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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Rejoice

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A. Verb.

Śâmach (שָׂמַח, Strong's #8055), “to rejoice, be joyful.” This verb also occurs in Ugaritic (where its radicals are shh-m-h and perhaps in AramaicSyriac. It appears in all periods of Hebrew and about 155 times in the Bible. Śâmach usually refers to a spontaneous emotion or extreme happiness which is expressed in some visible and/or external manner. It does not normally represent an abiding state of wellbeing or feeling.

This emotion arises at festivals, circumcision feasts, wedding feasts, harvest feasts, the overthrow of one’s enemies, and other such events. The men of Jabesh broke out joyously when they were told that they would be delivered from the Philistines (1 Sam. 11:9). The emotion expressed in the verb śâmach usually finds a visible expression. In Jer. 50:11 the Babylonians are denounced as being glad and “jubilant” over the pillage of Israel. Their emotion is expressed externally by their skipping about like a threshing heifer and neighing like stallions. The emotion represented in the verb (and concretized in the noun simchah) is sometimes accompanied by dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments. This was the sense when David was heralded by the women of Jerusalem as he returned victorious over the Philistines (1 Sam. 18:6). This emotion is usually described as the product of some external situation, circumstance, or experience, such as found in the first biblical appearance of śâmach: God told Moses that Aaron was coming to meet him and “when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart” (Exod. 4:14). This passage speaks of inner feeling which is visibly expressed. When Aaron saw Moses, he was overcome with joy and kissed him (v. 27).

Therefore, the verb śâmach suggests three elements: (1) a spontaneous, unsustained feeling of jubilance, (2) a feeling so strong that it finds expression in some external act, and (3) a feeling prompted by some external and unsustained stimulus.

This verb is used intransitively signifying that the action is focused on the subject (cf. 1 Sam. 11:9). God is sometimes the subject, the one who “rejoices and is jubilant”: “The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works” (Ps. 104:31). The godly are to “be glad in the Lord, and rejoice … and shout for joy …” (Ps. 32:11). Śâmach can also mean “to be joyful or glad.” In the place the Lord chooses, Israel is “to be joyful” in all in which the Lord blesses them (Deut. 12:7). Used thus the verb describes a state into which one places himself under given circumstances. It has a further and technical sense describing all that one does in making a feast before God: “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days” (Lev. 23:40).

In a few cases the verb describes an ongoing state. In 1 Kings 4:20 the reign of Solomon is summarized as follows: “Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.”

B. Noun.

Śimchâh (שִׂמְחָה, Strong's #8057), “joy.” This noun, which also occurs in Ugaritic, is found 94 times in biblical Hebrew. Śimchâh is both a technical term for the external expression of “joy” (Gen. 31:27—the first biblical occurrence; cf. 1 Sam. 18:6; Jer. 50:11) and (usually) a representation of the abstract feeling or concept “joy” (Deut. 28:47). In another technical use this noun signifies the entire activity of making a feast before God: “And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth [literally, “to make a great rejoicing”] …” (Neh. 8:12).

The noun catches the concrete coloring of the verb, as in Isa. 55:12: “For ye shall go out with joy … : the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

C. Adjective.

Śâmêach (שָׂמֵחַ, 8056), “joyful; glad.” This adjective occurs 21 times in the Old Testament. The first biblical occurrence is in Deut. 16:15: “Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because the Lord thy God shall bless thee … therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.”

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

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