THE Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament will be a useful tool in the hands
of the student who has little or no formal training in the Hebrew language. It will open up
the treasures of truth that often lie buried in the original language of the Old Testament,
sometimes close to the surface and sometimes deeply imbedded far beneath the surface.
The student trained in Hebrew will find the Expository Dictionary to
be a handy reference source. But the student without Hebrew training will experience a special
thrill in being able to use this study tool in digging out truths from the Hebrew Bible not
otherwise accessible to him.
It is, of course, possible to be a serious student of the Old Testament without
having a knowledge of the Hebrew language. English translations and commentaries are of
inestimable value and have their proper place. But a reference book that opens up the language
in which the Scriptures were originally revealed and recorded, and which makes them available
to readers unacquainted with the original tongue, has a value that at once becomes apparent.
As the language divinely chosen to record the prophecies of Christ, Hebrew
possesses admirable qualities for the task assigned it. The language has a singularly rhythmic
and musical quality. In poetic form, it especially has a noble dignity of style, combined with
a vividness that makes it an effective vehicle for expression of sacred truth. The ideas behind
its vocabulary give Hebrew a lively, picturesque nature.
Most Hebrew words are built upon verbal roots consisting of three consonants
called radicals. There are approximately 1850 such roots in the Old Testament from which
various nouns and other parts of speech have been derived. Many of these roots represent theological,
moral, and ceremonial concepts that have been obscured by the passage of time; recent archaeological
and linguistic research is shedding new light on many of these concepts. Old Testament scholars
find that biblical Hebrew can be compared with other Semitic languages such as Arabic, Assyrian,
Ugartic, Ethiopic, and Aramaic to discover the basic meaning of many heretofore obscure terms.
But it is not enough merely to have clarified the meaning of each root word. Each
word can take on different shades of meaning as it is employed in various contexts, so one must
study the various biblical occurrences of the word to arrive at an accurate understanding of its
This type of research has introduced students of Hebrew to a new world of understanding
the Old Testament. But how can this material be made available to those who do not know Hebrew?
That is the purpose of the present work
Now the lay student can have before him the Hebrew root, or a Hebrew word based on
that root, and can trace its development to its use in the passage before him. Moreover, he can
acquire some appreciation of the richness and variety of the Hebrew vocabulary. For example,
Hebrew synonyms often have pivotal doctrinal repercussions, as with the word virgin in
Isaiah 7:14, compared with similar words meaning "young woman." In some cases, a play
on words is virtually impossible to reflect in the English translation (e.g., Zeph. 2:4-7).
Some Hebrew words can have quite different-sometimes exactly opposite-meanings in different
contexts; thus the word bārak can mean "to bless" or "to curse," and
gā’al can mean "to redeem" or "to pollute."
The lay student, of course, will suffer some disadvantage in not knowing Hebrew.
Yet it is fair to say that an up-to-date expository dictionary that makes a happy selection of
the more meaningful Hebrew words of the Old Testament will open up a treasure house of truth
contained in the Hebrew Bible. It can offer a tremendous boon to the meaningful study of Scripture.
It cannot fail to become an essential reference work for all serious students of the Bible.
Merrill F. Unger
THE writings of the New Testament are based to a large measure on God’s revelation in the
Old Testament. To understand the New Testament themes of Creation, Fall, and Restoration, it is
necessary to read of their origin in the Old Testament.
The New Testament was written in a popular dialect of an Indo-European language
Greek. The Old Testament was written in the Semitic languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. For centuries,
lay students of the Bible have found it very difficult to understand the structure of biblical
Hebrew. Study guides to biblical Hebrew are designed for people who can read Hebrew-and many of
them are written in German, which only compounds the difficulty.
This Expository Dictionary seeks to present about 500 significant terms of
the Old Testament for lay readers who are not familiar with Hebrew. It describes the frequency,
usage, and meaning of these terms as fully as possible. No source has been ignored in seeking to
bring the latest Hebrew scholarship to the student who seeks it. It is hoped that this small
reference book will enlighten Bible students to the riches of God’s truth in the Old Testament.
A. The Place of Hebrew in History. Hebrew language and literature hold a
unique place in the course of Western civilization. It emerged sometime after 1500 BC. in the area
of Palestine, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The Jewish people have used Hebrew
continuously in one location or another to the present day. A modernized dialect of Hebrew (with
spelling modifications) is the official language of the State of Israel.
When Alexander the Great come to power, he united the Greek city-states under the
influence of Macedonia from about 330 BC to 323 BC. Alexander and his generals virtually annihilated
the social structures and languages of the ancient societies that their empire had absorbed. The
Babylonians, Aramaeans, Persians, and Egyptians ceased to exist as distinct civilizations; on the
Greek (Hellenistic) culture remained. Judaism was the only ancient religion and Hebrew the only
ancient language that survived this onslaught.
The Hebrew Bible contains the continuous history of civilization from Creation to
Roman times. It is the only record of God’s dealings with humanity through his prophets, priests,
and kings. In addition, it is the only ancient religious document that has survived completely
Hebrew is related to Aramaic, Syriac, and such modern languages as Ampharic and
Arabic (both ancient and modern). It belongs to a group of languages known as the Semitic
languages (so called because Scripture says that they were spoken by the descendants of Noah’s son
Shem). The oldest known Semitic language is Akkadian, which was written in the "wedge-shaped"
or cuneiform system of signs. The earliest Akkadian texts were written on clay tablets in abut
2400 BC. Babylonian and Assyrian are later dialects of Akkadian; both influenced the development of
Hebrew. Because the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian languages were all used in Mesopotamia, they
are classified as "East Semitic" languages.
The earliest evidence for the origins of "West Semitic" languages appears
to be an inspiration from the ancient city of Ebla. This was a little-known capital of a Semitic
state in what is now Northern Syria. The tablets of Elba are bilingual, written in both Sumerian
and Eblaite. The team of Italian archaeologists excavating Ebla have reported that these tablets
contain a number of personal and place names mentioned in the Book of Genesis. Some of the tablets
have been dated as early as 2400 BC. Since Hebrew was also a West Semitic language, the publication
of Ebla’s texts may cast new light on many older Hebrew words and phrases.
The earliest complete series of pre-Hebrew texts comes from the ancient Canaanite
city of Ugarit. Located on a cluster of hills in southern Lebanon, Ugarit has yielded texts that
contain detailed information about the religion, poetry, and trade of the Canaanite people. The
texts are dated between 1800 and 1200 BC. These tablets contain many words and phrases that are
almost identical to words found in the Hebrew Bible. The Ugaritic dialect illuminates the development
of Old Hebrew (or Paleo-Hebrew). The poetic structure of the Ugaritic language is mirrored in many
passages of the Old Testament, such as the "Song of Deborah" in Judges 5. The scribes of
Ugarit wrote in a modified cuneiform script that was virtually alphabetic; this script prepared
the way for using the simpler Phoenician writing system.
A number of texts from various parts of the Near East contain West Semitic words
and phrases. The most important of these are the tablet from the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna.
These tablets were written by the petty rulers of the Egyptian colonies of Syria-Palestine and by
their overlord, the pharaoh. The tablets from the minor princes were written in Babylonian; but when
the correspondent’s scribe did not know the proper Babylonian word to express a certain idea, he
substituted a Canaanite "gloss." These glosses tell us much about the words and spellings
that were used in Palestine during the time when Paleo-Hebrew emerged as a distinct language.
The Hebrew language probably came into existence during the patriarchal period,
about 2000 BC. The language was reduced to writing in about 1250 BC, and the earliest extant Hebrew
inscription dates from about 1000 BC. These early inscriptions were carved on stone; the oldest
known Hebrew scrolls were found in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea, and they date from the third
century BC. While some secular Hebrew texts have survived, the primary source for our knowledge of
classical Hebrew is the Old Testament itself.
B. The Origin of the Hebrew Writing System. Greek tradition claims that
Phoenicians invented the alphabet. Actually, this is only partially true, since the Phoenecian
writing system was not an alphabet as we know it today. It was a simplified syllabary
system-in other words, its various symbols represent syllables rather than separate vocal components.
The Hebrew writing system grew out of the Phoenecian system.
The Hebrew writing system gradually changed over the centuries. From 1000 to 200 BC,
a rounded script (Old Phoenician style) was used. This script was last used for copying the biblical
text and may be seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls. But after the Jews returned from their Babylonian
Captivity, they began to use the square script of the Aramaic language, which was the official language
of the Persian Empire. Jewish scribes adopted the Aramaic book hand, a more precise form of script.
When Jesus mentioned the "jot" and "tittle" of the Mosaic Law, He was referring
to manuscripts in the square script. The book hand is used in all printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.
C. A Concise History of the Hebrew Bible. Undoubtedly the text of the Hebrew
Bible was updated and revised several times in antiquity, and there was more than one textual tradition.
Many archaic words in the Pentateuch suggest that Moses used early cuneiform documents in compiling his
account of history. Scribes of the royal court under David and Solomon probably revised the text and
undated obscure expressions. Apparently certain historical books, such as 1 and2 Kings and 1 and 2
Chronicles, represent the official annals of the kingdom. These books represent the historical
tradition of the priestly class.
The message of the prophets was probably written down sometime after the prophets
delivered their message. There is a variety of writing styles among the prophetic books; and several,
such as Amos and Hosea, seem to be closer to colloquial speech.
The text of the Old Testament was probably revised again during the time of King
Josiah after the Book of Law was rediscovered (2 Kings 22-27; 2 Chronicles 24-35). This would
have taken place about 620 BC. The next two centuries, which brought the Babylonian Captivity,
were the most momentous times in the history of Israel. When the Jews began to rebuild Jerusalem
under Ezra and Nehemiah in 450 BC, their common speech was the Aramaic language of the Persian
court. This language became more popular among the Jews until it displaced Hebrew as the dominant
language of Judaism in the Christian era. There is evidence that the Old Testament text was
revised again at that time.
After the Greeks came to power under Alexander the Great, the preservation of
Hebrew became a political issue; the conservative Jewish parties wanted to retain it. But the
Jews of the Diaspora-those living outside of Palestine-depended upon versions of the
biblical text in Aramaic (called the Targums) or Greek (called the Septuagint).
Both the Targum and Septuagint were translated from Hebrew manuscripts. There
were substantial differences between these versions, and the Jewish rabbis went to great efforts
to explain these differences.
After Jerusalem fell to the armies of the Roman general Titus, Jewish biblical
scholars were scattered throughout the ancient world and the knowledge of Hebrew began to
decline. From AD 200 to nearly AD 900, groups of scholars attempted to devise systems of vowel
markings (later called points) to aid Jewish readers who no longer spoke Hebrew. The
scholars who did this work are called Masoretes, and their markings are called the
Masora. The Masoretic text that they produced represents the consonants that
had been preserved from about 100 BC (as proven by the Dead Sea scrolls); but the vowel
markings reflect the understanding of the Hebrew language in about AD 300. The Masoretic
text dominated Old Testament studies in the Middle Ages, and it has served as the basis for
virtually all printed versions of the Hebrew Bible.
Unfortunately, we have no complete text of the Hebrew Bible older than the
tenth century AD. The earliest complete segment of the Old Testament (the prophets) is a copy
dating from AD895. While the Dead Sea scrolls yield entire books such as Isaiah, they do not
contain a complete copy of the Old Testament text. Therefore, we must still depend upon the
long tradition of Hebrew scholarship used in the printed editions of the Hebrew Bible.
The first complete printed edition of the Hebrew Bible was prepared by Felix
Pratensis and published by Daniel Bomberg in Venice in 1516. A more extensive edition of the
Hebrew Bible was edited by the Jewish-Christian scholar Jacob ben Chayyim in 1524. Scholars
continue to use the ben Chayyim text as the basic printed Hebrew Bible.
D. The Hebrew of the Old Testament. The Hebrew of the Old Testament
does not have one neat and concise structure; the Old Testament was written over such a long
span of time that we cannot expect to have one uniform linguistic tradition. In fact, the
Hebrew of the three major sections of the Old Testament varies considerably. These sections
are known as the Torah (The Law), Nevi’im (The Prophets), and Kethuvim
(The Writings). In addition to the linguistic differences between the major sections, certain
books of the Old Testament have their own peculiarities. For example, Job and Psalms have
very ancient words and phrases similar Ugaritic; Ruth preserves some archaic forms of Moabite
speech; and First and Second Samuel reveal the rough, warlike nature of the colloquial idiom
of the era of Solomon and David.
As Israel changed from being a confederation of tribes to a dynastic kingdom,
the language changed from the speech of herdsmen and caravan traders to the literary language
of a settled population. While the books of the New Testament reflect a Greek dialect as it
was used over a span of about 75 years, the Old Testament draws upon various forms of the
Hebrew language as it evolved over nearly 2,000 years. Therefore, certain text-such as the
early narrative of the Book of Exodus and the last of the Psalms-are virtually written in
two different dialects and should be studied with this in mind.
E. Characteristics of the Hebrew Language. Because Hebrew is a Semitic
language, its structure and function are quite different from Indo-European languages such
as French, German, Spanish, and English. A number of Hebrew consonants cannot be transformed
exactly into English letters. Therefore, our English transliterations of Hebrew words suggest
that the language sounded very harsh and rough, but it probably was very melodious and beautiful.
Most Hebrew words are built upon a three-consonant root. The same root may
appear in a noun, a verb, an adjective and an adverb-all with the same basic meaning. For
example, k∂thāb, is a Hebrew noun meaning "book." A verbal kāthab,
means to "write." There is also the Hebrew noun k∂thōbeth, which means
"decoration" or "tattoo." Each of these words repeats the basic set of three consonants,
giving them a similarity of sound that would seem awkward in English. It would seem
ludicrous for an English writer to compose a sentence like, "The writer wrote the written
writing of the writ." But this kind of repetition would be very common in biblical Hebrew.
Many Old Testament texts, such as Genesis 49 and Numbers 23, use this type of repetition
to play upon the meanings of words.
Hebrew also differs from English and other Indo-European languages in varying
the form of a single part of speech. English has only one form of a particular noun or verb,
while Hebrew may have two or more forms of the same basic part of speech. Scholars have studied
these less common forms of Hebrew words for many centuries, and they have developed a vast
literature about these words. Any study of the more important theological terms of the Old
Testament must take these studies into consideration.
F. The Form of Words (Morphology). In principle, the basic Hebrew word
consists of a three-consonant root and three vowel-two internal and one final (though the final
vowel is often not pronounced). We might diagram the typical Hebrew word in this manner:
C1 + V1+ C2 + V2 + C3 + V3
Using the word kāthab as an example, the diagram would look like this:
K + A + TH + A + B + __
The different forms of Hebrew words always keep the three consonants in the same
relative positions, but they change the vowels inserted between the consonants. For example,
kōthēb is the participle of kāthab, while kāthôb is the infinitive.
By extending the verbal forms of their words, Hebrew writers were able to develop
very extensive and complex meanings. For example, they could do this by adding syllables at the
beginning of the three-consonant root, like this:
Root = KTHB
yi + k∂thōb-"let him write"
we + kāthab-"and he will write"
Sometimes, a writer would double a consonant while keeping the three basic
consonants in the same position. For example, he could take the root of KTHB and make the
word wayyyik∂ththōb, meaning "and he caused to write."
The Hebrew writer could also add several different endings or suffices
to a basic verb to produce an entire clause. For example, using the verb qātal (meaning
"to kill") he could develop the word q∂taltî-hû (meaning "I have killed him").
These examples emphasize the fact that Hebrew is a syllabic language.
There are no unique consonantal combinations such as diphthongs (or glides) like cl, gr, bl, as
G. Hebrew Word Order. The normal word order of a verbal sentence in Hebrew
narrative or prose passage is:
Verb-Object-Indirect Object or Pronoun-Subject
However, it is interesting to note that the Hebrew word order for a nominal
sentence may parallel that of English:
Hebrew writers frequently departed from the verbal arrangement for the sake of
emphasis. Yet a Hebrew sentence can seldom be translated into English word-for-word, because
the result would be meaningless. Over the centuries, translators have developed standard ways
to express these peculiar Semitic thought forms in Indo-European speech.
H. Foreign Words in Hebrew. The Old Testament uses foreign words in
various ways, depending upon the context. Akkadian proper names often appear in the patriarchal
narratives of Genesis. Here are some examples:
(Sumero-Addadian) Sumer = Shinar (Hebrew)
(Akkadian) Sharrukin = Nimrod (Hebrew)
Several Egyptian terms appear in the narrative of Joseph, just as Babylonian
terms appear in the writings of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and Persian words in the Book of Daniel.
None of these words have theological significance, however. There is little linguistic evidence
that the religious concepts of Israel were borrowed from foreign sources.
The greatest inroad of a foreign idiom is the case of the Aramaic language,
which appears in several, isolated verses and some entire chapters of the Book of Daniel. As we
have already noted. Aramaic became the primary religious language of the Jews living outside of
Palestine after the Babylonian Captivity.
I. The Written Text of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew text of the Old
Testament offers two immediate problems to the uninitiated reader. First is the fact that Hebrew
is read from right to left, unlike Indo-European languages; each character of the text and its
attendant symbols are read from top to bottom, as well as from right to left. Second is the fact
that written Hebrew is a complicated system of syllable symbols, each of which has three components.
The first component is the sign for the consonant itself. Some of the less frequent
consonantal signs stand for vowel sounds. (These letters are aleph [indicating the long
a sound], waw [to indicate the long u sound], and yod [to indicate
the "ee" sound-as in "see"].) The second component is the pattern of vowel
points. The third component is the pattern of cantellations, which were added during the
Middle Ages to aid cantors in singing the text. Some practice is required before a person is
able to read the Hebrew text using all of the three components. The accompanying illustration
shows the direction and sequence for reading the text. (Cantellations are omitted.)
English Transliteration: 'ash∂rê hā’îsh 'asher
The specific vowel points and their sequence within the word indicate the weight
or accentuation to be given to each syllable of the word. Different traditions within Judaism
indicate different ways of pronouncing the same Hebrew word, and the vowel points of a particular
manuscript will reflect the pronunciation used by the scribes who copied the manuscript. Many
Slavic and Spanish speech patterns crept into the medieval Hebrew manuscripts, due to the Jews’
association with Slavic and Spanish cultures during the Middle Ages. However, the use of Hebrew
speech in modern Israel is tending to standardize the pronunciation of Hebrew.
J. The Meaning of Hebrew Words. Christians have studied the Hebrew language
with varying degrees of intensity as long as the church existed. During the apostolic and early
church age (AD 40-150), Christians had a great deal of interest in the Hebrew language. Eventually,
they depended more heavily upon the Greek Septuagint for reading the Old Testament. In the early
Middle Ages, Jerome had to employ Jewish scholars to help him translating the official Latin Vulgate
version of the Old Testament. There was little Christian interest in the Hebrew language in medieval
In the sixteenth century, a German Roman Catholic scholar named Johannes Reuchlin
studied Hebrew with a Jewish rabbi and began to write introductory books in Latin about Hebrew
for Christian students. He also compiled a small Hebrew-Latin dictionary. Reuchlin’s work awakened
an interest in Hebrew among Christian scholars that has continued to our day. (The Jewish synagogues
had passed on the meaning of the text for centuries, giving little attention to the mechanics of
the Hebrew language itself. These traditional meanings are reflected in the King James Version,
published after Reuchlin’s studies.)
By comparing Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Hebrew languages, modern scholars
have been able to understand the meaning of Hebrew words. Here are some of the keys that they have
1. Cognate Words. Foreign words that have sounds or constructions similar
to Hebrew words are called cognates. Because words of different Semitic languages are based
upon the same three-consonant root, cognates abound. In times past, these cognates gave rise to
"folk etymology"-an unscholarly interpretation of words based upon folklore and tradition.
Often these folk etymologies were used in interpreting the Old Testament. However, words that are
philological cognates (form-related) are not necessarily semantic cognates (meaning-related).
A good example is the Hebrew word shar, which means "prince." This same word
is used in other Semitic languages, where it means "king."
For centuries, European students of Hebrew used Arabic philological cognates to
decipher the meaning of obscure Hebrew words. This unreliable method is used by many of the
older English dictionaries and lexicons.
2. Meaning from Context. It has often been said that the best commentary
on Scripture is Scripture itself. Nowhere is this more true than in Hebrew word studies. The
best method for determining the meaning of any Hebrew word is to study the context in which it
appears. If it appears in many different contexts, then the meaning of the word can be found with
greater accuracy. For the words that appear with very low frequency (four times or less), non-biblical
Hebrew texts or other Semitic texts can help us locate the meaning of the word.
However, there is one caution: It is never wise to use one obscure word to try to
determine the meaning of another obscure word. The most difficult words are those that occur only
once in the Old Testament text; these are called hapax legomena (Greek, "read once").
Fortunately, all the Hebrew words of theological significance occur fairly frequently.
3. Poetic Parallelism. Fully one-third of the Old Testament is poetry. This
amount of text is equal to the entire New Testament. English translators have tended to ignore the
poetic structure of lengthy Old Testament passages, such as Isaiah 40-66 and the entire book of Job;
but the complexities of Hebrew poetry are vital to our understanding of the Old Testament. This can
be seen by studying a modern English version of the Bible that prints poetic passages as such. Several
verses from the Psalms in the RSV will illustrate the underlying structure of Hebrew poetry.
Note there is neither rhythm nor meter in Hebrew poetry, unlike most English poetry.
Hebrew poetry repeats ideas or the relation of ideas in successive lines. Here is an example:
(I) "O magnify the Lord with me,
(II) And let us exhalt his name together!"
Notice that virtually every part of speech in Line I can be substituted for its
equal in Line II. Scholars designate the individual words in Line I (or Hemistych I) as "A"
words and those in Line II (or Hemistych II) as "B" words. Thus we see the pattern in
these lines from Psalm 34:
Hemistych I: O magnify(A) the Lord(A) with me(A),
Hemistych II: Let us(B) exhalt(B) His name together!(B)
As one can readily see, the "A" words can be substituted for the
"B" words without changing the meaning of the line, and the reverse is also true.
This characteristic of Hebrew poetry is called parallelism. In scholarly studies of
Hebrew poetry, paired words in a parallel structure are often marked with slanting parallel
bars to show (a) which word usually occurs first-that is, the "A" word, (b) the fact
that the two words form a parallel pair, and (c) which word is usually the second or "B."
We can show this for the first verse of Psalm 34 in this manner:
O magnify // exhalt; the Lord // His name; with // together.
This Expository Dictionary cites such pairs because they indicate important
relationships in meaning. Many pairs are used over and over again, almost as synonyms. Thus the
usage of Hebrew words in poetry becomes a very valuable tool for our understanding of their
meaning. Most of the significant theological terms, including the names and titles of God, are
found in such poetic pairs.
K. Theories of Translation. Theories of translation greatly affect our
interpretation of Hebrew words. We may describe the current dominant theories of translation
1. The Direct Equivalence Method. This method assumes that one will find
only one English word to represent each Hebrew word that appears in the Old Testament text.
Since some Hebrew words have no one-word equivalent in English, they are simply transliterated
(turned into English letters). In this case, the reader must be taught what the transliterated
term really meant. This method was used in the earliest translations of the New Testament, which
attempted to bring the Latin equivalents of Greek words directly into English. This is how our
early English versions adopted a large amount of Latin theological terminology, such as
justification, sanctification, and concupiscence.
2. The Historico-Linguistic Method. This method attempts to find a limited
number of English terms that will adequately express the meaning of a particular Hebrew term. A
scholar using this method studies the historical record of how the word has been used and gives
preference to its most frequent meaning in context. This method has been used in preparing the
3. Dynamic Equivalence. This method does not attempt to make any consistent
use of an English word for a specific Hebrew word. Instead it endeavors to show the thrust or
emphasis of a Hebrew word in each specific context. Thus it allows a very free, colloquial rendering
of Old Testament passages. This enables lay readers to get the real kernel of meaning from a
particular passage, but it makes Bible word study virtually impossible. For example, a comparison
of the concordance for The Living Bible and the concordance for the RSV will show the
difference in methods of translation. The RSV actually uses fewer different words that the KJV to
translate the Hebrew Old Testament. The Living Bible uses many more specific words to reflect
the subtle shades of meaning in the Hebrew text, thus making it impossible to trace how a particular
Hebrew word has been used in different contexts.
This Expository Dictionary attempts to show the different methods of
translation by indicating the different meanings of a Hebrew word given by various English versions.
L. How to Use This Book. When beginning a word study of a particular Hebrew
term, you should obtain good editions of at least three English versions of the Old Testament.
Always have a King James Version, a more scholarly version such as the RSV or NASB, and a colloquial
version such as the TEV. You should also have a good concordance to the KJV or the RSV.
The Expository Dictionary gives wide ranges of meanings for most Hebrew words.
They should not be substituted for each other without carefully reviewing the usage of the term
in its different contexts. All Hebrew words have different meanings-sometimes even opposite
meanings-so they should be studied in all of their occurrences, and not just one.
Strive for consistency in rendering a particular Hebrew word in different
contexts. Seek the smallest number of equivalent English words. The contributors to this book
have already done extensive research in the original languages and in modern scholarly literature.
You can make the best use of their work by looking up the various usages of each word in order
to get a balanced view.
Comparison and frequency are two fundamental factors in Bible word
study. Write down the passages that you are comparing. Do not be afraid to look up all of the
occurrences of a particular word. The time you spend will open up your Bible as it has never
been opened before.
William White Jr.