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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Neck

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(usually עֹרֶ Š, o'reph, as Genesis 49:8; Leviticus 5:8; often צִוָּאר, tsavvar', as Genesis 27:16; and same in Chald., as Daniel 5:7; once the plur. cognate צִוְּרֹנַים, Song of Solomon 4:9; also, garo n', prop. throat, Isaiah 3:16; or the plur. cognate, גִּרְגְּרוֹן, Proverbs 3:22; once מִפְרֶקֶת, maphre'keth, 1 Samuel 4:18; Gr. τράχηλος), a part of the human frame used by the sacred writers with considerable variety and freedom in figurative expressions, though seldom in such a way as to occasion difficulty to a modern reader. With reference to the graceful ornament which a fine neck gives, especially to the female form, it is said of the spouse in the Canticles, "Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armory" (Song of Solomon 4:4); or, as it is again, "like a tower of ivory" (Song of Solomon 7:4). The neck, however, being that part of the body through which in man, and still more in the lower animals, the life is frequently destroyed, it is sometimes taken as the representative of the animal life; hence "to lay down the neck" (Romans 16:4) is a strong expression for hazarding one's life; to "give one the necks of one's enemies" (2 Samuel 22:41) was to surrender their life into his hands; also "to reach even to the neck," or "to the midst of the neck" (Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 30:28), was to approach the point of overwhelming destruction, which, in Habakkuk 3:13, takes the peculiar form of "discovering the foundation to the neck" the allusion in the last passage being to the foundation of a house, which is like the neck upon which the head rests. But by much the most common reference was to beasts of burden, which bore upon their neck the yoke whereby they did service, and as such were viewed as emblems of men in their relation either to a good or a bad, to a true or a false service. Christ invites all to "take up his yoke" (upon their neck understood), in other words, to yield themselves obediently to his authority (Matthew 11:29); and a stiff or hardened neck is a familiar expression for an unpliant, rebellious spirit. In the contrary direction, many passages in the prophets convey threatenings of coming judgment by the hands of enemies under the form of laying bands or yokes upon the people's necks (Deuteronomy 28:48; Isaiah 10:27; Jeremiah 27:2). Hence putting the feet on the neck is a usual expression in the East for triumphing over a fallen foe. In the numerous battle-scenes depicted on the monuments of ancient Egypt and Assyria, we see the monarchs frequently represented treading on the necks of their enemies; and a similar practice obtained among the Hebrews. When Joshua had conquered the five kings, he said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Neck'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/neck.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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