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Bible Lexicons

Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament


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The word Nakah (נקה , Ass. naqû) signifies (in the passive) to be cleansed or made free from pollution, and so to be guiltless, innocent, and unpunished. It implies that a man's innocence with respect to a particular charge is established in the sight of others, so that the charge falls to the ground. The first passage in which it occurs is Genesis 24:8; Genesis 24:41, 'Thou shalt be clear from this my oath.'

We read in Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Nahum 1:3, that 'the Lord will by no means clear (the guilty).' These words, coming as they do after the representation of God as 'forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,' are remarkable. They are illustrated by the following clause, 'visiting the iniquity of the fathers up on the children, and up on the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth (generation).' They imply that, though God is ready to pardon sin, He by no means ignores or disregards it. The sinner is regarded as guilty in God's sight until the revealed way of removing that guilt is found and appealed to. this truth is also taught in the following passages where the word is used: - Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11, 'The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.' Numbers 5:31, 'Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity,' i.e. shall be acquitted from the charge of wrong-doing. Numbers 32:22, 'Then afterwards ye shall return and be guiltless before the Lord and before Israel.' Joshua 2:19, 'H is blood shall be up on his head, and we will be guiltless,' i.e. with respect to the oath made to spare Rahab's kindred (compare verse 17, where the same word is rendered 'blameless'). 1 Samuel 26:9, 'Who can stretch forth his h and against the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?' 2 Samuel 3:28, 'I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord forever from the blood of Abner, the son of Ner.' 2 Samuel 14:9, 'The woman of Tekoah said unto the king, The iniquity be on me and on my father's house; and the king and his throne be guiltless.' 1 Kings 2:9, 'Now therefore hold him not guiltless.' Job 10:14, 'If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity.' Every sin constitutes a distinct charge against a man in the sight of God, and it must be dealt wit has such. Psalms 24:4, 'He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.' Clean hands are those which are innocent of blood-guiltiness. Joel 3:21, 'I will cleanse their blood which I have not cleansed.'

Some other renderings of the words may be noticed: - Genesis 20:5, ' in the integrity of my heart and in the innocency of my hands have I done this.' Genesis 44:10, 'Ye shall be blameless.' Exodus 23:7, 'The innocent and righteous slay thou not.' Deuteronomy 19:9-10, 'Thou shalt add three cities more for thee besides these three, that innocent blood be not shed in thy land, and so blood be up on thee.' Deuteronomy 19:13, 'Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away (the guilt of) innocent blood from Israel.' Deuteronomy 21:8-9, 'Lay not innocent blood to the charge of thy people Israel. . So shalt thou put away (the guilt of) innocent blood from among you.' Deuteronomy 27:25, 'Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person' (compare 1 Samuel 19:5; 2 Kings 21:16; 2 Kings 24:4). Judges 15:3, 'Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines.' Job 4:7, 'Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent' (see also Job 9:23; Job 9:28; Job 17:8; Job 22:19; Job 22:30; Job 27:17). Psalms 10:8, 'He doth murder the innocent' (see Psalms 15:5; Psalms 94:21; Psalms 106:38; Proverbs 1:11; Proverbs 6:17; Isaiah 59:7; Jeremiah 2:34; Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 19:4; Jeremiah 22:3; Jeremiah 22:17; Jeremiah 26:15; Joel 3:19; Jonah 1:14). Psalms 19:13, 'Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous (sins); let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.' Psalms 26:6, 'I will wash my hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar' (see Psalms 73:13). Proverbs 6:29, 'Whosoever toucheth (his neighbour's wife) shall not be innocent' (see Psa. 11:21, Psalms 16:5, Psalms 17:5, Psalms 19:5; Psalms 19:9, Psa. 28:20; Jeremiah 2:35). Jeremiah 25:29; Jeremiah 49:12, 'Should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished.' Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28, 'I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.'

The above are almost all the passages in which the word Nakah occurs. It generally appears to signify proved innocence from specified charges, whether those charges are brought by God or man. The offences, if committed, were punishable; but when they have not been committed, if that innocence can be made clear, the person against whom the charge is made goes off free from blame and punishment. It is evident that the innocence implied by this word is from one point of view not such a perfect state as what is called justification; for whilst the former leaves one in the negative position of not having done certain things, the latter advances a step further, and constitutes one upright in the sight of God. Where Nakah is used, man is regarded as actually clear from a charge; where Tsadak is used, man is regarded as having obtained deliverance from condemnation, and as being thus entitled to a certain inheritance.

In the Piel or intensive voice, the word is only used in negative sentences, with the exception of Psalms 19:12, 'Cleanse thou me from my hidden (faults),' i.e. hold me guiltless.

The LXX renders Nakah by ἀθόω, καθαρίζω, καθαρός εἰμι, and, in a few passages, by ἀναίτιος and δίκαιος.

Public Domain
Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Innocence'. Synonyms of the Old Testament.
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