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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Lie

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A. Verb.

Shâkab (שָׁכַב, Strong's #7901), “to lie down, lie, have sexual intercourse with.” This word also occurs in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Ethiopic, post-biblical Aramaic, and post-biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew attests it about 160 times and in all periods.

Basically this verb signifies a person’s lying down—though in Job 30:17 and Eccl. 2:23 it refers to something other than a human being. Shâkab is used of the state of reclining as opposed to sitting: “And every thing that she lieth upon in her [menstruation] shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon …” (Lev. 15:20). This general sense appears in several nuances. First, there is the meaning “to lie down to rest.” Elisha “came thither, and he turned into the chamber [which the Shunammite had prepared for his use], and lay there” (2 Kings 4:11). Job remarks that his gnawing pains “take no rest” (Job 30:17; cf. Eccl. 2:23).

Shâkab can also be used of lying down on a bed, for example, when one is sick. Jonadab told Amnon: “Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself [pretend to be] sick …” (2 Sam. 13:5). The word can be used as an equivalent of the phrase “to go to bed”: “But before they [Lot’s visitors] lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round …” (Gen. 19:4—the first occurrence of the verb). Shâkab also signifies “lying down asleep.” The Lord told Jacob: “… The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed” (Gen. 28:13).

In Exod. 22:26-27 the verb denotes the act of sleeping more than the lying down: “If thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down … [In what else] shall he sleep?”

Shâkab can also be used to mean “lodge” and thus refers to sleeping and eating. Israel’s spies lodged with Rahab: “And they went, and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there” (Josh. 2:1; cf. 2 Kings 4:11).

This verb can mean “to lie down” in a figurative sense of to be humbled or to be robbed of power. The trees of Lebanon are personified and say concerning the king of Babylon: “Since thou art laid down, no feller [tree cutter] is come up against us” (Isa. 14:8).

Used reflexively, shâkab means “to humble oneself, to submit oneself”: “We lie down in our shame …” (Jer. 3:25).

Another special nuance is “to put something on its side”: “Who can number the clouds in wisdom? Or who can [tip] the bottles of heaven, when the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?” (Job 38:37-38).

A second emphasis of shâkab is “to die,” to lie down in death. Jacob instructed his sons as follows: “But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place” (Gen. 47:30). This phrase (“lie down with one’s fathers”) does not necessarily refer to being buried or to dying an honorable death (cf. 1 Kings 22:40) but is a synonym for a human’s dying. (It is never used of animals or inanimate things.) The idea is that when one dies he no longer stands upright. Therefore, to “lie with one’s fathers” parallels the concept of “lying down” in death. Shâkab, as 1 Kings 22:40 suggests, can refer to the state of being dead (“so Ahab slept with his fathers”), since v. 37 already reports that he had died and was buried in Samaria. The verb used by itself may mean “to die,” or “to lie dead”; cf. “At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay [dead]: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down dead” (Judg. 5:27).

A third major use of shâkab is “to have sexual relations with.” The first occurrence of this use is in Gen. 19:32, where Lot’s daughters say: “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.” Even when a physical “lying down” is not necessarily in view, the word is used of having sexual relations: “Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death” (Exod. 22:19). The word is also used of homosexual activities (Lev. 18:22).

B. Nouns.

Mishkâb (מִשְׁכָּב, Strong's #4904), “place to lie; couch; bed; act of lying.” This noun appears 46 times in the Old Testament. In Gen. 49:4 mishkâb is used to mean a “place to lie” or “bed”: “… because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed.…” The word refers to the “act of lying” in Num. 31:17: “… kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.” Shekabah means “layer of dew.” In one of its 9 appearances, sekabah refers to a “layer of dew”: “… and in the morning the dew lay round about the host” (Exod. 16:13).
Shekobet refers to “copulation.” This noun occurs rarely (4 times), as in Lev. 18:20: “Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbor’s wife, to defile thyself with her.”

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

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