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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Generation

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Dôr (דֹּר, Strong's #1755), “generation.” This noun belongs to a common Semitic root, which signifies “duration” in East Semitic and “generation” in West Semitic. The Akkadian words daru (“long duration”) and duru (“circle”) seem by form to be related to the root for the Hebrew word dôr.

In the Old Testament, the word dôr occurs about 166 times; as many as 74 of these are in the repetition "dôr plus dôr," meaning “always.” The first occurrence of the word is in Gen. 6:9: “These are the generations of Noah [the account of Noah]: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”

First the concrete meaning of “generation” is the “period during which people live”: “And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation” (Gen. 7:1). A “generation” may be described as “stubborn” (Deut. 32:5—KJV, “perverse”) or “righteous” (Ps. 14:5). Close to this meaning is the temporal element of dôr: A dôr is roughly the period of time from one’s birth to one’s maturity, which in the Old Testament corresponds to a period of about 40 years (Num. 14:33). Abraham received the promise that four “generations” of his descendants were to be in Egypt before the Promised Land would be inherited. Israel was warned to be faithful to the Lord, as the punishment for disobedience would extend to the fourth “generation” (Exod. 20:5); but the Lord’s love extends to a thousand “generations” of those who love Him (Deut. 7:9).

The lasting element of God’s covenantal faithfulness is variously expressed with the word dôr: “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth” (Ps. 119:90)

The use of dôr in Isa. 51 teaches the twofold perspective of“generation,” with reference to the future as well as to the past. Isaiah spoke about the Lord’s lasting righteousness and said that His deliverance is everlasting (literally, “generation of generations”—v. 8); but in view of Israel’s situation, Isaiah petitioned the Lord to manifest His loving strength on behalf of Israel as in the past (literally, “generations forever”—v. 9). Thus, depending on the context, dôr may refer to the past, the present, or the future. The psalmist recognized the obligation of one “generation” to the “generations” to come: “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4). Even the grey-haired man has the opportunity to instruct the youth (Ps. 71:17-18). In the Septuagint, dôr is nearly always translated by genea (“generation”). The KJV translates it by “generation; age.”

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

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