By Matthew George Easton
Nehushtan - Oracle
of copper; a brazen thing a name of contempt given to the
serpent Moses had made in the wilderness (Num. 21:8), and which
Hezekiah destroyed because the children of Israel began to
regard it as an idol and "burn incense to it." The lapse of
nearly one thousand years had invested the "brazen serpent" with
a mysterious sanctity; and in order to deliver the people from
their infatuation, and impress them with the idea of its
worthlessness, Hezekiah called it, in contempt, "Nehushtan," a
brazen thing, a mere piece of brass (2 Kings 18:4).
Neiel - dwelling-place of God, a town in the territory of Asher, near its southern border (Josh. 19:27). It has been identified with the ruin Y'anin, near the outlet of the Wady esh Sha-ghur, less than 2 miles north of Kabul, and 16 miles east of Caesarea.
Nekeb - cavern, a town on the boundary of Naphtali (Josh. 19:33). It has with probability, been identified with Seiyadeh, nearly 2 miles east of Bessum, a ruin half way between Tiberias and Mount Tabor.
Nemuel - day of God. (1.) One of Simeon's five sons (1 Chr. 4:24), called also Jemuel (Gen. 46:10). (2.) A Reubenite, a son of Eliab, and brother of Dathan and Abiram (Num. 26:9).
Nephilim - (Gen. 6:4; Num. 13:33, R.V.), giants, the Hebrew word left untranslated by the Revisers, the name of one of the Canaanitish tribes. The Revisers have, however, translated the Hebrew gibborim, in Gen. 6:4, "mighty men."
Nephtoah - opened, a fountain and a stream issuing from it on the border between Judah and Benjamin (Josh. 15:8, 9; 18:15). It has been identified with 'Ain Lifta, a spring about 2 1/2 miles north-west of Jerusalem. Others, however, have identified it with 'Ain' Atan, on the south-west of Bethlehem, whence water is conveyed through "Pilate's aqueduct" to the Haram area at Jerusalem.
Ner - light, the father of Kish (1 Chr. 8:33). 1 Sam. 14:51 should be read, "Kish, the father of Saul, and Ner, the father of Abner, were the sons of Abiel." And hence this Kish and Ner were brothers, and Saul and Abner were first cousins (comp. 1 Chr. 9:36).
Nereus - a Christian at Rome to whom Paul sent his salutation (Rom. 16:15).
Nergal - the great dog; that is, lion, one of the chief gods of the Assyrians and Babylonians (2 Kings 17:30), the god of war and hunting. He is connected with Cutha as its tutelary deity.
Nergal-sharezer - Nergal, protect the king! (1.) One of the "princes of the king of Babylon who accompanied him in his last expedition against Jerusalem" (Jer. 39:3, 13).
(2.) Another of the "princes," who bore the title of "Rabmag." He was one of those who were sent to release Jeremiah from prison (Jer. 39:13) by "the captain of the guard." He was a Babylonian grandee of high rank. From profane history and the inscriptions, we are led to conclude that he was the Neriglissar who murdered Evil-merodach, the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and succeeded him on the throne of Babylon (B.C. 559-556). He was married to a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar. The ruins of a palace, the only one on the right bank of the Euphrates, bear inscriptions denoting that it was built by this king. He was succeeded by his son, a mere boy, who was murdered after a reign of some nine months by a conspiracy of the nobles, one of whom, Nabonadius, ascended the vacant throne, and reigned for a period of seventeen years (B.C. 555-538), at the close of which period Babylon was taken by Cyrus. Belshazzar, who comes into notice in connection with the taking of Babylon, was by some supposed to have been the same as Nabonadius, who was called Nebuchadnezzar's son (Dan. 5:11, 18, 22), because he had married his daughter. But it is known from the inscriptions that Nabonadius had a son called Belshazzar, who may have been his father's associate on the throne at the time of the fall of Babylon, and who therefore would be the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews had only one word, usually rendered "father," to represent also such a relationship as that of "grandfather" or "great-grandfather."
Nero - occurs only in the superscription (which is probably spurious, and is altogether omitted in the R.V.) to the Second Epistle to Timothy. He became emperor of Rome when he was about seventeen years of age (A.D. 54), and soon began to exhibit the character of a cruel tyrant and heathen debauchee. In May A.D. 64, a terrible conflagration broke out in Rome, which raged for six days and seven nights, and totally destroyed a great part of the city. The guilt of this fire was attached to him at the time, and the general verdict of history accuses him of the crime. "Hence, to suppress the rumour," says Tacitus (Annals, xv. 44), "he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who are hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of that name, was put to death as a criminal by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the reign of Tiberius; but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only throughout Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, whither all things horrible and disgraceful flow, from all quarters, as to a common receptacle, and where they are encouraged. Accordingly, first three were seized, who confessed they were Christians. Next, on their information, a vast multitude were convicted, not so much on the charge of burning the city as of hating the human race. And in their deaths they were also made the subjects of sport; for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day declined, burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for that spectacle, and exhibited a Circensian game, indiscriminately mingling with the common people in the habit of a charioteer, or else standing in his chariot; whence a feeling of compassion arose toward the sufferers, though guilty and deserving to be made examples of by capital punishment, because they seemed not to be cut off for the public good, but victims to the ferocity of one man." Another Roman historian, Suetonius (Nero, xvi.), says of him: "He likewise inflicted punishments on the Christians, a sort of people who hold a new and impious superstition" (Forbes's Footsteps of St. Paul, p. 60).
Nero was the emperor before whom Paul was brought on his first imprisonment at Rome, and the apostle is supposed to have suffered martyrdom during this persecution. He is repeatedly alluded to in Scripture (Acts 25:11; Phil. 1:12, 13; 4:22). He died A.D. 68.
Net - in use among the Hebrews for fishing, hunting, and fowling. The fishing-net was probably constructed after the form of that used by the Egyptians (Isa. 19:8). There were three kinds of nets. (1.) The drag-net or hauling-net (Gr. sagene), of great size, and requiring many men to work it. It was usually let down from the fishing-boat, and then drawn to the shore or into the boat, as circumstances might require (Matt. 13:47, 48). (2.) The hand-net or casting-net (Gr. amphiblestron), which was thrown from a rock or a boat at any fish that might be seen (Matt. 4:18; Mark 1:16). It was called by the Latins funda. It was of circular form, "like the top of a tent." (3.) The bag-net (Gr. diktyon), used for enclosing fish in deep water (Luke 5:4-9).
The fowling-nets were (1) the trap, consisting of a net spread over a frame, and supported by a stick in such a way that it fell with the slightest touch (Amos 3:5, "gin;" Ps. 69:22; Job 18:9; Eccl. 9:12). (2) The snare, consisting of a cord to catch birds by the leg (Job 18:10; Ps. 18:5; 116:3; 140:5). (3.) The decoy, a cage filled with birds as decoys (Jer. 5:26, 27). Hunting-nets were much in use among the Hebrews.
Nethaneel - given of God. (1.) The son of Zuar, chief of the tribe of Issachar at the Exodus (Num. 1:8; 2:5).
(2.) One of David's brothers (1 Chr. 2:14).
(3.) A priest who blew the trumpet before the ark when it was brought up to Jerusalem (1 Chr. 15:24).
(4.) A Levite (1 Chr. 24:6).
(5.) A temple porter, of the family of the Korhites (1 Chr. 26:4).
(6.) One of the "princes" appointed by Jehoshaphat to teach the law through the cities of Judah (2 Chr. 17:7).
(7.) A chief Levite in the time of Josiah (2 Chr. 35:9).
(8.) Ezra 10:22.
(9.) Neh. 12:21.
(10.) A priest's son who bore a trumpet at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:36).
Nethaniah - given of Jehovah. (1.) One of Asaph's sons, appointed by David to minister in the temple (1 Chr. 25:2, 12).
(2.) A Levite sent by Jehoshaphat to teach the law (2 Chr. 17:8).
(3.) Jer. 36:14.
(4.) 2 Kings 25:23, 25.
Nethinim - the name given to the hereditary temple servants in all the post-Exilian books of Scripture. The word means given, i.e., "those set apart", viz., to the menial work of the sanctuary for the Levites. The name occurs seventeen times, and in each case in the Authorized Version incorrectly terminates in "s", "Nethinims;" in the Revised Version, correctly without the "s" (Ezra 2:70; 7:7, 24; 8:20, etc.). The tradition is that the Gibeonites (Josh. 9:27) were the original caste, afterwards called Nethinim. Their numbers were added to afterwards from captives taken in battle; and they were formally given by David to the Levites (Ezra 8:20), and so were called Nethinim, i.e., the given ones, given to the Levites to be their servants. Only 612 Nethinim returned from Babylon (Ezra 2:58; 8:20). They were under the control of a chief from among themselves (2:43; Neh. 7:46). No reference to them appears in the New Testament, because it is probable that they became merged in the general body of the Jewish people.
Netophah - distillation; dropping, a town in Judah, in the neighbourhood, probably, of Bethlehem (Neh. 7:26; 1 Chr. 2:54). Two of David's guards were Netophathites (1 Chr. 27:13, 15). It has been identified with the ruins of Metoba, or Um Toba, to the north-east of Bethlehem.
Nettle - (1.) Heb. haral, "pricking" or "burning," Prov. 24:30, 31 (R.V. marg., "wild vetches"); Job 30:7; Zeph. 2:9. Many have supposed that some thorny or prickly plant is intended by this word, such as the bramble, the thistle, the wild plum, the cactus or prickly pear, etc. It may probably be a species of mustard, the Sinapis arvensis, which is a pernicious weed abounding in corn-fields. Tristram thinks that this word "designates the prickly acanthus (Acanthus spinosus), a very common and troublesome weed in the plains of Palestine."
(2.) Heb. qimmosh, Isa. 34:13; Hos. 9:6; Prov. 24:31 (in both versions, "thorns"). This word has been regarded as denoting thorns, thistles, wild camomile; but probably it is correctly rendered "nettle," the Urtica pilulifera, "a tall and vigorous plant, often 6 feet high, the sting of which is much more severe and irritating than that of our common nettle."
New Moon, Feast of - Special services were appointed for the commencement of a month (Num. 28:11-15; 10:10). (See FESTIVALS.)
New Testament - (Luke 22:20), rather "New Covenant," in contrast to the old covenant of works, which is superseded. "The covenant of grace is called new; it succeeds to the old broken covenant of works. It is ever fresh, flourishing, and excellent; and under the gospel it is dispensed in a more clear, spiritual, extensive, and powerful manner than of old" (Brown of Haddington). Hence is derived the name given to the latter portion of the Bible. (See TESTAMENT.)
Neziah - victory; pure, Ezra 2:54; Neh. 7:56.
Nezib - a town in the "plain" of Judah. It has been identified with Beit Nuzib, about 14 miles south-west of Jerusalem, in the Wady Sur (Josh. 15:43).
Nibhaz - barker, the name of an idol, supposed to be an evil demon of the Zabians. It was set up in Samaria by the Avites (2 Kings 17:31), probably in the form of a dog.
Nibshan - fertile; light soil, a city somewhere "in the wilderness" of Judah (Josh. 15:62), probably near Engedi.
Nicanor - conqueror, one of the seven deacons appointed in the apostolic Church (Acts 6:1-6). Nothing further is known of him.
Nicodemus - the people is victor, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. He is first noticed as visiting Jesus by night (John 3:1-21) for the purpose of learning more of his doctrines, which our Lord then unfolded to him, giving prominence to the necessity of being "born again." He is next met with in the Sanhedrin (7:50-52), where he protested against the course they were taking in plotting against Christ. Once more he is mentioned as taking part in the preparation for the anointing and burial of the body of Christ (John 19:39). We hear nothing more of him. There can be little doubt that he became a true disciple.
Nicolaitanes - The church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:6) is commended for hating the "deeds" of the Nicolaitanes, and the church of Pergamos is blamed for having them who hold their "doctrines" (15). They were seemingly a class of professing Christians, who sought to introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness, thus abusing Paul's doctrine of grace (comp. 2 Pet. 2:15, 16, 19), and were probably identical with those who held the doctrine of Baalam (q.v.), Rev. 2:14.
Nicolas - the victory of the people, a proselyte of Antioch, one of the seven deacons (Acts 6:5).
Nicopolis - city of victory, where Paul intended to winter (Titus 3:12). There were several cities of this name. The one here referred to was most probably that in Epirus, which was built by Augustus Caesar to commemorate his victory at the battle of Actium (B.C. 31). It is the modern Paleoprevesa, i.e., "Old Prevesa." The subscription to the epistle to Titus calls it "Nicopolis of Macedonia", i.e., of Thrace. This is, however, probably incorrect.
Niger - black, a surname of Simeon (Acts 13:1). He was probably so called from his dark complexion.
Night-hawk - (Heb. tahmas) occurs only in the list of unclean birds (Lev. 11:16; Deut. 14:15). This was supposed to be the night-jar (Caprimulgus), allied to the swifts. The Hebrew word is derived from a root meaning "to scratch or tear the face," and may be best rendered, in accordance with the ancient versions, "an owl" (Strix flammea). The Revised Version renders "night-hawk."
Nile - dark; blue, not found in Scripture, but frequently referred to in the Old Testament under the name of Sihor, i.e., "the black stream" (Isa. 23:3; Jer. 2:18) or simply "the river" (Gen. 41:1; Ex. 1:22, etc.) and the "flood of Egypt" (Amos 8:8). It consists of two rivers, the White Nile, which takes its rise in the Victoria Nyanza, and the Blue Nile, which rises in the Abyssinian Mountains. These unite at the town of Khartoum, whence it pursues its course for 1,800 miles, and falls into the Mediterranean through its two branches, into which it is divided a few miles north of Cairo, the Rosetta and the Damietta branch. (See EGYPT.)
Nimrah - pure, a city on the east of Jordan (Num. 32:3); probably the same as Beth-nimrah (Josh. 13:27). It has been identified with the Nahr Nimrin, at one of the fords of Jordan, not far from Jericho.
Nimrim, Waters of - the stream of the leopards, a stream in Moab (Isa. 15:6; Jer. 48:34); probably the modern Wady en-Nemeirah, a rich, verdant spot at the south-eastern end of the Dead Sea.
Nimrod - firm, a descendant of Cush, the son of Ham. He was the first who claimed to be a "mighty one in the earth." Babel was the beginning of his kingdom, which he gradually enlarged (Gen. 10:8-10). The "land of Nimrod" (Micah 5:6) is a designation of Assyria or of Shinar, which is a part of it.
Nimshi - saved. Jehu was "the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi" (2 Kings 9:2; comp. 1 Kings 19:16).
Nineveh - First mentioned in Gen. 10:11, which is rendered in the Revised Version, "He [i.e., Nimrod] went forth into Assyria and builded Nineveh." It is not again noticed till the days of Jonah, when it is described (Jonah 3:3; 4:11) as a great and populous city, the flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 19:36; Isa. 37:37). The book of the prophet Nahum is almost exclusively taken up with prophetic denunciations against this city. Its ruin and utter desolation are foretold (Nah.1:14; 3:19, etc.). Zephaniah also (2:13-15) predicts its destruction along with the fall of the empire of which it was the capital. From this time there is no mention of it in Scripture till it is named in gospel history (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32).
This "exceeding great city" lay on the eastern or left bank of the river Tigris, along which it stretched for some 30 miles, having an average breadth of 10 miles or more from the river back toward the eastern hills. This whole extensive space is now one immense area of ruins. Occupying a central position on the great highway between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, thus uniting the East and the West, wealth flowed into it from many sources, so that it became the greatest of all ancient cities.
About B.C. 633 the Assyrian empire began to show signs of weakness, and Nineveh was attacked by the Medes, who subsequently, about B.C. 625, being joined by the Babylonians and Susianians, again attacked it, when it fell, and was razed to the ground. The Assyrian empire then came to an end, the Medes and Babylonians dividing its provinces between them. "After having ruled for more than six hundred years with hideous tyranny and violence, from the Caucasus and the Caspian to the Persian Gulf, and from beyond the Tigris to Asia Minor and Egypt, it vanished like a dream" (Nah. 2:6-11). Its end was strange, sudden, tragic. It was God's doing, his judgement on Assyria's pride (Isa. 10:5-19).
Forty years ago our knowledge of the great Assyrian empire and of its magnificent capital was almost wholly a blank. Vague memories had indeed survived of its power and greatness, but very little was definitely known about it. Other cities which had perished, as Palmyra, Persepolis, and Thebes, had left ruins to mark their sites and tell of their former greatness; but of this city, imperial Nineveh, not a single vestige seemed to remain, and the very place on which it had stood was only matter of conjecture. In fulfilment of prophecy, God made "an utter end of the place." It became a "desolation."
In the days of the Greek historian Herodotus, B.C. 400, it had become a thing of the past; and when Xenophon the historian passed the place in the "Retreat of the Ten Thousand," the very memory of its name had been lost. It was buried out of sight, and no one knew its grave. It is never again to rise from its ruins.
At length, after being lost for more than two thousand years, the city was disentombed. A little more than forty years ago the French consul at Mosul began to search the vast mounds that lay along the opposite bank of the river. The Arabs whom he employed in these excavations, to their great surprise, came upon the ruins of a building at the mound of Khorsabad, which, on further exploration, turned out to be the royal palace of Sargon, one of the Assyrian kings. They found their way into its extensive courts and chambers, and brought forth form its hidded depths many wonderful sculptures and other relics of those ancient times.
The work of exploration has been carried on almost continuously by M. Botta, Sir Henry Layard, George Smith, and others, in the mounds of Nebi-Yunus, Nimrud, Koyunjik, and Khorsabad, and a vast treasury of specimens of old Assyrian art has been exhumed. Palace after palace has been discovered, with their decorations and their sculptured slabs, revealing the life and manners of this ancient people, their arts of war and peace, the forms of their religion, the style of their architecture, and the magnificence of their monarchs. The streets of the city have been explored, the inscriptions on the bricks and tablets and sculptured figures have been read, and now the secrets of their history have been brought to light.
One of the most remarkable of recent discoveries is that of the library of King Assur-bani-pal, or, as the Greek historians call him, Sardanapalos, the grandson of Sennacherib (q.v.). (See ASNAPPER.) This library consists of about ten thousand flat bricks or tablets, all written over with Assyrian characters. They contain a record of the history, the laws, and the religion of Assyria, of the greatest value. These strange clay leaves found in the royal library form the most valuable of all the treasuries of the literature of the old world. The library contains also old Accadian documents, which are the oldest extant documents in the world, dating as far back as probably about the time of Abraham. (See SARGON.)
"The Assyrian royalty is, perhaps, the most luxurious of our century [reign of Assur-bani-pa]...Its victories and conquests, uninterrupted for one hundred years, have enriched it with the spoil of twenty peoples. Sargon has taken what remained to the Hittites; Sennacherib overcame Chaldea, and the treasures of Babylon were transferred to his coffers; Esarhaddon and Assur-bani-pal himself have pillaged Egypt and her great cities, Sais, Memphis, and Thebes of the hundred gates...Now foreign merchants flock into Nineveh, bringing with them the most valuable productions from all countries, gold and perfume from South Arabia and the Chaldean Sea, Egyptian linen and glass-work, carved enamels, goldsmiths' work, tin, silver, Phoenician purple; cedar wood from Lebanon, unassailable by worms; furs and iron from Asia Minor and Armenia" (Ancient Egypt and Assyria, by G. Maspero, page 271).
The bas-reliefs, alabaster slabs, and sculptured monuments found in these recovered palaces serve in a remarkable manner to confirm the Old Testament history of the kings of Israel. The appearance of the ruins shows that the destruction of the city was due not only to the assailing foe but also to the flood and the fire, thus confirming the ancient prophecies concerning it. "The recent excavations," says Rawlinson, "have shown that fire was a great instrument in the destruction of the Nineveh palaces. Calcined alabaster, charred wood, and charcoal, colossal statues split through with heat, are met with in parts of the Nineveh mounds, and attest the veracity of prophecy."
Nineveh in its glory was (Jonah 3:4) an "exceeding great city of three days' journey", i.e., probably in circuit. This would give a circumference of about 60 miles. At the four corners of an irregular quadrangle are the ruins of Kouyunjik, Nimrud, Karamless and Khorsabad. These four great masses of ruins, with the whole area included within the parallelogram they form by lines drawn from the one to the other, are generally regarded as composing the whole ruins of Nineveh.
Nisan - month of flowers, (Neh. 2:1) the first month of the Jewish sacred year. (See ABIB.) Assyrian nisannu, "beginning."
Nisroch - probably connected with the Hebrew word nesher, an eagle. An Assyrian god, supposed to be that represented with the head of an eagle. Sennacherib was killed in the temple of this idol (2 Kings 19:37; Isa. 37:38).
Nitre - (Prov. 25:20; R.V. marg., "soda"), properly "natron," a substance so called because, rising from the bottom of the Lake Natron in Egypt, it becomes dry and hard in the sun, and is the soda which effervesces when vinegar is poured on it. It is a carbonate of soda, not saltpetre, which the word generally denotes (Jer. 2:22; R.V. "lye").
No - or No-A'mon, the home of Amon, the name of Thebes, the ancient capital of what is called the Middle Empire, in Upper or Southern Egypt. "The multitude of No" (Jer. 46:25) is more correctly rendered, as in the Revised Version, "Amon of No", i.e., No, where Jupiter Amon had his temple. In Ezek. 30:14, 16 it is simply called "No;" but in ver. 15 the name has the Hebrew Hamon prefixed to it, "Hamon No." This prefix is probably the name simply of the god usually styled Amon or Ammon. In Nah. 3:8 the "populous No" of the Authorized Version is in the Revised Version correctly rendered "No-Amon."
It was the Diospolis or Thebes of the Greeks, celebrated for its hundred gates and its vast population. It stood on both sides of the Nile, and is by some supposed to have included Karnak and Luxor. In grandeur and extent it can only be compared to Nineveh. It is mentioned only in the prophecies referred to, which point to its total destruction. It was first taken by the Assyrians in the time of Sargon (Isa. 20). It was afterwards "delivered into the hand" of Nebuchadnezzar and Assurbani-pal (Jer. 46:25, 26). Cambyses, king of the Persians (B.C. 525), further laid it waste by fire. Its ruin was completed (B.C. 81) by Ptolemy Lathyrus. The ruins of this city are still among the most notable in the valley of the Nile. They have formed a great storehouse of interesting historic remains for more than two thousand years. "As I wandered day after day with ever-growing amazement amongst these relics of ancient magnificence, I felt that if all the ruins in Europe, classical, Celtic, and medieval, were brought together into one centre, they would fall far short both in extent and grandeur of those of this single Egyptian city." Manning, The Land of the Pharaohs.
Noadiah - meeting with the Lord. (1.) A Levite who returned from Babylon (Ezra 8:33).
(2.) A false prophetess who assisted Tobiah and Sanballat against the Jews (Neh. 6:14). Being bribed by them, she tried to stir up discontent among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and so to embarrass Nehemiah in his great work of rebuilding the ruined walls of the city.
Noah - rest, (Heb. Noah) the grandson of Methuselah (Gen. 5:25-29), who was for two hundred and fifty years contemporary with Adam, and the son of Lamech, who was about fifty years old at the time of Adam's death. This patriarch is rightly regarded as the connecting link between the old and the new world. He is the second great progenitor of the human family.
The words of his father Lamech at his birth (Gen. 5:29) have been regarded as in a sense prophetical, designating Noah as a type of Him who is the true "rest and comfort" of men under the burden of life (Matt.11:28).
He lived five hundred years, and then there were born unto him three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 5:32). He was a "just man and perfect in his generation," and "walked with God" (comp. Ezek. 14:14,20). But now the descendants of Cain and of Seth began to intermarry, and then there sprang up a race distinguished for their ungodliness. Men became more and more corrupt, and God determined to sweep the earth of its wicked population (Gen. 6:7). But with Noah God entered into a covenant, with a promise of deliverance from the threatened deluge (18). He was accordingly commanded to build an ark (6:14-16) for the saving of himself and his house. An interval of one hundred and twenty years elapsed while the ark was being built (6:3), during which Noah bore constant testimony against the unbelief and wickedness of that generation (1 Pet. 3:18-20; 2 Pet. 2:5).
When the ark of "gopher-wood" (mentioned only here) was at length completed according to the command of the Lord, the living creatures that were to be preserved entered into it; and then Noah and his wife and sons and daughters-in-law entered it, and the "Lord shut him in" (Gen.7:16). The judgment-threatened now fell on the guilty world, "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (2 Pet. 3:6). The ark floated on the waters for one hundred and fifty days, and then rested on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:3,4); but not for a considerable time after this was divine permission given him to leave the ark, so that he and his family were a whole year shut up within it (Gen. 6-14).
On leaving the ark Noah's first act was to erect an altar, the first of which there is any mention, and offer the sacrifices of adoring thanks and praise to God, who entered into a covenant with him, the first covenant between God and man, granting him possession of the earth by a new and special charter, which remains in force to the present time (Gen. 8:21-9:17). As a sign and witness of this covenant, the rainbow was adopted and set apart by God, as a sure pledge that never again would the earth be destroyed by a flood.
But, alas! Noah after this fell into grievous sin (Gen. 9:21); and the conduct of Ham on this sad occasion led to the memorable prediction regarding his three sons and their descendants. Noah "lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years, and he died" (28:29). (See DELUGE).
Noah, motion, (Heb. No'ah) one of the five daughters of Zelophehad (Num.26:33; 27:1; 36:11; Josh. 17:3).
Nob - high place, a city of the priests, first mentioned in the history of David's wanderings (1 Sam. 21:1). Here the tabernacle was then standing, and here Ahimelech the priest resided. (See AHIMELECH.) From Isa. 10:28-32 it seems to have been near Jerusalem. It has been identified by some with el-Isawiyeh, one mile and a half to the north-east of Jerusalem. But according to Isa. 10:28-32 it was on the south of Geba, on the road to Jerusalem, and within sight of the city. This identification does not meet these conditions, and hence others (as Dean Stanley) think that it was the northern summit of Mount Olivet, the place where David "worshipped God" when fleeing from Absalom (2 Sam. 15:32), or more probably (Conder) that it was the same as Mizpeh (q.v.), Judg. 20:1; Josh. 18:26; 1 Sam. 7:16, at Nebi Samwil, about 5 miles north-west of Jerusalem.
After being supplied with the sacred loaves of showbread, and girding on the sword of Goliath, which was brought forth from behind the ephod, David fled from Nob and sought refuge at the court of Achish, the king of Gath, where he was cast into prison. (Comp. titles of Ps. 34 and 56.)
Nobah - howling. (1.) Num. 32:42.
(2.) The name given to Kenath (q.v.) by Nobah when he conquered it. It was on the east of Gilead (Judg. 8:11).
Nobleman - (Gr. basilikos, i.e., "king's man"), an officer of state (John 4:49) in the service of Herod Antipas. He is supposed to have been the Chuza, Herod's steward, whose wife was one of those women who "ministered unto the Lord of their substance" (Luke 8:3). This officer came to Jesus at Cana and besought him to go down to Capernaum and heal his son, who lay there at the point of death. Our Lord sent him away with the joyful assurance that his son was alive.
Nod - exile; wandering; unrest, a name given to the country to which Cain fled (Gen.4:16). It lay on the east of Eden.
Nodab - noble, probably a tribe descended from one of the sons of Ishmael, with whom the trans-Jordanic tribes made war (1 Chr.5:19).
Nogah - splendour, one of David's sons, born at Jerusalem (1 Chr. 3:7).
Noph - the Hebrew name of an Egyptian city (Isa. 19:13; Jer.2:16; 44:1; 46:14, 19; Ezek. 30:13, 16). In Hos. 9:6 the Hebrew name is Moph, and is translated "Memphis," which is its Greek and Latin form. It was one of the most ancient and important cities of Egypt, and stood a little to the south of the modern Cairo, on the western bank of the Nile. It was the capital of Lower Egypt. Among the ruins found at this place is a colossal statue of Rameses the Great. (See MEMPHIS.)
Nophah - blast, a city of Moab which was occupied by the Amorites (Num. 21:30).
North country - a general name for the countries that lay north of Palestine. Most of the invading armies entered Palestine from the north (Isa. 41:25; Jer. 1:14,15; 50:3,9,41; 51:48; Ezek. 26:7).
Northward - (Heb. tsaphon), a "hidden" or "dark place," as opposed to the sunny south (Deut. 3:27). A Hebrew in speaking of the points of the compass was considered as always having his face to the east, and hence "the left hand" (Gen. 14:15; Job 23:9) denotes the north. The "kingdoms of the north" are Chaldea, Assyria, Media, etc.
Nose-jewels - Only mentioned in Isa. 3:21, although refered to in Gen. 24:47, Prov. 11:22, Hos. 2:13. They were among the most valued of ancient female ornaments. They "were made of ivory or metal, and occasionally jewelled. They were more than an inch in diameter, and hung upon the mouth. Eliezer gave one to Rebekah which was of gold and weighed half a shekel...At the present day the women in the country and in the desert wear these ornaments in one of the sides of the nostrils, which droop like the ears in consequence."
Numbering of the people - Besides the numbering of the tribes mentioned in the history of the wanderings in the wilderness, we have an account of a general census of the whole nation from Dan to Beersheba, which David gave directions to Joab to make (1 Chr. 21:1). Joab very reluctantly began to carry out the king's command.
This act of David in ordering a numbering of the people arose from pride and a self-glorifying spirit. It indicated a reliance on his part on an arm of flesh, an estimating of his power not by the divine favour but by the material resources of his kingdom. He thought of military achievement and of conquest, and forgot that he was God's vicegerent. In all this he sinned against God. While Joab was engaged in the census, David's heart smote him, and he became deeply conscious of his fault; and in profound humiliation he confessed, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done." The prophet Gad was sent to him to put before him three dreadful alternatives (2 Sam. 24:13; for "seven years" in this verse, the LXX. and 1 Chr. 21:12 have "three years"), three of Jehovah's four sore judgments (Ezek. 14:21). Two of these David had already experienced. He had fled for some months before Absalom, and had suffered three years' famine on account of the slaughter of the Gibeonites. In his "strait" David said, "Let me fall into the hands of the Lord." A pestilence broke out among the people, and in three days swept away 70,000. At David's intercession the plague was stayed, and at the threshing-floor of Araunah (q.v.), where the destroying angel was arrested in his progress, David erected an altar, and there offered up sacrifies to God (2 Chr. 3:1).
The census, so far as completed, showed that there were at least 1,300,000 fighting men in the kingdom, indicating at that time a population of about six or seven millions in all. (See CENSUS.)
Numbers, Book of - the fourth of the books of the Pentateuch, called in the Hebrew be-midbar, i.e., "in the wilderness." In the LXX. version it is called "Numbers," and this name is now the usual title of the book. It is so called because it contains a record of the numbering of the people in the wilderness of Sinai (1-4), and of their numbering afterwards on the plain of Moab (26).
This book is of special historical interest as furnishing us with details as to the route of the Israelites in the wilderness and their principal encampments. It may be divided into three parts:
1. The numbering of the people at Sinai, and preparations for their resuming their march (1-10:10). The sixth chapter gives an account of the vow of a Nazarite.
2. An account of the journey from Sinai to Moab, the sending out of the spies and the report they brought back, and the murmurings (eight times) of the people at the hardships by the way (10:11-21:20).
3. The transactions in the plain of Moab before crossing the Jordan (21:21-ch. 36).
The period comprehended in the history extends from the second month of the second year after the Exodus to the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, in all about thirty-eight years and ten months; a dreary period of wanderings, during which that disobedient generation all died in the wilderness. They were fewer in number at the end of their wanderings than when they left the land of Egypt. We see in this history, on the one hand, the unceasing care of the Almighty over his chosen people during their wanderings; and, on the other hand, the murmurings and rebellions by which they offended their heavenly Protector, drew down repeated marks of his displeasure, and provoked him to say that they should "not enter into his rest" because of their unbelief (Heb. 3:19).
This, like the other books of the Pentateuch, bears evidence of having been written by Moses.
The expression "the book of the wars of the Lord," occurring in 21:14, has given rise to much discussion. But, after all, "what this book was is uncertain, whether some writing of Israel not now extant, or some writing of the Amorites which contained songs and triumphs of their king Sihon's victories, out of which Moses may cite this testimony, as Paul sometimes does out of heathen poets (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12)."
Nun - Beyond the fact that he was the father of Joshua nothing more is known of him (Ex. 33:11).
Nuts - were among the presents Jacob sent into Egypt for the purpose of conciliating Joseph (Gen. 43:11). This was the fruit of the pistachio tree, which resembles the sumac. It is of the size of an olive. In Cant. 6:11 a different Hebrew word ('egoz), which means "walnuts," is used.
Nymphas - nymph, saluted by Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians as a member of the church of Laodicea (Col. 4:15).
Oak - There are six Hebrew words rendered "oak."
(1.) 'El occurs only in the word El-paran (Gen. 14:6). The LXX. renders by "terebinth." In the plural form this word occurs in Isa. 1:29; 57:5 (A.V. marg. and R.V., "among the oaks"); 61:3 ("trees"). The word properly means strongly, mighty, and hence a strong tree.
(2.) 'Elah, Gen. 35:4, "under the oak which was by Shechem" (R.V. marg., "terebinth"). Isa. 6:13, A.V., "teil-tree;" R.V., "terebinth." Isa. 1:30, R.V. marg., "terebinth." Absalom in his flight was caught in the branches of a "great oak" (2 Sam. 18:9; R.V. marg., "terebinth").
(3.) 'Elon, Judg. 4:11; 9:6 (R.V., "oak;" A.V., following the Targum, "plain") properly the deciduous species of oak shedding its foliage in autumn.
(4.) 'Elan, only in Dan. 4:11,14,20, rendered "tree" in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Probably some species of the oak is intended.
(5.) 'Allah, Josh. 24:26. The place here referred to is called Allon-moreh ("the oak of Moreh," as in R.V.) in Gen. 12:6 and 35:4.
(6.) 'Allon, always rendered "oak." Probably the evergreen oak (called also ilex and holm oak) is intended. The oak woods of Bashan are frequently alluded to (Isa. 2:13; Ezek. 27:6). Three species of oaks are found in Palestine, of which the "prickly evergreen oak" (Quercus coccifera) is the most abundant. "It covers the rocky hills of Palestine with a dense brushwood of trees from 8 to 12 feet high, branching from the base, thickly covered with small evergreen rigid leaves, and bearing acorns copiously." The so-called Abraham's oak at Hebron is of this species. Tristram says that this oak near Hebron "has for several centuries taken the place of the once renowned terebinth which marked the site of Mamre on the other side of the city. The terebinth existed at Mamre in the time of Vespasian, and under it the captive Jews were sold as slaves. It disappeared about A.D. 330, and no tree now marks the grove of Mamre. The present oak is the noblest tree in Southern Palestine, being 23 feet in girth, and the diameter of the foliage, which is unsymmetrical, being about 90 feet." (See HEBRON; TEIL-TREE.)
Oath - a solemn appeal to God, permitted on fitting occasions (Deut. 6:13; Jer. 4:2), in various forms (Gen. 16:5; 2 Sam. 12:5; Ruth 1:17; Hos. 4:15; Rom. 1:9), and taken in different ways (Gen. 14:22; 24:2; 2 Chr. 6:22). God is represented as taking an oath (Heb. 6:16-18), so also Christ (Matt. 26:64), and Paul (Rom. 9:1; Gal. 1:20; Phil. 1:8). The precept, "Swear not at all," refers probably to ordinary conversation between man and man (Matt. 5:34,37). But if the words are taken as referring to oaths, then their intention may have been to show "that the proper state of Christians is to require no oaths; that when evil is expelled from among them every yea and nay will be as decisive as an oath, every promise as binding as a vow."
Obadiah - servant of the Lord. (1.) An Israelite who was chief in the household of King Ahab (1 Kings 18:3). Amid great spiritual degeneracy he maintained his fidelity to God, and interposed to protect The Lord's prophets, an hundred of whom he hid at great personal risk in a cave (4, 13). Ahab seems to have held Obadiah in great honour, although he had no sympathy with his piety (5, 6, 7). The last notice of him is his bringing back tidings to Ahab that Elijah, whom he had so long sought for, was at hand (9-16). "Go," said Elijah to him, when he met him in the way, "go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here."
(2.) A chief of the tribe of Issachar (1 Chr. 7:3).
(3.) A descendant of Saul (1 Chr. 8:38).
(4.) A Levite, after the Captivity (1 Chr. 9:16).
(5.) A Gadite who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:9).
(6.) A prince of Zebulun in the time of David (1 Chr. 27:19).
(7.) One of the princes sent by Jehoshaphat to instruct the people in the law (2 Chr. 17:7).
(8.) A Levite who superintended the repairs of the temple under Josiah (2 Chr. 34:12).
(9.) One who accompanied Ezra on the return from Babylon (Ezra 8:9).
(10.) A prophet, fourth of the minor prophets in the Hebrew canon, and fifth in the LXX. He was probably contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Of his personal history nothing is known.
Obadiah, Book of - consists of one chapter, "concerning Edom," its impending doom (1:1-16), and the restoration of Israel (1:17-21). This is the shortest book of the Old Testament.
There are on record the account of four captures of Jerusalem, (1) by Shishak in the reign of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25); (2) by the Philistines and Arabians in the reign of Jehoram (2 Chr. 21:16); (3) by Joash, the king of Israel, in the reign of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:13); and (4) by the Babylonians, when Jerusalem was taken and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (B.C. 586). Obadiah (1:11-14) speaks of this capture as a thing past. He sees the calamity as having already come on Jerusalem, and the Edomites as joining their forces with those of the Chaldeans in bringing about the degradation and ruin of Israel. We do not indeed read that the Edomites actually took part with the Chaldeans, but the probabilities are that they did so, and this explains the words of Obadiah in denouncing against Edom the judgments of God. The date of his prophecies was thus in or about the year of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Edom is the type of Israel's and of God's last foe (Isa. 63:1-4). These will finally all be vanquished, and the kingdom will be the Lord's (comp. Ps. 22:28).
Obal - stripped, the eight son of Joktan (Gen. 10:28); called also Ebal (1 Chr. 1:22).
Obed - serving; worshipping. (1.) A son of Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 4:21, 22), and the grandfather of David (Matt. 1:5).
(2.) 1 Chr. 2:34-38.
(3.) 1 Chr. 26:7.
(4.) 2 Chr. 23:1.
Obed-Edom - servant of Edom. (1.) "The Gittite" (probably so called because he was a native of Gath-rimmon), a Levite of the family of the Korhites (1 Chr. 26:1, 4-8), to whom was specially intrusted the custody of the ark (1 Chr. 15:18). When David was bringing up the ark "from the house of Abinadab, that was in Gibeah" (probably some hill or eminence near Kirjath-jearim), and had reached Nachon's threshing-floor, he became afraid because of the "breach upon Uzzah," and carried it aside into the house of Obededom (2 Sam. 6:1-12). There it remained for six months, and was to him and his house the occasion of great blessing. David then removed it with great rejoicing to Jerusalem, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle he had pitched for it.
(2.) A Merarite Levite, a temple porter, who with his eight sons guarded the southern gate (1 Chr. 15:18, 21; 26:4, 8, 15).
(3.) One who had charge of the temple treasures (2 Chr. 25:24).
Obeisance - homage or reverence to any one (Gen. 37:7; 43:28).
Obil - a keeper of camels, an Ishmaelite who was "over the camels" in the time of David (1 Chr. 27:30).
Oboth - bottles, an encampment of the Israelites during the wanderings in the wilderness (Num. 33:43), the first after the setting up of the brazen serpent.
Oded - restoring, or setting up. (1.) Father of the prophet Azariah (2 Chr. 15:1, 8).
(2.) A prophet in the time of Ahaz and Pekah (2 Chr. 28:9-15).
Offence - (1.) An injury or wrong done to one (1 Sam. 25:31; Rom. 5:15).
(2.) A stumbling-block or cause of temptation (Isa. 8:14; Matt. 16:23; 18:7). Greek skandalon, properly that at which one stumbles or takes offence. The "offence of the cross" (Gal. 5:11) is the offence the Jews took at the teaching that salvation was by the crucified One, and by him alone. Salvation by the cross was a stumbling-block to their national pride.
Offering - an oblation, dedicated to God. Thus Cain consecrated to God of the first-fruits of the earth, and Abel of the firstlings of the flock (Gen. 4:3, 4). Under the Levitical system different kinds of offerings are specified, and laws laid down as to their presentation. These are described under their distinctive names.
Og - gigantic, the king of Bashan, who was defeated by Moses in a pitched battle at Edrei, and was slain along with his sons (Deut. 1:4), and whose kingdom was given to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh (Num. 21:32-35; Deut. 3:1-13). His bedstead (or rather sarcophagus) was of iron (or ironstone), 9 cubits in length and 4 cubits in breadth. His overthrow was afterwards celebrated in song (Ps. 135:11; 136:20). (See SIHON.)
Ohad - united, or power, the third son of Simeon (Gen. 46:10).
Ohel - a house; tent, the fourth son of Zerubbabel (1 Chr. 3:20).
Oil - Only olive oil seems to have been used among the Hebrews. It was used for many purposes: for anointing the body or the hair (Ex. 29:7; 2 Sam. 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 92:10; 104:15; Luke 7:46); in some of the offerings (Ex. 29:40; Lev. 7:12; Num. 6:15; 15:4), but was excluded from the sin-offering (Lev. 5:11) and the jealousy-offering (Num. 5:15); for burning in lamps (Ex. 25:6; 27:20; Matt. 25:3); for medicinal purposes (Isa. 1:6; Luke 10:34; James 5:14); and for anointing the dead (Matt. 26:12; Luke 23:56).
It was one of the most valuable products of the country (Deut. 32:13; Ezek. 16:13), and formed an article of extensive commerce with Tyre (27:17).
The use of it was a sign of gladness (Ps. 92:10; Isa. 61:3), and its omission a token of sorrow (2 Sam. 14:2; Matt. 6:17). It was very abundant in Galilee. (See OLIVE.)
Oil-tree - (Isa. 41:19; R.V. marg., "oleaster"), Heb. 'etz shemen, rendered "olive tree" in 1 Kings 6:23, 31, 32, 33 (R.V., "olive wood") and "pine branches" in Neh. 8:15 (R.V., "branches of wild olive"), was some tree distinct from the olive. It was probably the oleaster (Eleagnus angustifolius), which grows abundantly in almost all parts of Palestine, especially about Hebron and Samaria. "It has a fine hard wood," says Tristram, "and yields an inferior oil, but it has no relationship to the olive, which, however, it resembles in general appearance."
Ointment - Various fragrant preparations, also compounds for medical purposes, are so called (Ex. 30:25; Ps. 133:2; Isa. 1:6; Amos 6:6; John 12:3; Rev. 18:13).
Old gate - one of the gates in the north wall of Jerusalem, so called because built by the Jebusites (Neh. 3:6; 12:39).
Olive - the fruit of the olive-tree. This tree yielded oil which was highly valued. The best oil was from olives that were plucked before being fully ripe, and then beaten or squeezed (Deut. 24:20; Isa. 17:6; 24:13). It was called "beaten," or "fresh oil" (Ex. 27:20). There were also oil-presses, in which the oil was trodden out by the feet (Micah 6:15). James (3:12) calls the fruit "olive berries." The phrase "vineyards and olives" (Judg. 15:5, A.V.) should be simply "olive-yard," or "olive-garden," as in the Revised Version. (See OIL.)
Olive-tree - is frequently mentioned in Scripture. The dove from the ark brought an olive-branch to Noah (Gen. 8:11). It is mentioned among the most notable trees of Palestine, where it was cultivated long before the time of the Hebrews (Deut. 6:11; 8:8). It is mentioned in the first Old Testament parable, that of Jotham (Judg. 9:9), and is named among the blessings of the "good land," and is at the present day the one characteristic tree of Palestine. The oldest olive-trees in the country are those which are enclosed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is referred to as an emblem of prosperity and beauty and religious privilege (Ps. 52:8; Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6). The two "witnesses" mentioned in Rev. 11:4 are spoken of as "two olive trees standing before the God of the earth." (Comp. Zech. 4:3, 11-14.)
The "olive-tree, wild by nature" (Rom. 11:24), is the shoot or cutting of the good olive-tree which, left ungrafted, grows up to be a "wild olive." In Rom. 11:17 Paul refers to the practice of grafting shoots of the wild olive into a "good" olive which has become unfruitful. By such a process the sap of the good olive, by pervading the branch which is "graffed in," makes it a good branch, bearing good olives. Thus the Gentiles, being a "wild olive," but now "graffed in," yield fruit, but only through the sap of the tree into which they have been graffed. This is a process "contrary to nature" (11:24).
Olves, Mount of - so called from the olive trees with which its sides are clothed, is a mountain ridge on the east of Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7; Ezek. 11:23; Zech. 14:4), from which it is separated by the valley of Kidron. It is first mentioned in connection with David's flight from Jerusalem through the rebellion of Absalom (2 Sam. 15:30), and is only once again mentioned in the Old Testament, in Zech. 14:4. It is, however, frequently alluded to (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13; Neh. 8:15; Ezek. 11:23).
It is frequently mentioned in the New Testament (Matt. 21:1; 26:30, etc.). It now bears the name of Jebel et-Tur, i.e., "Mount of the Summit;" also sometimes called Jebel ez-Zeitun, i.e., "Mount of Olives." It is about 200 feet above the level of the city. The road from Jerusalem to Bethany runs as of old over this mount. It was on this mount that Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem. "No name in Scripture," says Dr. Porter, "calls up associations at once so sacred and so pleasing as that of Olivet. The 'mount' is so intimately connected with the private, the devotional life of the Saviour, that we read of it and look at it with feelings of deepest interest and affection. Here he often sat with his disciples, telling them of wondrous events yet to come, of the destruction of the Holy City; of the sufferings, the persecution, and the final triumph of his followers (Matt. 24). Here he gave them the beautiful parables of the ten virgins and the five talents (25); here he was wont to retire on each evening for meditation, and prayer, and rest of body, when weary and harassed by the labours and trials of the day (Luke 21:37); and here he came on the night of his betrayal to utter that wonderful prayer, 'O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt' (Matt. 26:39). And when the cup of God's wrath had been drunk, and death and the grave conquered, he led his disciples out again over Olivet as far as to Bethany, and after a parting blessing ascended to heaven (Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:12)."
This mount, or rather mountain range, has four summits or peaks: (1) the "Galilee" peak, so called from a tradition that the angels stood here when they spoke to the disciples (Acts 1:11); (2) the "Mount of Ascension," the supposed site of that event, which was, however, somewhere probably nearer Bethany (Luke 24:51, 52); (3) the "Prophets," from the catacombs on its side, called "the prophets' tombs;" and (4) the "Mount of Corruption," so called because of the "high places" erected there by Solomon for the idolatrous worship of his foreign wives (1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:13; Vulg., "Mount of Offence").
Olympas - a Roman Christian whom Paul salutes (Rom. 16:15).
Omar - eloquent, the son of Eliphaz, who was Esau's eldest son (Gen. 36:11-15).
Omega - (Rev. 1:8), the last letter in the Greek alphabet. (See A.)
Omer - a handful, one-tenth of an ephah=half a gallon dry measure (Ex. 16:22, 32, 33, 36)="tenth deal."
Omri - servant of Jehovah. When Elah was murdered by Zimri at Tirzah (1 Kings 16:15-27), Omri, his captain, was made king (B.C. 931). For four years there was continued opposition to his reign, Tibni, another claimant to the throne, leading the opposing party; but at the close of that period all his rivals were defeated, and he became king of Israel, "Tibni died and Omri reigned" (B.C. 927). By his vigour and power he gained great eminence and consolidated the kingdom. He fixed his dynasty on the throne so firmly that it continued during four succeeding reigns. Tirza was for six years the seat of his government. He then removed the capital to Samaria (q.v.), where he died, and was succeeded by his son Ahab. "He wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him."
Beth-omri, "the house" or "city of Omri," is the name usually found on Assyrian inscriptions for Samaria. In the stele of Mesha (the "Moabite stone"), which was erected in Moab about twenty or thirty years after Omri's death, it is recorded that Omri oppressed Moab till Mesha delivered the land: "Omri, king of Israel, oppressed Moab many days, for Chemosh was angry with his land. His son succeeded him, and he also said, I will oppress Moab" (comp. 2 Kings 1:1; 3:4, 5). The "Moabite stone" also records that "Omri took the land of Medeba, and occupied it in his day and in the days of his son forty years."
On - light; the sun, (Gen. 41:45, 50), the great seat of sun-worship, called also Bethshemesh (Jer. 43:13) and Aven (Ezek. 30:17), stood on the east bank of the Nile, a few miles north of Memphis, and near Cairo, in the north-east. The Vulgate and the LXX. Versions have "Heliopolis" ("city of the sun") instead of On in Genesis and of Aven in Ezekiel. The "city of destruction" Isaiah speaks of (19:18, marg. "of Heres;" Heb. 'Ir-ha-heres, which some MSS. read Ir-ha-heres, i.e., "city of the sun") may be the name given to On, the prophecy being that the time will come when that city which was known as the "city of the sun-god" shall become the "city of destruction" of the sun-god, i.e., when idolatry shall cease, and the worship of the true God be established.
In ancient times this city was full of obelisks dedicated to the sun. Of these only one now remains standing. "Cleopatra's Needle" was one of those which stood in this city in front of the Temple of Tum, i.e., "the sun." It is now erected on the Thames Embankment, London.
"It was at On that Joseph wooed and won the dark-skinned Asenath, the daughter of the high priest of its great temple." This was a noted university town, and here Moses gained his acquaintance with "all the wisdom of the Egyptians."
Onan - strong, the second son of Judah (Gen. 38:4-10; comp. Deut. 25:5; Matt. 22:24). He died before the going down of Jacob and his family into Egypt.
Onesimus - useful, a slave who, after robbing his master Philemon (q.v.) at Colosse, fled to Rome, where he was converted by the apostle Paul, who sent him back to his master with the epistle which bears his name. In it he beseeches Philemon to receive his slave as a "faithful and beloved brother." Paul offers to pay to Philemon anything his slave had taken, and to bear the wrong he had done him. He was accompanied on his return by Tychicus, the bearer of the Epistle to the Colossians (Philemon 1:16, 18).
The story of this fugitive Colossian slave is a remarkable evidence of the freedom of access to the prisoner which was granted to all, and "a beautiful illustration both of the character of St. Paul and the transfiguring power and righteous principles of the gospel."
Onesiphorus - bringing profit, an Ephesian Christian who showed great kindness to Paul at Rome. He served him in many things, and had oft refreshed him. Paul expresses a warm interest in him and his household (2 Tim. 1:16-18; 4:19).
Onion - The Israelites in the wilderness longed for the "onions and garlick of Egypt" (Num. 11:5). This was the betsel of the Hebrews, the Allium cepe of botanists, of which it is said that there are some thirty or forty species now growing in Palestine. The onion is "the 'undivided' leek, unio_, _unus, one."
Ono - a town of Benjamin, in the "plain of Ono" (1 Chr. 8:12; Ezra 2:33); now Kefr 'Ana, 5 miles north of Lydda, and about 30 miles north-west of Jerusalem. Not succeeding in their attempts to deter Nehemiah from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Sanballat and Tobiah resorted to strategem, and pretending to wish a conference with him, they invited him to meet them at Ono. Four times they made the request, and every time Nehemiah refused to come. Their object was to take him prisoner.
Onycha - a nail; claw; hoof, (Heb. sheheleth; Ex. 30:34), a Latin word applied to the operculum, i.e., the claw or nail of the strombus or wing-shell, a univalve common in the Red Sea. The opercula of these shell-fish when burned emit a strong odour "like castoreum." This was an ingredient in the sacred incense.
Onyx - a hail; claw; hoof, (Heb. shoham), a precious stone adorning the breast-plate of the high priest and the shoulders of the ephod (Ex. 28:9-12, 20; 35:27; Job 28:16; Ezek. 28:13). It was found in the land of Havilah (Gen. 2:12). The LXX. translates the Hebrew word by smaragdos, an emerald. Some think that the sardonyx is meant. But the onyx differs from the sardonyx in this, that while the latter has two layers (black and white) the former has three (black, white, and red).
Open place - Gen. 38:14, 21, mar. Enaim; the same probably as Enam (Josh. 15:34), a city in the lowland or Shephelah.
Ophel - hill; mound, the long, narrow, rounded promontory on the southern slope of the temple hill, between the Tyropoeon and the Kedron valley (2 Chr. 27:3; 33:14; Neh. 3:26, 27). It was surrounded by a separate wall, and was occupied by the Nethinim after the Captivity. This wall has been discovered by the engineers of the Palestine Exploration Fund at the south-eastern angle of the temple area. It is 4 feet below the present surface. In 2 Kings 5:24 this word is translated "tower" (R.V., "hill"), denoting probably some eminence near Elisha's house.
Ophir - (1.) One of the sons of Joktan (Gen. 10:29).
(2.) Some region famous for its gold (1 Kings 9:28; 10:11; 22:48; Job 22:24; 28:16; Isa. 13:12). In the LXX. this word is rendered "Sophir," and "Sofir" is the Coptic name for India, which is the rendering of the Arabic version, as also of the Vulgate. Josephus has identified it with the Golden Chersonese, i.e., the Malay peninsula. It is now generally identified with Abhira, at the mouth of the Indus. Much may be said, however, in favour of the opinion that it was somewhere in Arabia.
Ophni - mouldy, a city of Benjamin (Josh. 18:24).
Ophrah - a fawn. 1 Chr. 4:14. (1.) A city of Benjamin (Josh. 18:23); probably identical with Ephron (2 Chr. 13:19) and Ephraim (John 11:54).
(2.) "Of the Abi-ezrites." A city of Manasseh, 6 miles south-west of Shechem, the residence of Gideon (Judg. 6:11; 8:27, 32). After his great victory over the Midianites, he slew at this place the captive kings (8:18-21). He then assumed the function of high priest, and sought to make Ophrah what Shiloh should have been. This thing "became a snare" to Gideon and his house. After Gideon's death his family resided here till they were put to death by Abimelech (Judg. 9:5). It is identified with Ferata.
Oracle - In the Old Testament used in every case, except 2 Sam. 16:23, to denote the most holy place in the temple (1 Kings 6:5, 19-23; 8:6). In 2 Sam. 16:23 it means the Word of God. A man inquired "at the oracle of God" by means of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate on the high priest's ephod. In the New Testament it is used only in the plural, and always denotes the Word of God (Rom. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, etc.). The Scriptures are called "living oracles" (comp. Heb. 4:12) because of their quickening power (Acts 7:38).