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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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skorn : Fox Talbot connects this English word with the Danish skarn , "dirt," "ordure" "mud," "mire." As distinguished from such words as "mock," "deride," "scoff," all of which refer specifically to the various ways in which scorn finds outward expression, scorn itself denotes a subjective state or reaction.

Further, this state or reaction is not simple but complex. It includes a sense of superiority, resentment, and aversion. This reaction occurs when one is confronted with a person or a proposition that by challenging certain things for itself evokes a vivid sense of one's own superiority and awakens mingled resentment, repulsion and contempt by the hollowness of its claims and its intrinsic inferiority or worse. Scorn is a hotter, fiercer emotion than disdain or contempt. It is obvious that scorn may - indeed, it not uncommonly does - arise in connection with an not grounded, arrogant sense of self-esteem.

The word, outside of the phrase "laugh to scorn," is found only in the Old Testament, and then only 4 times (Esther 3:6; King James Version, Psalm 44:13; Psalm 79:4; Habakkuk 1:10 ), and it represents three different Hebrew words for none of which it is a suitable rendering. The two words "thought scorn" in Esther 3:6 represent but one in Hebrew, namely, bāzāh , for which "disdain" would be a nearer equivalent. In Habakkuk 1:10 (the King James Version) the word translated "scorn" is miṣḥāḳ , "an object of laughter," "laughing-stock." In Psalm 44:13; Psalm 79:4 the Hebrew word is la‛agh from a root, probably meaning "to stutter," "stammer," for which "mocking" is a better English equivalent. In the King James Version Job 34:7; Psalm 123:4 , la‛agh is rendered "scorning". (the rendering given in Proverbs 1:22 to lācōn , a word from a totally different root and one much more nearly approximating the fundamental idea of the English word "Scorn." In Proverbs 29:8 and Isaiah 28:14 lācōn is rendered "scornful").

As a verb the word is the translation given to lā'agh , "to mock" ( 2 Kings 19:21 parallel Isaiah 37:22 Job 22:19; Nehemiah 2:19; Psalm 22:7 , "all laugh to scorn"); ḳālas = "to scoff" (Ezekiel 16:31 , margin "Greek: scoffeth ," but text still "scorneth"); for the noun ceḥōḳ , "laughter" (Ezekiel 23:32 ); sāḥaḳ = to laugh," "laugh at" (Job 39:7 , Job 39:18; 2 Chronicles 30:10 ), with the noun seḥōḳ , "laugh to scorn" (the Revised Version (British and American) "laughing-stock," Job 12:4 ); lūc = "to scoff" (as used in ethical and religious connections) (Job 16:20; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 9:12 , all "scoff" in the Revised Version (British and American)); in Proverbs 19:28 the Revised Version (British and American), not happily, "mock at." the Revised Version (British and American) is warranted in substituting "scoff" for "scorn" because the context indicates some form of outward expression of the scorn.

The Revised Version (British and American) always (except Job 12:4; Sirach 6:4; 1 Macc 10:70) retains "laugh to scorn" (2 Kings 19:21; 2 Chronicles 30:10; Nehemiah 2:19; Job 22:19; Psalm 22:7; Isaiah 37:22; Ezekiel 16:31; Ezekiel 23:32; 2 Esdras 2:21; Judith 12:12; The Wisdom of Solomon 4:18; Sirach 7:11; 13:7; 20:17; Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:40; Luke 8:53 ). The verb in Apocrypha and the New Testament is usually καταγελάω , katageláō , but in The Wisdom of Solomon 4:1 ἐκγελάω , ekgeláō ; in Sirach 13:7 καταμωκάομαι , katamōkámai ; and in 2 Esdras 2:21 inrideo . In addition "scorn" is retained in Esther 3:6; Job 39:7 , Job 39:18; 2 Esdras 8:56 (contemno ). In Proverbs 19:28 "scorn" is changed to "mock at" but elsewhere invariably to "scoff."

Scorner is the translation of the participle of lūc and once of the participle of lācac . For "scorner" the Revised Version (British and American) everywhere substitutes - properly - "scoffer." Outside of Proverbs (and Hosea 7:5 ) the word is to be found only in Psalm 1:2 . The force of the word has been well indicated by Cheyne, who says that the "scorner (scoffer) is one who despises that which is holy and avoids the company of the noble 'wise men,' but yet in his own vain way seeks for truth; his character is marked by arrogance as that of the wise is characterized by devout caution."

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Scorn'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1915.

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