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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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ARM . Part of the insignia of royalty amongst Oriental peoples was a bracelet worn on the arm ( 2 Samuel 1:10; cf. W. R. Smith’s reading of 2 Kings 11:12 where, agreeing with Wellhausen, he would substitute ‘bracelet’ for ‘testimony’ [ OTJC [Note: TJC The Old Test. in the Jewish Church.] 2 311 n. [Note: . note.] ]). The importance attached to the functions discharged by this organ are incidentally referred to by Job in his solemn repudiation of conscious wrong-doing (‘Let my shoulder fall from the shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone’ Job 31:22 ). The heart was said to be situated ‘between the arms,’ and, therefore, in the murder of Joram, the deadly aim of Jehu resulted in the instantaneous death of the former ( 2 Kings 9:24 ). It is interesting to recall here the means by which Jeremiah escaped the vengeance of his political enemies, especially as the narrative reveals the affection inspired by the prophet amongst some of the courtiers ( Jeremiah 38:12 ). A note of vividness is introduced into the narratives telling of St. Paul’s method of bespeaking attention from a crowd which he was anxious to address ( Acts 13:16; Acts 21:40; cf. Acts 12:17 ). There is in the Gospels no more beautiful picture than the two presented by St. Mark, in which the tenderness of Jesus to little children is emphasized. In each of them is pointed out the startling method by which His teaching was often enforced objectively on His hearers’ attention ( Mark 9:36; Mark 10:16 , cf. Luke 2:28 ).

Besides this literal use, there is also an extensive employment of the word in a metaphorical or a spiritual sense. Sometimes we find it used to denote the strength of the ungodly and their power to commit acts of cruel tyranny on God’s people (cf. Psalms 10:15 , Job 38:15 , Ezekiel 30:21 f.; cf. ‘arm of flesh,’ 2 Chronicles 32:8 , Jeremiah 17:6 ). Sometimes the word expresses the might of God’s ceaseless activity either on behalf of His chosen ( Deuteronomy 33:27 , Psalms 44:3 , Isaiah 33:2; Isaiah 63:12 , Acts 13:17 ), or in breaking the power of His enemies ( Exodus 6:6 , Deuteronomy 5:15 , Ezekiel 21:6; Ezekiel 32:21 ), or again in upholding the movements and harmony of His creation, ruling in justice with unswerving sternness ( Ezekiel 20:33 f., Job 40:9 , Isaiah 40:16; Isaiah 51:5 , Jeremiah 27:5; Jeremiah 32:17 ). The doom pronounced on the house of Eli contains this word to express the removal of that latent vitality which shows itself in prolonged hereditary strength and activity ( 1 Samuel 2:31 , cf. Zechariah 11:17 ).

The cognate verb is also used not only literally, to furnish arms for the purposes of war (Genesis 14:14 , Numbers 31:3; Numbers 31:5 ), but also in a spiritual sense, to procure and make use of those graces and helps which are meant as weapons, offensive and defensive, of the soul against sin ( 1 Peter 4:1 , cf. Ephesians 6:13 ).

J. R. Willis.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Arm'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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