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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

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A. Verb.

Rûts (רוּץ, Strong's #7323), “to hasten, run.” This verb also appears in Ethiopic, Aramaic (where it is spelled rehats), and Akkadian (where it means “hasten to one’s aid”). It appears about 80 times in the Bible and in all periods of the language.

In some contexts rûts signifies moving very quickly or “hastening” rather than running. This appears to be the emphasis in its first occurrence, where we are told that “when [Abraham] saw them [the three men], he ran to meet them from the tent door …” (Gen. 18:2). Abraham did not run to meet the three men but instead moved very quickly to meet them. So, also, Abraham probably did not run but “hastened” to his herd to choose the animal for the meal (cf. Gen. 18:7). This meaning is confirmed by Isa. 59:7, where the verb is in synonymous parallelism with mahar (“to hasten”): “Their [the wicked’s] feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood.…” The sense “hasten” or “move quickly” also appears in Gen. 41:14, where we are told that “Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon.…” It appears again in the sense “quickly” in Ps. 68:31: “… Let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out her hands to God” (RSV).

Usually this word means “to run.” This significance is quite clear in Josh. 8:19, where it is reported that the Israelites in ambush (against Ai) “arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he [Joshua] had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it.…” This is a military picture. It describes the height of battle when a troop rushes/runs headlong into the enemy or their camp. Samuel told Israel that God would give them a king after their own hearts (one that met their standards) but that he would make their sons “run” before his chariots, or “run” headlong into battle (1 Sam. 8:11). It was not having a king that was evil, for God had provided for a king in the Mosaic law (cf. Deut. 17:14ff.). The people sinned because they wanted a king who would be like the kings over other peoples. He would be primarily a military leader. Therefore, God responded that He would give them the kind of king they wanted but that their battles would be won at the cost of their sons’ lives. David, the man after God’s own heart (the man of God’s choosing), was an imperfect king, but when he repented and obeyed God, battles were won without the loss of Israelite lives. This military sense of charging into battle appears metaphorically, describing the lifestyle of the wicked—they “rush” headlong at God (Job 15:26). This emphasis also explains the rather difficult passage 2 Sam. 22:30: “For by thee I have run through a troop … ,” which means to charge at the enemy (cf. NASB, “margin”).

Rûts is also med of “running away from” something or someone. In the battle against Midian when Gideon and his band routed the unsuspecting enemy, “all the host [Midianites] ran, and cried, and fled” (Judg. 7:21). But as with the previous emphasis, so this nuance of “to run away from” may be used in non-military contexts. In 1 Sam. 20:36 the verb signifies running away from someone in search of something, in the sense of not fleeing but pursuing. Jonathan told his aide: “Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot.”

Rûts can signify “running” into somewhere not only in a hostile sense but in order to be united with or hidden by it. For example, the sage confesses that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Prov. 18:10). The goal of “running” may be unspecified while the direction or path is emphasized. So used, rûts means to pursue a particular course of action: “I will run the way of thy commandments …” (Ps. 119:32).

The word is used in several technical senses. Kings and pretenders to the throne demonstrate their exalted position by having runners precede their chariots (2 Sam. 15:1). Perhaps this was in direct response to Samuel’s description in 1 Sam. 8:11. Runners also served as official messengers; so Ahimaaz son of Zadok said: “Let me now run, and bear the king [David] tidings, how that the Lord hath avenged him of his enemies [Absalom]” (2 Sam. 18:19).

There are a few additional special nuances of rûts. In Song of Sol. 1:4 the word has something to do with love-making, so the translation “let us run together” (NASB) is probably misleading. Perhaps one might translate: “Draw me after you and let us hasten [to make love]; the king has brought me into his bed chambers.” In Hag. 1:9 the word means “to busy oneself”: “Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.” Finally, Hab. 2:2 uses this verb to mean “to read quickly,” or fluently: “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”

B. Noun.

Meruts means “running; course.” This noun, which occurs only 4 times in biblical Hebrew, represents both the mode of running (2 Sam. 18:27) and the course one runs (Jer. 23:10).

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