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Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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Malkûth (מַלְכֻוָּה, Strong's #4438), “kingdom; reign; rule.” The word malkûth occurs 91 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and apparently belongs to late biblical Hebrew. The first occurrence is in Num. 24:7: “He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.”

The word malkûth denotes: (1) the territory of the kingdom: “When he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his excellent majesty many days, even a hundred and fourscore days” (Esth. 1:4); (2) the accession to the throne: “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esth. 4:14); (3) the year of rule: “So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign” (Esth. 2:16); and (4) anything “royal” or “kingly”: throne (Esth. 1:2), wine (Esth. 1:7), crown (Esth. 1:11), word (Esth. 1:19), garment (Esth. 6:8), palace (Esth. 1:9), scepter (Ps. 45:6), and glory(Ps. 145:11-12).

The Septuagint translations of malkûth are: basileia (“kingship; kingdom; royal power”) and basileus (“king”).

Mamlâkâh (מַמְלָכָה, Strong's #4467), “kingdom; sovereignty; dominion; reign.” The word appears about 115 times throughout the Old Testament. Mamlâkâh occurs first in Gen. 10:10: “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar” in the sense of the “realm” of the kingdom.

The basic meaning of mamlâkâh is the area and people that constitute a “kingdom.” The word refers to non-lsraelite nations who are ruled by a melek, “king”: “And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth” (Isa. 23:17). Mamlâkâh is a synonym for ’am, “people,” and goy, “nation”: “… they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people” (Ps. 105:13). Mamlâkâh also denotes Israel as God’s “kingdom”: “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:6). The Davidic king was the theocratic agent by whom God ruled over and blessed His people: “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Sam. 7:16). Nevertheless, the one mamlâkâh after Solomon was divided into two kingdoms which Ezekiel predicted would be reunited: " And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms …” (Ezek. 37:22).

Close to the basic meaning is the usage of mamlâkâh to denote “king,” as the king was considered to be the embodiment of the “kingdom.” He was viewed as a symbol of the kingdom proper: “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you” (1 Sam. 10:18; in Hebrew the noun “kingdoms” is feminine and the verb “oppress” has a masculine form, signifying that we must understand “kingdoms” as “kings”).

The function and place of the king is important in the development of the concept “kingdom.” “Kingdom” may signify the head of the kingdom. The word further has the meaning of the royal “rule,” the royal “sovereignty,” and the “dominion.” The royal “sovereignty” was taken from Saul because of his disobedience (1 Sam. 28:17). “Royal sovereignty” is also the sense in Jer. 27:1: “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim.…” The Old Testament further defines as expressions of the royal “rule” all things associated with the king: (1) the throne: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites” (Deut. 17:18); (2) the pagan sanctuary supported by the throne: “But prophesy not again any more at Beth-el: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:13); and (3) a royal city: “And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee?” (1 Sam. 27:5).

All human rule is under God’s control. Consequently the Old Testament fully recognizes the kingship of God. The Lord ruled as king over His people Israel (1 Chron. 29:11). He graciously ruled over His people through David and his followers until the Exile (2 Chron. 13:5). In the New Testament usage all the above meanings are to be associated with the Greek word basileia (“kingdom”). This is the major translation of mamlâkâh in the Septuagint, and as such it is small wonder that the New Testament authors used this word to refer to God’s “kingdom”: the realm, the king, the sovereignty, and the relationship to God Himself melek (מֶלֶךְ, Strong's #4428), “king.” This word occurs about 2,513 times in the Old Testament. It is found several times in Gen. 14:1: “And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations.”

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

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