nothingness; vanity. (1.) Hosea speaks of the "high places of
Aven" (10:8), by which he means Bethel. He also calls it
Beth-aven, i.e., "the house of vanity" (4:15), on account of the
golden calves Jeroboam had set up there (1 Kings 12:28).
(2.) Translated by the LXX. "On" in Ezek. 30:17. The Egyptian
Heliopolis or city of On (q.v.).
(3.) In Amos 1:5 it denotes the Syrian Heliopolis, the modern
the Greek rendering of the Hebrew _Koheleth_, which means
"Preacher." The old and traditional view of the authorship of
this book attributes it to Solomon. This view can be
satisfactorily maintained, though others date it from the
Captivity. The writer represents himself implicitly as Solomon
(1:12). It has been appropriately styled The Confession of King
Solomon. "The writer is a man who has sinned in giving way to
selfishness and sensuality, who has paid the penalty of that sin
in satiety and weariness of life, but who has through all this
been under the discipline of a divine education, and has learned
from it the lesson which God meant to teach him." "The writer
concludes by pointing out that the secret of a true life is that
a man should consecrate the vigour of his youth to God." The
key-note of the book is sounded in ch. 1:2,
"Vanity of vanities! saith the Preacher,
Vanity of vanities! all is vanity!"
i.e., all man's efforts to find happiness apart from God are
agile; also called Ornan 1 Chr. 21:15, a Jebusite who dwelt in
Jerusalem before it was taken by the Israelites. The destroying
angel, sent to punish David for his vanity in taking a census of
the people, was stayed in his work of destruction near a
threshing-floor belonging to Araunah which was situated on Mount
Moriah. Araunah offered it to David as a free gift, together
with the oxen and the threshing instruments; but the king
insisted on purchasing it at its full price (2 Sam. 24:24; 1
Chr. 21:24, 25), for, according to the law of sacrifices, he
could not offer to God what cost him nothing. On the same place
Solomon afterwards erected the temple (2 Sam. 24:16; 2 Chr.
3:1). (See ALTAR ¯T0000185.)
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."
(Heb. Hebhel), a breath, or vanity, the second son of Adam and
Eve. He was put to death by his brother Cain (Gen. 4:1-16).
Guided by the instruction of their father, the two brothers were
trained in the duty of worshipping God. "And in process of time"
(marg. "at the end of days", i.e., on the Sabbath) each of them
offered up to God of the first-fruits of his labours. Cain, as a
husbandman, offered the fruits of the field; Abel, as a
shepherd, of the firstlings of his flock. "The Lord had respect
unto Abel and his offering; but unto Cain and his offering he
had not respect" (Gen. 4:3-5). On this account Cain was angry
with his brother, and formed the design of putting him to death;
a design which he at length found an opportunity of carrying
into effect (Gen. 4:8,9. Comp. 1 John 3:12). There are several
references to Abel in the New Testament. Our Saviour speaks of
him as "righteous" (Matt. 23:35). "The blood of sprinkling" is
said to speak "better things than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:24);
i.e., the blood of Jesus is the reality of which the blood of
the offering made by Abel was only the type. The comparison here
is between the sacrifice offered by Christ and that offered by
Abel, and not between the blood of Christ calling for mercy and
the blood of the murdered Abel calling for vengeance, as has
sometimes been supposed. It is also said (Heb. 11:4) that "Abel
offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." This
sacrifice was made "by faith;" this faith rested in God, not
only as the Creator and the God of providence, but especially in
God as the great Redeemer, whose sacrifice was typified by the
sacrifices which, no doubt by the divine institution, were
offered from the days of Adam downward. On account of that
"faith" which looked forward to the great atoning sacrifice,
Abel's offering was accepted of God. Cain's offering had no such
reference, and therefore was rejected. Abel was the first
martyr, as he was the first of our race to die.
Abel (Heb. 'abhel), lamentation (1 Sam. 6:18), the name given
to the great stone in Joshua's field whereon the ark was "set
down." The Revised Version, however, following the Targum and
the LXX., reads in the Hebrew text _'ebhen_ (= a stone), and
accordingly translates "unto the great stone, whereon they set
down the ark." This reading is to be preferred.
Abel (Heb. 'abhel), a grassy place, a meadow. This word enters
into the composition of the following words:
a common Jewish name, the same as Hananiah. (1.) One of the
members of the church at Jerusalem, who conspired with his wife
Sapphira to deceive the brethren, and who fell down and
immediately expired after he had uttered the falsehood (Acts
5:5). By common agreement the members of the early Christian
community devoted their property to the work of furthering the
gospel and of assisting the poor and needy. The proceeds of the
possessions they sold were placed at the disposal of the
apostles (Acts 4:36, 37). Ananias might have kept his property
had he so chosen; but he professed agreement with the brethren
in the common purpose, and had of his own accord devoted it all,
as he said, to these sacred ends. Yet he retained a part of it
for his own ends, and thus lied in declaring that he had given
it all. "The offence of Ananias and Sapphira showed contempt of
God, vanity and ambition in the offenders, and utter disregard
of the corruption which they were bringing into the society.
Such sin, committed in despite of the light which they
possessed, called for a special mark of divine indignation."
(2.) A Christian at Damascus (Acts 9:10). He became Paul's
instructor; but when or by what means he himself became a
Christian we have no information. He was "a devout man according
to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt" at
(3.) The high priest before whom Paul was brought in the
procuratorship of Felix (Acts 23:2, 5, 24). He was so enraged at
Paul's noble declaration, "I have lived in all good conscience
before God until this day," that he commanded one of his
attendants to smite him on the mouth. Smarting under this
unprovoked insult, Paul quickly replied, "God shall smite thee,
thou whited wall." Being reminded that Ananias was the high
priest, to whose office all respect was to be paid, he answered,
"I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest" (Acts 23:5).
This expression has occasioned some difficulty, as it is
scarcely probable that Paul should have been ignorant of so
public a fact. The expression may mean (a) that Paul had at the
moment overlooked the honour due to the high priest; or (b), as
others think, that Paul spoke ironically, as if he had said,
"The high priest breaking the law! God's high priest a tyrant
and a lawbreaker! I see a man in white robes, and have heard his
voice, but surely it cannot, it ought not to be, the voice of
the high priest." (See Dr. Lindsay on Acts, _in loco_.) (c)
Others think that from defect of sight Paul could not observe
that the speaker was the high priest. In all this, however, it
may be explained, Paul, with all his excellency, comes short of
the example of his divine Master, who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again.
(1.) Heb. aven, "nothingness;" "vanity" (Isa. 66:3; 41:29; Deut.
32:21; 1 Kings 16:13; Ps. 31:6; Jer. 8:19, etc.).
(2.) 'Elil, "a thing of naught" (Ps. 97:7; Isa. 19:3); a word
of contempt, used of the gods of Noph (Ezek. 30:13).
(3.) 'Emah, "terror," in allusion to the hideous form of idols
(4.) Miphletzeth, "a fright;" "horror" (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chr.
(5.) Bosheth, "shame;" "shameful thing" (Jer. 11:13; Hos.
9:10); as characterizing the obscenity of the worship of Baal.
(6.) Gillulim, also a word of contempt, "dung;" "refuse"
(Ezek. 16:36; 20:8; Deut. 29:17, marg.).
(7.) Shikkuts, "filth;" "impurity" (Ezek. 37:23; Nah. 3:6).
(8.) Semel, "likeness;" "a carved image" (Deut. 4:16).
(9.) Tselem, "a shadow" (Dan. 3:1; 1 Sam. 6:5), as
distinguished from the "likeness," or the exact counterpart.
(10.) Temunah, "similitude" (Deut. 4:12-19). Here Moses
forbids the several forms of Gentile idolatry.
(11.) 'Atsab, "a figure;" from the root "to fashion," "to
labour;" denoting that idols are the result of man's labour
(Isa. 48:5; Ps. 139:24, "wicked way;" literally, as some
translate, "way of an idol").
(12.) Tsir, "a form;" "shape" (Isa. 45:16).
(13.) Matztzebah, a "statue" set up (Jer. 43:13); a memorial
stone like that erected by Jacob (Gen. 28:18; 31:45; 35:14, 20),
by Joshua (4:9), and by Samuel (1 Sam. 7:12). It is the name
given to the statues of Baal (2 Kings 3:2; 10:27).
(14.) Hammanim, "sun-images." Hamman is a synonym of Baal, the
sun-god of the Phoenicians (2 Chr. 34:4, 7; 14:3, 5; Isa. 17:8).
(15.) Maskith, "device" (Lev. 26:1; Num. 33:52). In Lev. 26:1,
the words "image of stone" (A.V.) denote "a stone or cippus with
the image of an idol, as Baal, Astarte, etc." In Ezek. 8:12,
"chambers of imagery" (maskith), are "chambers of which the
walls are painted with the figures of idols;" comp. ver. 10, 11.
(16.) Pesel, "a graven" or "carved image" (Isa. 44:10-20). It
denotes also a figure cast in metal (Deut. 7:25; 27:15; Isa.
(17.) Massekah, "a molten image" (Deut. 9:12; Judg. 17:3, 4).
(18.) Teraphim, pl., "images," family gods (penates)
worshipped by Abram's kindred (Josh. 24:14). Put by Michal in
David's bed (Judg. 17:5; 18:14, 17, 18, 20; 1 Sam. 19:13).
"Nothing can be more instructive and significant than this
multiplicity and variety of words designating the instruments
and inventions of idolatry."
in the Babylonian orthography Nabu-kudur-uzur, which means
"Nebo, protect the crown!" or the "frontiers." In an inscription
he styles himself "Nebo's favourite." He was the son and
successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its
dependence on Assyria and laid Nineveh in ruins. He was the
greatest and most powerful of all the Babylonian kings. He
married the daughter of Cyaxares, and thus the Median and
Babylonian dynasties were united.
Necho II., the king of Egypt, gained a victory over the
Assyrians at Carchemish. (See JOSIAH ¯T0002116; MEGIDDO
¯T0002463.) This secured to Egypt the possession of the Syrian
provinces of Assyria, including Israel. The remaining
provinces of the Assyrian empire were divided between Babylonia
and Media. But Nabopolassar was ambitious of reconquering from
Necho the western provinces of Syria, and for this purpose he
sent his son with a powerful army westward (Dan. 1:1). The
Egyptians met him at Carchemish, where a furious battle was
fought, resulting in the complete rout of the Egyptians, who
were driven back (Jer. 46:2-12), and Syria and Phoenicia brought
under the sway of Babylon (B.C. 606). From that time "the king
of Egypt came not again any more out of his land" (2 Kings
24:7). Nebuchadnezzar also subdued the whole of Israel, and
took Jerusalem, carrying away captive a great multitude of the
Jews, among whom were Daniel and his companions (Dan. 1:1, 2;
Jer. 27:19; 40:1).
Three years after this, Jehoiakim, who had reigned in
Jerusalem as a Babylonian vassal, rebelled against the
oppressor, trusting to help from Egypt (2 Kings 24:1). This led
Nebuchadnezzar to march an army again to the conquest of
Jerusalem, which at once yielded to him (B.C. 598). A third time
he came against it, and deposed Jehoiachin, whom he carried into
Babylon, with a large portion of the population of the city, and
the sacred vessels of the temple, placing Zedekiah on the throne
of Judah in his stead. He also, heedless of the warnings of the
prophet, entered into an alliance with Egypt, and rebelled
against Babylon. This brought about the final siege of the city,
which was at length taken and utterly destroyed (B.C. 586).
Zedekiah was taken captive, and had his eyes put out by order of
the king of Babylon, who made him a prisoner for the remainder
of his life.
An onyx cameo, now in the museum of Florence, bears on it an
arrow-headed inscription, which is certainly ancient and
genuine. The helmeted profile is said (Schrader) to be genuine
also, but it is more probable that it is the portrait of a
usurper in the time of Darius (Hystaspes), called Nidinta-Bel,
who took the name of "Nebuchadrezzar." The inscription has been
thus translated:, "In honour of Merodach, his lord,
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in his lifetime had this made."
A clay tablet, now in the British Museum, bears the following
inscription, the only one as yet found which refers to his wars:
"In the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the
country of Babylon, he went to Egypt [Misr] to make war. Amasis,
king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread
abroad." Thus were fulfilled the words of the prophet (Jer.
46:13-26; Ezek. 29:2-20). Having completed the subjugation of
Phoenicia, and inflicted chastisement on Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar
now set himself to rebuild and adorn the city of Babylon (Dan.
4:30), and to add to the greatness and prosperity of his kingdom
by constructing canals and aqueducts and reservoirs surpassing
in grandeur and magnificence everything of the kind mentioned in
history (Dan. 2:37). He is represented as a "king of kings,"
ruling over a vast kingdom of many provinces, with a long list
of officers and rulers under him, "princes, governors,
captains," etc. (3:2, 3, 27). He may, indeed, be said to have
created the mighty empire over which he ruled.
"Modern research has shown that Nebuchadnezzar was the
greatest monarch that Babylon, or perhaps the East generally,
ever produced. He must have possessed an enormous command of
human labour, nine-tenths of Babylon itself, and
nineteen-twentieths of all the other ruins that in almost
countless profusion cover the land, are composed of bricks
stamped with his name. He appears to have built or restored
almost every city and temple in the whole country. His
inscriptions give an elaborate account of the immense works
which he constructed in and about Babylon itself, abundantly
illustrating the boast, 'Is not this great Babylon which I have
build?'" Rawlinson, Hist. Illustrations.
After the incident of the "burning fiery furnace" (Dan. 3)
into which the three Hebrew confessors were cast, Nebuchadnezzar
was afflicted with some peculiar mental aberration as a
punishment for his pride and vanity, probably the form of
madness known as lycanthropy (i.e, "the change of a man into a
wolf"). A remarkable confirmation of the Scripture narrative is
afforded by the recent discovery of a bronze door-step, which
bears an inscription to the effect that it was presented by
Nebuchadnezzar to the great temple at Borsippa as a votive
offering on account of his recovery from a terrible illness.
(See DANIEL ¯T0000969.)
He survived his recovery for some years, and died B.C. 562, in
the eighty-third or eighty-fourth year of his age, after a reign
of forty-three years, and was succeeded by his son
Evil-merodach, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by
Neriglissar (559-555), who was succeeded by Nabonadius
(555-538), at the close of whose reign (less than a quarter of a
century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under
Cyrus at the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia.
"I have examined," says Sir H. Rawlinson, "the bricks
belonging perhaps to a hundred different towns and cities in the
neighbourhood of Baghdad, and I never found any other legend
than that of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, king of
Babylon." Nine-tenths of all the bricks amid the ruins of
Babylon are stamped with his name.