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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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GABBATHA (Γαββαθᾶ) occurs only in John 19:13, as the ‘Hebrew’ or, more correctly, Aramaic equivalent of Λιθόστρωτος. For the etymology of the word see E. Nestle in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible ii. 74 f., with the literature there cited. The word is apparently connected with a root גבב, of which the fundamental idea is that of something curved or convex. Hence it cannot be taken as identical in meaning with λιθόστρωτος, which implies a level tesselated surface. A surface of that kind on the summit of a hill, or with a rounded porch or an open cupola over it, beneath which might permanently stand, or be placed occasionally, the βῆμα or ‘judgment-seat,’ would best meet the conditions of the ease. Such a spot might well be known amongst one class of the people (the Romans and their associates) as the Pavement, and amongst another as Gabbatha. The latter name has not yet been found elsewhere than in the NT. For the attempts to identify the locality, and for the usages involved in the reference, see Pavement.

R. W. Moss.

GABRIEL is mentioned in Luke 1 as appearing to Zacharias to announce the future pregnancy of Elisabeth and the birth of John, and to Mary with a similar announcement of the birth of Jesus. To Zacharias he declares that he is wont to stand in the presence of God, and that he is sent by Him on the mission stated. When he is asked for a sign, he is competent to impose the severe sign of dumbness until the fulfilment of the prediction that has been made. The Gospel mention of Gabriel, then, is as a messenger of the signal favour of God, at least in connexion with the Messiah and His forerunner.

He has a somewhat similar function in the only OT passage in which he is mentioned, Daniel 8-10. Daniel was perplexed at the strange vision which he had seen. Pondering over it, he sees one ‘standing before him like the appearance of a man,’ and a voice is heard bidding Gabriel, for it is he, explain the vision. Daniel falls in a faint as the messenger approaches, and Gabriel lifts him up and explains the mysterious vision. Again he appears to the prophet under similar circumstances, and is now called ‘the man’ Gabriel. Still again Daniel has a similar experience (Daniel 10:5 ff.). The details are identical or in harmony with the account in previous chapters, but the name of the messenger is not given. It is, however, generally assumed that the author had Gabriel in mind. He asserts that he is a prince who presides over the interests of Israel, as other supernatural beings preside over other nations.

Gabriel belongs to the creations of the imagination of the Jews in post-exilic times. When God had to them become universal and correspondingly great and glorious, but without parallel spiritualization of His attributes, He was thought to require agents whom He might send as messengers, ‘angels’ to transmit His messages. These angels were at first nameless, later they received names. Gabriel was one of the most important of them—one of four, of seven, of seventy, according to different enumerations in Jewish writings. See Jewish Encyc. s.v.

O. H. Gates.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Gabbatha'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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