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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Shadow of Death

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( צלמות , calmāweth ): The Hebrew word translated "shadow of death" is used poetically for thick darkness ( Job 3:5 ), as descriptive of Sheol (Job 10:21 f; Job 12:22 ; Job 38:17 ); figuratively of deep distress ( Job 12:22 ; Job 16:16 ; Job 24:17 twice; Job 28:3 ; Job 34:22 (in the last three passages the American Standard Revised Version has "thick darkness" and "thick gloom"); Psalm 23:4 , the Revised Version margin "deep darkness (and so elsewhere)"; Psalm 44:19 ; Psalm 107:10 , Psalm 107:14 ; Isaiah 9:2 ; Jeremiah 2:6 ; Jeremiah 13:16 ; Amos 5:8 ; Matthew 4:16 ; Luke 1:79 , skiá thanátou ). The Hebrew word is perhaps composed of cēl , "shadow," and māweth , "death," and the idea of "the valley of the shadow of death" was most probably derived from the deep ravines, darkened by over-hanging briars, etc., through which the shepherd had sometimes to lead or drive his sheep to new and better pastures.

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

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