Build your Bible study library with this essential book on the people and places of the Bible. Unlock the Bible: Keys to Discovering the People & Places includes the best articles on the most important people and places in Scripture. Each article is drawn from Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary.
Under the direction of Ronald F. Youngblood, the world’s leading evangelical scholars updated and revised classic articles drawn from Herbert Lockyer, F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison’s extensive Bible dictionary.
- Alphabetical listing of topics
- Works with any major translation
- Pronunciation guide
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
F.F. (Frederick Fyvie)Bruce was born in October the 12th, 1910, in Elgin (Scotland), to a Brethren Assemblies family. His father was an itinerant preacher for the Assemblies. F.F. was baptized and accepted as a member of his local congregation in September 1928. He remained loyal to his denomination for the rest of his life. “Through my own experience with the Brethren, I can say they are the ideal place where a lay theologian can serve the Church with his gifts” (Restrospect, p. 285).
As a lover of the Biblie and of the classical languages, when he was only 10 years old, he started simultaneous studies in Greek and Latin. F.F. was admitted to Aberdeen University in October 1928. He studied also in University of Cambridge (England, 1932-34) and in the University of Vienna (Austria, 1934-35), studying in preparation for his Graduation and Doctoral degree, excelling in both.
Bruce taught Greek in the Universities of Edinburgh (1935-38) and Leeds (1938-47). Afterwards, he taught Bible History and Literature in the University of Sheffield (1947-59) followed by Bible Criticism and Exegesis in the University of Manchester (1959-78).
He lectured in prestigious universities all around the world: Marburg (Germany), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Auckland (New Zealand), and Makerere (Uganda). He also lectured in numerous Theological Seminaries, among them the Calvin Seminary, in Grand Rapids (U.S.A.) and the Union Seminary, in New York City (U.S.A.).
He was voted President by the prestigious Societies of Old Testament Studies and New Testament Studies.
F.F. Bruce wrote some 50 books, plus several thousand articles, essays and reviews. His masterpiece The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (1951) marked for the evangelical world the beginning of a new era in Bible study, being seriously considered by the Academia. In spite of never having made formal studies in Theology, he was an extraordinary reader of the subject and the Aberdeen University granted him in 1957 a Doctor Honoris Causa degree in Divinities.
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Unlock the BibleKeys to Discovering the People and Places
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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.
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 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 Beth Maachah.
ABIATHAR [a BY uh thar] (father of abundance) — one of two chief priests in the court of David. Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech of the priestly clan of Eli from Shiloh (1 Sam. 22:20). When the residents of the priestly village of Nob were massacred by Saul for helping David, Abiathar was the only one to escape (1 Sam. 22:6–23). When David eventually became king, he appointed Abiathar, along with Zadok, as priests in the royal court (2 Sam. 8:17; 1 Chr. 18:16).
When David's son Absalom tried to take his throne by force, David was forced to leave Jerusalem. Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of the covenant out of the capital city but later returned it at the command of David (2 Sam. 15:29). Both priests remained in Jerusalem to inform David of Absalom's plans (2 Sam. 15:34). After Absalom's death, Abiathar and Zadok carried the message of reconciliation to Amasa and the elders of Judah (2 Sam. 19:11–14).
During the struggle over who would succeed as king, Abiathar supported Adonijah. When Solomon emerged as the new ruler, Zadok was appointed priest of the royal court, while Abiathar escaped execution only because of his earlier loyalty to David. He and his family were banished to Anathoth, and his rights and privileges as a Jerusalem priest were taken away (1 Kin. 1:7–25; 2:22–35).
Some scholars believe Abiathar may have written portions of 1 and 2 Samuel, especially the sections describing the royal court life under David.
ABIGAIL [AB ih gale] (father of joy) — one or two Old Testament women had this delightful name:
1. Wife of Nabal the Carmelite and, after his death, of David (1 Sam. 25:3, 14–42; 2 Sam. 2:2; 1 Chr. 3:1). Abigail's husband, Nabal, was an ill-tempered, drunken man. When David was hiding from the jealous King Saul, he asked Nabal for food for himself and his men. Nabal blatantly refused. Angered, David threatened to plunder Nabal's possessions and kill Nabal himself. Abigail, in her wisdom, gathered enough food for David's men, rode out to meet David, and bowed before him to show her respect. By agreeing with David that Nabal had acted with great disrespect, she stemmed David's anger. To Abigail's credit, she did not leave her godless husband. When Nabal died, apparently from shock at discovering his near brush with death, David married Abigail and she later bore him a son, Chileab.
2. A sister or half-sister of David and mother of Amasa, whom Absalom made captain of the army instead of Joab (2 Sam. 17:25; Abigal, NRSV, REB; 1 Chr. 2:16–17). She may be the same person as No. 1.
ABIMELECH [uh BIM eh leck] (my father is king) — the name of five men in the Old Testament:
1. The king of Gerar in the time of Abraham (Gen. 20:1–18; 21:22–34). Fearing for his own safety, Abraham introduced Sarah, his wife, as his sister when he entered Abimelech's territory. Abimelech claimed Sarah for his harem, only to be warned in a dream that he had taken the wife of another man. Then Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham. The two men made a covenant with each other, and Abraham asked God to reward the king by giving him many children. Many scholars believe that the word Abimelech is not a proper name but a royal title of the Philistine kings, just as pharaoh was a title for Egyptian kings.
2. The king of Gerar in the time of Isaac (Gen. 26:1–31).
3. The ruler of the city of Shechem during the period of the judges (Judg. 8:30–10:1; 2 Sam. 11:21). Abimelech was a son of Gideon by a concubine from Shechem. Abimelech tried to become king, and he did reign over Israel for three years (Judg. 9:22). In order to eliminate all who might challenge his authority, he killed all the other sons of Gideon—his brothers and half-brothers—who were potential successors of his father (Judg. 9:5).
Abimelech was killed in a battle at Thebez, a city northeast of Shechem, which he surrounded with his army. When Abimelech ventured too close to the city tower, a woman dropped a millstone on his head, crushing his skull. Abimelech commanded his armorbearer to kill him so it could not be said that he died at the hands of a woman (Judg. 9:50–54; 2 Sam. 11:21).
4. A priest in the time of David (1 Chr. 18:16).
5. A Philistine king whom David met while fleeing from King Saul (Psalm 34, title). Abimelech is apparently the royal title of Achish the king of Gath (1 Sam. 21:10–15).
ABRAHAM [AY bruh ham] (father of a multitude); originally Abram (exalted father) — the first great Patriarch of ancient Israel and a primary model of faithfulness for Christianity. The accounts about Abraham are found in Genesis 11:26–25:11, with the biblical writer focusing on four important aspects of his life.
The Migration. Abraham's story begins with his migration with the rest of his family from Ur of the Chaldeans in ancient southern Babylonia (Gen. 11:31). He and his family moved north along the trade routes of the ancient world and settled in the flourishing trade center of Haran, several hundred miles to the northwest.
While living in Haran, at the age of 75 Abraham received a call from God to go to a strange, unknown land that God would show him. The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him and his descendants a great nation (Gen. 12:1–3). The promise must have seemed unbelievable to Abraham because his wife Sarah (called Sarai in the early part of the story) was childless (Gen. 11:30–31; 17:15). But Abraham obeyed God with no hint of doubt or disbelief. He took his wife and his nephew, Lot, and went to the land that God would show him.
Abraham moved south along the trade routes from Haran, through Shechem and Bethel in the land of Canaan. Canaan was a populated area at the time, inhabited by the warlike Canaanites; so Abraham's belief that God would ultimately give this land to him and his descendants was an act of faith. The circumstances seemed quite difficult, but Abraham's faith in God's promises allowed him to trust in the Lord.
The Famine and the Separation from Lot. Because of a severe famine in the land of Canaan, Abraham moved to Egypt for a short time (Gen. 12:10–20). During this trip, Abraham introduced Sarah to the Egyptians as his sister rather than as his wife in order to avoid trouble. Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler, then took Sarah as his wife. It was only because "the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife" (Gen. 12:17), that Sarah was returned to Abraham.
Upon his return from Egypt, Abraham and his nephew, Lot, quarreled over pasturelands and went separate ways (Gen. 13:8–9). Lot settled in the Jordan River valley, while Abraham moved into Canaan. After this split, God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham: "And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered" (Gen. 13:16).
Apparently Abraham headed a strong military force by this time as he is called "Abram the Hebrew" (Gen. 14:13). He succeeded in rescuing his nephew Lot from the kings who had captured him while raiding the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 14:14–17).
The Promise Reaffirmed. In Genesis 15 the Lord reaffirmed His promise to Abraham. The relationship between God and Abraham should be understood as a covenant relationship—the most solemn form of arrangement between individuals in the ancient world. According to such an arrangement, individuals or groups agreed to abide by certain conditions that governed their relationship to each other. In this case Abraham agreed to go to the land that God would show him (an act of faith on his part), and God agreed to make Abraham a great nation (Gen. 12:1–3). However, in Genesis 15 Abraham became anxious about the promise of a nation being found in his descendants because of his advanced age. The Lord thus reaffirmed the earlier covenant.
As we know from recent archaeological discoveries, a common practice of that time among heirless families was to adopt a slave who would inherit the master's goods. Therefore, because Abraham was childless, he proposed to make a slave, Eliezer of Damascus, his heir (Gen. 15:2). But God rejected this action and challenged Abraham's faith: "Then he [God] brought him [Abraham] outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be' " (Gen. 15:5). Abraham's response is the model of believing faith. "And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He [God] accounted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6).
The rest of chapter 15 consists of a ceremony between Abraham and God that was commonly used in the ancient world to formalize a covenant (Gen. 15:7–21).
According to Genesis 16, Sarah, because she had not borne a child, provided Abraham with a handmaiden. This also appears to be a familiar custom of the ancient world. According to this custom, if the wife had not had a child (preferably a male) by a certain time in the marriage, she was obligated to provide a substitute (usually a slavewoman) to bear a child to her husband and thereby ensure the leadership of the clan. Thus, Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant, had a son by Abraham. The boy was named Ishmael. Although Ishmael was not understood to be the child that would carry on the line promised to Abraham, he was given a favorable blessing (Gen. 16:10–13; 17:20).
The most substantial account of the covenant between Abraham and God is given in Genesis 17—a covenant that extended the promise of the land and descendants to further generations. This covenant required Abraham and the male members of his household to be circumcised as the sign of the agreement (Gen. 17:10–14). In this chapter Abraham and Sarah receive their new names. (Their old names were Abram and Sarai.) The name of the son whom God promises that Sarah will bear is designated as Isaac (Gen. 17:19–21). The practice of circumcision instituted at this time is not unique to the ancient Hebrews, but its emphasis as a religious requirement is a unique feature of God's covenant people. It became a visible symbol of the covenant between Abraham and his descendants and their redeemer God.
After Isaac was born to Sarah (Gen. 21:1–7), Sarah was unhappy with the presence of Hagar and Ishmael. She asked Abraham to cast them out of the family, which he did after the Lord told him they would have His protection. Ishmael does not play an important role in the rest of Abraham's story; he does reenter the picture in Genesis 25:9, accompanying Isaac at Abraham's death.
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