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Bible Lexicons

Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament

Destruction, Death, Hell

Various Words Signifying Destruction

The destiny of man after death is the most serious of all questions. If Scripture invariably prophesied smooth things, we should readily accept its verdict. But there are passages in the N.T. which point in another direction. Hence the necessity of studying the O.T. terminology on the subject.

More than fifty Hebrew words have been rendered destroy, destruction, or perish. Some of them need only a brief mention, but others are of greater importance

Aid (איד ) is occasionally so rendered, as in Job 18:12 and Proverbs 1:27. It is usually rendered calamity, and signifies that which oppresses and straitens, the 'tribulation and anguish' of Romans 2:9. Asaph (אסף ), which occurs in 1 Samuel 15:6, means to gather, and we might render the passage, 'lest I include you with them.' Compare Psalms 26:9, also Zephaniah 1:2-3. Asham (אשׁם ) is found in Psalms 5:10, 'destroy thou them,' i.e. condemn them or deal with them as guilty in 2 Chronicles 22:7, the 'destruction' of Ahaziah is literally his treading down; and in Isaiah 10:25, the destruction of the Assyrians means their being brought to nought or wasted away (so far as this world is concerned) in Proverbs 21:7, 'The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them,' the verb (גרר ) means to saw, sweep away, or drag down. The destruction of the seed royal by Athaliah (2 Chronicles 22:10) is described by a word which signifies 'to inflict a pestilence' (דבר ); compare the use of the word 'pesthent' or 'pesthential' in our own language. Daca (דכא , Ass. dakû), to dash in pieces or crush, is used in Job 6:9; Job 34:25; Psalms 90:3, 'Thou turnest man to destruction.'

Bala (בלע , Ass. balû), to swallow up, is used several times, e.g in Job 2:3, 'To destroy him without a cause;' Psalms 55:9, 'Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues,' Isaiah 25:7-8, 'He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death in victory.' Here the same word is rendered 'destroy' in one verse and 'swallow up' in the other; the last clause might be rendered, 'He will utterly destroy death.' See R. V.

Damah, (דמה ), to be silent, or to cease, is rendered destroy in Ezekiel 27:32, 'What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?' and Hosea 4:5-6, 'I will destroy thy mother; my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.' We might perhaps give a more literal rendering here, and say, 'My people are silenced for lack of knowledge.'

In Deuteronomy 7:23, and in 1 Samuel 5:1-12; 1 Samuel 9:1-27; 1 Samuel 11:1-15, the word used (הום ) is supposed to signify commotion or confusion; a similar word (המם ), signifying discomfiture, is found in Exodus 23:27, Deuteronomy 2:15, and Psalms 144:6. Harag (הרג ), to kill, is used in Psalms 78:47, 'He destroyed their vines with hail.' :Har as (הרס ), to tear down, occurs in 1 Chronicles 20:1; of the destruction of Rabbah, in Psalms 11:3; of the destruction of foundations, in Isaiah 14:17; of the destruction of cities, in Isaiah 19:18, where we read of 'the city of destruction,' or, as the margin has it, 'the city of Heres, or the sun.' It also occurs in Psalms 28:5, and Isaiah 49:17; Isaiah 49:19.

Chaval (חבל ), to bind, is used in Ezra 6:12; Proverbs 13:13; Ecclesiastes 5:6; Micah 2:10; Isaiah 10:27, 'The yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing;' 54:16, 'I have created the waster to destroy;' Daniel 2:44; Daniel 6:26; Daniel 7:14, ' in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed;' 4:23, 'Hew down the tree and destroy it.'

In Proverbs 31:8, the persons described as 'appointed for destruction' are literally 'sons of change or passing away' (חלוף , Ass. khalafu). Charav (חרב ), to dry up, occurs in Judges 16:24, 'The destroyer of our country;' and in 2 Kings 19:17, Ezra 4:15, Psalms 9:6, 'Destructions are come to a perpetual end.' The exhaustion of a country, city, or individual is evidently referred to in these passages.

In seven passages in the Proverbs destruction is literally a 'breaking up' (מחתה ); in Psalms 74:8, 'Let us destroy them altogether,' the idea of violent dealing (ינה ) is implied; in Exodus 15:9, the verb signifies to take possession (ירשׁ ), and the passage is rendered in the margin, 'My h and shall repossess them.' in Job 21:20, calamity (כיד ) is represented; whilst in Job 9:22, Leviticus 26:44, and 2 Chronicles 31:1, Calah (כלה ), to finish, to complete, and so to bring to an end, is used. Carath (כרת ), to cut off, is rendered 'destroy' in Exodus 8:9, Leviticus 26:22, Judges 4:24, and 1 Kings 15:13. Mul (מול ), which also signifies to cut off, is found in Psalms 118:10-12; Cathathכתת ), to beat, in Deuteronomy 1:44, 2 Chronicles 15:6, and Job 4:20; Muth (מות , Ass. matu), to die, in 2 Samuel 20:19 and Job 33:22; and Machah (מחה ), to blot out, in Genesis 6:7; Genesis 7:4; Genesis 7:23, in the history of the Deluge, also in Judges 21:17 and Proverbs 31:3.

In Proverbs 15:25, 'The Lord will destroy the house of the proud,' the word (נסח , Ass. naśakhu) signifies to pluck up, and hence to root out in Job 19:26, 'Though after my sk in (worms) destroy this (body),' the word (נקף ) means to cut down in Isaiah 42:14, 'I will destroy' is literally 'I will make desolate' (נשׁם ) in Psalms 9:6, 'Thou hast destroyed cities,' Natha (נתע ), to tear, is used; and in Exodus 34:13, Deuteronomy 7:5, Job 19:10, Psalms 52:5, and Ezekiel 26:12, Nathats (נתץ ), to tear down or beat down, is found. Tsadah (צדה ), to cut down, is the word in Zephaniah 3:6. Saphah (ספה ), to scrape, is found in Genesis 18:23-24, 'Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked? . wilt thou destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous.?' also in 1 Chronicles 21:12 and Psalms 40:14.

Shavar (שׁבר , Ass. sabaru), to shiver or break in pieces, is rendered 'destroy' about thirty times, e.g in Proverbs 16:18, 'Pride goeth before destruction;' 29:1, 'He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy;' Isaiah 1:28, 'The destruction of the sinners and transgressors shall be together;' 59:7, 'Wasting and destruction are in their paths;' 60:18, 'Violence shall do more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction with in thy borders.' Shiah (שׁאיה ), desolation, occurs in Psalms 73:18 and Isaiah 24:12; the word Shuah (שׁואה ) has the same meaning in Psalms 35:8; Psalms 35:17; Psalms 63:9; Shamem (שׁמם ), to lay waste, or to be astonished, in Ecclesiastes 7:16 and Hosea 2:12; Shasah (שׁסה ), to spoil, in Jeremiah 50:11; Shacol (שׁכל ), to bereave, in Deuteronomy 32:25. Shadad (שׁדד ), to deal violently, is rendered 'destroy' ten times, e.g in Psalms 137:8, 'O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed' (P. B. version, 'wasted with misery'); Hosea 7:13, 'Destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me;' Joel 1:15, 'The day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.'

The Chaldean word used of the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in Ezra 5:12 is Sathar (סתר ), which in Hebrew means to hide in Psalms 17:4, the word (פריץ ) signifies violence; in Job 30:24; Job 31:29, we find Pid (פיד ), calamity; in Proverbs 13:20, Rua (רוע ), evil; in Ezekiel 7:25, Kaphdah (קפדה ), cutting off; in Jeremiah 46:20, the word for destruction is taken from the nipping (קרץ ) of the gad-fly. Kathav (קטב ), contagion, is found in Deuteronomy 32:24, Psalms 91:6, and Hosea 13:14, 'O death, I will be thy destruction.' Tsamath (צמת ), to Cut off, is the word used in 2 Samuel 22:41; Psalms 18:40; Psalms 69:4; Psalms 73:27; Psalms 101:8.

In Numbers 24:17 we read, 'A sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners (or smite through the princes) of Moab, and destroy all the children of Seth.' The word Karkar (קרקר ), here rendered destroy, is somewhat doubtful. Some take it as meaning dig - hence dig through or spoil; others consider that it is used in a favourable sense of the 'building up the wall' of Seth; but see Isaiah 22:5, where it means to break down a wall.

The Root Avad

The words hitherto noticed, though very numerous, are used only in a few passages, and do not play a conspicuous part in Scripture. They point to destruction as a calamity, as a work of breaking down or tearing up, as an act of violence, or as a deed of desolation. They apply to nations, cities, and individuals, and are used in just such senses as we should give them in ordinary history, without at all referring to the destiny of the individual in any state of existence beyond the world. Four words, however, remain to be considered, each of which is used in a great number of passages, and with some important variations of meaning.

Avad (אבד , Ass. abadu), to perish, and in its causative form to destroy, is largely used throughout the O.T. this word is rendered 'perish' in about a hundred passages. When used of persons it generally signifies death, when used of lands it implies desolation. The same is the general state of the case with regard to its Greek equivalent in its various forms of ἀπόλλυμι, ἀπώλεια, ὄλεθρος. The name Abadd on (Revelation 9:11) is rendered Apollyon, the destroyer.

It is applied to the case of Korah's company, who 'perished from among the congregation' (Numbers 16:33); to the Amalekite nation, which should 'perish for ever' (Numbers 24:20, see also verse 24); it is held out as a threat to Israel that they should 'utterly perish from off the land' if they became idolatrous (Deuteronomy 4:26, contrast 30:18); it is used of the nation's ancestor, 'a Syrian ready to perish' (Deuteronomy 26:5); Esther uses it with regard to her apprehension of deat has the alternative of success, 'If I perish, I perish' (Esther 4:16); it is applied to the memory of the wicked, which dies out of the minds of their survivors (Job 18:17); to the disappearance of the wicked man from the earth (20:7); it is used of men perishing for want of clothing (31:19); it is applied to the 'way' or course taken by the wicked in contrast with the way of the righteous (Psalms 1:6); it is used of the heathen (as such) perishing out of the l and (10:16), of the wicked perishing before the presence of God as wax melteth before the fire (68:2), of the heavens perishing whilst God endures (102:26), of man's thoughts perishing when he dies (146:4).

In Ecclesiastes 7:15, avad is applied to a just man perishing in his righteousness; and in Isaiah 57:1-2, we read, 'The righteous perisheth, and do man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from that which is evil. He shall enter into peace.' These passages are important, as showing that the perishing of the outer man in death is perfectly consistent with the entrance into peace.

The passages which have been cited are fair samples of the whole. They show that the word refers to the death of the righteous or the wicked; to the downfall and dissolution of nations; to the desolation of countries; to the withering away of herbage and crops; to the fading away of strength, hope, wisdom, knowledge, and wealth. The word is applied to man with reference to his whole position up on earth; whilst his future destiny is left apparently untouched by it.

A brief examination of the usage of the active voice where it is rendered 'destroy' or 'destruction' will suffice. The word is applied to the destruction of temples, images, and pictures (Numbers 33:52, Deuteronomy 12:3); to defeat (Joshua 7:7); to national overthrow (Deuteronomy 28:51); and to the taking away of life, whether by the h and of man or by the agency of God (2 Kings 10:19; Exodus 10:7; Leviticus 23:30; Deuteronomy 7:10; Deuteronomy 7:20; Job 28:22).

In Job 26:6 we read, 'Hell (Sheol) is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering;' and in Proverbs 15:11, 'Hell (Sheol) and destruction are before the Lord.' These words apparently refer to the locality or condition of those who have died or have been destroyed; it is implied that, although so far as this world is concerned they have perished, yet they are still in a state of existence, and are with in God's cognisance.

In Psalms 88:10-12, the question is heard, 'Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark, and thy righteousness in the l and of forgetfulness?' Here the dead, the grave or sepulchre, the state of destruction, the dark, and the l and of forgetfulness, are synonymous; and the Psalmist, in his longing for present help, urges God not to put off his lovingkindness until that time when (so far as this life is concerned) it will be too late.

Avad is frequently rendered lose, e.g in Exodus 22:9, Leviticus 6:3-4, Deuteronomy 22:3, and 1 Samuel 9:3; 1 Samuel 9:20, with reference to a lost ox, sheep, or garment in Psalms 119:176 it assumes a moral significance, 'I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments ;' Jeremiah 50:6, 'My people hath been lost sheep, their shepherds have lured them to go astray;' Ezekiel 34:4, 'Neither have ye sought that which was lost;' verse 16, 'I will seek that which was lost.'

Destruction at Taught in the NT

The word ὄλεθρος is found four times in the N.T in 1 Corinthians 5:5 'the destruction of the flesh' is spoken of. Here reference seems to be made to the special temporal chastisements which were inflicted in the apostolic ages, and a contrast is drawn between the destruction of the flesh now and the salvation of the spirit in the day of Christ in the other three passages reference is made to the punishment of the ungodly; see 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and 1 Timothy 6:9.

ʼΑπώλεια in the N.T. specially represents the lot of those who go on the broad path (Matthew 7:13), who set themselves against the Gospel (Philippians 1:28), who live a carnal life (Philippians 3:19), who yield to lusts and covetousness (1 Timothy 6:9), who draw back from Christ (Hebrews 10:39), who deny the Lord that bought them (2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:3 [The A. V. has failed to preserve the connection between the destructive heresies and the destruction which ensues. See R. V.]), and wrest the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16), and are, in a word, ungodly (2 Peter 3:7).

The infliction of this ἀπώλεια is synchronous with the Day of Judgment and the burning of the heaven and earth that now are (2 Peter 3:7); the whole event being prefigured by the destruction that came up on the earth at the Deluge, when the then world perished (ἀπώλετο), and also by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha. The word also occurs in John 17:12, of Judas, the son of perdition; of another son of perdition in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; in Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:11, of the Beast; also in Acts 8:20 [25:16] and Romans 9:22.

The verb ἀπόλλυμι is applied to the waste of ointment (Matthew 26:8), to the destruction of physical objects, e.g. wineskins (Matthew 9:17), gold (1 Peter 1:7), food (John 6:27), and the hair of the head (Luke 21:18) in these cases it is not annihilation that is spoken of, but such injury as makes the object practically useless for its original purpose It is applied to the destruction of the world in 2 Peter 3:6, in exactly the same sense; for as the world was destroyed at the Deluge, so shall it be hereafter; it will be rendered useless as a habitation for man. Nevertheless, as after the first destruction it was restored, so it may be after the second. Again, the word is applied to the perishing or being destroyed from off the face of the earth in death, when the physical frame which is the temple of life becomes untenanted; and a contrast is drawn between the power of those who can bring about the death of the body, and of Him who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna. Death is spoken of in this sense in Matthew 2:13; Matthew 8:25; Matthew 12:14; Matthew 21:41; Matthew 22:7; Matthew 26:52; Matthew 27:20; and probably in Matthew 18:14, Romans 2:12; Romans 14:15, and 1 Corinthians 8:11. The destruction of the body is compared to the disintegration of the seed which falls into the ground and dies. It is dismemberment and dissolution, and renders the body useless for the time being, so far as its original purpose is concerned, but it is not annihilation. The use of the word in the argument in 1 Corinthians 15:18 is worthy of note; it here implies that, physically speaking, the Christian has perished, if Christ be not risen There is not a word here about annihilation of the person (which would continue in Hades), but simply of the blotting out of existence in the body. See Isaiah 51:1-2, quoted above.

The word is also largely used in a moral sense, with respect to the inner man, as the opposite of salvation. It is applied to those 'lost sheep' whom the Good Shepherd died to save (Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:32; compare Isaiah 53:6). All men are regarded as morally destroyed, i.e. they have failed to carry out the intention for which the race was called into being. To save them from this condition, God sent his Son, and caused Him to be lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:15-16), not being willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Those who reject this salvation have contracted a new responsibility, and are, in a new sense, in the way of destruction (ἀπολλυμένοι) (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:10). this final destruction affects evil spirits as well as men. We cannot comprehend what will be the nature of this destruction which affects the spirit or person; but the reading of such words as those uttered by the Lord in Matthew 10:28; Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25, and Luke 9:25, impresses the mind with the idea of the utter rejection and infinite degradation which shall be the lot of those who judge themselves unworthy of eternal life. Not only creation, but also redemption, has failed of its purpose with them.

The Root Shachath

Shachath (שׂחת , Ass. sakhatu), a word which especially marks dissolution or corruption, is rendered destroy in about a hundred places. It first occurs in Genesis 6:13; Genesis 6:17; Genesis 9:11; Genesis 9:15, both with reference to the moral corruption and also to the physical destruction of all that was living on the earth; and of the earth itself, which, as St. Peter said, 'perished' (2 Peter 3:6). It is next used of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha (Genesis 13:10; Genesis 18:28; Genesis 19:13-14; Genesis 19:29), a destruction which is regarded, both in the O.T. and N.T., as the sample of the punishment of the ungodly. It is used in connection with the destruction of the first-born in Egypt (Exodus 12:23), of trees (Deuteronomy 20:19-20), of the increase of the earth (Judges 6:4-5), of men in battle (Judges 20:21, &c.), of cities (1 Samuel 23:10), of nations (2 Kings 8:19; 2 Kings 13:23).

In Psalms 55:23 we read, 'Thou shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.' this is a sample of a large class of passages in which wickedness is represented as bringing an untimely or violent deat has its consequence. God, on the contrary, redeems the life of his people from destruction; that is to say, He prolongs their days (Psalms 103:4). this word is also used in Daniel 9:26, 'The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary;' and in Hosea 13:9, 'O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.' Lastly, the promise for the restored Jerusalem is, 'They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain' (Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 65:25).

The chief LXX rendering of this word is διαφθείρω; we also find in several passages φθείρω, καταφθείρω, ὀλοθρεύω, ἐξολοθρεύω, ἐξαλείφω, and ἀπόλλυμι.

The verb διαφθείρω is used of physical corruption in Luke 12:33, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Revelation 8:9; of morel corruption in 1 Timothy 6:5, 'men corrupted in mind,' and Revelation 19:2; it is used in both senses in Revelation 11:18, 'To corrupt those that are corrupting the earth.'

The noun is only used in two passages, namely, in Acts 2:27; Acts 2:31; Acts 13:34-37, in which Peter and Paul are applying Psalms 16:10 to the fact that our Lord's body was raised before corruption set in.

The Root Shamad

Shamad (שׁמד ), to consume, is rendered 'destroy' in about eighty passages. It. is usually rendered ἐξολοθρεύω [This word only occurs once in the N. T., namely, in Acts 3:23, which is a quotation from Deuteronomy 18:19, but not from the LXX.] but sometimes ἀπόλλυμι. It is applied several times to the destruction of nations, cities, and families by war, especially in the Books of Deuteronomy, Joshua. and Samuel. It is used of the destruction of the wicked in Psalms 37:38; Psalms 92:7, 'They shall be destroyed for ever;' 145:20, 'All the wicked will he destroy;' Isaiah 13:9, 'He shall destroy the sinners out of the land.' The word occurs in Isaiah 26:14, 'They are deed, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.' this is an expression of the security in the mind of the speaker, who feels that there is no fear of the evil rulers rising again to play the tyrant or to mislead, but it is by no means to be taken as deciding the question whether these ungodly men may or may not have a future awaiting them.

Very often a qualifying expression is used, which shows that the destruction spoken of is relative, not absolute. Thus in Ezekiel 14:9, 'I will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel;' Amos 9:8, 'I will destroy it from off the face of the earth;' Haggai 2:22, 'I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen.' this points to the real meaning in other passages.

The Root Charam

Charam (חרם ) is a religious word of great importance, as will be seen from its usage. It represents the devotion of some object to destruction or to a sacred use (answering to the double sense of the Latin sacer), not for the gratification of any selfish purpose, but as a religious act. It is rendered devote or dedicate in Leviticus 27:21, with reference to a field; in verses 28 and 29 with reference to man, beast, and land; and the direction is given that the devoted object (if an animal) should not be redeemed, but put to death. With regard to the land, its devotion rendered it the property of the priest (Numbers 18:14; Ezekiel 44:29). this word was applied to the destruction of nations, partly because they were regarded as under the Divine doom, and partly also because the substance of the nations destroyed was dedicated to the Lord. Thus we read in Micah 4:13, 'Thou shalt beat in pieces many people, and I will consecrate (or devote) their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.' in Ezra 10:8 it is used of the forfeiture of the substance of those who did not come to the Passover, which was accompanied by the putting them out of the congregation. Also in Daniel 11:44 it is used of the way in which the king should 'make away' many.

The word is used of the accursed (i.e. devoted) city and substance of Jericho in the sixth and seventh chapters of Joshua, and in the reference to Achan's conduct in Joshua 22:20 and 1 Chronicles 2:7.

The idols and their silver and gold are also described as cursed (i.e. devoted) in Deuteronomy 7:26; Deuteronomy 13:17 in Isaiah 34:5 the Edomites are described as 'the people of God's curse,' i.e. devoted to destruction by God; and this accounts for the use of the word in 2 Chronicles 20:23, 'The children of Amm on and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir utterly to slay them' (i.e. to devote them to destruction); without knowing it, they were carrying out the Divine purpose in Isaiah 43:28 God says, 'I have given Jacob to the curse,' i.e. I have devoted the people to destruction. this was in consequence of their idolatry and rebellion.

This same word, rendered 'curse,' is the last word in the solemn conclusion of Malachi's prophecy, 'Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord; and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come to smite the earth with a curse,' i.e. lest I come and devote the l and of Israel to destruction. Alas! the warning voice of Eli as was not attended to; Jerusalem did not recognise the day of its visitation; and it was smitten with a curse; the country was once more desolated, and the people scattered.

Charam is rendered destroy forty times in almost all of these places reference is made to the destruction of the natives of Canaan and the surrounding country by Israel. The destruction of nations by Nebuchadnezzar is described by the same word in 2 Kings 19:11 and Isaiah 37:11, perhaps because he was unwittingly carrying out the work of God in his destruction in Isaiah 11:15 the destruction of the l and of Egypt by the Lord is referred to; and in Jeremiah 25:9, the destruction of Judah by the King of Babylon. The word is also used in Zechariah 14:11, where the bright promise is given of a time when 'there shall be no more utter-destruction' - a hope that is carried forward in the N.T in the words, 'There shall be no more curse' (Revelation 22:3).

With regard to the extermination of the Canaanites, the following points may be noticed. First, it was not taken in h and to accomplish personal revenge; Israel had no grudge against Canaan; the people had to be almost goaded into the land. Secondly, it was not done to gain plunder, for all plunder was regarded as cherem, devoted to God, and in that sense accursed. Thirdly, it was not done to gratify thirst for military glory; for the Hebrews were the smallest of nations, and were told beforeh and that if they conquered it would not be in their own strength, but in God's. Fourthly, it was not to be regarded as a reward for merit; they were a rebellious and stiff-necked people, and would have perished in the wilderness had not God remembered his holy covenant. Fiftly, the extermination of the Canaanites was to be a security against idolatry and demoralisation on the part of Israel. Lastly, these nations had filled up the measure of their iniquity, and the Israelites in destroying them were acting magisterially as God's agents.

The most prominent LXX renderings of this word are ἐξολοθρεύω, ἀναθεματίζω, ἀνάθεμα, ἀνάθημα. The word ἀνάθημα occurs in Luke 21:5, where we read of the temple being adorned with gifts. ʼΑναθεματίζω is found four times in the N.T in Mark 14:71 it is used of Peter's cursing, which may have been a calling down of imprecation on his own head. So in Acts 23:12; Acts 14:21, certain men 'bound themselves with an oath,' i.e invited the curse of God in case they failed to carry out their purpose.

It is not easy to fix the exact sense of ἀνάθεμα in the N.T. With the exception of Acts 23:14, it only occurs in five passages, which are in St. Paul's Epistles in Galatians 1:8-9, he says, 'If any one preach any other gospel than I have preached unto you, let him be anathema.' Again, 1 Corinthians 16:22, 'If any one love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.' He does not say, let him be put away from among you, but, let him be regarded with aversion as an object on which the Lord will pour down indignation.

Again, the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 12:3) that whatever spirit calls Jesus anathema is not of God. He is here giving a plain test by which the dullest comprehension could discern spirits. Whatever spirit prompts a man to speak of Jesus as an accursed object, that spirit cannot be of God.

The only other passage is Romans 9:3, where Paul seems to have almost prayed or wished that an anathemamay have come on him from Christ, for the sake of his brethren in Father Simon's translation of the N.T., the passage reads thus: - 'I could wish myself to be an anathema, for the sake of Jesus Christ, for my brethren,' &c. He considered that the Greek ἀ̓πὸ (from) might be rendered 'because of,' or ' for the sake of,' because the Hebrew preposition which answers to it in the O.T. is frequently used in this sense.

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Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Destruction, Death, Hell'. Synonyms of the Old Testament.
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