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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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A. Adjectives.

Tâmı̂ym (תָּמִים, Strong's #8549), “perfect; blameless; sincerity; entire; whole; complete; full.” The 91 occurrences of this word are scattered throughout biblical literature with 51 of them in passages dealing with cultic offerings.

Tâmı̂ym means “complete,” in the sense of the entire or whole thing: “And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone …” (Lev. 3:9). The sun stood still for the “whole” day while Joshua fought the Gibeonites (Josh. 10:13). In Lev. 23:15 God commands that there be seven “complete” sabbaths after the first fruit feast plus fifty days and then that the new grain offering be presented. A house within a walled city must be purchased back within a “full” year if it is to remain the permanent property of the seller (Lev. 25:30).

This word may mean “intact,” or not cut up into pieces: “Behold, when it was whole, it [a piece of wood] was meet for no work …” (Ezek. 15:5).

Tâmı̂ym may mean incontestable or free from objection. In Deut. 32:4 the word modifies God’s work: “His work is perfect.” The people of God are to avoid the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites. They are to “be perfect with the Lord thy God” (Deut. 18:13). Used in such contexts the word means the one so described externally meets all the requirements of God’s law (cf. Ps. 18:23). This word modifies the victim to be offered to God (51), times). It means that the victim has no blemish (Lev. 22:18-21) as “blemish” is defined by God: “Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats” (Lev. 22:19).

In several contexts the word has a wider background. When one is described by it, there is nothing in his outward activities or internal disposition that is odious to God; “… Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). This word describes his entire relationship to God. In Judg. 9:16, where tâmı̂ym describes a relationship between men it is clear that more than mere external activity is meant: “Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely [literally, “in a sincere manner”], in that ye have made Abimelech king.…” This extended connotation of this nuance is also evidenced when one compares Gen. 17:1 with Rom. 4 where Paul argues that Abraham fulfilled God’s condition but that he did so only through faith.

Another adjective, tam, appears 15 times. With a cognate in Ugaritic the word means “complete or perfect” (Song of Sol. 5:2, RSV), “sound or wholesome” (Gen. 25:27), and “complete, morally innocent, having integrity” (Job 1:8).

B. Noun.

Tôm (תֹּם, Strong's #8537), “completeness.” This noun, which occurs 25 times, signifies “completeness” in the following senses: fullness (Job 21:23), innocency or simplicity (2 Sam. 15:11), integrity (Gen. 20:5).

C. Verb.

Tâmam (תָּמַם, Strong's #8552), “to be complete, be finished, be consumed, be without blame.” This verb, which appears 64 times, has cognates in Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic. The word means “to be finished or completed” in Gen. 47:18: “When that year was ended, they came unto him.…”

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These files are public domain.

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

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