Jul 10, 2012

Altars in the Old Testament

The most frequently used term for altar in the Hebrew Bible is x;Bez>m. This term which is derived from a root meaning to“slaughter for sacrifice."[1] This term is used 401 times [2] primarily in the Pentateuch and historical books.[3] The term is also well attested in Northwest and South Semitic languages including Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, and Libyan.[4]

[1] Francis Brown, et al. The New Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon: With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic (BDB), s.v. x;Bez>m, 257 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979).
[2] There are text-critical issues which might affect this count in Gen 33:20 2, Chr 28:2; and Ezra 7:17.
[3] x;Bez>m is used a little over fifty times in poetic and prophetic books.
[4] Richard E. Averbeck, “x;Bez>m ,” In New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDOTTE), ed. Willem A. VanGemeren. 5 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 2:889.

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