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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Left

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left ( שמאל , sāma'l , "to go to the left," "to turn to the left," שׂמאול , שׂמאל , semō'l , "the left hand," שׂמאלי , semā'lı̄ , "belonging to the left," "situated on the left"; ἀριστερός , aristerós , and euphemistically εὐώνυμος , euṓnumos , literally, "having a good name," "of good omen"): The words are chiefly used in orientation with or without the addition of the word "hand." So Abraham says to Lot: "If thou wilt take the left hand ( semō'l ), then I will go to the right; or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left ( sāma'l )" ( Genesis 13:9 ). Frequently in Hebrew idiom the right hand and the left are mentioned together in order to express the idea "everywhere," "anywhere," "altogether" (Genesis 24:49; Exodus 14:22 , Exodus 14:29; Numbers 22:26; Deuteronomy 2:27; Deuteronomy 5:32; 2 Corinthians 6:7 ). In the geographical sense the left is synonymous with north (Genesis 14:15; Joshua 19:27; Ezekiel 16:46; Acts 21:3 ). While the left hand is considered as weaker than the right (see LEFTHANDED ), it is the hand which holds the bow (Ezekiel 39:3 ). The left hand is the side from which bad omens come, and therefore less lucky and less honored than the right hand (see HAND , note).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Left'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/l/left.html. 1915.

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