Major Bible Categories With Examples

by Dr. Stanley L. Morris

IDIOMS AND EXPRESSIONS:

“a land flowing with milk and honey”. — Lev. 20:24, IEB: “{It is} a land where much food grows.” Literally, “a land flowing with milk and honey.” NOTE: This is a traditional, poetic description of the rich, natural resources of the hill country of Canaan. See also Num. 13:27; Deut. 6:3; Josh. 5:6.

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (KJV). — Gal. 5:9, IEB: “Just a little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise.” NOTE: The meaning is: “Something small can become a very big problem.”

“a still, small voice” — 1 Kings 19:12, IEB: “After the fire, {there was} a quiet, gentle voice.” or, “a still, small voice.” Literally, “a sound of soft stillness” NOTE: = a sound of thin silence. Many deep problems of rebellion cannot be solved quickly. Elijah had demanded an immediate solution to the problem of idolatry (1 Kings 18:18), but even the powerful prophet Elijah could not force the issue to a conclusion in one day. God is infinitely patient, and Elijah needed to learn that divine trait. Elijah’s over-zealousness must not be gloried in. Compare Luke 9:51-56.

“behind their backs” — Neh. 9:26, IEB: “They ignored Your teachings.” Literally, “They threw Your law (Hebrew: torah) behind their backs.”

“bellies sticking to the ground” — Ps. 44:25, IEB: “We have been pushed down into the dirt!” Literally, “Our bellies stick to the earth.” NOTE: = defeat

“casting lots” — Prov. 16:33, IEB: “People pick lots to make a decision.” NOTE: a reverent way of seeking God’s help in making a decision (Exo. 28:30; Num. 26:53; Josh. 7:18; 1 Sam. 14:37-42; Neh. 11:1; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26; Heb. 6:16). It was similar to “picking straws”.

“full of days” — Job 42:17, IEB: “Then Job died. {He was} very old. He had lived many years.” Literally, “(He was) full of days.”

“gathered to his people” (ancestors) — Gen. 25:8, IEB: “and he joined his ancestors {in death}.” Literally, “he was gathered to his people” NOTE: See Num. 20:24, IEB: “Aaron is going to die.” Literally, “will be gathered to his people”; compare Gen. 25:8; 35:29; 49:29,33. See also Num. 27:13, IEB: “you will die.” Literally, “you will be gathered to your people (= ancestors).” Compare Deut. 34:1-8. Deut. 31:16, IEB: “Look, you will {soon} die.” Literally, “You will sleep (= rest) with your ancestors.” Compare the term “gathered” in Gen. 25:8,17; 35:29; 49:29,33; Num. 20:26; 27:13; 31:1-2; 32:50; 2 Chr. 34:28. Deut. 32:50, IEB: “You will die on that mountain which you’ll climb.” Literally, “die . . . be gathered to your people” Compare the term “gathered” in Gen. 25:8,17; 35:29; 49:29,33; Num. 20:26; 27:13; 31:1-2; Deut. 31:16; 2 Chr. 34:28. 2 Kings 22:20, IEB: “You will be buried in peace.” Literally , “and you will be gathered to your grave in peace.” Job 27:19, IEB: “{The evil person} is rich when he goes to bed, but not for long!” Literally, “and he will not be gathered!” Therefore, this might refer to an honorable burial in which he joins his ancestors in death. Compare the expression in Deut. 32:50 and Judg. 2:10.

“He will finish the work” (KJV) — Rom. 9:28, IEB: “The Lord {God} will close His books on the whole world.” NOTE: This was an expression in accounting; it means: “He will finish his business.”

“in face, not in heart” — 1 Thes. 2:2, KJV: “But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart”; IEB: “Brothers, we were forced to leave you for a short time. This was in body, not in spirit.”

“kidneys” (KJV: “reins”, Lam. 3:13) — Ps. 7:9, IEB: “You know our thoughts and feelings.” Literally, “You test our hearts and kidneys” (= our secret feelings). Ps. 16:7, IEB: “I praise Yahweh because He guides me.” Literally, “my kidneys instruct me” NOTE: = the conscience (Job 19:27; Jer. 11:20). Ps. 26:2, IEB: “O Yahweh, cross-examine me and test me.” Literally, “Purify my kidneys (= human emotions) and my heart.” Ps. 73:21, IEB: “. . . and I was bitter.” Literally, “and I was pierced (in) my kidneys.” = my deepest feelings. See also Ps. 139:13.

“lifting my flesh in my teeth” — Job 13:14, IEB: “I will put myself in danger, and take my life in my own hands.” Literally, “For why do I lift my flesh in my teeth!?” NOTE: = taking the risk.

“like one who is talking into the air” — 1 Cor. 14:9, IEB: “You will seem to be like a person who talks to himself!”

“not veering to the right or to the left” — 2 Kings 22:2, IEB: “Josiah did not stop practicing what was right.” Literally, “And he did not veer to the right or to the left.” NOTE: See 2 Chr. 34:2-7 to learn that Josiah’s religious reforms were already well on their way 6 years prior.

“on the right hand and on the left” (KJV) — 2 Cor. 6:7, IEB: “to attack and to defend”

“prophesying” — 1 Sam. 18:10, IEB: “Inside his house, he babbled like a crazy man.” Literally, “he prophesied”. NOTE: Madness and prophesying were considered to be related (2 Kings 9:11 and Jer. 29:26).

“providing money-bags” — Luke 12:33, literally, “Provide money-bags for yourselves which do not get old”. The IEB has: “Money does not last, so don’t trust in it.”

“Set your house in order” — 2 Kings 20:1, IEB: “You are going to die. So, you should give your last instructions to everyone.” Literally , “Set your house in order.” NOTE: = Get your business affairs settled in preparation for your imminent death.

“sons of death” Ps. 79:11, IEB: “to preserve those who are sentenced to die.” Literally, “the sons of death.” NOTE: This refers to the Jews who would most probably die during the death march to Babylonian captivity.

“stiff neck” 2 Chr. 30:8, IEB: “Don’t be stubborn.” Literally, “Don’t make your neck(s) stiff.” See Exo. 32:9; 33:3,5; 34:9; Deut. 9:6,13; 10:16; 31:27; Acts 7:51.

“strange fire” — Lev. 10:1; Num. 3:4; 26:61, IEB: “unauthorized fire”. Compare the same meaning (“foreign”) in Josh. 24:20.

“stretching your ear” — Prov. 22:17, IEB: “Give attention.” Literally, “Stretch your ear.”

“ten times” — Neh. 4:12, IEB: “They informed us again and again.” Compare Gen. 31:7,41; Num. 14:11; Job 19:3.

“the cleanness of one’s hands” — 2 Sam. 22:21, IEB: “I did what Yahweh said was right.” Literally , “According to the cleanness of my hands”. NOTE: This is not a claim of sinlessness on the part of David but an affirmation of the basic purity of his deeds (compare Ps. 18:20,24; 24:4). See also Job 17:9; 22:30; Ps. 73:13; James 4:8.

“the daughter of Zion” — Matt. 21:5, IEB: “the city of Jerusalem”. NOTE: See also Rom. 9:33; 11:26; 1 Pet. 2:6; Rev. 14:1.

“the son of man” — Heb. 2:6, KJV: “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” IEB: “What is man, that You should care about him? What are his children, that You should take care of them?” Literally, the Greek text has “a son of man.” NOTE: In this passage, this expression is not referring to Jesus the Messiah as in Matt. 8:20 or many other New Testament verses.

“the son of perdition” (KJV) — IEB: “Not one of them (the apostles) was lost — only the child of destruction”, namely, Judas Iscariot (John 17:12). In a different context, the IEB has: “Don’t let anyone fool you like that, because ‘the falling away’ must come first. The lawless man, the son of destruction, will be revealed then.” (2 Thes. 2:3). NOTE: This destruction is hell.

“These things have not been done in a corner.” — Acts 26:26, IEB: “because these things happened where everyone could see”

“Thou hast said (it).” — Matt. 26:25, when Jesus answered Judas Iscariot’s incriminating question: “Master, is it I?” IEB: “Judas (the one who turned against him) answered, ‘Rabbi, I am not the one, am I?’ Jesus answered Judas, ‘Yes, you are!’ ”

“Thou hast said (it).” — Matt. 26:64, when Jesus responded to the high priest’s order of adjuration (under oath; literally, “You are saying (it)”; Jesus’ statement meaning: “I agree with what you are saying.” NOTE: = affirmation. Those are your words, not mine.

“urinating against a wall” — 1 Sam. 25:22,34; 1 Kings 14:10; 16:11; 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8, IEB: “any male”. Literally, “anyone who urinates against a wall”.

“watering”— Prov. 11:25, IEB: “Whoever helps others will indeed be helped himself.” Literally, “and one who waters will himself be fully watered.” NOTE: True philanthropists understand this principle.

“yoke” = “burden” in Acts 15:10. This word was used figuratively to describe the moral lessons that a Jewish teacher passed on to his students.

METAPHORS AND SYMBOLS:

an anointing (2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 2:20,27) = Messiah (John 1:41; 4:25) = Christ (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9) = being specifically chosen by God to do His special work. See Ps. 45:7. NOTE: The anointing of Jesus took place when he was immersed in the Jordan River. The Spirit of God came down upon him in a dove-like form and remained there (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23; John 1:29-34).

cistern — Prov. 5:15, IEB: “Be faithful to your own wife.” Literally, “Drink water from your own cistern.” = She is your sole source of pleasure. NOTE: See Prov. 5:18; Song of Songs 4:12; 1 Thes. 4:4; 1 Pet. 3:7.

crown = reward — James 1:12, KJV: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” IEB: “Therefore, happy is the man who, though tested, endures. When he endures tests, God will give him the reward of {eternal} life.”

fat — Ps. 92:14, IEB: “They will be healthy and fresh.” Literally, “fat” = full of sap

flesh (sarx = skin, Gal. 4:28-29; Philp. 3:3-4) = flesh and blood (Matt. 16:17; 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12; Heb. 2:14). Compare in Ps. 145:21, “all flesh” = all rational beings (Ps. 145:10). It can also connote human weakness, humanity. For example, “flesh” in Ps. 78:39 = prone to err; often liable to fall into temptation. Compare Ps. 103:14-16; Matt. 26:41. Rom. 7:5 has: “when we were in the flesh” (KJV); “when we were controlled by our human nature” (IEB). NOTE: This is what people naturally do if they are not controlled by God’s Spirit. See Rom. 8:9. The Greek word sarx is translated in the IEB as “cell tissue” in 1 Cor. 15:39 but “human” in John 1:14.

from the lion’s mouth = the brink of certain death (2 Tim. 4:17)

fruit = converts — Rom. 1:13, literally, “have some fruit”; IEB: “I wanted to win some followers {for Jesus}.” Compare Prov. 31:31, IEB: “Give her the credit that she deserves.” Literally, “from the fruit of her hands.” Compare Prov. 12:14.

horn — Ps. 75:4, IEB: “Don’t show {your} power.” Literally, “Don’t lift up (your) horn!” = boasting. NOTE: This metaphor is taken from that of a bull threatening to charge. Horns symbolized strength and pride (Ps. 18:2; 89:17; 92:10; 112:9; 132:17; 148:14).

horns (= corners) of the altar in Exo. 27:2; 30:2; 37:25; Lev. 4:7; Ps. 118:27 = the protrusions or projections of the sacred altar

horse — Prov. 21:31, IEB: “One could get the horses ready for the day of battle.” NOTE: Compare Deut. 17:16; Ps. 20:7; 33:16-17; Hos. 1:7; Eccl. 9:11. The horse was a symbol of military power. These animals were used exclusively for war, not for agricultural purposes. Solomon had about 12,000 horses (1 Kings 4:26; 10:26-28). Nevertheless, his kingdom soon crumbled after his death.

iron rod shattering clay pots — Rev. 2:27, IEB: “He will take care of His enemies like a shepherd does — with an iron rod, shattering them like clay pots.” NOTE: Clay pots are very brittle; they cannot stand against iron which is very hard and strong.

lamp — 1 Kings 11:36, IEB: “I will do this so that David, My servant, will always have a king in My presence.” Literally, “may always have a lamp before Me.” NOTE: This signified the flourishing or the cessation of a person’s life (Job 18:6; 21:17; Prov. 13:9; 20:20,27; 24:20). In this case, it refers to the dynasty of David as it does in 1 Kings 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 2 Chr. 21:7; Ps. 132:17. “Lamp” here may refer to the king as the earthly representative of God who was Israel’s light-bearer (compare 2 Sam. 21:17; 22:29).

leopard — Dan. 7:6, IEB: “{This animal looked} like a leopard.” NOTE: A leopard is swifter than a lion. This leopard represents the rapid conquests of Alexander the Great (334-330 B.C.), from Europe to India.

lion — Dan. 7:4, IEB: “The first animal {looked} like a lion.” NOTE: Nebuchadnezzar was referred to as “a lion” in Jer. 4:7. The lion was the traditional symbol of strength and courage for the Babylonians.

lying down in green pastures — Ps. 23:2, IEB: “He gives me rest in green pastures.” Literally, “He causes me to lie down in green pastures.” using the metaphor of tending sheep. NOTE: After the sheep are completely satisfied with their grazing, they will lie down contentedly. Compare Isa. 14:30; 17:2; Jer. 33:12; Ezek. 34:14-15; Zeph. 2:7; 3:13.

olive oil — Prov. 21:17, IEB: “Whoever loves wine and rich food will never be wealthy.” Literally, “and (olive) oil” = luxury (Matt. 20:2; 26:7-9). NOTE: This oil was used in several expensive lotions and perfumes (John 12:5).

ostriches — Lam. 4:3, IEB: “But my people’s city {has become} heartless, like ostriches in the desert.” NOTE: Ostriches would lay their eggs on the ground in a place which was unprotected = cruelty (see Job 39:13-18).

rod — Ps. 23:4 = a symbol of God’s authority (Job 9:34; Exo. 21:20; 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:9; 45:6.)

sackcloth — Luke 10:13, KJV: “They had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes”; literally: “(They) would have worn sackcloth and put ashes on themselves to show that they were sorry for their sins” IEB: “Those people in Tyre and Sidon would have changed their hearts and actions long ago.” NOTE: See also Matt. 11:21. Sackcloth was a very rough kind of cloth similar to burlap. It was painful to wear next to one’s skin, usually around the waist. But it was especially worn by people who mourned a death or who felt very sorry or sad about some other serious trouble (Gen. 37:34; 2 Sam. 21:10; Ps. 30:11; 35:13; Job 16:15; Isa. 3:24; Dan. 9:3; Matt. 11:21; Rev. 11:3), much like people wear black today at a funeral.

salt — Col. 4:6, IEB: “Your message should always be beautiful, flavored with salt.” NOTE: Salt makes things taste good. In this context, it means that our language should make the gospel look more attractive and appealing.

scarlet (red) = sin (Isa. 1:18; Rev. 12:3-4; 17:3-4)

sleep — Ps. 13:3, IEB: “Restore my strength, or I will die!” Literally, “Otherwise, I will sleep the death.” NOTE: In the Scriptures, death is often compared to sleep (Dan. 12:2; John 11:11,13; 1 Cor. 11:30; 1 Thes. 4:14). Dan. 12:2, IEB: “Many people who have already died will live again. Some of them will wake up to have eternal life.” Literally, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will wake up.” “Sleep” (here being used as a symbol of death) sometimes occurs in the Bible (Job 3:13; 1 Kings 1:21; Ps. 13:3; Matt. 9:24; 27:52; John 11:11; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Cor. 7:39; 15:6; 1 Thes. 4:13,15; 2 Pet. 3:4). “Dust” is a common phrase for “the grave” (Gen. 3:19; Job 7:21; Eccl. 3:20; 12:7; Isa. 26:19).

tabernacle (2 Pet. 1:13) = tent (2 Cor. 5:1,4)= house (Matt. 12:44) = container (1 Thes. 4:4) = clay jars (2 Cor. 4:7) = frail, human bodies

the children of your chosen sister = another congregation of God’s people (2 John 1:13)

the human body getting old — Eccl. 12:3a, IEB: “At that time, your arms will lose their strength.” Literally, “in the day when the keepers (= the guards) of the house tremble.” Eccl. 12:3b, IEB: “Your strong legs will become weak and bent.” Literally, “and the strong men are bent.” The feet and the knees support the body, like pillars. Compare Ps. 147:10. Eccl. 12:3c, IEB: “Your teeth will fall out, so that you cannot chew.” Literally, “and the grinders cease because they are few.” Eccl. 12:3d, IEB: “Your eyes will not see clearly.” Literally, “and those that look (out) through the windows are dimmed.” Eccl. 12:4a, IEB: “Your ears will be deaf to the noise in the streets.” Literally, “and the doors on the street are shut.” Eccl. 12:4b, IEB: “Your voice will become very weak.” Literally, “and all the daughters of song are silenced.” = the vocal cords will be adversely affected. Music cannot be fully enjoyed. Eccl. 12:4c, IEB: “The sound of the millstone grinding your grain will seem very quiet.” Literally, “when the sound of the grinding is low”. Some scholars think that this is referring to the almost inaudible or faint sound of the chewing of one’s own food. Eccl. 12:4d, IEB: “But you will wake up when a bird first starts singing!” Literally, “and one rises up at the voice of a bird” = sleeplessness. Eccl. 12:5a, IEB: “You will fear high places.” Literally, “They are also afraid of what is high.” because of the potential of breaking one’s bones, particularly one’s hip. Eccl. 12:5b, IEB: “And, you will be afraid to go for a walk because you might fall.” Literally, “and terrors (are) in the way.” Eccl. 12:5c, IEB: “Your hair will become white, like the flowers on an almond tree.” Literally, “The almond tree blossoms (white).” Eccl. 12:5d, IEB: “When you walk, you will limp along like a grasshopper.” with its slow, stiff movements on a cold morning (Nah. 3:17). Eccl. 12:5e, IEB: “Your desires will be gone.” = the libido or, possibly meaning the loss of one’s appetite for food. Eccl. 12:5f, IEB: “Then you will go to your everlasting home.” = immortality. See 2 Cor. 5:1-6. Eccl. 12:6a, IEB: “{Remember God} before {your life} is snapped {like} a silver chain,” = the spinal cord? Eccl. 12:6b, IEB: “{before your life} is broken {like} a golden bowl.” In the East, lamps were often suspended from roofs by a thin cord of silk and silver that was woven in. Death soon follows when the light goes out—one expires. Eccl. 12:6c, IEB: “{It will be as useless as} a shattered bucket at the well.” = the skull containing the brain? The bowl was the reservoir which held the olive oil. Eccl. 12:6d, IEB: “{It will be no good}, {like} a broken wheel at the cistern.” = the right ventricle of the heart? Eccl. 12:7, IEB: “But your spirit will return to the one true God who gave it.” = the immortal component of man

uncircumcised heart in Lev. 26:41, IEB: “these disobedient people” Literally, “their uncircumcised heart”. See Acts 7:51.

virgins (spiritual) — Rev. 14:4, “They are virgins.” NOTE: The holy ones of God were spiritual virgins. They kept themselves pure, faithful to God.

white = purity (Isa. 1:18; Rev. 1:14; 2:17; 3:4,5,18; 4:4; 6:2,11; 7:9,13,14; 15:6; 19:8,11,14; 20:11) Dan. 12:10, IEB: “Many people will be made clean, pure, and refined.” Literally, “made white”. NOTE: White is symbolic of innocence and moral purity (Isa. 1:18; Matt. 17:2; 28:3; Mark 9:3; 16:5; John 20:12; Acts 1:10; Rev. 1:14; 3:4,18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9,13,14; 19:11,14; 20:11.

whoredom — Num. 14:33, IEB: “They must suffer because of your straying.” Literally, “your whoredoms” = your spiritual unfaithfulness to God. NOTE: When the Jews worshiped other gods, spiritually, it was as promiscuous as prostitution. See Lev. 20:5; Deut. 31:16; Judg. 8:33; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chr. 21:13; Ps. 73:27; 106:39; Hosea 1:2; 2:2; 6:10; 9:1; Jer. 3:1,3,8,9; Ezek. 23:35,37; Matt. 12:39; 16:4; James 4:4; Rev. 2:22.

Wormwood = Bitterness (Rev. 8:10-11). See also Prov. 5:4, IEB: “But, in the end, she will bring you sorrow.” Literally, “she (is as) bitter as gall (= poison).” NOTE: Another translation is “wormwood” (Deut. 29:18; Jer. 9:15; Lam. 3:15,19; Amos 5:7; 6:12; Heb. 12:15). It comes from a bitter-tasting shrub which produces absinthe (compare the Latin Vulgate and Aquila’s Greek translation). It is a medicine that is used for deworming.

7 — Prov. 9:1, IEB: “Wisdom has built her house. She has set up its seven columns.” or, “7 pillars.” Prov. 24:16, IEB: “A righteous man may be hurt by trouble seven {times}, but he does not give up.” Literally, “may fall seven (times)” = an expression which means “often”. Compare Prov. 6:16,31; Job 5:19; Matt. 18:22. See Dan. 4:16,23,25,32. NOTE: In Scripture, the number “seven” often stands for completeness (1 Sam. 2:5) or perfection (see Rev. 1:4,11,12,16,20; 2:1; 3:1; 4:5; 5:1,5,6; 6:1; 8:2,6; 10:3,4; 11:13; 12:3; 13:1; 15:1,6,7,8; 16:1; 17:1,3,7,9,10,11; 21:9.

12 — Twelve is an important number in the Bible. It was a complete number. There were 12 patriarchs (Gen. 35:22; 42:13,32; Acts 7:8) heading the 12 tribes (Gen. 49:28; Exo. 24:4), with 12 jewels in the high priest’s chest-plate (Exo. 28:21; 39:13) and 12 loaves of showbread (Lev. 24:5-6). This symbolism is reflected in the New Testament in the original 12 apostles (Matt. 10:1-5) who would sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of the new Israel (Matt. 19:28; James 1:1). There were 12 stars in the crown of the woman in Rev. 12:1. And, there were 12 foundation stones in the wall of New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14) with its 12 gates (Rev. 21:21), with a thickness of 144 cubits (12 X 12 = 144). And, the heavenly city’s dimensions were 12,000 stadia (Rev. 21:16) in all directions. When 12 is squared and multiplied by 1,000 it becomes the symbolic number of the world divinely perfected, yielding 144,000 sealed Israelites (Rev. 7:4). Finally, there were 24 elders (12 X 2 = 24) worshiping around the throne of God and sitting on 24 thrones (Rev. 4:4). These represented the 12 leaders from the Old Testament and the 12 leaders from the New Testament.

70 X 7 — Matt. 18:22, IEB: “Jesus said, “I am not saying seven, but seven times seventy!” NOTE: The numbers 7 and 10 were considered to be perfect (complete) numbers. Seventy is a multiple of both numbers. The meaning here is: Forgive your brother every time he sins against you.

144,000 — Rev. 7:4; 14:1,3. Twelve was a complete number to the Jews (see above). 12,000 X 12 symbolized all of God’s people.

INDIVIDUALS:

Ananias — three different men with the same name (Acts 5:1; 9:10; 23:2).

Drusilla (Felix’s wife) — Acts 24:24. She was the younger sister of Herod Agrippa II. See Acts 25:13.

Gideon Judges 8:29, IEB: “Gideon”. Literally, “Jerub-Baal”.

Herod — (a) Herod {the Great} (Matt. 2:1-21; Luke 1:5; Acts 23:35); (b) {Herod} Archelaus (Matt. 2:22); (c) Herod {Antipas} (Matt. 14:1-11; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 3:1,19,20; 8:3; 9:7-9; 23:7-12; Acts 4:27; 13:1); (d) Herod {Agrippa I} (Acts 12:1- 6,11,19-23); (e) {Herod} Agrippa {II} (Acts 25:13–26:32).

Jeremiah — Neh. 12:1. This “Jeremiah” was not the famous prophet.

Nehemiah — Neh. 3:16. This “Nehemiah” was not the same person as the author of the Book of Nehemiah.

Philip — Matt. 14:3, IEB: “his brother Philip’s wife”. This was not Philip the tetrarch, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis (Luke 3:1), but he was another half-brother of Herod Antipas by the same name.

Nebuchadnezzar — Dan. 1:1, IEB: “Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon” Nebuchadrezzar ( Jer. 21:2) more accurately represents the Babylonian spelling — Nabu-kudurri-utzur. It means “Nebo (a god) protects the crown”.

Priscilla = Prisca (the shorter spelling) — Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19. “Priscilla” is the longer form of her name.

Silvanus (2 Cor. 1:19; 1 Thes. 1:1; 2 Thes. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:12) = Silas (Acts 15:22 + a dozen more occurrences in the New Testament) was the shorter spelling of “Silvanus”.

Simon Peter (Matt. 4:18; 10:2; 16:16; Mark 3:16; 14;37; Luke 5:8; 6:14; John 6:68; 13:6,9,24,36; 18:10,15,25; 20:2,6; 21:2,3,7,11,15,17) = Simon (Matt. 16:17; Mark 1:16,29; Luke 5:4,5,10; 22;31; 24:34; John 1:40-42; 6:8; 21:16) = Symeon or Simeon (2 Pet. 1:1) = Cephas (John 1:42; 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal. 2:9)

Solomon = Jedidiah. Ps. 127:1, IEB: “{A psalm} by Solomon.” Nathan the prophet gave the name of Jedidiah (“Yah’s beloved one”) to Solomon (2 Sam. 12:25). Also, God imparted great wisdom to Solomon during a dream that he had at Gibeon (1 Kings 3:5ff). Eccl. 1:1, IEB: “{These are} the words of the Professor” or, “the Teacher”. Hebrew:

the queen of the south = the Queen of Sheba (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31). See 1 Kings 10:1-10; 2 Chr. 9:1-12.

TITLES:

Abimelech — This was the title of Philistine kings or a family name, not his personal name. See Gen. 20:1-18; 21:22-32; 26:1-31.

Ben-Hadad — (a) Ben-Hadad I; (b) Ben-Hadad II. See 1 Kings 20:1-43; 2 Kings 6:24; 8:7,9; 13:3,24,25; 2 Chr. 16:2,4; Jer. 49:27; Amos 1:4. “Ben-Hadad” is a dynastic name which applied to several Syrian kings, much like “Pharaoh” was a title to many different Egyptian kings. The particular one in 1 Kings 20:1 was probably Ben-Hadad I (circa 909 to 885 B.C.), who was followed by Hazael (circa 841-798 B.C.), a usurper. After Hazael, there came Ben-Hadad II (= Hadadezer?) who participated in the battle of Qarqar. Caesar = the Emperor — Matt. 22:17 “paying taxes to Caesar.” The title of the supreme Roman rulers. “Caesar” became the title of each Roman emperor. Compare also Acts 25:11; 28:19; Philp. 4:22.

governor (in the Old Testament) — Ezra 2:63, IEB: “the governor.” Literally, “the Tirshatha” (of Persian origin) = Zerubbabel

governor (in the New Testament) — There were two kinds of Roman provinces: (1) public provinces and (2) imperial provinces. Public provinces were governed by proconsuls who were normally selected to serve one year. These provinces were usually the most civilized ones, and therefore did not really have Roman legions stationed in them. The proconsuls carried out their administration with the help of small auxiliary troops. But imperial provinces had governors who were appointed by the Emperor (see Luke 2:2). A legatus Caesaris was a Roman officer who administered a Roman province in the name of and with the full authority of the Roman Emperor. These imperial provinces were classified in various ways, with military units of differing sizes stationed in them (see Acts 10:1), sometimes with only a procurator over them. Procurators were usually financial and military officials who were directly responsible to Caesar who appointed them (John 19:12). A Roman procurator was an officer who was attached to a proconsul (or a proprietor) and he had full charge of the imperial revenues. In cases relating to these revenues, he administered Roman justice. In the smaller Roman provinces, such a man served as the functional governor of a given province.

Pharaoh = the official title of all Egyptian kings. “Necho” was the name of one Pharaoh (2 Chr. 35:20,22; 36:4), also called “Pharaoh-Necho” (Jer. 46:2). “Shishak” was the name of another Pharaoh (1 Kings 11:40; 14:25; 2 Chr. 12:5,7,9).

Rabshekah = field commander (the chief cup-bearer and the spokesman for the negotiations). Rabshekah was not his name. See 2 Kings 18:17-37; 19:4-37; Isa. 36:1– 37:38.

Tartan = the supreme commander (or, the general). Tartan was not his name. See 2 Kings 18:17; Isa. 20:1. the one whom Jesus loved = the Apostle John (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20).

GODS AND GODDESSES:

Apis — Ps. 106:20, IEB: “They exchanged their glorious God for a statue of a bull.” or, “ox” = Apis, a god of the Egyptians

Apollo (a spirit of python; a spirit of divination) — Acts 16:16, IEB: “She had an evil spirit in her.” =a demon (a servant of the Devil). The local people believed that this slave-girl could predict the future by the power of Apollo, a Greek god.

Artemis the goddess — Acts 19:24, the Greek name given to one who was believed to be the mother of the gods and mankind. She was a goddess of fertility and especially worshiped in Asia Minor. Her Roman name was Diana.

Astarte = Asherah = Ishtar = Venus, etc. A goddess of fertility worshiped as such in various countries. Baal was her male counterpart.

Baal — Rom. 11:4, literally, “who have not bowed the knee to {the image of} Baal”; IEB: “who have never worshiped Baal.” Hosea 2:8, IEB: “Yes, I gave her a lot of silver and gold, but she used {it to make} statues for Baal.” The Hebrew word “Baal” means “lord”. The false god, Baal, was worshiped by the Canaanites and the Phoenicians; he was called “the son of Dagon” and “the son of El”. In Syria, Baal was called “Hadad”; and, in Babylonia, Baal’s name was “Adad”. Pagan people believed that Baal could give fertility to the womb and life-giving rain to the soil. Baal is often pictured as one standing on top of a bull, a popular symbol of fertility and strength. Baal’s chariot was a storm cloud. Baal spoke loudly by thunder. And Baal sent forth his spear and arrows across the sky (= lightning). Baal-worship involved “sacred” prostitution and child sacrifice.

Beelzebul = Beelzebub (KJV) = Satan — Matt. 10:25; literally, “lord of the flies”. NOTE: It was a name given to the Devil by the Jews. See also Mark 3:22.

Bel in Dan. 1:7, IEB: “Daniel’s new name was ‘Belteshazzar.’ ” This was Daniel’s Babylonian name; it means “Bel (= Marduk, a Babylonian god) protects his life” or “favored by Bel”. They wanted Daniel to be Bel’s prince. Similarly, Joseph was given a new name to “help” him forget his former religion and country (Gen. 41:45).

Castor and Pollux = twin gods positioned on the front of the ship which Paul and Luke were sailing on (Acts 28:11). These gods were believed to protect all sailors.

Chemosh — Lev. 18:21 mentions a god named Molech (or, “Milcom”), the abominable god of the Ammonites. But Molech was also called “Chemosh” by the Moabites and “Amun” or “Amun-Ra” by the Egyptians. Sometimes they sacrificed children to this firegod (Deut. 12:31; 18:10; Judg. 10:6; 1 Kings 11:7,31-33; 2 Kings 3:26-27; 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; 2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6; Jer. 32:35; Ezek. 16:20-21; 20:26,31; 23:37). See also Num. 21:29; Judg. 11:24; 2 Kings 23:13; Jer. 48:7,13,46.

Hermes = Mercury — Acts 14:12. Hermes was the son of the Greek god Zeus, and Hermes was the messenger of the gods. To those Greeks, Paul seemed to be the chief spokesman, not Barnabas.

Satan — 2 Cor. 6:15, literally, “Beliar” (which means “without worth”). He is called “the god of this world” in 2 Cor. 4:4. The IEB of Job 1:6 has: “And, Satan appeared among them, too.” Literally, “the adversary” = the Devil, the old Serpent; see 1 Chr. 21:1; Zech. 3:1-2; Rev. 12:9-10; 20:1-2; Matt. 13:39; 1 Pet. 5:8. Although the snake was one of many good creatures of God, the great Deceiver invaded this creature (Gen. 3). See 2 Cor. 11:14.

Zeus = Jupiter — Acts 14:12, Zeus was the supreme god of the Greeks. Barnabas may have appeared to be the leader.

GROUPS OF PEOPLE:

Bedouins, the — 1 Kings 17:4-6, IEB: “ ‘You can drink from the brook. And, I have commanded the Bedouins to feed you there.’ So, Elijah did what Yahweh told him to do. He went to Cherith Brook, east of the Jordan River, and lived {there}. The Bedouins brought Elijah bread and meat {every} morning and {every} evening. And, he drank water from the brook.” NOTE: Bedouins were “the Orbites”; “the inhabitants of Orbo”; maybe “the Arabians” (= secretive nomads; 2 Chr. 17:11; 21:16; Neh. 4:7). A similar word with the same root consonants (‘-r-b) is translated as “merchants” in Ezek. 27:9,27. Jerome, Judah Hakkodesh, Kimchi, and the Arabic Version did not believe that “the ravens” was the proper rendering. However, “crows” (Hebrew: ‘orebiym) might be the correct translation here.

Caesar’s household, those in — probably referring to Nero’s soldiers and the palace guards whom Paul had converted to Christ (see Philp. 1:13).

Canaanites, the — Prov. 31:24, IEB: “She supplies belts to the merchants.” Literally, “the Canaanite” = Phoenician traders, or a generic name for all traders (Isa. 23:8; Zech. 14:21). These multi-purpose belts were very valuable (2 Sam. 18:11; Dan. 10:5).

Chaldeans, the — Dan. 1:4, IEB: “{Ashpenaz was commanded} to teach them the language and the writings of the Babylonians.” Literally, “. . . of the Chaldeans”. The official language of the Babylonian Empire was Aramaic, a language that was closely related to Hebrew. Daniel probably also learned Assyrian and Akkadian.

East, the people of the — Job 1:3. Literally, “Those who (were) before”. The sun rose in the east; these people faced eastward. The meaning of this expression in Job 18:20 is this: “People everywhere would be astonished at the swift and complete doom of the evil person.” In Isa. 11:14, it probably denotes the Arabs (Jer. 49:28-29) who were nomadic. See also Gen. 29:1; Judg. 6:3,33; 7:12; 8:10; 1 Kings 4:30; Ezek. 21:31; 25:4. Nebuchadnezzar launched an attack against them in 599-598 B.C. Not long after Ezekiel’s prophecy in Ezek. 25:10, the Nabateans overran the Ammonites and the Moabites. However, the phrase, “the people of the East,” could be referring to the Midianites (Isa. 9:4).

Epicureans, the — This group of philosophers followed the teachings of Epicurus who died in 270 B.C. This Greek philosopher taught that happiness is the highest good in life.

Essenes, the — They were an ultra-conservative Jewish sect who practiced very strict rules of ceremonial asceticism. The Essenes are not mentioned in the New Testament. They wanted to be left alone in their remote communities near the shores of the Dead Sea, particularly the one at Qumran. They avoided the “polluted” temple in Jerusalem, choosing to offer sacrifices in their own isolated haunts. The Essenes discouraged marriage. They shared all their possessions and worked very hard. They were also opposed to all oaths, slavery, and war. This group arose around 110 B.C.

Gadarenes = Gerasenes = Gergesenes (compare Matt. 8:28 with Mark 5:1)

Gentiles, the = non-Jews = the Greeks = the uncircumcision

Gnostics, the — As a pervasive philosophy (1 Tim. 6:20), Gnosticism was a serious threat to the earliest Christians, particularly among the upper classes in the second century A.D. The reason why Gnosticism was so dangerous to “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) was because the Gnostics only adopted the general idea of a redemption through Christ, but not the full Christian doctrine as taught in the New Testament. Instead, they cleverly transformed “redemption” from physical matter rather than it being a redemption of mankind from sin. The intellectual Gnostics blended certain Christian ideas with various speculations of Greek origin, mysterious eastern religions, and theosophies. It was all jumbled up together. Several major heresies resulted. The Gnostics claimed that only they had “secret” knowledge. The germ of Gnosticism among Christians made its appearance even in the apostolic age. It was addressed by Paul in several of his letters, notably in the one to the Colossians and in his pastoral epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). It is also referred to by Peter and Jude. The mention of Gnosticism also appeared in the First Epistle of John, the Gospel of John, and in the Book of Revelation.

Greeks, the — inhabitants of Greece, but, by extension, Greek-speaking individuals (Hellenism), especially non-Jews (Gentiles), some of whom were proselytes (converts to Judaism).

Herodians, the — Mark 3:6 (IEB: “the followers of Herod {Antipas}”). They were a Jewish political group who favored Roman rule.

Hyksos people, the — The king of Egypt mentioned in Gen. 41:1 was probably one of the Hyksos rulers who was in power shortly after 1720 B.C. Horses and chariots were introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos invaders (who ruled Egypt from 1720 to 1580 B.C.). The Hyksos (“shepherd-kings”) ruled for hundreds of years before Joseph’s time. They invaded and conquered Lower Egypt and ruled the Delta, although they never occupied the whole country of Egypt. The Hyksos came from the East and were probably Arabians, and they are represented as having been a cruel and arrogant race, who subjected the Egyptians to great hardships. The Hyksos were finally driven out of Egypt by a coalition of forces under several local kings.

Israel — Deut. 32:15, IEB: “But Israel got fat, and he kicked.” Literally, “Jeshurun” (a pet name), which means “the upright one” = like a pampered animal that got mean unexpectedly. Also see Deut. 33:5; Isa. 44:2. Deut. 33:26, IEB: “There is no one like the God of Israel.” Literally, “the God of Jeshurun”.

Jews, the = “the circumcision”. See Acts 11:2; Rom. 3:30; 4:12; Gal. 2:7,8,9,12; Eph. 2:11; Col. 4:11; Titus 1:10.

Judaizers, the — Judaizers tried to bind all sabbath-keeping and circumcision upon everyone (compare Gal. 4:9-11; 5:1-4; Col. 2:14-17). Philp. 3:2 called these Judaizers “dogs” because they were trying to force all non-Jews to become Jewish before they were allowed to be Christians. See the Jerusalem council meeting in Acts 15:1-5. In Galatia, these Judaistic teachers subverted the Apostle Paul’s work by teaching a new type of legalism to those innocent Gentile (non-Jewish) believers. Judaizers were insisting that non-Jewish believers in Christ could not be true Christians until they submitted to their special brand of circumcision and kept the whole Law of Moses according to the liking of the Judaizers. And, those naïve, new Christians listened to those Judaizers with the same enthusiastic receptivity that they had given to Paul originally. Paul did not deny the importance of circumcision or any other Jewish custom—to Jews. In fact, Paul was formerly a high-ranking Jewish leader himself, and he had even participated in religious practices in the temple late in his ministry (Acts 21:17-26) to prove that he could be “all things to all men” (1 Cor. 9:22). However, Paul clearly taught that circumcision had nothing whatever to do with personal salvation! The Judaizing threat ended at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Prior to that time, all Jewish Christians (Messianic believers) were considered to be a “sect” (Acts 24:5), a new branch of Judaism. But, after A.D. 70, all Christians were on their own; they were recognized as separate from Judaism.

Maccabees, the — This word does not occur in Scripture. Most scholars suppose that the term was derived from the Hebrew word maqqabah which meant “hammer,” suggestive of the heroism and power of the Hasmonean family. But some scholars think that this Hebrew word came from the initials of Judas Maccabeus’ motto: Miy Kamowka Be-’Elohiym Yahweh?; “Who is like You, O Yahweh, among the gods?” (Exo. 15:11.) First and Second Maccabees (in the Apocrypha) give a history of many events which occurred after the sacred canon was closed (with the Book of Malachi), especially the heroic, successful struggle of the Maccabean guerrilla soldiers for Judah’s independence against the Old Testament “antichrist”, Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who was predicted by Dan. 8 and Dan. 11. This determined persecutor of the Jewish faith acceded to the Syrian throne in 175 B.C. After he was expelled from Egypt by the Romans, he vented his rage upon the Jews. He oppressed them in every way possible, trying to abolish all traces of Judaism. Mattathias, an aged priest then residing at Modin, a city to the west of Jerusalem, became the courageous leader of the Jewish resistance. He fled to the mountains and rallied around him a large band of men (including all of his five sons) who were prepared to fight and die for their little country and for their religion. His son Judas succeeded him in 166 B.C. as the principal leader in directing this valiant war for independence. The Maccabees were able to defeat the Syrian Greeks and to cleanse the desecrated temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C.

Phoenicians, the — Since the Phoenicians were world famous for their seamanship, they were well known for their shipbuilding skills. The masts for their big ships came from their local forests (Ezek. 27:5). They were well-suited to assist King Solomon. The big cedars were used to construct Solomon’s temple and his palace in Jerusalem (1 Kings 4:33; 5:6,9; 7:2; 10:17,21). These cedar trees (= probably employed as military defenses) were also used metaphorically to represent kings, princes, and nobles (Isa. 14:8; Ezek. 31:3; Dan. 4:20-22; Zech. 11:1-2. The Phoenicians are generally credited with inventing the alphabet. Both the Hebrews and the Greeks borrowed this new phonetic approach to language from the Phoenician people.

Praetorian guard, the — Philp. 1:13, KJV: “in all the palace”; IEB: “to the whole palace guard”. NOTE: They were guarding the imperial Roman prison. The Apostle Paul wrote some of his letters from there (see Eph. 3:1; 4:1; Philp. 1:17; 2 Tim. 1:8; 2:9; Philm. 1:1,9,10,23). The IEB has: “those in Caesar’s household” in Philp. 4:22. This was probably referring to Nero’s soldiers and the palace guards, many of whom Paul had converted to Christ.

proselytes, the = the God-fearers = converts — Acts 17:4, IEB: “many Greeks who worshiped the true God”. = non-Jewish people who wanted to worship with the Jews in the synagogues.

Samaritans, the — See Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:52; 10:33-35; 17:11,16,18; John 4:1- 42; Acts 1:8; 8:1-25; 9:31; 15:3. Samaria was the region between Judea and Galilee. Samaritans were distantly related to the Jews. They had married non-Jews. (See 2 Kings 17:24) There was much hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans.

Scythians, the — Col. 3:11. Scythians were savages, animal-like barbarians.

Stoics, the — This was a group who followed the teachings of Zeno, a Greek philosopher who died in 265 B.C. He thought that happiness was to be discovered in being free from pleasure and pain.

tax collectors, the (KJV: publicans) — These men levied all the taxes due from each town or district. They had the exclusive franchise. Then, in turn, they paid the Roman government a certain percentage of the amounts collected. The tax collectors employed subordinates (Luke 5:27; 15:1; 18:10), who, for their own purposes, were often guilty of extortion and embezzling. This was a very heavy burden upon the people. The populace resented the occupying troops very much. So, the collectors of the taxes (who were frequently turncoat Jews) were especially hated by the general public and treated as social outcasts (Matt. 18:17). Jesus was accused of being a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). Zacchaeus, a prominent tax collector, was the name of one of Jesus’ admirers (Luke 19:1-9). The Apostle Matthew (Levi) was sitting at the tax office when Jesus said to him, “Follow me!” (Matt. 9:9).

Zealots, the — Matt. 10:4 (Simon the Canaanite; Simon the Cananean). The Zealots were a group of Jewish men—fanatics. They claimed to uphold the Law of Moses, even if they had to become violent to do so. They favored revolt against Rome. See also Mark 3:18 and Luke 6:15.

GEOGRAPHICAL CATEGORIES:

Celestial:

Pleiades (Job 9:9; Amos 5:8) is in the constellation of Taurus, and it is among the nearest groupings to earth. It is the most conspicuous star cluster that is visible to the naked eye. Job 38:31-32, IEB: “Can you (Job) bring out the stars at the right times!?” Literally, “Can you bind the chain of the Pleiades!?” NOTE: Here God was questioning Job about exactly who had the power to align the Pleiades properly and to bind them into such a tight cluster. Eccl. 1:3, IEB: “here on earth”. Literally, “under the sun” = in this life, contrasted with the future world. Eccl. 1:9, IEB: “There is nothing “new” here on earth.” Literally, “under the sun.” NOTE: History repeats itself over and over. The sins of today follow the same patterns as the sins of the past. Eccl. 1:13, IEB: “I wanted to learn about everything that happens here on earth.” Literally, “all that is done under the heavens.”

Regions and Countries:

Achaia (southern Greece). See Acts 8:12,27; 19:21; Rom. 15:26; 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:1; 9:2; 11:10; 1 Thes. 1:7-8.

Arabah = the Jordan Valley (Deut. 1:7; Josh. 11:2; 18:18). NOTE: This was a general name given to the broad depression which extended from Lake Galilee (in the north) to the Gulf of Aqaba (in the south).

Assyria — Hosea 5:13; 10:6, IEB: “So, Israel turned to Assyria {for help}.” Literally, “to King Jareb”, the symbolic name for Assyria.

Asia — Acts 2:9; 16:6; 19:22; Rev. 1:4. NOTE: This was not the modern continent of Asia. It is in the country of Turkey.

Ephraim — Hosea 4:17; 9:8, IEB: “Israel has chosen to worship idols.” Literally, “Ephraim has chosen to worship idols.” = the ten tribes

Illyricum — This name is found only in Rom. 15:19. It was an area along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. Illyricum was a country which was northwest of Macedonia. See Dalmatia in 2 Tim. 4:10. Today it would be in the western Balkan states.

Macedonia (northern Greece). See Acts 16:9,10,12; 18:5; 19:21,22,29; 20:1,3; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:5; 2 Cor. 1:16; 2:13; 7:5; 8:1; 9:2,4; 11:9; Philp. 4:15; 1 Thes. 1:7-8; 4:10; 1 Tim. 1:3.

Negev, the = “the south” (the hill country of southern Canaan). Gen. 12:9, IEB: “Then Abram traveled on, heading toward the south.” NOTE: This dry, deserted area extends south of Beer-Sheba.

Syrtis — Acts 27:17, IEB: “the sandbanks of Syrtis”. NOTE: This was a dangerous zone just off the African coast. Many ships sank there.

Tarshish — 2 Chr. 20:36, IEB: “trading ships”. literally, “ships to go to Tarshish (= Spain)” = ocean-going vessels.

Towns and Cities:

Azotus — Acts 8:40 = ancient Ashdod. NOTE: It is next to the Mediterranean Sea, west of Jerusalem.

Kiriath-Arba — Neh. 11:25, IEB: “{Some of them lived} in Kiriath-Arba and its vicinity.” Literally, “and in its daughters.” = surrounding villages

Memphis — Hosea 9:6, IEB: “They will be buried in Memphis.” Literally, “Moph buries them.” NOTE: They would not be returning to Palestine to die there. Memphis was the capital of northern Egypt, sometimes called “lower Egypt”.

Ramah (KJV: Rama) = Bethlehem = Ephratah. See Matt. 2:18 and compare Jer. 31:5. Ps. 132:6, “in Bethlehem”. Literally, “Ephrathah” was its ancient name (Gen. 35:16-19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Mic. 5:2).

Zion = Jerusalem. In Rev. 14:1, IEB: “on Mount Zion”. NOTE: Zion was symbolic of the holiest place on earth to the Jews—God’s temple in Jerusalem. His temple was built on this mountain. See Micah 4; Isa. 40; Heb 12:22-23. 2 Chr. 8:11 (the older part of Jerusalem), literally, “from the City of David.” Ps. 48:1, IEB: “on His holy mountain.” Literally, “the mountain of His holiness”. God’s Sanctuary was erected on top of Mount Zion (Moriah). See Isa. 2:2-3; 25:6,7,10. Compare Gal. 4:26. Though God’s “presence” was once confined to the temple in ancient Jerusalem, He now dwells in the heart of every true Christian (Rom. 8:9,11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:22; 3:17; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:14). Ps. 76:2, IEB: “He lives in Jerusalem.” Literally, “His tent is in Salem.” Compare Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:1-2 for this ancient name of Jerusalem. The ark of the covenant was moved to Jerusalem by King David in 2 Sam. 6:17. In the New Testament, “the city of David” refers to Bethlehem, David’s boyhood home. Jesus was born there (Matt. 2:1; Luke 2:4).

Mountains:

Mount Sinai = Horeb — Gal. 4:24. NOTE: This was a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula where God gave the Law to Moses (Exo. 19:20). Ps. 106:19, IEB: “The people made a {golden} calf at Mount Sinai.” Literally, “(Mount) Horeb.” See Exo. 32:4,5,24; Deut. 9:8-16.

Mount Gerazim — John 4:20, IEB: “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain.” NOTE: The Samaritans had built a temple there about 130 years before Jesus of Nazareth, but the Jews destroyed it.

Mount Hermon = Sirion (Deut. 3:9; Ps. 29:6)

Seir = Edomite territory 1 Chr. 4:42, IEB: “the mountains of Edom”. Literally, “Mount Seir.” 2 Chr. 25:11, IEB: “There Amaziah’s army killed 10,000 men of Edom.” Literally, “of the sons of Seir.”

Rivers:

the river = the Euphrates River. It is generally called in the Bible simply “the river” (Exo. 23:31), or “the great river” (Deut. 1:7). NOTE: The Euphrates was first mentioned in Gen. 2:14 as being one of the four rivers of Paradise. Next, it was mentioned in connection with the covenant which God entered into with Abraham (Gen. 15:18) when God promised to Abraham’s descendants the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates River (compare Deut. 11:24; Josh. 1:4). This was a covenant promise that was fulfilled later in the extended conquests of David (2 Sam. 8:2-14; 1 Chr. 18:3; 1 Kings 4:24). So, the Euphrates was the boundary-line of the Jewish kingdom to the northeast. It was a pivotal landmark in the ancient history of Assyria, and Babylon, and Egypt. Just as the Nile River represented in prophecy the power of Egypt, so the Euphrates River symbolized Assyrian power (Isa. 8:7; Jer. 2:18).

The Nile River is often referred to in the Old Testament by the name of Sihor (Isa. 23:3; Jer. 2:18) or simply the phrase “the river” (Gen. 41:1; Exo. 1:22, etc.) or the “flood of Egypt” (Amos 8:8). NOTE: When the Nile was high, it fertilized the land of Egypt. But when the Nile was low, famine ensued. Usually, there was plenty of food in Egypt because the Nile River supplied enough water for crops every year. All agriculture in Egypt depended entirely upon the level of the Nile River. The tropical rains of Central Africa which fed the Nile caused the river either to rise or to fall. If the river fell below a certain point, there would be a deficient crop for that year. Goshen was located on the eastern side of the Delta of the Nile River. It was very fertile pastureland. Goshen was about 30 miles X 30 miles.

The Jordan River is the principal river of Palestine. NOTE: It flows from north to south down a deep valley in the center of the country. Its waters originate from the snows of Mount Hermon in the north. Its Hebrew name (Yarden) means “descender” because it descends rapidly and empties into the Dead Sea. From the southern tip of Lake Galilee to the top of the Dead Sea is a straight distance of about 65 miles. But the Jordan River winds around approximately 200 miles, falling 618 feet in elevation. The total length of the Jordan River from Banias (further north of Lake Galilee) is about 104 miles in a straight line to the Dead Sea. And, the river descends a total of 2,380 feet over that longer span.

Hiddekel = Dan. 10:4, IEB: “the Tigris River.” Literally, “Hiddekel.” See Gen. 2:14.

Lakes and Oceans:

Lake Galilee = the Sea of Galilee = Lake Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1) = Lake Gennesaret (Luke 5:1) = Chinnereth (Num. 34:11; Deut. 3:17; Josh. 11:2; 12:3; 13:27)

the Dead Sea = the Salt Sea. Dan. 11:45, IEB: “They will be between the seas.” = the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. In 2 Kings 14:25 we find the expression “the sea of the Arabah” (= wide valley). This is probably the Dead Sea. However, some scholars believe that this was referring to the Gulf of Aqaba.

the great sea = the Mediterranean Sea. Num. 34:6, IEB: “Your western border will be the Mediterranean Sea.” Literally, “the Great Sea.” See also John 15:12.

TIME

Hanukkah — John 10:22, IEB: “The time came for the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem.” NOTE: Hanukkah, a festival which celebrates the rededication of the temple after Judas Maccabaeus was victorious over Syria in 165 B.C. This festival lasted 8 days. It began on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.

Pentecost (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8) = the Feast of Weeks = the Harvest Festival. NOTE: This Jewish celebration of the wheat harvest, which was held in the latter part of May, was 50 days after the Passover Festival. The Hebrew name for this festival is Shavuoth.

the Feast of Unleavened Bread — Matt. 26:17. NOTE: A yearly feast when unleavened bread (that is, no yeast to make the bread rise) was eaten. See Exo. 12:14-20. It lasted 7 days. (See Lev. 23:4-8.) This festival was held from the 15th to the 22nd day of the Jewish month Nisan, which was around the first week of April.

the Festival of Huts (Shelters) — The Jews joyously celebrated the completion of the fall harvest. It was to commemorate the years when their ancestors wandered through the wilderness for 38 years. That is why they constructed makeshift shelters to live in during the festival. The Hebrew name is Sukkoth. It has been traditionally called “the Feast of Tabernacles” or “the Feast of Booths”.

the first day of the week — Matt. 28:1, IEB: “Sunday”

the Passover Feast — Matt. 26:2, IEB: = “the Passover Festival”. NOTE: A yearly celebration reminding the Jews of the death angel that had “passed over” their homes in Egypt (Exo. 12:21-28).

“the eleventh hour” KJV — Matt. 20:6, IEB: “about five o’clock in the afternoon”

“the ninth hour” (KJV)” — Matt. 20:5; Luke 23:44, IEB: “around three o’clock in the afternoon”

“the sixth hour” (KJV) — Matt. 20:5; Luke 23:44; John 4:6; 19:14; Acts 10:9, IEB: “about noon”

“the tenth hour” (KJV) — John 1:39, IEB: “about four o’clock in the afternoon”

“the third hour of the day” (KJV) — Matt. 20:3; Mark 15:25, IEB: “nine o’clock in the morning” and Acts 2:15

Yom Kippur — (= the Fast) literally, “the fast was now already past (KJV)”, Acts 27:9. NOTE: The IEB translates it this way: “because it was after mid-September”. The season for sailing in the open sea was long since past. Yom Kippur, also known as “the Day of Atonement” was the most important of Israel’s holy days. This was the annual time when the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place and offer a special sacrifice for himself and the sins of the Jewish people (see Lev. 16). It was observed on the 10th day of the 7th month of the Hebrew calendar (around October 1).

watches of the night — The Jews divided nighttime into three military watches of the night: The “first watch” or the beginning of the watches (Lam. 2:19) was from sunset to 10:00 p.m. The “second watch” or “the middle watch” was from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. (Judg. 7:19). The “third watch” (sometimes called “the morning watch”) was from 2:00 a.m. to sunrise (Exo. 14:24; 1 Sam. 11:11). Later, under the Roman regime, they had four watches (see Matt. 14:25). Mark 13:35 mentions: “in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, and in the morning,” respectively meaning at 9:00 p.m., at midnight, at 3:00 a.m., and 6:00 a.m. (compare Acts 12:4.) In the IEB, Luke 12:38 puts it this way: “Those servants might have to wait all night long for their master.” (Literally, “whether it is at the second watch or the third watch”.) We know that a security force (some watchmen) patroled the streets during the night (Song of Songs 3:3; 5:7; Ps. 127:1).

DISTANCES AND LENGTHS:

a 2½ hour walk from Lydda to Joppa. IEB: “Lydda is near Joppa.”

a sabbath’s day journey — Acts 1:12, IEB: “about three-quarters of a mile”. NOTE: See Exo. 16:29; Num. 35:5; Josh. 3:4.

about half an acre — 1 Sam. 14:14, “within an area of about half an acre.” Literally, “in about half of a furrow of an acre of a field.” NOTE: The Hebrew text indicates “half a yoke”; meaning “one yoke” was the extent of a field that a team of two oxen could plow in one day, namely, one acre.

cubit, a — Matt. 6:27, IEB: “None of you can grow 18 inches taller by worrying about it.” Rev. 21:17, IEB: “144 cubits thick”. NOTE: About 70 yards. A cubit was about the length of a man’s forearm (measuring from the point of the elbow to the tip of the longest finger). It was approximately 18 inches (or, 0.5 of a meter), but the cubit of the temple may have been 21 inches long.

feet — NOTE: The dimensions of Noah’s ark have been converted into a unit (1 foot = 12 inches) which modern people can understand more readily. According to Gen. 6:15, the ark was 450 feet long (= 300 cubits), 75 feet wide (= 50 cubits), and 45 feet high (= 30 cubits). These measurements follow the proportions of modern ships. This well-designed, barge-like ark of Noah was very stable on the high seas. It was unlike the craft of the Babylonian account of the flood in Tablet XI of the Gilgamesh Epic, which was discovered at Nineveh in the 19th century. That “ark” was a perfect cube (200 feet X 200 feet X 200 feet), and it would have been quite unstable!

handbreadth, a = 3 inches = 8 centimeters inches — NOTE: The dimensions of the ark of the covenant (IEB: “the Holy Chest”) in Exo. 25:10 needed to be expressed in terms that people today can relate to. Instead of translating the length as “2½ cubits”, it is 45 inches or 3¾ feet. Its width and height was 27 inches (2¼ feet) rather than expressing it as “1½ cubits.”

mile — Matt. 5:41 (“compels/forces you to go a mile”). NOTE: A Roman mile (4,854 feet) was shorter than today’s English mile (5,280 feet).

rod, a measuring — KJV: “a reed like unto a rod”; Rev. 11:1, IEB: “I (John) was given a long measuring stick. It was like a rod.” NOTE: It was for the purpose of measuring God’s temple sanctuary and the altar. A similar rod was used to measure things in Ezekiel’s idealized temple complex, according to Ezek. 40:5. This reed was 10½ feet long (6 cubits and a span, probably using the 21-inch temple cubit as a standard).

seven miles to Emmaus — Luke 24:13. The KJV has: “{about} threescore furlongs”.

span, a = 9 inches = 23 centimeters

yards — NOTE: In Gen. 21:16, the text says that the weeping mother (Hagar) went a short distance away from her dying son (Ishmael) because they had run out of water. Literally, it says, “a bow shot away.” How far is that? The IEB has: “about 100 yards away.” Unless you are familiar with archery, you would not realize that it was the approximate length of a football field. The same distance of 100 yards was mentioned in John 21:8. The Greek text has: “200 cubits.”

CAPACITIES:

dry measures:

cor = homer = 10 ephahs = 6 bushels = 220 liters

lethek = 5 ephahs = 3 bushels = 110 liters

ephah = 10 omers = 3/5 of a bushel = 22 liters

seah = 1/3 of an ephah = 7 quarts = 7.3 liters

omer = 1/10th of an ephah = 2 quarts = 2 liters

cab = 1/18th of an ephah = 1 quart = 1 liter

sata, three — Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21, IEB: “like yeast which a woman mixes into a tub of flour to make the bread rise” Literally, “three satas” = about 40 quarts (approximately four and a half pecks)

liquid measures:

bath = 1 ephah = 6 gallons = 22 liters

hin = 1/6th of a bath = 4 quarts = 4 liters

log = 1/72nd of bath = 1/3 of a quart = 0.3 liter

MONEY:

assarion — The price of 2 sparrows was a coin equal to 1/10th of a drachma (Matt. 10:29; Luke 12:6).

beka = 10 gerahs = 1/5 of an ounce = 5.5 grams

denarius, a; i.e., one day’s wage — Matt. 18:28, literally, “100 silver coins” (“three months’ wages” IEB). In Rev. 6:6, the IEB translates it as: “a silver coin”. NOTE: Normally, such a silver coin would buy 8 to 12 times more of its value, but not during wartime. Inflation hurts poor people much more than the rich people.

drachma, a (roughly equivalent to one denarius) — Acts 19:19, literally, “50,000 drachmas”. IEB: “worth about two million dollars”. NOTE: One drachma was worth about one day’s pay at that time.

gerah = 1/50th of an ounce = 0.6 gram

leptos — Luke 12:59, literally, “your last small coin” (lepta); “the very last mite” (KJV). The IEB has: “until they have taken everything you have.” NOTE: Two brass leptas equaled one “farthing” (Mark 12:42, KJV), a quadrans coin. See the meager donation of the widow in Luke 21:2. A lepta was worth less than a penny (one cent).

mina (KJV: “mene”) Dan. 5:25-26, IEB: “ ‘MENE’ means ‘God has counted the days . . .’ ” literally, “has numbered the days”. NOTE: A mina was a unit of money.

pim = 2/3 of a shekel = 1/3 of an ounce = 7.6 grams

shekel (= tekel) Dan. 5:27, IEB: “You have been weighed on the scales . . .” literally, “(something) weighed”. NOTE: It is believed that a shekel weighed 11.5 grams.

talent — Matt. 18:24, literally, “10,000 talents” (“several million dollars” IEB). The IEB of Esther 3:9 has: “375 tons of silver to those who do the king’s business.” Literally, “10,000 talents” = more than $10 million today. NOTE: It would take a workman about 1,000 weeks to earn just one talent. See Jesus’ parable about the five talents, the two talents, and one talent (Matt. 25:14-30). Here the original word “talent” does not mean “skill” or “ability” as it currently does in English.

“thirty pieces of silver” which was paid to Judas Iscariot = The IEB has: “30 silver coins” (Zech. 11:12-13; Matt. 26:15; 27:3,9). NOTE: This price was worth about one month’s pay.

HEBREW WORDS:

Abaddon — Rev. 9:11, a Hebrew name meaning “destruction”. Compare Job 26:6 and Ps. 88:11.

Amen — NOTE: This Hebrew word means complete agreement by saying: “That’s true!” or “It is so!” or “So be it!” or “Certainly!” or “Let it stand!” or “We believe it!” (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15). This word is even used as a title for Christ in Rev. 3:14.

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani!? — Matt. 27:46-47. NOTE: “Eli” may have sounded like “Elijah” in the Aramaic language (which was spoken at that time). “Eli” means “My God” in Hebrew (Ps. 22:1)

Hallelujah — Rev. 19:1, a Hebrew expression meaning “Praise Yah(weh),” that is, “Praise the LORD.”

Hosanna! — Matt. 21:9, literally, “Help!” “Please save!” NOTE: This word expressed great religious enthusiasm. See Ps. 118:25, IEB: “Please, O Yahweh, save {us} now!” Hebrew: hoshiy’ah na’ = Hosanna! This was a prayer (Ps. 20:9).

manna — John 6:31,49: “Our ancestors ate manna in the desert.” NOTE: This was food which was miraculously supplied to the people of Israel on their long journey through the desert. See Exo. 16:13-21; Num. 11:7-9; Heb. 9:4.

Rabbi = Rabboni (see the titles above)

Raca = Matt. 5:22, IEB: “You idiot!” NOTE: a very unkind word (raka). It attacks the humanity of a person. It is the same as calling someone empty-headed, stupid, and good-for-nothing—a judgment which only God can make. We are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26).

Sabbath — NOTE: This was the 7th day of the Jewish week (from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday). It was a holy day on which no work was permitted.

Sheol = the Pit (a metaphor for death, compare Ps. 28:1; 30:3) = Rephaim in Prov. 2:18, IEB: “What she does leads to death.” Hebrew: repha’im = the shadows (which refers to the departed spirits of the grave). Compare Job 26:5; Ps. 88:10-11; Prov. 9:18; 21:16; Isa. 26:14,19. Ps. 142:5 read this way literally: “(You are) my portion in the land of the living.” This was the opposite of Sheol. David did not put his hopes in human hands, but only in God’s hands.

the temple courtyard — See Matt. 21:13; Luke 19:46, IEB: “But you have changed it into a hiding place for thieves!” NOTE: The merchants and money-exchangers were providing a service for foreign Jews who needed to buy animals for sacrifice and exchange their foreign money (no foreign coins were allowed in the temple), but they should not have been conducting such business in the temple courtyard itself. According to John 2:14, Jesus “found some men in the temple courtyard. They were selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons. The money-exchangers were also sitting there” (IEB). Also, they should not have charged such high prices for their services, and they should not have been treating God’s temple only as a place to make money.

Yahweh (YHWH) — NOTE: The Sacred Name of God has to do with His unchangeable constancy to keep His promises. See Exo. 3:14-15; 6:3. The tetragrammaton (YHWH) comes from the Hebrew root, “to exist”. Compare Heb. 13:8; Rev. 1:4,8.

GREEK WORDS:

apostolos — Acts 14:14, IEB: “the apostles”, that is Barnabas and Paul. NOTE: This Greek word means “special messengers” (that is, missionaries who were sent out from Antioch in Syria). Here the term does not refer to the original twelve apostles of Jesus.

Apollyon — Rev. 9:11. NOTE: a Greek name meaning “destruction”.

baptize — 1 Cor. 10:2, IEB: “All of them were plunged”; literally, “were immersed”. NOTE: The Greek text has baptizo. Exo. 13:21-22; 14:19-22.

ekklesia — a “called-out group,” or a “congregation,” an “assembly,” a “gathering” of people. NOTE: This word should never be rendered as “church” because that is very misleading. The Greek word ekklesia has nothing to do with our modern conception of “church” (= a building or a denomination). Instead, ekklesia had within it the inherent meaning of “separation from others” (see 2 Cor. 6:17).

exodos — Luke 9:31, IEB: “They were talking with Jesus about his death”. Literally, “his departure”. NOTE: The Greek word here is exodos.

Gehenna = hell = hell fire (Matt. 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6). NOTE: Compare also 1 Tim. 6:9; 2 Thes. 2:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 19:20; 20:10,14,15.

Hades — Matt. 16:17-18 (IEB: “death”); literally, “the gates of Hades”. NOTE: Hades is the Greek word for the unseen world of the dead. See also Rev. 1:18. Hades (= Sheol in Hebrew) is not hell (Gehenna). Did Jesus go to “hell” or Gehenna (see Acts 2:27,31)? No, Jesus did not go to hell; he went to Paradise (Luke 23:43), the good part of Hades/Sheol (compare “the bosom (= the arms) of Abraham” in Luke 16:22.

Logos = the Word of God (John 1:1), that powerful, creative, dynamic Word which was the Agent of all creation (Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:3), that guiding, controlling Word which puts order into the universe (John 1:2-3) and mind into man (John 1:4,9). The Logos is Jesus of Nazareth, and the Apostle John declares that this Word actually came to earth in the form of a man (John 1:14) and was seen by human eyes, heard by human ears, and touched (1 John 1:1-3). Jesus was fully God, and Jesus was fully man. To see truth, we must look at Jesus (John 14:6).

petra — Matt. 7:24; 16:17-18; “like a wise man who built his house upon rock” and “upon this rock foundation I will build my …”) NOTE: The Greek word is petra (feminine gender).

Petros = Cephas — Matt. 16:17-18; “Thou art Peter,” KJV. NOTE: The Greek word is petros (masculine gender).

Tartarus (2 Pet. 2:4) = hell.

CUSTOMS:

at the right side — Ps. 110:1, IEB: “Sit at My right {side} until I put your enemies under your control.” Literally, “at My right (hand)” = the place of honor (1 Kings 2:19; Ps. 45:9; Mark 16:19; Acts 7:55-56; Eph. 1:20). NOTE: This Messianic psalm was quoted in Matt. 22:43-45; 26:64; Mark 12:36-37; 14:62; Luke 20:42-44; 22:69; Acts 2:34-36; Heb. 1:13.

covering the head — 2 Sam. 15:30. NOTE: To the Jews, this was a sign of grief (1 Sam. 4:12; 2 Sam. 13:19; Esth. 6:12; Ezek. 24:17; Jer. 14:3,4). The Persians, the Egyptians, and the Romans did the same thing to express that emotion. Its purpose was to conceal an outburst of tears.

pouring oil on top of a stone — Gen. 28:17-22; 31:13, when Jacob deemed Bethel as a sacred spot.

birth order — It mattered to Laban in giving Leah as a bride to Jacob first, and not Rachel (Gen. 29:25).

having a communal meal atop a big pile of stones — This was a way of making peace in the family (Gen. 31:44-54). It was a face-saving device for both sides.

paid mourners — Matt. 9:23. NOTE: When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house to see the 12 year-old daughter who had just died, there was pandemonium all around. Why? Because there were loud sounds of constant wailing and flute-playing. See 2 Chr. 35:25; Jer. 9:17; 16:6; Ezek. 24:17. The wailing was done by professional wailing women. This was designed to touch the tender feelings of the hearts of family members and sympathizers. The music of the flutes was especially associated with death. In the East, this was how grief was expressed in a funeral. The Mishna (Kethubim 4:4) said that even the poorest man should have “not less than two pipes, and one woman to make lamentation.” Jesus calmly took control of this hysterical situation by putting almost everybody outside, so that he could raise the little girl from death.

hissing — Job 27:23 “{It will be as if} the wind were clapping its hands at him. It will whistle at him (or, “will hiss at him”) {as he runs away} from his place.” = to deride (Jer. 25:9; Lam. 2:15). The IEB of 1 Kings 9:8 has: “They will make fun {of you}.” Literally, “hiss (at you)” = surprised and scoffing in contempt (2 Chr. 29:8; Mic. 6:16; Jer. 18:16; 19:8).

shaking off the dust from one’s feet — See Matt. 10:14; Luke 9:5; Acts 13:51. NOTE: This was a Jewish custom showing the rejection of someone. This expression was used regarding those who rejected the Good News (the gospel) of Christ.

throwing dust into the air or onto one’s head — NOTE: This was a cultural way of showing extreme anger (Acts 22:23; Rev. 18:19) or during a time of great sorrow (Job 2:8; Dan. 9:3).

ripping one’s clothes — Matt. 26:65 (KJV: “rent his clothes”). This was a sign of outrage, and sometimes it meant showing grief (Lev. 21:10; Josh. 14:6; Mark 14:63; Acts 14:14).

tassels on their robes— Matt. 9:20; 14:36; 23:5. NOTE: Tassels were worn on four corners of a robe to remind the people of the Law of Moses (Num. 15:37-41).

phylacteries — Matt. 23:5. NOTE: These leather boxes contained verses of Scripture and were strapped to the Jewish men’s arms or foreheads while praying. Compare Prov. 7:3, IEB: “Remind yourself of them.” Literally, “Tie them on your fingers.” Though this instance could be an inscription on a ring, several scholars think that it refers to the

tephillin. These boxes were filled with tiny strips of parchment principally containing these four Biblical passages: Exo. 13:1-10,11-16; Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21. A box was attached to a leather strap which was wound seven times around the forearm, three times around the middle finger, and the remainder was around the hand.

the temple tax — Matt. 17:24, IEB: “Your teacher (Jesus) pays the temple tax, doesn’t he?” NOTE: Jews were commanded to support the temple’s upkeep.

chief seats in the synagogue (KJV); Matt. 23:6, IEB: “the most important seats in the synagogues”. NOTE: These were the best seats (pew) in the synagogue. This was usually on a raised platform where the speakers stood, overlooking the congregation.

the Holy Place = the Sanctuary. NOTE: In Exo. 25:8 the term “the dwelling-place” included the whole tent—the Holy Place, the Most Holy Place, its furniture, and its courtyard. According to Exo. 26:3, a thick curtain was hung between the Most Holy Place (see below) and the Holy Place. Its function was to separate all human beings (even the priests) from the “presence” of God. Only one man (namely, the high priest) ever went beyond that veil. And, he was permitted to do so only once a year, that is, on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:1-19).

the Most Holy Place = the Holy of Holies (Exo. 26:33). See Matt. 27:50-51; Heb. 6:19; 9:3-5; 10:20.

the temple courtyard — NOTE: The Greek word hieron designates all of the sacred enclosure, including the entire aggregate of buildings, balconies, porches, and all the courts (namely, the courtyard of the men, the courtyard of the women, and the courtyard of the priests) associated with the whole temple complex.

the Sanctuary (Greek: naos) — NOTE: This was the inner sanctum which was dedicated to the worship of God. Sometimes the word refers to the central place of worship and not to the whole building. Technically, naos designates the sacred edifice consisting of two parts, the Sanctuary or “the Holy place” (which no one except the priests was allowed to enter), and “the Holy of Holies” or “the Most Holy Place” (which was entered only by the high priest on Yom Kippur when he was alone).

the high priest — Luke 3:2, IEB: “Annas and Caiaphas were high priests at that time.” NOTE: The Romans allowed only one Jewish high priest each year. Old Annas was the real power behind that office. Caiaphas, Annas’ son-in-law, was the official high priest that particular year when Jesus was crucified. Before this, each of Annas’ five sons had been high priest.

priests and Levites — Luke 10:31-32. NOTE: What was the difference between a Jewish priest and a Levite? Levites helped Jewish priests. Both were from the tribe of Levi. See 1 Chr. 23:28-32. Compare also Heb. 7:5,13; 8:4.

Priests also acted as the medical examiners. — Luke 5:14, IEB: “Go show yourself to the priest.” NOTE: Lev. 14:2-32 said that the priests were to do this. The priests were the ones to declare whether a person was “cured” or not.

Nethinim, the — NOTE: Originally, according to Josh. 9:27, the Gibeonites became slaves to the Israelites. The Gibeonites cut the wood and carried the water. Later, they were called “the Nethinim”, the temple servants (1 Chr. 9:2; Ezra 2:43; 8:20; Ps. 84:10). So, they were devoted, foreign slaves who were given to the Levites to perform the more laborious duties of the Sanctuary. Since very few of the Levites returned from Babylonia, the role of the Nethinim was very important.

circumcision, the Jewish rite of — Luke 1:59, IEB: “Eight days later, they came to circumcise the child.” NOTE: Circumcising was cutting off the foreskin of the male sex organ, as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and Israel later. See Gen. 17:9-14. Compare John 7:22; Acts 16:1-3; Rom. 3:30; Gal. 1:6; 2:3,12; 5:12.

cleansing ceremonies — Luke 2:22, IEB: “The time came for Mary and the baby to be made pure, according to the law of Moses.” See Lev. 12:2-8. NOTE: A Jewish woman had to be cleansed by a special ceremony 40 days after she had given birth to a boy. Compare also Matt. 15:1-14; 23:34; John 2:6; 3:25; Acts 21:24. “Defiling” meant to make oneself ritually unclean or impure. If this occurred, then that person could not participate in public worship until the proper “cleansing” had taken place to remove the defilement (compare John 18:28).

straining a gnat (or any “unclean” insect) — In Matt. 23:24 Jesus said, “You strain out the gnat, but you swallow the camel!” NOTE: The Pharisees meticulously strained out drinking water to avoid ceremonially unclean insects. (See Lev. 23:4-8.)

sterility, their view of — Luke 1:25, IEB: “My people were ashamed of me”. Why? Because Jewish people believed that God was punishing a woman if she could not have a baby.

Sanhedrin, the — “the Jewish Council” (IEB). See Matt. 5:22; 26:59; Mark 14:55; 15:1; Luke 22:66; John 11:47; Acts 4:15; 5:21,27,34; 6:12,15; 22:30; 23:1,6,15,20,28; 24:20. NOTE: This was the highest court among the Jews.

foot-washing — Luke 7:44, IEB: “You, Simon, provided me with no water for my feet.” NOTE: A polite host always provided water for his guest’s feet. Also See John 13:1-21 and 1 Tim. 5:10.

talking with a woman in public — John 4:27, IEB: “They were amazed that Jesus was talking with a woman”. NOTE: The rabbis taught that a man should not talk with a woman in public. She was considered to be inferior.

the adoption of Mary (= their version of “social security”) — John 19:27, IEB: “Look at your mother” meaning Mary. NOTE: Here John is being told by Jesus to take care of Mary, that is, to adopt her as John’s own mother.

washing one’s hands in public — Matt. 27:24. NOTE: When Pontius Pilate washed his hands in front of the Jewish crowd, it was his sign that he was claiming innocence in this case (cf. Deut. 21:6-7; Ps. 26:6).

swearing an oath with the right hand — Ps. 144:8, IEB: “They are liars. They are deceitful.” Literally, “And their right (hand) is a right (hand) of lies.” = they were swearing an oath (Exo. 6:8; Deut. 32:40; Ps. 106:26) to tell the truth but they were lying instead (that is, giving false testimony).

euphemisms for the one true God — KJV: “heavens”; IEB: “the Most High God”(Dan. 4:25,26); “the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3) instead of “the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20); “at the right side of the Power” (Mark 14:62); “I have sinned against heaven” (Luke 15:18); “the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:18); “the Majesty” (Heb. 1:3; 8:1). NOTE: Jewish people often avoided direct references to God because of their deep respect for Him.

leaven (yeast) — literal in Matt. 13:33; 26:17; Luke 13:21, but figurative in Matt. 16:6 and Gal. 5:9, meaning “influence”. NOTE: Yeast was a yellowish substance (of minute fungi) which was added to dough made from the flour of wheat or barley to make the whole thing rise before being baked into bread.

hand-laying — Acts 6:6, IEB: “and placed their hands on them.” NOTE: This was a common practice when appointing people to special duties (Num. 27:22-23). Compare 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6; Heb. 6:2.

purple robes — John 19:2, signifying royalty. NOTE: In this case, the Roman soldiers were mocking Jesus.

white robes — See Rev. 6:11; 7:9,13,14. NOTE: These symbolized moral purity.

curtain, the = the veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place — Matt. 27:51, KJV: “The veil of the temple was rent in twain”. The IEB has: “the curtain in the temple sanctuary was split into two parts”. NOTE: Jesus, our High Priest, had entered the most holy place on our behalf. See Heb 9:11-12.

menorah, the = the lampstand

mercy-seat, the = the forgiveness cover

Bread of the Presence, the — See Exo. 25:30. NOTE: These were the holy loaves of bread upon the special table in God’s presence (in the Sanctuary). It refers to the presence of God Himself (Exo. 33:14-15; Isa. 63:9). Read Lev. 24:5-9 to learn how this sacred bread was prepared. There were twelve loaves of this bread, one for each tribe. It was a symbolic way that Israel could show that they acknowledged that all food came from God.

Urim and Thummim, the = “Light” and “Truth” (perfection). NOTE: These were two small objects stored in a special pouch, and they were used by Aaronic priests to determine God’s will by receiving special, divine messages. Exo. 28:30 was the first verse to mention these sacred objects in the Old Testament. See also Lev. 8:8; Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; Josh. 9:14; Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65; Prov. 16:33. In 1 Sam. 23:6,9-12 they were associated with some simple oracles from God. No one knows exactly what the Urim and the Thummim looked like or how they worked. Later on, God revealed His will much more fully through His prophets, and, ultimately through His Son (Heb. 1:1-2).

jailor’s near-suicide, the — Acts 16:27, IEB: “So the jailor took his sword and was ready to kill himself.” Why? Because the keeper of the jail would be killed if he allowed even one prisoner escape!

Roman laws: NOTE: According to Acts 16:37; 22:25, Roman citizens could not be tortured or beaten until they had had a fair trial. And, every Roman citizen had the right to appeal his case to the Emperor in Rome (Acts 25:11; 28:19). He could have the privilege of standing trial before Caesar himself in Rome. However, it was very expensive to claim this right. Paul was born as a Roman citizen in Tarsus, according to Acts 22:28.

corners (horns) of the altar, the — Rev. 9:13, IEB: “from the corners of the golden altar”. Blood was often placed on the corners (horns) of the incense altar (Exo. 27:2; 30:2; 37:25; Lev. 4:7; Ps. 118:27). NOTE: Compare Rev. 8:3-5. It was a sanctuary in 1 Kings 2:28.

schoolmaster, a — Gal. 3:24, IEB: “the Law {of Moses} was our trainer.” NOTE: This was a person who took care of a child on his way to and from school. A schoolmaster did not teach; he only delivered the child to the teacher safely, like a school bus driver today.

39 {stripes} — 2 Cor. 11:24, IEB: “the Jewish leaders whipped me 39 times”. NOTE: Deut. 25:3 limited a beating to 40 lashes. This punishment was to stop at 39 lashes, for fear of giving too many stripes, and then they could be punished themselves.

leather-worker, a — Acts 9:43 (“Simon was a leather-worker.”) NOTE: This was a ceremonially “unclean” occupation to very strict Jews, but this did not seem to bother Simon Peter.

hand gestures — Ps. 106:26 has: “He raised His hand against them” = taking a vow (Exo. 6:8; Deut. 32:40), but raising the hand can also mean something else = a common mannerism calling for attention (Acts 13:16; 19:33; 21:40; 26:1); holding out the hands, offering (Rom. 10:21, IEB): “I have held out my hands all day long”, a kind invitation from God, showing His continuous patience. Sometimes “pointing” was for the purpose of voting (see Acts 14:23; Greek: cheirotonesantes). The hand gesture in Acts 12:17 is the act of shushing.

piercing the ear — Ps. 40:6, IEB: “But You have accepted my offer of service for a lifetime.” literally, “But You have pierced my ears.” NOTE: According to Exo. 21:6 and Deut. 15:17, this voluntary act of piercing the ear was the sign of a life-long pledge of service by a servant to his master. An alternative interpretation of “You have opened my ears” is: David (the type of Christ) was ready to listen to God and obey Him. In other words, his ears were “unstopped” (Ps. 58:4-5; Prov. 21:13; Zech. 7:11).

confiscation of one’s bed (as collateral) — Prov. 22:27, IEB: “If you cannot pay off {what he owes}, then your bed will be taken and sold.” Literally, “Why should your bed be taken away from underneath you!?” that is, by a creditor (Exo. 22:25-27; Deut. 24:12- 13; Neh. 5:11; Ezek. 18:12)

winking — Ps. 35:19, IEB: “Don’t let them make fun of me.” Literally, “and let not those (people) wink the eye” = smirking. NOTE: Winking was a malicious collusion (Prov. 6:13; 10:10; 16:30). This was probably a narrowing of the eyes because such a trickster is cunningly concentrating on plotting evil. Such a man won’t look you straight in the eye.

tapping one’s fingers and scraping with the feet — Prov. 6:13, IEB: “They make signs with their fingers.” NOTE: All of these “secret” ways of communicating (Prov. 10:10; 16:30) against their victims describe underhanded deceivers who concealed their true intentions. Compare Prov. 26:23-26.

putting the foot on somebody’s throat — Ps. 36:11, IEB: “Don’t let proud people trample me.” Literally, “Don’t let the foot of pride come against me.” NOTE: This may be symbolic, referring to a military leader humiliating a defeated opponent by placing a foot on his throat.

striking hands = a handshake to co-sign a loan — Prov. 6:1, IEB: “Don’t promise to pay for what somebody else owes.” Literally, “if you strike your hands with a stranger” = cosigning a neighbor’s bank note; that is, shaking hands to seal the deal (Prov. 17:18; Ezek. 17:18). Also compare Job 17:3; Prov. 11:15; 17:18; 20:16; 22:26-27; Neh. 5:3-5; Matt. 18:23-25.

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