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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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Is sometimes used in our Bibles where a softer expression would be at least equally proper: "Woe to such a one!" is in our language a threat or imprecation of some calamity, natural or judicial, to befall a person; but this is not always the meaning of the word in Scripture. We find the expression, "Woe is me!" that is, Alas for my sufferings! And, "Woe to the women with child, and those who give suck!" that is, Alas for their redoubled sufferings in times of distress! If in the denunciatory language of Christ, we should read, "Alas for thee, Chorazin! Alas for thee, Bethsaida!" we should do not injustice to the general sentiments of the passage.

Yet in many cases the word woe is used in a fuller and more awful sense, expressing an inspired denunciation and foreshadowing of God's wrath upon sinners; as when we read, "Woe to those who build houses by unrighteousness, and cities by blood;" woe to those who are "rebellious against God," etc., in numerous passages, especially of the Old Testament, Habakkuk 2:6,9,12,15,19 Zephaniah 3:1 .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Woe'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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