Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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A. Verb.

Qârâ' (קָרָא, Strong's #7121), “to call, call out, recite.” This root occurs in Old Aramaic, Canaanite, and Ugaritic, and other Semitic languages (except Ethiopic). The word appears in all periods of biblical Hebrew.Qârâ' may signify the “specification of a name.” Naming a thing is frequently an assertion of sovereignty over it, which is the case in the first use of qârâ': “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (Gen. 1:5). God’s act of creating, “naming,” and numbering includes the stars (Ps. 147:4) and all other things (Isa. 40:26). He allowed Adam to “name” the animals as a concrete demonstration of man’s relative sovereignty over them (Gen. 2:19). Divine sovereignty and election are extended over all generations, for God “called” them all from the beginning (Isa. 41:4; cf. Amos 5:8). “Calling” or “naming” an individual may specify the individual’s primary characteristic (Gen. 27:36); it may consist of a confession or evaluation (Isa. 58:13; 60:14); and it may recognize an eternal truth (Isa. 7:14).

This verb also is used to indicate “calling to a specific task.” In Exod. 2:7, Moses’ sister Miriam asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she should go and “call” (summon) a nurse. Israel was “called” (elected) by God to be His people (Isa. 65:12), as were the Gentiles in the messianic age (Isa. 55:5).

To “call” on God’s name is to summon His aid. This emphasis appears in Gen. 4:26, where men began to “call” on the name of the Lord. Such a “calling” on God’s name occurs against the background of the Fall and the murder of Abel. The “calling” on God’s name is clearly not the beginning of prayer, since communication between God and man existed since the Garden of Eden; nor is it an indication of the beginning of formal worship, since formal worship began at least as early as the offerings of Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:7ff.). The sense of “summoning” God to one’s aid was surely in Abraham’s mind when he “called upon” God’s name (Gen. 12:8). “Calling” in this sense constitutes a prayer prompted by recognized need and directed to One who is able and willing to respond (Ps. 145:18; Isa. 55:6).

Basically, qârâ' means “to call out loudly” in order to get someone’s attention so that contact can be initiated. So Job is told: “Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the saints wilt thou turn?” (Job 5:11). Often this verb represents sustained communication, paralleling “to say” (‘amar), as in Gen. 3:9: “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him.…” Qârâ' can also mean “to call out a warning,” so that direct contact may be avoided: “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean” (Lev. 13:45).

Qârâ' may mean “to shout” or “to call out loudly.” Goliath “shouted” toward the ranks of Israel (1 Sam. 17:8) and challenged them to individual combat (duel). Sometimes ancient peoples settled battles through such combatants. Before battling an enemy, Israel was directed to offer them peace: “When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it [call out to it in terms of peace]” (Deut. 20:10).

Qârâ' may also mean “to proclaim” or “to announce,” as when Israel proclaimed peace to the sons of Benjamin (Judg. 21:13). This sense first occurs in Gen. 41:43, where we are told that Joseph rode in the second chariot; “and they cried before him, Bow the knee.” Haman recommended to King Ahasuerus that he adorn the one to be honored and “proclaim” (“announce”) before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor” (Esth. 6:9). This proclamation would tell everyone that the man so announced was honored by the king. The two emphases, “proclamation” and “announce,” occur in Exod. 32:5: “…Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” This instance implies “summoning” an official assemblage of the people. In prophetic literature, qârâ' is a technical term for “declaring” a prophetic message: “For the saying which he cried by the word of the Lord … shall surely come to pass” (1 Kings 13:32). Another major emphasis of qârâ' is “to summon.” When Pharaoh discovered Abram’s deceit concerning Sarai, he “summoned” (“called”) Abram so that he might correct the situation (Gen. 12:18). Often the summons is in the form of a friendly invitation, as when Reuel (or Jethro) told his daughters to “invite him [Moses] to have something to eat” (Exod. 2:20, “that he may eat bread,” KJV). The participial form of qârâ' is used to denote “invited guests”: “As soon as you enter the city you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat … afterward those who are invited will eat” (1 Sam. 9:13, NASB). This verb is also used in judicial contexts, to mean being “summoned to court”if a man is accused of not fulfilling his levirate responsibility, “then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him …” (Deut. 25:8). Qârâ' is used of “summoning” someone and/or “mustering” an army: “Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites?” (Judg. 8:1).

The meaning “to read” apparently arose from the meaning “to announce” and “to declare,” inasmuch as reading was done out loud so that others could hear. This sense appears in Exod. 24:7. In several prophetic passages, the Septuagint translates qârâ' “to read” rather than “to proclaim” (cf. Jer. 3:12; 7:2, 27; 19:2). Qârâ' means “to read to oneself” only in a few passages.

At least once, the verb qârâ' means “to dictate”: “Then Baruch answered them, He [dictated] all these words unto me … and I wrote them with ink in the book” (Jer. 36:18).

B. Noun.

Miqrâ' (מִקְרָא, 4744), “public worship service; convocation.” The word implies the product of an official summons to worship “convocation”). In one of its 23 appearances, miqrâ' refers to Sabbaths as “convocation days” (Lev. 23:2).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Call'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

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