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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Number, Visit, Punish

A. Verb.

Pâqad (פָּקַד, Strong's #6485), “to number, visit, be concerned with, look after, make a search for, punish.” This very ancient Semitic word is found in both Akkadian and Ugaritic long before it appears in Hebrew. It is used over 285 times in the Old Testament. The first occurrence is in Gen. 21:1 (“The Lord visited Sarah”) in the special sense of “to intervene on behalf of,” so as to demonstrate the divine intervention in the normal course of events to bring about or fulfill a divine intent. Often this intervention is by miraculous means.

The verb is used in an expression which is unique to Hebrew and which shows great intensity of meaning. Such an occurrence appears in Exod. 3:16ff., in which it is used twice in two different grammatical forms to portray the intensity of the action; the text reads (literally): “Looking after, I have looked after” (KJV, “I have surely visited”). The usage refers to God’s intervention in His saving the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. The same verb in a similar expression can also be used for divine intervention for punishment: “Shall I not visit them for these things?” (Jer. 9:9), which means literally: “Shall I not punish them for these things?”

Hebrew usage also allows a use which applies to the speaker in a nearly passive sense. This is termed the reflexive, since it turns back upon the speaker. Pâqad is used in such a sense meaning “be missed, be lacking,” as in 1 Sam. 25:7: “… Neither was there aught missing.…”

However, the most common usage of the verb in the whole of the Old Testament is in the sense of “drawing up, mustering, or numbering,” as of troops for marching or battle (Exod. 30:12 and very frequently in Numbers; less so in 1 and 2 Samuel). Recent English versions have tended to use the meaning “take a census,” but this equivalent seems to encompass only part of the actual meaning. The verb is used in this sense fully 100 times in the historical books.

The term has such a wide application of meanings on the whole that the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate versions use a number of terms to translate the single Hebrew word. The usage in the English versions also varies: “number, visit, punish” (KJV, RSV); “take a census, take note of, visit, punish” (NASB); “did as promised, to see, visit, punish,” and other variations (LB); “blessed, seen, to take a census” (TEV); “take note of, to witness, visit, punish” (NAB); “take a census, be gracious, punish,” and other variations (NIV).

B. Noun.

Pâqı̂yd (פָּקִיד, Strong's #6496), “one who looks after.” This noun, derived from pâqad in the sense “to number, muster, draw up (troops),” possibly means “one who draws up troops,” hence “officer” (2 Chron. 24:11). Another example of this meaning occurs in Jer. 20:1: “Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord.…”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Number, Visit, Punish'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/n/number-visit-punish.html. 1940.

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