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Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament

Freedom of the will

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Voluntary action, as opposed to that which is constrained or compulsory, is indicated by the word Nadav (נדב ), for which the LXX uses προθυμέω. this word is applied to the offerings for the tabernacle which were given 'willingly' (Exodus 25:2; Exodus 35:5, &c.), to the 'freewill offerings' for Solomon's temple (1 Chronicles 28:21; 1 Chronicles 29:5), and to the 'free offerings' in the days of Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:8). [ in Assyrian, nindabu means a freewill offering (Sayce).] in Leviticus 7:16, and Ezekiel 46:12, it is rendered voluntary in Psalms 68:9, it is used of the 'plentiful rain' which was sent freely or without stint up on God's inheritance.

This word occurs in Psalms 54:6, 'I will freely sacrifice unto thee;' in Hosea 14:4, 'I will love them freely ;' also in Psalms 51:12, 'Uphold me (with thy) free spirit,' i.e. 'sustain in me an unconstrained spirit of devotion.' in this last passage the LXX reads πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῳ̂, 'with thy guiding or ruling spirit,' the Hebrew reading followed being perhaps slightly different from our own.

In Psalms 110:3, we read, 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.' These words are sometimes taken as referring to God's 'preventing grace,' and they have been even cited as justifying a man in sitting listlessly under God's Word, waiting till power comes up on him from above. Such an interpretation is held in forgetfulness of the fact that God works through the will, not apart from it - that He turns the lock, but does not force it. The form of the word in this passage is the plural substantive, so that the literal rendering would be, 'thy people shall be freewill offerings,' &c. Luther renders it, 'thy people shall offer willingly' (see also R. V.); and the words seem to point to the fact that in the day of the Messiah's exaltation his people shall offer Him unconstrained service, yielding their bodies as living sacrifices unto God, rendering Him a rational (as opposed to a ceremonial) service. (See Romans 12:1, and compare the Prayer Book Version of the Psalms.)

The word προθυμία is not often found in the N.T., but there is one passage, viz. 2 Corinthians 8:11-12, where it occurs, which calls for some slight elucidation. The A. V. runs thus: - 'Now therefore perform the doing of it that, as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have, for if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.' The words 'a readiness' in the first part of this passage, and 'a willing mind' in the second, stand for the Greek word προθυμία; so that the Apostle would say, ' as there was a willingness to determine (προθυμία του̂ θέλειν), so let there be a carrying out of that determination by a contribution from what you possess; for where there is a real willingness, such a contribution is acceptable, even though small, because it is given according to what a man does possess, not according to what he does not.' The word προθυμίαhere answers to nadav, whilst the word θέλεινanswers rather to avah. St. Paul did not accept the will (avah) for the deed, but if what is given is given voluntarily (nadav), then he gladly accepted the gift in proportion to the means of the giver.

The word which marks volition, or that which immediately precedes action, is Yaal (יאל ), which the LXX generally represents by ἄρχομαι, to begin. We meet with it in Joshua 17:12, 'The Canaanites would dwell in that land;' compare Judges 1:27; Judges 1:34, and Hosea 5:11, 'He willingly walked after the commandment.' It is rendered 'assay' in 1 Samuel 17:39, 'He assayed [The R,. V. retains this spelling, instead of 'essayed.'] to go, 'implying that David was on the verge of starting off (Vulg. 'he began to step out') in Saul's armour, but [he put them off, for] he had not proved them. Yaal is rendered 'begin' in Deuteronomy 1:5 in Genesis 18:27; Genesis 18:31, it is found in the expression 'I have taken up on me to speak unto the Lord.' All these passages exhibit the real meaning of the word as representing the volitional element in an act rather than the feelings, dispositions, or motives which have prompted it.

In a few passages Yaal is rendered 'content,' where the word signifies that a certain effort of the will was necessary before the thing required was done. See Exodus 2:21; Joshua 7:7; Judges 17:11; Judges 19:6; 2 Kings 5:23; 2 Kings 6:3; Job 6:28. Where the sentence is in the form of a petition, it seems to answer to our use of the word 'do' in the sentence 'Oh, do come!' in accordance with this sense, it is rendered 'be pleased' in 1 Samuel 12:22; 2 Samuel 7:29; 1 Chronicles 17:27; Job 6:9.


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Bibliography Information
Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Freedom of the will'. Synonyms of the Old Testament. https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/girdlestone/33.

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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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