Easton's Bible Dictionary
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
SEE FROM PLAGUE)
The plague is considered to be a severe kind of typhus, accompanied by buboes
(tumors). --Like the cholera, it is most violent at the first outbreak, causing
almost instant death. Great difference of opinion has obtained as to whether it
is contagious or not. It was very prevalent in the East, and still prevails in
Egypt. Several Hebrew words are translated "pestilence" or "plague" but not one
of these words call be considered as designating by its signification the disease
now called the plague. Whether the disease be mentioned must be judged from the
sense of passages, not from the sense of words.
Those pestilences which were sent as special judgments, and were either supernaturally
rapid in their effects or were in addition directed against particular culprits
are beyond the reach of human inquiry. But we also read of pestilences which,
although sent as judgments, have the characteristics of modern epidemics, not
being rapid beyond nature nor directed against individuals. ( Leviticus 26:25
; 28:21 ) In neither of these passages does,it seem certain that the plague is
specified. The notices in the prophets present the same difficulty. Hezekiahs
disease has been thought to have been the plague, and its fatal nature, as well
as the mention of a boil, makes this not improbable. On the other hand, there
Is no mention of a pestilence among his people at the time.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
pes'-ti-lens (debher; loimos):
Any sudden fatal epidemic is designated by this word, and in its Biblical use
it generally indicates that these are divine visitations. The word is most frequently
used in the prophetic books, and it occurs 25 times in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, always
associated with the sword and famine. In 4 other passages it is combined with
noisome or evil beasts, or war. In Amos 4:10 this judgment is compared with the
plagues of Egypt, and in Habakkuk 3:5 it is a concomitant of the march of God
from the Arabian mountain. There is the same judicial character associated with
pestilence in Exodus 5:3 ; 9:15 ; Leviticus 26:25 ; Numbers 14:12 ; Deuteronomy
28:21 ; 2 Samuel 24:21 ; 1 Chronicles 21:12 ; Ezekiel 14:19 , 21. In the dedication
prayer of Solomon, a special value is besought for such petitions against pestilence
as may be presented toward the temple (2 Chronicles 6:28). Such a deliverance
is promised to those who put their trust in God (Psalms 91:6). Here the pestilence
is called noisome, a shortened form of "annoysome," used in the sense of "hateful"
or that which causes trouble or distress. In modern English it has acquired the
sense of loathsome. "Noisome" is used by Tyndale where the King James Version
and the Revised Version (British and American) have "hurtful" in 1 Timothy 6:9
, Acts 19:8 the King James Version writes "persuading the things" (the Revised
Version (British and American) "as to the things") for "present the things persuasively."
And in Galatians 1:10 (the English Revised Version and the King James Version,
not in the American Standard Revised Version) and 2 Corinthians 5:11, there is
a half-ironic force in the word: Paul's enemies have accused him of using unworthy
persuasion in making his conversions.
The Latin word pestilentia is connected with pestis, "the plague," but
pestilence is used of any visitation and is not the name of any special disease;
debher is applied to diseases of cattle and is translated "murrain."
In the New Testament pestilence is mentioned in our Lord's eschatological discourse
(Matthew 24:7 the King James Version; Luke 21:11) coupled with famine. The assonance
of loimos and limos in these passages (loimos is omitted in the Revised Version
(British and American) passage for Mt) occurs in several classical passages, e.g.
Herodotus vii.171. The pestilence is said to walk in darkness (Psalms 91:6) on
account of its sudden onset out of obscurity not associated with any apparent
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