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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Pilgrimage

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A journey, especially a religious trek to a site at which God has revealed Himself in the past. KJV used pilgrimage in the nontechnical sense of journeys (Exodus 6:4 ). KJV, NAS, RSV used pilgrimage in a figurative sense for life journey (Genesis 47:9 KJV, only; Psalm 119:54 ). The only explicit mention of religious pilgrimage occurs in the NIV of Psalm 84:5 (Compare REB).

In Israel's early history, numerous local shrines were the goals of religious pilgrimage: Bethel (Genesis 28:10-22; Genesis 31:13; Genesis 35:9-15; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5 ); Gilgal (Joshua 4:19-24; Hosea 4:15; Amos 4:4; Amos 5:5 ); Shiloh (Judges 20:26-27; 1Samuel 1:3,1 Samuel 1:19 ); Beersheba (Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14 ); Gibeon (1 Kings 3:3-5 ); even Horeb (1 Kings 19:8 ). Jerusalem was not the goal of religious pilgrims until David relocated the ark there (2 Samuel 6:12-19 ). Hezekiah's and Josiah's reforms attempted to destroy the pagan sites of pilgrimage and idol worship (2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:8 ) and make Jerusalem the exclusive focus of pilgrimage. Mosaic law required adult male Israelites to appear before the Lord (where the ark of the covenant rested) three times a year (Exodus 23:14-17; Exodus 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:16 ). Crowds of pilgrims (Psalm 42:4; Psalm 55:14; Luke 2:44 ) sang on the way to Jerusalem (Isaiah 30:29 ). The Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 24:1; Psalm 84:1; Psalm 118:1; Psalm 120-134 ) were likely sung as pilgrims climbed the ascent to the Temple mount in Jerusalem. The prophets condemned the celebration of religious pilgrimages and feasts when not accompanied by genuine devotion to the Lord expressed in righteous lives (Isaiah 1:12-13; Amos 4:4-5; Amos 5:5-6 ,Amos 5:5-6,5:21-24 ).

The New Testament witnessed the continuing popularity of pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Matthew 21:8-11; Luke 2:41; John 2:13; John 5:1; John 7:2 ,John 7:2,7:10; John 12:12 ,John 12:12,12:20; Acts 2:5-10; Acts 20:16 ).

Chris Church

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 'Pilgrimage'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/p/pilgrimage.html. 1991.

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