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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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A. Verb.

'Ôr (אוֹר, Strong's #216), “to become light, become lighted up (of daybreak), give light, cause light to shine.” This verb is found also in Akkadian and Canaanite. The Akkadian word urru means “light,” but generally “day.”

'Ôr means “to become light” in Gen. 44:3: “As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.” The word means “to give light” in Num. 8:2: “… the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.”

B. Nouns.

'Ôr (אוֹר, Strong's #216), “light.” This noun appears about 120 times and is clearly a poetic term.

The first occurrence of 'ôr is in the Creation account: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). Here “light” is the opposite of “darkness.” The opposition of “light” and “darkness” is not a unique phenomenon. It occurs frequently as a literary device: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20); and “In that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof” (Isa. 5:30). In Hebrew various antonyms of  are used in parallel constructions: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isa. 9:2).

The basic meaning of 'ôr is “daylight” (cf. Gen. 1:3). In the Hebrew mind the “day” began at the rising of the sun: “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springeth out of the earth by clear shining after rain” (2 Sam. 23:4). The “light” given by the heavenly bodies was also known as 'ôr: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (Isa. 30:26).

In the metaphorical use 'ôr signifies life over against death: “For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Ps. 56:13). To walk in the “light” of the face of a superior (Prov. 16:15), or of God (Ps. 89:15), is an expression of a joyful, blessed life in which the quality of life is enhanced. The believer is assured of God’s “light,” even in a period of difficulty; cf. “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me” (Mic. 7:8; cf. Ps. 23:4).

In the Septuagint 'ôr has many translations, of which phos (“light”) is most frequent.

The noun ‘ur means “shine; light-giving.” This word occurs infrequently, once in Isa. 50:11: “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light [‘ur] of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled.”

‘Orah refers to “light.” This noun means “light” in Ps. 139:12: “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Ma’or also means “light.” This noun appears about 20 times. Ma’or occurs more than once in Gen. 1:16: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”

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These files are public domain.

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

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