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August 23    Scripture

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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

 

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ACCURSED

a-kurs'-ed, a-kurst': In the Book of Josh (6:17,18; 7:1,11,12,13,15) and 1 Ch (2:7) "accursed" (or "accursed thing" or "thing accursed") is the King James Version rendering of the Hebrew word, cherem. The the Revised Version (British and American) consistently uses "devoted" or "devoted thing," which the King James Version also adopts in Lev 27:21,28,29 and in Nu 18:14. "Cursed thing" is the rendering in two passages (Dt 7:26; 13:17); and in one passage (Ezek 44:29 the King James Version) "dedicated thing" is used. In four places the King James Version renders the word by "curse" (Josh 6:18; Isa 34:5; 43:28; Mal 3:24; (4:6)) whilst in, another passage (Zec 14:11) "utter destruction" is adopted in translation. These various renderings are due to the fact that the word cherem sometimes means the act of devoting or banning (or the condition or state resulting therefrom and sometimes the object devoted or banned. We occasionally find periphrastic renderings, e.g. 1 Sam 15:21: "the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed," the King James Version (literally, "the chief part of the ban"); 1 Ki 20:42: "a man whom I appointed to utter destruction," the King James Version (literally, "a man of my ban" (or "banning"). The root-word meant "to separate," "shut off." The Arabic charim denoted the precincts of the temple at Mecca, and also the women's apartment (whence the word "harem"). In Hebrew the word always suggested "separating" or "devoting to God." Just as qadhosh, meant "holy" or "consecrated to the service" of Yahweh, and so not liable to be used for ordinary or secular purposes, so the stem of cherem meant "devoting" to Yahweh anything which would, if spared, corrupt or contaminate the religious life of Israel, with the further idea of destroying (things) or exterminating (persons) as the surest way of avoiding such contamination. Everything that might paganize or affect the unique character of the religion of Israel was banned, e.g. idols (Dt 7:26); idolatrous persons (Ex 22:20); idolatrous cities (Dt 13:13-18). All Canaanite towns--where the cult of Baal flourished--were to be banned (Dt 20:16-18). The ban did not always apply to the gold and silver of looted cities (Josh 6:24). Such valuable articles were to be placed in the "treasury of the house of Yahweh." This probably indicates a slackening of the rigid custom which involved the total destruction of the spoil. According to Nu 18:14, "everything devoted in Israel" belonged to Aaron, and Ezek 44:29 the King James Version ordained that "every dedicated thing" should belong to the priests (compare Ezr 10:8). In the New Testament "accursed" is the King James Version rendering of ANATHEMA (which see).
Thomas Lewis

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'ACCURSED'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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