the First Week of Advent
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(in general designated by some form of קָלִל , kalal', Gr. καταράομαι, to "curse"), a term used in two senses. (See OATH).
1. Anathema (חֵרֶם, che'rem, ἀνάθεμα), a vow (Numbers 21:2), by which persons or things were devoted to Jehovah, whose property they became irrevocably and never to be redeemed (sacer, sacrum esto Jehovae; comp. Caesar, Bell. Gall. 6, 17; Tacit. Annal. 13, 57; Leviticus 3, 55; Diod. Sic. 11, 3; see Mayer, De Nomin. Piacularibus, in Ugolini Thesaur. 23). Persons thus offered were doomed to death (Leviticus 27:29; see Judges 11:31 sq.; 1 Samuel 14:44). Cattle, land, and other property were appropriated for the use of the temple, i.e. of the caste of the priests (Leviticus 27:28; Numbers 18:14; Ezekiel 24:29). Originally such vows were spontaneous on the part of the Israelites (see Numbers 21:2; 1 Samuel 14:24 [in this latter case, all the individual warriors of an army were bound by the vow made by the leader]); but occasionally the anathema, losing its votive character, assumed that of a theocratic punishment (see Ezra 10:8), in consequence of the prescriptions of the law, as, for example, in the case of the anathema (capital sentence) pronounced against an idolatrous Israelite (Exodus 22:20), or against a whole idolatrous city (Deuteronomy 13:10 sq.), which was ordered to be destroyed utterly by fire with all that was therein, and the inhabitants and all their cattle to be put to the sword (see Judges 20:48; Judges 21:10; Judges 21:19; comp. Appian. Pun. 133; Mithrid. 45; Liv. 10, 29; see Miller, Devotiones veterum in bellis, Lips. 1730). Essentially identical with this was the anathema against the Canaanitish cities, to be executed by the Israelites when they should enter the land (Deuteronomy 2:34; Deuteronomy 3:6; Joshua 6:17; Joshua 10:28; Joshua 10:35; Joshua 10:37; Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:11), [in consequence of a vow (Numbers 21:2 sq.), or upon the express command of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 20:16 sq.; see 1 Samuel 15:3)], in order that they should be secured against all manner of temptation to enter into nearer relations with the idolatrous natives (Deuteronomy 20:18; see Exodus 23:32 sq.). Such city, therefore, was burned with all things therein, and the inhabitants and their cattle were killed, while all metals and metallic utensils were delivered up to the sanctuary (Joshua 6:21; Joshua 6:24). At times (when the wants of the army made it desirable?) the cattle was spared, and, like other spoils, divided among the warriors (Joshua 8:26 sq.; Deuteronomy 2:34; Deuteronomy 3:6 sq.). Finally, in some cities merely the living things were destroyed (Joshua 10:28; Joshua 10:30; Joshua 10:32; Joshua 10:37; Joshua 10:39-40), but the cities themselves were spared. Those who were guilty of any sort of violation of the laws of the anathema were put to death (Joshua 7:11 sq.; see Joshua 6:18; Deuteronomy 13:17; Caesar, Bell. Gall. 6, 17). In the anathema pronounced by a zealous enforcer of the law (Ezra 10:8) against the property of such Jews as had married foreign wives and refused to divorce them, the banishment of such persons themselves was comprehended. It does not appear, however, whether their property was destroyed or (as H. Michaelis understood) given to the priests: the latter case would be inconsistent with a strict interpretation of Deuteronomy 13:16. (See ANATHEMA).
2. Different from this is the Ban of the later Jews, mentioned in the New Testament as a sort of ecclesiastical punishment (for heresy), Luke 6:22 (ἀφορίζειν ); John 9:22; John 12:42; John 16:2 (ἀποσυνἀγωγον γίνεσθαι or ποιεῖν), viz., the exclusion of a Jew from the congregation, and all familiar intercourse with others, by a resolution. "Excommunicated"
(מְנוּרֶה, menudeh') and "excommunication" (נַדּוּי, niddu'y) are also frequent terms in the Mishna (Taanith, 3, 8; Moed Katon, 3, 1). Stones were thrown (a mark of dishonor) over the graves of those who died in excommunication (Eduyoth, v. 6). The excommunicated person was not permitted to enter the Temple by the common door with others, but was admitted by a separate one (Middoth, 2, 2). He was also prohibited from shaving during the time of his excommunication (Moed. Kat. 3, 1; see Selden, Jus Nat. et Gent. 4, 8 sq.). There is mention in the Gemara, as well as in other rabbinical writings, of another sort of excommunication, תֵרֶם, che'rem (the person thus excommunicated was called מוּתֲרָם, mucharaam'), more severe than the נַדּוּי, niddu'y. The difference between the two — according to Maimonides — was,
(1.) that the nidduy was valid only for the thirty days following its date, and was pronounced without accursing; but the cherem was always connected with a curse:
(2.) that cherem could be pronounced only by several, at least ten, members of the congregation; but the nidduy even by a single Israelite (e.g. by a rabbi):
(3.) that the mucharam was excluded from all intercourse with others; but it was permitted to converse with the menudeh at a distance of four cubits, and his household was not subjected even to this restriction.
According to the Gemara, the latter was compelled to wear a mourning dress, in order to be distinguished outwardly from others. Elias Levita (in Tisbi, under נידוי ) and later rabbis speak of a third and still higher degree
of excommunication, שִׁמִּתָּא, shammata', execration (see Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 2463 sq.), by which an obdurate sinner was delivered up to all sorts of perdition. It does not appear, however, that older Talmudists used this word in a sense different from nidduy, [the formula declaration is quoted by Maimonides in the case of the latter, however, is יַהְיֶהּ בְשִׁמִּתָּא, let him be in "shammata,"] (see Selden, De Synedr. 1, 7, p. 64 sq; Ugolino, in Pfeiffer's Antiqu. Ebr. 4; Thesaur. p. 1294); or perhaps it was the generic term for excommunication (see Danz, in Meuschen, N.T. Talmn. p. 615 sq.), and the hypothesis of Elias seems, in fine, to have been founded upon a whimsical etymology of the word shammata (q. d. שָׁם, there, and מוּתָא, the death). But it may even be questioned whether nidduy and cherem were distinguished from each other in the age of Jesus, or in the first centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem, in the sense asserted by Maimonides. In general, it is not improbable that there were even then degrees of excommunication. The formal exclusion from the Hebrew congregation and nationality is mentioned already by Ezra 10:8 (see above). In the passages of John foregoing a minor excommunication is spoken of; while in that of Luke, without doubt, a total exclusion is understood; even if we take merely the ἀφορίζειν in this sense, or (with Lucke, Commentar zum Ev. Joh. 2, 387) we suppose that there is a gradation in the passage, so that ἀφοριζ. refers to נַדּוּי, όνειδίζ . καὶ ἐκβάλλ . to חֵרֶם . Many were of the opinion that the highest degree of excommunication, שִׁמִּתָּא, according to the classification of Elias Levita, is to be found in the formula παραδιδόναι τῷ Σατανᾶ '/ (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20). But there is no firm historical ground for such explanation, and the above expression should be explained rather from the usual idiomatic language of the apostle Paul, according to which it cannot mean, surely, a mere excommunication, as has been satisfactorily proved by Flatt (Vorles. ib. d. Br. an die Kor. 1, 102 sq.), and concurred in by later commentators. (See DEVIL). Finally, it is not less improbable that, in Romans 9:3, ἀνάθεμα ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ should refer to the Jewish excommunication (as was asserted of late by Tholuck and Ruckert; see Fritzsche, in loc.). (See EXECUTION). (For the Jewish excommunication in general, see Carpzov, Appar. p. 554 sq.; Witsii Miscell. 2, p. 47 sq.; Vitringa, De synag. vet. p. 739 sqq.; Pfeiffer, Antiqu. Ebr. c. 22; Bindrim, De gradib. excommunicat. ap. Hebr. in Ugolini Thesaur. 26; Otho, Lexic. Rabb. p. 212 sq.; Beer, in the Hall. Encyklop. 16, 278 sq.; [the last very uncritical.]) (See EXCOMMUNICATION).
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Accursed'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​a/accursed.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.