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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Camp

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Machăneh (מַחֲנֶה, Strong's #4264), “camp; encampment; host.” This noun derived from the verb chanah occurs 214 times in the Bible, most frequently in the Pentateuch and in the historical books. The word is rare in the poetical and prophetic literature.Those who travel were called “campers,” or in most versions (KJV, RSV, NASB) a “company” or “group” (NIV), as in Gen. 32:8. Naaman stood before Elisha “with all his company” (2 Kings 5:15 NASB, NEB, “retinue”). Travelers, tradesmen, and soldiers spent much time on the road. They all set up “camp” for the night. Jacob “encamped” by the Jabbok with his retinue (Gen. 32:10). The name Machăneh (Gen. 32:2, “camps”) owes its origin to Jacob’s experience with the angels. He called the place Machăneh in order to signify that it was God’s “camp” (Gen. 32:2), as he had spent the night “in the camp” (Gen. 32:21) and wrestled with God (Gen. 32:24). Soldiers also established “camps” by the city to be conquered (Ezek. 4:2) Usage of machăneh varies according to context.

First, it signifies a nation set over against another (Exod. 14:20). Second, the word refers to a division concerning the Israelites; each of the tribes had a special “encampment” in relation to the tent of meeting (Num. 1:52). Third, the word “camp” is used to describe the whole people of Israel: “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled” (Exod. 19:16).

God was present in the “camp” of Israel: “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee” (Deut. 23:14). As a result, sin could not be tolerated within the camp, and the sinner might have to be stoned outside the camp (Num. 15:35).

The Septuagint translated machăneh by the Greek parembole (“camp; barracks; army”) 193 times. Compare these Old Testament occurrences with the use of “camp” in Hebrews 13:11: “For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.” In the English versions, the word is variously translated “camp; company; army” (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV); “host” (KJV); “attendances; forces” (NIV)

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Camp'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/c/camp.html. 1940.

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