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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

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A. Nouns.

She'êrı̂yth (שְׁאֵרִית, Strong's #7611), “rest; remnant; residue.” The idea of the “remnant” plays a prominent part in the divine economy of salvation throughout the Old Testament. The “remnant” concept is applied especially to the Israelites who survived such calamities as war, pestilence, and famine—people whom the Lord in His mercy spared to be His chosen people: “For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this” (2 Kings 19:31; cf. Ezra 9:14).

The Israelites repeatedly suffered major catastrophes that brought them to the brink of extinction. So they often prayed as in Jer. 42:2: “Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:).”

Isaiah used the word she'êrı̂yth 5 times to denote those who would be left after the Assyrian invasions: “For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this” (Isa. 37:32).

Micah also announced the regathering of the Jewish people after the Exile. Thus Micah prophesied: “I will surely assemble them together, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel …” (2:12). In Mic. 4:7 he predicted: “And I will make her that halted a remnant and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.” In 5:7-8 and 7:18, Micah announces a similar idea.

Jeremiah discussed the plight of the Jews who fled to Egypt after Jerusalem’s capture by Nebuchadnezzar: “Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that were in all the countries, heard that the King of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah.… Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael … wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish?” (Jer. 40:11, 15).

Zephaniah, a seventh-century prophet, identified the “remnant” with the poor and humble (2:3, 7; 3:12-13). Zechariah announced that a “remnant” would be present at the time of the coming of the Messiah’s kingdom (12:10-13:1; 13:8-9).

She'âr (שְׁאָר, Strong's #7605), “rest; remnant; residue.” Isaiah describes the “remnant” of Israel: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth” (Isa. 10:20). Notice that a twofold theme emerges from most prophetic passages concerning the “remnant”: (1) A “remnant” will survive when the people are subjected to punishment, and (2) the fact that a “remnant” does survive and does remain contains a note of hope for the future. Isa. 10:21 announces: “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.” In Isa. 11:11, the prophet proclaims: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his peoplewhich shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” See also REMAINDER.

B. Verb.

Shâ'ar (שָׁאַר, Strong's #7604), “to remain, be left over.” This verb and its noun derivatives occur about 220 times in the Old Testament.

Noah and his family were a “remnant” delivered by the Flood: “… And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Gen. 7:23). In the days of Elijah, when God’s chosen people in the northern kingdom had fallen into apostasy, the Lord announced: “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal …” (1 Kings 19:18).

In the pre-exilic period, this remnant idea is stressed by Isaiah. Isaiah tells of the judgment on the earth from which a remnant will “remain”: “Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isa. 24:6). Isa. 4:3 refers to a “remnant” which shares holiness: “And it shall come to pass, that he that is left [shâ'ar], and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy.…”

In the writing prophets, the idea of the “remnant” acquired a growing significance. Yet the idea may be found as early as the Pentateuch. The idea of “those being left” or “having escaped,” especially a portion of the Israelite people, may be traced back to Deut. 4:27: “And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you” (cf. Deut. 28:62). In these passages, Moses warns that if Israel failed to live up to the stipulations of the Mosaic covenant, the Lord would scatter them among the nations, and then He would regather a “remnant.”

In Neh. 1:2-3, the condition of the “remnant” of Israel is described: “… And I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, the remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach.…”

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