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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Pestilence

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PESTILENCE (λοιμός).—The word is found twice in the Gospels, in both cases in the prophecy of Christ regarding the last days (Matthew 24:7 [Authorized Version ; Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 , following WH [Note: H Westcott and Hort’s text.] and others, omits], Luke 21:11). In the OT the word is used in a generic sense, and usually indicates a direct Divine visitation (Leviticus 26:25, Numbers 14:12, 1 Chronicles 21:14, Psalms 78:50 etc.). The disease, whatever its nature, is not rarely associated with war and its consequences (Jeremiah 24:10; Jeremiah 29:17; Jeremiah 34:17, Ezekiel 6:11 etc.). Thus it seems to be used by Christ in the texts quoted.

The specific meaning of the word λοιμός is not easily determined. It seems to indicate a swiftly-developing and mortal illness, contagious or infectious in its nature, as we may infer from Acts 24:5. It may point to the glandular or bubonic plague, well known and universally dreaded by the ancients, and the great scourge of the world in the Middle Ages. (See Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , iii. pp. 324, 755).

Henry E. Dosker.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Pestilence'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/p/pestilence.html. 1906-1918.

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