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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Face

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Pânı̂ym (פָּנֶה, Strong's #6440), “face.” This noun appears in biblical Hebrew about 2,100 times and in all periods, except when it occurs with the names of persons and places, it always appears in the plural. It is also attested in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, Moabite, and Ethiopic. In its most basic meaning, this noun refers to the “face” of something. First, it refers to the “face” of a human being: “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him …” (Gen. 17:3). In a more specific application, the word represents the look on one’s face, or one’s “countenance”: “And Cain was very [angry], and his countenance fell” (Gen. 4:5). To pay something to someone’s “face” is to pay it to him personally (Deut. 7:10); in such contexts, the word connotes the person himself. Pânı̂ym can also be used of the surface or visible side of a thing, as in Gen. 1:2: “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” In other contexts, the word represents the “front side” of something: “And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselvesand shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle” (Exod. 26:9). When applied to time, the word (preceded by the preposition le) means “formerly”: “The Horim also dwelt in Seir [formerly] … (Deut. 2:12).

This noun is sometimes used anthropomorphically of God; the Bible speaks of God as though He had a “face”: “… For therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God” (Gen. 33:10). The Bible clearly teaches that God is a spiritual being and ought not to be depicted by an image or any likeness whatever (Exod. 20:4). Therefore, there was no image or likeness of God in the innermost sanctuary—only the ark of the covenant was there, and God spoke from above it (Exod. 25:22). The word pânı̂ym, then, is used to identify the bread that was kept in the holy place. The KJV translates it as “the showbread,” while the NASB renders “the bread of the Presence” (Num. 4:7). This bread was always kept in the presence of God.

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

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