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Bible Lexicons

Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament


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The general word for love in the O.T. is ahav (אהב ), from which it has been supposed that its Greek representative ἀγάπη is derived; but compare Agav below. It indicates desire, inclination, or affection, whether human or divine in Amos 4:5, it has been rendered by the weaker English word like in a few passages the participial form has been rendered friend, as in 2 Samuel 19:6, 'Thou lovest thine enemies, and hatest thy friends;' 2 Chronicles 20:7 (compare Isaiah 41:8), 'Thou gavest thy l and to the seed of Abraham thy friend,' an expression which St. James singled out for comment in his Epistle (James 2:23); Zechariah 13:6, 'I was wounded in the house of my friends ;' see also Esther 5:10; Esther 5:14; Esther 6:13; Proverbs 14:20; Proverbs 27:6; Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 20:6 in these passages intimacy and affection, the cleaving of soul to soul, is implied, and 'lovers' rather than 'acquaintances' are designated. Occasionally the LXX adopts φιλει̂νinstead of ἀγαπᾳ̂ν, but never where God's love is concerned.

Other words rendered love in the A. V. are as follows: - Yedid (ידיד ), whence the name Jedidiah; rea (רע - Ass. ), a companion, ; ; ; ; ; , and Jeremiah 3:1; Agav (עגב ), used of impure love, and rendered 'doting' in Ezekiel 23:12; Ezekiel 33:31-32; Chashak (חשׁק ), to jo in together, Psalms 91:14; dodim (דודים - Ass. dadu), the impulse of the heart, or of sexual affection, Proverbs 7:18, Ezekiel 16:8; and chesed, mercy.

The Greek ἀγάπη is in a measure consecrated by the fact that it makes its first appearance in the LXX, being apparently unknown to early classical authors. It is used in the N.T. to designate the essential nature of God, his regard for mankind, and also the most marked characteristic of the Divine life as manifested in Christ and in Christians. It is unfortunate that the English, with some other languages, should have accepted two renderings for this important word, the Latin word charity being introduced as an alternative for the good old Sax on word love, but it has arisen through fear lest spiritual love should be confused with sensuous affection. The Greek ἔρως, is never used in the Bible except in Proverbs 7:18; Proverbs 30:16.

The word φιλει̂ν is rarely used in the N.T. But see 1 Corinthians 16:22, and especially John 21:15-17, where the distinction between love and friendship is noticeable in the Greek, but is lost in the English and other versions.

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Bibliography Information
Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Love'. Synonyms of the Old Testament.

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