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Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament

Names of man

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If it is strange that man, gifted though he is with great intelligence, should need a special revelation of the nature and character of his Maker, still more surprising is it that he should have to learn from the pages of Scripture the story of his own orig in and destiny. Human nature, as portrayed in the Bible, is full of incongruities which illustrate at once the greatness and the littleness of man, his nearness to God, and his fellowship with the dust. The very names of man used by the Hebrew writers indicate the anomalies of his condition, for the principal words which are used represent him in four apparently inconsistent aspects: - as Adam, he is of the earth, earthy; as Ish, he is endued with immaterial and personal existence; as Enosh, he is weak or incurable; and as Gever, he is mighty and noble.

The Name Adam

The root of the word Adam (אדם ) signifies to be red or ruddy, and is the ordinary word used for that purpose. It designates Esau's red lentil pottage, and gives him his name, Edom (Genesis 25:30). It is used of the rams' skins dyed red in Exodus 25:5, al. It marks the colour of the red heifer in Numbers 19:2, and of the red horses in Zechariah 1:8. It is the word used of the sardius stone or ru by in Exodus 28:7, and Ezekiel 28:13; and of the ruddy tint of the flesh of the human being in Genesis 25:25; 1 Samuel 16:12; and in 2 Kings 3:22, it is applied to the water which .w as as red as blood; and in Isaiah 63:2, to the red garments which He wore who came from Edom. nor should we omit to notice that the ordinary Hebrew word for blood (Dam) is possibly connected with the same root. [See Genesis 9:6, where the two words are found together. Prof. Sayce points out a possible relationship in Assyrian between Adamu, man, and Adman, sanctuary.]

Another form which the word takes is Adamah, the earth or soil, which may have received its name from its reddish tint. We here see why the first man was called Adam, and why the human race is generally called by the same name in the Hebrew Scriptures, Homo ex humo.Accordingly we read in Genesis 2:7, that 'the Lord God formed man (Adam) of the dust of the ground (Adamah).' [It may also perhaps be inferred that primeval man was of a ruddy colour. Lanci's translation of the word Adam was Il Rossicante.

It is not always easy to determine when the word Adam should be regarded as a proper name, and when as a generic title in Job 31:33, we read of a man hiding his transgression as Adam, a remarkable reference to the story of the fall; but in Hosea 6:7, where the same form is found, our translators have put into the text 'they like men have transgressed the covenant, and have banished the name Adam to the margin. But see R. V.]

The word Adam is used in the O.T. for a human being in about 460 places. It is usually rendered in the LXX ἄνθρωπος, a human being, which occurs as its substitute in 411 passages; ἀνήρ, a man, is found only eighteen times, of which fifteen are in the Book of Proverbs; in Proverbs 20:24, θνητός, mortal, is used; in the Book of Job, βροτός, mortal, is adopted four times; and in Jeremiah 32:20, we find γηγενής, earth-born, which is the closest translation of any.

The word is generally used throughout the O.T. to signify human nature or the human race generally, as contrasted with God above, or with the brute creation below. Thus it is used with great fitness in Exodus 33:20, 'There shall no man see me and live,' and in Matthew 3:8, 'Will a man rob God?' It is the word ordinarily used in the expression 'children of men' (e.g in Genesis 11:5). It is also found in the title 's on of man,' which occurs fifty-seven times in Ezekiel and once in Daniel (8:17); compare also Psalms 8:4; Job 25:6; Job 35:8, al in all such passages special stress is laid up on the fact that the person thus designated is a child of Adam by descent, one of the great family of man, with a body framed of earthy material. The Lord Jesus frequently used this title with respect to Himself in order to teach his disciples that though He 'came down from heaven,' and was 'sent from God,' yet He was in very deed and truth a man. [It is sometimes asked, How can a person be at the same time God and the son of God? The answer partly lies in the parallel question, How can a person be at the same time Man and the son of Man? Christ was not the son of any individual man, but was a partaker of human nature; and this was what He signified by the title 'S on of Man.' Similarly, by the title 'S on of God' He taught that He was a partaker of Deity.]

A few passages in which the word Adam is used for man deserve special notice in Daniel 10:16; Daniel 10:18, we read of 'one like the similitude or appearance of a man' - like an Adam, and yet not an Adam, because not yet incarnate in Ezekiel 1:5; Ezekiel 1:8; Ezekiel 1:10; Ezekiel 10:8; Ezekiel 10:14, we meet with a description of living creatures with 'the likeness of a man,' with 'the hands of a man,' and with 'the face of a man;' and 'up on the likeness of the throne was the likeness as of the appearance of a man above up on it;' and this, we are told, was 'the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord' (Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 1:28; see also chaps. 3:23, and 10:4). It may be inferred that the Being whom Ezekiel thus saw in his vision was represented in human form but clothed with Divine attributes - not yet 'a son of Adam,' but 'One like a son of Adam.'

These remarkable passages indicate that human nature is intended to occupy a very high position in the scale of Creation, and that human nature was originally so constituted as to be capable of becoming the dwelling-place of the Most High. They also prepared the mind for the truth set forth by St. John, who thus wrote of the Lord Jesus: - 'The Word was made flesh, and dwelt (or tabernacled) among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.' What Ezekiel saw in vision John saw in reality; his eyes looked up on and his hands handled the Word of Life.

Two other passages have often attracted the attention of students in 2 Samuel 7:1-29. there is recorded, first, the promise of God to keep an unfailing covenant with the seed of David, whose throne should be established for ever; and secondly, David's expression of thankfulness on account of this promise in the opening of his song of praise (vv. 18, 19) he says, 'Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? and this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. and is this the manner of man, O Lord God?' The parallel passage (1 Chronicles 17:17) runs thus: ' for thou hast also spoken of thy servant's house for a great while to come, and hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree.' The word translated manner in the one passage and estate in the other, is torah [The word in Chronicles is spelt Tor, and occurs in this form nowhere else.] which is generally rendered 'law.' The first passage might be rendered, ' and this is the law (or order) of the man,' and the second, 'Thou hast regarded me according to the law (or order) of the man from on high.' Some versions have rendered these passages so as to bring out more distinctly a reference to the Messiah. Thus, in Luther's version of 2 Samuel 7:19, we read, 'That is a way of a man, who is God the Lord;' [D as ist eine Weise eines Menschen, der Gott der Herr ist.] whilst his rendering of 1 Chronicles 17:17, is, 'Thou hast looked up on me after the order (or form) of a man who is the Lord God on High.' [Du hast angesehen mich als in der Gestalt eines Menschen, der in der Höhe Gott der Herr ist.] The words are grammatically capable of this rendering; but it is more in accordance with the context, and also with the structure of the passage, to regard the name of the Lord God as in the vocative case, in accordance with the rendering given by our translators. (See R. V. on Samuel.)

The Word Ish

The second name for man which is to be considered is Ish (אישׁ ). The original meaning of this word is doubtful. It is often supposed to be connected with Enosh (on which see below); and this theory receives a certain amount of confirmation from the fact that the plural of the latter word has almost always been used instead of the proper plural of Ish. Others incline to the supposition that the word may bear some relationship to the verb - if it may be called a verb - Yesh (ישׁ ), - a root similar to the Latin esse, and to the English is. Others, again, connect it with the word Ashash, to found or make firm; or with the kindred form, Ashah. These words may all spring from a common source.

The first passage in which Ish occurs is Genesis 2:23, where Adam said, 'This is now bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh; she shall be called woman (Ishah), because she was taken out of man (Ish).' [The Vulgate keeps up the relationship between Ish and Ishah by rendering them Vir and Virago.] Although great names may be cited to the contrary, there seems to be no valid re as on for departing from the implied derivation of Ishah from Ish. [The Vulgate keeps up the relationship between Ish and Ishah by rendering them Vir and Virago.] The word Ishah, being first used by man of himself in contradistinction to a second being of his own kind and springing from him, must represent some personal feeling of a kind to which Adam had hitherto been a stranger instead of being isolated and without a fellow, having God far above him, and the beasts of the earth below him, Adam found that he had a companion of a nature congenial to his own, 'a help,' as Scripture says, 'meet for him ;' there was an I and a Thou, a personal relationship between two selves or existences, an Ish and an Ishah, the one springing from the other, and reflecting the other's nature - the same, yet distinct.

But whatever may be the orig in of the word Ish, its usage is very plain, and is illustrated by the fact that the LXX renders it by ἀνήρ in about 1083 passages, and by ἄνθρωπος only 450 times. Ish is rightly translated a man as contrasted with a woman; a husband [The word itself appears in Hosea 2:16, 'Thou shalt call me Ishi,' that is, My Husband.] as contrasted with a wife; a master as contrasted with a servant; a great and mighty man as contrasted with a po or and lowly one.

Ish is often used with qualifying nouns, as in Exodus 4:10, 'a man of words.' It sometimes implies greatness or eminence, and is thrown into contrast with Adam. Thus, in Psalms 49:2, the words 'low and high' are literally 'children of Adam and children of Ish;' Psalms 62:9, 'men of low degree (children of Adam) are vanity, and men of high degree (children of Ish) are a lie;' so also in Isaiah 2:9; Isaiah 5:15; Isaiah 31:8.

The word is often used in the sense of each or every one, e.g. Joel 2:7, 'They shall march every one on his ways.' It is used in the Hebrew idiom 'a man to his brother,' which signifies 'one to another,' as it is rendered in Exodus 25:20; Ezekiel 1:11, &c., where reference is made to the wings of the living creature touching each other. The feminine form, Ishah, is used in exactly the same way. Thus we read in Exodus 26:3, 'The five curtains shall be coupled together, one to another;' literally, 'a woman to her sister' Probably the much disputed passage, Leviticus 18:18, which is so frequently discussed in relation to the marriage with a deceased wife's sister; ought to be rendered in accordance with this idiomatic form of expression.

The word is constantly used in such compound expressions as 'Man of Israel,' Man of God,' 'Man of understanding,' and 'Man of Sorrows.'

Where we read in Exodus 15:3, that 'the Lord is a man of war,' the word Ish is used. The passage does not mean that He is a human being - This would have involved the use of the word Adam. Again, when the sacred writer tells us in Joshua 5:13, that 'a man stood over against' Joshua, he does not use the word Adam, but Ish, which both here and elsewhere can be rendered person or Being. Compare also Daniel 9:21; Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6-7; Zechariah 1:8, &c., where the word is applied to Beings, who presented themselves in vision to the eye of the prophet, without necessarily being partakers of human nature.

There is a diminutive formed from the word Ish, namely, Ish on (אישׁון ), which signifies the apple or pupil of the eye, literally the 'little men' which any one may see reflected in another person's eye. [This figure has found its way into other languages. See Gesenius' Thesaurus on the word,] It occurs also in Deuteronomy 32:10, and in Proverbs 7:2 [ in the 9th verse of the same chapter it is rendered black (the idea being borrowed from the darkness of the pupil) and applied to night.] in Lamentations 2:18, the figure is slightly different, the expression being literally 'the daughter of the eye;' and in Psalms 17:8, the two are combined, so that the literal rendering would be 'keep me as the little man, the daughter of the eye.' in Zechariah 2:8, a different word is used for the pupil, representing the hole or gate of the eye rather than that which is reflected on it.

A verb has been derived from the word Ish, and is used in the expression 'shew yourselves men' (Isaiah 46:8), answering well to the Greek ἀνδρίζεσθε. Compare the English phrase 'to be unmanned.'

The Word Enosh

The third word for Man is Enosh (אנושׁ ), which occurs very frequently in the O.T., and is generally considered to point to man's insignificance or inferiority. [The Assyrian niou for enion is taken by Dr. Sayce as answering to Enosh.] this word, like Ish, depends, in some measure, on its surroundings for its meaning, and often answers to our English word 'person,' by which it has been rendered in the A. V in Judges 9:4, and Zephaniah 3:4. Its plural form generally does duty for the plural of Is has well. See, e.g., Genesis 18:2; Genesis 18:16; Genesis 18:22, where the 'men' were angelic Beings.

In poetry Enosh occurs as a parallel to Adam. Thus, 'I will make a man (Enosh) more precious than fine gold; even a man (Adom) than the golden wedge of Ophir' (Isaiah 13:12). It is occasionally introduced as a parallel with Ben-Adam, the son of man; thus, 'How much less man (Enosh) that is a worm, and the son of man (Ben-Adam) which is a worm' (Job 25:6); 'What is man (Enosh), that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man (Ben-Adam), that thou visitest him?' (Psalms 8:4); 'What is man (Enosh), that thou takest knowledge of him? or the son of man (Ben-Adam), that thou makest account of him?' (Psalms 144:3); 'Thou turnest man (Enosh) to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men' (Benai-Adam, Psalms 90:3) in these passages it will be noted that the insignificance of man is especially in the writer's mind in Job 4:17, our translators have rendered it mortal man: 'Shall mortal man (Enosh) be more just than God? Shall a man (Gever) [See below, § 4.] be more pure than his maker?' Here the word (Gever must be used with a tinge of irony, as in Job 10:5, 'Are thy days as the days of man (Enosh)? are thy years as man's (Gever) days?'

There are other passages where the insignificance of man is specially brought out by the use of Enosh, e.g. Job 7:17, 'What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart up on him?' Job 9:2, 'How should man be just before God?' See also Job 15:14; Job 25:4; Psalms 9:20; Psalms 103:15; Daniel 2:43.

Enosh is sometimes used where man is brought into direct contrast with his Maker. Thus we read in Job 10:4, 'Hast thou (O God) eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?' Job 33:12, 'I will answer thee, that God is greater than man;' Isaiah 7:13, ' is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?' See also Isaiah 29:13; Isaiah 51:7; Isaiah 51:12.

In Ezekiel 24:17, the prophet is forbidden to mourn or to eat 'the bread of men.' Here the Rabbinical commentators incline to take the word men as signifying other men, according to an ordinary Hebrew idiom, and they refer to the custom of the food of the mourner being supplied by a neighbour. Others read it 'the bread of husbands,' i.e. of widowed husbands, and the usage of the word in Ruth 1:11, and perhaps in Jeremiah 29:6 (in each of which passages Enosh occurs) gives some slight ground for this view. Others, again, consider the word here signifies mortal men.

The A. V. rendering of the word in 1 Samuel 2:33, ' in the flower of their age,' is hardly justified by other passages, and might well be replaced by a more literal translation without departing from English idiom; it has the sanction, however, of the Vulgate and of Luther (see R. V.).

When we come to inquire into the etymology and original meaning of the word, we find it connected with the Hebrew root anashThis word occurs (usually in the form anush) in the following passages only: - 2 Samuel 12:15, David's child was 'very sick;' Job 34:6, 'My wound is incurable;' Psalms 69:20, 'I am full of heaviness;' Isaiah 17:11, 'Desperate sorrow;' Jeremiah 15:8, 'Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed?' Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is 'desperately wicked;' Jeremiah 17:16, 'Neither have I desired the woeful day' (LXX, 'the day of man'); Jeremiah 30:12, 'Thy bruise is incurable and thy wound is grievous;' Jeremiah 30:15, 'Thy sorrow is incurable for the multitude of thine iniquity;' Micah 1:9, 'Her wound is incurable.'

These passages fix the meaning of the word. But it may be asked why a word which signifies incurable should be used to denote man. Perhaps the answer may be found in Genesis 4:26. Seth had been 'appointed' in the place of Abel, but man remained unchanged and unredeemed; so Seth's son was called Enosh'Then began men to call up on the name of Jehovah .' The race was 'incurable,' but the Lord was its hope. Thus, Seth's son may have been named Enosh, that is to say 'incurable,' because he was utterly unable to redeem himself from the bondage of corruption. this view of the matter is taken by Cocceius, who says that, ' as Adam was the name given to all who sprang from the dust of earth, so Enosh became the title of all those who are heirs of corruption.'

The Messiah was never designated by the name Enosh, because, though appointed to become a descendant of Adam, and destined to be made ' in the likeness of sinful flesh,' yet in Him there was to be no sin. But it is a remarkable thing that when the glorious coming of the Messiah to rule the nations is unfolded in Daniel 7:13, the Lord is described as 'one like a son of Enosh.' Compare the description in Leviticus 5:6, 'A Lamb as it had been slain,' which indicates that the marks of his humiliation will accompany his glory.

The Word Gever

The last name for man which has to be noticed is Gever (גבר ), which is used more than sixty times in the O.T., and represents man as a mighty being. this title is at first sight inconsistent with the name Enosh; but no one can weigh well the facts which human nature daily presents to his observation without coming to the conclusion that man is a marvellous compound of strength and weakness, and that while he is rightly called Enosh by re as on of the corruption of his nature, he may also lay claim to the title of Gever by virtue of the mighty energies which are capable of being exhibited in his life and character.

The Greek translators have rendered Gever by ἀνήρ in the majority of places where it occurs, but in fourteen passages they have been content with the more general word ἂνθρωπος in the English Bible it is usually rendered Man, but in some places the original sense of the word has been adhered to, and it has been translated mighty.

The earliest passages where the word is found, with the exception of Genesis 6:4, are: Exodus 10:11, 'Go now ye that are men;' and Exodus 12:37, 'About six hundred thous and on foot that were men, beside women and children.' Balaam uses this word when he designates himself 'the man whose eyes are open' (Numbers 24:3; Numbers 24:15). It is used of the male sex as opposed to the female in Deuteronomy 22:5, and is rendered 'man by man' where individuals are distinguished from tribes in Joshua 7:14, and 1 Chronicles 23:3. It is twice applied to David with a significant reference to its real meaning, namely, in 1 Samuel 16:18, 'A mighty valiant man' (lit. 'a mighty man of strength'), and 2 Samuel 23:1, 'The man who was raised up on high.' See also 1 Chronicles 12:8; 1 Chronicles 28:1; 2 Chronicles 13:3; Ezra 4:21; Ezra 5:4; Ezra 5:10; Ezra 6:8.

The above-named passages plainly show the original meaning and the general usage of Gever, but in the poetical Books, in which this word occurs with greater frequency, there is not always the same marked clearness of signification in the Book of Job there appears to be a slight irony in its use. Thus: - 'Shall a man (mighty though he be in his own estimation) be more pure than his Maker?' (4:17); (mighty) man dieth and wasteth away' (14:10); 'If a (mighty) man die, shall he live again?' (ver. 14); 'Can a (mighty) man be profitable unto God?' (22:2); 'That he may hide pride from (mighty) man' (33:17). See also 33:29, 38:3, 40:7.

The word is used in Psalms 34:8, 'Blessed is the man that trusteth in him,' where it points to the fact that however great a man may be, yet he is not to trust in his own strength, but in the living God. The same explanation may be given of its use in Psalms 37:23, 'The steps of a man (A. V. ' of a good man') are ordered (or established) by the Lord.' Compare Psalms 40:4; Psalms 52:7; Psalms 94:12; Psalms 128:4 in Psalms 88:4, we read, 'I am as a (mighty) man that hath no strength;' the contrast here indicated between the name and the condition is very striking. The Psalmist says again (89:48), 'What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?' The point of this question comes out far more clearly when the use of the word Gever is noticed, and the sentiment might be thus expressed, ' is there any living man so mighty as to be able to avoid death?'

Neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel use the word (Gever at all, but we meet with it eight times in the prophecy of Jeremiah, and four times in the Book of Lamentations. The following are the most interesting examples: - Jeremiah 17:5; Jeremiah 17:7, 'Cursed is the (mighty) man (Gever) that trusteth in man (Adam, the earthy).' . 'Blessed is the (mighty) man that trusteth in the Lord.' Jeremiah 23:9, 'I am like a (mighty) man whom wine hath overcome.' With what force is the power of strong drink here delineated! Gever is also found in Jeremiah 31:22, where the Lord says to the 'Virg in of Israel,' that He was about to create a new thing - 'A woman shall compass a man.' [Literally, 'a female shall compass (or enclose) a Mighty One.']

Several words are related to Gever. There is the verb gavar, which is found in twenty-three places, and is usually rendered prevail; in Psalms 103:11; Psalms 117:2, it is used of the moral efficacy and prevailing power of God's mercy. Gevir is used for 'lord' in Isaac's blessing (Genesis 27:29; Genesis 27:37). Gevirah is sometimes used for a Queen; Gevereth for a mistress (rendered lady in Isaiah 47:5; Isaiah 47:7). Gevurah is rendered force, mastery, might, power, strength Gibb or signifies mighty, and is frequently used both of God and man; it is found three times in the expression 'the Mighty God,' namely, in Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 10:21, and Jeremiah 32:18, passages which are deeply interesting in relation to the Deity of the Messiah.

The LXX has sometimes rendered Gibb or by γίγας, giant, as in Genesis 6:4; Genesis 10:8-9; 1 Chronicles 1:10; Isaiah 3:2; Isaiah 13:3; Ezekiel 32:21. The general Hebrew name for a giant is not gibbor, which refers to might rather than stature, but Rephaim, Rephaites or sons of Raphah. The word used in Genesis 6:4, and also in Numbers 13:33, is Nephilim, which is derived from the Hiphil or causative form of Naphal, to fall, and hence signifies tyrants, or those who make use of their power to cast down others in the former of these passages the Vulgate has giants, and Luther tyrants; in the latter the Vulgate has monsters, and Luther giants (Riesen).

The word methim (מתים ) is translated men in a few passages, chiefly in Job, Psalms, and Isaiah, also in Deuteronomy 2:34. It perhaps means 'mortal,' but this is doubtful.


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Bibliography Information
Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Names of man'. Synonyms of the Old Testament. https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/girdlestone/64.

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