I l l u s t r a t e d B ib l e Dictiona ry NEW AND ENHANCED EDITION General Editor
Ronald F. Youngblood
General Editor of Original Edition
Herbert Lockyer, Sr. Consulting Editors
F. F. Bruce R. K. Harrison
Nashville Dallas Mexico City Rio de Janeiro Beijing
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Copyright © 1986, 1995, 2014 by Thomas Nelson All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson. Thomas Nelson is a trademark of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. Cover and Interior Design by Larry Taylor Produced with the assistance of Livingstone, the Publishing Services Division of Barton-Veerman Company. Project staff includes: Bruce Barton and Ashley Taylor. Typesetting by Tom Shumaker. Thomas Nelson, Inc., titles may be purchased in bulk for educational, business, fund-raising, or sales promotional use. For information, please e-mail SpecialMarkets@ThomasNelson.com. Visual Survey of the Bible, © 1985, 1995 by Thomas Nelson Bible History Chart, © 1980, 1995 by Thomas Nelson Selected maps from Nelson’s 3-D Bible Mapbook, North American edition published 1995 by Thomas Nelson. Copyright © 1985, The Bible Mapbook, Linn Publishing, Oxford, England. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Verses marked “NASB” are taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Verses marked “NIV” are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version, copyright © 1978 by the New York International Bible Society. Verses marked “RSV” are taken from the Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, second edition, copyright © 1946, 1951, 1972 by the Division of Christian Education of the NCCCUSA. The Scripture quotations contained herein from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible are © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, and are used by permission. All rights reserved. REB THE REVISED ENGLISH BIBLE, © 1989. The delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press. Used by permission. The Library of Congress has cataloged the earlier edition of this book as follows: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary: an authoritative one-volume reference work on the Bible, with full-color illustrations / general editor, Ronald F. Youngblood; consulting editors, F.F. Bruce . . . [et al.]. p. cm. Rev. ed. of: Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary. ISBN 0–8407–2071–8 (CB) 1. Bible—Dictionaries. I. Youngblood, Ronald F. II. Bruce, F.F. (Frederick Fyvie), 1910– . III. Thomas Nelson Publishers. IV. Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary. V. Title: Nelson’s New illustrated Bible dictionary. BS440.N347 1995 220.3–dc20 94–44332 CIP 14 15 16 17 18 19 RRD 6 5 4 3 2 1
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F FABLE—a story in which animals and plants speak and act like human beings—as in the well-known Aesop’s Fables. The Old Testament contains at least three examples of the fable: (1) Jotham’s story of the trees (Judg. 9:8-15)—a satire on the foolishness of choosing an unfit king; (2) Jehoash’s story of the thistle and the cedar (2 Kin. 14:9)-a condemnation of Amaziah’s presumption; and (3) Ezekiel’s allegory of the two eagles and the cedar (Ezek. 17:1-24). The word “fable” appears in the New Testament as a translation of the Greek word mythos (1 Tim. 1:4). The word is used in a negative sense, as something to be avoided. Most modern translations translate mythos as “myth” (NRSV, REB, NIV)-an untruth designed to deceive and mislead. FACE—that part of the human body that contains a person’s unique, identifying characteristics; a term used in a symbolic way in the Bible to express the presence of God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve “hid themselves from the presence [literally, face] of the Lord God” (Gen. 3:8). Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Gen. 32:30). God’s presence and glory have been revealed fully in the face, or the person, of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). In the future many things that are now puzzling to Christian believers will be made clear: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12). FACES, BREAD OF—word for Showbread, an Unleavened Bread placed in the tabernacle every Sabbath to symbolize God’s Presence (NIV, REB) among His people (Ex. 25:30; 2 Chr. 4:19). FAIR—a word with several different meanings in the Bible: 1. Lovely or beautiful (Song 1:15). 2. Free from self-interest or prejudice (Ezek. 18:25, 29); honest (Prov. 1:3). 3. Clear and open, as in “fair weather” (Matt. 16:2). FAIR HAVENS—a harbor on the south coast of Crete (see Map 8, C-2), near the city of Lasea (Acts 27:8-12). This harbor is virtually unprotected in the winter. This is why the ship carrying Paul to Rome left Fair Havens for Phoenix, a safer harbor to the west. FAITH—a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving commitment to His will for one’s life.
According to Hebrews 11, faith was already present in the experience of many people in the Old Testament as a key element of their spiritual lives. In this chapter, the various heroes of the Old Testament (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses) are described as living by faith. In addition, the Old Testament itself makes the same point. Abraham “believed in the Lord” (Gen. 15:6); the Israelites “believed” (Ex. 4:31; 14:31); and the prophet Habakkuk taught that “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). In the New Testament, “faith” covers various levels of personal commitment. Mere intellectual agreement to a truth is illustrated in James 2:19, where even demons are said to believe that there is one God. Obviously, however, they are not saved by this type of belief. Genuine saving faith is a personal attachment to Christ, best thought of as a combination of two ideas—reliance on Christ and commitment to Him. Saving faith involves personally depending on the finished work of Christ’s sacrifice as the only basis for forgiveness of sin and entrance into heaven. But saving faith is also a personal commitment of one’s life to following Christ in obedience to His commands: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12). Faith is part of the Christian life from beginning to end. As the instrument by which the gift of salvation is received (Eph. 2:8-9), faith is thus distinct from the basis of salvation, which is grace, and from the outworking of salvation, which is good works. The apostle Paul declared that salvation is through faith, not through keeping the law (Gal. 2:16). Finally, in the New Testament, faith can refer to the teachings of the Bible, the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). In modern times, faith has been weakened in meaning so that some people use it to mean self-confidence. But in the Bible, true faith is confidence in God or Christ, not in oneself.
FAITHFULNESS—dependability, loyalty, and stability, particularly as it describes God in His relationship to human believers. The faithfulness of God and His Word is a constant theme in the Bible. It is particularly prominent in Psalms 89 and 119. God is “the faithful God who keeps covenant” (Deut. 7:9) and chooses Israel (Is. 49:7); great is His faithfulness (Lam. 3:23).
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It is not surprising that this aspect of God’s nature should also belong to the Messiah, who would be clothed with faithfulness (Is. 11:5) and who is described as the Faithful one (Rev. 19:11), the “faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14), and the “faithful High Priest” (Heb. 2:17; 3:2). God’s faithfulness is the source of the Christian’s deliverance from temptation (1 Cor. 10:13), assurance of salvation (Heb. 10:23), and forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9). He is faithful to His children because He is first of all faithful to Himself (2 Tim. 2:13). God’s faithfulness should be so deeply reflected in the lives of His people (Gal. 5:22) that they can be called simply “the faithful” (Ps. 31:23). The Bible speaks of the faithfulness of Paul (1 Cor. 7:25), Abraham (Neh. 9:8), and Moses (Heb. 3:5). Faithfulness is also expected in Christian believers. Faithfulness to one’s fellow man is seen especially in relation to fulfilling an office. A steward must be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:2), just as Daniel and other persons in the Bible exercised their faithfulness toward God (Dan. 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:2).
FALCON (see A nimals of the Bible). FALL, THE—the disobedience and sin of Adam and Eve that caused them to lose the state of innocence in which they had been created. This event plunged them and all of mankind into a state of sin and corruption. The account of the Fall is found in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve were created by God in a state of sinless perfection so they could glorify God, reflecting His righteousness on the earth, and enjoy fellowship and communion with Him. Their calling was to exercise dominion, or control, over God’s creation through their own labors and those of their offspring in faithful response to the word of God. As a specific test of this loyalty, God commanded them not to eat the fruit of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17). Adam and Eve were to demonstrate their willingness to live “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). God warned them clearly that their disobedience would result in death. The fall from their original state of innocence occurred when Satan approached Eve through the serpent, who tempted her to eat of the forbidden fruit. Satan called into question the truthfulness of what God had spoken about the tree and its significance. He urged Eve to discover, through trial and error, whether it was in her best interest to do what God had forbidden. Eve’s sin did not consist of being tempted but in believing and acting on Satan’s lie. Her rejection
of God’s command occurred when she ate the forbidden fruit and persuaded her husband to do the same thing. The term “Fall” should not be interpreted to suggest that their sin was accidental. The temptation was purposeful, and their submission to it involved their willing consent. The immediate consequence of the Fall was ultimately death, symbolized by their loss of fellowship with God. For the first time, Adam and Eve experienced fear in the presence of the Lord God; they hid when He approached (Gen. 3:8-10). Because of their unbelief and rebellion, they were driven from the garden that God had provided as their home. From that time on, people would experience pain and encounter resistance as they worked at the task of earning their daily bread. Physical death, with the decay of the body, is not a natural process. It entered the human experience as God’s curse upon sin. Adam and Eve did not sin simply as private persons but as the representatives of all members of the human race. Their sin is the sin of all, and all persons receive from them a corrupt nature. It is this nature that stands behind all personal violations of the Lord’s commandments. For this reason, the fall of Adam is the fall of the human race. The apostle Paul thought of Christ as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) who would rebuild the old, sinful Adam through His plan of redemption and salvation. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
FALLOW DEER (see A nimals of the Bible). FALLOW GROUND—farmland allowed to lie idle during a growing season to allow the fertility of the soil to be restored (Hos. 10:12). FALSE CHRISTS—persons who pretend to be Christ but who actually represent all that Christ opposes (Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22). False Christs are similar to A ntichrist and his prophets, described in the Epistles of John (1 John 2:18; 2 John 7). These false Christs take their place in the long line of false prophets who have existed since Old Testament days. FALSE PROPHET, THE—a religious leader of the end times who, along with the Dragon (the devil) and the Beast (the Antichrist), forms an unholy trinity in opposition to God (Rev. 16:13; 20:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of two beasts—the Antichrist (Rev. 13:1-10), a political ruler who sets up an evil empire in opposition to the kingdom of God; and the false prophet, a religious leader inspired by Satan who deceives the world into worshiping the Antichrist (Rev. 13:11-12). But they will be overthrown by Christ and cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20).
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FALSE PROPHETS—those who falsely claim to utter revelations that come from God, to foretell future events, or to have God’s power to produce miracles, signs, and wonders. In the Bible, false prophets fell into three general categories: (1) those who worshiped false gods and served idols; (2) those who falsely claimed to receive messages from the Lord; and (3) those who wandered from the truth and ceased to be true prophets. In the Old Testament, Moses spoke of the punishment of those who betrayed the faith. He ordered that any prophet who advocated the worship of other gods be stoned to death (Deut. 13:1-18). During the reign of King Ahab of Israel, false prophets were officially approved by Ahab and his queen, Jezebel. The writer of 1 Kings speaks of “the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table” (1 Kin. 18:19). Later, 400 false prophets spoke words they knew Ahab the king wanted to hear and assured him of victory at Ramoth Gilead. Micaiah, the true prophet, who warned Ahab of defeat and disaster, was put in prison on a diet of bread and water (1 Kin. 22:1-28). A recurring characteristic of the false prophets is that they often are found in the employment of the powerful and that they are careful to speak pleasing, positive, and flattering words to their employers. Jeremiah condemned the false prophets who were always saying, “Peace, peace!” when there was no peace (Jer. 6:14; 8:11). The false prophets preached a popular but false message: there would be victory against Babylon (Jer. 28:1-17). Jeremiah said, “The prophets prophesy falsely . . . and My people love to have it so” (Jer. 5:31). Even though Jeremiah was a true prophet of the Lord, the false prophets were rewarded by the king and Jeremiah was cast into a dungeon (Jer. 38:6). In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). He warned his disciples to beware of false prophets “who come . . . in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). When speaking of the signs of the times and the end of the age, He also said, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:11, 24). Later, the false prophet Bar-Jesus, also called Elymas the sorcerer, was smitten with blindness by the apostle Paul because he tried to turn the proconsul Sergius Paulus away from the Christian faith (Acts 13:6-12).
FAMILIAR SPIRITS (see M agic, Sorcery, Divination).
FAMILY—a group of persons related by marriage and blood ties and generally living together in the same household. In the Western world, the family traditionally consists of a man and his wife and their children. In biblical times, however, the family units were often much larger than the primary family, especially if the man was wealthy and could therefore have more than one wife. In the ancient world, the extended family could include any or all of the following relationships: the man and his wife or wives; his Concubines or female slaves; his sons and unmarried daughters; the wives of the sons; grandchildren; aged parents and grandparents. Others living in the same home and considered as part of the family could include servants and their children and aliens, or strangers, who attached themselves to the family for a time before moving to another location. The man making the decisions for the family was designated as “father,” although he may not have been the oldest male in the group. These family groups, therefore, could be very large. When Jacob’s “family” moved to Egypt from the Promised Land, he was accompanied by at least sixty-six people (Gen. 46:26). God’s Design for the Family. The concept of the family as the basic social unit reaches back into the Creation account found in Genesis 1-2. A man was to be the husband of one wife and was to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. However, not everyone in the Old Testament measured up to God’s ideal. Sometimes a man married more than one wife (Gen. 4:19). Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kin. 11:3). In addition, the family system of the Old Testament, with the man serving as the absolute ruling authority, discouraged a man from leaving his parents; he and his wife usually lived with his parents in the same dwelling. After God created Adam, He declared, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Then He created woman and united the couple; and they became “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Thus the family was designed by God to provide companionship for the various members of the family. In addition, the institution of marriage was approved and sanctioned by Jesus (Matt. 19:4-6). God’s ideal for the family is that it be a harmonious unit, where love for God and neighbor are instilled into each member (Deut. 6:6-9). If the couple are divided, especially over religious beliefs, they can never have the harmony
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and sense of common purpose that God desires. Therefore, Old Testament believers were instructed not to marry foreigners who would hinder their faith and bring strife to the marriage (Ex. 34:13-16; Deut. 7:3-4). Likewise, the apostle Paul commanded the New Testament believers, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14). The Bible describes situations where a man went contrary to the will of God and married an unbeliever. A prime example is Solomon, who disobeyed God’s commandment and married 700 wives (1 Kin. 11:3). The tragedy of the final years of his life is summarized in one sentence: “For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David” (1 Kin. 11:4). From time to time in the history of the nation of Israel, the very existence of the country was threatened because of the breakdown of the home. The prophet Micah described the decayed situation of his day when he proclaimed: “Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom. For son dishonors father, daughter rises against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-inlaw; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house” (Mic. 7:5-6). Ezra took steps to remedy the family problems of his day (Ezra 9-10), and the prophet Malachi condemned the men of his
generation for being faithless to the wives of their youth (Mal. 2:14-15). The Exalted Position of the Father. The social structure described in the Old Testament is known as a “patriarchal” society. The word patriarchy means “the rule of the father.” The father commanded a high position in the family of Old Testament times; his word was law. In addition, one of the Hebrew words translated “husband” means “lord,” “master,” “owner,” or “possessor” (Gen. 18:12; Hos. 2:16). Because of his position, shared to some degree with his wife, a man expected to be treated as royalty by the rest of his family. The fifth commandment carries this idea of the importance of the parents one step further when it states, “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex. 20:12). The word “honor” often refers to one’s response to God. In other words, this commandment suggests that the parents should receive a recognition similar to that given to God. Along with the honor of the position as head of the family, the father was expected to assume certain responsibilities that can be classified into three categories: spiritual, social, and economic. First of all, the father was responsible for the spiritual well-being of the family, as well as of the individual members of the family. In the earliest ages, the father functioned as the priest of his family, sacrificing on their behalf (Gen. 12:8; Job 1:5). Later, when a priesthood was established in Israel and the layman no longer
● In biblical times the family was a closely knit group, the grandparents often living with their children and grandchildren in the same household. Photo by Gustav Jeeninga
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functioned at an altar, the father’s spiritual role was redefined. He continued to be the religious leader in the home. This involved the training of the children in godliness (Ex. 12:3, 26-27; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). Socially, the father’s responsibility was to see that no one took advantage of any member of his family. Those who were not protected by a father were truly disadvantaged persons. The two most common categories were widows and fatherless children. Four specific duties of a father toward his son, as stated in the Jewish writings, were to have the son circumcised; to pass on his inheritance to his firstborn son; to find his son a wife; and to teach his son a trade. Economically, the father was to provide for the needs of the various members of his family. From time to time, however, a lazy person failed to provide for his family. Conscientious men sought to mock the lazy man, shaming him to do what was expected of him (Prov. 6:6-11). The apostle Paul rebuked those who considered themselves Christian but who did not look after the needs of their families (1 Tim. 5:8). From this background we can more fully appreciate God as the believer’s Father. He knows all about His children, even numbering the hairs on their heads (Matt. 10:30). He protects His children and rescues them when they get into trouble (Is. 63:15-16). He teaches them the way they should go (Hos. 11:1-3) and supplies all of their needs (Matt. 6:33). In turn, the Father expects honor from His child, although He does not always receive it (Mal. 1:6). Jesus sought to instill reverence and honor in the disciples when He taught them to pray: “Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). The Clan. Each extended family was part of a larger group that was called a “clan.” Often the male members of clans numbered into the hundreds (Ezra 8:1-14). The members of the clan considered themselves to be relatives of the other members of the clan, because the members traced their lineage back to a common ancestor. Each male member within the clan had one person designated as his go’el, or kinsman-redeemer. There were four specific tasks that the redeemer was to perform as his help was needed: (1) If his kinsman sold his property to pay his debts, the kinsman redeemed or bought back the property (Lev. 25:25; Ruth 4:1-6; Jer. 32:6-15); (2) the person who was captured and enslaved or who sold himself into slavery had every right to expect his kinsman to redeem him and set him free (Lev. 25:47-49); (3) if a person died childless, the redeemer married the dead man’s widow and raised up a son to carry on the family line and to honor the deceased person, in a
custom known as Levirate M arriage (Deut. 25:510); (4) if the person was murdered, his redeemer tracked down the killer and evened the score. In the passages that describe this custom, go’el is translated as “avenger of blood” (Deut. 19:12). The term “kinsman-redeemer” is used of God to express His intimate relationship with His people (Is. 41:14; 43:14; 44:24). He is their “next of kin” who ransoms them from bondage (Is. 43:1-3); He pays the price to set them free. Paul reminded the believers at Corinth that God had bought them at a price; therefore, they were to glorify God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Family of God. Biblical writers used other analogies from the family to describe various aspects of the gospel. To be brought into God’s family, the believer must be “born from above” or “born again” (John 3:3, 5). Because a person has God as his Father, he must realize that other believers are his “fathers,” “mothers,” “brothers,” and “sisters” (1 Tim. 5:1-2). The body of believers known as the church is also referred to as the “household of God” (Eph. 2:19) and the “household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). In addition, the concepts of A doption and Inheritance are used to describe the position of believers in God’s family (Gal. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:4).
FAMINE—the lack of a supply of food or water. This word occurs often in the Bible in both literal and figurative senses. Since the line between famine and plenty in Palestine depends mainly on the rains coming at the right time and in the proper supply, famine was an ever-present threat. In the face of famine, Abraham migrated to Egypt (Gen. 12:10), Isaac went to Gerar in Philistine territory (Gen. 26:1), and Jacob moved to Egypt (Gen. 41-47). The most famous famine recorded in the Bible is the seven-year famine in Egypt foretold by Joseph in interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. Extending even into Canaan, it eventually brought the rest of Joseph’s family to Egypt (Gen. 41-47; Ps. 105:16). During another famine Elijah was kept alive by the widow of Zarephath (1 Kin. 17:8; Luke 4:25-26). Drought and conditions of war brought famine to besieged cities (1 Kin. 18:2; Ezek. 6:12). Pathetic descriptions of famine conditions include people’s resorting to cannibalism (2 Kin. 6:28-29), cries of hungry children (Lam. 4:4), and the fainting of people in the streets (Is. 51:20). Famine was also one of the punishments sent by the Lord upon His people because of their sins (Is. 51:20; Ezek. 14:21). A famine in the time of David was caused by Saul’s mistreatment of the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:1). A striking
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description of famine conditions was given by the prophet Amos in his phrase, “cleanness of teeth” (Amos 4:6)—clean because there was no food to foul them. A famine is one of the signs of the approaching fall of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:7), and one of the plagues coming upon “Babylon,” as recorded in Revelation 18:8. Using figurative language, the prophet Amos described a famine of an entirely different sort— not one of lack of food or water, but a famine of hearing the word of the Lord (Amos 8:11). Those who had refused to hear the prophets would have no prophets to guide them in the perilous days when God’s judgment would fall upon His people.
FAN (see Tools of the Bible). FANNER (see Occupations and Trades). FARM, FARMING—the practice of growing livestock and crops for food or commercial purposes. Although the word “farm” occurs only in Matthew 22:5, farming was an important occupation in Bible times. Practically every family owned a piece of land in Israel, and many families farmed a small area of their own. Outside the cities, most Israelites lived in villages rather than on farms. Cultivated land usually was outside the village, situated near the water supply or on western or northern slopes where rainfall was greatest. Crops grown included wheat, barley, grapes, olives, and figs. Farm animals lived in the houses with the families. All but the poorest owned at least one ox or donkey as a work animal. Cattle, sheep, and goats were common, providing milk products as well as skins for clothes. Richer families and royal estates employed farm managers and ● Wind, rain, and careless farming methods have caused extensive erosion such as this in Palestine. Photo by Willem A. VanGemeren
workers (1 Chr. 27:25-31) and hired laborers for special tasks, particularly at harvest time (Matt. 20:1-16). Frequent difficulties, such as hilly ground, stony soil, and unpredictable rainfall, did not make farming easy. But there were certain rewards, such as the joys of shearing animals and gathering the crops at harvest time (1 Sam. 25:2-8; Is. 9:3).
FARMER (see Occupations and Trades). FAST, FASTING—going without food or drink voluntarily, generally for religious purposes. Fasting, however, could also be done for other reasons. It was sometimes done as a sign of distress, grief, or repentance. The law of Moses specifically required fasting for only one occasion—the Day of Atonement. This custom resulted in calling this day “the day of fasting” (Jer. 36:6) or “the Fast” (Acts 27:9). Moses did not eat bread or drink water during the forty days and forty nights he was on Mount Sinai receiving the law (Ex. 34:28). Voluntary group fasts (not specified in the law) were engaged in during time of war, such as when the Benjamites defeated the other Israelites (Judg. 20:26), and when Samuel gathered the people to Mizpah during the Philistine wars (1 Sam. 7:6). It was at a called fast that witnesses accused Naboth, setting the stage for his death (1 Kin. 21:9, 12). Jehoshaphat called for a fast in all Israel when opposed by the Moabites and Ammonites (2 Chr. 20:3). Reacting to Jonah’s preaching, the men of Nineveh, at the king’s order, fasted and put on sackcloth (Jon. 3:5). Those about to return with Ezra from the captivity fasted at the river of Ahava because of the dangers faced on the journey (Ezra 8:21, 23). Esther and the Jews of Shushan (or Susa) fasted when faced with the destruction planned by Haman (Esth. 4:3, 16; 9:31). In times of grief, people fasted. A seven-day fast was held when the bones of Saul and his sons were buried (1 Sam. 31:13; 1 Chr. 10:12). Fasting was practiced during the seventy years of the exilic period on the fifth and the seventh months, the date the siege of Jerusalem began and the date when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians (Zech. 7:5). Fasting was practiced by individuals in times of distress. David fasted after hearing that Saul and Jonathan were dead (2 Sam. 1:12). Nehemiah fasted and prayed upon learning that Jerusalem had remained in ruins since its destruction (Neh. 1:4). Darius, the king of Persia, fasted all night after placing Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan. 6:18).
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Going without food or water was not automatically effective in accomplishing the desires of those who fasted. In the prophet Isaiah’s time, people complained that they had fasted and that God had not responded favorably (Is. 58:3-4). The prophet declared that the external show was futile. The fast that the Lord requires is to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, feed the hungry, shelter the poor, and clothe the naked (Is. 58:5-7). Fasting also occurs in the New Testament. Anna at the temple “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist led his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights before His temptation (Matt. 4:2). Using a marriage-feast comparison, however, Jesus insisted that fasting was not suitable for His disciples as long as He, the Bridegroom, was with them (Matt. 9:14-15; Mark 2:18-20; Luke 5:33-35). Cornelius was fasting at the time of his vision (Acts 10:30). The church in Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on the first missionary journey with fasting and prayer (Acts 13:3). Paul and Barnabas prayed with fasting at the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23). Paul suggested that husbands and wives might abstain from sexual intercourse for a while to give themselves to fasting and prayer (1 Cor. 7:5).
FAT—the richest part of an animal eaten as food or used as a sacrifice. In the ancient world, the fatty portions of the animal were eaten as a delicacy. While the fat of an animal offered to the Lord as a sacrifice could not be eaten, Deuteronomy 12:15-24 seems to imply that the fat of an animal slaughtered for food could be eaten. In Old Testament times, being fat was considered a sign of personal success (Deut. 31:20; Prov. 15:30; Jer. 5:28). To a people for whom getting enough to eat was a constant problem, fat was a sign of abundance. It is easy to see why fat was a frequent symbol of excellence and desirability in the Old Testament. The spies were sent into Canaan to see if the land was “rich (Num. 13:20; fat, KJV) or poor.” Because of the high value placed on fat, it was only right that the fat of the sacrificial animal— the best part—belonged only to the Lord (Lev. 3:16). FATHER—the male parent of a household in Bible times, charged with the responsibility of providing for the family and giving religious instruction to the children. Also see Family. FATHER, GOD THE (see God, Names of). FATHER-IN-LAW—the father of a person’s husband or wife. The classic example of a
father-in-law in the Bible is Jethro, father-inlaw of Moses (Ex. 3:1). When Moses fled from Egypt to Midian, he married one of Jethro’s daughters and was welcomed into his family (Ex. 2:21).
FATHERLESS (see Orphan). FATHER’S HOUSE - a way of designating families or households among the Israelites, sometimes referring to a family’s physical dwelling place (Gen. 24:23), the family itself (Gen. 12:1), a specific tribe (Gen. 24:40), or the entire nation (Neh. 1:6). FATHOM (see Weights and Measures).
FATLING—a grain-fed lamb, calf, or kid raised for meat (1 Sam. 15:9). Because of the expense of feed, these animals were very valuable in Bible times and were probably a luxury not available to the poor. Also see Fatted. FATTED—grain-fed livestock, probably grown mostly for use as sacrificial animals in the worship system of ancient Israel (2 Sam. 6:13; fattened, NIV; 1 Kin. 4:23). On special occasions, these prime animals, also called Fatlings, were also used for food. When the prodigal son returned home, his father killed the fatted calf for a festive meal to celebrate the occasion (Luke 15:23, 24). FAWN (see A nimals of the Bible). FEAR—a feeling of reverence, awe, and respect, or an unpleasant emotion caused by a sense of danger. Fear may be directed toward God or humankind, and it may be either healthy or harmful. A healthy fear is reverence or respect. The Bible teaches that children are to respect their parents (Lev. 19:3), wives are to respect their husbands (Eph. 5:33), and slaves are to respect their masters (Eph. 6:5). The Scriptures also declare that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7) as well as “the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). A harmful fear is a sense of terror or dread. Believers are instructed not to fear human beings (Matt. 10:28; Phil. 1:28), because they cannot ultimately harm us. Wicked men, however, are constantly fearing other people, especially the righteous (Prov. 28:1; Matt. 14:5; Rom. 13:3-4). Such fear causes them to act deceitfully in an attempt to hide their sins (2 Sam. 11; Matt. 28:4-15). On the other hand, the unbeliever has every reason to be panic-stricken at thoughts of God, for he stands condemned before Him (Matt. 10:28; John 3:18). And yet, this kind of fear of God does not often lead to repentance. It
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normally leads to a feeble attempt to hide from God (Gen. 3:8; Rev. 6:15-17) or worse, to a denial of God’s existence and His claim on a person’s life (Ps. 14:1; Rom. 1:18-28).
FEASTS AND FESTIVALS—the holy convocations, the regular assemblies of the people of Israel for worship of the Lord. The feasts and festivals of the nation were scheduled at specific times in the annual calendar and they were both civil and religious in nature. Some feasts and festivals marked the beginning or the end of the agricultural year, while others commemorated historic events in the life of the nation. All of the feasts were marked by thanksgiving and joyous feasting. Meat, a scarce item in the daily fare of the people, was eaten at these affairs, and wine was also consumed. The fat and the blood of the animals were reserved for sacrifice to God. The libation (or offering) of wine may have been drunk by the worshipers as part of the meal ceremony. First the blood and the fat were offered to God; then sometimes the worshipers ate. The feasts and festivals of Israel were community observances. The poor, the widow, the orphan, the Levite, and the sojourner or foreigner were invited to most of the feasts. The accounts of these feasts suggest a potluck type of meal, with some parts of the meal reserved for the priests and the rest given to those who gathered at the temple or the altar for worship. One of the feasts, Passover, originated in the home and later was transferred to the temple. The rest were apparently observed at specific times during the year and in designated places. The Hebrew word for “pilgrimage” seems to be reserved mostly for the three great annual feasts: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles. These feasts are discussed in Leviticus 23. Every Israelite male was expected to observe them. The religious pilgrimage from the various towns and cities to the temple or to the Levitical Cities scattered throughout the land became annual events. This yearly event may also have progressed from an annual “pilgrimage” early in Israel’s history to a “processional” at the temple or at the Levitical center in later times. In all the feasts and
festivals the nation of Israel remembered its past and renewed its faith in the Lord who created and sustained His people. Following is a complete list of all the feasts and festivals observed by the people of Israel. Some were annual events, while others occurred weekly or once every several years. Atonement, Day of. The tenth day of the seventh month was set aside as a day of public fasting and humiliation. On this day the nation of Israel sought atonement for its sins (Lev. 23:27; 16:29; Num. 29:7). This day fell in the month equivalent to our August, and it was preceded by special Sabbaths (Lev. 23:24). The only fasting period required by the Law (Lev. 16:29; 23:31), the Day of Atonement was a recognition of people’s inability to make any atonement for their sins. It was a solemn, holy day accompanied by elaborate ritual (Lev. 16; Heb. 10:1-10). The high priest who officiated on this day first sanctified himself by taking a ceremonial bath and putting on white garments (Lev. 16:4). Then he had to make atonement for himself and other priests by sacrificing a bullock (Num. 29:8). God was enthroned on the Mercy Seat in the sanctuary, but no person could approach it except through the mediation of the high priest, who offered the blood of sacrifice. After sacrificing a bullock, the high priest chose a goat for a sin offering and sacrificed it. Then he sprinkled its blood on and about the mercy seat (Lev. 16:12, 14, 15). Finally the scapegoat bearing the sins of the people was sent into the wilderness (Lev. 16:20-22). This scapegoat symbolized the pardon for sin brought through the sacrifice (Gal. 3:12; 2 Cor. 5:21). Booths, Feast of (see Tabernacles, Feast of ). Dedication, Feast of. This feast, also known as Hanukkah and the Feast of Lights, is mentioned only once in the Bible (John 10:22). It developed in the era of the M accabees and celebrated the cleansing of the temple after its desecration by A ntiochus; Epiphanes. The Feast of Dedication is
● A temporary booth, or shelter, set up to celebrate the Feast of Booths, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (Ex. 34:22). Photo by V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers
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observed on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month. Hanukkah (see Dedication, Feast of ). Harvest, Feast of (see Weeks, Feast of ). Jubilee, Year of. The references to the Year of Jubilee in the Bible include Leviticus 23:15-16; 25:8-55; 27:14-24, Jeremiah 34:8, 14-17; and Isaiah 61:1-2. The Jubilee Year began with the blowing of the R am’s Horn. It took place after seven sabbatical years, or every forty-nine years; and the fiftieth year was thereby set aside as the Year of Jubilee. Once the Israelites entered and possessed the Promised Land, it became their obligation to observe this year. The Year of Jubilee was a special year in family renewal. A man who was bound to another as a slave or indentured servant was set free and returned to his own family. If any members of his family were also bound, the entire family was set free. Houses and lands could also be redeemed in the Year of Jubilee. If they were not redeemed within a year, however, they became the permanent possession of the previous owner. The land owned by Levites was exempted from this law; they could redeem their land at any time. The rights and privileges extended by the Israelites to other Israelites did not extend to non-Israelites. Servants obtained by Israelites from the non-Israelite world were permanent slaves. And property purchased from non-Israelites was not redeemable. The law of the Year of Jubilee favored the Israelites. Jeremiah 34:8, 14-17 warned Judah for first practicing the Jubilee and then taking away people’s liberty. Apparently, those who gained wealth and power in Israel did not observe this festival willingly. The inscription on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia—“Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10)—is a modern application of the Year of Jubilee. Lights, Feast of (see Dedication, Feast of ). New Moon. The references in the Bible to the New Moon celebration include Exodus 40:2, 17, Numbers 10:10; 28:1-10; 11-15, and Psalm 104:19. The law specified that two bullocks, one ram, seven lambs, and one kid were to be offered in connection with this celebration. Grain mixed with oil accompanied the offerings; a trumpet blast introduced this feast. The sins committed and not expiated during the previous month were covered by the offerings of the New Moon. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. References to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread include Exodus 12:1-13:16;
FEASTS AND FESTIVALS
23:15; 34:18-20, 25; Leviticus 23:4-14; Numbers 28:16-25; Deuteronomy 16:1-8; Joshua 4:19-23; 5:10-12; and 2 Chronicles 30:2, 3, 13, 15. The Passover was the first of the three great festivals of the Israelite people. It referred to the sacrifice of a lamb in Egypt when the people of Israel were slaves. They smeared the blood of the lamb on their doorposts as a signal to God that He should “pass over” their houses when He destroyed all the firstborn of Egypt (Ex. 12:13). Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of the first month, Abib, with the service beginning in the evening (Lev. 23:6). It was on the evening of this day that Israel left Egypt. Passover commemorated this departure from Egypt in haste. Unleavened bread was used in the celebration because this showed that the people had no time to put leaven in their bread as they ate their final meal as slaves in Egypt. Several regulations were given concerning the observance of Passover. Passover was to be observed “in the place which the Lord your God will choose.” This implied the sanctuary of the tabernacle or the temple in Jerusalem. Joshua 5:10-12 refers to the observing of Passover in the plains of Jericho near Gilgal. Second Chronicles 30:1, 3, 13, 15 describes a Passover during the reign of Hezekiah. Messengers were sent throughout the land to invite the people to come to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Many refused; some even scorned the one who carried the invitation. Because the people were not ready to observe the Passover, a delay of one month was recommended. That year the Passover was on the fourteenth day of the second month. Even after the delay many still were not ready to observe the Passover. In New Testament times, large numbers gathered in Jerusalem to observe the annual Passover. Jesus was crucified in the city during one of these Passover celebrations. He and His disciples ate a Passover meal together on the eve of His death. Like the blood of the lamb that saved the Hebrew people from destruction in Egypt, His blood, as the ultimate Passover sacrifice, redeems us from the power of sin and death (1 Cor. 5:7). Pentecost (see Weeks, Feast of ). Purim, Feast of. References to Purim include Esther 3:7; 9:24, 26, 28-29, 31-32. This feast commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from destruction by an evil schemer named Haman during the days of their captivity by the Persians. It took its name from the Babylonian word put, meaning “lot,” because Haman cast lots to determine when he would carry out his plot against the Jews. The Feast of Purim took place on the fourteenth and fifteenth
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FEASTS AND FESTIVALS
of Adar, and during its celebration the Book of Esther is read as a reminder of their deliverance. A happy ceremony, Purim is accompanied with the giving of gifts and much celebration. Sabbath. The Sabbath is taught in many places, including Exodus 16:22-30; 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:12-16; 34:21; 35:2-3; Leviticus 23:3; 26:2; Numbers 15:32-36; 28:9-10; Deuteronomy 5:12-15. The Hebrew word for Sabbath means “to cease or abstain.” Two reasons are given for observing the Sabbath: Creation and Exodus. Exodus 20:8-11 reminded the nation of Israel to remember that God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). This grounds the observance of the Sabbath in the creation of the world. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 reminded Israel to remember its bondage years when there was no rest. This passage fixed the origin of the Sabbath in the bondage of the Hebrews in Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to include the family, the hired servants, the stranger, and even their domestic animals in observance of this holy day. All were commanded to cease from normal labor. This included the command not to gather firewood (Num. 15:32-36) or to kindle a fire (Ex. 35:2-3). Stoning to death was apparently the penalty for gathering firewood on the Sabbath. Those who violated the Sabbath would be excommunicated from the community or could be put to death (Ex. 31:12-16). The Sabbath became not only a day of rest but a convocation to the Lord as well. A specific sacrifice on the Sabbath is required in Numbers 28:9-10. It included a lamb, a grain offering mixed with oil, and a drink offering. This was to be offered as a burnt offering. In later periods, prayer and other rituals became the procedure for observing the Sabbath. The purpose of the Sabbath was twofold. It symbolized that the nation of Israel had been set apart by the Lord as His special people. The Sabbath was also a celebration of the fact that the land belonged to God. This is seen in His provision of a sabbatical year—one year out of every seven when the land should rest from cultivation in order to renew and replenish itself. The observance of the Sabbath set the Israelites apart from their neighbors. Unfortunately, burdensome restrictions and heavy requirements eventually grew up around its observance. The day that was set apart for rest, renewal, and worship became a day filled with rules of many things that must not be done. Jesus attempted to restore the purpose of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-14; Mark 2:23-3:6; Luke 6:111). He declared God’s intention for the Sabbath by pointing out that “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
Sabbatical Year. The concept of the sabbatical year was that the land was to be given a rest every seventh year. This law included grain fields and vineyards. Even that which grew from the planting and pruning of the sixth year was not to be consumed by the owner. Eventually, the cancellation of debts was added to the land rest as a part of the sabbatical year. Debts to fellow Israelites were to be forgiven during this year, although debts of non-Israelites might be collected. But the spirit of generosity was encouraged even toward non-Israelites. Indentured servants were to be granted their freedom. They were also to be provided with grain, meat, and drink in generous portions. The purpose of the sabbatical year was renewal—renewal of the land, renewal of hope in the canceling of debts, and renewal of life in a new start. Seventh Month Festival. This festival is mentioned in Leviticus 23:24-25, 27-32 and Numbers 29:1-40. It was introduced with the blowing of trumpets, the halt of labor, sacrifices, and a testing (Lev. 23:24-32; Num. 29:1-40). The exact reason for its observance is not clear. Some scholars believe it originated during the Babylonian captivity as a way of counteracting the influence of the Babylonian New Year Festival. This feast is also known as the Feast of Trumpets. Tabernacles, Feast of. References to the Feast of Tabernacles in the Bible include Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Leviticus 23:33-36; 39-43; Numbers 29:12-32; Deuteronomy 16:13-16; Ezra 3:4; and Zechariah 14:16, 18-19. This festival was observed on the fifteenth day of the seventh month to celebrate the completion of the autumn harvest. Features of the celebration included a holy convocation on the first and eighth days, and the offering of many animal sacrifices. The Israelites were also commanded to live in booths made of palm and willow trees during the festival to commemorate their period of wilderness wandering when they lived in temporary shelters. This feast is also known as the Feast of Booths. Trumpets, Feast of (see Seventh Month Festival). Unleavened Bread, Feast of. This feast began on the fifteenth day of the first month as a part of the larger celebration of Passover (Ex. 13:310; Lev. 23:6-8). Manual labor was strictly forbidden. Strangers and native-born people alike were punished if they failed to keep this holy day. A convocation began the feast. Only unleavened bread was to be eaten during this feast. Bread without leaven commemorated the haste with which Israel left Egypt. As the
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blood was drained from the sacrificial animal, so the life or the power of leaven was removed from the bread offered to God during this annual celebration. Weeks, Feast of. Biblical references to the Feast of Weeks include Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-21; Numbers 28:26-31; Deuteronomy 16:9-12; and 2 Chronicles 8:13. This feast was observed early in the third month on the fiftieth day after the offering of the barley sheaf at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It included a holy convocation with the usual restriction on manual labor. Numbers 28:26-31 describes the number and nature of offerings and Deuteronomy 16:9-12 describes those who were to be invited to this feast. They include servants, sons and daughters, Levites, the fatherless, the widow, and the stranger. This feast was also known as the Feast of Harvest as well as Pentecost (a Greek word meaning “fifty”). The early Christian believers, who were gathered in Jerusalem for observance of this feast, experienced the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in a miraculous way (Acts 2:1-4).
FEEBLE KNEES—a description of persons who are weak or exhausted (Job 4:4). FEEBLE-MINDED—KJV word for fainthearted (1 Thess. 5:14; timid, NIV). The Greek word means “little-spirited” or “small-souled.” FEET, DISEASED (see Diseases of the Bible). FEET, WASHING (see Foot-Washing). FELIX [FEE lix] (happy)—Roman governor of Judea before whom the apostle Paul appeared. Felix was an unscrupulous ruler. In addition to having three wives, he considered himself capable of committing any crime and avoiding punishment because of his influence with the courts. Because of Felix’s tyranny, a group of Jewish revolutionaries, known as the Sicarii (“assassins”), flourished. Retaliation against the Sicarii by the Roman government eventually led to the downfall and destruction of Jerusalem. Felix is best known for his encounter with the apostle Paul (Acts 23:23). Arrested in Jerusalem as a disturber of the peace, Paul was sent to Caesarea for judgment by Felix. After his initial appearance before Felix, Paul was confined to the judgment hall until his accusers arrived. After five days, they arrived under the leadership of Ananias, the Jewish high priest. The case against Paul was managed by Tertullus, who sought to win Felix over by expressing gratitude on the part of the Jews (Acts 24:1-2). Tertullus then proceeded to accuse Paul of
committing rebellion against the Romans, being the ringleader of a trouble-making religious sect, and profaning the Jewish temple. The purpose of these accusations was to persuade Felix to surrender Paul to the Jewish courts, in which case he would have been assassinated. When Felix gave Paul permission to speak, Paul refuted each of these charges; and Felix postponed his judgment. Several days later, Paul was brought before Felix a second time. On this occasion Paul gave his testimony as a Christian. Felix was visibly moved; and he dismissed Paul, indicating he would talk with him again on a more convenient day. Felix kept Paul in suspense about his judgment because he hoped Paul would give him a bribe. He sent for Paul on several occasions. But his hopes for a bribe were unfulfilled, and he kept Paul a prisoner for two years. Meanwhile, the atmosphere in Judea became more embarrassing, and Felix was finally removed as procurator by the Roman authorities. Because the Jews were making numerous accusations against Felix, Paul was left in prison in Caesarea for two years in an effort to appease the Jewish officials (Acts 24:27). Paul eventually appealed to Rome, which was his right as a Roman citizen, and finally was released from prison and taken to Rome.
FELLOES [FELL oze]—KJV word for Rims (1 Kin. 7:33). FELLOW—a word used in the Bible in both a positive and negative sense: 1. A worthless man or boy; a term of contempt for a person not worth mentioning (Matt. 26:61). 2. A friend, comrade, companion, or associate (Ex. 2:13). The word fellow is also used in such phrases as fellow servant(s) (Col. 1:7), fellow disciples (John 11:16), and fellow workers (Phil. 4:3). FELLOWSHIP—sharing things in common with others. In the New Testament, fellowship has a distinctly spiritual meaning. Fellowship can be either positive or negative. Positively, believers have fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 17:2126; Phil. 2:1; 1 John 1:3), as well as with other believers (Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:3, 7). The only reason why we dare to have fellowship with God, in the sense of sharing things in common with Him, is that He has raised our status through the death and resurrection of Christ (Eph. 2:4-7). What believers share in common with God is a relationship as well as God’s own holy character (1 Pet. 1:15). Those who have fellowship with Christ should enjoy fellowship
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with other believers, a communion that ought to illustrate the very nature of God Himself (John 13:35; Eph. 5:1-2; 1 John 1:5-10). Negatively, believers should not have fellowship with unbelievers. This means they should not share in unbelievers’ sinful lifestyles (2 Cor. 6:14-18). This does not mean, however, that believers should have nothing to do with unbelievers. The Bible plainly teaches that believers are obligated to help unbelievers and share the gospel with them (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:1516; 1 Cor. 9:16-17).
FENCE—a protective barrier around a house or field or an enclosure for livestock (Ps. 62:3). Job also used the word symbolically to express his futility at being closed in and having his freedom restricted by God (Job 19:8). FENCED CITIES—KJV words for Fortified Cities. FERRET (see A nimals of the Bible). FERRYBOAT—a vessel used to transport people or objects across a body of water. When David returned to Jerusalem after Absalom’s death, a ferryboat carried the king and his household across the Jordan River (2 Sam. 19:18). FESTIVALS (see Feasts and Festivals).
FEVER (see Diseases of the Bible). FIDELITY—faithfulness, loyalty. The word occurs only once (Titus 2:10). The apostle Paul wrote to Titus instructing him to exhort slaves to show “all good fidelity” to their own masters. FIELD—a plot of open ground that might be used for many different purposes. The word field may refer to a place for hunting game (Gen. 27:5), a cultivated plot for planting crops (Ruth 2:3), or a place for grazing livestock (Gen. 34:5). A field could range in size from a small plot of land to a large territory. Generally a field was not closed in; it was sometimes contrasted with enclosed land, such as a vineyard (Ex. 22:5). The boundaries separating fields were marked by stones that could be easily moved or removed (Deut. 19:14). Because there were no fences to keep them in, the flocks and herds needed constant watching and tending to prevent them from straying. Fields were sometimes named for events, as in Field of Sharp Swords (2 Sam. 2:16) or for their uses, as in Fuller’s Field (Is. 7:3) or potter’s field (Matt. 27:7). FIELD OF SHARP SWORDS—an area near the pool of Gibeon that became the scene of bloody combat between Israel and Judah (2 Sam. 2:16; Field of Blades, REB; Helkath-hazzurim, NRSV; NIV). Here twelve of Abner’s men (servants of Ishbosheth, king of Israel) and twelve of Joab’s men (servants of David, king of Judah) battled one another until every man was dead.
FESTUS, PORCIUS [FESS tuss POUR shih us]—the successor of Felix as Roman procurator, or governor, of Judea (Acts 24:27). After Festus arrived at Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem and met with the high priest and other Jewish leaders. They informed him of Paul’s confinement in prison. Paul had been left in prison when Felix was removed as procurator by the Roman authorities. The Jewish leaders requested that Paul be brought from Caesarea to Jerusalem so he could be tried before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 25:3). Their real intent, however, was to have Paul killed along the way. Festus refused and told the Jewish leaders they must meet with Paul in Caesarea. A few days later, Paul was summoned before Festus, who asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem. Paul, knowing that danger awaited him on such a trip, used his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Rome for trial (Acts 25:11). About this time, Herod Agrippa, with his sister, Bernice, came to Caesarea to visit Festus. The result was a meeting between the three and Paul in which Paul was declared innocent. But because Paul had appealed to Caesar, he had to be sent to Rome (Acts 26:32).
FILLY—a young female horse or a lively, high-spirited girl. The Beloved in the Song of Solomon compared the Shulammite (a Palestinian young woman) to “a filly among Pharaoh’s chariots” (Song 1:9; chariot horse of Pharaoh, REB; a company of horses, KJV; a mare, NRSV, NASB, NIV). In the ancient world, where both horses and women were beautifully adorned, this was considered a high compliment.
FETTERS—shackles or chains attached to the ankles of prisoners to restrain movement (Ps. 105:18). Fetters were usually made of iron or bronze.
FILTH, FILTHINESS—in a literal sense, foul or dirty matter; in a figurative sense, ceremonial uncleanness or spiritual corruption. “All our righteousnesses,” declared the prophet Isaiah,
FIFE (see Musical Instruments of the bible). FIG, FIG TREE (see Plants of the Bible). FIGUREHEAD—a carved figure on the front of a ship. The Alexandrian ship on which the apostle Paul sailed to Rome had a figurehead (Acts 28:11; sign, KJV). FILE (see Tools of the Bible).
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“are like filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). But God will forgive and cleanse the sinner who repents and believes in Christ (1 John 1:7-9).
FINE, FINES (see Law). FINER (see Occupations and Trades). FINGER—a digit of the hand. In the Bible, the word can refer to the literal fingers of a human (Lev. 4:6) or, figuratively, to the power of God. The “finger of God” thus brought about the plagues in Egypt (Ex. 8:19), wrote the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone (Deut. 9:10), and made the heavens (Ps. 8:3). In the New Testament, Jesus said, “If I cast out demons with the finger (“by the Spirit,” Matt. 12:28) of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). Evidently, the “finger of God” refers to God’s power working through the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work and will. FINING POT—KJV term for Refining Pot. FINISHER—a person who completes a project. The word is applied to Christ (Heb. 12:2; perfecter, NIV). The Greek root refers to completing or bringing to an end or finish. FINS—a hard, scaly object on fish, used as a distinguishing mark to separate fish into Clean and Unclean foods under the law of Moses. Fish with fins could be eaten, while those without scales or fins were prohibited as foods (Lev. 11:9; Deut. 14:9, 10). FIR, FIR TREE (see Plants of the Bible). FIRE—the combustion of flammable materials. In the Bible, fire often appears as a symbol of God’s presence and power (Gen. 15:17-18). The Israelites and other ancient cultures placed great value on fire. They used it to provide light, cook food, heat their houses, and forge their tools and weapons. Fire worship was practiced in many cultures of the ancient world, including the Medes, the Persians, and the Canaanites. In an effort to appease their gods, the Canaanites sometimes even sacrificed their children on flaming altars (Deut. 12:31). God often warned Israel that this practice was an abomination to Him and that they should not participate in their neighbors’ sin (Ezek. 16:20, 21; 2 Chron. 28:3). In the Old Testament, fire and flame were closely associated with Israel’s worship and religious life. On God’s instructions, a fire was kept burning continuously on the altars where burnt offerings were sacrificed (Lev. 6:13). The consumption of offerings by flame assured them that God had accepted the people’s sacrifices (Judg. 6:21; 1 Kin. 18:38).
God also used fire to guide His people. God spoke to Moses in the burning bush experience and called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage (Ex. 3:2-12). In their wilderness wanderings, the Israelites relied each night on a Pillar of Fire from heaven to guide them in their travels (Ex. 13:21). Numerous references to fire in the Bible emphasize God’s judgment on wickedness and unbelief. God is represented as a “consuming fire” (Ex. 24:17; Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29). The prophet Amos warned Israel, “Seek the Lord and live, lest He break out like a fire in the house of Joseph and devour it” (Amos 5:6). In the New Testament, eternal damnation is pictured as an everlasting fire (1 Cor. 3:13; Rev. 21:8). Fire from heaven is described as an instrument of God’s wrath to crush the satanic rebellion (Rev. 20:9, 10). As a source of heat and light, fire is often pictured in the Bible as God’s agent to purify and illuminate. The coming Messenger of the Lord is portrayed as a “refiner’s fire” (Mal. 3:2). The tongues “as of fire” that came with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost underscored the purging and illuminating quality of God’s truth (Acts 2:3).
FIRE BAPTISM (see Baptism of Fire). FIRE, LAKE OF (see Hinnom, Valley of). FIREBRAND—a burning stick taken out of the fire. The prophet Amos described the nation of Israel as “a firebrand plucked from the burning” (Amos 4:11)—a figure of speech describing a narrow escape. FIREPAN—a metal utensil to transport live coals used in starting a fire (Ex. 27:3). The firepans in the tabernacle were made of bronze. Also see Censer. FIRMAMENT—the expanse of sky and space in which the stars and planets are set. God made the firmament on the second day of creation to divide the waters that covered the earth from those that were above it (Gen. 1:7). But the firmament includes more than the atmospheric region between the seas of earth and the rain clouds of the sky; it is far more vast. In fact, on the fourth day of creation God placed the stars, the sun, and the moon in the “firmament of the heavens” (Gen. 1:15-18). It is this vastness that the Hebrew writers tend to emphasize about the firmament. The writer of Psalm 150 pointed out that the firmament is “mighty” (v. 1). The prophet Ezekiel envisioned the firmament “like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over . . . [people’s] heads” (Ezek. 1:22). What the firmament reflects, then, is the greatness of the God who created it. We
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are urged to praise God because “the firmament shows His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). God’s people can look forward to a day when they will “shine like the brightness of the firmament” (Dan. 12:3).
FIRST-BEGOTTEN (see Firstborn). FIRSTBORN—the first offspring of human beings or animals. In memory of the death of Egypt’s firstborn and the divine protection of Israel’s firstborn in connection with the Exodus, God placed a special claim on the firstborn of man and animals (Ex. 13:11-13). This meant that the nation of Israel attached unusual value to the oldest son and assigned special privileges and responsibilities to him. Because of God’s claim on the first offspring, the firstborn sons of the Hebrews were presented to the Lord when they were a month old. Since the firstborn was regarded as God’s property, it was necessary for the father to redeem, or buy back, the child from the priest. The redemption price, established by the priest, could not exceed five shekels (Num. 18:16). Early Israelite laws also provided that the firstlings of beasts belonged to the Lord and were turned over to the sanctuary (Ex. 13:2; 34:19; Lev. 27:26). The clean animals—those that could be eaten under the law of Moses—were sacrificed to the Lord. The unclean beasts were either destroyed, replaced, or redeemed at a price set by the priest. In Israel, the firstborn son inherited special rights and privileges. His Birthright was a double portion of the estate and leadership of the family. As head of the home after his father’s death, the oldest son customarily cared for his mother until her death, and provided for his unmarried sisters until their marriages. He was the family’s spiritual head. The inheritance rights of the firstborn son were sometimes transferred to a younger brother. Jacob, for example, stripped Reuben of his firstborn rights because of his incestuous conduct and transferred the birthright to his son Joseph (Gen. 48:20-22; 1 Chr. 5:1). In figurative language, the term “firstborn” stands for that which is most excellent. This expression is applied to Jesus in several New Testament passages. All of them point to Jesus’ high standing and His unique relationship to His Father and the church. In Colossians 1:15, Jesus is described as the “firstborn over all creation,” indicating that He existed before creation and actually participated in the creation process (John 1:3). In physical terms, he was the Virgin Mary’s “firstborn son”
(Matt. 1:25). The phrase, “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5), refers to Jesus’ resurrection, which assures victory over sin and death to all who trust in Him. Paul’s description of Christ as “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29) refers to His exalted position as head of the church. Because of His atoning death and resurrection, Jesus Christ heads a new spiritual race of twiceborn men and women (Col. 1:18). The author of Hebrews foresees a joyful gathering of “the church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” (Heb. 12:23).
FIRSTFRUITS—the firstborn of the flocks and the first vegetables and grains to be gathered at harvest time. The Hebrew people thought of these as belonging to God in a special sense. They were dedicated or presented to God on the day of the firstfruits, a part of the celebration of Pentecost (Num. 28:26; 2 Chr. 31:5). FIRST GATE (see Gates Temple).
FIRSTLING—the firstborn of animals or the first of the harvest from a crop. Abel brought the firstlings of his flock as an offering to God (Gen. 4:4). The law of the Firstborn is recorded in Exodus 13:11-16. FISH (see A nimals of the Bible). FISH GATE (see Gates Temple).
FISHERMAN (see Occupations and Trades). FISHER OWL (see A nimals of the Bible). FISHHOOK—a special hook of bone or metal used for catching and holding fish. The prophet Amos warned the people of Samaria that God would “take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks” (Amos 4:2). This probably referred to the common practice among conquering nations, such as Egypt and Babylonia, of placing fishhooks in the mouths of captives to make them easier to handle (Hab. 1:14-15). FISHING—the practice of catching fish for food or for sale as a commercial product. Although the Israelites were not basically a seagoing people, fishing was an important industry and a source of considerable revenue. The Mediterranean Sea provided many different species of saltwater fish. Lake Huleh and the Sea of Galilee were the center of the freshwater fishing business. Hunting and fishing for sport were unknown. Many of the fish caught were eaten fresh. But the close proximity of the salt deposits at
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the Dead Sea made it possible to preserve large quantities of fish for shipping long distances. Taricheae on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was the major center of the salting and preserving industry. Commercial fishing was hard work and often was frustrating and ineffective (Luke 5:4-6; John 21:1-3). Lines and hooks (Job 41:1; Amos 4:10), as well as harpoons (Job 41:7) were used. But the most common method of fishing was with nets. A small casting net could be handled by one man standing on the shore (Eccl. 9:12; Ezek. 47:10; Matt. 4:18). The larger dragnets required several people in boats for effective operation. Such dragnets had wooden floats on the top edge and stone or metal weights on the bottom. A cord was usually threaded along the bottom edge. This allowed the bottom to be drawn shut to trap the fish as the boat closed the circle of the net around them. Then they were either unloaded into the boats (Luke 5:6-8), or dragged to the shore where the fish were removed and sorted (Matt. 13:47-48). According to the Law of Moses (Lev. 11:912; Deut. 14:9-10), only fish that had fins and scales were ritually “clean” and could be eaten. All others, including catfish, eels, etc., and the various shellfish (clams, lobsters, etc.), were “unclean” and forbidden as food. Of Jesus’ first disciples, at least seven were fishermen—Peter, Andrew, Philip, James, John, Thomas, and Nathanael. At Jesus’ call they left their nets to follow him and “catch men” (Luke 5:10).
FITCH (see Plants of the Bible). FLAG (see Standard). FLAGON [FLAG gon]—KJV word for R aisin Cake. FLANGE—a connecting clamp or collar on the bronze carts in Solomon’s temple (1 Kin. 7:3536; ledges, KJV; stays, NRSV, NASB; supports, NIV). FLANK—the fleshy part of the side between the ribs and the hip. The term refers to the part of an animal sacrifice burned along with the kidneys and the liver (Lev. 3:4). The Hebrew word for “flank” is used to refer to the corresponding part of a person: “waist” (Job 15:27) and “loins” (Ps. 38:7).
FLASK—a jar usually narrowed toward the rim and used for holding liquids such as oil, ointment, or perfume. Samuel used a flask of oil to anoint Saul as king of Israel (1 Sam. 10:1). Elisha the prophet sent one of his apprentice prophets with a flask of oil to anoint Jehu as king of Israel (2 Kin. 9:1, 3). The Lord told the prophet Jeremiah to take “a potter’s earthen flask” and break it (Jer. 19:1, 10; jar, NIV) as a sign of divine judgment against Jerusalem. In the house of Simon the leper, a woman of Bethany anointed the head of Jesus with a very expensive ointment, of pure nard, which she poured from an alabaster flask (Mark 14:3; jar, NIV). FLAT NOSE (see Disabilities and Deformities). FLAX (see Plants of the Bible). FLEA (see A nimals of the Bible).
● Fishermen with their catch in the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Howard Vos
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FLEECE—the coat of wool shorn from a sheep. Gideon used a fleece in a test to determine if God would deliver the nation of Israel from their enemies (Judg. 6:37-40).
however, for Christ Himself was described as being “in the flesh” (1 John 4:2). Christ alone is our salvation, since by the works of the law “no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16).
FLESH—the physical bodies of humans or animals. When God removed a rib from Adam with which he created Eve, he closed up the place with flesh (Gen. 2:21). The apostle Paul spoke of the flesh of men, beasts, fish, and birds (1 Cor. 15:39). The imagery of flesh expresses several different ideas in the Bible. Rather than only the “fleshy” parts of the body, the word could also refer to the entire body (Gal. 5:13). From this idea, the concept of a fleshly or human bond between people follows. A man and his wife “shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24), while a man can tell his family that “I am your own flesh and bone” (Judg. 9:2). “Flesh” is even used occasionally to describe all of mankind, and even animals (Gen. 6:3). Biblical writers thought of the flesh as weak. The Psalmist sang, “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Ps. 56:4). The weakness of the flesh was blamed for the disciples’ inability to keep watch with Jesus in Gethsemane on the eve of His crucifixion (Mark 14:38). In an even stronger sense, flesh is the earthly part of a person, representing lusts and desires (Eph. 2:3). The flesh is contrary to the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:8). Galatians 5:19-23 contrasts works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. The flesh is not completely condemned,
FLESH HOOK—an implement with three prongs used by the sons of Eli to handle meat provided for sacrifices in the tabernacle (1 Sam. 2:13, 14). The KJV also uses this word for an implement used in the temple (Ex. 27:3; Num. 4:14; fork, NKJV; NIV). Both these tools were probably a three-pronged fork. FLESH POT—KJV words for a large metal pot used for boiling water or cooking meat (Ex. 16:3; pots of meat, NKJV). These were used by the Hebrews during their years of slavery in Egypt. FLINT (see Minerals of the Bible). FLOCK—a herd of animals that consisted of a mixture of sheep and goats in Bible times. Both kinds of animals grazed and traveled together (Gen. 30:31-32). The animals in such mixed flocks were difficult to tell apart except at close range. This explains Jesus’ teaching about separating sheep from goats at the last judgment (Matt. 25:32). In Old Testament times, the size of one’s flocks and herds was a measure of wealth (1 Sam. 25:2; Job 1:3). FLOOD, THE—the divinely sent deluge that destroyed all sinful humankind by water during the time of Noah. The inspired writer of Genesis took two chapters to tell of the creation of the world and one chapter to portray the Fall, but he devoted four chapters to the Flood. Since the concern of the writer was to reveal the nature of God and His dealings with humankind he evidently saw this story as a good vehicle for this truth. The Flood reveals both the judgment and the mercy of God. Archaeologists have discovered a number of flood stories among pagan nations in the ancient world. One Sumerian and two Babylonian stories have survived. A comparison of these stories with the Flood account in Genesis is both interesting and significant. In one of the Babylonian stories, the gods became irritated with the people because they grew too numerous and became too noisy; so they considered several different ways to get rid of these bothersome people. Finally, they decided on a flood. But the flood apparently got out of hand. For a while the gods were afraid ● Inscribed stone tablet from Babylon that describes a great flood. Unlike the Babylonian stories, the biblical account of the Flood emphasizes the sin of people and the power and moral judgment of God. Photo by Howard Vos
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they would be destroyed. They began to quarrel among themselves, shrinking in fear from the rising waters and crowding around a sacrifice like flies. In stark contrast to such pagan stories the Book of Genesis presents the holy and sovereign God who acted in judgment against sin and yet mercifully saved Noah and his family because of their righteousness. The Flood was not simply a downpour of ordinary rain. The text indicates a cosmic upheaval. “The fountains of the great deep” were broken up (Gen. 7:11). Perhaps there were earthquakes and the ocean floors may have been raised up until the waters covered the earth. By a supernatural upheaval, God returned the earth to the primitive chaos described in Genesis 1:2. A Degenerate Humanity. The Flood was a drastic judgment, but the condition that brought it to pass was also serious. Society degenerated to the point that “every intent” of the thoughts of man’s heart “was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Violence raged upon earth. Instead of living responsibly as persons created in the image and likeness of God, people existed as beasts. Because the situation was hopeless, God chose to destroy that generation and make a new start with the family of righteous Noah. The Divine Grief. While the minds of people were filled with every evil, the heart of God was filled with grief and sorrow. Like a parent whose children have gone bad, God mourned for his wayward children. The Lord was sorry He had created them and “was grieved in his heart” (Gen. 6:6). Since God knows the end from the beginning, how could He be sorry for what He had done? This was the biblical writer’s way of showing the extreme disappointment of the Lord and the radical change in His attitude and action toward humanity. He had blessed the race, but now He would turn against the wicked people who refused to repent. Their failure to repent caused God to repent, or turn around, in his approach to humanity. Righteous Noah. In stark contrast to the degen erate people among whom he lived, “Noah was a just man” who “walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). God’s righteous judgment is seen in the destruction of the wicked, but His mercy and care are seen in His saving of Noah and, through him, the human race. God’s judgment was accompanied by grief, but His grace was freely given to Noah and his family. The Ark. The Lord revealed to Noah that His judgment was coming by way of a terrible flood. Noah could save himself and his family by building an ark of wood. The ark was
to be large enough to hold Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives. In addition, it must provide room for two of every kind of animal and bird. Plenty of time was allowed for this massive building project by Noah and his sons. The dimensions of the ark were 140 meters (450 feet) long, 23 meters (75 feet) wide, and 14 meters (45 feet) high. There were three levels—lower, middle, and upper decks. The displacement or capacity of a vessel of these dimensions has been estimated as 43,300 tons. The Long Voyage. The raging waters kept rising for forty days, and the ark floated high above the hills and mountains. When the waters finally stopped rising, Noah and his passengers faced a long wait for the waters to go down. The total time spent in the ark was about one year and ten days. The ark came to rest on “the mountains of Ararat” (Gen. 8:4) in what is now Turkey. Numerous attempts across the centuries to find traces of the ark have proved futile. Noah released a raven and a dove to determine whether the waters were low enough to allow them to leave the ark. When the dove returned to the ark, he knew it had been unable to survive outside the ark. After seven days, he again released the dove. This time it came back with an olive leaf. This was good news, indicating that the waters had dropped further and the time when the people and animals could leave the ark was near. Finally the earth dried, and they left the ark (Gen. 8:7-19). Worship and Covenant. The first act of the grateful Noah was to build an altar and worship God, thanking Him for deliverance from the Flood. Then the Lord made a covenant with Noah. Never again would He destroy the world by water. The rainbow was given as a covenant sign. The bow was an instrument of war, but the rainbow represents a bow with the string on the ground—a symbol of peace. The Flood came upon the earth as a severe judgment of God against wickedness. But God’s grace and mercy were also revealed in the preservation of Noah and, through him, the human race. The covenant was granted to reassure humanity about God’s care. New Testament References to the Flood. References to the Flood are found in Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:26, 27; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20; and 2 Peter 2:5. The Flood was used to illustrate the holy God’s wrath against human wickedness and the salvation of His people.
FLOOR—a stone or clay platform used for threshing grain (threshing floor, Num. 15:20) or the part of a house on which the residents walked. In a house or building in Palestine, the floors were formed from beaten clay. Also see House.
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FLOUR—ground grain from which bread is baked (Ex. 29:2; 1 Sam. 28:24). The flour of Bible times was a fine substance made from wheat, with all the bran removed. One of the Hebrew words for “flour” means “fine flour” (Lev. 14:10; Num. 29:14). FLOWERS (see Plants of the Bible). FLUTE (see Musical Instruments of the bible). FLY (see A nimals of the Bible). FOAL—the young offspring of a donkey—the animal on which Jesus rode in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. By riding such a lowly animal, Jesus entered the city not as a conquering hero but as the Prince of Peace bearing the good news of a spiritual kingdom (Matt. 21:5). FODDER—feed for livestock, consisting of a mixture of grains and vegetation left over after the best parts of the harvest were gathered (Job 6:5). FOLD (see Sheepfold). FOLLY (see Fool, Foolishness). FOOD—nourishing substances eaten by people and animals. Palestine, the land of the Bible, was called a land of “milk and honey” (Ex. 13:5). Food was plentiful, although hard labor was required for its production. Lack of rainfall or other weather conditions sometimes resulted in meager crops. After conquering and settling the land of Canaan, the Israelites became farmers. This was different from the nomadic life of their forefathers. Their diet reflected the change, because tillers of the soil eat differently than shepherds and herdsmen. The land they worked produced foodstuffs in a variety pleasing to the palate and satisfying to the stomach. Among these were cereal grains, animal protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts, plus savory spices and herbs to make food tasty.
The cereal grains, often called corn in the KJV, are not to be confused with maize, a product of the western hemisphere unknown in Bible times. The word corn in the KJV should be translated as “wheat,” “barley,” and “millet.” It also included spelt, a species of grain related to wheat but called fitch in the KJV. In God’s command to the prophet Ezekiel (4:9) to make bread, all these grains are mentioned, plus beans and lentils. This mixture sounds like the ingredients in a modern loaf of bread. After the grain was harvested, it was ground into flour, mixed and kneaded into dough, and then baked into bread. In Isaiah (3:1) bread is called the “stock” and the “store,” meaning that bread was the principal food of the people—the stock and store of life. But grain could be prepared and eaten in ways other than in bread. It could be parched or roasted, or it could be cracked and made into a gruel (2 Sam. 17:28). A distinctive feature of the agricultural economy of Israel was the provision for poor people to come into the fields of the wealthy to glean behind the harvesters. The story of Ruth reflects this custom. When Boaz, the wealthy kinsman of Naomi’s departed husband, saw Ruth in his field, he told his reapers to leave grain for her to gather. At noon he invited her to share his parched grain (Ruth 2:14). Protein is essential to life; it was readily available to everyone in the land of Palestine. Meat was part of every person’s daily fare. Animal products such as milk, butter, and cheese were also readily available. A noon meal for a workman might consist of two loaves of barley bread—one filled with cheese, the other with olives. Animals were divided into two distinct classes among the people—ceremonially clean and unclean (Lev. 11:1-47; Acts 10:9-15). The law governing this distinction dealt with fourfooted animals as well as fish, birds, and insects.
● Wheat—an important source of food in Palestine—growing in a terraced field on a Judean hillside. Photo by Willem A. VanGemeren
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Photo by V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers
● Watchtowers, like this one near Shiloh, were used by farmers to protect their crops from thieves and intruders.
Only clean animals could be used for food. Clean animals were those that chewed the cud and had divided hooves (Lev. 11:3). Pigs have divided hooves, but they do not chew the cud. Therefore, they were ceremonially unclean and unfit for food. Camels chew the cud, but they do not have parted hooves. So they could not be eaten. Camel’s milk and cheese from their milk, however, were not forbidden. The effort to connect these unclean foods with modern practices of hygiene breaks down in details. But some forbidden foods did serve as health precautions. Pork is an example. It must be cooked at high temperatures to kill the dreaded parasite that can cause spiralis. The people of the land never heard of trichinosis, but they were protected from it by their food laws. Animal fat was also forbidden as food (Lev. 3:16-17). While fat is essential to good health, it becomes extremely dangerous when eaten in large amounts that can cause a buildup of cholesterol. When Nehemiah urged the people to “eat the fat” (Neh. 8:10, NKJV), he used a word that is better translated as “dainties” (choice food, NIV). He may have been referring to a rich confection or a tasty dessert. He neither forgot nor overlooked the dietary restrictions of the Hebrew food laws. Fish of some types could be eaten (Lev. 11:912). A total of twenty different species of birds was rejected (11:13-19). Insects that had legs and leaped, such as the grasshopper, were fit for food. Oysters and shrimp, which fell within the forbidden list, spoil quickly and become unfit for food in a hot climate with no refrigeration. Even the most humble people of Palestine had adequate protein in their diet. As is true in all agricultural societies, every family had land to
till. The citizens of Palestine kept animals for heavy work and tended sheep for fiber. These animals yielded milk, cheese, and meat and even provided fiber such as wool for the making of clothing. But bread, meat, milk, and cheese are not enough for a balanced diet. Other foods are necessary to maintain strong and healthy bodies. Other essential nutrients came from fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which the land yielded in bountiful fashion. While enslaved in Egypt, the Hebrew people learned to enjoy vegetables. During their years of wandering in the wilderness, they missed their cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic (Num. 11:5). They also longed for their “pots of meat” (Ex. 16:3), which were stew pots filled with simmering meat and vegetables. Once settled in the land of Canaan, the Israelites cultivated these favorite vegetables, plus beans, lentils, and squash. The squash they cultivated may have been one of the “melons” they had learned to eat in Egypt many years before. The abundance of food cultivated in Palestine is indicated by the list of provisions that Abigail furnished David in the desert of Paran (1 Sam. 25:18). Included was bread, wine, mutton, roasted grain, clusters of raisins, and cakes of figs. Abigail’s clusters of raisins were pressed into cakes with the stems still intact. Grapes or raisins might be made into a raisin cake, as she had done, but they could also be eaten fresh, or
● Food was often stored underground in Bible times. Archaeologists discovered remains of grain, beans, and grapes in these underground storage silos that dated back to about 4000 b.c. Photo: Israel Government Press Office
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pressed for their juice. In time the fresh-pressed juice could be turned into vinegar or Wine. Along with raisins Abigail brought figs, also dried and pressed into cakes. She may have brought apricots dried and pressed the same way. The land produced both of these fruits. Honey was also available, because the land had both wild and domesticated bees. Honey was made from dates as well. From a small garden she might have brought mint, anise, dill, and cummin. Certainly she could have brought almonds—or pistachios. These trees were common in Palestine. Olives were also plentiful. Olive orchards were scattered throughout the land. The olive was eaten green or ripe. Or, it might be pressed for its oil. Olive oil was used for cooking and seasoning, and as fuel for lamps. Perhaps Abigail brought salt; an abundant supply was available from the nearby Sea of Salt, or Dead Sea.
FOOL, FOOLISHNESS—a stupid person or a senseless act. In the Bible, the most foolish person of all is one who denies the reality of God the Father: “The fool has said in his heart, ’There is no God’ “ (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). Like the Book of Proverbs, where “fool” denotes a person who is morally and spiritually deficient, Jesus contrasted wise and foolish persons. Persons who keep His sayings are wise; those who do not are foolish (Matt. 7:24-27). The use of the word “fool” in Matthew 5:22 is a special case. Jesus warned against using the word fool as a form of abuse. This word expressed hatred in one’s heart toward others; therefore, Jesus condemned the use of the word in this way. Paul called the preaching of the crucified Christ “foolishness” in the eyes of unbelievers. For believers, however, the message of the cross is the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24). FOOT—the lower extremity of the leg. The Bible uses the word both literally and symbolically. Feet is used in many symbolic ways. “To sit at the feet” of a teacher was a symbol of discipleship, recalling the practice of the Jewish schools and synagogues (Acts 22:3). “To fall at the feet” was a gesture of humility (1 Sam. 25:24). “To put under the feet” was symbolic of conquest (Josh. 10:24). In this way Egyptian monuments picture conquerors walking on the defeated. The Lord promised to tread the Assyrians under foot (Is. 14:25). In Bible times, washing a guest’s feet was an act of hospitality (Luke 7:44) and humility (John 13:4-15). To remove the sandals from one’s feet was an expression of worship and reverence (Ex. 3:5). Before one entered a holy place, it was necessary for him to remove his shoes.
FOOTMAN (see Occupations and Trades). FOOTSTOOL—a piece of furniture for resting a person’s feet. The word is often used symbolically in the Bible to signify God’s promise to Israel to “make [the Lord’s] enemies his footstool” (Ps. 110:1). This messianic promise is repeated six times in the New Testament (Matt. 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:43; Acts 2:35; Heb. 1:13; 10:13). FOOT-WASHING—an expression of hospitality extended to guests in Bible times. People traveling dusty roads in Palestine needed to wash their feet for comfort and cleanliness. Foot-washing was generally performed by the lowliest servant in the household (Luke 7:44). Guests were often offered water and vessels for washing their own feet (Gen. 18:4; Judg. 19:21). At the Last Supper, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He explained that this act was an example of the humble ministry that they must always be ready to perform for one another (John 13:517). First Timothy 5:10 suggests that the early church followed Christ’s example in observing the ritual of foot-washing. But many churches reject this because the other duties mentioned in the verse are household tasks. Churches of some denominations continue to practice foot-washing today. FORBEARANCE—tolerance or mercy. Although human sin deserves punishment, God in His forbearance, or longsuffering patience, gives an opportunity for Repentance (Rom. 2:4). Also see Longsuffering. FORCES (see War, Warfare). FORD—a shallow place that provides easy passage across a body of water. Fords across several rivers are mentioned in the Bible: 1. The Jordan. Two different fords mentioned are the place where the Israelite spies crossed before the capture of Jericho (Josh. 2:7), and the ford where Israel’s Moabite overlords suffered defeat (Judg. 3:28). Both fords were apparently in the region of Jericho. 2. The Jabbok, a narrow but cultivated valley in Transjordan, was crossed by Jacob and his family near Penuel (Gen. 32:22). 3. The Arnon, running westwards to the Dead Sea, and traditionally Moab’s northern border (Num. 21:13), was a deep gorge crossed by a number of fords (Is. 16:2). FOREHEAD—part of the face above the eyes. The forehead was one area where skin disease could be identified (Lev. 13:41-44). David killed Goliath with a stone to the forehead (1 Sam. 17:49).
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Since the forehead is so prominent, it is a proper place for an identifying seal. It is the location of a holy mark for the Israelite high priest (Ex. 28:38), God’s 144,000 end-time servants (Rev. 14:1), and people living in the new Jerusalem (Rev. 22:4). The great harlot and the beast’s followers will have evil marks on their foreheads (Rev. 13:16). The Israelites were ordered to know God’s law so well that it would be as if it were written across their foreheads (Deut. 6:8). Many Jews took this literally, and the custom of wearing Phylacteries developed. Symbolically, the set of someone’s forehead might mean rebellion (Ezek. 3:8-9).
FOREIGNER—a person whose citizenship and loyalty belong to a different country. The “foreigner” (or “outsider”) mentioned often in the Bible was distinct from the “sojourner.” The sojourner belonged to another nation; but, unlike the foreigner, he came to live (or sojourn) for a period of time away from his home country, perhaps taking on some obligations and enjoying some privileges in his new land. In the English Bible it is not always easy to distinguish between these uses of the words, especially since “stranger” is sometimes used for “foreigner,” sometimes for “sojourner.” In Exodus 12, for instance, the “outsider”—the stranger who is a foreigner—is not to eat the Passover (v. 43). But the stranger who sojourns among the Israelites, and whose males are circumcised, is allowed to eat the Passover (vv. 48-49). Other regulations dealing especially with foreigners may be found in Deuteronomy 14:21; 15:3; 23:20. Usually the term “foreigner” in the Bible means someone who is foreign to the Hebrew people. Because Israel was to be a special nation, there was a great danger that the Israelites would be influenced by the ways of other nations and, in the process, lose something of their special identity. That is why the Old Testament is full of references to the perils of foreign or strange gods (Josh. 24:20, 23; Jer. 5:19) and foreign or strange women (1 Kin. 11:1; Prov. 2:16; 5:20). That is also why foreigners or outsiders were not permitted to take part in Israel’s worship (Ex. 12:43; Ezek. 44:9). On the other hand, among the prophecies of a glorious future for Israel are some in which foreigners who come to worship the Lord are given an honored place (Is. 56:3-8). In New Testament times, the lines between Jews and foreigners were sharply drawn. Jews were expected not to eat with foreigners (Acts 11:3; Gal. 2:12). Some Jewish Christians still insisted on these distinctions and were offended
when other Jewish believers ate with Gentiles. But the apostle Paul insisted that the barriers between Jews and foreigners had been broken down in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:11–3:6). Both Jews and Gentiles could belong to God’s new people, the church, through faith in Christ (Rom. 1:16; 4:11-12; Gal. 3:26-29).
FOREKNOWLEDGE - the unique knowledge of God that enables Him to know all events, including the free acts of people, before they happen. God’s foreknowledge is much more than foresight. God does not know future events and human actions because He foresees them; He knows them because He wills them to happen (Job 14:5; Ps. 139:15-16). Thus God’s foreknowledge is an act of His will (Is. 41:4; Rev. 1:8, 17; 21:6). In Romans 8:29 and 11:2, the apostle Paul’s use of the word “foreknew” means “chose” or “to set special affection on.” The electing love of God, not foresight of human action, is the basis of His predestination and salvation (Rom. 8:29-30, 33). This same idea is used to express the nation of Israel’s special relationship to God (Acts 2:23; Rom. 11:2; 1 Pet. 1:2, 20).
FOREMAN (see Occupations and Trades). FORERUNNER—one who goes (literally, runs) before. The word is used only once in the New Testament to describe Jesus, who has opened a new and living way to God as our Savior and High Priest (Heb. 6:20). FORESKIN—skin covering the end of the male sex organ. The foreskin was cut off in the rite of Circumcision, the sign of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17:10-25). Males had their foreskin removed eight days after birth (Lev. 12:3). Because circumcision was a sign of the covenant with God, the word “foreskin” symbolically represented rebellion against God. Thus, the Israelites were told to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart” (Jer. 4:4), or to give up their disobedience. FOREST—a grove or thicket of trees. Forests were far more common in ancient Israel than they are in the Holy Land today. Forests were especially abundant in the hills of Lebanon, Carmel, Bashan, the Sharon plain, and the Jordan valley. Extensive deforestation began even before the time of Abraham (around 2000 b.c.) with the continuing demand for timber, especially for building (2 Chr. 27:4; Neh. 2:8), fuel (Is. 44:1415), and agriculture (Is. 29:17). The forests spoken of in the Bible included everything from rough scrubland (Ezek. 20:46; scrubland, REB) to impenetrable jungle. The
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forest was a place of fear and of wild animals (Ps. 104:20), especially lions (Amos 3:4); but it belonged to God and would ultimately praise Him (Ps. 96:12; Is. 44:23). The prophets often spoke of forests in a symbolic way. Forests represented both human pride (2 Kin. 19:23; Is. 10:34) and people who were ready for judgment, whether as the lion’s prey (Is. 56:9; Jer. 5:6) or as fuel for the fire (Is. 9:1819; 10:18-19). But the forest also was a picture of luxuriant growth, symbolizing the fruitfulness and glory of those on whom God poured His Spirit (Is. 32:15; 35:2).
FORGE (see Tools of the Bible). FORGER (see Occupations and Trades). FORGIVENESS—the act of excusing or pardoning others in spite of their slights, shortcomings, and errors. As a theological term, forgiveness refers to God’s pardon of the sins of human beings. No religious book except the Bible teaches that God completely forgives sin (Ps. 51:1, 9; Is. 38:17; Heb. 10:17). The initiative comes from Him (John 3:16; Col. 2:13) because He is ready to forgive (Luke 15:11-32). He is a God of grace and pardon (Neh. 9:17; Dan. 9:9). Sin deserves divine punishment because it is a violation of God’s holy character (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Pet. 1:16), but His pardon is gracious (Ps. 130:4; Rom. 5:6-8). In order for God to forgive sin, two conditions are necessary. A life must be taken as a substitute for that of the sinner (Lev. 17:11, 14; Heb. 9:22), and the sinner must come to God’s sacrifice in a spirit
of repentance and faith (Mark 1:4; Acts 10:43; James 5:15). Forgiveness in the New Testament is directly linked to Christ (Acts 5:31; Col. 1:14), His sacrificial death on the cross (Rom. 4:24), and His resurrection (2 Cor. 5:15). He was the morally perfect sacrifice (Rom. 8:3), the final and ultimate fulfillment of all Old Testament sacrifices (Heb. 9:11–10:18). Since He bore the law’s death penalty against sinners (Gal. 3:10-13), those who trust in His sacrifice are freed from that penalty. By faith sinners are forgiven—”justified” in Paul’s terminology (Rom. 3:28; Gal. 3:8-9). Those who are forgiven sin’s penalty also die to its controlling power in their lives (Rom. 6:1-23). Christ’s resurrection was more than proof of His deity or innocence; it was related in a special way to His forgiveness. Christ’s resurrection was an act by which God wiped out the false charges against Him; it was God’s declaration of the perfect righteousness of His Son, the last Adam, and of His acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice (1 Tim. 3:16). Because He has been acquitted and declared righteous, this is also true for those whom He represents. Thus, Christ’s resurrection was a necessary condition for the forgiveness of human sin (1 Cor. 15:12-28). To be forgiven is to be identified with Christ in His crucifixion and resurrection. Christ has the authority to forgive sins (Matt. 1:21; Heb. 9:11–10:18). This forgiveness is an essential part of the gospel message (Acts 2:38; 5:31). But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (attributing to Satan a deed done by Jesus through
● A model of Jerusalem as it might have looked in the time of Jesus. The city was protected by massive walls, fortified gates, and defense towers built into the wall system. Photo by E. B. Trovillion
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Photo by Willem A. VanGemeren
● Excavations at Hazor, a city in northern Israel fortified by Solomon as a military stronghold (1 Kin. 9:15).
the power of God’s Spirit) is an unpardonable sin (Mark 3:28-29)—not because God cannot or will not forgive such a sin but because such a hard-hearted person has put himself beyond the possibility of repentance and faith. God’s forgiveness of us demands that we forgive others because grace brings responsibility and obligation (Matt. 18:23-35; Luke 6:37). Jesus placed no limits on the extent to which Christians are to forgive others (Matt. 18:22, 35; Luke 17:4). A forgiving spirit shows that one is a true follower of Christ (Matt. 5:43-48; Mark 11:25).
FORK—a three-pronged pitchfork, a farm tool used as a weapon by Saul’s ill-equipped army (1 Sam. 13:21). Special forks of bronze and gold were also used by the priests to handle animal sacrifices in the tabernacle and temple (Ex. 27:3; 1 Chr. 28:17; fleshhooks, KJV). FORMER GATE (see Gates of Jerusalem and the Temple). FORNICATION [for nih KAY shun]—sexual relationships outside the bonds of marriage. The technical distinction between fornication and A dultery is that adultery involves married persons while fornication involves at least one person who is unmarried. But the New Testament often uses the term in a general sense for any unchastity. Of the seven lists of sins found in the writings of Paul, the word “fornication” is
found in five of them (Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:11; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5). In the Book of Revelation, fornication is symbolic of how idolatry and pagan religion defiles true worship of God (Rev. 14:8; 17:4).
FORT, FORTIFICATION—the practice of erecting defensive walls around a city to protect it from enemy attacks. Such fortifications were not used widely by Israel until the period of the United Kingdom under David and Solomon. Before that time, the Israelites hid from roving enemy bands in caves and mountain strongholds (Judg. 6:2). The first Israelite city to be fortified was Saul’s capital at Gibeah. His successor David used fortifications extensively, especially at the capital city of Jerusalem. The first fortifications were massive walls around cities. Material for these walls was plentiful in rocky Palestine. Usually they were from 5 to 8 meters (15 to 25 feet) thick, and about 8 meters (25 feet) high. Sometimes several walls were built around a city for even greater protection. The massive walls were strengthened at regular intervals by supporting balconies and embankments. Towers were erected on the corners and at obvious points of attack (2 Chr. 14:7; Zeph. 1:16). The tops of these towers often looked like rows of teeth with gaps between them. The protective towers were placed at regular intervals along the wall to give the city’s
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defending archers a good vantage point for turning back an attack. The walls were protected outside the city by a dry moat or an earth ramp heaped against the wall to make direct assault almost impossible. Most towns had only one or two gates. For even greater security, these massive gates were often reinforced with metal, usually bronze (Ps. 107:16; Is. 45:2). Fortified cities were most often overcome by a prolonged siege from the enemy army. The enemy stationed their forces outside the walls so nothing could get in or out of the fortress. The greatest danger to a city under such a siege was a shortage of water. For this reason a city needed to be situated close to an abundant supply of water. If the water supply was not situated inside the walls, long underground tunnels were sometimes built to provide convenient access during times of siege. Several methods were used by the attacking army to weaken a city’s walls. The Assyrians built earthen causeways so their siege machines, or battering rams, could be rolled up to the wall to break it down. Attackers sometimes tunneled underneath to weaken the walls. Once the walls were weakened, a direct attack was made on the city. Walled cities that served as Israelite defense posts included Lachish, Beth Horon, Samaria, Jezreel, Geba, and Mizpah. Solomon built fortresses around Jerusalem, Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer (1 Kin. 9:15) as well as defense outposts across the kingdom for his army. His son Rehoboam fortified fifteen more cities (2 Chr. 11:5-12).
FORTIFIED CITIES—cities strengthened by walls, towers, gates and bars (Deut. 3:5). When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they found many fortified cities belonging to the Canaanites and Amorites (Josh. 14:12). The strength of these fortifications is proven by the fact that the Canaanites resisted the Israelite invaders for a long time. Judges 1:27-36 describes the incomplete conquest. Jerusalem, for instance, was still held by the Jebusites until the time of David (1 Chr. 11:5). After the Israelites occupied the land of Canaan, they rebuilt and improved the destroyed defenses. King Solomon built “the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer” (1 Kin. 9:15). Rehoboam fortified fifteen cities in Judah (2 Chr. 11:5-12). Asa fortified Geba and Mizpah (1 Kin. 15:22). No city could hold out long against a siege without an adequate water supply. A city, therefore, was generally built near a river or a spring. Long tunnels were dug to supply water, as in the
case of Hezekiah’s tunnel, also called the Siloam tunnel (2 Kin. 20:20; 2 Chr. 32:30), cut through solid rock from the spring of Gihon to the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem—a distance of about 533 meters (1,749 feet).
FORTUNATUS [for chuh NAY tus] (fortunate)—a Christian of Corinth who, along with Stephanas and Achaicus, encouraged and comforted the apostle Paul at Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:17). These three men possibly carried Paul’s letter (1 Corinthians) with them when they returned to Corinth. FORTUNE-TELLING—predicting the future through magic and enchantment. At Philippi the apostle Paul healed a slave girl who had brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling (Acts 16:16; soothsaying, KJV; fortune-telling, NRSV). Also see M agic, Sorcery, and Divination. FOUNDATION—the strong, stable base on which a building is constructed. When moral foundations are destroyed, a society is in danger of collapse (Ps. 11:3). Jesus taught that believers should build their faith on the strong foundation of practicing His teachings (Matt. 7:24-27). The apostle Paul also referred to Christ as a foundation for believers (1 Cor. 3:11). Also see House. FOUNDATION GATE (see Gates of Jerusalem and the Temple). FOUNDER (see Occupations and Trades). FOUNTAIN—a water source. Both the NKJV and the KJV use this word to translate several different Hebrew and Greek words. The two main types of fountains were the man-made well, or cistern, and the natural spring. To the Israelites, after forty years of wandering in the dry wilderness of Sinai, the many freshwater springs of Canaan were a sign of real blessing. In this dry climate it was important that a spring was nearby before a city or village could be established. Thus the Hebrew word for spring, (en) is preserved today in such biblical place names as En Dor, meaning “fountains of habitation,” or En Gedi, “spring of a kid.” When the technique of plastering walls was developed, it made it possible to make storage places to capture runoff water during a rain. This development made it possible to support larger populations, especially in cities. But the water from these cisterns was never as desirable as the “living (flowing) water” of natural springs (Jer. 2:13). FOUNTAIN GATE (see Gates of Jerusalem and the Temple).
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FOWL (see A nimals of the Bible). FOWLER (see Occupations and Trades). FOX (see A nimals of the Bible). FRANKINCENSE (see Plants of the Bible). FREEDMAN—a free person, in contrast to a slave, who is held in bondage. Paul used this word to describe a person who has been freed by Jesus Christ from bondage to sin (1 Cor. 7:22). The “Synagogue of the Freedmen” (Acts. 6:9) probably consisted of Jewish prisoners who had been liberated. FREEDOM—the absence of slavery; the ability to do and go as one desires. The concept of freedom, both physical and spiritual, is expressed in several different ways in the Bible. Only God has absolute freedom. He is not controlled from the outside. Human beings, while not totally free, can experience a measure of freedom in different areas of life: social, economic, political, and spiritual. Slavery was common in biblical times. Many persons served others in bondage. The law of Moses provided for the Year of Jubilee, when slaves were given the opportunity to gain their freedom (Leviticus 25; 27). The Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt is an example of God’s bringing His people into freedom. When the apostle Paul spoke of a free man (Col. 3:11), he referred to rights of citizenship. Politically, in Paul’s day, one might be either a citizen of Rome, a free person (Acts 22:28), or a noncitizen, one who was not free under the Roman law. As a free person, Paul had certain rights, especially the right of a fair trial. In Christ, distinctions between citizens and noncitizens—”slave” and “free”—disappear (Gal. 3:28). In Christ, all have the glorious freedom of the children of God. In the spiritual realm, Jesus explained that when people know the truth, the truth will set them free (John 8:32). He Himself is the Truth (John 14:6). Jesus also declared that if He, the Son of God, set persons free, they would be truly free (John 8:36). Sin enslaves; Christ sets free. The apostle Paul pointed out that the law, when not properly understood, also enslaves. A mechanical sense of compulsion to obey the law binds and restricts one’s freedom. Christ loosens the hold that the law has on Christians (Gal. 5:1, 13). Set free from sin, the believer is able to choose service for God (Rom. 6:22). Using the phrase “the Lord’s freedman,” Paul emphasized the spiritual freedom that belongs to believers (1 Cor. 7:22). The spiritual freedom of others
becomes the concern of those who have been set free by Christ.
FRIEND—a person whom one loves and trusts; close companion or comrade (Gen. 38:12). Perhaps the most famous friendship in the Bible was that of David and Jonathan (1 Sam. 18:1-4). Abraham was called God’s friend (2 Chr. 20:7), and God spoke to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Jesus said we are His friends if we obey Him (John 15:14). FRIEND OF THE BRIDEGROOM (see Bridegroom; Friend of the). FRINGE—KJV word for Tassel.
FROG (see A nimals of the Bible). FRONTLET (see Phylacteries). FROST—a covering of small ice crystals, formed from frozen water vapor, that falls over the land at night during the winter months (Gen. 31:40). God once punished the rebellious nation of Israel by destroying their sycamore trees with frost (Ps. 78:47). FRUIT (see Plants of the Bible). FRYING PAN—KJV term for covered pan, a special pan used for baking bread for the grain offering in the Tabernacle (Lev. 2:7). FUEL—any material that was burned to produce heat or light. In Palestine, wood and other fuel sources were scarce. People used almost any flammable substance for fuel. The Bible speaks of grass (Luke 12:28) and dung (Ezek. 4:15) as fuels used for cooking food. Olive oil was used as fuel for lamps (Ex. 25:6). FULFILL (see Pleroma). FULLER (see Occupations and Trades). FULLER’S FIELD—a spot just outside the city walls of Jerusalem where fullers, or launderers, washed and dyed clothes and cloth and hung them out to dry (2 Kin. 18:17; Is. 36:2). The place was apparently close to the Gihon Spring, where an ample supply of water was available. Also see Occupations and Trades. FULLER’S SOAP—an alkaline salt or natural lye extracted from Asiatic soap plants that are reduced to ashes to obtain potash (Mal. 3:2; launderer’s soap, NIV). FULLNESS (see Pleroma). FUNERAL—a burial ceremony. The Bible provides few details about the actual rituals involved in burying the dead in ancient Palestine. Corpses were generally buried (Gen. 23:4, 6, 8), but only Joseph is said to have been embalmed
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and put in a coffin (Gen. 50:26). Mourners at funerals included family members (Gen. 37:34), acquaintances (1 Sam. 15:35) and, at times, professional mourners (Eccl. 12:5). Mourning customs included weeping (Gen. 23:2), wearing sackcloth (Is. 15:3), cutting one’s hair (Jer. 7:29), fasting (2 Sam. 1:11), and throwing ashes on oneself (Ezek. 27:30). A procession of mourners usually carried the corpse to the burial site (2 Sam. 3:31-34).
FURLONG (see Weights and Measures). FURNACE (see Tools of the Bible). FURNACES, TOWER OF THE (see Ovens, Tower of the). FURNITURE—the furnishings of the tabernacle (Ex. 31:7-9). While this word is never used to describe the furnishings of a household, the furniture in a typical house in Palestine in
Bible times included a bed, table, chair, and lampstand.
FURROW—a long, narrow trench in the ground made by a plow. The prophet Hosea declared that God’s judgment would spring up against His people’s sins “like hemlock in the furrows of the field” (Hos. 10:4). FURY—violent and intense anger; rage. The Bible speaks often of the “fury of the Lord” (Is. 51:13, 22)—a phrase referring to the judgment of a holy God against the sinful rebellion of human beings. Also see Wrath. FUTURE—the time that is yet to come (Ps. 37:3738). After the archangel Gabriel interpreted Daniel’s vision, he said to Daniel, “Seal up the vision, for it refers to many days in the future” (Dan. 8:17-26). The Christian believer is confident of the future because he belongs to Jesus Christ.
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Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary is the most comprehensive and up-to-date Bible dictionary available. With a fresh new look and updated...