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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bag

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Bags of various kinds are mentioned in the English Bible, but often in a way to obscure rather than tr the original.

(1) "Bag" is used for a Hebrew word which means a shepherd's "bag," rendered "wallet" in the Revised Version (British and American). This "bag" of the shepherd or "haversack" of the traveler was of a size sufficient for one or more days' provisions. It was made of the skin of animals, ordinarily undressed, as most of the other "bags" of ancient times were, and was carried slung across the shoulder. This is the "scrip for the journey" πήρα , pḗra mentioned in Matthew 10:10 and its parallel (the King James Version). ("Scrip" is Old English, now obsolete.) A unique word appears in 1 Samuel 17:40 , 1 Samuel 17:49 which had to be explained even to Hebrew readers by the gloss, "the shepherd's bag," but which is likewise rendered "wallet" by the American Standard Revised Version.

(2) "Bag" translates also a word βαλλάντιον , ballántion which stands for the more finished leather pouch, or satchel which served as a "purse" (see Christ's words, Luke 10:4 King James Version: "Carry neither purse , nor scrip," and Luke 12:33 King James Version: "Provide yourselves bags which wax not old"). The word rendered "purse" in Matthew 10:9 : "Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses "; Mark 6:8 : "No money in their purse ," is a different word entirely ζώνη , zō̇nē , the true rendering of which is "girdle" (Revised Version, margin). The oriental "girdle," though sometimes of crude leather, or woven camel's hair (see GIRDLE ), was often of fine material and elegant workmanship, and was either made hollow so to carry money, or when of silk or cloth, worn in folds, when the money was carried in the folds.

(3) The small "merchant's bag" often knotted in a handkerchief for carrying the weights, such as is mentioned in Deuteronomy 25:13 : "Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small," was another variety. This too was used as "purse," as in the case of the proposed common purse of the wicked mentioned in Proverbs 1:14 : "We will all have one purse ," and sometimes carried in the girdle (compare Isaiah 46:6 ).

(4) Then there was the "bag" צרור , cerōr , rendered "bundle" in Genesis 42:35 ) which was the favorite receptacle for valuables, jewels , as well as money, used figuratively with fine effect in 1 Samuel 25:29 : "The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life" - "life's jewel-case " (see 2 Kings 12:10 where the money of the temple was said to be put up "tied up" in bags ). This was a "bag" that could be tied with a string: "Behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack," and (compare Proverbs 7:20 ) "He hath taken a bag of money with him" (compare Haggai 1:6 : "earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes").

A seal was sometimes put on the knot, which occasions the figure of speech used in Job ( Job 14:16 , Job 14:17 ), "Dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag ," i.e. it is securely kept and reckoned against me (compare also 1 Samuel 9:7 ; 1 Samuel 21:5 where the Hebrew כּלי , kelı̄ , is rendered by "vessels" and stands for receptacles for carrying food, not necessarily bags).

(5) Another Hebrew word חרט , ḥārı̄ṭ ; Arabic ḥariṭat , is used, on the one hand, for a "bag" large enough to hold a talent of silver (see 2 Kings 5:23 , "bound two talents of silver in two bags "), and on the other, for a dainty lady's satchel , such as is found in Isaiah 3:22 (wrongly rendered "crisping pins" in the King James Version). This is the most adequate Hebrew word for a large bag.

(6) The "bag" which Judas carried (see John 12:6 the King James Version, "He was a thief and had the bag "; compare John 13:29 ) was in reality the small "box " (Revised Version, margin) originally used for holding the mouthpieces of wind instruments (Kennedy, in the 1-volume HDB ). The Hebrew ארגּז , 'argāz , found only here) of 1 Samuel 6:8 , rendered "coffer" in English Versions of the Bible and translated γλοσσόκομον , glossókomon , by Josephus, appears to stand for a small "chest" used to hold the gold figures sent by the Philistines as a guilt offering. It is from a word that means "to wag," "to move to and fro"; compare the similar word in Arabic meaning a bag filled with stones hung at the side of the camel to "preserve" equilibrium (Gesenius). But the same word Josephus uses is found in modern Greek and means "purse" or "bag" (Hatch). Later to "carry the bag" came to mean to be treasurer.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Bag'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/b/bag.html. 1915.

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