New Unger's Bible Dictionaryby Unger, Merrill F. Unger, Howard F. Vos, R. K. Harrison
Defines and clarifies unfamiliar names of persons, places and objects in the Bible. Contains more than a million words, 6,779 articles, and 500 photographs. Fully updated and usable with all major Bible translations. (More than 881,000 in print)
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The New Unger's Bible Dictionary
Moody PublishersCopyright © 1985 Pearl C. Unger
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AARON (ar'un: Heb. derivation uncertain). The son of Amram the Levite and Jochebed (Ex. 6:20) and the first high priest of Israel. Third in line of descent from Levi, he was the brother of Moses and his senior by three years, although he was younger than his sister Miriam (which see). His wife was Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, by whom he had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (6:23).
Moses' Assistant. He was eloquent of speech and divinely appointed to be Moses' mouthpiece (prophet). God specifically told Moses that Aaron would be his spokesman and that "he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him" (Ex. 4:16). Together with Moses he withstood Pharaoh and saw the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt by great signs and miracles. In the battle with Amalek, Aaron and Hur supported Moses' arms, which held the official rod, the uplifting of which brought victory to Israel. When Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the tables of the law (24:12), Aaron and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders accompanied him part of the way, being granted a glimpse of the divine presence (24:1-11). While Moses was on the mountain, Aaron in a moment of weakness and under pressure from the people made a golden image of a male calf as avisible symbol of Jehovah (32:4). The choice of this animal was doubtless suggested by the vigor and strength symbolized by it and by the people's recollection of bull worship in Egypt.
High Priest. In the divine institution of the priesthood Aaron was appointed high (Heb. "great") priest, and his sons and descendants priests. The tribe of Levi was consecrated as the priestly caste. After the Tabernacle was erected according to the divine plan and the ritual established (Ex. 24:12-31; 18; 35:1-40:38), Aaron and his sons were solemnly consecrated to their priestly office by Moses (Lev. 8:6) about 1440 B.C. (cf. 1 Kings 6:1). Tragedy overtook the family shortly thereafter, when Nadab and Abihu, his elder sons, died because they conducted the worship improperly (Lev. 10:1-2).
The elaborate description of the high priest's garments of glory and beauty (Ex. 28:2), including the jeweled ephod, turban, and crown, is not an interpolation from a later period. Archaeology has shown that in the Desert of Sinai at Serabit el-Khadem turquoise and copper were being mined for Egyptian craftsmen at this early period. The jewels of silver and gold that the Israelites obtained from the Egyptians (11:2) are illustrated from ancient times. Artistic gold and jeweled ornaments were recovered from the ruins of Sumerian Ur over a millennium before the Mosaic period, and there is nothing in the furnishing of the Tabernacle or the clothing of the high priest that would be out of keeping with the artistic accomplishments of contemporary craftsmen.
In his invidious conduct against Moses (Num. 12:1-15) the same weak side of Aaron's character appears as in the incident of the golden calf. In the conspiracy formed against Aaron and Moses led by Korah, a Levite, and Dathan and Abiram, Reubenites, the destruction of the conspirators by the hand of God resulted in the vindication of the Aaronic priesthood (chap. 16). An added attestation of Aaron's divine priestly appointment was the budding of his rod, which was preserved for "a sign against the rebels" (17:10). Aaron shared Moses' sin at Meribah (20:8-13, 24) and consequently was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, dying soon after (20:22-29) on Mt. Hor at the borders of Edom.
Type of Christ. In Scripture typology Aaron is a figure of Christ, our High Priest (Ex. 28:1), who executes His priestly office after the Aaronic pattern (Heb. 9). This type is seen (1) in Aaron's offering sacrifice: (2) in his being anointed with oil by pouring (Ex. 29:7; Lev. 8:12), prefiguring our Lord's measureless anointing with the Holy Spirit (John 3:34); and (3) in his bearing the names of the Israelite tribes upon his breast and shoulders, thus presenting them perpetually before God as our Lord bears our cause before the Father (John 17; Heb. 7:25). Aaron entered into the Holy Place on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) as Christ has entered "heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. W. Soltau, The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and the Offerings (1884): H. G. Judge, Journal of Theological Studies 7 (1956): 70ff.; R. H. Mount, Jr., The Law Prophesied (1963). pp. 156-65; R. L. Honeycutt, Review and Expositor 74 (1977): 523-36.
AAR'ONITE. Descendants of Aaron, and therefore priests, who to the number of 3,700 fighting men under Jehoiada joined David at Hebron (1 Chron. 12:27). Later we find that their leader was Zadok (27:17).
AB (ab). Babylonian name of the fifth ecclesiastical and the eleventh civil month of the Jewish year. It was introduced after the Babylonian captivity, and is not mentioned in Scripture, in which it is known as the fifth month (Num. 33:38), i.e., July-August.
AB (ab; "father"). The first member of several Hebrew compound names, e.g., Absalom.
ABAD'DON (a-bad'don; Gk. Abaddon, "destruction"). The angel of the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:11), and corresponding to Apollyon, "destroyer." The word abaddon means destruction (Job 31:12), or the place of destruction, i.e., Hades or the region of the dead (Job 26:6; 28:22: Prov. 15:11).
ABAG'THA (a-bag'tha). One of the seven chief eunuchs of Xerxes who were commanded by the king to bring Queen Vashti into the royal presence (Esther 1:10), 483 B.C.
ABA'NA. See Abanah.
ABA'NAH (a-ba'na). One of the rivers of Damascus (2 Kings 5:12: marg., Amanah; Gk. Chrysorrhoas, "golden river"). It is. no doubt, the present Barada, about fifteen miles NW of Damascus, and has its source in the Anti-Lebanon Mrs. and flows through the city of Damascus: thence after fifty miles it is lost in the marshy lake Bahret el-Kibliyeh. It was one of the rivers that Naaman would have washed in rather than the Jordan River.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1957), pp. 109ff.
AB'ARIM (ab'a-rim; "regions beyond"). A mountain chain SE of the Dead Sea, at the N end of which stands Mt. Nebo (Deut. 32:49). It also featured an elevated outcrop (Heb. happisga) from which Moses viewed the Promised Land (3:27). Israel had an encampment in the mountains of Abarim (Num. 33:47-48).
AB'BA (ab'a). A customary title of God in prayer (Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). It was in common use in the mixed Aram. dialect of Palestine and was used by children in addressing their father. It answers to our "papa." The right to call God "Father" in a special and appropriative sense pertains to all who have received the testimony of the Spirit to their forgiveness. See Adoption.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: N. Turner, Christian Words (1980), p. 1.
AB'DA (ab'da; "the servant," i.e., "of God").
1. The father of Adoniram, who was "over the men subject to forced labor" under Solomon (1 Kings 4:6), about 960 B.C.
2. The son of Shammua, and a Levite of the family of Jeduthun, resident in Jerusalem after the Exile (Neh. 11:17), 444 B.C. Elsewhere (1 Chron. 9:16) he is called Obadiah the son of Shemaiah.
AB'DEEL (ab'de-el; "servant of God"). The father of Shelemaiah, one of those appointed to seize Jeremiah (Jer. 36:26), before 606 B.C.
AB'DI (ab'di; "my servant").
1. A Levite and the grandfather of Ethan, and one of the singers appointed by David for the sacred service (1 Chron. 6:44).
2. A Levite, in the reign of Hezekiah, father of Kish (2 Chron. 29:12).
3. A son of Elam who put away his Gentile wife after the return from Babylon (Ezra 10:26), 456 B.C.
AB'DIEL (ab'di-el; "servant of God"). Son of Guni and father of Ahi, one of the Gadites resident in Gilead (1 Chron. 5:15).
AB'DON (ab'don; "servile").
1. The son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, of the tribe of Ephraim. He ruled Israel for eight years, about 1120-1112 B.C. The only other fact respecting him is that he had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on young asses-a mark of their consequence before the introduction of the horse into Israel. Upon his death he was buried in Pirathon (Judg. 12:13-15), a place probably six miles WSW of Shechem.
2. A son of Shashak and one of the chief Benjamites dwelling in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 8:23), before 1200 B.C.
3. The firstborn of Gibeon (or, as in NIV, Jeiel), a Benjamite resident at Jerusalem (1 Chron. 8:30; 9:36), ancestor of King Saul.
4. The son of Micah, and one of those sent by King Josiah to Huldah to inquire concerning the recently discovered books (2 Chron. 34:20), about 624 B.C. In 2 Kings 22:12 he is called Achbor (or Acbor).
5. A Levitical city of Asher, about nine miles NE of Acco (Josh. 21:30; 1 Chron. 6:74).
ABED'NEGO (a-bed'ne-go; "servant of Nego or Nebo"). The Babylonian god of wisdom, connected with the planet Mercury. Abednego was the Aram. name given by the king of Babylon's officer to Azariah, one of the three Jewish youths who, with Daniel, were selected by Ashpenaz (master of the eunuchs) to be educated in the language and wisdom of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:3-7). Abednego and his friends Shadrach and Meshach were cast into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship the golden statue set up by Nebuchadnezzar, but were miraculously delivered (chap. 3), about 603 B.C. The Heb. name Azariah means "Jehovah has helped." The folly of trying to change inward character by an outward name is hereby illustrated. A tyrant may change the name but not the nature of one true to God. M.F.U.
A'BEL (a'bel; Heb. hebel, "breath"). Probably applied to the younger son of Adam and Eve anticipatively because of the brevity., of his life, being slain by his elder brother, Cain. Abel, a shepherd and a righteous man (Matt. 23:35; 1 John 3:12), speaks of a regenerate believer. Cain, the farmer, on the other hand, well illustrates the unregenerate natural man, whose worship was destitute of any adequate sense of sin or need of atonement, and who offered the works of his hands instead of faith as a basis of acceptance with God. Abel by contrast "brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions" (Gen. 4:4) and shed atoning blood (Heb. 9:22). By this act he confessed his sense of sin and need of atonement and exercised faith in the interposition of a coming Substitute (Gen. 3:15; Heb. 11:4) instead of presenting the works of his hands as a ground for acceptance with God. M.F.U.
A'BEL (Heb. 'abel, "watercourse").
1. A word used as a prefix in a number of cases (2 Sam. 20:14, 18). See Abel-beth-maachah.
2. A great stone (1 Sam. 6:18) near Beth-shemesh, upon which the Philistines set the Ark when they returned it to Israel.
A'BEL-BETH-MA'ACHAH, or Abel Beth Maacah, Abel Bethmaacah (NIV: a'bel-beth-ma'a-ka; "brook [?] of the house of oppression," 2 Sam. 20:14-15:1 Kings 15:20; 2 Kings 15:29). A place in the north of Palestine, identified with Abil el-Qamh, twelve miles N of Lake Huleh. In 2 Sam. 20:14, 18, it is called simply Abel. It was a place of importance, a metropolis, and called a "mother in Israel" (20:19). It was besieged by Joab, Ben-hadad, and Tiglath-pileser (20:14; 1 Kings 15:20:2 Kings 15:29).
A'BEL-KERA'MIM (a'bel-keramim), or Abel Keramim (NIV). A place E of the Jordan to which Jephthah pursued the Ammonites (Judg. 11:33), and possibly now represented by a ruin bearing the name of Biet el-kerm-"house of the vine" -to the N of Kerak. Its location cannot be definitely determined.
A'BEL-MA'IM (a'bel-ma'im; "water brook" [?]), or Abel Maim (NIV). Either the name by which Abel-beth-maachah is called in 2 Chron. 16:4 or the name of a nearby city.
A'BEL-MEHO'LAH (a'bel-me-ho'la, "watercourse of dancing"), or Abel Meholah (NIV). A place in the Jordan Valley and the home of Elisha (1 Kings 19:16; Judg. 7:22). It was in the tribe of Issachar. Identified by Nelson Glueck with Tell el-Maqlub (see The River Jordan, pp. 166-74), but by others with Tell Abu Sifri, a neighboring site.
A'BEL-MIZ'RAIM (a'bel-miz'ra-im; "mourning of Egypt"), or Abel Mizraim (NIV). The scene of the lament of Egypt over Jacob (Gen. 50:11); the name the Canaanites gave to the "threshing floor of Atad" in Transjordan.
A'BEL-SHIT'TIM (a'bel-shit'tim; "watercourse of acacias"), or Abel Shittim (NIV). The last halting place of Israel during the Exodus (Num. 33:49). Identified with Khirbet Kefrein or Abila in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, the acacias still fringe the upper terraces of the Jordan with green. Near Mt. Peor at Shittim in the shade of the acacia groves, Israel was lured into the licentious rites of Baal worship (Num. 25:1; Josh. 2:1; Mic. 6:5), resulting in the death of twenty-four thousand by plague.
A'BEZ (a'bez). In the KJV, the same as Ebez (so NIV), a town in Issachar (Josh. 19:20).
A'BI (a'bi; "my father"). The daughter of Zechariah and mother of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:2). The fuller form of the name, Abijah, is given in 2 Chron. 29:1, NASB, and in 2 Kings 18:2, NIV.
A'BI (abi; an old construct form of "father of"). Forms the first part of several Heb. proper names.
ABI'A. See Abijah.
ABI'AH. See Abijah.
A'BI-AL'BON (a'bi-al'bon; "valiant"). One of David's mighty men (2 Sam. 23:31), ca]led in the parallel passage (I Chron. 11:32) by the equivalent name Abiel (which see).
ABI'ASAPH (a-bi'a-saf; "my father has gathered"). The last mentioned (Ex. 6:24) of the sons of Korah, the Levite. His identity with Ebiasaph (which see) (1 Chron. 6:23, 37) is a matter of much uncertainty and difference of opinion. The probability is that they are the same person.
ABI'ATHAR (a-bi'a-thar; "the father is preeminent"). A high priest and fourth in descent from Eli, who alone of the sons of the high priest Ahimelech escaped death when Saui, in revenge for aid given to David, attempted to wipe out this entire line of priests (1 Sam. 22). Fleeing to David, Abiathar inquired of the Lord for him in the fierce struggle with Saul (23:9-10; 30:7) and became David's lifelong friend. When David became king, he appointed Abiathar high priest (1 Chron. 15:11). David did not depose Zadok, whom Saul had appointed after Ahimelech's decease. Both appointments accordingly stood, and Zadok and Abiathar constituted a double high priesthood (1 Kings 4:4). They jointly superintended the transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem (1 Chron. 15:11). During Absalom's rebellion Abiathar remained loyal to David (2 Sam. 15:24). However, he adhered to Adonijah when the latter attempted to gain the royal succession at David's death, while Zadok cast his lot with Solomon (1 Kings 1:19). For this unwise move Solomon banished Abiathat to Anathoth, deposing him from his office (2:26-27) and confining the high-priestly succession to Zadok of the eider line of Aaron's sons. In this manner the rule of Eli's house terminated in fulfillment of prophecy (1 Sam. 2:31-35).
The reference to Ahimelech, the son of Abiathar, as priest with Zadok (2 Sam. 8:17) is most unusual and is regarded by many as a simple copyist's error, in which the names of the father and the son were accidentally transposed. But this solution of the difficulty is unlikely since the references to Ahimelech, the son of Abiathar, as priest are so clear that a mistake is not easily explained (1 Chron. 18:16, LXX; 24:3, 6, 31). The best explanation seems to be that the reference is to Ahimelech, who was a son of Abiathar (2 Sam. 8:17; 1 Chron. 18:16; 24:3, 6, 31). He should not be confused with his grandfather. (See Ahimelech, no. 2.) The reference to Abiathar in Mark 2:26 as high priest at Nob (instead of his father Ahimelech, as recounted in 1 Sam. 21:1) is to be explained under the supposition either that our Lord used the name of the more famous priest of the two, who, though not then actually high priest, was at the Tabernacle at the time alluded to, or that the son acted as coadjutor to his father as Eli's sons apparently did (4:4).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. G. Judge, Journal of Theological Studies 7 (1956): 70ff.
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Meet the Author
MERRILL F. UNGER (A.B., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University; Th.M., Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) pastored several churches before joining the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary in 1948. There he served as professor of Old Testament studies until his retirement in 1967. He was the author of many books including such monumental reference works as Unger's Bible Dictionary, Unger¿s Bible Handbook, and the two-volume Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament.
R. K. HARRISON (1920-1993) (B.D., Th.M., Ph.D., University of London; D.D., Huron College, London, Ontario) was a professor at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. He also served as a professor at Toronto School of Theology. He wrote, co-authored, and edited dozens of books including Numbers for the Wycliffe Exegetical Commentaries and Unger¿s Bible Dictionary.
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