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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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pûrj : A number of words in both the Old Testament and the New Testament are so rendered in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American), although frequently in the Revised Version (British and American) the older English word "purge" is displaced by the more applicable modern terms "cleanse" and "purify," since the emphatic and medical senses of the word, as we now use it, are not justified by some of the Hebrew and Greek originals. In older English the word was broader in meaning, today it is specific. Occurrences in the King James Version, with the changes made in the Revised Version (British and American), are as follows:

1. In the Old Testament:

(1) טהר , ṭāhēr , literally, "to be clean," used of the putting-away of idolatry from Judah by Josiah ( 2 Chronicles 34:3 , 2 Chronicles 34:8 ), is translated "purge" in all VSS , but, in Ezekiel 24:13 , the American Standard Revised Version changes to "cleanse." (2) חטא , ḥāṭā' , literally, "to make a sin offering" (Psalm 51:7 ): is changed without improvement to "purify" in the American Standard Revised Version, while "purge" is retained in the English Revised Version. (3) כּפר , kāphar , "to cover" or "to make atonement," occurs in Psalm 65:3 ; Psalm 79:9 ; Ezekiel 43:20 , Ezekiel 43:26 ; in the two passages in Psalms, the Revised Version (British and American) has "forgive" (the "expiate" of the margin is still better), and in Ezekiel the even more accurate "make atonement." In both (4) צרף , cāraph , "to refine" (Isaiah 1:25 ), and (5) דּוּח , dūaḥ , literally, "to rinse" (Isaiah 4:4 ), "purge" is well retained in the Revised Version (British and American). (6) בּרר , bārar , literally, "to be shining," the Revised Version (British and American) retains in Ezekiel 20:38 , but in Daniel 11:35 changes to "purify." (7) זקק , zāḳaḳ , "to pour down" as molten metal (Malachi 3:3 ), also becomes "purify" in the Revised Version (British and American).

These occurrences are all in the figurative sense, and apply to sin, uncleanness, idolatry, etc. Most noteworthy is the American Standard Revised Version change of the familiar Psalm 51:7 .

2. In the New Testament:

The Greek words rendered "purge" in the King James Version of the Apocrypha and New Testament are καθαίρω , kathaı́rō , and καθαρίζω , katharizō , and their compounds and derivatives. In all passages except four, the Revised Version (British and American) more properly translates "cleanse" ( Matthew 3:12 ; Mark 7:19 ; Luke 3:17 ; John 15:2 ; Hebrews 9:14 , Hebrews 9:22 ; Hebrews 10:2 ). In Hebrews 1:3 "when he had by himself purged our sins" is changed to "had made purification of." But in the case of the verb compounded with the preps. ἀπό , apō and ἐκ , ek , i.e. apokathaı́rō and ekkathaı́rō (Job 12:9 ; 1 Corinthians 5:7 ; 2 Timothy 2:21 ), with strong signification to "cleanse out ," the Revised Version (British and American) properly retains "purge." Most worthy of note is the change of the familiar verse in John, "Every branch, that beareth fruit, he purgeth" to "Every branch ... he cleanseth" (John 15:2 ).

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

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