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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Pestilence

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Deber (דֶּבֶר, Strong's #1698), “pestilence.” The meaning of the cognate word varies in other Semitic languages from the Hebrew. In Ugaritic, dbr probably signifies “death.” The Arabic word dabrat means “misfortune,” similar to the Akkadian dibiru, “misfortune.” The word occurs fewer than 60 times in the Old Testament, and mainly in the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

The meaning of deber is best denoted by the English word “pestilence” or “plague.” A country might be quickly reduced in population by the “plague” (cf. 2 Sam. 24:13ff.). The nature of the “plague” (bubonic or other) is often difficult to determine from the contexts, as the details of medical interest are not given or are scanty. In the prophetical writings, the “plague” occurs with other disasters: famine, flood, and the sword: “When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence” (Jer. 14:12).

The Septuagint gives the following translation: thanatos (“death”).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Pestilence'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/p/pestilence.html. 1940.

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