Bible Words, Original Meaning Unknown, Often Used Just Once

Bible Words, Original Meaning Unknown, Often Used Just Once

A hapax legomenon (pl. hapax legomena, sometimes abbreviated to hapaxes) is a word which occurs only once in either the written record of a language, the works of an author, or in a single text. In this case, we are studying:

> Words that only appear once in the Hebrew Scriptures;

> or Greek Scriptures;

The Bible, however, presents a unique situation, of having several words that are

> > > Only used once (or twice in Scripture) where meanings are unclear;

(Usually, the word can be found hundreds or thousands of times in other works of the general culture, personal letters, etc.)

> > > And, are not found at all in the general cultures of Hebrew or Greek languages in any other works whatsoever.

> > > Thus these words are extremely difficult to discern their true, accurate meanings

In Thayer's well-known Lexicon from 1890 recorded just at 300 such words, not found in General Culture. However, by the year 2000, all have been found except about 25 unique words.

[The number is uncertain because sometimes, due to spelling, smudges or unclear letters from 2000-3000 year-old documents, a particular word cannot be ascertained, and scholars disagree].

One of the most famous is in the Popular Lord's Prayer: the word that is translated "DAILY" for daily bread, is completely unknown, and anyone's guess may be as good as the experts: [more below]

There are also subjective questions over whether two forms amount to "the same word": dog vs dogs, clue vs clueless, sign vs signature, and many other grey cases arise.

The Jewish Encyclopedia points out that although there are 1500 hapaxes in the Old Testament, only about 400 of those are not obviously related to other attested word forms.

About 1,000 terms occur 20 times or more in the Old Testament, with about 7000 words occurring under 20 times.

There is great wisdom in studying all of the references for a given term.

If the term is a very common word, the work will have to be selective. The dictionary definition and the etymology will provide the basic concept, but its range of meanings and specific emphases will come from a survey of how it was used.

[1] Jesus said: "give us this day our daily(a) bread;"

(a) daily - Epiousios (ep-ee-oo'-see-os); Word Origin: Greek, Adjective, Strong's #1967

> > Definition: meaning completely unknown; word found only found in the phrase, and not at all in Greek culture.

Possible definitions: that of urgent necessity, that which suffices for each day;

KJV Word Usage and Count - daily 2, in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew and Luke;

> > CLUE: The Greek prefix "epi" is upper. This is also true in English, such as "epi-genome",

Some possibilities for "daily" could be

> > heavenly bread-nourishment (as in manna from above)

> > spiritual bread-nourishment

> > bread-nourishment from above

The preferred possibility, however, seems to be as follows: using the "epi - upper, and day by day bread, could be understood as "give us day by day our 'bountiful bread'

[That is bread over-&-above ('epi') that which we need (that we may give to others who have none AS we would have others give to us) AS we have given to others]

This also would "Parallel" the next line, which parallels were extremely common among Jewish people for millennia:

(I) Give us day by day our 'bountiful bread' as we have given bountifully to others,

(II) And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors; *Matthew 6:11

(ALT) And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. Luke 11:4

[2] Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery(a) fire(b) law for them.

(a) fiery - 'eshdath (esh-dawth'); Noun Feminine, Strong: #799 > > Definition: meaning uncertain KJV Word Usage and Count - fiery 1

(b) fire - 'esh (aysh); Noun Feminine, Strong's: #784

> > Definitions fire, flames, supernatural fire accompanying theophany), altar-fire, God's anger (fig.):

KJV Word Usage and Count - fire 374, burning 1, fiery 1, untranslated variant 1;

[3] Deuteronomy 33:3 Yea, he loved(a) the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down(b) at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

(a)loved - Chabab (khaw-bab'); Verb, Strong's: #2245

> > Definition: (Qal) to love fervently, OR #2246 cherish, OR #2244 to hide AND #2247 to hide

KJV Word Usage and Count loved 1

[4] Deuteronomy 33:3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down(a) at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

(a)sat down - Takah (taw-saw'); Verb, Strongs: #8497

> > Definition: meaning wholly dubious; (Pual) to be led, be assembled,(CLBL) (Pu) to lay down, recline, KJV Word Usage and Count: sat down 1


Chob (khobe); Noun Masculine, Strong #: 2243 bosom KJV Word Usage and Count bosom 1

=== Chabuwlah (Aramaic) (khab-oo-law'); Noun Masculine, Strong #: 2248 hurtful act, crime, harm, wicked deed, a wrong KJV Word Usage and Count hurt 1

=== Epiplesso (ep-ee-place'-so); Word Origin: Greek, Verb, Strong #: 1969

Greek to strike upon, beat upon to chastise with words, to chide, upbraid, rebuke KJV Word Usage and Count rebuke 1


Hebrew examples

* Gvina (גבינה - cheese) is a hapax legomenon of Biblical Hebrew, found only in Job 10:10. The word has become extremely common in modern Hebrew.

* Akut (אקוט - fought), only appears once in the Hebrew Bible, in Psalms 95:10.

* Lilith (לילית) occurs once in the Hebrew Bible, in Isaiah 34:14, which describes the desolation of Edom. The word is translated into English in several ways.

* Atzei Gopher (עֲצֵי-גֹפֶר - Gopher wood) is mentioned once in the Bible, in Genesis 6:14, in the instruction to make Noah's ark "of gopher wood". Because of the single appearance, the literal meaning is lost. Gopher is simply a transliteration, although scholars today tentatively suggest that the wood intended is cypress.[12]


Greek examples

The Greek New Testament contains 686 hapax legomena, of which

62 occur in 1 Peter,

54 occur in 2 Peter.[13]


Some of the Greek words have special senses that differ from normal Greek. For example, dunamis in the LXX carries the meaning of “army,” and not just “power.” Do not assume the “triangle reasoning” for words in the Bible, i.e., such and such a Greek word in the New Testament is equal to the same word in the LXX, which is a translation of such and such a Hebrew word, which is thereby equal to the NT Greek word. This could be in error on all three equations.


In all your looking for categories of usage, you will come across non‑theological usages of the word. For example, rekhem, as we have seen, was used for “mercy” as well as “womb”; khata’, was used for “sin” as well as “missing” a target.

COPYRIGHT (c) 1977 Cambridge Theological Seminary



FROM: IAIA Accreditation TO: Dr. D. James Kennedy: Can you be as Bold as Him?

FROM: IAIA Accreditation TO: Cambridge Theological Seminary, USA

FROM: IAIA Accreditation TO: Free Ordination-1 by Cambridge Theological Seminary

FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: Religious Degrees, Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate

FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: A few Recent Ministry Partners

FROM: IAIA Accreditation,

FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: Ministers Main Page

FROM: IAIA Accreditation, TO: Home-Based-Ministry: Serve God, Make Money, Save Taxes



Most Important Questions You'll Ever Answer?

Do you understand "Eternal Life as God's FREE GIFT" - Unearned and Undeserved?
"Eternal Life as God's FREE GIFT!"

Do you know FOR SURE that you have Eternal Life: Here & Now?

"Eternal Life: Here & Now FOR SURE!"

In 'VERY FEW MINUTES' ... you can Know for Certain if you're saved ... or not!
In 'TWO MINUTES' - Know if you're Saved or not!

Red-White-and-Blue In-God-We-Trust

Search Web's Most Comprehensive Christian Site

All-Things-Bible, Church, History, Leadership, Psychology, Politics, Science, Health,
Sermon Resources, "Starters", Illustrations & Stories, Humor, Quotes, Sermons (Audio & Print)
From Ancient Rome, Greece & Jewish History to Latest News Headlines!

The Web Ministers-Best-Friend


flag divider

JCSM's Top 1000 Christian Sites - Free Traffic Sharing Service! The