:19, Rom. 16:5, for the brethren must have had more than one house. The objection to vv^av [nymphon] is that the form is Doric (Lightf., Abbott, Zahn); this is overruled by Hort (A/>/>. 163 a), but surely 'Martha' and 'Lydd'a, being Semitic names, are not quite parallel to Nympha (for Nymphe).


(ooABA[e]iOC [BA]), 1 Esd. 9:27 RV [AV om.]= Ezra 10:26 ABDI (q.v., 2).


(}i^N etc.), Gen. 358 etc. See TEREBINTH.


1. DttTO, mdsot, KOOTTH, Ezek. 27:6; and oarsman, n HS D, missot, <cw7rr)AaTT), Ezek. 27:29+.

2. i3 !?" 3N, oni sayit, 'fleet with oars', Is. 33:21. See SHIP.


(Anglo-Saxon adh ; Goth, aiths ; etymology uncertain). 'An oath may be defined as an asseveration or promise made under non-human penalty or sanction' (EBW s.v. ; cp Heb. 6:16). The use of the oath, mention of which is made throughout the OT, presupposes a legal system in some stage of development. At what precise date the oath came into vogue among the Hebrews cannot be determined (cp Lev. 5:1 [P]) ; but the need of it must have been felt as soon as a case arose in which no witnesses could be found with whom to confront and confound the accused (Ex. 22:6-11). See LAW AND JUSTICE, 10.

1. Terms and use.[edit]

The common Hebrew equivalent sebhu'ah (nj??3;?) is derived from the same root (yyy \ in Niphal 'to swear' ) that supplied the word for 'seven' (yiy, shebha).

Seven is a sacred number among the Semites, particularly affected in matters of ritual, and the Hebrew verb 'to swear' means literally 'to come under the influence of seven things'. Thus seven ewe lambs figure in the oath between Abraham and Abimelech at Beersheba, and in the Arabian oath of covenant described by Herodotus (3:8) seven stones are smeared with blood (WRS, Kel. Son.C-) ; cp BEER-SHEUA, and for the number seven. Gen. 33:3, Lev. 4:6, Nu. 23:1, 23:29, Josh. 6:4, 6:8, 6:13, Zech. 3:9, Rev. 12:3, 16:7, Mt. 12:45, etc.). Cp NUMBER, 5.

Another word, 'alah (,-iSn), which is often translated 'oath', means literally 'curse', and, therefore, when it is used something more awful than the ordinary oath is intended.

Solemn as was the oath alone, its awfulness was greatly increased when a curse was added. To express this twofold idea Hebrew sometimes combines the two words (Nu. 5:21 ; cp 1 K. 8:31, 2 Ch. 6:22, Neh. 10:29 Dan. 9:11). In the case of 'alah an imprecation was always added ; in the case of sebhuah there need be none.

The oath, as Benzinger says (art. Eid in PRK(^), 'played a great part' among the Israelites in ordinary life ; but on common occasions the less severe form of oath was deemed sufficient.

So, when a promise was made by one person to another (Gen. 24:8, Josh. 2:17, 2:20, 2 S. 217, 1 K. 2:43, Tob. 8:20), by one tribe to another (Josh, 9:20), by a people to its god, king, or priest (Judg. 21:5, 1 S. 14:26, 2 Ch. 15:15, 1 Esd. 8:93, 8:96, Judith 8:11, 8:30, Jos. Ant. 12:1:1, 15:10:4), or by Yahwe to Israel's ideal ancestors (Gen. 26:3, Dt. 7:8, 1 Ch. 16:16, Ps. 105:9, Jer. 11:5 Ecclus. 44:21, Bar. 234).

The meaning of the terms may be illustrated by Mt.'s version of Peter's denial of Jesus. Peter in the first instance denied simply ; in the second he denied with an oath (Mt. 26:72 ripvricra.TO /uera tipKov - i.e., he made use of the sebhu'ah) ; in the third he began to utter an imprecatory oath (^paro Karaffffiari^tiv /cat 6fj.i>veiv - i.e. , he employed the 'alah in addition to the sebhu'ah). Peter did not, as might be inferred from EV, use blasphemous language ; what he did was to employ the most solemn form of oath. The three denials, indeed, represent the three Jewish methods of making an asseveration. The first method was that used by Jesus himself (Mt. 26:63-64).

1 [In Cant. 6:11 'garden of nuts' is exactly parallel to 'garden of pistacio-nuts' (Est. 7:7-8, D Jtran n|3 ; MT has the improbable jrrari 3, cp 1 5 ijSari 383 j)].

2. Forms.[edit]

Of the forms which the oath took when expressed in words several are mentioned in the OT. These are : 'God do so to me and more also' ( VTWySH TD; , na1 DVT s K , 1 S.14:44, {1} 2 S. 3:35, 1 K. 2:23 ; variations of this are : 'God do so to thee, etc.' 1 S. 3:17, 'God do so to the enemies of David, etc.' 1 S. 25:22, 'God do so to Abner, etc.' 2 S. 8:9, 'and the Gods do so [to me], etc.' 1 K. 19:2). 'As Yahwe liveth' (nwTi. 1 S. 14:39, 19:6 ; variations of this are, nin - n 2 TI?BJ nil 'as Yahwe liveth and as thou thyself livest' 1 1 S. 20:3, iSan 3HN m mnn,- 'as Yahwe liveth and as my lord the king liveth' 2 S. 15:21). 'Yahwe is a witness between me and between thee for ever' ( -ra [i;-] ,TI,T oSijny I3 3i, 1 S. 20:23; or, reading cSijny instead of inserting -\y after m.T, 'Yahwe is an everlasting witness', etc. ). 'The God of Abraham . . . judge between us' ( rra Mssy crmx nSx). 'By myself have I sworn, etc.' ( % nj;3c>3 3i Gen. 22:16, Yahwe being the speaker). That Paul used some kind of imprecation is implied in 2 Cor. 1:23, Phil. 1:8, Gal. 1:20.

1 In 1 S. 14:44 ^> is to be added after LXX, or to be understood. See the remarks of Driver, and H. P. Smith.

2 On the different punctuation of <n in these passages see H. P. Smith on 1 S. 14:39.

For these passages Tylor compares the words of Athanasius 'I stretch out my hand, and as I have learned of the apostle, I call God to witness on my soul' (Apol. ad Imp. Const. ; see Augustine, De Mend. 28 ; Epist., cl. 89; cl. 4 250 ; Enarr. in Psalm. 88 (4) ; Sertn. 307 319).

The Jews are said, moreover, to have sworn by heaven (cp Dalman, Worte Jesu, 1:168-169), by the earth, by the sun, by Jerusalem, by the temple (see Mishna, Shebuoth 4:2 ; Mt. 5:34, 23:16; Berakhoth 55 ; Kiddushin 77a; Maimonides, Yad Ha-Hasaka, Hilkoth Shebuoth 12), by the angels (Jos. BJ 2:115:4) and by the lives of distinguished persons (Gen. 42:15, 1 S. 1:26, 17:55, 2 S. 11:11, 14:19).

In taking an oath it was usual, in order to add solemnity to the occasion, to lift up the right hand towards heaven (Gen. 14:22, Dt. 32:40, Dan. 12:7, Rev. 70:56 ; cp Homer, ll. 19:254, Pindar, Olymp. 7:120). Hence 'to lift up the hand' is used as an equivalent of 'to swear' (Ex. 6:8, Ps. 106:26, Ezek. 20:5; cp Ps. 1448, 'Their right hand is a right hand of falsehood', and Ar. yamin 'an oath', lit. 'right hand' ). Sacrifice often formed part of the ceremony of the oath (see SACRIFICE and cp ll. 3:276). Sometimes it was the practice to divide a victim and to pass between the pieces (Gen. 15:10, 15:17, Jer. 34:18; cp the Ar. kasam, 'an oath' from kasama, 'to divide into parts', aksama, 'to swear' ). Cp COVENANT, 5. With regard to the practice of putting the hand under another's thigh, referred to in Gen. 24:2, 47:29 (cp Jos. Ant. 1:16:1), it seems plain that it grew out of the special sacredness attaching to the generative organ ; fruitfulness being of specially divine origin, the organ of it in man could by the primitive Semites be taken as symbolising the Deity.

Parallels are quoted by Ew. Alterthtttneifi), 26, and Knob.- Dillm. ad loc. ; Tylor also gives a particularly interesting parallel from Australia (see note in Spurrell's Genesis ft), 217-218).

According to Tylor, the practice is better described as a covenant ceremony than as an oath-rite. But can we, among the Hebrews, dissociate covenants or compacts from swearing?

3. Teaching of the prophets and of Jesus.[edit]

The prophets did not conceive the possibility of doing without oaths ; indeed to proclaim the sebu'ah of Yahwe was part of the prophet's work (Zeph. 2:9 ; cp Schultz, OT Theol, 1:266 [ET]). Perjury is denounced by them as putting a man outside of Yahwe's religion (Ezek. 16:59, 17:13, 17:16, 17:18-19 ; cp Ps. 154, 'that swears to another [reading insn ?, LXX, Pesh. , RVmg, Wellh.], and changes not' ; 244, 'and who swears not deceitfully' ). In post-exilic times there were not wanting men who scrupled to take any oath in daily intercourse.

See Eccles. 9:2, which would perhaps be interpreted in the light of the principles of the later Essenes, who are said (Jos. BJ 2:8:6) to have esteemed swearing on ordinary occasions as worse than perjury ; and cp Ecclus. 23:9-11.

This brings us to speak of Mt. 5:34, Jas. 5:12 (this passage is important because it very possibly contains the true form of a part of the saying in Jesus sermon). The great teacher takes up a definite attitude of opposition to the prevailing theories respecting oaths. As F. C. Burkitt (Two Lectures on the Gospels, 1900), following Dalman ( Worte Jesu, 1 187), has well pointed out, Jesus peculiar use of 'Amen' must have arisen out of this repugnance to oaths. 'Amen' is no oath, but involves a not less solemn asseveration of the truth of a statement. Lk. sometimes uses dXrj^ws or ^Tr dXij^ei as where Mt. and Mk. have a^v (Dalman, 186 ; cp AMEN, 2). Jesus, however, is also reported to have said that 'whatsoever is more than yea or nay is of the evil one' (v. 37, TO 8 irepiirubv TOVTUV e/c TOV irovrjpov fffriv), which could not possibly be said of a serious and reverent oath by the living God. This most solemn oath indeed, Jesus himself, according to Mt. , recognised in his trial (Mt. 26:63-64; but cp Mk. 14:61-62 = Lk. 22:70). Perhaps a passage in the Mishna, Sheb. 4:13, may illustrate its meaning. It is there laid down that if one man adjures another with the words, 'By heaven and earth!' the adjuration is not binding ; if, however, he adjures by one of the divine names, it is binding. The first part of this saying Jesus would certainly not have sanctioned ; the second, he certainly would. To support this statement it is enough to refer to Mt. 23:16+, where, after denouncing the casuistry of the blind guides of Jewish laymen he says, 'And he that swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that is seated thereon'. To say that Jesus meant that an oath by the God of heaven and earth 'comes of the evil one', would be beyond the power of any Christian theologian. This binds our interpretation of Jas. 5:12 (on which see above, and cp Mayor s commentary). Keim (Jesu von Nazara, 2256) appears to give a sounder view of the meaning of Jesus than B. Weiss (Matthdusevang. 166). The protest of Jesus is directed, as Holtzmann points out, rather against the lower, casuistical Pharisaism than against the Pharisaism of a nobler type which we know. See also Vows, and cp Nowack, HA, s.v. 'Eid' ; and for NT the article MINISTRY and Holtzmann, NT Theol. 1:102, 1:105, 1:139-140

M. A. C. , 1-2; T. K. c. , 3.


(iT-ny and WniV [nos. 2, 6, 8], 'servant or worshipper of Yahwe', 37 ; cp ABUEEL, and Ar. Abdullah, Taimallat ; but this may be a later view, and originally the men afterwards known as Obadiah may have borne a clan-name, perhaps 'Arabi' ; see OBED, and especially PROPHET, 7 ; &BA[e]lA [BAL] generally).

1. The prophet (in title o/35ou [B*], -diov [Be] a/SSiou [XQ], -Seiov [A]; v. i opSeiov [B], -diov [B b ], afidiov [NAQ] ; subscription o/35fiov [B*], -Siov [B bc ], afiSfiou [N], -Siov [A], -5cuov [Q] ; ABDIAS, 2 Esd. 13:9 EV). See below, OBADIAH (BOOK).

2. The comptroller of Ahab's palace, a devoted adherent of the old Israelitish religion, in the days when, prophetic legend said, that religion was proscribed by Ahab (1 K. 18:3-16, imay, afidfiov [B], -diov [AL]). Violent as the persecution was, Obadiah ventured to hide a hundred prophets of Yahwe 'by fifty in a cave'. Many readers have been surprised by Obadiah's (or 'Arabi's?) pusillanimous speech in 1 K. 18:9-14. But may it not be the narrator's object to bring out the fierceness of Ahab and the superhuman courage of Elijah ? Later tradition has more to say about him, identifying him with the prophet (see Jer. Comm. in Ob. , the third captain of fifty, who came to Elijah (2 K. 113) ; and the prophet's widow, for whom Elisha wrought a miracle (2 K. 4:1), was his widow. His tomb was shown in Samaria with those of Elisha and John the Baptist, and the Epitaphium Paulae describes the wild performances, analogous to those of modern dervishes, enacted before these shrines. The true story, however, may have been much misunder stood ; LXX{L} makes a brave attempt to make 18:4 more intelligible, but criticism has recovered the original story of Obadiah, which later copyists distorted (see PROPHET, 7).

3. b. Azel, a descendant of Saul (1 Ch. 8:38, 9:44).

4. b. IZRAHIAH (q.v.) of ISSACHAR (1 Ch. 7:3 /tiet/36eia [B], o/3<5ia f Al).

5. A Gadite who came to David at Ziklag (1 Ch. 12:9).

6. Father of Ishmaiah (q.v.) (1 Ch. 27:19, irvuj,*, a6eiov [B],-Siov [AL]).

7. One of the sons of Hananiah b. Zerubbabel (t Ch. 821, o/SSias [L]), but according to , Vg., and Pesh., he belongs to the sixth generation from Zerubbabel.

8. A Merarite Levite (2 Ch. 34:12 WOtf, a/3Sias [AL]); cp below (9).

9. b. Shemaiah of Jeduthun - also Merarite (1 Ch. 9:16, ofSSia [A], ajSia [L]), see ADDA (2). On the occurence of the name in Merarite lists see IBRI.

10. One of Jehoshaphat's commissioners for teaching the Law (2 Ch. 17:7, a^iav [B]), mentioned after BEN-HAIL (q.v.), i.e., Ben-jerahmeel. Was his true name 'Arabi' (see above)?

11. b. Jehiel, of the b'ne Joab, a family in Ezra's caravan (see EZRA i., 2, ii., 15 [i]rt^; EzraSg (aSfia [B], afaSia. fA], a/35iov [L])=1 Esd. 8:35 ABADIAS (a/SaStas [BA], a/3Siov [L]). Perhaps the priestly signatory to the covenant (see EZRA i., g 7), Neh. 10:5 [10:6] (a06[e]ta [I5KA] o/3ia [L]); cp 12:25 (om. BA), o/Mia [K c - am 8 ], o/35ias [L], if not, however, to be connected with (8) above.


  • Place in Canon (1)
  • Author and headings (2).
  • Earlier criticism (3).
  • Earlier views of date (4).
  • New text-critical basis (5).
  • Analysis (6).
  • Origin of parts 1 and 2 (7-8).
  • Literature (9).

1. Place in the Canon.[edit]

In the Hebrew OT the Book of Obadiah stands fourth among the twelve 'minor' prophets, between Amos and Jonah. The primary reason for this seems to be, not so much chronological theory, as the reference at the close of Amos (9:12) to the future occupation of the Idumaean territory by Judah, an event which is the climax of the so-called 'vision of Obadiah' (Obad. 18-19, 21 ). In LXX, however, Obadiah comes between Joel and Jonah, and certainly the parallelisms between Joel and Obadiah fully justify this arrangement.

2. Author and headings.[edit]

Jerome (on Obad. 1, cp Talm. Sanh. 39), mentions a current Jewish identification of Obadiah with the steward of Ahab's house (OBADIAH, 2). The scholion at the head of Ephrem's commentary, however, states that Obadiah was of the land of Shechem, of the district of Beth-Ephraim. The Vitae Prophetarum (for the two forms of which see Nestle, Marg. 24-25) instead of 'Beth-Ephraim' gives pri8a.xapa.fj. [bethacharam] and fte0Ba.xa.in.ap [beththachamar] respectively, and further states that Obadiah was the third 'captain of fifty', whom the prophet Elijah spared (2 K. 1:13-14); and in the longer form of the Vitae it is added that he became Elijah s disciple, and went through much on his account. This, of course, has no historical authority ; but it seems possible that the original tradition knew of a southern Shechem (see SHECHEM). Bryflaxapa/u [bethacharam] represents Beth-haccerem, which is probably a popular modification of Beth- jerahmeel. The writer of the original prophecy may, in fact, like some others of the literary prophets (to judge from their names), have been of Jerahmeelite extraction. The Jerahmeelite element in Judah increased after the Exile. The Talmud (Sanh. 39) mentions a view that Obadiah was an Edomite proselyte. Of the headings, which are three, the last ( 'Thus has the Lord Yahwe said concerning Edom' ) is not quite accurate, Yahwe not being the speaker, according to MT, except in vv. 2, 4, 8, 13, 16. The two others, 'Vision ( = prophecy) of Obadiah' and 'Obadiah' scarcely represent the original form of the heading : 'Obadiah', being so vague in its meaning, would have been followed by 'son of'. Probably we should read niy, 'Arabi' (cp OBED), and find a trace of the view (see above) that the prophet was an Edomite proselyte. T. K. c.

3. Earlier criticism.[edit]

[The difficulty of this small book is out of all proportion to its length, and it will be well to glance at an earlier solution of the complex problem before attempting a more complete explanation. We will therefore throw ourselves back into the point of view which was natural in 1884, and see to what extent this enigmatical book had yielded up its secret. That it should be left for other critics to widen the earlier solution rather than for the eminent scholar whose work we use as a starting-point, is a matter of profound regret. Criticism, however, like Dante among the shades, proves its life by moving what it touches (OTJC( V >, preface, ix).]

We begin with a sketch of the contents. Yahwe has sent forth a messenger among the nations to stir them up to battle against the proud inhabitants of Mt. Seir, to bring them down from the rocky fastnesses which they deem impregnable. Edom shall be not only plundered, but utterly undone and expelled from his borders, and this he shall suffer (through his own folly) at the hands of trusted allies (vv. 1-19). The cause of this judgment is his cruelty to his brother Jacob. In the day of Jerusalem s overthrow the Edomites rejoiced over the calamity, grasped at a share of the spoil, lay in wait to cut off the fugitives (vv. 10-14). But now the day of Yahwe is near upon all nations, Esau and all the heathen shall drink full retribution for their banquet of carnage and plunder on Yahwe's holy mountain. A rescued Israel shall dwell in Mt. Zion in restored holiness ; the house of Jacob shall regain their old possessions ; Edom shall be burned up before them as chaff before the flame ; they shall spread over all Canaan, over the mountain of Esau and the S. of Judah, as well as over Gilead and the Philistine and Phoenician coast. The victorious Israelites shall come up on Mt. Zion to rule the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom shall be Yahwe's (vv. 15-21).

4. Earlier views of date.[edit]

Sure criteria for determining the date appear to be furnished by vv. 10-14. The calamity of Jerusalem can only be the sack of the city by Nebuchadrezzar ; the malevolence and cruelty of Edom on that occasion are characterised in similar terms by several exilic and post-exilic writers (Ezek. 25:8, 25:12-13, 35, Lam. 4:21, Ps. 137). It is impossible to doubt that these verses were written under the impression of the events to which they refer. To regard the language as predictive (Caspar!, Pusey, etc. ) is to misunderstand the whole character of prophetic foresight. The opening verses, on the other hand, present a real difficulty. Obad. 1-6, 8 agree so closely, and in part verbally, with Jer. 49:14-16, 49:9-10, 49:7, that the two passages cannot be independent ; nor does it seem possible that Obadiah quotes from Jeremiah, for Obad. 1-8 is a well-connected whole, while the parallel verses in Jeremiah appear in different order interspersed with other matter, and in a much less lucid connection. In Jeremiah the picture is vague and Edom's unwisdom (v. 7) stands without proof. In Obadiah the conception is quite definite. Edom is attacked by his own allies, and his folly appears in that he exposes himself to such treachery. Again, the probability that the passage in Jeremiah incorporates disjointed fragments of an older oracle is greatly increased by the fact that the prophecy against Moab in the preceding chapter uses, in the same way, Is. 15-16 and the prophecy of Balaam. But according to the traditional view, the prophecy against Edom in Jer. 49 dates from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, so that, if Obadiah and Jer. 49 contain common matter, it seems necessary to conclude with Ewald, Graf, and many others, that Jeremiah and our Book of Obadiah alike quote from an older oracle (see, however, 7). Ewald supposes that the treacherous allies of Edom are the Aramaeans, and the time that of Ahaz (2 K. 16:6) ; but, if his general theory be accepted , it would be more just to the tone of the prophecy to refer it to a later date, when Edom had teen for some time independent and powerful, and it is not improbable that in Obad. 1-8 we have the first mention of that advance of the Arabs upon the land E. of Palestine which is referred to also in Ezek. 25. The prominence given to Edom, and the fact that Chaldaea is not mentioned at all, make it probable that the book was not written in Babylonia. The same verse speaks of exiles in SEPHARAD (q.v. ). Sepharad is probably Sardis, the Cparda of Darius in the Behistun inscription. The language is quite consistent with a date in the Persian period.

The eschatological picture in the closing verses equally favours a late date. The conceptions of the 'rescued ones' (peletah, na "?B). of the sanctity of Zion, of the kingship of Yahwe, are the common property of the later prophets. Like most of them, too, the writer gives expression to the intensified antithesis between Judah and the surrounding heathen in the prediction of a consuming judgment on the latter - the great 'day of Yahwe'. With Joel, in particular, he agrees in some striking points, both material and verbal, so closely that one of the two must be dependent on the other (Joel 3:19 cp Obad. 10, 14, Joel 3:3 cp Obad. 11, Joel 2:32, 3:17 cp Obad. 17), and the language of Joel 3:32 [3:5] certainly seems to imply quotation from Obadiah. It is also plausible to see a point of contact between Joel 3:6, which refers to 'sons of Judah and Jerusalem' as having been sold to the 'sons of Javan', and Obad. 20 'the exiled band of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad'. Nor can we pass over the fact that while Obadiah still uses the phrases 'house of Jacob', and 1 'house of Joseph', the northern tribes have become to him a mere name ; the restoration he thinks of is a restoration of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and even Gilead is to be occupied, not by Joseph, but by Benjamin. W. R. S.

5. New text-critical basis.[edit]

There are three critical processes which have to be employed in order more fully to solve our problems. We must first be searching in our textual criticism ; we must then ascertain the component parts of the work before us, if we suspect it of being composite ; we must lastly investigate the origin of each part, taking it in connection with parallel passages elsewhere.

The principal textual corrections, so far as the present writer can see, are as follows : -

Verses 5-7 should probably run thus l

If thieves came upon thee,
Would they steal more than they needed ?
If vintagers came upon thee,
Would they not leave gleaning grapes?
How are thy purposes broken,
Thy wise thoughts become foolish !
All thy confederates have befooled thee,
All thy friends have deceived thee.
The wise have perished from Edom,
And those that understand from the mountains of Esau ;
Thy heroes, O Teman, are affrighted,
That every one may be cut off from the mountains of Esau.

In vv. 10-14 the editor has even surpassed himself in the endeavour to make sense out of a bad text, but he has handed on to us what he found, and underneath his ingenious explana tions we can trace, as it appears, with almost complete precision, the original text, of which this is a rendering. 2

For cruelty to thy brother Jacob
Shame covers thee - thou art cut off.
Jerahmeelites stand to look on,
Ishmaelites, Misrites, exult,
Rehobothites tread down thy cities,
Jerahmeelites make a mock of thee.
Triumph not over thy brother like the Rehobothites,
And rejoice not over the sons of Judah like the Arabians,
And mock not aloud like the Misrites,
And befool not his terrified ones like the Jerahmeelites,
And come not forward to cut off his escaped ones,
And betray not his fugitives like the Misrites.

A similar remark may be made on vv. 19-21, which should run, approximately, thus

And they shall occupy the Negeb and the Shephelah,
The highland of Jerahmeel and of Missur,
And they shall possess the land of the Kenites,
They shall possess the land of the Zarephathites ;
They shall possess the land of the Ishmaelites,
And Jerahmeel shall belong to Judah.

1 nj3p? comes from QTI2% a variant to c 33> "] N H^ ."irrai: > s an editor s transformation of a corruptly written Wn;?_ X^fl (cp Jer. 40:9). The key to v. 6 is to be found in 13 rm3n pN (by which We. confesses himself baffled). Read ?pru3n nj;33 1 nirna naso TTN. px comes from TN, 13 from njpj In v. 7 ^laamj^^HDrWi a gloss on the corrupt word 1B>y. For -pri 1 ?!? read Tj^SD ; for "I*? 1*73 read "?3 (ditto- graphed). The next four words should be "njfp 1 ?Ni C^ r ^NSnV ninrn ; a gloss. Verses 8-9 have been made into predictions by the editor. For ,1313)1 read C : 3D ; cp Jer. 40:7 (LXX, Pesh.).

  • ?!;!?, which has exercised so many minds, is probably a miswritten ^Ncrrv a late gloss on -\yy.

2 In v. 10 (end) cViyS, which spoils the trimeter, should be D*7HDnT > DV3 is a corrupt fragment of the same word (ditto- graphed). For -pay read najT. The next clause should be I7r Q lxa} B^HJSMfy and the next ?]iy JDUJ CTl3rrn (N13 and DU confounded). Then M ^JV Q SNJflpe> I Syi (cp a similar error in text of Ps. 22:19). In the next line read CTCrn:) 7nN2 ; then, for D13X DV3, read D 3iy3 ; next, D lsap 7] B3 rySn-SKl (V"Unand rryhn are often confounded). After this come some doublets. Then O ^KDrlTS I Vnaj VSDFT^XI. In vv. 14 p")S Sy comes from 7XDnV, which was a correction of TVX DT 1 , and n~S QV3 from c*lxa3-

6. Analysis of book.[edit]

In ascertaining the component parts (if such there be) of the work before us, we begin by noticing

  • (1) that the first five verses also occur in Jer. 49:14-16 and Obad. 9 while vv. 6, 8-9a have points of contact with Jer. 49:10 (viBc-n) Obad. 7 and 22b respectively, and
  • (2) that there is a marked difference of subject between vv. 1-14 and 15b on the one hand and vv. 15a and 16-21 on the other. It is evident, not only that the former section was originally independent of the latter, but also that the writer or (at any rate) editor of Jer. 49:7-22 was only acquainted with the former. This bisection of our Obadiah is supported by Wellhausen and Nowack ; these scholars, however, think that vv. 6, 8-9, and one or two phrases in v. 5 are later insertions. This view is not favoured by a keener textual criticism ; but Wellhausen's transposition of the two parts of v. 15 is clearly right.

From our text-critical point of view, it is impossible to follow either G. A. Smith (who makes vv. 1-6 an independent prophecy against Edom, used by Jeremiah), or Konig, who distributes the contents thus: -

  • (a) vv. 1-10 (but v. 7 an expansion, the closing words being pleonastic beside v. 8 ; probably also v. 9b, because

of the late word 7!?J2), 16a, 18-19a, 20b ;

  • (b) vv. 11-15, 16b-17, 19b-20a, 21.

The difference of subject in the two parts may be briefly stated. The first part speaks of the judgment upon Edom as past (or at any rate imminent) and as the just retribution of Edom's unbrotherly conduct towards Israel. As Edom joined the neighbouring peoples in triumphing over Israel (Judah) and deceiving and capturing its fugitives, so, now that Edom is cut off, the neighbouring peoples gather together to mock at its calamity and tread down its cities. 'As thou hast done, it is done unto thee ; thy deed returns on thine own head'. The second part represents the judgment as still future ; but Edom s punishment is only a specimen of the punishment of all the nations with which Yahwe is displeased. The only safe refuge will be Mt. Zion. The house of Jacob (Judah) and the house of Joseph (Israel) will unite in the work of destroying the arch enemy Edom. The whole of the S. , SE. , and SW. of Palestine, which has hitherto been occupied by peoples hostile to Israel, shall now become incorporated into the land of Judah. The style of the first part is vigorous and full of colour ; that of the second is feeble and prosaic in the extreme. In the first part Edom is dis tinguished from Jerahmeel ; in the second Jerahmeel is virtually identified with Edom, the reason being that (as we shall see) the Edomites had in the meantime occupied the territory which anciently belonged to the Jerahmeelites and kindred tribes.

1 Iby "in nx and Dws-JIX are glosses (We.). For D TSX and pnD2> read ^MDrlT and Hjra. ja J3 is a corruption of . and ~\&1 a variant to JlSj. In v. 20 ^nirrWlfl and are both corruptions of }?n: ; B> J3 is a gloss. For read rpn fnx (cp LXX). In nsnx"lj;, ~\y is a ditto- graphed is ; n31i (c rSIs) is misplaced. The second rhy\ should also be iVnjl. D^IV should be C Svj;^^ , a variant to a-riBli (which read, in lieu of T1BD3)- 3i3n IJTriN li?T is a fuller repetition of 333,1 1ITV1 (v. 19). In v. 21 iSyi is a corruption of i^rul I JVS ins Q JTtra comes from D^Ni 1 -!? pM (words transposed), and BSO 1 ? from nSIK 1 ? (a gloss). IB J? "irrnN is also a gloss. For mri V read mvr^ ; rOl^On should be (as in 2 S. 12:26).

7. Origin of Part 1.[edit]

We have now to examine the origin, first of vv. 1-14, 15b, and next of vv. 15a, 16-21, taking each part in connection with parallel passages elsewhere.

A comparison of the parallel portions of Obadiah and of Jer 49:7-22 proves beyond dispute that the author of the latter work borrowed from Obadiah, or rather from the original Obadiah, which was without vv. 15a, 16-21. If, therefore, Jer. 49:7-22 is by Jeremiah, who wrote it, as is supposed (see Jer. 46:2), in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (circa 606 B.C. ), the capture of Jerusalem (when the Edomites behaved so unmercifully), and the danger to which (according to the prophetic poet) Edotn is now exposed, must both be prior to the Babylonian invasion of Judah. In this case it will be natural to explain vv. 10-14 of the same event that is referred to in Am. 1:9, 1:11, where Musur and Edom are accused of cruelty to the kindred people of Israel in its time of sore distress, and, if we could trust the narrative in 2 Ch. 21:16-17, we might suppose the capture of Jerusalem by Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Jehoram mentioned by the Chronicler to be the event intended. Unfortunately, the pre-exilic date of Am. 1:9-12 and Jer. 49:7-22 is by no means secure (see AMOS, 9 ; JEREMIAH, BOOK OF, 12-14), and the historicity of the Chronicler s statement is not less questionable (see JKHOKAM, 5). From the fact that the first part of Obadiah is used in Jer. 49:7-22 we may justly infer that, like Jer. I.c. , it is post-exilic ; only we shall do well to assume a con siderable interval between Obad. 1-14, 15b and the appendix (which was unknown to the Jeremianic writer). The view that Obad. and Jer. 49:7-22 derive the elements common to both from a prophecy older than either, which has been incorporated with least alteration by Obad., though still held by Driver (Introd.W, 319), Wildeboer (Letterkunde^, 351 ), and G. A. Smith ( Twelve Prophets, 2:171) is, from our point of view, unnecessary.

Our next step is to compare Obad. 1-14, 15b with certain other parallel passages, 1 viz.

  • (a) Mal. 1:2-5,
  • (b) Mic. 4:8+,
  • (c) Lamentations,
  • (d) Is. 63:18, 64:10-11 [64:9-10],
  • (e) certain psalms,
  • (f) Is. 21:1-10,
  • (g) a story in Jeremiah,
  • (h) Esther,
  • (i) Judith.

We adhere to the point of view which has already led us to satisfactory results, starting from a carefully emended critical text, not from the often corrupt Massoretic text. A previous perusal of parts of the articles LAMENTATIONS and MICAH will probably assist the reader to realise the exegetical importance of attention to the text-critical problems.

(a) From Mal. 1:2-5 we learn that shortly before the date of Malachi's prophecy the mountains of Edom had been laid waste, and it is reasonable to see in this an allusion to an important stage in the displacement of the Edomites by the NABATAEANS (q.v. ) some time before 312 B.C. It is natural (as Wellhausen first pointed out) to illustrate Obadiah by Malachi, and consequently by Diodorus (see EDOM, 9).

(b) One of the later appendices to the prophecies of Micah (Mic. 4:8-5:6 [5:5]) contains a definite announcement of a siege of Jerusalem in which Zarephathites and other hostile nations are concerned, and of a captivity of Jerusalemites in Jerahmeel (Mic. 4:10). See MICAH, BOOK OF, 4.

1 Joel 3 [4], 19, where 'Misraim' (Egypt) should be 'Misrim' 1 (Musri); Am. 9:12, and Is. 34 (all post-exilic) might be added to the list, also the prophecies on Misrim (Musri) and Jerahmeel which appear to underlie those on Egypt, Elam, and Babylon in Jer. 46, 49-51. The investigation of these hidden prophecies would involve too great a digression.

(c) and (d) supplement each other, and fully agree with the situation described in Obad. 11-14, and if we further take (e) into account - i.e., the psalms which (as a searching criticism shows) relate to the oppression of the Jews and the destruction of the temple by Arabians, and which further speak of Jewish captives, or at least enforced residents, among the Jerahmeelites or Edomites - it will be difficult to retain much doubt as to the particular events referred to in this portion of Obadiah. These events were the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians aided and abetted by the Cushites, Jerah meelites, and Misrites. The participation of these N. Arabians in the destruction of the Jewish state is not indeed mentioned in 2 K. 25:1+; but it may be referred to in 2 K. 24:2 {1} (vv. 2-4 are not improbably misplaced), and we seem to have an indirect confirmation of the fact in the asserted invasion of Judah in Asa's reign by 'ZERAH (q.v.) the Cushite' (i.e., the N. Arabian Zarhites), and in the asserted capture of Jerusalem by the 'Philistines' (Zarephathites) and the 'Arabians that were near the Cushites' (2 Ch. 14:9, 21:16-17). Of the psalms which refer to this and the following period it is enough to refer to Pss. 42-43, 74, 79, 120, 137, 140. A passage from 42-43 (emended text) is quoted elsewhere (see MIZAR). The speaker is a company of Jews dwelling among Jerahmeelite oppressors, and the value of this and the parallel psalms (excluding Pss. 74, 79) is that they show the long continuance of Jerahmeelite - i.e. , N. Arabian - oppression (cp also Is. 62:8-9, and the references to the hostility of neighbours in Nehemiah). Winckler (AOF 2:455) even thinks that the Moabites, Ammonites, and Arabians [rather the Misrites, Jerahmeelites, and Arabians] were the agents in the destruction of the wall referred to in Neh. 1:3; but see NEHEMIAH, i. At any rate, a series of Jerahmeelite captivities may pretty safely be assumed ; it is to these that reference is made, not only in Am. 1:9 and Mic. 4:10 (emended text), but also in Ps. 42-43, as appears from the direct reference to a hoped-for return to Jerusalem, and in Ps. 137 (emended text). The improbability of the ordinary view of Ps. 137 has been well shown by W. E. Barnes.

The attempt of Barnes, however, to make Ps. 137 refer entirely to Edom without touching the MT is unsuccessful. 2 Here, as in some other passages, 7]] (as if 7]3) is miswritten for /NCnV which should be restored both in v. 1 and in v. 8. The passages which best illustrate our present subject are vv. 1-2, 7-8

1. On the heritage of Jerahmeel we wept, | remembering Zion ;
2. The Arabs in the midst thereof had beaten | our harps to pieces.
7. Remember, O Yahwe ! against Edom's sons | the wickedness of the plunderers,
Who said, break down, break down | her sanctuaries,
11. To thee also, O house of Jerahmeel ! | plunderers shall come ;
Jacob shall uproot thee, and shall overthrow | all thy palaces.

Ps. 137 has a twofold reference ; it commemorates alike the past and the present. Edomite oppression still continues (as Ps. 120 140, critically emended and explained, amply prove); but the tradition of still greater calamities, of which Jerahmeel and Edom are guilty, is still handed on. The temple itself fell a prey to the plunderers in that fatal day when the Arabian Cushites and Misrites profaned its holy precincts (Ps. 74, cp Is. 63:18), and the blood of faithful Jews flowed like water (Ps. 79:3, cp Joel 3 [4], 19 Am. 1:11). One would gladly avoid touching the traditional text of so well-known a psalm ; but a strict exegesis of that text is impossible.

The Lamentations, too, and the not less affecting than dramatic outburst in Is. 63:7-64 are also commemor ative ; but Is. 63:1-6 and Obad. 1-14, 15a are prospective.

A connection of 'Obadiah' with Pss. 74, 42-43, 79, 44, 79, 60-61, 84, 63, 80 was maintained by Vaihinger in 1869.

(f) Is. 21:1-10 has been as much misunderstood as Ps. 137. It is 'a poetic prophecy on the fall of Edom' (Crit. Rev. 11 [1901] 18). The plunderers seen in prophetic vision, whose progress at first produces deep alarm in the prophet (v. 3 f. ), are not Elamites and Medes, but presumably Nabataeans. Verse 2b appears to be a gloss, 'concerning Jerahmeel 3 and Missur (Musri) ; all its palaces he destroys'. Then the prophet explains how Yahwe directed a seer to be set on the look-out, and how at first he saw something which apparently boded no good, but how, when he saw more clearly, he exclaimed, 'Fallen, fallen is Jerahmeel ; its palaces he has broken, has levelled to the ground'. Here, again, a strict exegesis of MT is impossible, and only after much practice elsewhere should the corrector try his fortune. See Crit. Bib.

1 Yahwe sent against him bands of the Cushim, and bands of the Aramaeans [Jerahmeelites], and bands of the Misrites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of Yahwe which he spoke by means of his servants the prophets. The emendations have been pointed out already elsewhere ; 'Ammonites' is not unfrequently miswritten for 'Amalekites', which comes from Jerahmeelites, and is here a gloss on Aramaeans. The reference to the prophets must be very late ; it includes especially Micah.

2 Winckler's study of Ps. 137. entitled Die golah in Daphne (AOFZ^oS ff.~), dated Nov. 1899, is subsequent in origin to the restoration given here. Winckler has perhaps attempted too much ; his textual criticism is not as impressive as his very able historical criticism. The Jewish captives by the myrtles (c 3~V ) of Daphne near Antioch (168 B.C.) have left us no record of their religious and patriotic melancholy. See MVRTLE.

3 Elam and Madai both came from fragments of Jerahmeel ; cp the Elam in Jer. 49:34+, which should be, or at least originally was, Jerahmeel. See PROPHET, 45.

(g) The story in Jeremiah is the awful one of which the hero is Ishmael b. Nethaniah (Jer. 40:7-41:18). Elsewhere (JEREMIAH [BOOK], 6, col. 2378) the narrative is viewed as a Midrash. It may be so indeed ; but Jer. 41:10 seems to be based on fact. Ishmael, according to the common view, was a member of the royal house of Judah (cp ISHMAEL, 2). Really, however, he was a Jerahmeelite, 1 and although temporarily employed as a Jewish captain, his sympathies were with the Jerahmeelites. The statement that he 'carried captive all the rest of the people that were in Mizpah, . . . and departed to go over to the Ammonites [Jerahmeelites ?]', may be a reminiscence of the fact which another writer, in Obad. 14, describes as 'cutting off his (Judah's) escaped ones'.

(h) There is no doubt great attractiveness in the mythological explanation of the Book of Esther (see ESTHER, PURIM). It is possible, however, that under lying the present story there may be an older one which related to a massacre of Jewish captives in the land of Jerahmeel. Hainan (Heman?) the Agagite is certainly more at home in Cushan-rehoboth than in 'Shushan the palace'. 'Mordecai', too, must originally have been a corruption of 'Carmeli' or of some other modification of 'Jerahmeeli', 3 and Esther may come from 'Israelith'. This is not the place to examine fully into the basis of the existing narrative ; we simply adopt a theory, for which there are many parallels in other parts of the OT, and notably in the apocryphal Book of Judith. In neither of its forms can the story of Esther have been historical ; but still it may have a historical kernel in the tradition of barbarous cruelty shown by the N. Arabians to Jewish captives. See PURIM, 7.

(i) The Book of Judith, too, in its present form may, as Winekler thinks (AOF 2:274 ff.}, contain mythological elements. But the story of the siege of Bethulia (Beth-el = Jerusalem ?) by Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites (Misrites, Edomites, and Jerahmeelites?) may have been told long before it was committed to writing, and so became the warp on which a great romancer wove his richly embroidered tale. 'Missur' (the N. Arabian Musri) became 'Asshur', and so a place was ready for the occupation of the famed. Nebuchadrezzar (see Crit. Bib. ).

1 nai^Ofl jntO comes from ^KCrn jnJDi 'of the race of Jerahmeel'. Nethaniah, too, is probably a distortion of the ethnic Ethani, 'Ethanite'.

2 The confusion between 'Ammonites' and 'Amalekites' (Jerahmeelites) already referred to.

3 See MORDECAI. By near or distant origin, though not in sentiment, the personage spoken of was a Jerahmeelite.

8. Origin of Part II.[edit]

The origin of the first part of Obadiah has now been shown. It is primarily a prophetic announcement of 'tidings' (,IJ;IOB>) which 'we have heard [or as Jer. 'I have heard] from Yahwe, relative to a judgment upon Edom. In setting forth the causes of this act of strict retributive justice, however, the writer gives us a commemorative summary of the facts of the great long-past catastrophe, when Edom and its neighbours assisted the ruthless Babylonians. As to the date, we can only say that it must have been later than 588, but not so late as 312. Cp LAMENTATIONS.

The second part, as we have seen, must belong to a later period. Its literary weakness and the strong interest which it reveals in eschatology, together with its implied assumption that the Negeb is in the hands of the Edomites (who have been gradually driven from their ancient seats by the Nabataeans), and the absence of any trace of an acquaintance with it in Jer. 49:7-22, combine to prove this. The expressions in MT (e.g., mn *?nn ni^J, and TIED. v. 20) which have often been used as indications of date are valueless for us, because solely due to corruption of the text. Several of the passages, however, referred to for Pt. I. are almost, or quite, equally illustrative for Pt. II. ; in particular perhaps Joel 3 [4], 19, because Joel, or the writer who takes this name, has apparently been influenced by both parts of our Obadiah (see references in 4).

In taking leave of our book it may be remarked that the fulness with which it has been treated has been partly dictated by regard for the Book of Psalms. The background of many psalms being similar to that of Obadiah, we may venture to hope that we have in some measure prepared the way for a more effective treatment of these difficult but fascinating compositions. Perhaps we may indicate Ps. 22 as a portion which will gain much from a clearer view of the picture in Obad. 11-14.

9. Literature.[edit]

Besides the introductions and general commentaries, see Jager, Ueb. das Zeitatter des Ob. (1837); Caspari, Der Pr. Ob. aus- gelegt (1842); Delitzsch, Wann weissagte Ob.V in Zt.f. Luther. Theol., 1851, pp. 91 jff. ; Vaihineer, Zeitalter der Weissagungdes Pr. Ob., in Merx s Archiv. 1(1869) 4 88 ^ : , Seydel, Der Pr. Ob. (1869); Peters (R. Cath.), 1892; Bachmann, 1892; Winckler, Obadja, AOF i^^ff.

W. R. S. 3 /. ; T. K. C. I/. Sff.


(?&), Gen. 10:28+ = 1 Ch. 1:22, EBAL, 2.


(oBAlA [A]), 1 Esd. 5:38 = Ezra 26:1, HABAIAH.


(*13 Wi 'servant', might be a shortened theophorous name ; cp Ar. 'abd, etc., 6oBHA [BAL], icoBniA [A in 1-4] ; but it more probably comes from a clan-name. Has it not been altered from 'Arabi', 'an Arabian ?' Cp OBADIAH, OBED-EDOM, and note that 6 is called b. Gaal - i.e. , probably b. Jerahmeel; cp GILGAL, GILEAD, both of which names may be similarly explained). See, however, GAAL, i.

1. B. Ephlal, a descendant of Sheshan (1 Ch. 2:37-38.).

2. One of David's heroes (1 Ch. 11:47, ico/Srje [BN]). See DAVID, ii, n. 3.

3. B. Shemaiah b. Obed-edom (1 Ch. 26:7).

4. Father of Azariah [15] (2 Ch. 23:1).

5. Father of Jesse (Ruth 4:17, 4:21-22 [P], 1 Ch. 2:12, ioj/3r) [A])

6. Father of GAAL (17.1 .); MT, less correctly, EBED.


(D lN *ny, 'servant of DIN [ADM]' ; cp Ph. DnX-Qi;, C/S i, no . 295, DIN PD, ib. 365, and possibly Punic and MH ptN ; ABeAAARA, ABAeAoM. etc., see below ; ooBeA&pOC [Jos. Ant. 7:4:2]), as the text stands, a Philistine of Gath, but according to an emendation of MT, 2 a Rehobothite, mentioned in the history of the ark in David's time ; for three months he is said to have sheltered the ark of Yahwe in his house (2 S. 6:10 ; a^edSado/ji [A], v. n, -dat> [L]). Difficult as is the story to which this passage belongs (see ARK, 5, PEREZ-UZZAH, REHOBOTH), there is almost greater need for historical criticism in the narrative into which it has been introduced (with little variation) by the Chronicler (1 Ch. 13:13-14 ; afieSdapafji [abeddaram] [B], v. 14 ; LXX {L} substantially as above). That 'all Israel' joined David in bringing up the ark to Jerusalem, we know from 2 S. 6:15. The older narrative in its present form does not state how 'all Israel' came to be with David, and the Chronicler cannot be blamed for supposing that they had been summoned to escort the ark. Then follows, according to the Chronicler, the institution by David of a sort of musical service. Priests, Levites, and singers in great numbers are present, and among them we meet with Obed-edom, 1 a singer and a doorkeeper (1 Ch. 15:18; afiaeSofj. [B], apdedw/j. [N], apdfddo/j. [L], v. 21 and v. 24, apdoSofji [N in v. 24], afideSSofj., -w/j, [L], v. 25 a [BXJ, apfdaddav [L] ; i Ch. 16 5 , apSodo/j. afideSSo/j. [L]). See PORTER.

Obed-edom appears in Ch. as the 'son of Jeduthun' (1 Ch. 16:38, afiSoSon [BNA], apSeSSovfJi [L], a Merarite Levite), and the head of a house belonging to the Korahites (1 Ch. 26:4+ [afiSoSofi (BA throughout, except aftSfSofi, A once in v. 8), a^SfSSofj. (L)] ; contrast the number herewith 16:38); and it is especially stated, 1 Ch. 26:5, that 'God blessed him', a statement obviously based on 13:14. Obed-edom is again referred to in 2 Ch. 25:24 (written plene QIIN y, la/S^eSo/u. [B], -SoSo/j. [B b ], a^SeSojj. [A], -f&Siafj. [L]), where, however, the text of the original document ( = 2 K. 14:14) has been modified by the Chronicler or the author of the Midrash, from which he may have drawn (see Kittel in SBOT). Cp GENEALOGIES i., 7 [ii.] ; also PSALMS, 26 (10), where Cheyne discusses the obscure name Jeduthun.

1 Is DIN [ADM] the name of a deity? As in the case of D1~1N [ADOM], the name of the ancestor of the Edomites (see EDOM), opinions are divided. It has even been doubted whether the two 'Edoms' are to be connected (Ncild., Buhl). ciN may conceivably be a god, but not G1~IN ; or nilN, t> ut not 0~IN- The present writer (following We., //C(3), 47, n. 2; St. GVI\\*\\ WRS, Rel. Sem.W, 42, n. 4, and others) considers Q-IN [ADM] to be at any rate a divine name. It is true that not all compounds of -QJJ are theophorous (Baeth. Beitr. 10, n.) ; but Baethgen's rendering 'servant of men' has nothing to recommend it. Egyptian inscriptions referred to by W. M. Miiller (As. u. Eur. 315-316) seem to favour this view; we find a divine name A-tu-ma, which reappears in a (N. Pal.) city compounded with Shamash (the sun-god). 'A-tu-ma appears to correspond to a Hebrew divine name Q-IN. According to WMM, the older form of Edom was oSo/i [odom], but Thotmes III. and Amenhotep II. heard it pronounced with an a (for o) : the a in some of LXX's forms will be noticed. Possibly, Abdadum is as near the true pronunciation as we can get. Following LXX's readings, Klo. takes the name to be a corruption of -n,i -\iy or pltfl-nj;. On the whole subject, cp NSld. ZDMG 40 166 42470 and Baeth. Beitr. 10, n. 3, who are on the side opposed to WRS. Reference may be made also to Rosch, ZW(7 38 646 (1884) who treats Edom as a divine name and identifies with Kozah (see EDOM, 12). See also JEHOSHAPHAT, col. 2352, n. i.

2 [See Crit. Bib., and cp REHOBOTH. According to this theory, nan D1N"ni? ( 'Obed-edom the Gittite' ) has been corrupted out of % nzrrn D1*r:ny ( 'Arab-edom - i.e., Arabia of Edom - the Rehobothite ). For a parallel to Arab-edom see SOLOMON'S SERVANTS [CHILDREN OF]. Here, however, the most important point is the assumption that Obed-edom was a native not of the Philistine city of Gath, but of a place in the Negeb where Yahwe was known and worshipped (Che.).]

S. A. C.


to make, or do (rnnfiK H), Gen. 37:7, 43:28, Ex. 18:7 etc., AV ; also in RV in several places where AV has 'bowed himself', 'did reverence', or (2 S. 16:4, of Ziba) 'humbly beseech'. 'I humbly thank thee' expresses Ziba's meaning better. Prostration might, it appears, be performed not merely on entering the presence of a superior, but also on receiving a favour from him. See SALUTATIONS.


(JTaSp), Jer. 43:13 RVmg. See MASSEBAH.


(coBHG [A]), 1 Esd. 8:32 = Ezra 8:6, EBED, 2.


(with long I ; TZl lN, 'camel-driver', cp ABEL, and Dozy, Israel, zu Mekka, 194, or possibly one of the distortions of 'Jerahmeel'; cp SHAPHAT [v. 29] = Zephathi, the name of David's keeper of the camels [Che.]), 1 Ch. 27:30 (a/3tas [B], oujS. [A], co/3iA [L]). See ISHMAEL, 2.


For HmD, minhah, J31J5, korban, flD?"W, terumah, iTBlTJJI, terumiyyah, see SACRIFICE. For b D, mas'eth, see TAXATION AND TRIBUTE.


(flh K), a stage in the wandering in the wilderness, Nu. 33:43-44 ((riaftiag [B, but &&gt;0. B in Nu. 21:10-11, <i>/3. [AFL]). Probably a corruption of rttnjj (or ITjJ??). See WANDERINGS.


(oxmAoc [BA]), RV Ochielus, 1 Esd. 1:9 , = 2 Ch. 3:59, JEIEL, 8.


(DT!X), Is. 13:21, AVmg. See JACKAL, 3.

OCHRE, RED[edit]

("Tib ), Is. 44:13, RVmg, RV PENCIL.


(coKeiAHAOC [A]), 1 Esd. 9:22 = Ezra 10:22, JOZABAD, 7.


(oKeiNA [BA], TOYC KINAIOYC [K c - a ; N* has a shortened text]), mentioned in Judith 2:28 along with Tyre, Sidon, and Sur (see SHR), may represent 13y, or perhaps jisj? (see PTOLEMAIS). So, already, Grotius.

1 The reason for the transformation of Obed-edom, the Gittite or Rehobothite, into a Levite may be gathered from 1 Ch. 15:2 (cp PEREZ-UZZAH). It may be compared with the transformation of ZADOK (q.v.) , cp GENEALOGIES i., 7 [v.]. See also We. Prol.M, I74/. , Kue. EM. i. 2 \y>f.


RV Ochran (H^: CXRAN [BAL] ; cp ACHAR [AcHAN], an Asherite, father of Pagiel (Nu. 1:13, etc. [P]).


("nil?, cp N nr, Iddo ; ooAHA [BAL]).

1. Father of Azariah, a prophet in the time of Asa (2 Ch. 15:1). In v. 8 he himself appears as a prophet. Probably the words '(of) Oded the prophet' or '(of) Azariah, son of Oded the prophet', should be placed in the margin as a gloss ; cp Kittel in SBOT (v. 1, nSaS [A], v. 8, ofapiou [A], aSaS [B]).

2. A prophet of Samaria at the time of Pekah's invasion of Judah (2 Ch. 28:9).


(oAoAAAM [AV]), 2 Macc. 12:38 AV, RV ADULLAM.


AV Odonarkes, with mg. Odomarra (oAoAAhtpA [ANV], oiAOMHp*. [N*] , Odaren), a chief slain by Jonathan the Maccabee in one of his raids from BETH-BASI (156 B.C.) ; 1 Macc. 9:66. Cp PHASIRON.


(GYMIAMA), Rev. 5:8 etc. See INCENSE.


i. D pb 3. besamim, 2 Ch. 16:14 etc. See SPICE, BALSAM.

2. rnrn, nihoth, Lev. 26:31, Dan. 2:46, but more commonly 'sweet savour'. See SACRIFICE.




The word is used in the EV to render eight distinct Hebrew and Greek terms most of which are elsewhere rendered otherwise ; indeed, the OT terms which are used to represent official posi tions are frequently so ambiguous or of so extended a meaning, that a consistent translation would have been almost hopeless.

The words in question are :

  • 1 - D lDi saris. See EUNUCH.
  • 2. i[2C > soter. See SCRIBE.
  • 3- D!3, 3 !>:, nissab, nesib. See DEPUTY ; SAUL, 2, n. i.
  • 4- 31, rab. See RAB, RABBI.
  • 5- TpS> pakid. See OVERSEER.
  • 6. Quite generally, rQK^Dn 'wy, Esth. 9:3, RV 'they that did [the king's] business'.
  • 7. TrpdxTcop, Lk. 12:58, RVmg. 'exactor' - i.e., strictly, exactor of the fine assigned by the judge ; Symm. gives jrp. for nriJ, 'creditor', Ps. 108:11 [109:11]. The word also occurs in LXX of Is. 3:12, and Aq. Theod. Is. 60:17. In the Egyptian papyri jrpoKTcop [praktor] may mean the public accountant. 1 Altogether the word is too vague, and Mt. s vTn/peVr)? [operetes] to be preferred. Cp Julicher, Gleichnisreden, 2:242.
  • 8. vjnjpe n)? [hyperetes], lit. 'servant' - i.e., beadle or bailiff, Mt. 5:25; Lk. s word jrpa/cTtop [praktor] is misleading as suggesting a reference to a fine. Cp Jn. 7:32, 7:46, 18:3, 18:12, Acts 5:22.
  • 9. In Jn. 4:46, RVmg. has king's officer for /3a<riAiicos [basilicos]. See NOBLES, n.

On royal officers, officers of state, see COUNSELLOR, DAVID, ii, GOVERNMENT, ISRAEL, 21, 64, also ASIARCH, DUKE, 2 (70:), GOVERNOR, NOBLES, PRINCE, SHEBNA, TIRSHATHA, TREASURER, 2 (py) ; cp (for t6vdpxTis), DAMASCUS, 13, ETHNARCH ; (for ^Trapxos) SOSTRATUS ; (for ijye/j.ui>) ISRAEL, 90 ; and (for isb, -isr) SCRIBE.

Several general terms are used in referring to ecclesiastical officers 2 (rps see OVERSEER ; N-G-J, nj? see PRINCE, 2-3) ; see further GOVERNMENT, 27, 31, ISRAEL, 81, 111, LAW AND JUSTICE, 9(7), PRIEST.

On the officers of the judiciary and parochial systems see GOVERNMENT, 16, 19, 21, LAW AND JUSTICE, 8-9, PROCURATOR.

On the various military terms see ARMY and cp CAPTAIN, CHARIOT, 10 ; (for rps) OVERSEER ; (for TJ:) PRINCE, GOVERNOR.

1 Mahaffy, cited by Deissm. Bihelstudien, 152.

2 On the separation of church from state see EZEKIEL ii., 24; the story of the revolt of KORAH (q.v., S J, col. 2687) shows the repugnance felt towards the exercise of civil authority by the priestly party.


(]iu, and [1 K. 4:19], JJJ ; oof [BNAFRTL], see below), 'king of Bashan, who was of the remnant of the Rephaim, who dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei', etc. (Josh. 12:4), also referred to, with SIHON (q.v. ), as 'a king of the Amorites beyond Jordan' (Dt. 3:8, 4:47). For the history of Og ('Og) see BASHAN, REPHAIM ; on the geography of his kingdom, see again BASHAN ; and on his 'bedstead (?) of iron', see BED, 3. The question whether the story of Og is not really due to an early error in the text, and whether the original story of Sihon-Og did not refer to the wars of Israelite tribes in the far S. , will be briefly treated at the close of the article.

It may be noticed here that though the tradition of the defeat of Og at Edrei is probably pre-deuteronomic, it is only (as the text now stands) by writers of the deuteronomic school, and those influenced by them, that the tradition is referred to. For the references, see BASHAN, 4, and observe that Nu. 21:33-35 is no exception (cp Di. Deut. 47 ; Bacon, Trip. Trad. 211 ; Di. Nu.-Dt.-Josh. 133). It is possible, however, that in Nu. 24:7, 'his king shall be higher than Agag', it is Og king of Bashan who is meant, JJN (Agag) and ?\y (Og) being very easily confounded (cp LXX{B*} Dt. 3:1, 3:13, 4:47; ywy). 1 It is also noteworthy that the kingdom of Og is specially said to have included Salecah or Salhad, which, it is maintained elsewhere (see GILEAD, RAMOTH-GILEAD), probably filled a prominent place in the earliest Hebrew traditions. Gen. 31:46+. seems to point to a peaceable occupation of Salecah by the Jacob-tribe (see GILEAD); but the subsequent struggles for its possession between Israel and the Aramaeans quite account for the rise of a different tradition that preserved in Dt. 3:1-3 (Nu. 21:33-35).

As to the name 'Og', it seems possible that the interchange of 'Agag' (yiay ; see Nu. 24:7) and 'Og' in LXX IJ * Dt. 3:1, 3:13, 4:27 was really justifiable. We cannot absolutely prove it ; but it is rery probable that the REPHAIM (q.v.), to the 'remnant' of whom Og belonged, were identical with, or closely allied to, the Jerahmeelites (the Habiri of the Amarna tablets?), who seem, if our textual criticism elsewhere is sound, to have spread much more widely in Palestine than has been generally supposed. Now the identification of the Amalekites with a section of the later Jerahmeelites is almost beyond doubt. If the Rephaim may be identified with a section of the older Jerahmeelites, we can well understand that in the far south land and in the fruitful Bashan there lived chieftains who bore virtually the same name - Agag or Og. We can also now account for the description of Og as a king of the Amorites. Waiving the abstruse question whether the Amorites and the Jerahmeelites were not originally one and the same people, and assuming that they were at any rate regarded in OT times as distinct, it is worth while to point out that 'Mamre(?) the Amorite' was confederate with Abram (Gen. 14:13), and Abram originally the hero of the Jerahmeelites, one branch of whom were the Zarephathites or Rephaites. The civic community of Jerusalem, too, was probably partly Amorite, partly Jerahmeelite, or, as Ezekiel puts it (16:13, 16:45) '[its] father was an Amorite, and its mother a Rehobothite' (so we should read, for 'Hittite' see REHOBOTH), for the arguments in favour of which, derived from 2 S. 5:68, see Crit. Bib. and cp MEPHIBOSHETH, ZION.

As stated elsewhere (MOSES, 18), it is probable that the primitive tradition spoke of the conquest of the Jerahmeelite or Arabian land of Gush (we simply state the tradition, without criticising the facts). Sihon (q.v. ) is very possibly a corruption of Cushan ; the early tradition spoke of Og or Agag, king of Cushan, who reigned at Heshmon (cp Josh. 15:27). The text of the written tradition came down to a deuteronomic, or probably pre-deuteronomic, writer in a partly corrupt form, and he, under the influence of a definite historical theory, recast the imperfectly read tradition, and made it refer to the E. of Jordan. This is only a hypothesis ; but the phenomena which suggest it are parallel to the phenomena which in other cases have enforced the production of similar hypotheses. T. K. C.

1 Nu. 24:23 also reads Kal iSiav rov fly [BA ; Ttay, L] Kal ayaAa/Suif Tr\v 7rapa(3oAr)>/ K. T. A.

2 x and K confounded, as when CIS (iT)<rrei ai/, LXX) becomes IIK in MX of Is. 1:13 ; also n and ,1.


(~in X), a son of Simeon; Gen. 46:10 (&CGA [AD], &N6oo6[L]); Ex. 6:15 (IOOA\. [B], IAOOAAI [A], AU)A [FL/D- The name probably comes from a dittographed ins 2 (ZOHAR) ; hence it does not occur in || lists, Nu. 26:12, 1 Ch. 4:24. T. K. c.


pn X) is represented as one of the sons of Zerubbabel in 1 Ch. 3:20 (OCA [B], O O\ [A], A e* [L]) ; but really, as so often, ^nx is a fragment of ^KCnr. So also is the next name n Ti^ (cp 7to-n, Barachel, JOB, BOOK OF, 9), and the question arises whether the editor of 1 Ch. 3:20 did not misread his text, and split 7XriT into supposed names of two sons, Ohel and Berechiah. Cp ZERUBBABEL. T. K. c.


(?nnN), Ezek. 23:4-5, 23:11, 23:22, 23:36, 23:44+ where AV AHOLAH (q.v. }.

The usual explanations, 'she who has her own tent' (sanctuary), and 'she who has tents' (sanctuaries), are against analogy. The former requires aSnN. Read perhaps a V^N, 'tent (or, dwelling) of Yahwe', and observe that in compounds of SnN in Sab. (nnny^nx, ^nx) and Phoen. (VjnSiK, -rVoS-m) the second member is a divine name. See HIGH PLACE, 3, col. 2066, n. i. s. A. C. T. K. C.


pN^riN, 47), Ex. 3:16 etc. RV, AV AHOLIAB (q.v. }. Cp HIRAM, col. 2074.


(rO^HX). Ezek. 23:4, 23:11, 23:22, 36:44+, where AV AHOLIBAH (q.v. ).

'She in whom are tents', can hardly be the meaning. Read perhaps Sya Sntj, 'tent (or, dwelling) of Baal'. l Cp HEPHZIBAH. s. A. C. T. K. C.


(niDT^nK, 47), Gen. 36:2+ and 36:41, 1 Ch. l:52+, RV, AV AHOLIBAMAH (q.v., i and 2).


1. Name.[edit]

In the OT mention is repeatedly made, especially in Dt. , of 'corn, wine, and oil' as the three chief products of the land of Canaan. By the last of this triad of God's good gifts is meant exclusively olive oil ; for although, as we shall see, a considerable variety of vegetable oils was known in later times, the oil so frequently mentioned by OT writers, with one late exception (Esth. 2:12, 'oil of myrrh' ), is that expressed from the berry or drupe of the olive-tree. For this reason the latter receives the name zeth shemen. (jcty rrt, Dt. 8:8) or zeth yishar (nna 1 i, 2 K. 18:32 ; see OLIVE). Oil in its manifold applications is denoted by the general term shemen (JOB 1 ), sometimes by the more descriptive term shemen zayith, 'olive oil' (Ex. 27:20, 30:24, Lev. 24:2) ; oil fresh from the oil-press received the special designation yishar, 'fresh oil', a term which bears the same relation to shemen that tirosh, 'must, new wine', does to yayin (see WINE). The place of the olive - which, in the older Hebrew as in English, bore the same name as the tree (zayith, Dt. 28:40, Mic. 6:15) - in the dietary of the Hebrews is discussed elsewhere (FRUIT, 9 ).

1 Aholiab, P's artificer, a Danite like Hiram (q.v., 2), may have borne this name (ax SnN for n^ SnN, the alteration was no doubt intentional). See, further, HIRAM, 2.

2 For the modern processes of oil-making in Syria see the works of such writers as Robinson, Thomson, Van Lennep, and especially the details given by a native in Landberg, Proverbet et dictons du peuple arabe, 11+.

2. Preparation.[edit]

When we consider the very many biblical references to oil, it is certainly remarkable that there should be so few hints as to the mode of its preparation. In early times the Hebrews seem to have been content to tread the olives with the feet (Mic. 6:15) as they trod the grapes, in a rock-hewn oil-press (cp ySea ru Baba Mesi'a 10:4 and the name GETHSEMANE), from which the expressed oil flowed into the adjoining vat (n ( T Joel 2:24; for details see WINE). As the olive harvest was later than the vintage, the same presses and vats were probably used for both wine and oil. In later times - perhaps as early as Job 24:11 (see Budde, HK, in loc. ) - other and more effective processes were adopted, although it is not till we reach the Mishna that we find references to oil-mills and oil- presses by name. From a comparison of the data in the Mishna with the fuller statements of Roman writers, on the one hand, and of the remains of ancient apparatus with the present-day practice in Syria 2 on the other, the following details have been gathered. The best oil, then as now, was that yielded by the olives before they were fully ripe. Berries that by the time of gathering were still hard had to be softened by being left for some time in a trough or vat (ma'aten, jayp, Tohor. 9:1 and often ; see Heb. Lexx. for obscure word 'atin, pipy, Job 21:24, which some would connect with the jays of the Mishna). From a passage in Menahoth (8:4-5) we learn that it was usual to subject the olives to three successive processes for the complete expression of the oil, which of course deteriorated in quality with each process.

i. The first process began by gently pounding (rns) the olives (o trnM DTn, Terum. 1:8-9) in a mortar ; the pulp was then poured into a wicker or rush basket (^p), which, acting as a strainer, allowed the liquid (7vs. Tohor. 9:2) to run into a vessel underneath. The oil which would presently float on the top was skimmed off, we must assume, leaving the amurca (to use the Latin term) behind. The oil thus produced was of the finest quality - perhaps alluded to in Am. 6:6 - and was, we have little doubt, the rrro JCB>, 'the beaten oil' of the OT. Indeed, the Talmud expressly gives the equation rvns jDB = B i ?n3 & (Menah. 86b).

ii. In the second process, the basket with the pulp was conveyed to the oil-press (see below, 3), where a second quality of oil was expressed by means of the press-beam.

iii. The third process - we still follow the authority above cited - consisted in submitting the remaining pulp to the action of the oil-mill (see below, 3), after which it was submitted as before to the press-beam. The oil in this case, needless to say, was of inferior quality. No mention is made of the application of heat - either by the addition to the pulp of hot water, or otherwise - which is now universally used to expedite the flow of oil. The processes described were carried through either in the olive-garden itself, as the remains of oil-presses in different parts of Palestine amply attest, or in a special building, the nan n 3 or press -house of the Mishna, attached to the owner s house.

3. Mills and presses.[edit]

In Baba Bathra 4:s (with which cp Ma'aser. 1:7) we have an interesting inventory of the contents of such a TVT ll H press -house, which was evidently constructed on the same lines as the Roman torcularium (see details of construction with illust. in Blumner's Technologie 1:328-348 and the articles torcular, torcularium, trapetum in the dictionaries of Rich [< H >] and Smith [< :t| ]). The essential apparatus of the press-house consisted of the mill and the press. We have seen that the older mortar (see MORTAR) was still used in NT times in the preparation of the finest oil from the choicest berries ; but we may safely assume that, in the manufacture on a large scale, the berries were crushed in the oil-mill (Tohor. 9:8, more precisely CTTT ^y S Zab. 4:2). In construction the oil-mill differed little from the primitive mill still used in Syria.

The place of the mortar was taken by a circular stone trough - the [T or 'sea' of the Mishna - 6 to 8 ft. in diameter, to judge from extant specimens. In this the olives were crushed by means of a stone C?02), in shape like a millstone, of varying diameter and thickness. This stone was placed vertically, not horizontally as in the flour-mill, in the hollow understone or trough, and was made to revolve, by means of a pole or beam inserted through its centre, round the inner circumference of the trough. The parts described are still found in all parts of Palestine (see, besides writers already cited, Oliphant's Haifa, 95)-

The main feature of the oil-press, from which it derived its name, was the press-beam (korah, n7ip. prelum), which was simply a lever of the 'second' class. To provide a fulcrum, one end of the beam was inserted at a convenient height into the face of a monolith in the garden, or into a wooden tie kept immovable by two upright beams (bethuloth, niSna, the arbores of the Roman torcula), fixed into the floor of the press-house (see diagrams of construction in Rich, Smith, etc., cited above). The crushed pulp or paste from the mill was placed in special baskets (Sp, *??!?, etc.) which were piled one upon another and covered with flat boards (i pns?) to distribute the pressure ; the press-beam was then lowered and the requisite pressure brought into play by means of a windlass (5i5a) operating by ropes attached to the free end of the beam. In a simpler press of this kind (probably the aoip of Shebi'ith) a less powerful pressure was obtained, as at the present day, by hanging large stones to the end of the beam. The press was worked by press-men (c Tna, TohSr. 98 10:1). Still another form of press was, and still is, in use in Palestine. Two upright stones were erected a few feet apart and a third, of great weight, laid on the top, the whole having the shape of a Greek II. 1 Failing the last, a wooden cross-beam was inserted in the opposite faces of the two upright stones. The baskets were placed directly underneath the cross-beam, and the intervening space filled with logs of wood or heavy stones (o Siay, D T3, etc.); the pressure was increased by the insertion of wedges between the logs or stones (see Schick's description of the actual remains of both kinds of presses in ZDPl lOnS ff. with plans). Every press-house contained, further, the necessary gutters or conduits (nriy Ma'aser 1:7) for conducting the expressed liquid to the vats (see Schick's diagrams, I.c. ), in which it was allowed to settle and the oil gradually separated from the amurca and other impurities. When duly purified the oil was stored in jars (see CRUSE) and skins (n u u Shabb. 15:2). The refuse (nsa) of the oil-press was used as fuel (Shabb. 3:1, 4:1); perhaps, also, as in modern times, in soap-making (cp the 'washing-balls' of Sus. 17). The oil produced at Tekoa and at Ragab in Peraea was reputed the best in Palestine (Menahoth 8:3).

4. Uses.[edit]

In warm climates nature has taught even the savage to ward off the injurious effects of the sun's heat upon the skin by the application of animal fat, in OT once at least also denoted by the word shemen (Ps. 109:24). In oil-producing countries, such as Canaan, the more pleasant -smelling oil of the olive took its place. In Egypt, also, oil was regarded as a necessary of life, scarcely less important than bread itself. The Egyptian workman, according to Erman (Egypt, 231), 'had probably to be contented with native fat' ; but by all but the very poor oil was extensively used, its importation being one of the most important branches of commerce. Among the Jews at the time of the olive harvest it was not unusual for the olive gatherers to squeeze the oil into one hand and so anoint themselves, or even to squeeze it directly upon the body (Ma'aser. 4:1). From Mt. 6:17 anointing the head (cp Ps. 141:5, Eccl. 9:8, Judith 16:8) appears to have been as much a part of the daily toilet as washing the face. To pour oil upon the head (Ps. 23:5 {2}, 141:5, Lk. 7:46) was a mark of respect for an honoured guest.

In Egypt prevailed a curious practice which is thus described by Erman : The oil was not used as we should imagine. A ball about the size of a fist was placed in the bowl of oil; the consistency of the ball is unknown, but at any rate it absorbed the oil. The chief anointer, who was always to be found in a rich household, then placed the ball on the head of his master, where it remained during the whole time of the feast, so that the oil trickled down gradually into the hair. On festival days, all the people poured 'sweet oil' 3 on their heads, on their new coiffures. At all the feasts cakes of ointment were quite as necessary as wreaths (Egypt, 231, with illustr.).

In the OT, however, the allusions are more frequent to the use of oil in connection with the bath ; thus washing and anointing are named together in Ruth 3:3, 2 S. 12:20, Ezek. 16:9, Judith 10:3, Sus. 17, and the same conjunction is probably implied in the more general references, Dt. 28:40, Mic. 6:15. In all these the word for anointing is ^D, d\fi<f><is or XP LU> . For the omission of this use of oil in time of mourning, and for other details, see ANOINT, i. In the same article will be found a full discussion of the important place occupied by oil as the medium of consecration of kings and priests - only once of a prophet 1 K. 19:16 - of sacred objects and utensils. To anoint, in this sense, is ne>c, XP^ W [chrioo] (hence in Aramaic oil = ^n^O, Ezra 6:9, 7:22), and the sacred oil nnvsn jot?, 'oil of anointing', or more fully cnp nnc D v, only in P. For its composition (Ex. 30:23-25) see OINTMENT (i).

The practice of anointing was, however, not confined to the living body ; the lifeless corpse also, as among Greeks and Romans, was anointed with oil, although in this case oil was usually only the basis of a more costly unguent (Mt. 26:12, Lk. 23:56; cp Mk. 14:3+, Jn. 19:40). In Egypt, also, it was the invariable practice to pour oil over the dead body when the process of embalming was finished (Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 3:429-430, with illustr. ). In 2 S. 1:21, Is. 21:5 the MT 1 refers to the practice of anointing shields with oil. 2 This was done, according to the usual interpretations, either to keep them in good condition if they were of leather, or to polish them if made of metal. In view of the sacred associations of the verb used (neto) it is probable that we have here an obscure reference to a consecration of the warrior's weapons before setting out to war. The Babylonians, we know, dedicated foundation-stones, thresholds, etc. , by libations of wine and oil. Similar libations may have been part of the solemn dedication of houses among the Hebrews (Dt. 20:5).

1 Remains of dolmens were often used for this purpose.

2 Here the verb is Jtn, lit. 'to make fat' ; cp | V*, Judg. 9:9, of the 'fatness' of the olive-tree.

3 Cp the Hebrew phrase jjjn JCC*, 'fresh, sweet, oil' Ps. 92:10 [92:11].

5. Domestic use.[edit]

There are surprisingly few references in OT to the all-important use of oil in the preparation of food. It is in this connection that the widow of Zarephath's remnant of oil is conjoined with the 'handful of meal' (1 K. 17:12). Unfaithful Israel was fed with 'fine flour and honey and oil' (Ezek. 16:13, 16:19), but gave no thanks to the divine giver. Yet the fact that an early writer seeks to explain the taste of the wilderness manna by comparing it to some well-known delicacy cooked with oil (iiy^ ]Syn7 Nu. 11:8, RVmg 'cakes baked with oil' ) shows that this use of oil was familiar to his readers. Oil, as much as wine, formed part of the ordinary provision for a journey (Judith 10:5, Lk. 10:34).

6. In the ritual.[edit]

Further light is thrown upon the daily use of oil for culinary purposes by the place it occupies in the later ritual of the Priestly Code. The gifts offered as 'the food of Yahwe' were those most esteemed by his worshippers in their own daily life. Oil accordingly figures prominently among the offerings to the deity not only among the Hebrews but also among Babylonians and Egyptians as well. In the present arrangement of the Priests' Code it is by no means easy, perhaps impossible, owing to the existence side by side of different strata, to reach a consistent presentation of the development of the 'meal-offering' (see attempted scheme in Oxf. Hex. 1:236+). It will be sufficient to note here that in a typical offering the fine flour of which it was essentially composed might be presented in no fewer than four different forms, in each of which oil plays a part.

  • (1) The flour might, in its natural state, be mixed either with oil (Ex. 28:40) or
  • (2) have oil merely poured upon it (Lev. 2:1);
  • (3) the flour might be first mixed with oil as before, and then shaped into cakes (niWl) and baked in the oven (Lev. 2:4 etc.), or
  • (4) first baked in the shape of thin flat cakes (D % |Tj3"l) which were then anointed with oil (|OB>3 nirJEJp Ex. 29:2, Lev! 24:7, 24:12 etc.).

In the special case of the leprosy-offering ( Lev. 14:10+) , in addition to a meal-offering of flour 'mingled with oil', there appears an offering of 'a log of oil' (v. 10), which was first to be 'waved' before Yahwe (v. 12) and then used in the symbolical purification of the leper as prescribed in vv. 15+. Oil, however, is absent from the ritual of the sin-offering (Lev. 5:1+) and the jealousy-offering (Nu. 5:11+). For the oil required for these purposes, provision is made in the scheme of Ezek. 45:14 (|ot!>n pn). A grant of 100 baths of oil was made to Ezra from the royal exchequer (Ezra 7:22 ; cp 1 Esd. 6:30).

1 [On the text see the commentaries, and further JASHER, 2. and Crit. Bib.[

2 Since the above was written, Schwally also has expressed the view that the anointing of. the shield was a religious rite (Semit. Kriegsaltertumer Ugoi], 49).

7. As an illuminant.[edit]

Not the least important of the daily uses of oil was to supply the household with light. The wick of twisted flax (Is. 42:3), protruding from the nozzle, fed itself from the oil in the body of the lamp (see LAMP). The lamp, if required to burn for a lengthened period, had to be frequently refilled (Mt. 25:3+).

From Shabbath 24 we learn that for the sake of economy it was usual to place an egg-shell, or a clay vessel of similar shape, with a minute aperture at the bottom, upon the mouth (nS) of the lamp as a receptacle for the oil that it might more sparingly reach the wick. In the same section (2:2) we have an interesting list of substitutes for olive oil for illuminating purposes, among them oil of sesame, nut oil, fish oil, and even naphtha (BB:) and castor oil, p p JOB/ (Shabb. 2:1). The oil for the lamps of the tabernacle, and therefore of the temple, had to be of pure olive oil beaten 1 for the light' (Ex. 27:20, Lev. 24:2). It was part of 'the charge of Eleazar, the son of Aaron' to attend to this oil and to the oil of anointing (Nu. 4:16). In the time of the Chronicler the charge of the oil fell to the Levites (1 Ch. 9:29), to a particular division of the priests, according to Pseudo-Aristeas (ed. Wendland, 92).

8. Medicinal use.[edit]

Oil was used also medicinally by the Hebrews, as by the Egyptians, the Romans (Pliny, etc.), and other ancient peoples. 'Wounds and bruises' were mollified with oil (Is. 1:6 RV ; 'ointment', AV). The Good Samaritan employed a mixture of wine and oil (Lk. 10:34), an antiseptic familiar also to his Jewish contemporaries (Otho, Lex. Rabbin. 11). Olive oil is mentioned, along with wine, vinegar, and oil of roses (-ni V), as an antidote to pains in the loins (Shabbath 14:4). An oil-bath was one of the remedies by which Herod's physicians sought to relieve his excruciating pains (Jos. Ant. 17:6:5, BJ 1:33:5). The anointing of the leper, above referred to, was not remedial but symbolical. Both ideas are probably to be found in the two remaining NT references to the curative properties of oil (Mk. 6:13, Jas. 5:14).

In order to avoid the risk of ceremonial defilement, the straiter section of the Jews scrupulously avoided using oil that had been prepared by a non-Jew ( 'Ab. Zara 2:5, Jos. Vita 13). In the course of the great revolt (66 A.D. ) John of Gischala skilfully turned this prejudice to his own advantage by buying oil at a cheap rate in Galilee, where it was abundant, and selling it at Qesarea Philippi and the neighbourhood at eight (Jos. BJ 2:21:2, 591) or ten times (Vita, I.c., 74+) the purchase price.

9. In commerce, etc.[edit]

Oil, as this incident shows, was at all times an important article of commerce, both in the home trade (2 K. 4:7) and for export. Through the markets of Tyre (Ezek. 27:17), the oil of Palestine found its way to the Mediterranean ports, and was undoubtedly among the oil from the harbour mentioned in Egyptian literature (Erman, Egypt, 231 ; cp Herzfeld, Handels-geschichte der Juden, 94+). As a valuable article of necessity and luxury, oil was ever a welcome gift, whether as between individuals (1 K. 5:11, Solomon to Hiram; 1 Ch. 12:40) or nations (Hos. 12:1, Israel to Egypt). For the same reason it figures in the tribute imposed upon a conquered state, as in that of Phoenicia and Coele-Syria to the Persian king (1 Esd. 6:30).

10. In Biblical metaphors.[edit]

A word may be said in conclusion as to the place of oil in Hebrew metaphors. To the poets the almost proverbial abundance of oil in Canaan suggested the use of oil as a figure of abounding material prosperity, as when it is said that Asher 'shall dip his foot in oil' (Dt. 33:24), or when oil is spoken of as flowing for Gods favoured ones from the rock (Dt. 32:13, Job 29:6 ; cp Joel 2:2-4). From the association, further, of oil with the toilet of the feast, it became to the Hebrews as to the Egyptians 'a symbol of joy' (Erman, I.c.), which gives point to such expressions as the oil of gladness (Ps. 45:7 = Heb. 1:9) and the oil of joy for mourning (Is. 61:3).

A. R. S. K.

1 For this D HS JDB ; , see above, 2, i.



OIL TREE[edit]

is the rendering in Is. 41:19 (RVmg 'oleaster' ) of |DE> ]T ; Neh. 8:15 AV 'pine', RV 'wild olive'. The name 'oleaster' was formerly given to the wild variety of Olea europea, L. - the dypitXaios [agreilaios] of Rom. 11:17-24; it is so used, e.g., in Virgil (Georg. 2:182). In modern times the name has been transferred to a plant quite distinct from the olive, though in external features resembling it, viz., Eleagnus angustifolia ; and this, which is common throughout Palestine, is most probably the JCB* j V or 'oil tree' of OT (see Tristram, NHB 372)."

Whether, however, by the JCB> S(J| of 1 K. 6:23, 6:31+ the wood of this tree, or rather, as Tristram (ib. 377) thinks, of the olive is intended, cannot be certainly determined. See OLIVE, 2.

N.M. W.T.T.-D.


i. (JDK , Shemen, Is. 1:6, RV 'oil' ), precious ointment (21DH |OU7I, 2 K. 20:13 || Is. 39:2, Ps. 133:2), oil of holy ointment Snp nnETD JOK (Ex. 30:25 , RV 'holy anointing oil' ). See OIL, 4. The holy chrism described in Ex. 30:23-25 was composed of i hin of olive oil, 500 [shekels] of flowing myrrh, 250 [shekels] of sweet cinnamon, 250 [shekels] of sweet calamus, and 500 [shekels] of cassia. See, also, ANOINTING.

It is usually supposed that the holy oil or ointment is referred to in Ps. 133:2, which says that 'it trickled down on Aaron's beard', where it lay on the collar (not skirt) of his outer garment (Macalister, in Hastings, DB 3:593 /). No learning or ingenuity, however, can make a reference to the holy oil or to Aaron's beard any more probable than a reference to the dew of Hermun (see DEW, end, col. 1096). |iairi Vttfby jSB ; 3 is probably the true reading of v. 3 (so Che.), and both Aaron's beard, and 'like the dew of Hermon' are corruptions of it. A similarly impossible phrase is 'the ointment of his right hand' (Prov. 27:16) ; see Toy, at/ loc., and cp WIND.

2. nnp_~lp, as in the phrase C np_l, Ex.30:25, RV 'a perfume compounded'. Cp 1 Ch. 9:30, 2 Ch. 16:14, and see PERFUME.

3. nnpTOi Job 41:23 [41:31] , AV a pot of ointment (LXX f^dXiirTpov [exaliptron] [BNAC], ftdXeiirTpov [B a - b ]), RV ointment. The context is very corrupt. It is in a description of Leviathan. Read (supplementing ABYSS, col. 31, and BEHEMOTH, col. 521), 'He makes the sea like a caldron' (-insa, represented by TDD ; the second -\ fell out), and continue, 'The bottom of the river is his path, the dark places of the abyss are his road'. 1

Rashi regards the root-meaning as 'to make a mixture' (cp Toy, Ezek. SBOT, Heb. , on Ezek. 24 10). Apparently it is a denominative from npi, spice. Cp Ass. rukku, 'to prepare spices', rikku, 'spice' (Ges. -Bu. ).

4. fivpov Mt. 26:7 etc. Rev. 18:13. Perhaps from ); See MYRRH and cp PERFUME.


(toAAMOC [BA]), 1 Esd. 9:30 = Ezra 10:29 , MESHULLAM, 12.