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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


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tung : Almost invariably for either לשׁון , lāshōn , or γλῶσσα , glṓssa the latter word with the cognates ἑτερόγλωσσος , heteróglōssos , "of strange tongues" ( 1 Corinthians 14:21 ), γλωσσώδης , glōssṓdēs , "talkative," English Versions of the Bible "full of tongue" (Sirach 8:3; 9:18), γλωσσοτομέω , glōssotoméō , "to cut out the tongue" (2 Macc 7:4), δίγλωσσος , dı́glōssos , "double-tongued" (Sirach 5:9; 28:13). In 1 Timothy 3:8 , however, "double-tongued" is for δίλογος , dı́logos , literally, "two-worded." Where "tongue" in the King James Version translates διάλεκτος , diálektos (Acts 1:19 ; Acts 2:8 ; Acts 21:40 ; Acts 22:2 ; Acts 26:14 ), the Revised Version (British and American) has "language," while for the King James Version "in the Hebrew tongue" in John 5:2 ; Revelation 9:11 ; Revelation 16:16 ( Ἑβραΐστί , Hebraistı́ ) the Revised Version (British and American) has simply "in Hebrew." In addition, in the Old Testament and Apocrypha, the King James Version uses "to hold one's tongue" as a translation for various verbs meaning "to be silent"; the Revised Version (British and American) in the Old Testament writes "to hold one's peace" and in the Apocrypha "to be silent," except in Sirach 32:8, where the King James Version is retained (σιωπάω , siōpáō ).

The various uses of "tongue" in English are all possible also for lāshōn and glōssa , whether as the physical organ ( Exodus 11:7 ; Mark 7:33 , etc.) or as meaning "language" (Genesis 10:5 ; Acts 2:4 , etc.) or as describing anything shaped like a tongue (Isaiah 11:15 ; Acts 2:3 , etc.). In addition, both words, especially las̄hōn appear in a wider range of meanings than can be taken by "tongue" in modern English. So the tongue appears as the specific organ of speech, where we should prefer "mouth" or "lips" (Exodus 4:10 ; Psalm 71:24 ; Psalm 78:36 ; Proverbs 16:1 ; Philippians 2:11 , etc.), and hence, "tongue" is used figuratively for the words uttered ( Job 6:30 ; Psalm 139:4 ; 1 John 3:18 , etc.). So the tongue can be said to have moral qualities (Psalm 109:2 ; Proverbs 15:4 , etc.) or to be "glad" (Acts 2:26 ); to "love with the tongue" (1 John 3:18 ) is to love in word only, and to be "double-tongued" (Sirach 5:9; 28:13; 1 Timothy 3:8 is to be a liar. A further expansion of this figurative use has produced expressions that sound slightly bizarre in English, although their meaning is clear enough: e.g., "Who have whet their tongue like a sword" ( Psalm 64:3 ); "His tongue is as a devouring fire" (Isaiah 30:27 ); "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Psalm 45:1 ), and, especially, "Their tongue walketh through the earth" (Psalm 73:9 ).

In Job 20:12 , "Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue," the figure is that of an uncultured man rolling a choice morsel around in his mouth so as to extract the utmost flavor. In Psalm 10:7 ; Psalm 66:17 (Revised Version margin), however "under the tongue" means "in readiness to utter," while in Song of Solomon 4:11 , "Honey and milk are under thy tongue," the pleasure of a caress is described. To "divide their tongue" (Psalm 55:9 ) is to visit on offenders the punishment of Babel. See TONGUES , CONFUSION OF .

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

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Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Tongues of Fire
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