International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mek'-nes (`anawah; praotes, prautes): "Meekness" in the Old Testament (`anawah, `anwah) is from `anaw, "suffering," "oppressed," "afflicted," denoting the spirit produced under such experiences. The word is sometimes translated "poor" (Job 24:4, the Revised Version margin "meek"; Am 8:4); "humble" (Ps 9:12,18, the Revised Version margin "meek"); "lowly" (Prov 3:34; 16:19, the Revised Version (British and American) "poor," margin "meek"). It is generally associated with some form of oppression. The "meek" were the special objects of the Divine regard, and to them special blessings are promised (Ps 22:26, "The meek shall eat and be satisfied"; 25:9, "The meek will he guide in justice; and the meek will he teach his way"; 37:11, "The meek shall inherit the land"; 147:6, "Yahweh upholdeth the meek"; 149:4, "He will beautify the meek with salvation," the Revised Version margin "victory"; compare Isa 11:4; 29:19; 61:1, "Yahweh hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek," the Revised Version margin "poor"; Zeph 2:3; Ps 45:4, "because of (the Revised Version margin "in behalf of") truth and meekness and righteousness"). Of Moses it is said he "was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth," notwithstanding the Divine revelations given him, and in the face of opposition (Nu 12:3; compare 2 Cor 12:1-6). Meekness is ascribed even to Yahweh Himself (2 Sam 22:36, "Thy gentleness (`anawah) hath made me great"; compare Ps 18:36 (`anwah), the Revised Version margin "condescension"); men are exhorted to seek it (Zeph 2:3, "Seek righteousness, seek meekness"; compare Prov 15:1; 16:14; 25:15; Eccl 10:4).
In the Apocrypha also "meekness" holds a high place (Ecclesiasticus 1:27, "The fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction: faith and meekness are his delight," the Revised Version (British and American) "in faith and meekness is his good pleasure"; Ecclesiasticus 3:19, "Mysteries are revealed unto the meek" (the Revised Version (British and American) omits); compare 10:14).
"Meekness" in the New Testament (praotes, prautes) is not merely a natural virtue, but a Christian "grace"; it is one of the "fruits of the Spirit" (Gal 5:23). The conception of meekness, as it had been defined by Aristotle, was raised by Christianity to a much higher level, and associated with the commonly despised quality of humility (see under the word). It was the spirit of the Saviour Himself (Mt 11:29): "I am meek (praos) and lowly in heart" (compare 2 Cor 10:1, "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ"); it presupposes humility, flows from it, and finds expression in moderation (see under the word). (See Trench, Syn. of New Testament, 145; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, New Testament Lexicon, under the word) Christians are exhorted to cherish it and show it in their relations to one another (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; 1 Tim 6:11; Tit 3:2, "showing all meekness toward all men"); it ought to characterize Christian teachers or those in authority in "instructing (the Revised Version (British and American) "correcting," margin "instructing") them that oppose themselves" (2 Tim 2:25); the saving, "implanted" (the Revised Version margin "inborn") word is to be received "with meekness" (Jas 1:21); a man is to "show by his good life his works in meekness of wisdom" (Jas 3:13), and to give a reason for the hope that is in him, "with meekness and fear" (1 Pet 3:15).
The interchangeableness of "meek" with "poor," etc., in the Old Testament ought to be specially noted. our Lord's opening of His ministry at Nazareth (Lk 4:18, "He anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor"), and His message to John (Mt 11:5, "The poor have good tidings preached to them") are in harmony therewith.
W. L. Walker
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