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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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A. Verb.

Qâdash (קָדַשׁ, Strong's #6942), “to sanctify, be holy.” This verb also appears in Phoenician, biblical Aramaic, and Ethiopic. In Ugaritic q-d-sh signifies “sanctuary,” and in Old Babylonian qadashu means “shine.” Qâdash appears about 170 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods of the language. In the primary stem the verb signifies an act whereby, or a state wherein, people or things are set aside for me in the worship of God: they are consecrated or “made sacred.” By this act and in this state the thing or person consecrated is to be withheld from workaday use (or profane use) and to be treated with special care as a possession of God. The first use of qâdash in this stem focuses on the act: “And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaronand upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him” (Exod. 29:21). There are also overtones of ethicalmoral (spiritual) holiness here since the atoning blood was applied to the people involved. The state appears to be emphasized when the word is used in Exod. 29:37: “Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it, and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.” Thus, whatever touches the altar enters into a new state. Now it belongs to God to be used solely by Him in the way He sees fit. In some cases this means destruction (2 Sam. 6:6ff.), while in others it means such things are to be used only by those who are ritualistically pure (Num. 4:15; 1 Sam. 21:6). It might mean that such things are to be used in the sanctuary itself (Num. 16:37ff.) In some passages qâdash seems to mean the opposite of “holy,” defiled so as not to be usable to Israel (God’s consecrated people): “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with [two kinds ofseeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled” (Deut. 22:9; cf. Ezek. 44:19; 46:20, etc.).

In the passive stem the verb means “to prove oneself holy.” So Moses wrote: “This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them” (Num. 20:13). This proving refers not to an act of judgment against sin (an ethical-moral holiness) but a miraculom act of deliverance. Some scholars see an emphasis here on divine power, arguing that at this stage of their history Israel’s concept of holiness was similar to that of the pagans, namely, that “holy” signified the presence of extraordinary power. A similar use of the word occurs in the prophet’s promise of the future restoration of Israel: “When I … am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations …” (Ezek. 39:27).

Another emphasis of this stem appears in Lev. 10:3 (its first biblical appearance), “to be treated as holy”: “… I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me [approach me in formal worship], and before all the people I will be glorified.” Again, the emphasis appears to be on divine power; God will have people obey Him and view Him as a powerful (holy) God. There is an ethical-moral overtone here, too, for God desires His people to obey Him, to hate sin and love righteousness (cf. Isa. 5:16). It is love not fear that lies at the root of Israel’s relationship to their God (Deut. 6:3, 5ff.).

Finally, this stem may be used as a true passive of the primary stem in the sense of “to be consecrated or set aside for God’s use”: “And there [the tent of meeting] I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory” (Exod. 29:43).

Qâdash has several emphases in the intensive stem. First, it can mean “to declare something holy” or to declare it to be med exclusively for celebrating God’s glory. In Gen. 2:3 (the first biblical occurrence of the word) “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: became that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” A related meaning of the word appears in the Ten Commandments: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod. 20:8). Israel is to remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy, by celebrating God’s person or worshiping Him in the way He specifies. In a still different nuance, “to sanctify” a holy day means to proclaim it, to bind oneself and one’s fellows to keep it holy when it comes. This sense can be applied to pagan holy days: “Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it” (2 Kings 10:20). In Joel 1:14 the verb is applied to Israel’s holy days: “Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly.…” Thus, the word comes to mean “to declare” and “to make proper preparations for.” In this sense it is sometimes applied to warfare: “Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon” (Jer. 6:4; cf. Mic. 3:5). Even pagans declare holy war: “Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni …” (Jer. 51:27).

This stem may also be used of putting something or someone into a state reserved exclusively for God’s use: “Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine” (Exod. 13:2). The first-born of every beast is to be offered up to God by being given to the temple or killed (Exod. 13:12-13). The first son may be redeemed (bought back from the Lord; Num. 18:15-16) or given to the temple (1 Sam. 1:24).

Qâdash may also be used in the sense of making something or someone cultically pure and meeting all God’s requirements for purity in persons or things used in the formal worship of Him. This act appears in Exod. 19:10, where God told Moses to “go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.” Thus consecrated, the people could come into God’s presence. In a related sense, the verb means “to set someone aside for divine service.” Although the primary emphasis here is ritualistic, there are ethicalmoral overtones. Thus, God directed Moses to have the artisans make special clothing for Aaron: “… And they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, … that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office” (Exod. 28:4). When the consecration occurred, Aaron and his sons were sprinkled with the blood of the atonement. Such an offering necessitated their confessing their sin and submitting to a substitutionary (albeit typological) sacrifice. Used in this sense the word describes the necessary step preceding ordination to the priestly office.

Qâdash is also applied to the consecration of things by placing them into a state of ritualistic or cultic purity and dedicating them solely to God’s use (cultic use; cf. Exod. 29:36; Lev. 16:19). In some cases consecrating something to God requires no act upon the object, but leaving it entirely alone. Moses acknowledges to God that “the people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it” (Exod. 19:23). In Isa. 29:23-24 the verb means “to recognize God as holy,” as the only real source of truth, and to live according to His laws: “But when he [the home of Jacob] seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” In Ezek. 36:23 qâdash means “to prove oneself to be holy, or to demonstrate and vindicate one’s holiness.”

In the causative stem the word means “to give for God’s use”: “And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow …” (Exod. 28:38). The act whereby someone gives things to God is also described by the word qâdash. The priests performed the actual consecration ceremony while an individual decided that something he owned was to be given to God: “… King David did dedicate [these vessels] unto the Lord …” (2 Sam. 8:11). In Lev. 27:14ff. several objects are listed which may be given to God as a gift and which may be redeemed by substitutionary payments. In Num. 8:17 God identified “sanctifying” the first-born and killing them. Thus, they were removed from profane use and taken over completely by God: “… On the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.”

God’s consecrating something or someone may also mean that He accepts that person or thing as in His service: “… I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (1 Kings 9:3). In a more emphatic nuance the word is a correlative of election, signifying God’s appointing someone to His service: “… Before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 1:5; cf. 12:3). This verb also means “to prepare to approach God”: “… For the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests” (Zeph. 1:7). Here, since the word is synonymously parallel to the concept “prepare,” or “make ready,” it, too, refers to making ready. In Num. 20:12 the stem presents the word in the meaning “trust as holy”; Moses did not follow God’s orders recognizing His demand for perfect obedience (cf. Isa. 8:13).

B. Nouns.

Qôdesh (קֹדֶשׁ, Strong's #6944), “holy thing.” This noun which occurs about 470 times in biblical Hebrew, also appears in Ugaritic. Appearing in all periods of biblical Hebrew, it reflects several of the verbal meanings just presented. First, qôdesh is used of things or people belonging to God. All Israel is holy (Exod. 30:31), separated to God’s service, and therefore should keep itself separated to that service by observing the distinction between things holy (allowed by God) and things unclean (Lev. 10:10).

The word also describes things set aside for exclusive use by God’s people (Isa. 35:8). It is used of a more narrow sense of “sacred,” or something set aside for me in the temple (cultic use). So the word describes the priestly (sacred) garments (Exod. 28:2). It can be used of sacred things given to the Lord (to be used in the sanctuary and/or by the priests and Levites; Exod. 28:38) and sacred things to be used only by the priests and/or Levites (Exod. 29:32-33). In some cases such dedicated (sacred) gifts may be given to others—at the Lord’s direction (Deut. 26:13). In a similar sense qôdesh describes sacred things appointed for sacrifice and ritualistic-cultic worship (Exod. 30:25; Lev. 27:10). Israel is to set aside certain sacred days (Sabbaths) exclusively for divine service—for rest from labor (Exod. 20:10), rest in the Lord (Deut. 5:14), and holy convocation (Exod. 12:16).

Qôdesh can also be used of what God makes a person, place, or thing to be. He designates a place to be His (Exod. 3:5—the first biblical appearance of the word), that is, separate and unique. Even more, God designates His sanctuary a holy place (Exod. 36:1). The outer part of the sanctuary is the holy place, the inner part the holy of holies (Exod. 26:33), and the altar a most holy place. This means that to varying degrees these places are identified with the holy God (2 Sam. 6:10-11), the God who is separate from and hates all that is death and/or associated with death and idolatry (Ezek. 39:25). This word is also used (infrequently) to describe God’s majestic holiness, in that He is without equal and without imperfection (Exod. 15:11). In at least one place the emphasis is on God’s holiness as power (Jer. 23:9).

The noun miqdash, which occurs in biblical Hebrew about 74 times, appears in Aramaic and post-biblical Hebrew. The word represents a “sacred place” or “sanctuary,” a place set aside by men upon God’s direction and acceptance as the place where He meets them and they worship Him (Exod. 15:17—the first biblical occurrence of the word).

The noun qadesh, which occurs about 11 times in biblical Hebrew, indicates a “cult prostitute,” whether female (Gen. 38:21—the first biblical appearance) or male. Male cultic prostitutes were homosexuals (1 Kings 22:46). This noun appears in the Pentateuch, all periods of historical writings, and Hosea and Job.

C. Adjective.

Qâdôsh (קָדֹשׁ, Strong's #6918), “holy.” The adjective qâdôsh occurs about 116 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. This adjective is more focused in emphasis than the noun qodesh. Qashdosh can refer (infrequently) to cultic holiness, or ritualistic ceremonial holiness (Num. 5:17). Its most frequent use, however, represents God’s majestic (1 Sam. 2:2), moral (Lev. 11:44), and dynamistic holiness (holiness as power; 1 Sam. 6:20). The word is also used of what God claims for Himself, what is consecrated to His service (Exod. 29:31). When applied to people, the word may mean “set apart for God” (Ps. 16:3), ritualistically separated to Him (Exod. 19:6—the first biblical occurrence of the word), and thoroughly purified and perfected by Him from all moral evil (Isa. 4:3). Infrequently qâdôsh is used of non-human beings, separate from this world and endued with great power (Job 5:1; Dan. 8:13).

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Sanctify'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

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