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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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in the Scriptures, signifies that which is separated or devoted. With regard to persons, it denotes the cutting off or separating any one from the communion of the church, the number of the living, or the privileges of society; and also the devoting an animal, city, or other thing to destruction. Anathema was a species of excommunication among the Jews, and was often practised after they had lost the power of life and death, against those persons who, according to the Mosaic law, ought to have been executed. A criminal, after the sentence of excommunication was pronounced, became anathema: and they had a full persuasion that the sentence would not be in vain; but that God would interfere to punish the offender in a manner similar to the penalty of the law of Moses: a man, for instance, whom the law condemned to be stoned, would, they believed, be killed by the falling of a stone upon him; a man to be hanged, would be choked; and one whom the law sentenced to the flames, would be burnt in his house, &c. Maranatha, a Syriac word, signifying the Lord cometh, was added to the sentence, to express their persuasion that the Lord God would come to take vengeance upon that guilt which they, circumstanced as they were, had not the power to punish, 1 Corinthians 16:22 .

According to the idiom of the Hebrew language, accursed and crucified were synonymous terms. By the Jews every one who died upon a tree was reckoned accursed, Deuteronomy 21:23 .

Excommunication is a kind of anathema also among some Christians; and by it the offender is deprived, not only of communicating in prayers and other holy offices, but of admittance to the church, and of conversation with the faithful. The spirit of Judaism, rather than that of the Gospel, has in this been imitated; for among the Hebrews, they who were excommunicated could not perform any public duty of their employments; could be neither judges nor witnesses: neither be present at funerals, nor circumcise their own sons, nor sit down in the company of other men, nearer than within the distance of four cubits. If they died under excommunication, they were denied the rites of burial; and a large stone was left on their graves, or a heap of stones was thrown over them, as over Achan, Joshua 7:26 . The Apostolical excommunication was simply to deny to the offender, after admonition, the right of partaking of the Lord's Supper, which was excision from the church of Christ.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Accursed'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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