Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Completely Revised and Updated Edition

Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Completely Revised and Updated Edition

by Ronald F. Youngblood

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Christian who want to make their Bible study more rewarding, Sunday school teachers and Bible class leaders looking for help in making their lessons more effective, and anyone who wants to understand the Word of God and Bible backgrounds more fully.


Christian who want to make their Bible study more rewarding, Sunday school teachers and Bible class leaders looking for help in making their lessons more effective, and anyone who wants to understand the Word of God and Bible backgrounds more fully.

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An illustrated sourcebook of biblical information from an evangelical perspective, written for general readers and Bible study classes. Covers people, places, things, and doctrine. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary

An Authoritative One-Volume Reference Work on the Bible, with Full-Color Illustrations

By Ronald F. Youngblood

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Thomas Nelson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8407-2071-9



AARON [EHR un]—brother of Moses and first high priest of the Hebrew nation. Very little is known about Aaron's early life, other than his marriage to Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab (Ex. 6:23).

When God called Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, Moses protested that he would not be able to speak convincingly to the Pharaoh. So Aaron was designated by God as Moses' official spokesman (Ex. 4:14–16). At Moses' instruction, Aaron also performed miracles as signs for the release of the Hebrews. Aaron's rod turned into a serpent that swallowed the rods of the Egyptian magicians (Ex. 7:8–20). Aaron also caused frogs to cover the land by stretching his rod over the lakes and streams of Egypt (Ex. 8:6).

Aaron held an important place of leadership because of his work with his brother Moses. A central figure in the Exodus from Egypt, he also received instructions from God for observing the first Passover (Ex. 12:1). In the wilderness he assisted Moses in keeping order and rendering judgments over the people (Num. 15:33). Both he and Moses were singled out when the people complained about the harsh conditions of these wilderness years (Num. 14:2).

When the priesthood was instituted in the wilderness, Moses consecrated Aaron as the first high priest of Israel (Exodus 28–29; Leviticus 8–9). The priesthood was set within the tribe of Levi, from which Aaron was descended. Aaron's sons (Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar) inherited the position of high priest from their father (Num. 3:2–3). Aaron was given special robes to wear, signifying his status within the priesthood (Lev. 8:7–9). At his death the robes were transferred to his oldest living son, Eleazar (Num. 20:25–28). The Tabernacle, the main sanctuary of worship, was placed under Aaron's supervision (Numbers 4). He received instructions from God on the functions of the priesthood and the tabernacle (Numbers 18). He alone, serving in the capacity of high priest, went into the Holy of Holies once a year to represent the people on the Day of Atonement.

In spite of his responsibility for the spiritual leadership of the nation, Aaron committed a serious sin in the wilderness surrounding Mount Sinai. While Moses was on the mountain praying to God and receiving His commandments, the people demanded that Aaron make one or more gods for them to worship. Aaron made no attempt to stop the people and made a golden calf for them (Ex. 32:1–10). Aaron was saved from God's wrath only because Moses interceded on his behalf (Deut. 9:20).

After all their years of leading the people, neither Moses nor Aaron was permitted to enter the Promised Land. Apparently this was because they did not make it clear that God would provide for the Hebrews' needs when they believed they would die for lack of water in the wilderness (Num. 20:12). Aaron died at Mount Hor, and Moses died later in Moab.

Upon arriving at Mount Hor from the wilderness of Kadesh, Aaron was accompanied by Moses and his son Eleazar to the top of the mountain. There he was stripped of his high priestly garments, which were transferred to Eleazar. After Aaron's death, the community mourned for 30 days (Num. 20:22–29).

The Book of Hebrews contrasts the imperfect priesthood of Aaron with the perfect priesthood of Christ (Heb. 5:2–5; 7:11–12). Christ's priesthood is compared to the order of Melchizedek because it is an eternal office with no beginning and no end. Thus, it replaces the priesthood of Aaron.

AARON'S ROD—a rod mentioned on two dramatic occasions in the Old Testament. When Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh, Aaron cast down his rod and it became a serpent. When the magicians of Egypt did the same thing, "Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods" (Ex. 7:12). Later, Aaron struck the waters of Egypt with his rod and they turned to blood (7:15–20).

During the wilderness wandering, Aaron's rod was the only staff that produced buds, blossoms, and almonds, indicating God's choice of Aaron and his descendants as priests (Num. 17:1–10).

AARONITES [EHR un ites]—the descendants of Aaron and therefore a part of the priestly tribe of Levi. Led by Jehoida, 3,700 Aaronites fought with David against Saul after David was made king (1 Chr. 12:27).

AB (see Calendar).

ABADDON [ah BAD un] (destruction)—a term found only once in most English translations of the Bible (Rev. 9:11). Abaddon is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that occurs six other times in the Bible, usually translated "destruction" (Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Ps. 88:11; Prov. 15:11; 27:20). In three of these places, it occurs in the phrase "Hell and Destruction" (Job 26:6; Prov. 15:11; 27:20). The Hebrew nouns translated "Hell" and "Destruction" are Sheol and Abaddon respectively. They appear to be synonymous terms for the abode of the dead or the grave.

In the Book of Revelation, Abaddon is not a place—the realm of the dead—but a person—the angel who reigns over the abyss.

Also see Hades; Hell; Sheol.

ABAGTHA [uh BAG thuh]—one of the seven chamberlains, or eunuchs, chosen by the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes) to bring his queen, Vashti, to the royal banquet (Esth. 1:10).

ABANA [AB ah nah]—a form of Abanah.

ABANAH [AB ah nah]—the chief river of Damascus. The Abanah flowed through the center of the city. With the Pharpar, it supplied an abundance of water, making the country around it a beautiful and fertile spot. When Naaman the leper was asked to bathe in the Jordan River seven times, he complained that he would rather bathe in the Abanah or the Pharpar (2 Kin. 5:12; Abana, KJV, NIV, NRSV). The Abanah River's modern name is Barada.

ABARIM [AB ah rim] (regions beyond)—a range of mountains east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan River valley. Mount Nebo was part of this mountain range. These mountains gave a panoramic view of the surrounding country. From Mount Nebo Moses viewed the Promised Land before he died (Deut. 32:49; Num. 27:12).

ABBA [AB ah] (father)–an Aramaic word that corresponds to our "Daddy" or "Papa." It is found three times in the New Testament: in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "Abba, Father" (Mark 14:36); the apostle Paul linked the Christian's cry of "Abba, Father" with the "Spirit of adoption" (Rom. 8:15); and, again, Paul writes, "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Gal. 4:6). What a blessed privilege it is to be given the right to call the great Creator, "Our Father"!

ABDA [AB dah] (servant or worshiper)—the name of two men in the Old Testament:

1. The father of Adoniram, Solomon's officer in charge of the labor force (1 Kin. 4:6).

2. A chief Levite, the son of Shammua, who lived in Jerusalem after the captivity (Neh. 11:17). He is also called Obadiah (1 Chr. 9:16).

ABDEEL [AB dih ell] (servant of God)—the father of Shelemiah, who was commanded by Jehoiakim, king of Judah, to arrest Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the scribe (Jer. 36:26).

ABDI [AB dih] (servant of the Lord)—the name of two or three men in the Old Testament:

1. A Levite of the family of Merari; he was the son of Malluch and the father of Kishi (1 Chr. 6:44).

2. A Levite contemporary with Hezekiah king of Judah (2 Chr. 29:12). This person may be the same as Abdi No. 1.

3. One of Elam's sons who divorced his pagan wife after the captivity (Ezra 10:26).

ABDIEL [AB dih ell] (servant of God)—a man of the tribe of Gad who lived "in Gilead, in Bashan" (1 Chr. 5:15–16).

ABDON [AB done] (service)—a name given to one city and four men:

1. A Levitical city in Asher (Josh. 21:30; 1 Chr. 6:74), also called Ebron (Josh. 19:28).

2. A son of Hillel, a native of Pirathon in the tribe of Ephraim. He judged Israel eight years (Judg. 12:13–15).

3. A Benjamite who lived in Jerusalem (1 Chr. 8:23).

4. The firstborn son of Jeiel from Maacah and an ancestor of King Saul (1 Chr. 8:30; 9:35–36).

5. A son of Micah who was sent by King Josiah to inquire of God about the Book of the Law found in the temple (2 Chr. 34:20). Abdon is also called Achbor (2 Kin. 22:12).

ABED–NEGO [uh BED knee goe] (servant of Nebo)—the Chaldean name given to Azariah in King Nebuchadnezzar's court when he was chosen as one of the king's servants (Dan. 1:7; 2:49). With Shadrach and Meshach, Abed-Nego was thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down and worship a golden image. The three men were miraculously protected from the fire (Dan. 3:12–30). Like the three Hebrew men in the fiery furnace, the nation of Israel endured the captivity and were miraculously protected by God.

ABEL [A buhl] (breath, vapor)—the name of a person and two places in the Old Testament:

1. The second son of Adam and Eve (Gen. 4:2). His brother Cain, who was a farmer, brought an offering of his produce to the Lord. Abel, a shepherd, brought to the Lord an offering "of the firstlings [the best quality] of his flock." Genesis records: "And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but he did not respect Cain and his offering" (Gen. 4:4–5). Envious of Abel, Cain killed his brother and was cursed by God for the murder.

In the New Testament, Abel is described as a man of faith, who "offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Heb. 11:4). Cain murdered his brother Abel, writes John, "because his [Cain's] works were evil and his brother's [Abel's] righteous" (1 John 3:12). Jesus spoke of "the blood of righteous Abel" (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51) and implied that Abel, the first righteous martyr, anticipated in symbol His own death on Calvary at the hands of evil men. The blood of the new covenant, however, "speaks better things than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:24). The blood of Abel cried out for vengeance; the blood of Christ speaks of salvation.

2. A large stone in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh on which the Ark of the Covenant was set by the Philistines (1 Sam. 6:18).

3. A fortified city in northern Israel, which Joab besieged after the rebellion of Sheba (2 Sam. 20:14–15, 18). This city, called Abel of Beth Maachah, is probably the same place as Abel Bet h Maachah.

ABEL ACACIA GROVE [A bell a KAY shuh grove]—a site northeast of the Dead Sea in the plains of Moab, also called Acacia Grove. It was here that the Israelites camped just before crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land (Num. 25:1; Josh. 2:1; 3:1; Mic. 6:5; Shittim, KJV). It was probably the same place as Abel–shittim (Num. 33:49, KJV).

Most scholars identify Acacia Grove with Tell el–Hamman, although some think it was at nearby Tell el–Kefrein. Many notable events occurred while the Israelites were camped here. Here many Israelites took Moabite women for their wives and worshiped Moabite gods. As punishment, God allowed a plague to kill 24,000 Israelites (Num. 25:9).

At this campsite Moses also took a military census of the Israelite tribes, establishing the number of those 20 years old and above who were able to go to war (Num. 26:2). At Acacia Grove God also revealed to Moses that he would not be allowed to cross the Jordan River and that Joshua would be his successor as leader of the people (Num. 27:12–23).

After Moses ascended Mount Nebo and died (Deuteronomy 34), Joshua sent out two spies from Acacia Grove to examine the defense of Jericho (Josh. 2:1). Upon their return, the Israelites broke camp and crossed the Jordan River, finally entering the land that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants hundreds of years earlier (Josh. 3:1).

ABEL BETH MAACHAH [A bell beth MAY uh kah] (meadow of the house of Maachah)—a fortified town near the town of Dan in the area of the tribe of Naphtali. It was attacked by Ben–Hadad (1 Kin. 15:20) and Tiglath–Pileser (2 Kin. 15:29), who mentions it in his annals. The name of the town is also given as Abel Maim, meaning "Abel on the waters" (2 Chr. 16:4). It is described as a "mother in Israel"—meaning a place of great importance, having many "daughters," or inhabitants.

ABEL CHERAMIM [A bell CARE uh meem]—a form of Abel Keramim.

ABEL KERAMIM [A bell CARE uh meem] (meadow of vineyards)—a city east of the Jordan River and northeast of the Dead Sea. Abel Keramim was the farthest extent of Jephthah's military campaign against the Ammonites (Judg. 11:33; Abel Cheramim, KJV).

ABEL MAIM [A bell im]—a city in northern Israel (2 Chr. 16:4; Abel-mayim, REB), usually called Abel Bet h Maachah.

ABEL MAYIM—a form of Abel Maim.

ABEL MEHOLAH [A bell me HOE lah] (meadow of dancing)—a town east of the Jordan River in the hill country of Gilead. It was the residence (and perhaps also the birthplace) of Elisha the prophet (1 Kin. 4:12; 19:16). In 1943, archaeologist Nelson Glueck identified Abel Meholah with Tell el–Maqlub, by the Wadi el–Yabis.

ABEL MIZRAIM [A bell MIZ ray ihm] (see Atad).

ABEL SHITTIM [A bell SHIH tihm]—a form of Abel Acacia Grove.

ABEZ [A bez]—a town in northern Canaan allotted to the tribe of Issachar (Josh. 19:20; Ebez, NASB, REB, NIV, NRSV).


Excerpted from Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Ronald F. Youngblood. Copyright © 2014 Thomas Nelson. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

Dr. Ronald Youngblood is a graduate of Valparaiso University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (BD), and the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning (PhD). He has served as professor of Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Wheaton Graduate School, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Bethel Seminary in San Diego, and is currently serving in the same capacity at International College and Graduate School in Honolulu. He is an associate editor of the NIV Study Bible; author of 1 and 2 Samuel in the Expositor's Bible Commentary series; and a co-translator and co-editor of the Holy Bible, New International Version. He has also edited and/or written ten other volumes, including Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, for which he was awarded the Gold Medallion Book Award by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He serves as chairman of the board of directors of International Bible Society and frequently engages in preaching and teaching ministries at home?

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