the sign and token of our Lord's great agony (Luke 22:44).
beloved by Jehovah, the name which, by the mouth of Nathan, the
Lord gave to Solomon at his birth as a token of the divine
favour (2 Sam. 12:25).
a poetical name for the people of Israel, used in token of
affection, meaning, "the dear upright people" (Deut. 32:15;
33:5, 26; Isa. 44:2).
(1 John 2:20,27; R.V., "anointing"). Kings, prophets, and
priests were anointed, in token of receiving divine grace. All
believers are, in a secondary sense, what Christ was in a
primary sense, "the Lord's anointed."
an instrument only referred to in connection with the custom of
boring the ear of a slave (Ex. 21:6; Deut. 15:17), in token of
his volunteering perpetual service when he might be free. (Comp.
Ps. 40:6; Isa. 50:5).
not my people, a symbolical name given by God's command to
Hosea's second son in token of Jehovah's rejection of his people
(Hos. 1:9, 10), his treatment of them as a foreign people. This
Hebrew word is rendered by "not my people" in ver. 10; 2:23.
The ashes of a red heifer burned entire (Num. 19:5) when
sprinkled on the unclean made them ceremonially clean (Heb.
To cover the head with ashes was a token of self-abhorrence
and humiliation (2 Sam. 13:19; Esther 4:3; Jer. 6:26, etc.).
To feed on ashes (Isa. 44:20), means to seek that which will
prove to be vain and unsatisfactory, and hence it denotes the
unsatisfactory nature of idol-worship. (Comp. Hos. 12:1).
Used as an ornament to decorate the fingers, arms, wrists, and
also the ears and the nose. Rings were used as a signet (Gen.
38:18). They were given as a token of investment with authority
(Gen. 41:42; Esther 3:8-10; 8:2), and of favour and dignity
(Luke 15:22). They were generally worn by rich men (James 2:2).
They are mentioned by Isiah (3:21) among the adornments of
parts of peace-offerings were so called, because they were waved
by the priests (Ex. 29:24, 26, 27; Lev. 7:20-34; 8:27; 9:21;
10:14, 15, etc.), in token of a solemn special presentation to
God. They then became the property of the priests. The
first-fruits, a sheaf of barley, offered at the feast of
Pentecost (Lev. 23:17-20), and wheat-bread, the first-fruits of
the second harvest, offered at the Passover (10-14), were
mentioned among the extraordinary phenomena of Israel (Ps.
18:7; comp. Hab. 3:6; Nah. 1:5; Isa. 5:25).
The first earthquake in Israel of which we have any record
happened in the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 19:11, 12). Another took
place in the days of Uzziah, King of Judah (Zech. 14:5). The
most memorable earthquake taking place in New Testament times
happened at the crucifixion of our Lord (Matt. 27:54). An
earthquake at Philippi shook the prison in which Paul and Silas
were imprisoned (Act 16:26).
It is used figuratively as a token of the presence of the Lord
(Judg. 5:4; 2 Sam. 22:8; Ps. 77:18; 97:4; 104:32).
This Hebrew word means firm, and hence also faithful (Rev.
3:14). In Isa. 65:16, the Authorized Version has "the God of
truth," which in Hebrew is "the God of Amen." It is frequently
used by our Saviour to give emphasis to his words, where it is
translated "verily." Sometimes, only, however, in John's Gospel,
it is repeated, "Verily, verily." It is used as an epithet of
the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 3:14).
It is found singly and sometimes doubly at the end of prayers
(Ps. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52), to confirm the words and invoke the
fulfilment of them. It is used in token of being bound by an
oath (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; Neh. 5:13; 8:6; 1 Chr. 16:36).
In the primitive churches it was common for the general audience
to say "Amen" at the close of the prayer (1 Cor. 14:16).
The promises of God are Amen; i.e., they are all true and sure
(2 Cor. 1:20).
God scatters. (1.) A town of Issachar (Josh. 19:18), where the
kings of Israel often resided (1 Kings 18:45; 21:1; 2 Kings
9:30). Here Elijah met Ahab, Jehu, and Bidkar; and here Jehu
executed his dreadful commission against the house of Ahab (2
Kings 9:14-37; 10:1-11). It has been identified with the modern
Zerin, on the most western point of the range of Gilboa,
reaching down into the great and fertile valley of Jezreel, to
which it gave its name.
(2.) A town in Judah (Josh. 15:56), to the south-east of
Hebron. Ahinoam, one of David's wives, probably belonged to this
place (1 Sam. 27:3).
(3.) A symbolical name given by Hosea to his oldest son (Hos.
1:4), in token of a great slaughter predicted by him, like that
which had formerly taken place in the plain of Esdraelon (comp.
Hos. 1:4, 5).
Several words are so rendered in the Authorized Version. (1.)
Those which are indefinite. (a) Hok, Isa. 5:14, elsewhere
"statute." (b) Mad, Job 11:9; Jer. 13:25, elsewhere "garment."
(c) Middah, the word most frequently thus translated, Ex. 26:2,
8, etc. (d) Mesurah, Lev. 19:35; 1 Chr. 23:29. (e) Mishpat, Jer.
30:11, elsewhere "judgment." (f) Mithkoneth and token, Ezek.
45:11. (g) In New Testament metron, the usual Greek word thus
rendered (Matt. 7:2; 23:32; Mark 4:24).
(2.) Those which are definite. (a) 'Eyphah, Deut. 25:14, 15,
usually "ephah." (b) Ammah, Jer. 51:13, usually "cubit." (c)
Kor, 1 Kings 4:22, elsewhere "cor;" Greek koros, Luke 16:7. (d)
Seah, Gen. 18:6; 1 Sam. 25:18, a seah; Greek saton, Matt. 13:33;
Luke 13:21. (e) Shalish, "a great measure," Isa. 40:12;
literally a third, i.e., of an ephah. (f) In New Testament
batos, Luke 16:6, the Hebrew "bath;" and choinix, Rev. 6:6, the
choenix, equal in dry commodities to one-eighth of a modius.
Only olive oil seems to have been used among the Hebrews. It was
used for many purposes: for anointing the body or the hair (Ex.
29:7; 2 Sam. 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 92:10; 104:15; Luke 7:46); in some
of the offerings (Ex. 29:40; Lev. 7:12; Num. 6:15; 15:4), but
was excluded from the sin-offering (Lev. 5:11) and the
jealousy-offering (Num. 5:15); for burning in lamps (Ex. 25:6;
27:20; Matt. 25:3); for medicinal purposes (Isa. 1:6; Luke
10:34; James 5:14); and for anointing the dead (Matt. 26:12;
It was one of the most valuable products of the country (Deut.
32:13; Ezek. 16:13), and formed an article of extensive commerce
with Tyre (27:17).
The use of it was a sign of gladness (Ps. 92:10; Isa. 61:3),
and its omission a token of sorrow (2 Sam. 14:2; Matt. 6:17). It
was very abundant in Galilee. (See OLIVE ¯T0002778.)
frequently used in its proper sense, for fastening a tent (Ex.
35:18; 39:40), yoking animals to a cart (Isa. 5:18), binding
prisoners (Judg. 15:13; Ps. 2:3; 129:4), and measuring ground (2
Sam. 8;2; Ps. 78:55). Figuratively, death is spoken of as the
giving way of the tent-cord (Job 4:21. "Is not their tent-cord
plucked up?" R.V.). To gird one's self with a cord was a token
of sorrow and humiliation. To stretch a line over a city meant
to level it with the ground (Lam. 2:8). The "cords of sin" are
the consequences or fruits of sin (Prov. 5:22). A "threefold
cord" is a symbol of union (Eccl. 4:12). The "cords of a man"
(Hos. 11:4) means that men employ, in inducing each other,
methods such as are suitable to men, and not "cords" such as
oxen are led by. Isaiah (5:18) says, "Woe unto them that draw
iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart
rope." This verse is thus given in the Chaldee paraphrase: "Woe
to those who begin to sin by little and little, drawing sin by
cords of vanity: these sins grow and increase till they are
strong and are like a cart rope." This may be the true meaning.
The wicked at first draw sin with a slender cord; but by-and-by
their sins increase, and they are drawn after them by a cart
rope. Henderson in his commentary says: "The meaning is that the
persons described were not satisfied with ordinary modes of
provoking the Deity, and the consequent ordinary approach of his
vengeance, but, as it were, yoked themselves in the harness of
iniquity, and, putting forth all their strength, drew down upon
themselves, with accelerated speed, the load of punishment which
their sins deserved."
(1.) Denotes the plate of gold in the front of the high priest's
mitre (Ex. 29:6; 39:30). The same Hebrew word so rendered
(ne'zer) denotes the diadem worn by Saul in battle (2 Sam.
1:10), and also that which was used at the coronation of Joash
(2 Kings 11:12).
(2.) The more general name in Hebrew for a crown is _'atarah_,
meaning a "circlet." This is used of crowns and head ornaments
of divers kinds, including royal crowns. Such was the crown
taken from the king of Ammon by David (2 Sam. 12:30). The crown
worn by the Assyrian kings was a high mitre, sometimes adorned
with flowers. There are sculptures also representing the crowns
worn by the early Egyptian and Persian kings. Sometimes a diadem
surrounded the royal head-dress of two or three fillets. This
probably signified that the wearer had dominion over two or
three countries. In Rev. 12:3; 13:1, we read of "many crowns," a
token of extended dominion.
(3.) The ancient Persian crown (Esther 1:11; 2:17; 6:8) was
called _kether_; i.e., "a chaplet," a high cap or tiara. Crowns
were worn sometimes to represent honour and power (Ezek. 23:42).
They were worn at marriages (Cant. 3:11; Isa. 61:10,
"ornaments;" R.V., "a garland"), and at feasts and public
The crown was among the Romans and Greeks a symbol of victory
and reward. The crown or wreath worn by the victors in the
Olympic games was made of leaves of the wild olive; in the
Pythian games, of laurel; in the Nemean games, of parsley; and
in the Isthmian games, of the pine. The Romans bestowed the
"civic crown" on him who saved the life of a citizen. It was
made of the leaves of the oak. In opposition to all these fading
crowns the apostles speak of the incorruptible crown, the crown
of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10) "that fadeth not away" (1 Pet.
5:4, Gr. amarantinos; comp. 1:4). Probably the word "amaranth"
was applied to flowers we call "everlasting," the "immortal
Entertainments, "feasts," were sometimes connected with a public
festival (Deut. 16:11, 14), and accompanied by offerings (1 Sam.
9:13), in token of alliances (Gen. 26:30); sometimes in
connection with domestic or social events, as at the weaning of
children (Gen. 21:8), at weddings (Gen. 29:22; John 2:1), on
birth-days (Matt. 14:6), at the time of sheep-shearing (2 Sam.
13:23), and of vintage (Judg. 9:27), and at funerals (2 Sam.
3:35; Jer. 16:7).
The guests were invited by servants (Prov. 9:3; Matt. 22:3),
who assigned them their respective places (1 Sam. 9:22; Luke
14:8; Mark 12:39). Like portions were sent by the master to each
guest (1 Sam. 1:4; 2 Sam. 6:19), except when special honour was
intended, when the portion was increased (Gen. 43:34).
The Israelites were forbidden to attend heathenish sacrificial
entertainments (Ex. 34:15), because these were in honour of
false gods, and because at such feast they would be liable to
partake of unclean flesh (1 Cor. 10:28).
In the entertainments common in apostolic times among the
Gentiles were frequent "revellings," against which Christians
were warned (Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3). (See BANQUET
(1.) Heb. hagor, a girdle of any kind worn by soldiers (1 Sam.
18:4; 2 Sam. 20:8; 1 Kings 2:5; 2 Kings 3:21) or women (Isa.
(2.) Heb. 'ezor, something "bound," worn by prophets (2 Kings
1:8; Jer. 13:1), soldiers (Isa. 5:27; 2 Sam. 20:8; Ezek. 23:15),
Kings (Job 12:18).
(3.) Heb. mezah, a "band," a girdle worn by men alone (Ps.
109:19; Isa. 22:21).
(4.) Heb. 'abnet, the girdle of sacerdotal and state officers
(Ex. 28:4, 39, 40; 29:9; 39:29).
(5.) Heb. hesheb, the "curious girdle" (Ex. 28:8; R.V.,
"cunningly woven band") was attached to the ephod, and was made
of the same material.
The common girdle was made of leather (2 Kings 1:8; Matt.
3:4); a finer sort of linen (Jer. 13:1; Ezek. 16:10; Dan. 10:5).
Girdles of sackcloth were worn in token of sorrow (Isa. 3:24;
22:12). They were variously fastened to the wearer (Mark 1:6;
Jer. 13:1; Ezek. 16:10).
The girdle was a symbol of strength and power (Job 12:18, 21;
30:11; Isa. 22:21; 45:5). "Righteousness and faithfulness" are
the girdle of the Messiah (Isa. 11:5).
Girdles were used as purses or pockets (Matt. 10:9. A. V.,
"purses;" R.V., marg., "girdles." Also Mark 6:8).
a change from enmity to friendship. It is mutual, i.e., it is a
change wrought in both parties who have been at enmity.
(1.) In Col. 1:21, 22, the word there used refers to a change
wrought in the personal character of the sinner who ceases to be
an enemy to God by wicked works, and yields up to him his full
confidence and love. In 2 Cor. 5:20 the apostle beseeches the
Corinthians to be "reconciled to God", i.e., to lay aside their
(2.) Rom. 5:10 refers not to any change in our disposition
toward God, but to God himself, as the party reconciled. Romans
5:11 teaches the same truth. From God we have received "the
reconciliation" (R.V.), i.e., he has conferred on us the token
of his friendship. So also 2 Cor. 5:18, 19 speaks of a
reconciliation originating with God, and consisting in the
removal of his merited wrath. In Eph. 2:16 it is clear that the
apostle does not refer to the winning back of the sinner in love
and loyalty to God, but to the restoration of God's forfeited
favour. This is effected by his justice being satisfied, so that
he can, in consistency with his own nature, be favourable toward
sinners. Justice demands the punishment of sinners. The death of
Christ satisfies justice, and so reconciles God to us. This
reconciliation makes God our friend, and enables him to pardon
and save us. (See ATONEMENT ¯T0000362.)
(1.) The Egyptians let the hair of their head and beard grow
only when they were in mourning, shaving it off at other times.
"So particular were they on this point that to have neglected it
was a subject of reproach and ridicule; and whenever they
intended to convey the idea of a man of low condition, or a
slovenly person, the artists represented him with a beard."
Joseph shaved himself before going in to Pharoah (Gen. 41:14).
The women of Egypt wore their hair long and plaited. Wigs were
worn by priests and laymen to cover the shaven skull, and false
beards were common. The great masses of hair seen in the
portraits and statues of kings and priests are thus altogether
(2.) A precisely opposite practice, as regards men, prevailed
among the Assyrians. In Assyrian sculptures the hair always
appears long, and combed closely down upon the head. The beard
also was allowed to grow to its full length.
(3.) Among the Greeks the custom in this respect varied at
different times, as it did also among the Romans. In the time of
the apostle, among the Greeks the men wore short hair, while
that of the women was long (1 Cor. 11:14, 15). Paul reproves the
Corinthians for falling in with a style of manners which so far
confounded the distinction of the sexes and was hurtful to good
morals. (See, however, 1 Tim. 2:9, and 1 Pet. 3:3, as regards
(4.) Among the Hebrews the natural distinction between the
sexes was preserved by the women wearing long hair (Luke 7:38;
John 11:2; 1 Cor. 11:6), while the men preserved theirs as a
rule at a moderate length by frequent clipping.
Baldness disqualified any one for the priest's office (Lev.
Elijah is called a "hairy man" (2 Kings 1:8) from his flowing
locks, or more probably from the shaggy cloak of hair which he
wore. His raiment was of camel's hair.
Long hair is especially noticed in the description of
Absalom's person (2 Sam. 14:26); but the wearing of long hair
was unusual, and was only practised as an act of religious
observance by Nazarites (Num. 6:5; Judg. 13:5) and others in
token of special mercies (Acts 18:18).
In times of affliction the hair was cut off (Isa. 3:17, 24;
15:2; 22:12; Jer. 7:29; Amos 8:10). Tearing the hair and letting
it go dishevelled were also tokens of grief (Ezra 9:3). "Cutting
off the hair" is a figure of the entire destruction of a people
(Isa. 7:20). The Hebrews anointed the hair profusely with
fragrant ointments (Ruth 3:3; 2 Sam. 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 45:7,
etc.), especially in seasons of rejoicing (Matt. 6:17; Luke
image-worship or divine honour paid to any created object. Paul
describes the origin of idolatry in Rom. 1:21-25: men forsook
God, and sank into ignorance and moral corruption (1:28).
The forms of idolatry are, (1.) Fetishism, or the worship of
trees, rivers, hills, stones, etc.
(2.) Nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars,
as the supposed powers of nature.
(3.) Hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of
In Scripture, idolatry is regarded as of heathen origin, and
as being imported among the Hebrews through contact with heathen
nations. The first allusion to idolatry is in the account of
Rachel stealing her father's teraphim (Gen. 31:19), which were
the relics of the worship of other gods by Laban's progenitors
"on the other side of the river in old time" (Josh. 24:2).
During their long residence in Egypt the Hebrews fell into
idolatry, and it was long before they were delivered from it
(Josh. 24:14; Ezek. 20:7). Many a token of God's displeasure
fell upon them because of this sin.
The idolatry learned in Egypt was probably rooted out from
among the people during the forty years' wanderings; but when
the Jews entered Israel, they came into contact with the
monuments and associations of the idolatry of the old
Canaanitish races, and showed a constant tendency to depart from
the living God and follow the idolatrous practices of those
heathen nations. It was their great national sin, which was only
effectually rebuked by the Babylonian exile. That exile finally
purified the Jews of all idolatrous tendencies.
The first and second commandments are directed against
idolatry of every form. Individuals and communities were equally
amenable to the rigorous code. The individual offender was
devoted to destruction (Ex. 22:20). His nearest relatives were
not only bound to denounce him and deliver him up to punishment
(Deut. 13:20-10), but their hands were to strike the first blow
when, on the evidence of two witnesses at least, he was stoned
(Deut. 17:2-7). To attempt to seduce others to false worship was
a crime of equal enormity (13:6-10). An idolatrous nation shared
the same fate. No facts are more strongly declared in the Old
Testament than that the extermination of the Canaanites was the
punishment of their idolatry (Ex. 34:15, 16; Deut. 7; 12:29-31;
20:17), and that the calamities of the Israelites were due to
the same cause (Jer. 2:17). "A city guilty of idolatry was
looked upon as a cancer in the state; it was considered to be in
rebellion, and treated according to the laws of war. Its
inhabitants and all their cattle were put to death." Jehovah was
the theocratic King of Israel, the civil Head of the
commonwealth, and therefore to an Israelite idolatry was a state
offence (1 Sam. 15:23), high treason. On taking possession of
the land, the Jews were commanded to destroy all traces of every
kind of the existing idolatry of the Canaanites (Ex. 23:24, 32;
34:13; Deut. 7:5, 25; 12:1-3).
In the New Testament the term idolatry is used to designate
covetousness (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13; Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5).
John the Baptist
the "forerunner of our Lord." We have but fragmentary and
imperfect accounts of him in the Gospels. He was of priestly
descent. His father, Zacharias, was a priest of the course of
Abia (1 Chr. 24:10), and his mother, Elisabeth, was of the
daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5). The mission of John was the
subject of prophecy (Matt. 3:3; Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1). His birth,
which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold
by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a
token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with
reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech
restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision (Luke 1:64).
After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what
is mentioned in Luke 1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth
(Luke 1:15; Num. 6:1-12). He spent his early years in the
mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead
Sea (Matt. 3:1-12).
At length he came forth into public life, and great multitudes
from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his
preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the
Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned
them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke 3:8).
"As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating.
Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people
at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and
consideration for others. The publicans he cautioned against
extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine
and manner of life roused the entire south of Israel, and the
people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the
banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto
The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth (Matt.
3:5), and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John,
on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all
righteousness" (3:15). John's special office ceased with the
baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to
his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear
testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. He pointed him out to his
disciples, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God." His public ministry
was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a
close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had
reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his
brother Philip (Luke 3:19). He was shut up in the castle of
Machaerus (q.v.), a fortress on the southern extremity of
Peraea, 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded.
His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave,
went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Matt. 14:3-12).
John's death occurred apparently just before the third Passover
of our Lord's ministry. Our Lord himself testified regarding him
that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John 5:35).
an event in the external world brought about by the immediate
agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use
of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed
to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and
the truth of his message (John 2:18; Matt. 12:38). It is an
occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the
intervention of a power that is not limited by the laws either
of matter or of mind, a power interrupting the fixed laws which
govern their movements, a supernatural power.
"The suspension or violation of the laws of nature involved in
miracles is nothing more than is constantly taking place around
us. One force counteracts another: vital force keeps the
chemical laws of matter in abeyance; and muscular force can
control the action of physical force. When a man raises a weight
from the ground, the law of gravity is neither suspended nor
violated, but counteracted by a stronger force. The same is true
as to the walking of Christ on the water and the swimming of
iron at the command of the prophet. The simple and grand truth
that the universe is not under the exclusive control of physical
forces, but that everywhere and always there is above, separate
from and superior to all else, an infinite personal will, not
superseding, but directing and controlling all physical causes,
acting with or without them." God ordinarily effects his purpose
through the agency of second causes; but he has the power also
of effecting his purpose immediately and without the
intervention of second causes, i.e., of invading the fixed
order, and thus of working miracles. Thus we affirm the
possibility of miracles, the possibility of a higher hand
intervening to control or reverse nature's ordinary movements.
In the New Testament these four Greek words are principally
used to designate miracles: (1.) Semeion, a "sign", i.e., an
evidence of a divine commission; an attestation of a divine
message (Matt. 12:38, 39; 16:1, 4; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; 23:8;
John 2:11, 18, 23; Acts 6:8, etc.); a token of the presence and
working of God; the seal of a higher power.
(2.) Terata, "wonders;" wonder-causing events; portents;
producing astonishment in the beholder (Acts 2:19).
(3.) Dunameis, "might works;" works of superhuman power (Acts
2:22; Rom. 15:19; 2 Thess. 2:9); of a new and higher power.
(4.) Erga, "works;" the works of Him who is "wonderful in
working" (John 5:20, 36).
Miracles are seals of a divine mission. The sacred writers
appealed to them as proofs that they were messengers of God. Our
Lord also appealed to miracles as a conclusive proof of his
divine mission (John 5:20, 36; 10:25, 38). Thus, being out of
the common course of nature and beyond the power of man, they
are fitted to convey the impression of the presence and power of
God. Where miracles are there certainly God is. The man,
therefore, who works a miracle affords thereby clear proof that
he comes with the authority of God; they are his credentials
that he is God's messenger. The teacher points to these
credentials, and they are a proof that he speaks with the
authority of God. He boldly says, "God bears me witness, both
with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles."
The credibility of miracles is established by the evidence of
the senses on the part of those who are witnesses of them, and
to all others by the testimony of such witnesses. The witnesses
were competent, and their testimony is trustworthy. Unbelievers,
following Hume, deny that any testimony can prove a miracle,
because they say miracles are impossible. We have shown that
miracles are possible, and surely they can be borne witness to.
Surely they are credible when we have abundant and trustworthy
evidence of their occurrence. They are credible just as any
facts of history well authenticated are credible. Miracles, it
is said, are contrary to experience. Of course they are contrary
to our experience, but that does not prove that they were
contrary to the experience of those who witnessed them. We
believe a thousand facts, both of history and of science, that
are contrary to our experience, but we believe them on the
ground of competent testimony. An atheist or a pantheist must,
as a matter of course, deny the possibility of miracles; but to
one who believes in a personal God, who in his wisdom may see
fit to interfere with the ordinary processes of nature, miracles
are not impossible, nor are they incredible. (See LIST OF
heard of God. The peculiar circumstances connected with his
birth are recorded in 1 Sam. 1:20. Hannah, one of the two wives
of Elkanah, who came up to Shiloh to worship before the Lord,
earnestly prayed to God that she might become the mother of a
son. Her prayer was graciously granted; and after the child was
weaned she brought him to Shiloh nd consecrated him to the Lord
as a perpetual Nazarite (1:23-2:11). Here his bodily wants and
training were attended to by the women who served in the
tabernacle, while Eli cared for his religious culture. Thus,
probably, twelve years of his life passed away. "The child
Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also
with men" (2:26; comp. Luke 2:52). It was a time of great and
growing degeneracy in Israel (Judg. 21:19-21; 1 Sam. 2:12-17,
22). The Philistines, who of late had greatly increased in
number and in power, were practically masters of the country,
and kept the people in subjection (1 Sam. 10:5; 13:3).
At this time new communications from God began to be made to
the pious child. A mysterious voice came to him in the night
season, calling him by name, and, instructed by Eli, he
answered, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." The message
that came from the Lord was one of woe and ruin to Eli and his
profligate sons. Samuel told it all to Eli, whose only answer to
the terrible denunciations (1 Sam. 3:11-18) was, "It is the
Lord; let him do what seemeth him good", the passive submission
of a weak character, not, in his case, the expression of the
highest trust and faith. The Lord revealed himself now in divers
manners to Samuel, and his fame and his influence increased
throughout the land as of one divinely called to the prophetical
office. A new period in the history of the kingdom of God now
The Philistine yoke was heavy, and the people, groaning under
the wide-spread oppression, suddenly rose in revolt, and "went
out against the Philistines to battle." A fierce and disastrous
battle was fought at Aphek, near to Ebenezer (1 Sam. 4:1, 2).
The Israelites were defeated, leaving 4,000 dead "in the field."
The chiefs of the people thought to repair this great disaster
by carrying with them the ark of the covenant as the symbol of
Jehovah's presence. They accordingly, without consulting Samuel,
fetched it out of Shiloh to the camp near Aphek. At the sight of
the ark among them the people "shouted with a great shout, so
that the earth rang again." A second battle was fought, and
again the Philistines defeated the Israelites, stormed their
camp, slew 30,000 men, and took the sacred ark. The tidings of
this fatal battle was speedily conveyed to Shiloh; and so soon
as the aged Eli heard that the ark of God was taken, he fell
backward from his seat at the entrance of the sanctuary, and his
neck brake, and he died. The tabernacle with its furniture was
probably, by the advice of Samuel, now about twenty years of
age, removed from Shiloh to some place of safety, and finally to
Nob, where it remained many years (21:1).
The Philistines followed up their advantage, and marched upon
Shiloh, which they plundered and destroyed (comp. Jer. 7:12; Ps.
78:59). This was a great epoch in the history of Israel. For
twenty years after this fatal battle at Aphek the whole land lay
under the oppression of the Philistines. During all these dreary
years Samuel was a spiritual power in the land. From Ramah, his
native place, where he resided, his influence went forth on
every side among the people. With unwearied zeal he went up and
down from place to place, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting the
people, endeavouring to awaken in them a sense of their
sinfulness, and to lead them to repentance. His labours were so
far successful that "all the house of Israel lamented after the
Lord." Samuel summoned the people to Mizpeh, one of the loftiest
hills in Central Israel, where they fasted and prayed, and
prepared themselves there, under his direction, for a great war
against the Philistines, who now marched their whole force
toward Mizpeh, in order to crush the Israelites once for all. At
the intercession of Samuel God interposed in behalf of Israel.
Samuel himself was their leader, the only occasion in which he
acted as a leader in war. The Philistines were utterly routed.
They fled in terror before the army of Israel, and a great
slaughter ensued. This battle, fought probably about B.C. 1095,
put an end to the forty years of Philistine oppression. In
memory of this great deliverance, and in token of gratitude for
the help vouchsafed, Samuel set up a great stone in the
battlefield, and called it "Ebenezer," saying, "Hitherto hath
the Lord helped us" (1 Sam. 7:1-12). This was the spot where,
twenty years before, the Israelites had suffered a great defeat,
when the ark of God was taken.
This victory over the Philistines was followed by a long
period of peace for Israel (1 Sam. 7:13, 14), during which
Samuel exercised the functions of judge, going "from year to
year in circuit" from his home in Ramah to Bethel, thence to
Gilgal (not that in the Jordan valley, but that which lay to the
west of Ebal and Gerizim), and returning by Mizpeh to Ramah. He
established regular services at Shiloh, where he built an altar;
and at Ramah he gathered a company of young men around him and
established a school of the prophets. The schools of the
prophets, thus originated, and afterwards established also at
Gibeah, Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, exercised an important
influence on the national character and history of the people in
maintaining pure religion in the midst of growing corruption.
They continued to the end of the Jewish commonwealth.
Many years now passed, during which Samuel exercised the
functions of his judicial office, being the friend and
counsellor of the people in all matters of private and public
interest. He was a great statesman as well as a reformer, and
all regarded him with veneration as the "seer," the prophet of
the Lord. At the close of this period, when he was now an old
man, the elders of Israel came to him at Ramah (1 Sam. 8:4, 5,
19-22); and feeling how great was the danger to which the nation
was exposed from the misconduct of Samuel's sons, whom he had
invested with judicial functions as his assistants, and had
placed at Beersheba on the Philistine border, and also from a
threatened invasion of the Ammonites, they demanded that a king
should be set over them. This request was very displeasing to
Samuel. He remonstrated with them, and warned them of the
consequences of such a step. At length, however, referring the
matter to God, he acceded to their desires, and anointed Saul
(q.v.) to be their king (11:15). Before retiring from public
life he convened an assembly of the people at Gilgal (ch. 12),
and there solemnly addressed them with reference to his own
relation to them as judge and prophet.
The remainder of his life he spent in retirement at Ramah,
only occasionally and in special circumstances appearing again
in public (1 Sam. 13, 15) with communications from God to king
Saul. While mourning over the many evils which now fell upon the
nation, he is suddenly summoned (ch.16) to go to Bethlehem and
anoint David, the son of Jesse, as king over Israel instead of
Saul. After this little is known of him till the time of his
death, which took place at Ramah when he was probably about
eighty years of age. "And all Israel gathered themselves
together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at
Ramah" (25:1), not in the house itself, but in the court or
garden of his house. (Comp. 2 Kings 21:18; 2 Chr. 33:20; 1 Kings
2:34; John 19:41.)
Samuel's devotion to God, and the special favour with which
God regarded him, are referred to in Jer. 15:1 and Ps. 99:6.
father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Gen. 11:27) before
his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of
the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his
kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his
father and his family and household, quitted the city of Ur, in
which he had hitherto dwelt, and went some 300 miles north to
Haran, where he abode fifteen years. The cause of his migration
was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this
first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Gen.
12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205
years. Abram now received a second and more definite call,
accompanied by a promise from God (Gen. 12:1,2); whereupon he
took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing
whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the
guidance of Him who had called him.
Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand
souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing
along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed
his first encampment at Sichem (Gen. 12:6), in the vale or
oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the
south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee
a great nation," etc. (Gen. 12:2,3,7). This promise comprehended
not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that
he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming
had been long ago predicted (Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for
some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain
district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about
two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again
moved into the southern tract of Israel, called by the
Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine,
compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of
the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in
bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of
Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh (Gen. 12:18).
Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents,
recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to
Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and
in gold" (Gen. 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, 14). The whole
party then moved northward, and returned to their previous
station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds
and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously
gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Cor. 6:7.)
He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and
removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated.
Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the
promises already made to him, and then removed to the plain or
"oak-grove" of Mamre, which is in Hebron. He finally settled
here, pitching his tent under a famous oak or terebinth tree,
called "the oak of Mamre" (Gen. 13:18). This was his third
resting-place in the land.
Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in
Chaldea, Israel had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of
Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the
plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the
inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after
twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance
of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He
ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying
the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was
Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew,
Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318
armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner,
and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook him near
the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army,
and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to
Hobah, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the
spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem,
i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth
to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth
of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of
the most high God (Gen. 14:18-20).
In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the
grandfather of Amraphel (Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is
called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already
made to him by God were repeated and enlarged (Gen. 13:14). "The
word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first
time) "came to him" (15:1). He now understood better the future
that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai,
now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram
to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that
whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own.
Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the
heir of these promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen
years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his
gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that
purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to
Abraham (Gen. 17:4,5), and the rite of circumcision was
instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that
the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai,
though she was now ninety years old; and it was directed that
his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of
the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that
memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Abraham and
his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised
(Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent
door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered
hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare
which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was
none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the
guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a
son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham
accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The
two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind
and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction
that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch
interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not
even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the
city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell
upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the
fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Gen.
After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved
southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to
Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his
part in his relation to Abimelech the King (Gen. 20). (See
ABIMELECH ¯T0000040.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left
the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about
25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was
born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of
jealousy now arose between Sarah and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael,
was no longer to be regarded as Abraham's heir. Sarah insisted
that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. This was done,
although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Gen. 21:12). (See HAGAR
¯T0001583; ISHMAEL ¯T0001903.)
At this point there is a blank in the patriarch's history of
perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness
were spent at Beer-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is
put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to
go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a
sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the
test (Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating
obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his
son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was
arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled
in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead.
From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh,
i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were
again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to
the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and
returned to his home at Beer-sheba (Gen. 22:19), where he
resided for some years, and then moved northward to Hebron.
Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years
old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a
burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner
of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); and there he buried Sarah.
His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac, and for this
purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran, Acts
7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided (Gen.
11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son
Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then
himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons,
whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the
east" (Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his
wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years
after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was
buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Gen.
The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the
ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the
religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called
"the friend of God" (James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9),
"the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).