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Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament


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The word most frequently rendered iniquity is Aven (און ) - Assyrian, annu. Some critics connect this word with a root which signifies desire; others, with greater reason, hold that its original meaning is nothingness. Its connection with idolatry is noticeable (see chap.27. § 2), and originates in the fact that an idol is a thing of naught, a vain thing in Amos 5:5, we read, 'Bethel shall come to naught' (aven); and, turning to Hosea 4:15; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 10:5; Hosea 10:8, we find that Bethel, the House of God, is designated as Beth-aven, i.e. the house of vanity, because idols were worshipped there.

The word is rendered vanity in several passages: Job 15:35, 'They conceive mischief and bring forth vanity;' Psalms 10:7, 'Under his tongue is mischief and vanity;' Proverbs 22:8, 'He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity.' See also Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 58:9; Jeremiah 4:14; Zechariah 10:2.

The word Aven is to be found in Proverbs 11:7 (unjust); Isaiah 10:1; Isaiah 55:7 (unrighteous); Psalms 90:10 (sorrow); Deuteronomy 26:14 (mourning); Job 5:6 (affliction); Psalms 140:11 (evil); Proverbs 17:4 (false); Psalms 36:4 (mischief).

Aven is rendered wickedness in a few passages, and iniquity in thirty-eight places. The most noticeable are: Numbers 23:21; 1 Samuel 15:23; Job 4:8; Job 21:19; Job 31:3; Job 34:22; Psalms 5:5; Psalms 6:8; Isaiah 1:13; Micah 2:1.

on considering all these passages, we shall be led to the conclusion that the word Aven suggests not so much breach of law or injury done to another, as a course of conduct which will in the end prove unprofitable to the doer. It presents the evil devices of man in their false, hollow, and unreal aspect; and by the use of this word the inspired writers put a stamp of nothingness or unreality up on every departure from the law of God, whether it consists of wrong-doing, evil devising, false speaking, or idolatrous worship.

The leading rendering of Aven in the LXX is ἀνομία; ἀδικία is used several times; πόνος and κόπος occasionally.

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

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Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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