International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The word is the translation of three different Hebrew expressions: חיק , hēḳ ( Proverbs 16:33 ), בּגד , beghedh (2 Kings 4:39 ), and חצן , ḥōcen (Nehemiah 5:13 , besides חצן , ḥēcen , Psalm 129:7 ). In all these passages the meaning is that of a part of oriental clothing, probably the folds of the garment covering the bosom or lap of a person. The flowing garments of Orientals invite the use of the same, on the part of speakers, in driving home certain truths enunciated by impressive gesticulation. Every reader of Roman history recalls the impressive incident of Quintus Fabius Maximus (Cunctator ), who, in 219 BC, was ambassador of Rome to Carthage, and who, before the city council, holding the folds of his toga in the shape of a closed pouch, declared that he held enclosed in the same both peace and war, whichever the Carthaginians should desire to choose. When the Carthaginians clamored for war, he opened the folds of his garment and said: "Then you shall have war!" Very much like it, Nehemiah, when pleading for united efforts for the improvement of social order, addressed the priests of Jerusalem to get a pledge of their cooperation: "Also I shook out my lap (ḥōcen ), and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied" (Nehemiah 5:13 ).
In English Versions of the Bible the verb "to lap" is found, which has no etymological connection with the above-mentioned nouns. It is in Hebrew לקק , lāḳaḳ and refers to the loud licking up of water by dogs ( 1 Kings 21:19; 1 Kings 22:38 the King James Version), and in the story of Gideon's battle against the Midianites, of his 300 warriors ( Judges 7:5 ff).
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Lap'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/l/lap.html. 1915.