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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Kidney

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One of a pair of vertebrate organs lying in a mass of fatty tissue that excrete the waste products of metabolism. In the Bible, “kidney” is used both literally and figuratively. When the word is used figuratively of humans, KJV usually translates the term as “reins” (for example, Jeremiah 12:2; Revelation 2:23 ); NRSV uses “mind” (Revelation 2:23 ), “heart” (Job 19:27; Psalm 7:9; Psalm 16:7 , Psalm 73:21; Jeremiah 12:2 ), “vitals” (Lamentations 3:13 ), “soul” (Proverbs 23:16 ), or “inward parts” (Psalm 139:13; but see Job 16:13 ).

The kidneys are often associated with the heart as constituting the center of human personality (Psalm 7:9; Psalm 26:2; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 20:12; Revelation 2:23 ). Because the areas around the kidneys are sensitive, the Hebrews believed the kidneys were the seat of the emotions (see Job 19:27; Psalm 73:21; Proverbs 23:16 ). The kidneys were also used figuratively as the source of the knowledge and understanding of the moral life (Psalm 16:7; Jeremiah 12:2 ).

When used literally of animals (except Isaiah 34:6 ) the kidneys are mentioned in relation to sacrifice. The kidney, along with the fat surrounding it, were reserved for God as among the choicest parts of the animal (Exodus 29:13 ,Exodus 29:13,29:22 ). Deuteronomy 32:14 (KJV) speaks of the best wheat as the “fat of kidneys” (see NRSV).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Kidney'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/k/kidney.html. 1991.

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