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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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BAG (John 12:6; John 13:29 γλωσσόκομον; in Luke 12:33 βαλάντια is translation ‘bags’ in Authorized Version, but Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘purses’; see Purse).

Γλωσσόκομον (in NT peculiar to St. John) meant originally a case for keeping the mouth-pieces of wind instruments (γλᾶσσα, κομεω); so Phrynicus, who gives γλωσσοκομεῖον as the proper form, rejecting that of NT, which, however, is found in an old Doric inscription, in later Comic writers and in LXX Septuagint (see Liddell and Scott). The (Revised Version margin) ‘box’ seems the better rendering. Field (ON [Note: N Otium Norvicense.] ) has a very full note, in which he concludes that γλ., both in its general and in its special sense, means not a bag, but a box or chest, always of wood or other hard material. Thus Hesychius defines it as a wooden receptacle of remnants (σορὸς ξυλίνη τῶν λειψανων); Arrian mentions γλωσσὁκομα made of tortoise-shell; in the Anthology γλ. is apparently a coffin (‘when I look at Nicanor the coffin-maker [σοροπηγόν], and consider for what purpose he makes these wooden boxes [γλωσσοκομα]’); and in an inscription quoted by Hatch (Essays in Biblical Greek) γλ. means the strong box or muniment chest of an association. The LXX Septuagint translates אָרוֹן in 2 Chronicles 24:8 f. by ΓΛ. (the chest for the offerings, but κιβωτός in 2 Kings 12:9 f. as usually), which Cod. A also gives in 2 Samuel 6:11 (the Ark). Aquila uses γλ. for אָרון in all its significations, e.g. coffin (Genesis 50:26), the Ark (Exodus 37:1, 1 Samuel 5:1, 2 Samuel 6:11). Ancient Versions of Jn. agree with this view; Vulgate gives loculos, the plural, says Field, ‘indicating several partitions,’ a small portable cash-box; D [Note: Deuteronomist.] lat. loculum; Nonnus ὁουρατεην χηλὀν, ligneam arculam. In favour of Authorized and Revised Versions it may be urged that something small and easily carried is required by the context, whereas the above instances are chiefly larger boxes (but note use of γλ. by Hesychius and Arrian above). Again, in 1 Samuel 6:8 f. אַרְנָּן (Authorized and Revised Versions ‘coffer’) is translation γλωσσὁκομον by Josephus, and is from a root ‘to tremble, wag, move to and fro,’ whence in Arabic there is a similar word meaning a bag filled with stones hung at the sides of camels to preserve equilibrium (see Gesenius, Lex.). In modern Greek also γλ. means purse or bag (Hatch).

The γλ. was the receptacle for the money of Jesus and the disciples; it contained, no doubt, the proceeds of the sale of their goods, and gave the idea later of the common fund (Acts 4:32 f.); it was replenished by the gifts of friends (Luke 8:3); and from it the poor were helped (John 13:29). Judas may have been entrusted with it as being the best fitted for such work; but what might have proved a blessing, as giving useful employment for his talents, became the means of his ruin. Other suggested explanations are: that Christ thought lit to call forth a manifestation of his sin as the only means of cure (Hengstenberg); or that it was simply a private arrangement between the disciples (Godet). The ‘bag’ could not have been taken from him, as Edersheim (Life and Times, ii. 472) remarks, without exposing him to the others, and precipitating his moral destruction. See Judas Iscariot.

W. H. Dundas.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Bag'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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