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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
( יד ,
1. The Human Hand: Various Uses
The human hand (considered physically) and, anthropopathically, the hand of God (Genesis 3:22; Psalm 145:16 ): The hand included the wrist, as will be seen from all passages in which bracelets are mentioned as ornaments of the hand, e.g. Genesis 24:22 , Genesis 24:30 , Genesis 24:47; Ezekiel 16:11; Ezekiel 23:42 , or where the Bible speaks of fetters on the hands (Judges 15:14 , etc.). On the other hand, it cannot seem strange that occasionally the expression "hand" may be used for a part, e.g. the fingers, as in Genesis 41:42 , etc.. According to the lex talionis , justice demanded "hand for hand" (Exodus 21:24; Deuteronomy 19:21 ). We enumerate the following phrases without claiming to present a complete list: "To fill the hand" (Exodus 32:29 m; 1 Chronicles 29:5 margin) means to consecrate, evidently from the filling of hands with sacrificial portions for the altar. Compare also Leviticus 7:37; Leviticus 8:22 , Leviticus 8:28 , Leviticus 8:29 , Leviticus 8:31 , Leviticus 8:33 , where the sacrifice, the ram, the basket of consecration are mentioned. "To put or set the hand unto" (Deuteronomy 15:10; Deuteronomy 23:20; Deuteronomy 28:8 , Deuteronomy 28:20 ), to commence to do; "to put forth the hand" (Genesis 3:22; Genesis 8:9 ); "to stretch out the hand" (Ezekiel 25:13 , Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:13 ); "to shake or wag the hand upon" (Isaiah 10:32; Zephaniah 2:15; Zechariah 2:9 ), to defy. "To lay the hand upon the head" (2 Samuel 13:19 ) is an expression of sadness and mourning, as we see from Egyptian representations of scenes of mourning. Both in joy and in anger hands are "smitten together" (Numbers 24:10 ), and people "clap their hands" at a person or over a person in spiteful triumph (Job 27:23; Lamentations 2:15; Nahum 3:19 ). "To put one's life into one's hand" is to risk one's life (1 Samuel 19:5; 1 Samuel 28:21 ). "To lay hands upon" is used in the sense of blessing (Matthew 19:13 ), or is symbolical in the act of miraculous healing (Matthew 9:18; Mark 8:23; Acts 28:8 ), or an emblem of the gift of the Holy Spirit and His endowments (Acts 8:17-19; Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6 ); but it also designates the infliction of cruelty and punishment (Genesis 37:22; Leviticus 24:14 ), the imposition of responsibility (Numbers 8:10; Deuteronomy 34:9 ). Thus also the sins of the people were symbolically transferred upon the goat which was to be sent into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21 ). This act, rabbinical writings declare, was not so much a laying on of hands, as a vigorous pressing. "Lifting up the hand" was a gesture accompanying an oath (Deuteronomy 32:40 ) or a blessing pronounced over a multitude (Leviticus 9:22; Luke 24:50 ), a prayer (Psalm 119:48 ). "To put the hands to the mouth" is indicative of (compulsory) silence (Job 21:5; Job 40:4; Proverbs 30:32; Micah 7:16 ). To "slack one's hand" is synonymous with negligence and neglect (Joshua 10:6 ), and "to hide or bury the hand in the dish" is descriptive of the slothful, who is tired even at meals (Proverbs 19:24; Proverbs 26:15 ).
2. The Hand as Power
The hand in the sense of power and authority: (compare Assyrian
3. The Hand for the Person
The hand used ( pars pro toto ) for the person: "His hand shall be against every man" ( Genesis 16:12 ). "Slay the priests of Yahweh; because their hand also is with David" (1 Samuel 22:17 ). "Jonathan went to David into the wood and strengthened his hand in God" (1 Samuel 23:16 ). In this sense penalty is exacted "from the hand" or "at the hand" of the transgressor (Genesis 9:5; Ezekiel 33:8 ).
4. Hand, Meaning Side
The hand in the sense of side: "All the side (Hebrew "hand") of the river Jabbok" (Deuteronomy 2:37 ); "by the wayside" (Hebrew "by the hand of the way," 1 Samuel 4:13 ). The manuscripts have here the error יך ,
5. English Idiom
Mention must also be made here of the English idiom, "at hand," frequently found in our versions of the Scriptures. In Hebrew and Greek there is no reference to the word "hand," but words designating nearness of time or place are used. The usual word in Hebrew is קרב ,
Frequently the words refer to the "day" or "coming of the Lord"; still it must not be forgotten that it may often refer to the nearness of God in a local sense, as in Jeremiah 23:23 , "Am I a God at hand, saith Yahweh, and not a God afar off?" and probably in Philippians 4:5 , "The Lord is at hand," though many, perhaps most, commentators regard the expression as a version of the Aramaic
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Hand'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/h/hand.html. 1915.