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Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old TestamentGirdlestone's OT Synonyms


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Whatever theory one may hold as to the possibility or a priori probability of a Divine intervention in human affairs, the Bible is pledged to the fact that such an intervention has taken place. A study of its pages leads to the conclusion that it is as much in accordance with God's nature to help men out of the difficulties in which sin has involved them, as it was to create them after his own likeness in the first instance. nor will the student of the physical world fail to observe the analogy which here exists between nature and revelation; for if there be a v is medicatrix or healing power which is called into play by the wounds, accidents, and diseases to which the body is subject, why should it be thought a thing incredible that the Father of our spirits should provide some means of restoration for those who have become a prey to evil passions, and who through temptation or self-will have become partakers of moral and material corruption?

The patriarchal and Mosaic economies appear to have been intended by the Divine Being to form a groundwork whereup on a restorative work for the benefit of the human race might be built up in the fulness of time; and the pious Jew was trained up in the belief that amidst all his sins and ignorances, his infirmities and misfortunes, he might look up to God and receive from Him those blessings which are summed up in the words redemption and salvation.

The word which specially indicates redemption is Gaal (גאל ), best known in the form Goel, redeemer. [Another word, almost the same in sound, sometimes spelt in the same way, and sometimes with a slight change (געל ), signifies to defile or pollute.] Perhaps the original meaning of the word is to 'dem and back,' hence to extricate. It first appear in Genesis 48:16, 'The angel which redeemed me from all evil bless the lads.' in Exodus 6:6; Exodus 15:13, it is used of God's redeeming Israel out of Egypt with a stretched-out arm. We meet with it no more till we reach the twenty-fifth and twenty-seventh chapters of Leviticus, where it signifies the liberation of property from a charge, whether that charge was an ordinary debt or whether it had been incurred through a vow. The deliverance was to be effected in this case by payment or by exchange in cases of poverty, where no payment was possible, the nearest of k in was made responsible for performing the work of redemption. Hence no doubt it came to pass that a kinsman came to be called by the name Goel, as he is in Numbers 5:8, 1 Kings 16:11, and throughout the Book of Ruth. Compare Jeremiah 32:7-8.

In the prophets the word is applied not only to the deliverance of God's people from captivity, but to that more important and complete deliverance, of which all other historical interpositions of Divine grace are shadows. See Isaiah 35:9; Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 44:22-24; Isaiah 47:4; Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 51:10; Isaiah 52:3; Isaiah 62:12; Isaiah 63:4, Jeremiah 31:11.

One of the most important passages where the word occurs is in Isaiah 59:20, 'The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob' - words to which St. Paul refers as destined to have their fulfilment hereafter at the time of the complete salvation of Israel as a nation (Romans 11:26). [The text in Romans runs thus: 'The Redeemer shall come from Zion, and shall turn away transgressions from Jacob.' The LXX agrees in the latter part, but in the first part a different Hebrew reading must have been followed by St. Paul.]

The word occurs once in Job, in the celebrated passage (Job 19:25), 'I know that my Redeemer liveth.' Whatever view may be taken of this passage, whether we regard it as a prediction of the Messiah's coming, or as an intimation of the doctrine of the resurrection, or as referring to a temporal deliverance from disease and trouble, one point is clear, that Job expresses his deep conviction that there was a living God who could and who would take his part, and extricate him from all difficulties; and this is the principle in which the Hebrew reader was to be trained.

In Psalms 19:14, the Psalmist calls God his strength and his Redeemer; and in Psalms 69:18, he appeals to God to draw nigh and redeem his soul; and he uses the word again in a personal rather than a national sense, with reference to past or future deliverances, in Psalms 77:15; Psalms 78:35; Psalms 103:4; Psalms 106:10; Psalms 107:2 in Psalms 119:154, Gaal is rendered deliver.

Another application of the word was in the sense of avenging the blood of the slain. this is treated at length in the thirty-fifth chapter of Numbers, in connection with the subject of the cities of refuge. It is also referred to in Deuteronomy 19:6; Deuteronomy 19:12; Joshua 20:3; Joshua 20:5; Joshua 20:9; and 2 Samuel 14:11.

A remarkable combination of the senses of Goel is to be found in Proverbs 23:10-11, 'Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: for their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.' God takes the place of kinsman and also of avenger to the po or and helpless.

The idea of Goel as the avenger of blood comes up again in Isaiah 63:4, when the Mighty One in bloodstained garments says, 'The day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.' The word occurs again in the ninth and sixteenth verses of the same chapter, where it rather signifies deliverance from captivity.

In most of the passages above enumerated redemption may be considered as synonymous with deliverance, but always with the idea more or less developed that the Redeemer enters into a certain relationship with the redeemed - allies Himself in some sense with them, and so claims the right of redemption. The truth thus set forth was doubtless intended to prepare the mind of God's people for the doctrine of the Incarnation. 'Forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, therefore he also took part in the same,' and having constituted Himself the kinsman of the human race, He fought their battle against 'him who had the power of death,' and delivered his people from bondage (see Hebrews 2:14-15).

The LXX generally renders Gaal by λυτρόω, to redeem; but in fourteen passages we find ῥύομαι, to deliver; and in ten, ἀγχιστεύω, to act the neighbour. The verb ἀπολυτρόω is found in Zephaniah 3:1 (A. V. 'polluted'); λύτρον in Leviticus 25:24; Leviticus 25:51; Leviticus 25:54 ; λυτρωτής in Leviticus 25:31-32; Psalms 18:15; Psa. 77:35.

In many of the passages above cited another word is used as a parallel to gaal, namely, padah (פדה ; Ass. padû, 'to spare'), which our translators have rendered by the words deliver, redeem, ransom, [The English word ransom is only a contracted form of the word redemption.] and rescue. It is used in Exodus 13:13; Exodus 13:15, of the redemption of the first-born, who were regarded as representatives of those who had been spared when the first-born of Egypt were destroyed. this redemption extended to all unclean beasts, to all, that is to say, that were precluded from being offered as sacrifice (Numbers 18:16-17), and a set price was to be paid for their deliverance or quittance. Redemption money (A. V. ransom) is described in Exodus 21:30 as paid to make amends (copher) in certain eases of wrong-doing (see R. V.).

Padah is often adopted to represent the deliverance of a servant from slavery, as in Exodus 21:8. It is also used of the people rescuing Jonathan from death, in 1 Samuel 14:45.

This word is used in Psalms 31:5, 'Into thine h and I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth;' Psalms 34:22, 'The Lord redeemeth the souls of his servants;' Psalms 49:7-8; Psalms 49:15, 'None can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom (copher) for him: (for the redemption of their soul is precious). . But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave;' Psalms 130:7-8, 'With the Lord is plenteous redemption; and he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities;' Isaiah 1:27, 'Zion shall be redeemed with judgment.' The application of the word to Abraham, in Isaiah 29:22, is remarkable, 'Thus saith the Lord, who redeemed Abraham.' It seems here to signify his call from the companionship of idolaters and his introduction into the covenant of promise.

From the passages which have now been cited, it will be gathered that the word Padah is not used in the peculiar technical senses which Gaal expresses, but that it especially refers to the deliverance from bondage. The LXX generally represents it by λυτρόω; five times we find ῥύομαι, twice σώζω, and once ἀπολυτρόω.

The cognate form pada (פדע ) is found in connection with Caphar in Job 33:24, 'Deliver him: I have found a ransom' (or mode of atonement); but we find Padah in verse 28, 'He will deliver his soul from going into the pit.'

NT Teaching on Redemption

In approaching the Greek words for redemption in the N.T., it is evident that we must not narrow our conceptions to one sole process of deliverance, for the O.T. has led us to look for redemption in many aspects. There may be physical deliverance, from disease or death; social deliverance, from conventional or legal barriers between man and man, between the sexes, between various classes of society or various nations of the world; and there may be moral and spiritual deliverance, from the power of evil in the heart, and from the effects of that evil before God. Without pressing for a strong demarcation between ῥύομαι, to deliver, and λυτρόω, to redeem, we shall be prepared to find in both cases that the deliverance of man is costly, involving some gift or act of self-sacrifice on the part of the Redeemer; nor shall we be surprised if we find that a certain identification is necessitated between the Deliverer and those whom He claims a right to deliver.

We find ῥύομαι in the sense of deliverance in the following passages [But it is to be remembered that whilst ῥύομαιoccasionally stands for Gaal and padah, it more generally represents the causative form of natzal (נצל ), to rescue.] : - Matthew 6:13, 'Deliver us from evil.' Luke 1:74, 'That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies might serve him without fear;' connected with the coming of Christ. Romans 7:24, 'O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?' but here note the answer, 'through Jesus Christ.' Romans 11:26, referring to Isaiah 59:20, 'The Redeemer (Goel, ὁ ῥυόμενος) shall come from Zion.' See note on this passage on p.118. Romans 15:31, 'That I may be delivered from them that are disobedient.' 2 Corinthians 1:10, 'Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; and we hope also that he shall deliver.' Colossians 1:13, 'Who delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us.' 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 'Who delivers us from the wrath to come.' See also 2 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 4:17-18; 2 Peter 2:7; 2 Peter 2:9.

The verb λυτρόω is used only three times in the N.T in two of these passages there is evidently a reference to the cost or sacrifice which man's delivery has involved in Titus 2:14 we are told of Jesus Christ that He 'gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.' in 1 Peter 1:18-19, 'Ye were not redeemed from your vain manner of life with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.' These passages may be compared with our Lord's own words which are found in Matthew 20:28, and Mark 10:45, 'The son of man came (i.e. identified himself with the human race), not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many,' δου̂ναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὑτου̂ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλω̂ν. Thus the Lord became the kinsman of men, so as to have the right of redeeming them by the sacrifice of his own life. this truth was set forth in most striking words by St. Paul, who says of the Saviour (1 Timothy 2:5-6), 'There is one mediat or for God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all (δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ πάντων), to be testified in due time.'

Again, the two disciples, on their road to Emmaus, said of Jesus (Luke 24:21), 'We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel,' ὁ μέλλων λυτρου̂σθαι τὸν ʼΙσραήλ. by this expression they implied that a Redeemer was certainly coming, and that their hopes had been set up on Jesus of Nazaret has the person they were looking for. by the redemption of Israel perhaps they meant what the disciples described a few days afterwards as the restoration of the kingdom to Israel this redemption had been looked for with much eagerness among the Jews of that time, possibly owing to the study of Daniel's prophecy of Seventy Weeks. We have a glimpse of this expectation thirty years earlier in the prophetic song of Zacharias, which opens with these words (Luke 1:68): 'Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed (ἐποίησε λύτρωσιν) his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.' The word redemption here used by the aged priest appears to gather up in one all the blessings mentioned in the later portions of the song - light, pardon, peace, salvation, deliverance from the h and of enemies, and the power of serving God without fear, ' in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.' Compare the words concerning the aged Anna (i.e. Hannah 5 [It is a pity that our Revisers did not correct the spelling of this name as they did in the case of 'alleluia.']) who went forth to speak of Him to all those that looked for redemption (λύτρωσιν) in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).

The word λύτρωσις occurs once more, namely, in Hebrews 9:12, where we read of Christ that ' by his own blood he entered in once for all into the holy place (i.e into the heavens), having obtained (or found) eternal redemption for us (Job 33:24).'

The noun ἀπολύτρωσις, which does not exist in the LXX, occurs ten times in the N.T.; once in the Gospels, 'Lift up your heads, for behold your redemption draweth nigh' (Luke 21:28). this passage evidently refers to a great future event, which shall constitute the final deliverance of Israel from desolation. The word is used with reference to a greater deliverance in Romans 8:23, 'Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;' also in Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30.

In Romans 3:24, Ephesians 1:7, and Colossians 1:14, redemption is apparently identified with present pardon and justification through the blood of Christ. But there is another passage which combines the present and future aspects of redemption in one, viz. Hebrews 9:15. It is here stated that the death of Christ effects a redemption, or perhaps we might render it a quittance or discharge of the account of the transgressions incurred under the first covenant, that they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance in Hebrews 11:35, the word is used with reference to that deliverance from death which the martyrs under the old dispensation might possibly have obtained at the cost of a denial of the faith.

The idea of purchase as connected with salvation is expressed still more strongly in the N.T. than in the O.T., by the use of the words ἀγοράζω and ἐξαγοράζω. The former of these is used several times in the Gospels in its ordinary sense; but in the later books we read, 'Ye are (or were) bought with a price' (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23); 'Denying the Lord that bought them' (2 Peter 2:1); 'Thou hast bought us for God by thy blood' (Revelation 5:9); 'The hundred and forty-four thous and that are bought from the earth' (Revelation 14:3-4).

The more complete form ἐξαγοράζω is found in Galatians 3:13, 'Christ has bought us off from the curse;' and Galatians 4:5, 'Made under the law, that he might buy off them that are under the law.' It primarily refers to the special deliverance which Jews as such needed and obtained through the form and mode of Christ's death, so as to extricate them from the claims which the law of Moses would otherwise have established against them.

Another word is rendered purchase in the N.T., namely, περιποίησις. The verb usually answers to the Hebrew Chayah (חיה ), to make or keep alive. It is also used in Isaiah 43:21, where we read, 'This people have I formed (or moulded) for myself;' and the noun occurs in Malachi 3:17, where it signifies a peculiar treasure (A. V. jewels). The result of our being saved alive by God is that we become in a special sense his acquired property. Thus we may render Acts 20:28, 'Feed the church of God which he hath acquired to himself by his own blood;' 1 Peter 2:9, 'An acquired people;' [Thus a peculiar people, in the Bible, does not mean an eccentric or a strange people; it gives no excuse to people to affect peculiarities.] Ephesians 1:14, 'Until the redemption of the acquired property;' 1 Thessalonians 5:9, ' for the acquisition of salvation;' 2 Thessalonians 2:14, ' for the acquisition of glory.'

Bibilography Information
Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Redemption'. Synonyms of the Old Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​lexicons/​eng/​girdlestone/​redemption.html.
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