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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


‛Êdûth (עֵדוּת, Strong's #5715), “testimony; ordinance.” The 83 occurrences of this word are scattered throughout all types of biblical literature and all periods (although not before the giving of the law at Mount Sinai).

This word refers to the Ten Commandments as a solemn divine charge or duty. In particular, it represents those commandments as written on the tablets and existing as a reminder and “testimony” of Israel’s relationship and responsibility to God: “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exod. 31:18). Elsewhere these tablets are called simply “the testimony” (Exod. 25:16). Since they were kept in the ark, it became known as the “ark of the testimony” (Exod. 25:22) or simply “the testimony”: “As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept” (Exod. 16:34—the first biblical occurrence of the word). The tabernacle as the housing for the ark containing these tablets was sometimes called the “tabernacle of testimony” (Exod. 38:21) or the “tent of the testimony” (Num. 9:15).

The word sometimes refers to the entire law of God: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps. 19:7). Here ‛êdûth is synonymously parallel to “law,” making it a synonym to that larger concept. Special or particular laws are sometimes called “testimonies”: “And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies …” (1 Kings 2:3). In Ps. 122:4 the annual pilgrimage feasts are called “the testimony of Israel.”

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

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