International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
trav'-al (yaladh (Gen 35:16, etc.), chul, chil (properly "writhe," Job 15:20, etc.); odin (classical odis) (Mt 24:8, etc.), odino (Sirach 19:11, etc.; Gal 4:19, etc.)): "Travail" and its derivatives are used in the primary sense of the labor of childbirth, descriptive of the actual cases of Rachel (Gen 35:16), Tamar (Gen 38:27), Ichabod's mother (1 Sam 4:19), and the apocalyptic woman clothed with the sun (Rev 12:2). In the majority of passages, however, "travail" is used figuratively, to express extreme and painful sorrow (9 times in Jeremiah), "as of a woman in travail." It is also employed in the sense of irksome and vexatious business (6 times in Ecclesiastes, where it is the rendering of the word `inyan). In the same book "travail" is used to express the toil of one's daily occupation (Ecclesiastes 4:4,6), where it is the translation of `amal. In three places (Ex 18:8; Nu 20:14; Lam 3:5) where the King James Version has "travel" the Revised Version (British and American) has changed it to "travail," as in these passages the word tela'ah refers to the sense of weariness and toil, rather than to the idea of journeying (in the King James Version the spellings "travel" and "travail" were used indiscriminately; compare Sirach 19:11; 31:5). The sorrows which are the fruits of wickedness are compared to the pain of travail in Job 15:20 (chul) and Ps 7:14 (chabhal), the word used here meaning the torture or twisting pains of labor; see also the fanciful employment of "travail" in Sirach 19:11.
In the New Testament the travail of childbirth is used as the figure of the painful and anxious struggle against the evils of the world in the soul's efforts to attain the higher ideals of the Christian life (Jn 16:21 (tikto); Rom 8:22; Gal 4:27); twice, however, it is the rendering of mochthos, the ordinary word for "toil," "hardship" or "distress" (1 Thess 2:9; 2 Thess 3:8).
See BIRTH; LABOR.
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'TRAVAIL'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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