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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Faithfulness

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A. Noun.

'Ĕmûnâh (אֱמֻנָה, Strong's #530), “faithfulness.” This word occurs in Punic as 'ĕmûnâh (“certainty”). In the Hebrew Old Testament, the noun occurs 49 times, mainly in the Book of Psalms (22 times). The first occurrence of the word refers to Moses’ hands: “But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” (Exod. 17:12).

The basic meaning of 'ĕmûnâh is “certainty” and “faithfulness.” Man may show himself “faithful” in his relations with his fellow men (1 Sam. 26:23). But generally, the Person to whom one is “faithful” is the Lord Himself: “And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart” (2 Chron. 19:9). The Lord has manifested His “faithfulness” to His people: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deut. 32:4). All his works reveal his “faithfulness” (Ps. 33:4). His commandments are an expression of his “faithfulness” (Ps. 119:86); those who seek them are found on the road of “faithfulness”: “I have chosen the way of truth & thy judgments have I laid before me” (Ps. 119:30). The Lord looks for those who seek to do His will with all their hearts. Their ways are established and His blessing rests on them: “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent” (Prov. 28:20). The assurance of the abundance of life is in the expression quoted in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11) from Hab. 2:4: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”

The word 'ĕmûnâh is synonymous with tsedeq (“righteousness”—cf. Isa. 11:5), with chesed (“lovingkindness”—cf. Ps. 98:3, NASB), and with mishpat (“justice” cf. Jer. 5:1).

The relationship between God and Israel is best described by the word hesed (“love”); but as a synonym, 'ĕmûnâh fits very well. Hosea portrays God’s relation to Israel as a marriage and states God’s promise of “faithfulness” to Israel: “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness and thou shalt [acknowledge] the Lord” (Hos. 2:19-20). In these verses, the words “righteousness,” “judgment” (“justice”), “loving-kindness,” “mercies,” and “faithfulness” bear out the conclusion that the synonyms for 'ĕmûnâh are covenantal terms expressive of God’s “faithfulness” and “love.” The assurance of the covenant and the promises is established by God’s nature; He is “faithful.” Man’s acts (Prov. 12:22) and speech (12:17must reflect his favored status with God. As in the marriage relationship, “faithfulness” is not optional. For the relation to be established, the two parties are required to respond to each other in “faithfulness.” Isaiah and Jeremiah condemn the people for not being “faithful” to God: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the $; and I will pardon [this city]” (Jer. 5:1; cf. Isa. 59:4; Jer. 7:28; 9:3).

Faithfulness will be established in the messianic era (Isa. 11:5). The prophetic expectation was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as his contemporaries witnessed in Him God’s grace (cf. checed) and truth (cf. 'ĕmûnâh): “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). It is significant that John puts these two terms side by side, even as they are found together in the Old Testament.

The Septuagint translations are: aletheia (“truthfulness; dependability; uprightness; truth; reality”) and pistos (“trustworthy; faithfulnessreliability; rest; confidence; faith”). The KJV gives these translations: “faithfulness; truth; set office; faithfully; faithful. "

B. Verb.

 'Âman (אָמַן, Strong's #539), “to be certain, enduring; to trust, believe.” This root is found in Akkadian, Ugaritic, and Phoenician. In the Old Testament, the word occurs fewer than 100 times. Three words are derived from this verb: 'âmen (“amen”—30 times; e.g., Ps. 106:48) ‘emet (“true”—127 times; e.g., Isa. 38:18), and ’emunah (“faithfulness”).

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

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