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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Time

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A. Noun.

‛Êth (עֵת, Strong's #6256), “time; period of time; appointed time; proper time; season.” This word also appears in Phoenician, post-biblical Hebrew, Arabic (where the same radicals constitute a verb signifying “to appear”), and Akkadian (where these radicals form an adverb signifying “at the time when”). ‛Êth appears about 290 times in the Bible and in all periods.

Basically this noun connotes “time” conceived as an opportunity or season. First, the word signifies an appointed, fixed, and set time or period. This is what astrologers claimed to discern: “Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times …” (Esth. 1:13). God alone, however, knows and reveals such “appointed times”: “… In the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord” (Jer. 8:12).

This noun also is used of the concept “proper or appropriate time.” This nuance is applied to the “time” God has appointed for one to die: “Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?” (Eccl. 7:17). It is used of the “appropriate or suitable time” for a given activity in life: “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time …” (Eccl. 3:11; cf. Ps. 104:27). Finally, the “appropriate time” for divine judgment is represented by ‛êth: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Ps. 119:126).

A third use connotes “season,” or a regular fixed period of time such as springtime: “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son” (Gen. 18:10). Similarly, the word is used of the rainy “season” (Ezra 10:13), the harvest “time” (Jer. 50:16), the migratory “period” (Jer. 8:7), and the mating “season” (Gen. 31:10).

This noun also is applied to differing “extensions of time.” In its first biblical appearance, for example, ‛êth represents the “time” (period of the day) when the sun is setting: “And the dove came in to him in the evening [literally, time of the evening] …” (Gen. 8:11). The word is used of special occasions such as the birth of a child (Mic. 5:3) and of periods during which certain conditions persist (Exod. 18:22; Dan. 12:11).

B. Verb.

‘Anah means “to be exercised.” The noun ‛êth may be derived from this verb which occurs only 3 times in Hebrew poetry (cf. Eccl. 1:13). It may be related to an Arabic root meaning “to be disquieted or disturbed about something,” an Ethiopic root and old South Arabic root meaning “to be concerned about.” In later Hebrew this root means “to worry.”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Time'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/t/time.html. 1940.

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