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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Nurse; Nursing

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nûrs , nûrs´ing : "Nurse" in the King James Version represents two different Hebrew words: In 8 passages ( Genesis 24:59; Genesis 35:8; Exodus 2:7 twice, 9; 2 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 22:11; Isaiah 49:23 ) the word - noun or verb - renders some form of the verb ינק , yānaḳ , "to suck." The feminine causative part. of this verb is commonly used to denote nurse or foster-mother. According to Exodus 2:7 Moses' mother - "a nurse of the Hebrew women" - became, at Pharaoh's daughter's request, the foster-mother of the foundling. Joash, the son of Ahaziah, was in charge of a nurse until he was 7 years old ( 2 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 22:11 ). But it is obvious that the term was used in a more general way, e.g. of a lady's maid or tire-woman. Rebekah was accompanied by her nurse when she left home to be married (Genesis 24:59; Genesis 35:8 ). In 5 passages (Numbers 11:12; Rth 4:16; 2 Samuel 4:4; Isaiah 49:23; Isaiah 60:4 the King James Version) "nurse" represents the Hebrew word, אמן , 'aman , "to support," "be faithful," "nourish." The participle of this verb denoted a person who had charge of young children - a guardian or governess. Naomi took charge of Ruth's child "and became nurse unto it" (Rth 4:16). In Numbers 11:12 Moses asks whether he has to take charge of the Israelites "as a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child." The same word is found in 2 Kings 10:15 (the King James Version "them that brought up," i.e. "guardians of the sons of Ahab) and in Esther 2:7 (the King James Version "and he brought up," i.e. he (Mordecai) adopted, his niece). Deutero-Isa uses both terms together ( Isaiah 49:23 ) to describe the exalted position of Israel in the future when foreign kings and queens will offer their services and wait upon the chosen people.

In the solitary passage in the New Testament where "nurse" occurs, it renders the Greek word τροφός , trophós . In this case the word does not mean a hired nurse, but a mother who nurses her own children ( 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Nurse; Nursing'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/n/nurse-nursing.html. 1915.

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