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Pollute

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

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Châlal (חָלַל, Strong's #2490), “to pollute, defile, profane, begin.” This word is used more than 225 times in the Old Testament. As a verb, châlal is used in what seem to be two quite different ways. In one sense, the word means “to pollute” or “to profane.” In the second usage the word has the sense of “to begin.”

The most frequent use of this Hebrew root is in the sense of “to pollute, defile.” This may be a ritual defilement, such as that resulting from contact with a dead body (Lev. 21:4), or the ceremonial profaning of the sacred altar by the use of tools in order to shape the stones (Exod. 20:25). Holy places may be profaned (Ezek. 7:24); the name of God (Ezek. 20:9) and even God Himself (Ezek. 22:26) may be profaned. The word is often used to describe the defilement which results from illicit sexual acts, such as harlotry (Lev. 21:9) or violation of one’s father’s bed (Gen. 49:4—the first occurrence).

In more than 50 instances, this root is used in the sense of “to begin.” Perhaps the most important of such uses is found in Gen. 4:26. There it is stated that after the birth of Seth, who was born to Adam and Eve after the murder of Abel by Cain, “men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (RSV). The Septuagint translates it something like this: “he hoped [trusted] to call on the name of the Lord God.” The Jerusalem Bible says: “This man was the first to invoke the name of Yahweh.” One must ask whether the writer meant to say that it was not until the birth of Enosh, the son of Seth, that people “began” to call on the name of the Lord altogether, or whether he meant that this was the first time the name Yahweh was used. In view of the accounts in Gen. 1-3, neither of these seems likely. Perhaps the writer is simply saying that in contrast to the apparent non-Godfearing attitude expressed by Cain, the generation beginning with Seth and his son Enosh was known for its God-fearing way of life. Perhaps, in view of the passive intensive verb form used here, the meaning is something like this: “Then it was begun again to call on the name of the Lord.”

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