Glossary


 

On meeting an unfamiliar word, it is advisable to look up its meaning in a good dictionary, preferably one which gives the etymology of the word. Encyclopedias are also useful for fuller descriptions of terms.
To build your vocabulary, you might try "A Word A Day" (AWAD) - a free service available by e-mail, or check out Roget's Thesaurus on the Web.

This glossary includes

  • words which occur in the King James' (Authorized) Version of the Bible, and which have changed in meaning since the 17th century
  • some archaeological terms
  • other words which may not be in common usage

Derivations of personal and place names are given on page 2.

amphictyon
a council of deputies from neighbouring tribes. Originally for towns in Greece, from Greek "amphi-" on both sides. It is also used for the tribal councils of early Israel
antediluvian
before the Noachic Flood
Apocalyptic
a type of literature in which hidden knowledge or visions are described. From "apo" away, and "kalupto" I veil. See the web Page on Apocalyptic Literature
Apocrypha
a group of books, mainly in Greek, written after the last of the Jewish Prophetic books, but before the books of the New Testament. The Apocrypha is not included in the Jewish (Hebrew) Canon of Scripture, but is included in the Septuagint, and so was included in the earliest Christian translations of the Scriptures. The Apocrypha includes : 1 & 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the rest of the book of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach), Baruch, a Letter of Jeremiah, the rest of the book of Daniel (Bel and the Dragon, Susannah, the Song of the Three Young Men), the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 & 2 Maccabees.
ashlar
a large rectangular building stone
bamah (plural bamoth)
Hebrew term for a "High Place" : usually a large circular platform of stones used for Canaanite sacrifices and fertility rituals.
corn
a cereal similar to wheat and barley. The plant called "corn" in USA is called "maize" in Europe.
gnostic
someone who claimed to have special knowledge, particularly of a religious nature, such as passwords for getting into the heavens or for controlling angels.
en, ein, eyn
the Hebrew/Arabic word for a spring of water
etymology
describing the origin of words - their history and how they developed from other words
hagiographa
"The Sacred Writings" later Jewish term for the Kethubim, from Greek "hagios" sacred, and "grapho" I write.
Heptateuch
the first 7 books of the OT (Genesis - Judges), from Greek "hepta-", seven.
Hexateuch
the first 6 books of the OT (Genesis - Joshua), from Greek "hexa-", six.
Kethubim, Kethuvim : "The Writings"
the third great division of the Tanak
nahal
the Hebrew word for the bed of a river which only flows when there has been rain. The Arabic word is "wadi". Equivalent to a New Mexico "wash"
Noachic
pertaining to Noah. the Noachic Flood refers to the Great Flood, Genesis chapters 6-7
ostracon (plural ostraca)
a piece of broken pottery with something written on it. Pottery was a handy and durable medium for making short notes or sending messages. Because it is so durable, archaeological excavations often turn up hundreds of ostraca.
Pentateuch
the first 5 books of the OT (Genesis - Deuteronomy), from Greek "penta-", five.
pottage
soup or stew
prophecy, prophesy
   "prophecy" is the noun - it refers to the statement made by a prophet.
   "prophesy" is the verb - it refers to the action of a prophet.
   e.g. "Deborah was a prophetess. Deborah prophesied that the army of Israel would defeat Sisera. Deborah's prophecy came true.
Pseudepigrapha
a group of Jewish books whose writers claimed to be various Old Testament personages, eg "the Book of Enoch", "the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs". They are not included in the Canon of the Bible.
Septuagint
the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, dating from ca. 250 BC, produced in Alexandria by 70 (or 72 - accounts vary) Jewish scholars. Some books not part of the original Hebrew canon were included - these have become the "Apocrypha". The short-hand symbol for the Septuagint is LXX (Roman numerals for 70)
shard, sherd, potsherd
a piece of broken pottery - sometimes used for scraping something, or as a handy medium for a written memo or message.
the Shekinah
a Hebrew word meaning "the Presence/Dwelling of the Lord", often translated as "The Glory of the Lord"
the Shema
the Jewish "Creed", derived from the first word of Deuteronomy 6 : 4 "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One"
stele
an upright standing stone memorial, usually to a victory or a treaty between kings
syncretism
combining aspects of two or more religions. eg. the Israelites tended to pick up Canaanite religious practices and incorporate them into the Temple worship.
TANAK
"Torah-Neviim-v-Kethuvim" - "The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings" - Jewish term for the Books referred to by Christians as "The Old Testament".
tel, tell
an artificial mound formed by layers of a town or city which have been built one on top of another over the centuries. When a town was destroyed and then rebuilt on the same site, the new town was a bit higher than the old one. When this had happened several times, the mound on which the town had been had become higher than the surrounding countryside, and was flat on top where the last town had stood. The Hebrew word is "tel", The Arabic word is "tell"
the Tetragrammaton
refers to the four Hebrew letters used to signify the Name of God. It is related to the verb "to be", and may be translated as "I AM". It is not pronounced aloud by observant Jews. It is represented by the English letters "JHVH" (which is the source of "Jehovah" in English).
If you have the Hebrew font BSTHebrew installed on your computer, this is what it looks like in Hebrew (reading right-to-left) : h w h y
If you have a Unicode font on your computer, this is what it looks like : י ה ו ה
wadi
the Arabic word for the bed of a river which only flows when there has been rain. The Hebrew word is "nahal". Equivalent to a New Mexico "wash"

Copyright © 1999 Shirley J. Rollinson, all Rights Reserved

Dr. Rollinson

Station 19, ENMU
Portales, NM 88130

Last Updated : September 7, 2012

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