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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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arm ( זרוע , zerōa‛ , אזרוע , 'ezrōa‛ , דּרע , derā‛ ; βραχίων , brachı́ōn ; חצן , ḥōcen , כּתף , kāthēph ): The usual form is zerōa‛ from the root zāra‛ , "to spread." The arm may be "stretched out." 'Ezrōa‛ is this form with prosthetic 'ālēph (Job 31:22 ; Jeremiah 32:21 ), and derā‛ is the Aramaic form. Ḥōcen is really "bosom," thus the Revised Version (British and American) (Isaiah 49:22 ); and kāthēph is "shoulder," thus the Revised Version (British and American) (Job 31:22 ). Compare χείρ , cheı́r , also, in Acts 11:21 .

Figurative: The arm denotes influence, power, means of support or conquest. The arms of Moab (Jeremiah 48:25 ) and of Pharaoh (Ezekiel 30:21 ) are broken. The arm of Eli and the arm of his father's house are to be cut off (1 Samuel 2:31 ). Because the arm wielded the sword it signified "oppression" (Job 35:9 ). The arms are the means of support, therefore to refuse to aid the fatherless is to break their arms (Job 22:9 ).

Applied anthropomorphically to God, the arm denotes also His power, power to deliver, support, conquer. His "outstretched arm" delivered Israel from Egypt (Exodus 6:6 ; Deuteronomy 4:34 , etc.). They support: "Underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27 ). His arm protects (Isaiah 40:11 ). Yahweh is sometimes likened to a warrior and smites with His arm (Psalm 89:10 ; Isaiah 63:5 ; Jeremiah 21:5 ). The arm of Yahweh is holy (Psalm 98:1 ; Isaiah 52:10 ). Many other passages of Scripture might be quoted showing how the power of God to redeem, judge, protect, punish is expressed by the idea of "the arm of Yahweh."

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

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