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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
smel (Hebrew and Aramaic ריח , rēaḥ , as noun, "savor," "scent"; רוּח , rūaḥ , as verb, literally, "to breathe," "to inhale," thence "to smell"; ὀσμή , osmḗ , the "smell," "savor," εὐωδία , euōdı́a , "sweet smell" "fragrance" ὄσφρησις , ósphrēsis "the sense of smell"; verb ὄσφραίνομαι , osphraı́nomai ): And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled ( way - yāraḥ ) the smell ( rēaḥ̣ ) of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell ( rēaḥ̣ ) of my son is as the smell ( rēaḥ̣ ) of a field which Yahweh hath blessed" ( Genesis 27:27 ). Idols are described as "gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell" (Deuteronomy 4:28 ). Acceptable sacrifices and pious conduct are called a "sweet smell" or "savor" (Exodus 29:18; Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18 ) well-pleasing to God. The godless life, which dishonors God, is hateful to Him: "I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors" (Leviticus 26:31 ). The phrase, "being in bad odor with a person," can be traced to Biblical language: "Ye have made our savor to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants" (Exodus 5:21 ). Thus "smell" is occasionally equivalent with "quality," "character": "His (Moab's) taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed" (Jeremiah 48:11 ). Character or quality is the most infallible test, the most manifest advertisement of a thing or a person; thus we find the following very instructive passage: "(God) maketh manifest through us the savor (osmē ) of his knowledge in every place. For we are a sweet savor (euōdia ) of Christ unto God, in (better: "among") them that are saved, and in (better: "among") them that perish; to the one a savor (osmē ) from death unto death; to the other a savor (osmē ) from life unto life" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ). See TRIUMPH . In the passage Isaiah 3:24 , the King James Version "sweet smell" (בּשׂם , besem , "balsam plant") has been changed to "sweet spices" in the Revised Version (British and American).
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Smell'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/s/smell.html. 1915.