The New International Dictionary of the Bible

Authors' Bias | Interpretation: conservative

Revising Editor's Preface

For more than two decades The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary has been a bestseller. During that period, however, more background information has become available. Archaeological excavations have been carried out on biblical sites. New books have been written to enhance our understanding of the Bible. A further dimension was added with the publication of the New International Version of the Bible.

These developments are reflected in this revision. The revision has been so thorough, in fact, that the dictionary merits a new name: The New International Dictionary of the Bible. There is, for example, a completely new entry on archaeology, and, where necessary, notes have been added to the individual entries dealing with particular sites.

More emphasis has been placed on bibliography. To all the articles on biblical books are appended some suggestions for further reading. So, too, with most of the longer articles. Some entries call for bibliography more than others, hence the apparent anomaly that sees none attached to a sizable entry, but, for exceptional reasons, finds one in a shorter entry.

This revision is based on the NIV, but there are frequent comparisons with the KJV. Other versions-notably JB, NASB, NEB, and RSV-have been cited where it was considered helpful. While the spelling of places and personal names follows NIV usage, preference is occasionally given to the KJV rendering in order to avoid confusion or perhaps because of editorial affinity with some old and much-loved landmark.

Every reviser is in debt to the original editors and writers and lives with a nagging feeling of presumptuousness in setting out to amend or supersede the work of bygone saints. Whey did they say this or than? Did they know something we don't know? This haunting and not-unlikely possibility is a healthy inhibiting factor for brandishers of blue pencils.

This is especially relevant when confronting a presentation that is put a little more forcefully than one would expect in a dictionary of the Bible. In the following pages a reasonable amount of idiosyncrasy has been perpetuated in certain entries; with a certain affectionate indulgence we recognize that that was the way in which some of our elders drew attention to the importance of their topics.

A few brief explanations are called for. In articles where only minor revision has been carried out or bibliography updated, the name of the original author has been retained. Where there has been substantial alteration or addition, the name of the reviser also has been supplied. Where more than two writers have been involved, the article is left unsigned, a procedure that is followed with most of the shorter entries.

Cross-references are an editorial nightmare; too many of them make for confusion and untidiness. We reduced them to a minimum, knowing that readers would, without prompting from us, be enterprising enough to look up other subjects. Most of them involve related entries that are mentioned at the end of an entry.

Dictionaries are particularly vulnerable because a writer has to say in a few words what others expand into whole books. Contributors to dictionaries of the Bible are further at risk because some of their subjects lend themselves to controversy. In treating them, mention may be made either of opinions not within the Evangelical tradition or of widely divergent interpretations within that tradition. We hope that this policy will have not adverse effect on anyone's blood pressure. It was, indeed, an eminent physician, Sir Wilfred Grenfell, who reminded us that two men can think differently without either being wicked.

The consulting editors are not to be held accountable for the finished revision. None of them has seen all of it. All of them responded to the initial invitation to comment on what needed to be done. Moreover, all were contributors as well as consultants, and the work has greatly benefited. But someone had to see the work last, so for the final choice of material the revising editor alone is responsible.

In addition to article writers, a number of people worked very hard and lightened the editorial task. Doug Buckwalter and David Lazell shared their expertise in the peculiarly demanding job of adapting some of the omnibus articles to NIV usage. Myra Wilson cheerfully did a mass of accurate typing and checking; Ruj Vanavisut meticulously performed a daunting load of secretarial and kindred chores; Louan and Walter Elwell selflessly provided a second home and library facilities for a traveling editor. For the publisher, Stan Gundry was a model of restraint in letting the editor get on with the project unhindered but was ready to respond promptly to editorial requests.

J. D. Douglas

Preface to the First Edition

Robert A. Millikan, American Physicist and Nobel prizewinner, once said that a knowledge of the Bible is an indispensable qualification of a well-educated man. No other single book in the history of literature has been so widely distributed or read, or has exercised so powerful an influence upon civilization. It is the fountainhead of Western culture, and is the sole source of spiritual life and revelation for all Christians. For the development of Christian experience and for the propagation of faith, a study of the Scriptures is absolutely necessary. The history, laws, prophecies, sermons and letters which they contain provide God's estimate of man and His disclosure of Himself through the historic process of revelation culminating in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Understanding the Bible is often difficult for the average reader because of the unfamiliar names of persons, places, and object to which it alludes. The historical and cultural backgrounds are alien to those of the modern day and presuppose knowledge that is not easily attainable. The function of a Bible dictionary is to render accessible a body of information that will enable one to comprehend the meaning of the text he is reading, and to obtain ready and complete data concerning any related subject.

Within recent years, the need for a new, up-to-date reference work has become increasingly urgent. Fresh discoveries in archaeology, better understanding of the history and geography of the Middle East, and the fruit of multiplied research have provided new insights and interpretations. The advance of the graphic arts has improved greatly the effectiveness of photography, so that the artifacts and inscriptions of the past can be reproduced vividly for public exhibition. Realizing the opportunity for a fresh venture in this field, the Zondervan Publishing House inspired by the interest and foresight of Mr. Peter deVisser, Director of Publications, has undertaken the task of creating a totally new dictionary, enlisting the cooperation of sixty-five competent scholars in every field from archaeology to zoology. The content includes more than five thousand entries, among which may be found a number of important monographs on biblical and theological topics. In addition, the dictionary contains an extensive series of articles on Christian doctrines.

This Pictorial Bible Dictionary is a completely new, fully illustrated one-volume work. It is designed to provide quick access to explanatory data, both by the verbal exposition of biographical, chronological, geographical, and historical aspects of the Bible, and by the illustrations related to them. The pictures have been selected for their relevance to the subject matter, for their historical value, and also with an eye to human interest.

The scope of a one-volume dictionary is necessarily limited. The articles are not intended to be exhaustive, nor are they planned primarily for professional scholars. They are gauged for the use of pastors, Sunday-school teachers, Bible-class leaders, and students who desire concise and accurate information on questions raised by ordinary reading. For intensive research, a more detailed and critical work is recommended.

Although the articles are written from a conservative viewpoint, each writer has been free to express his own opinions and is responsible for the material that appears over his signature. There may be minor disagreements between statements by different persons; in such instances there is room for debate, and the contributors have liberty to differ. Uncertainty still exists in some fields, since sufficient data are not available for final conclusions.

While the writers are indebted to many sources, no previously published work has been incorporated in these pages. The pictures have been taken chiefly from recent photographs, and are not old reprints. No expense has been spared to prepare the best possible aid for the Bible student.

In the matter of illustrations, special thanks are due Mr. and Mrs. G. Eric Matson of the Matson Photo Service, Los Angeles, formerly of the American Colony in Jerusalem, for placing at our disposal their vast and unsurpassed collection of photographs gathered in a lifetime career of professional photography in the Bible lands. We wish herewith also to thank all organizations and individuals who have extended their help in supplying photos and illustrations, including: the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago; the British Museum of London; the University Museum of Pennsylvania; the Radio Times Hulton Picture Library of London; Dr. Edward F. Campbell, Jr., Editor of The Biblical Archaeologist; the American Schools of Oriental Research; the University of Michigan Library; Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Merrill F. Unger of Dallas Theological Seminary; Dr. and Mrs. Henry H. Halley of Chicago; Dr. Siegfried H. Horn of Andrews University, and others.

A complete bibliography of all sources of information would obviously be impossible. Selected references have been appended to major articles in order to afford opportunity for further research.

Names of persons and places, for the most part, have been taken from the King James Version, which is still more widely read than any other, but variants occurring in the American Standard Version and in the Revised Standard Version have been noted. Pronunciation follows the practice of the unabridged second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language. All Hebrew and Greek names, as well as other names and terms, are followed by their English pronunciations in parenthesis. Transliterated Hebrew and Greek words appear in italics, with their meaning when it can be identified. A list of symbols and abbreviations appears on pages xiii and xiv.

Special acknowledgments are due to Dr. Steven Barabas, Associated Editor, who collaborated in preparing articles for publication, and who contributed many himself; to Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, Professor Wick Broomall, Dr. Howard Z. Cleveland, the Rev. Charles Cook, Dr. Carl De Vries, the Rev. Arthur B. Fowler, the Rev. J. P. Freeman, Dr. Guy B. Funderburk, the Rev. Clyde E. Harrington, Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert, the Rev. John G. Johansson, the Rev. Brewter Porcella, Professor Arthur M. Ross, Dr. Emmet Russell, and Dr. Walter Wessel, who in addition to the initialed articles published under their names, contributed many of the unsigned articles; to Miss Verda Bloomhuff and Rev. Briggs P. Dingman, who assisted in correction of copy and proof; and to Mrs. Carol Currie and Mrs. Alice Holmes for invaluable secretarial service. The General Editor wishes to express his gratitude to all those scholars named in the list of contributors who have lent their time and counsel to the production of this book.

Merrill C. Tenney

Taken from THE NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE by MERRILL C. TENNEY and J. D. DOUGLAS. Copyright ©1987 by the Zondervan Corporation. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House (

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