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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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Kissê' (כִּסֵּא, Strong's #3678), “throne; seat.” This word, with the basic meaning “seat of honor,” occurs in many Semitic languages (Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic) and in ancient Egyptian.

Kissê' occurs 130 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and, as is to be expected, the frequency is greater in the historical books and the prophetical works. It is rare in the Pentateuch. The first usage of kissê' is in Gen. 41:40: “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” In modern Hebrew the word mainly denotes a “chair,” and “throne” is further described as a “royal chair.”

In the Old Testament the basic meaning of kissê' is “seat” or “chair.” Visitors were seated on a chair (1 Kings 2:19), as well as guests (2 Kings 4:10) and older men (1 Sam. 1:9). When the king or elders assembled to administer justice, they sat on the throne of justice (Prov. 20:8; cf. Ps. 9:4). In these contexts kissê' is associated with honor. However, in the case of the prostitute (Prov. 9:14) and soldiers who set up their chairs (Jer. 1:15—kissê' may mean “throne” here; cf. KJV, NASB, NlV), kissê' signifies a place and nothing more.

The more frequent sense of kissê' is “throne” or “seat of honor,” also known as the “royal seat”: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites” (Deut. 17:18; cf. 1 Kings 1:46). Since the Davidic dynasty received the blessing of God, the Old Testament has a number of references to “the throne of David” (2 Sam. 3:10; Jer. 22:2, 30; 36:30): “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isa. 9:7). The “throne of Israel” is a synonymous phrase for “throne of David” (1 Kings 2:4; cf. 8:20, 25; 9:5; 10:9; 2 Kings 10:30; 15:12, etc.).

The physical appearance of the “throne” manifested the glory of the king. Solomon’s “throne” was an artistic product with ivory inlays, the wood covered with a layer of fine gold (1 Kings 10:18).

The word kissê' was also used to represent “kingship” and the succession to the throne. David had sworn that Solomon would sit on his “throne” (1 Kings 1:13; cf. 2 Kings 10:3).

Above all human kingship and “thrones” was the God of Israel: “God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness” (Ps. 47:8). The Israelites viewed God as the ruler who was seated on a “throne.” Micaiah said in the presence of Ahab and Jehoshaphat: “Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left” (1 Kings 22:19). Isaiah received a vision of God’s glory revealed in the temple (Isa. 6:1). The presence of the Lord in Jerusalem also gave rise to the conception that Jerusalem was the throne of God (Jer. 3:17).

T he Septuagint translation is thronos (“throne; dominion; sovereignty”).

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

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