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Bible Dictionaries

Easton's Bible Dictionary


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  • For sacred purposes. The sacrifices were consumed by fire (Genesis 8:20 ). The ever-burning fire on the altar was first kindled from heaven (Leviticus 6:9,13; 9:24 ), and afterwards rekindled at the dedication of Solomon's temple (2 Chronicles 7:1,3 ). The expressions "fire from heaven" and "fire of the Lord" generally denote lightning, but sometimes also the fire of the altar was so called (Exodus 29:18; Leviticus 1:9; 2:3; 3:5,9 ).

    Fire for a sacred purpose obtained otherwise than from the altar was called "strange fire" (Leviticus 10:1,2; Numbers 3:4 ).

    The victims slain for sin offerings were afterwards consumed by fire outside the camp (Leviticus 4:12,21; 6:30; 16:27; Hebrews 13:11 ).

  • For domestic purposes, such as baking, cooking, warmth, etc. (Jeremiah 36:22; Mark 14:54; John 18:18 ). But on Sabbath no fire for any domestic purpose was to be kindled (Exodus 35:3; Numbers 15:32-36 ).

  • Punishment of death by fire was inflicted on such as were guilty of certain forms of unchastity and incest (Leviticus 20:14; 21:9 ). The burning of captives in war was not unknown among the Jews (2 Samuel 12:31; Jeremiah 29:22 ). The bodies of infamous persons who were executed were also sometimes burned (Joshua 7:25; 2 Kings 23:16 ).

  • In war, fire was used in the destruction of cities, as Jericho (Joshua 6:24 ), Ai (8:19), Hazor (11:11), Laish (Judges 18:27 ), etc. The war-chariots of the Canaanites were burnt (Joshua 11:6,9,13 ). The Israelites burned the images (2 Kings 10:26; RSV, "pillars") of the house of Baal. These objects of worship seem to have been of the nature of obelisks, and were sometimes evidently made of wood.

    Torches were sometimes carried by the soldiers in battle (Judges 7:16 ).

  • Figuratively, fire is a symbol of Jehovah's presence and the instrument of his power (Exodus 14:19; Numbers 11:1,3; Judges 13:20; 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10,12; 2:11; Isaiah 6:4; Ezekiel 1:4; Revelation 1:14 , etc.).

    God's word is also likened unto fire (Jeremiah 23:29 ). It is referred to as an emblem of severe trials or misfortunes (Zechariah 12:6; Luke 12:49; 1 Corinthians 3:13,15; 1 Peter 1:7 ), and of eternal punishment (Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:44; Revelation 14:10; 21:8 ).

    The influence of the Holy Ghost is likened unto fire (Matthew 3:11 ). His descent was denoted by the appearance of tongues as of fire (Acts 2:3 ).

    Copyright Statement
    These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Fire'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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